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Our Community News - Home Vol. 6 No. 9 - September 2, 2006

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Controversy continues over second high school site; Board proceeds with ballot measure

Below: Resident Jim Forman expresses concern about the traffic flow. Photo by John Heiser 

Below: Hunter Run Farm, 40 acres of the 69 acres under contract by D-38 as the site for the second high school. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting August 17, the board unanimously voted to proceed with two measures for the November ballot. If approved by voters, the measures would authorize an increase in property taxes of $2 million per year starting in 2008 and authorize the district to issue up to $57 million in additional debt to pay for construction and operation of the second high school and to make improvements to Lewis-Palmer High School.

Terry Casey, the district’s bond advisor, estimated that the tax impact of both questions would be approximately $35 per year on a house valued at $315,000, the average market value of houses in the district. Casey noted that depending on the future growth rate of the district, the bonds might have to be issued incrementally.

Although the ballot measure does not mention the specific site of the second high school, the board’s resolution approving the wording of the ballot measure identifies the site as "approximately 69 acres of land referred to as the ‘Hunter’s Run Property’ and parcels adjacent thereto…." That site lies north of Lewis-Palmer Middle School between Woodmoor Drive and Monument Hill Road. The resolution and ballot questions are posted at www.lewispalmer.org.

Seven residents spoke against the board’s decision to use that site. One person spoke in favor.

The issues raised by the opponents included the effect of the traffic from the second high school on the surrounding roads and the increased risk to students at Lewis-Palmer Middle School; noise, air pollution, and HazMat and crash hazards due to the proximity of the site to I-25; the number of schools in that area; skepticism about the results of the district’s growth study; and concerns about increased fire risk and crime. Resident Jim Forman said, "No due diligence was done, especially regarding the traffic." He noted that Monument Hill Road is a narrow, two-lane frontage road to I-25 that lacks shoulders and sidewalks. He added that the traffic from three schools would be concentrated on Woodmoor Drive. Larry Goade described the board’s action in contracting for the site, before all of the issues had been addressed with the community, as, "Fire, ready, aim."

Ian Griffis, who was accompanied at the podium by his daughter Haley, spoke in favor of the new site and commended the board for listening to the community. Griffis, who served as a volunteer on the search for a new location, said, "We should support our kids. No site is without impact. The traffic flow can be improved. I’m convinced there is no better alternative."

The board addressed a number of other topics including:

  • Commendation for Cohn – Retiring general counsel to the district, attorney Bob Cohn, was recognized for his service over the past two decades.

  • Staff commendations – Dr. Keith Jacobus and Dr. Marie Revak were recognized for their efforts in organizing New Teacher Orientation Week. Ted Belteau was thanked for his participation in orientation activities. Ray Blanch and Cheryl Wangeman were recognized for their preparations for the bond and mill levy election in November.

  • Title and responsibility changes – The board voted to approve the following new titles and responsibilities: Dr. Keith Jacobus, executive director of Learning Services, and Ted Belteau, executive director of Personnel Services. Dr. Laura Douglas, executive director of Special Programs, will handle 504 plans. She and Belteau will split other student service responsibilities. Wangeman will reconfigure the finance office, adding an accountant and a secretary.

  • Conceptual considerations for Phase III Reconstruction – The board authorized Superintendent Michael Pomarico to move forward with Phase III plans for reconfiguration of services.

  • Sale of Technology Assets – Blanch noted that $16,000-20,000 was gained this year from sales of computer equipment that is no longer used in the district.

  • District-wide Communication Plan – Donna Wood, public information officer, presented a draft Communication Plan for 2006-07 that she and the communication committee developed. The purpose of the plan is to serve as a guide for maximizing the district’s effectiveness in communicating with the public and within the district.

  • Financial Impact Procedures – Wangeman presented a draft form to estimate the expected financial impact of requests presented for Board approval.

  • CSAP Scores – Blanch and Dr. Revak gave an overview of the district’s CSAP results. Blanch said, "We have some of the most outstanding students in the state."

**********

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center of the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m. Sept. 21. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. Meeting highlights from the Web site were used in preparing this article.

Below: (L to R) Retiring general counsel to the district, attorney Bob Cohn, receives commendation from Ted Belteau.

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Woodmoor residents discuss plans for second high school

By Chris Pollard

About 125 Woodmoor residents gathered at Lewis-Palmer Middle School auditorium August 7 to hear about and discuss the district’s plan for a second high school on land between Woodmoor and Interstate 25 about a half-mile north of the Middle School.

Hans Post, president of the Woodmoor Improvement Association, introduced himself, several members of the WIA board who were present and the two representatives from the school district, Gail Wilson, District 38 school board member representing the Woodmoor area, and Ray Blanch, District 38 executive director of Research Assessment and Technology

Wilson said this would be the first of many meetings to discuss planning for the site and that the district was trying to cover the needs of many residents. Ray Blanch said the district wanted to continue the partnership with the WIA over concerns about the new school in much the same way as concerns, such as traffic safety problems, had been addressed at the current high school.

Blanch stressed that the school district was trying to anticipate the concerns of its neighbors and will form a design advisory group consisting of parents, school board members, teachers and students. Although there were no formal plans showing the position or design of the high school, it was anticipated that the main building will be located on the northern part of the land and the athletic fields will be in the southern part. The buildings and athletic fields would be biased toward the west so that land could be reserved to act as a screen from the adjacent housing. (The location of the site is shown on the web site: lewispalmer.org)

The current goal is to provide regular vehicular access to the school only on the north and west sides of the site from the Monument Hill frontage road and a new four-lane road proposed within the Misty Acres development. There might be two access points within Woodmoor, but these would only access the athletic fields and emergency vehicles.

Clarifying this in response to a resident’s concern over whether this siting and access were guaranteed, Blanch made it clear that regular access from Woodmoor Drive would not be a good idea and that the district would work with Woodmoor Public Safety on an ongoing basis to ensure that.

In anticipation of concerns over stadium lights, he said the school district planned to improve the original stadium at the current high school and make that a district facility. This was the best fiscal decision, Blanch said, and would probably mean doubling the seating capacity and changing to a synthetic surface to accommodate the additional use. There would probably be a practice field for JV teams at the new site.

Blanch reiterated the need to be good neighbors in the placement of the buildings and the field, and said the district will try to preserve as much of the site as possible with an eastern buffer zone. Heating and cooling units will probably be hidden on top of the building, he said, and the district will work with the civil engineers and landscape experts to build the school into the hillside to minimize its effect on the area. A design advisory group will be assembled to work on this issue.

To put the need for the new school in perspective, Blanch noted that there would be 150 more high school students than there were last year. Mobile classrooms have been doubled since last year, and to maintain its excellent education record, the district must address the potential growth and plan on opening a new high school in 2008. The school district saw that high school enrollment could grow to as many as 2,000 in coming years. The district would also like to improve access to the current high school by building an entrance on Jackson Creek Parkway at a new intersection shared with the entrance to the proposed YMCA facility.

To pay for this, the school board was proposing a $57 million bond issue and a $2 million mill levy override to generate funds to operate the building. On a typical house valued at $315,000 the yearly tax would be about $40. This is less than the estimated $65 increase for the last bond issue proposal because of the increased number of commercial buildings with their corresponding assessed valuations. The board will form a campaign committee to communicate the need for this bond issue, Blanch said.

School officials then answered questions from residents, including the following:

Q. How will the student load be split?

A. The goal is to split the district into north and south areas roughly along Highway 105. There may be some need for "fudging" so that students might switch between the two to attend different programs. They invited people to join the Facility and Enrollment Committee to help work on these issues.

Q. How would they make sure the entrance off Woodmoor Drive is for emergency use only?

A. This will probably be gated with some form of access control.

Q. Looking at the northern El Paso County transportation plan, it seemed as though the frontage road would disappear as part of the widening of I-25.

A. This road is currently owned by CDOT and will be transferring to El Paso County ownership. Discussions with County Commissioner Wayne Williams did not indicate any proposals to eliminate it.

Q. How will they address the issue of traffic on Deer Creek Road from the Charter School?

A. The school board has no direct authority over the Charter School on traffic issues and there is some discussion that the school might be moved.

Q. Has any assessment been done on traffic in the Woodmoor area?

A. This will be an ongoing process by the traffic engineers.

Q. Can the growth study and its effects on traffic be released? Isn’t most of the growth to the east?

A. Yes, they will publish the study and its updates on the website.

Q. The site selection process seems to be arbitrary. Why weren’t local people consulted on the acceptability and selection of the site?

A. This was a district-wide process carried out by elected officials and many others to provide district-wide acceptance.

Q. Safety and noise are issues because of the proximity to I-25 with its many trucks and occasional hazardous cargos.

A. The high school in Castle Rock and others around the state are also similarly near I-25. These issues will be reviewed as part of the safety study. They will need to talk to experts to make it as safe as possible and also work to reduce the effect of noise.

Q. Will there be a smoking area at the new school?

A. This issue will be addressed in partnership with the county Sheriff’s Office and Woodmoor Public Safety.

Q. Is the land under contract?

A. Yes, the school district has a contract for 69 acres and is working on another five acres.

Q. Will road lighting be improved?

A. Yes.

Q. What will they do for residents of the land right next to the school?

A. They will commit to making this a buffer zone. The district will work with residents to erect any necessary fences or sound barriers.

Q. Why was the currently owned site at the intersection of Highways 83 and 105 not chosen? Isn’t most growth out East?

A. The site has a number of issues. The state Transportation Department will not allow an entrance onto 83, and the site itself is insufficient to support a high school as large as that currently proposed. Surveys show that most growth is closer to I-25, with more multifamily units being planned.

Q. What was the price of the land?

A. The contract terms do not allow disclosure of the price. It will be on record after closing.

Q. Both ends of the frontage road will need improvement. Who will do that? What if the county says that the school district needs to pay? Why was the land bought before answering these questions?

A. El Paso County has not been involved yet. The district will work with them to resolve the problems.

Q. Personal experience from another area indicated that having a high school near a middle school where children have disposable income might increase drug use there. Why place the high school near the middle school?

A. The school board will look at this concern.

Q. Is it possible to stop the contract, and are there contingencies in place if the bond issue doesn’t pass?

A. It would be difficult to stop the contract or to write one with such contingencies, given the current demand for land. The bond issue needs to pass to build another high school to address the fact that the current high school is not large enough.

Q. Why is there the necessity to build near Woodmoor? The current high school is adjacent to South Woodmoor and further construction seems to be forced into this area. There is no increase in high school students from Woodmoor.

A. The local area, unlike Castle Rock, is not a master-planned community. There are many separate government and non-government entities in the school district area, each with their own plans. Land is not allocated for schools, and there are a limited number of sites available. This school serves a much wider area than Woodmoor.

Q. Will the WIA provide security?

A. Yes, they will negotiate with the school district to provide service.

Q. The proposed site is not flat. Will this be a problem?

A. The civil engineers believe that it can be made to fit with minimum disturbance of the land.

Note: In some cases, questions asked and answers given at different times were combined.

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Monument Board of Trustees, August 7: Financing of new town police building approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees approved lease-purchase financing for a new police and town office building on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. The board also reviewed preliminary revenue and expenditure performance figures for 2006. Trustees Gail Drumm and Steve Samuels were absent.

Mayor Byron Glenn said Town Manager Cathy Green had been given discretion to use board contingency funds to arrange a luncheon and "roast" on Aug. 23 and purchase of a gift honoring the resignation of Triview Metropolitan District Manager Ron Simpson.

Trustee Tim Miller urged residents to vote on Aug. 8.

Jackson Creek resident Steve Meyer suggested that the town pursue a cost-effective method for recycling similar to that initiated by Manitou Springs for glass, tin, aluminum, and paper.

Police/Town Hall financing selection

Financial consultant Jim Manire, of James Capital Advisors Inc., reported that the town had received three financing proposals that were good for 30 days, with the condition that a completed environmental impact statement would be available for the site at closing. He recommended that the town select the 10-year lease-purchase financing proposal from Wells Fargo Bank due to its higher flexibility on pre-payment. The Wells Fargo interest rate was 4.45 percent and allowed pre-payment without a penalty, with fees and expenses of about $36,250. Manire also said Wells Fargo had far more experience in Colorado tax-exempt financing, and a higher probability of being able to close on time to lock in the proposed rate. Total interest for the full term would be about $750,000.

The Bank of America proposal offered the same rate of 4.45 percent but no pre-payment option; fees and expenses were $10,000. The Key Government Finance interest rate was 5.17 percent with fees and expenses of $5,000; no pre-payment option was offered.

Green said that the 2006 budget restatement proposal should be available at closing and that the land contract was undergoing a legal review. Manire said closing could occur in 10-14 days, making the loan funding available to begin construction. Green recommended scheduling a formal hearing for approval of the loan and land contracts at the Aug. 21 board meeting.

Forest View Acres Water District inclusion requested

Stuart Currier, who lives in the Forest View Acres Water District, asked the town to consider providing town water to the district starting in late 2007. He said he does not "believe the board can manage the district" due to its proposal for a November property tax mill levy ballot initiative to upgrade inadequate and unsatisfactorily maintained infrastructure. Currier said the proposed initial bond issue would result in a 32-mill levy for 40 years. He also said that within five years the district plans to further increase taxes with a second bond issue. Currier noted that his was one of nine widely separated homes that should be allowed to withdraw from the water district because of the very high cost for the district to upgrade service to meet current service standards. He said it would be cheaper for all concerned if each of the nine homeowners drilled a well at a cost of about $7,500 each.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth said he would have to review the issues for including the district, which is not contiguous with any town boundary other than Monument Lake’s. He also said that the district’s senior surface-water rights in Monument Creek for 120 gallons per minute might be useful to the town as would the district’s storage tank site. He also noted that the district consultant’s proposed capital costs to bring the district up to current state and federal standards exceed $6 million.

Trustee Dave Mertz asked Landreth whether other Forest View Acres infrastructure met town standards due to the liability incurred through annexation. Landreth said that the roads do not meet town standards. Green said no analysis had been performed on projected upgrade costs or creating a special separate zone that would not obligate the town to maintain infrastructure and might also have a separate taxing structure. Miller told Currier that there is usually opposition to any annexation proposal.

Fees for multiple land use document reviews increased

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara recommended charging a fee of $400 to developers for each additional staff review after the first two reviews of site plans. Trustee Tommie Plank suggested moving the additional reviews to "the end of the line" to penalize "their ineptness" as an additional incentive to developers and their consultants to respond to staff comments more efficiently. Kassawara suggested using his discretion rather than making a new policy part of the fee structure. The new fees were approved unanimously.

Board unanimously approves five liquor licenses

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce requested a special event liquor permit for a beer and wine garden as part of its second annual Street Dance at Monument Plaza on Aug. 26. Beneficiaries of the charitable event are Tri-Lakes Cares (50 percent), as well as the Faith Community Church building fund, the Life Academy scholarship program, and purchase of body armor for Air Force Academy Security police dogs being deployed to the Iraq war zone.

The board unanimously approved routine one-year liquor license renewals for Tri-Lakes Liquor, 585 Highway 105, and a 3.2 percent beer/fermented beverage license for Safeway, 624 Highway 105. Monument Police Department Detective Mark Owens attested that there have been no violations at either business in the past 12 months.

Attorney Allen Dill said 7-Eleven Inc. has changed its policy and is franchising its corporate Front Range stores but retaining joint 50-50 ownership of each store’s 3.2 percent beer/fermented beverage liquor license with its new owner operators. The new partner for the store at 283 Highway 105 is Rajesh Chugh, of Chugh Enterprises, Inc. Though Chugh has been the operator of the store, he attended a six-week corporate liquor license training program as a new joint owner. Town Clerk Scott Meszaros said the application for the new license should be processed by the state within 30 days. The temporary license was unanimously approved.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. sought a new 3.2 percent beer/fermented beverage liquor license for its Monument Marketplace Supercenter. Meszaros said that Wal-Mart is already approved by the state, so the investigation would be for the specific manager for this store, Angela Mitchell.

Mitchell said underage cashier employees are not allowed to touch alcohol products that are being purchased. Instead, the store’s customer service manager performs checkout and ID checks. Mitchell also said that even though the requested Colorado license would permit round-the-clock liquor sales, Wal-Mart’s policy is to suspend sales from midnight to 7 a.m. Her license was approved unanimously.

2006 budget restatement proposed

Treasurer Pamela Smith said that the completion of the 2005 audit had finalized the specific amounts of money carried over to 2006 budget, making these funds, along with increased 2006 revenues, available for allocation against unexpected expenses and reduction of long-term debt. The amount carried forward in the general fund was $222,465, and $1,423,178 was carried forward in the Water Enterprise Fund. The total amount carried forward in all the minor funds was $317,195, most of which is unspent funds for capital projects. Smith said that posting requirements required the board to wait until the Sept. 21 meeting for approval of the restatement. Green added that while there might be a pre-payment penalty for some old high-interest bond debt, there are no TABOR restrictions on early payoffs.

Some of the proposed budget restatement recommendations were:

  • Payment of $520,000 for the land for the new Police Department/Town Hall building.

  • Reduction of long-term debt principal by $43,000.

  • Addition of two part-time employment positions.

  • Addition of one full-time law enforcement employment position to cover court duties.

  • Addition of one full-time position for principal planner, while a construction inspector position replaced the staff engineer position.

  • Addition of one full-time position in September for new water billing clerk position.

  • Increased Police Department overtime and equipment for replacement police vehicle.

  • Additional $50,000 for unbudgeted emergency work on town wells.

  • Additional $45,300 for additional well expenses

  • Additional $77,000 for a well generator.

  • Additional payment of $485,689 to reduce the principal balance on the Monument Lake Dam loan to save $523,000 in interest payments.

  • Additional $53,150 for storm drainage capital outlay.

  • Additional $227,446 for traffic capital outlay.

  • Additional $14,250 for cost of unifying town and Triview Metropolitan District land use standards.

Two payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  • $11,785 for consultant engineering work performed by GMS, Inc. for a water treatment plant

  • $520,000 for the land purchase for the new Police Department/Town Hall building.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that it appeared that Lewis-Palmer School District 38 would not appeal the District Court decision to reject its lawsuit against the town.

Green reported that the town’s web site would be unavailable during revision. An "under construction" notice will appear when people try to log on, until the site is restructured.

The meeting adjourned at 7:50 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, August 21: Open house held on Baptist Road interchange plans

Click here on the drawing below to zoom in or download the Baptist interchange design

Click on the drawing below to zoom in or download the Baptist interchange design

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) held an open house meeting at Creekside Middle School Aug. 21 to once again discuss the relationship between ongoing and proposed Baptist Road improvement projects. Some of the needed Baptist Road improvements are underway east of I-25, but there is no funding currently to improve the I-25 interchange. The meeting was a follow-up to a similar open house session on June 19 and started early so that several emergency ordinances could be approved prior to the Baptist Road presentation. Trustees Tim Miller and Tommie Plank were absent.

Budget changes and police building funding approved

The board unanimously approved separate emergency ordinances adopting a supplemental budget and corresponding appropriation. Additional revenues from the 2005 audit were carried forward and added to the beginning balances to the 2006 budget. These additional funds and unexpected 2006 revenues were allocated and appropriated to new expenditures in the budget restatement for land purchases, capital projects, and debt reduction that were discussed and approved at the previous board meeting:

  • General fund—$739,235

  • Water enterprise fund—$1,825,658

  • Other funds—$372,343

The board also unanimously approved an emergency ordinance for lease-purchase financing (not to exceed $3.2 million) agreement with Wells Fargo Bank for the new building for the police department and town hall offices. The site is the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. Green said that the financing had to be in place before the town could issue a request for proposal for construction of the building. She also said that the cost of the land ($520,000 or $10 per square foot) was in line with the few other comparable costs for nearby commercial land that were available.

(See article on Aug. 7 BOT meeting for details)

The board unanimously approved a resolution declaring Aug. 23 "Ronald Jay Simpson Day" in recognition of his service to the town. Simpson resigned as the manager of Triview Metropolitan District Aug. 30. He held the post for 11 years.

Japanese citizen Akio Nyuriamo, a chaperone for Japanese 4-H students from the region around Kyoto and Osaka who were visiting Monument, presented Mayor Byron Glenn with several "traditional Japanese good will" gifts to thank the town for its support of her organization’s annual visits. Glenn thanked her and exchanged bows with her as each gift was presented.

The board unanimously approved four payments over $5,000:

  • $47,126.85 to Triview Metro District for its share of the town’s June sales tax revenue

  • $4,913.30 to Triview Metro District for its share of the town’s motor vehicle specific ownership tax.

  • $13,336 to traffic consultant SHE, Inc. for professional services.

  • $9,600.53 to Robinson Construction, LLC for restroom construction in Dirty Woman Creek Park.

Tax initiative discussed

Mayor Glenn, Town Manager Cathy Green, PBS&J project manager Steve Sandvik, County Commissioner Wayne Williams, and District 9 Colorado State Transportation Commissioner Terry Schooler explained the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) November ballot initiative for a temporary sales tax to privately finance early improvements to the state-owned I-25 Baptist Road interchange. Citizens asked several questions after the presentations.

Glenn reviewed the history of BRRTA’s efforts to expedite interchange improvements.

  • BRRTA was formed in 1997 when there were only a very few houses (Kingswood) and two businesses (Total and Brookhart’s) within its boundaries.

  • The interchange was a top priority project in the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government’s (PPACG) Transportation Improvement Plan which guides state funding of capital highway projects in 1998 and 1999 for improvements in 2000 or 2001. However, there was only enough funding available at that time for the I-25 Highway 105 (Exit 161) interchange improvements.

  • After the interchange lost its highest priority ranking, BRRTA went to the developers of the Monument Marketplace and Timbers at Monument to seek private financing for the $16 million interchange, but the cost was too high for them to absorb.

  • BRRTA next proposed a voluntary 3 percent public improvement fee to be collected by Wal-Mart as a condition of approval for construction on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway in the county, which fell through when the Board of County Commissioners did not approve their development proposal. This parcel was subsequently annexed by the town for the Monument Ridge community commercial development.

  • A 1-percent public improvement fee for all commercial entities in BRRTA was then proposed after Wal-Mart decided to open a supercenter in the Monument Marketplace, but Wal-Mart refused to participate, saying it was a tax that the voters should approve.

  • Commissioner Williams then proposed a ballot initiative for a temporary 1-cent sales tax for BRRTA commercial entities to finance the private revenue bonds used to pay for early construction of the state-owned interchange. This taxing potential remained available to BRRTA due to Monument choosing not to participate in the temporary one-cent sales tax for the recently approved Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. Williams recommended against making the proposed temporary sales tax applicable to the entire town of Monument in order to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome, now that the Highway 105 interchange is already completed.

  • Glenn noted that CDOT would have been unable to reimburse BRRTA for its early construction of the Baptist Road interchange until PPACG again declared Exit 158 a "regional priority." He said the board had been successful in getting PPACG to redesignate the interchange the third highest regional priority in July due to BRRTA’s approval of the temporary one-cent sales ballot initiative, the first of three necessary steps.

  • Glenn said the second step was an Aug. 17 CDOT resolution stating that they would pay back BRRTA’s cost when state funds become available, perhaps within five to ten years. Without this resolution, funding might not be available until 2020 or later. Other major factors leading to approval were 95 percent completion of the design of the interchange by PBS&J and donation of land for right-of-way by developers which has reduced the cost of the project by about $2 million.

  • The third step is voter approval of the bond issue. The size of the revenue bond issue will be $20.0 million to $21.5 million. Current estimates for interchange expansion are from $15.0 million to $16.5 million.

  • The bond issue is much higher than construction cost estimates due to recent unpredictably high rates of increase (far above inflation) in material and labor costs. There is also a need to borrow enough extra principal to cover the shortfall in near term sales tax revenue during the first three years of interest and principal payments until enough additional new stores are built within the new BRRTA shopping centers to cover the entire bond payments. The length of the temporary sales tax is 20 years or until the bonds are paid off. The bond principal would probably be paid off much sooner than that if CDOT funding never becomes available.

  • The size and term of the bond issue are very conservative because they are pure revenue bonds, with no physical collateral to reduce the risk to the bond purchasers if there was not enough sales tax revenue to pay off the bonds in 20 years and CDOT never reimbursed BRRTA. The bondholders would lose the un-reimbursed portion of their investment in that "unlikely" case.

  • After CDOT has made its payment to BRRTA and once all the required financial transactions for early recall and liquidation of the bonds are completed, the sales tax will cease. Any leftover funds from the CDOT reimbursement would be applied to other currently unfunded BRRTA projects: widening from Desiree Drive east to Tari Drive, widening west of I-25 to the west end of Baptist and a $13 million bridge over the railroad tracks. (The extension and paving of Baptist Road east of the Roller Coaster Road intersection to the Highway 83 and Hodgen Road intersection is not part of BRRTA.)

In his conclusion, Glenn said,

  • "The interchange won’t be built unless we build it ourselves."

  • "The next higher priority, the Highway 16 expansion, was just funded, which is good for us."

  • "It’s a safety hazard now. It’s a transportation nightmare. I was stuck on the (Baptist Road) off-ramp for seven minutes just now."

  • The Board of Trustees are all volunteers and Monument residents.

  • The tax benefits the town because all tax revenues go directly to financing the interchange improvement.

Town Manager Green briefly reviewed a few highlights of the PowerPoint slide presentation PBS&J project manager Steve Sandvik gave to PPACG on Aug. 17, prior to their decision to upgrade the interchange to a regional priority. The main purposes of the early financing are:

  • To expedite construction for public safety.

  • To relieve congestion and failing levels of service on the Exit 158 interchange, Baptist Road, and Jackson Creek Parkway.

  • To save money by integrating simultaneous state interchange and county road widening projects.

  • To take advantage of $1.286 million of commercial right-of-way donated to BRRTA to expedite the tax initiative.

  • To avoid future unknown escalations of construction costs in excess of inflation already experienced on current Baptist Road widening project

Sandvik said that interchange construction, which would last 14-16 months per the essentially completed PBS&J design, could begin as soon as:

  • The sales tax initiative is approved.

  • Rights-of-way transfer documentation is completed

  • Bids for construction are advertised and the winning bid is awarded

Commissioner Williams gave his views on the state’s funding priorities and why the temporary one-cent BRRTA sales tax ballot initiative makes short-term reimbursement of BRRTA more likely, if approved in November:

  • After extensive research, there are only two options: a taxpayer initiative for financing early construction to begin immediately after a vote for the initiative or wait indefinitely for state funding, perhaps 20 years or more.

  • BRRTA residents, primarily from Jackson Creek, will vote on the initiative since they are most affected by the Baptist Road interchange.

  • The majority of shoppers who will pay the majority of the tax will come from outside of BRRTA, and pay directly for their use of Baptist Road for access to stores within BRRTA – there are clearly not enough shoppers in BRRTA to support a Wal-Mart, Kohl’s, Home Depot or the other planned/projected regional stores.

  • The state has over a $10 billion backlog of unfunded capital highway projects

  • The interchange improvement is already environmentally cleared.

  • The interchange is part of a $525 million improvement program, which includes a six-lane improvement for I-25 within El Paso County, from the World Arena to County Line Road, with eight lanes from North Academy Boulevard to Circle Drive.

  • Virtually everyone who will vote on the initiative has moved here after the interchange was built, adding to its congestion.

  • The temporary BRRTA one-cent sales tax will bring the rate up to competing stores in Colorado Springs and other parts of the county, not make it higher, because Monument’s BOT chose not to be part of PPRTA’s temporary one-cent sales tax.

  • Even in the highly unlikely event that CDOT does not pay back BRRTA nor does the sales tax pay off the purely revenue bonds after 20 years, it would expire – the risk is entirely the bondholders’.

  • Immediate construction is cheaper, easier, and faster after a favorable vote to privately finance the improvement, making Exit 158 functioning and safe as it was just a few years ago.

Commissioner Schooler also provided some of his views on the ballot initiative:

  • The high PPACG priority that should have led to funding this improvement five years ago was lost due to the economic downturn which will now severely limit state capital highway funding indefinitely under TABOR.

  • The only state funding that is guaranteed in the future will be for maintenance and repairs of existing roads.

  • Excess revenues can only be allocated to capital improvements, if they become available, under Colorado Senate Bill 1

  • PPACG has given the interchange a high enough regional priority to make this category of funding very likely within the 2007-12 time frame of its current Transportation Improvement Program.

  • CDOT repaid private financing of the Powers and Platte Boulevard interchange

  • His approved Aug. 17 motion to create an intergovernmental agreement between CDOT and BRRTA for repayment of the capital construction costs is based on this ballot initiative – the agreement would be signed if the ballot initiative passes.

Some additional information was provided in statements made by these officials in response to citizen questions:

  • The dangerous and troublesome light at the Baptist-Struthers Road intersection will be eliminated when Struthers Road is widened to four lanes and re-routed to the Baptist-Jackson Creek Parkway intersection.

  • Construction by the county for its new Struthers Road connection to Jackson Creek Parkway cannot begin until November due to federal Preble’s mouse mitigation requirements.

  • The diamond configuration of the intersection will be retained because a clover-leaf would be more than five times more expensive due to the amount of commercial land and buildings that would have to be paid for.

  • Traffic on the Baptist Road interchange at full Monument region buildout will be less than the current amount of traffic for the Woodmen Road I-25 interchange.

  • Both I-25 off ramps will have dual left-turn lanes.

  • The northbound I-25 off-ramp will have a "through right-turn lane." Both I-25 on-ramps will also have a "through right-turn lane" from Baptist Road.

  • There will be dual left-turn lanes in both directions from the new eight-lane bridge over I-25 to the I-25 on-ramps

  • The Baptist-Struthers-Jackson Creek Parkway intersection will have dual left-turn lanes in all four directions

  • There will be no extension of Mitchell Avenue across extensive Preble’s mouse habitat to intersect Baptist Road unless the mouse is de-listed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the state.

  • The northern edge of the eight-lane bridge must be eight feet higher than the current bridge to provide sufficient clearance from the planned I-25 grade, farther up Monument hill.

  • The westbound four-lane span will be built first while traffic continues to use the existing two-lane bridge.

  • There will be "an interesting temporary detour road" for the change in elevation when traffic is switched to the northern span and the existing bridge is demolished to start construction on the southern four-lane span.

  • The bridge will be wide enough for future widening of I-25 to eight lanes on Monument Hill

The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m. The next BOT meeting is on Tuesday, Sept. 5, due to the holiday weekend. Meetings are normally held at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Monday of the month at Town Hall, 166 Second St.

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Monument Planning Commission, August 9: Promontory Pointe plans recommended for approval

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved the Promontory Pointe plat and site plan proposals that had been continued from the July 12 meeting because a consultant was late in sending notices to neighboring property owners. Also approved were a major amendment to a Trails End preliminary PD site plan and a proposed change to the town’s lighting regulation. Commissioner John Kortgardner was absent.

Promontory Pointe preliminary/final plat approved

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that the commissioners had already conducted a public hearing on the plat and site plan July 12. He said there would also be public comment on both during this meeting because of the previous notification problem.

Road name still not approved: The name of the extension of Gleneagle Drive northward from Baptist Road through Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch to Higby Road has still not been approved by the county. Landco Properties, the developer of Promontory Pointe, did not want to use the name Gleneagle Drive because it might imply that this development was part of Gleneagle, a county development, even though concerns were expressed at hearings that such name changes are confusing.

In 2005 Landco, HPR LLC (the developer of Home Place Ranch to the north), and Classic Homes (the developer of Sanctuary Pointe to the east) agreed to form three road improvement districts which would impose separate mill levies to pay for the extension of Gleneagle Drive north to Higby Road, widening of Higby Road from Home Place Ranch west to Jackson Creek Parkway, and widening of Jackson Creek Boulevard to four lanes from the Monument Marketplace north to Highway 105.

The name Ranch Point Road was selected to reflect the names of all three contributing developments. However, the Enumerations Office of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department did not approve that name. The name "Old Post," which had been assigned to a cul-de-sac within Promontory Pointe, was then proposed for reassignment by town staff to the Gleneagle extension. However, the proposed plat submitted at the July 12 hearing depicted the name of the extension of Gleneagle Drive as Walkerton Drive, while the name for this road shown on the site plan was Temperance Drive. The plat and site plan submitted for the Aug. 9 hearing listed the name as Old Post Road. This reassigned name and the new name for the affected cul-de-sac had not yet been approved by the Enumerations Office.

This northward extension of Gleneagle Drive will be called Ranch Point Road only within the Promontory Pointe and Home Place Ranch annexations. The intersection of Higby and Ranch Point Roads will align with the future southward extension of Furrow Road to Higby, in accordance with the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan. Furrow Road, like Gleneagle Drive, is in the county. Furrow Road, Ranch Point Road, and Gleneagle Drive will form a single residential collector parallel to I-25 between County Line Road and Northgate Road.

The county is widening and re-routing Struthers Road to connect to Jackson Creek Parkway as part of the Baptist Road improvement—another part of its Major Transportation Corridors Plan. This major frontage collector parallel to I-25 will also connect Northgate Road and County Line Road.

Landco originally sought approval from Triview Metropolitan District to avoid having to meet the county minor urban residential collector standard called for in the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan, which applies to Gleneagle Drive. The collector standard requires a 60-foot right-of-way, no parking, and no driveways. Triview responded by creating a new road category to meet Landco’s request for only a 50 foot right-of-way and allowed on-street parking and driveways to each house.

On Nov. 9, 2005, citizens complained about safety and the developer’s desire to maximize density at the Promontory Pointe PD sketch plan. Several commissioners also specifically complained about the narrow right-of-way and cars backing into traffic from driveway accesses for every lot along this collector. The Planning Commission rejected the proposed PD sketch plan. After a heavily attended four-hour hearing Feb. 6, Landco withdrew its proposed sketch plan when the Board of Trustees appeared ready to vote against it for the same reasons.

Town staff initiated a program to require unification of Triview’s and the town’s development regulations. Eventually, Landco and Triview dropped their insistence on creating a new road category and Landco agreed to reconfigure the collector road to meet county standards. However, neither of the plats submitted in July and August depicted the new frontage road easements for driveways for the lots along Old Post Road to match those shown on the site plans.

Kassawara reported that the final plat conformed to the density of the PD sketch plan approved by the Board of Trustees on Jan. 3. The final plat contains 284 single-family home lots on 77.80 acres. Road rights-of-way total 24.41 acres. There are 14.64 acres of open space and park tracts. Gross density is 2.43 dwelling units per acre. Net density is 3.08 dwelling units per acre. The developer will donate the cash equivalent of 4.5 acres of dedicated land to Lewis-Palmer School District 38.

The plat had been revised to address most of the technical corrections requested by the staff in July, including a change of responsibility for park maintenance from the town to Triview Metropolitan District. The remaining minor technical corrections were addressed by a single condition that says they "shall be made to the satisfaction of Town Staff prior to recording" the plat.

Kassawara reported that referral comments from other agencies had not yet been addressed. He recommended a condition that "All referral comments shall be addressed to the satisfaction of Town Staff prior to recording" the plat. He added that the plat was "pretty well buttoned up and ready for a vote."

Principal Planner Karen Griffith said the proposed plat conformed to the requirement for an equivalent land dedication for parks, trails, and open space equal to at least 20 percent of the parcel and the design principles outlined in the town’s subdivision regulations.

Public comment: Jackson Creek resident Steve Cummings said that the increases in Promontory Pointe lot sizes along the western boundary of the parcel were more generous next to Saber Creek Drive and Split Creek Drive than Pistol Creek Drive and Misty Creek Drive. He asserted that the southwestern Promontory Pointe lots were actually 4,000 square feet smaller than adjacent Jackson Creek lots because the land in the trail easement at the rear of these proposed lots cannot be used by the prospective landowners. He pointed out that there were still no driveway easements depicted on the plat along the main collector road.

Cummings also said that the Promontory Pointe drainage next to his Misty Creek Drive lot was inadequate due to a lack of detention ponds and that his lot had been damaged by stormwater runoff. He suggested moving a proposed park closer to his lot to increase stormwater absorption.

Commissioner Tom Martin said that the lot size adjustments along the south end of the western boundary were comparable to those to the north and did not need to be further enlarged. He noted that the 30-foot diameter treed islands added to the center of all cul-de-sacs were a significant improvement. Kassawara concurred and said the town would make that a new design standard for future development and noted that the remaining roadway in the 110-foot diameter cul-de-sacs had a large enough turning radius for fire engines.

The other three conditions Kassawara recommended for the proposed plat were:

  • Right-of-way for Baptist Road shall be dedicated to El Paso County by Warranty Deed before recording the plat.

  • The name for the main north-south street that connects with Gleneagle shall be approved by the town and El Paso County Enumerations prior to recording.

  • The missing frontage road driveway easements on Old Post Road must be added to the plat prior to recording.

The plat was unanimously approved with the five proposed conditions.

Preliminary PD site plan approved

Kassawara said that all the town’s previous drainage, detention pond, and lot size issues raised at previous hearings had been resolved.

Public comment: Kingswood resident Gene Scalf said that Landco had not given him a copy of the preliminary site plan as promised and he had been unable to prepare comments. Kassawara said Scalf could review a copy of the plan he was given and provide formal hearing comments at the Board of Trustees hearing.

Kassawara then responded to the site plan comments Cummings had presented earlier in the meeting. Kassawara said that he had reviewed and approved their engineering plans for detention ponds and an outfall line that connects to a Jackson Creek outfall line. Cummings replied that it was the open space on the vacant Promontory Pointe land by his lot that was causing the problem. Kassawara said there had been no grading on the Landco parcel other than for Baptist Road widening. The flows Cummings was discussing were historic natural flows that preceded construction of any houses in Jackson Creek.

Kassawara said that the 30-foot trail easements along the western boundary of Promontory Pointe will be part of each of the privately owned boundary lots and will be taxable in accordance with the PD sketch plan approved by the Board of Trustees in January. These lots are approximately equal in size to those along the eastern boundary of Jackson Creek. Kassawara also noted that the 30-foot trail easement, as well as the fence that will be installed on both sides of the trail will be maintained by Triview Metropolitan District rather than the individual property owners. These improvements will be built before building permits are issued for any of the affected houses.

Kassawara also said that the location of the parks had not changed throughout the approval process due to the natural sloping topography of the sites making them most appropriate for benches and picnic tables. "That’s the place for the park due to the terrain."

The preliminary PD site plan was unanimously approved.

Trails End PD site plan major amendment approved

The Trails End land owner, Five Y Eyes Guys, LLC, sought approval of a major amendment to the development’s design guidelines to more than double the number of building elevations being offered by Richmond Homes as well as increase the number of available colors, types of siding materials, and decorative stone options. Kassawara said the recommended addition of larger models and upgraded materials were consistent with the previously approved PD guidelines. "More variety is a positive."

Public comment: A number of Santa Fe Trails residents attended the meeting to register complaints about Trails End issues unrelated to the proposed PD site plan amendment. However, Shoshone Trails homeowner Robert Byers did say that he did not like the designs, colors, and materials used on the few existing Trails End houses, because they did not match those of adjacent Santa Fe Trails houses like his.

The other complaints came primarily from Trails End and Santa Fe Trails residents who live along the boundary between the two developments and were also unrelated to the hearing. They focused on the property owners’ inability to plant trees or build privacy fences due to a Monument Sanitation District 20-foot major sewer collection line easement that extends 10 feet into yards on either side of the subdivision boundary. Kassawara noted that fences would prevent the district from having access to its line for cleaning and repairs. He also noted that roots from shrubs and trees would puncture the collection line, creating leaks that would cause cave-ins. Kassawara also noted that a meeting would be held in these backyards the next morning, and he and Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund would answer questions from homeowners.

Residents were unsatisfied with this statement. They said Richmond Homes had failed to advise the purchasers of Trails End homes along the northern boundary that they could not use the back of their yards due to the sewer easement and the town was taxing them on property they could not use. However, utility easements along the back 10-15 feet of residential properties are very common in the Tri-Lakes region.

After the Aug. 10 meeting with property owners, Wicklund recommended and the Monument Sanitation District board approved a policy at its Aug. 15 meeting that allows homeowners to build fences along the rear boundary of the affected perimeter lots as long as the owners acknowledge that they do so at their own risk. The district reserves the right to take down the fences to perform necessary sewer maintenance and repairs and will not be obligated to replace them. Trees and shrubs will remain prohibited in the easement.

Several commissioners also asked Kassawara questions unrelated to the design guidelines amendment hearing. Their questions focused mostly on long-standing drainage problems in Santa Fe Trails. Kassawara said these problems had been solved. The southwestern detention pond had been already enlarged by the town at the developer’s expense and the outflow of the northwestern detention pond had been redirected to the north to flow into Dirty Woman Creek.

After further lengthy discussion about unrelated Santa Fe Trails and Trails End issues, the commission approved the proposed additional elevations, colors, and materials options.

Lighting regulation amendment approved

Griffith discussed her proposed amendment to provide a more objective standard for lighting and minimize light pollution and glare from future construction through the use of full cut-off or fully shielded fixtures. She said it would apply primarily to commercial and multi-family building proposals. The amendment is based on standards from the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America that give lighting designers substantial flexibility.

The maximum illumination permitted is 0.1 foot-candles 20 feet outside the property line. Drawings called photometric grids that display the distribution of varying illumination levels will be required submissions. This maximum includes any interior illumination radiating outward through a window. Exemptions are provided for temporary emergency, security, and holiday lighting, as well as low-level illumination fixtures.

She noted that the Kings Soopers parking lot was one example of construction that already complies with the proposed standard, providing motorists with enough light for safety and security, yet having little if any impact on neighboring properties.

Commissioner Carl Armijo asked if the consultant’s lighting plans would require costly endorsement by a professional engineer. Kassawara said only a letter from the lighting engineer stating that the proposed plan complied with the amended code would be required.

The amendment was unanimously approved.

Kassawara asked for volunteers for a citizen committee to write PD design standards for building elevations. Martin and Armijo volunteered.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:55 p.m. The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13, in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, August 11: Draft language for sales tax discussed

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority president, County Commissioner Wayne Williams, announced that the state Transportation Commission would be considering an intergovernmental agreement between Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and BRRTA on Aug. 17 regarding reimbursement for revenue bond financing of Baptist Road interchange improvements. The board also reviewed draft language for its November ballot initiative that proposes a temporary one-cent sales tax within BRRTA to pay for revenue bonds to finance early construction of the Baptist Road interchange.

County Commissioner Jim Bensberg and Monument Trustee Dave Mertz were absent.

Frontage road update

Chaparral Hills resident Linda Silveira said she had been working with El Paso County Department of Transportation project manager Andre Brackin on plans for a privacy fence on the north side of her property. The fence is to be built between her house and the frontage road on the south side of Baptist Road that will provide alternative access to the Family of Christ Church and the two lots to the east via Leather Chaps Drive. The driveway accesses to Baptist Road for these three properties are being eliminated in accordance with county standards for a major collector.

Silviera noted that Brackin was not in attendance and asked the board to confirm that the fence would be built. Williams, confirmed that the fence will be built.

Williams also noted that one of the two homes had been sold to a church and said this showed that construction of the second church was "illustrative of why we thought the frontage road was appropriate." Silveira said, "I can think of worse neighbors." Williams added that "It was kind of nice to drive by and see some of that (road) actually has black top, curbs, and gutter."

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved payments for the district’s audit and legal services. The board also approved payments of about $12 and $21 for property taxes for the rest of the year for two pieces of right-of-way. The board’s attorney, Jim Hunsaker, noted it was cheaper to pay the minuscule tax bills rather than continue trying to convince the state’s tax department personnel that BRRTA was in fact tax-exempt. The board unanimously approved all four payments.

Construction project updates

Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that he had just received grading and utility relocation plans from Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) and the developer of the Monument Ridge parcel. He said he would review them as soon as possible so that the utility might begin to move the underground power lines that have slowed grading and construction of the portion of Baptist Road opposite the King Soopers shopping center. Monument Mayor Byron Glenn said that the on-site project foreman had told him that "they were having a lot of problems with the utility."

The cost of the MVEA relocation has more than doubled since the contract was awarded for widening Baptist Road. MVEA has been slow in relocating its lines along the entire length of the project and has been slow in approving the regrading of the steep hill, construction of retention walls, and relocation of its underground lines between the Monument Ridge development and the Family of Christ Church. This has also caused delays by MVEA in approving relocations of its lines in the Baptist Road right-of-way in front of the church and the Monument Ridge development.

Planning development updates

Kassawara said that the Sanctuary Pointe preliminary development proposal would be presented to the town’s Planning Commission in September. No proposals had been submitted to his department for Home Place Ranch. The Planning Commission had approved the preliminary/final plat and preliminary PD site plan for Promontory Pointe (see article on the Aug. 9 meeting for details) and they will be presented to the Board of Trustees on Sept. 5.

Wording of ballot issue unresolved

There was a lengthy technical and philosophical discussion on what would be the clearest way to word the proposal for a temporary one-cent sales tax to finance revenue bonds to pay for construction of needed improvements to the I-25 Baptist Road interchange before CDOT can pay for it in 2012 or later.

Hunsaker said the Taxpayer Bill of Rights amendment to the state constitution requires that ballot questions be in a specific format, all words have to be capitalized, and that the question be a single sentence. There was consensus during the discussion that these requirements make it difficult to draft wording that is not too long or convoluted for voters to quickly grasp and understand. He noted Williams’ suggestion to use the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority ballot language as a guide to writing the draft the board then discussed.

The board agreed on the following criteria for the temporary tax initiative language:

  • The proposed temporary tax would be a standard Colorado sales tax on anyone who shops within BRRTA, not a property tax on BRRTA property owners.

  • The $25 million debt ceiling approved for BRRTA when it was created in 1997 should be reduced to the smallest amount sufficient to pay off all interchange debt should CDOT be unable to provide $15 million in capital reimbursement to BRRTA.

  • The $125 million total debt repayment ceiling approved for BRRTA when it was created should be reduced.

  • There is no existing BRRTA debt.

  • The ballot question must specify what the maximum temporary sales tax revenue would be in the first year for payment on the revenue bonds if the initiative is approved, and the amount must be large enough to ensure that a refund is not required.

  • The term of the revenue bonds must be long enough so that the bondholders are assured of an acceptable risk of return on their investment.

  • The size of the bond issue must be large enough to pay for all construction costs, bond issue administrative and overhead costs including those for early payoff after CDOT reimbursement, all interest and principal repayments if CDOT cannot pay back BRRTA, and a cash reserve to cover the shortfall in initial temporary sales tax revenues during the first few years after the bonds are issued until the rest of the planned stores are built within BRRTA.

  • Any money received from CDOT that might be in excess of the amount needed to liquidate the revenue bonds and pay off all other construction costs would be applied to other BRRTA capital projects.

Williams emphasized that the wording of the ballot issue must make the prospective taxpayers and holders of the revenue bonds comfortable. He emphasized that nearly every registered voter within BRRTA moved here after the authority was created. Hunsaker emphasized that the wording needed to be complete enough to ensure that it was "bullet-proof" to any TABOR challenge and eliminates any possibility of not authorizing enough capital formation or tax revenue to pay for all aspects of construction and financing of the project. Bond consultant Linda Clark, of Piper-Jaffrey, said that all these parameters are a balancing act of estimates of future revenue and construction costs while discussing options for the term of the bonds, size of the sales tax, and the total amount of the bond issue.

After eliminating some parts of the draft language as unnecessary, the board asked Hunsaker to redraft a shortened ballot question for certification at a special meeting on Aug. 28. They asked him to reduce the debt cap from $25 million to $21.5 million, reduce the maximum repayment cap from $125 million to $50 million, and set the term of the bonds at 20 years. Schooler said he felt confident that the state Transportation Board would approve the repayment agreement on Aug. 17. Williams said the board could also approve that agreement with CDOT for the future $15 million reimbursement on Aug. 28.

The meeting adjourned at 4:25 p.m.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, August 28: Sales tax ballot question certified

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) unanimously certified the language for the November ballot initiative and unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement for the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to reimburse BRRTA for its proposed revenue bond financing of Baptist Road interchange improvements. County Commissioner Jim Bensberg was absent.

The board first held an executive session for about 20 minutes to hear legal advice from Authority Attorney Jim Hunsaker, of Grimshaw and Harring, P.C., and County Attorney Bill Louis on questions related to the ballot issue. No decisions or announcements were made afterward.

After a second lengthy public hearing for more citizen input, the board further reduced the length of the ballot question and unanimously certified the final draft text that proposes a temporary 1-cent sales tax within BRRTA to pay for the interest and principal on revenue bonds to finance early construction of I-25 Baptist Road interchange improvements.

(See article on the Aug. 11 BRRTA meeting for discussion of the first public hearing on technical issues regarding the text edits.)

Hunsaker said, "The certification was approved with the understanding that a revised question might be required to be certified based upon the advice of bond counsel. Nevertheless, the BRRTA Board expects the final question to be substantially similar to the question certified today."

The certified text

"Shall Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (‘BRRTA’) taxes be increased $1,500,000 in the first full fiscal year, and by whatever amount of revenue is generated annually in every year of the tax thereafter, by the imposition by BRRTA of a temporary sales and use tax pursuant to part 6, article 4, title 43, of the Colorado Revised Statutes at the rate of 1.00% (one cent per dollar) upon every transaction or other incident with respect to which a sales and use tax is levied by the state of Colorado (excluding purchases of food for domestic home consumption, prescription medications, residential utility bills or other exempt transactions as detailed in articles 26 and 30, title 39, as amended from time to time, of the Colorado Revised Statutes), such taxes to be for the sole and exclusive purpose of funding the costs of reconstruction of the Baptist Road interchange at I-25, which taxes shall be subject to the following additional conditions:

  • This tax authorization is being approved in reliance on the 1997 debt authorization;

  • The 1997 debt authorization is hereby reduced from $25,000,000 in principal with a repayment of $125,000,000 to a new maximum total of $21,500,000 in principal with a repayment cost not to exceed $50,000,000;

  • Such taxes shall not commence unless and until the previously authorized debt shall be issued, and shall terminate upon the earlier of (1) such time as the debt and any refundings thereof are paid in full or fully defeased, or (2) 20 years after commencement of such taxes;

  • The debt shall be paid from the proceeds of the taxes authorized hereby and any reimbursements received by BRRTA from the Colorado Department of Transportation?"

Mail-in ballot approved

The board also unanimously approved having a mail-in election rather than a coordinated polling place election with the county.

County Commissioner Wayne Williams proposed the mail-in election after noting that there are 12 November ballot initiatives. The board unanimously approved Monument Town Clerk Scott Meszaros to be the designated election official. He will be advised by Sue Blair, the special election expert for R.S. Wells, the district’s management company, on the unique aspects of a rural transportation authority mail-in election law.

Blair advised BRRTA to obtain a separate post office box at the Monument Post Office (80132) for mailed ballots, since nearly everyone living in BRRTA has a Monument postal address. The return address on the clearly distinctive envelopes used to mail ballots to only registered voters will indicate it is sent by BRRTA, with this dedicated Monument post office box number and ZIP code to help ensure that it is not considered to be junk mail. R.S. Wells will obtain the list of registered voters within BRRTA from the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder and mail out the ballots for BRRTA.

Completed ballots must be mailed early enough to ensure that they are received no later than 7 p.m. on Nov. 7, regardless of when they are postmarked. If delivered after 7 p.m., they will not be counted. Ballots may also be hand-delivered to Town Hall, 166 Second St.

Special Sept. 8 meeting scheduled

The board scheduled a special meeting for 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 in Town Hall for further certification of the final language if changes are recommended by the bond attorney. The board will also give final approval of the mail-in ballot procedures and policies.

Appointment of a county project manager requested

State Transportation Commission member Terry Schooler asked that the board discuss appointing a county project manager on Sept. 8 for the interchange project. The project manager would coordinate county Department of Transportation pre-planning to be able to issue a request for bids within a few days after the election if the voters approve the ballot initiative. Current county policy is to not begin this kind of work until funding is appropriated and allocated for a specific project. Williams and Hisey concurred and agreed to ask the county Transportation Department to make an exception of this policy to maximize savings and minimize the time it would take to complete both of the integrated Baptist Road projects.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop, August 3: All agenda items continued due to applicants’ absences

By Jim Kendrick

None of the three applicants attended their land use preliminary hearings at the Palmer Lake Town Council Workshop. Three members of the council were also absent. There was no discussion of the three proposals, though there was discussion for nearly an hour of several items not on the agenda. Mayor Max Parker, Trustee Trudy Finan, and Trustee Gary Coleman were absent. Trustee Richard Allen presided.

The only three items on the published agenda were hearings on the following requests:

  • A sign permit request for Classic Catering by Anne Jones and Company

  • A request for a change to the planned unit development zone by Al Fritts for the Inn at Palmer Lake to divide the 27-acre parcel into two roughly equal size lots

  • A request for a minor subdivision and conditional use by Kreig Campbell for a proposed multi-use building on a lot behind the Speed Trap Café building on Glenway that is currently zoned for single-family residential.

"I can’t explain their (the applicants’) absence." Allen said. "I do believe that at next week’s meeting we certainly should take into consideration that they were not available for the workshop and adjust accordingly." Trustee Susan Miner said the council should learn why they were absent before passing judgment that might "impact our course of action next week." Allen replied, "I didn’t pass judgment, Susan. I said it should be taken into consideration." He said that his remark was not a judgment nor would the applicants be penalized for their absence, but a council decision could be delayed due to lack of information presented at the workshop. All three proposals were continued without discussion. They were all approved on Aug. 10. (See article on the Aug. 10 meeting.)

Allen asked if the trustees had any other non-agenda items they wanted to discuss.

Trustee Trish Flake suggested that a number of requirements currently listed in the town code were not being complied with. She said that minutes and bills are supposed to be read aloud at town council meetings, that all trustee reports are to be written and read aloud, and that all minutes are to be stored in a binder available for citizen review. She also noted that the code authorizes a town manager position and the council should discuss appointing a town engineer and improving fire coverage.

There was a lively discussion between staff members and Flake about the actual need to read minutes and reports aloud to comply with a 19th-century ordinance regarding hand-written minutes and invoices in an age of e-mail and laser printers. Town Clerk Della Gray said there is insufficient shelf space on the administration building conference room literature racks for binders currently on file for citizen review. She questioned the need to generate even more binders of printed paper that would needlessly duplicate official town records when few citizens or trustees ever ask to see any of the numerous existing binders. Gray added that the staff has a policy to print and give a copy of any town document or record to a citizen upon request and again noted that there are very few of these requests.

Gray and Allen also noted that the town had tried having a part-time town manager in the early 1990s and that the results were unsatisfactory. There is little likelihood of Palmer Lake having revenue to pay a full-time town manager based on several failed town tax initiatives and subsequent councils have since rejected filling the position. Gray said that the current form of government is formally recognized by the Colorado Municipal League’s classification of "town council with no city manager" for small Colorado towns that can’t afford to pay a town manager.

Allen suggested that other staff job descriptions should be updated as well. He asked Flake and the other trustees and staff present to submit lists of possible administrative updates to the town code for future "meaningful discussion" by the council.

Allen announced that he would make a major policy statement on fire inspections at the regular council meeting on Aug. 10 when the mayor was present. He noted that six months had passed since the election, one-quarter of the two-year election cycle, and said the council needed to be more pro-active on completing initiatives, rather than only reacting to items placed on the agenda by others.

Consultants help town promote itself: Miner reviewed a recent meeting held by her Economic Development Committee with the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade. She noted that several officials and agencies throughout the county and region have offered to help her committee develop a marketing strategy and program to better promote Palmer Lake businesses and recreation. Miner said the committees and consultants are helping the town decide what it wants to promote and develop in addition to its "good old-fashioned, small-town American values." She also noted that the highlight of the meeting was a slide show of Palmer Lake scenes prepared and presented by local photographer Mark Kirkland and Stephanie Schmuckatelly of the Tri-Lakes Center of the Arts.

Miner reported that most officials at the meeting were very surprised to learn that Palmer Lake’s trustees, planning commissioners, and committee members are unpaid. She also said that the consultants had found that the town is "unwelcoming to visitors at all levels," is "only being good at taking care of its own," and "has a reputation for being anti-growth and anti-development." Miner said that reversing these negative perceptions should be a priority.

Allen reported that the town’s consultant engineer, Paul Gilbert, said earlier in the day that Tim Shanks’ controversial three-lot development on the south fork of Shady Lane was in compliance with the existing hillside ordinance that sharply restricts construction on steeply sloped town lots. Allen also noted that no one was happy about the "contentious issues" regarding erosion, mud, and stormwater runoff from Shanks’ lots after repeated heavy summer rains. Allen said Shanks’ project was now moving forward with corrections based on the input from staff, consultants, and concerned citizens.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.

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Palmer Lake Town Council Meeting, August 10: Fire Authority proposes new support agreement

By Jim Kendrick

Trustee Richard Allen announced that the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority (TLMFA) had proposed changes to the ambulance service agreement between the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD). Most of the PLVFD firefighters attended the meeting to show their concern about the controversial proposal. The council also approved three replat proposals. Trustee Trudy Finan was absent.

Committee reports

Mayor: Mayor Max Parker reported that he had attended the forum sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce on July 21 and noted that it should be a good forum in the future for the town’s economic development proposals. He said he had also attended the Department of Local Affairs budget workshop on July 27 with Trustee Jim Girlando and Town Clerk Della Gray. There was a good discussion of Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) issues that will be helpful for the development of the 2007 budget. He asked each department head to have their portion of the 2007 budget drafted and submitted in time for the September council meetings.

Hillside ordinance amendment discussed: Parker also reported that he had discussed the application of the current hillside ordinance to Tim Shanks’ three-lot Blue Dolphin development on the south fork of Shady Lane with town consultant engineer Paul Gilbert and Town Attorney Larry Gaddis. Parker said Gilbert had confirmed that Shanks’ construction had met the intent of the hillside ordinance because excavation had been limited to less than 40 percent of the remainder of the parcel not set aside in a conservation easement.

Gaddis said that the hillside ordinance should be amended to eliminate the existing loophole in state and town statutes that allows excavation on the entire remainder of a hillside parcel (in excess of the town’s 40 percent limit) if a portion is first converted to a conservation easement. His proposed amendment would exclude any conservation easements from the 40 percent calculation for the remainder of the parcel. Gaddis also emphasized that Shanks had complied with the spirit and intent of the current town ordinance after setting up a conservation easement even though he was not required to do so under the existing state law and town code. Parker proposed a discussion of the hillside ordinance amendment at the "town council offsite/retreat," which was held Aug. 23.

There is currently a moratorium on further construction on sloping lots affected by the current or amended hillside ordinance until Dec. 31 as a result of this controversy.

Alternative well water proposal for Palmer Lake: Parker said he had made a preliminary inquiry about potential costs and legal issues for using the town’s recently drilled D-3 well to help sustain the level of water in Palmer Lake. This Denver aquifer well did not produce enough water—only about 60 gallons per minute—to be useful for the town’s water system and has been capped since it was tested for flow. Parker said he did not yet have firm estimates for constructing a water line from the well to the lake and a separate water line from the well to Monument Creek. The second line could provide substitute augmentation water for any Monument Creek surface water that might be diverted into the lake in addition to groundwater from the D-3 well. He said the rough preliminary estimate for the project might be as high as $400,000. Parker suggested that the council should also discuss at the retreat on Aug. 23 a possible ballot initiative to fund this construction cost with a mill levy about the same size as an expiring water system mill levy. A decision in favor of this new proposed initiative would need to be made soon to meet the timetable for a November ballot issue.

Allen asked if the Awake the Lake Committee had been part of the process. Spokesman Jeff Hulsmann said he had just learned of this alternative to the committee’s proposal to drill an agricultural well within the lake to maintain its level. He added that either well would only be a near- or mid-term solution for helping keep the lake full.

Roads: Roads Trustee Allen reported that the town continues to use state and county road repair millings to fix the town’s dirt roads that were washed out by summer storms. He noted that these millings were used for repaving and dust control on Epworth Highway and other dirt roads to the south.

Fire: Fire Trustee Gary Coleman discussed a proposed change in the ambulance service agreement and reported the July fire department statistics.

Coleman pointed out that most members of the volunteer fire department were in attendance to show their concern about proposed changes in the four-year-old ambulance service agreement between the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District (TLFPD) and PLVFD. He said the volunteer firefighters wanted to learn about the new proposed agreement, which had not been provided to Chief Phillip Beckman as required by the existing agreement. Coleman said Beckman and Tri-Lakes Chief Robert Denboskie should meet first, per the existing agreement, with Fire Trustee Coleman and then the council before Beckman discusses any changes proposed by Tri-Lakes. Miner said that Tri-Lakes had tried to go around the Palmer Lake fire chief and fire trustee in numerous past negotiations she had participated in.

Allen said he had been given the proposed agreement and had put it in Parker’s inbox. Allen, a Forest View Estates resident, is a neighbor of Charlie Pocock, a long-time director and president of the TLFPD board and a former Palmer Lake trustee.

The new draft agreement Tri-Lakes has proposed:

  • Changing the parties to the agreement from Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department to Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority and the Town of Palmer Lake.

  • Changing the scope of the agreement from ambulance and medical services to emergency services by adding fire and hazardous material emergency services.

  • Changing those responsible for representing Tri-Lakes and PLVFD in discussions of day-to-day operational matters from the respective fire chiefs to the Palmer Lake mayor and president of the TLMFA board.

  • Changing on-scene "incident command" from PLVFD to Tri-Lakes at any Palmer Lake emergency scene and "TLMFA will retain incident command until the incident commander deems it appropriate to transfer command to PLVFD," reversing the current policy that "PLVFD will retain scene control and turn patient control over to TLFPD for transport of Advanced Life Support or Advanced Life Support Procedures."

  • Eliminating the signature lines for Tri-Lakes and Palmer Lake fire chiefs.

Background: The type of ambulance service provided to Palmer Lake by Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and efforts to unify PLVFD with Tri-Lakes have been controversial for years. In November 2001, after eight years of discussion, the Palmer Lake Town Council, Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District commissioned a unification study by consultant Emergency Services Education and Consulting Group (ESECG.) Mayor Nikki McDonald of Palmer Lake said at the time that she was, "very hopeful the study will suggest feasible ways to improve service for town residents." She also said she understood that any such arrangement will require tax dollars from Palmer Lake residents and must, therefore, have their approval. She also said she did not want the study to overlook the valuable contribution of Palmer Lake’s corps of volunteers.

The purpose of the consultant’s study was to explore ways to (1) avoid duplication and waste in area-wide equipment purchases and in meeting construction funding, (2) improve emergency service training and responsiveness throughout the area, and (3) examine service boundaries in light of the location of existing fire stations, including those facilities outside the service areas of study, to minimize the need for future capital expansion.

However, there were continuing areas of concern. Key members of the North End Fire Chief’s Group had discontinued automatic aid to the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District in late September 2001 due to the Tri-Lakes chief’s failure to participate in North End Group meetings and Tri-Lakes firefighters’ failure to participate in joint North End Group training events. "Automatic aid" means that whenever a call for service is made anywhere in the North End Group area, all assigned districts are dispatched automatically. Without an automatic aid agreement in place, other districts will only respond to help an excluded district when directly asked for assistance.

With the consultant’s study funding agreement in place, the Woodmoor/Monument District reinstated automatic mutual aid with Tri-Lakes. The other adjacent North End Group districts—Donald Wescott Fire Protection District in Gleneagle to the south, the Black Forest Fire and Rescue Protection District to the east, and the Larkspur Fire and Rescue District to the north in Douglas County did not reinstate automatic aid, however.

The Palmer Lake Town Council had also voted to cancel its ambulance service agreement with the Tri-Lakes District on Nov. 8, 2001. It had proposed a replacement contract with the Larkspur district. One reason given for the change was that Tri-Lakes had not responded to every Palmer Lake call with a paramedic on board the response vehicle. Larkspur had two crews complete with a paramedic available around the clock at that time. According to Mayor McDonald, Tri-Lakes was also undergoing substantial growth and the increased demand for ambulance service within the Tri-Lakes District had increased the burden of servicing Palmer Lake with paramedics.

The Tri-Lakes District vigorously disputed this assertion. Tri-Lakes FPD Chief Keith Jensen attended the Dec. 13, 2001 Town Council meeting and vowed that the Tri-Lakes district would ensure the availability of an ALS-qualified paramedic on every call if that was what Palmer Lake required. After a heated discussion, the Palmer Lake Town Council voted to defer contract termination until representatives from the Tri-Lakes and Palmer Lake Boards could meet in January to discuss the matter. Palmer Lake was represented at these meetings by Fire Trustee Scott Russell, a PLVFD volunteer firefighter, and Trustee Susan Miner.

During meetings in 2002, representatives of Palmer Lake and Tri-Lakes attempted to iron out differences between the two jurisdictions that were highlighted at the Dec. 13 council meeting. Miner said that the Palmer Lake Town Council felt it was necessary and prudent for the safety of its residents to insist on paramedic services on each emergency medical call.

A second source of unification controversy has been the lack of a town mill levy for emergency fire and ambulance services. The Town Council approved a 6.0 mill ballot initiative for the April 2002 election. The Tri-Lakes property tax levy is 7.0 mills. Woodmoor/Monument’s mill levy is 9.4 mills. The ballot initiative would have raised about $118,000 in lieu of the long-standing annual $40,000 budget line item. This latter amount is not enough to cover all PLVFD expenses, requiring several fundraising events by the PLVFD Association each year to meet the annual lease-purchase payment for the department’s fire engine. Unification would have required that all three entities have a property tax of about the same size, and this ballot initiative was advertised as the town’s first step toward unification. The citizens of Palmer Lake defeated that 2002 property tax ballot initiative (105-154).

A third source of controversy in 2003 was Tri-Lakes’ insistence on building a new staffed station on the property it already owned for its unstaffed station at Roller Coaster Road and Highway 105 rather than at the Highway 83 location recommended by the consultant’s study. Tri-Lakes reportedly threatened to terminate ambulance service when the Palmer Lake Town Council opposed Tri-Lakes’ request for a county zoning variance for the Roller Coaster station at Board of County Commissioners hearings in May and June. The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board also opposed the Roller Coaster station zoning variance at those meetings.

Initially the county commissioners did not approve the Tri-Lakes request because of the ambulance service and consultant’s study controversies. There were also protests from neighbors of the existing unstaffed station regarding a continuously staffed fire station in an area zoned single-family residential. The commissioners later approved the variance in December after Tri-Lakes publicly promised not to discontinue ambulance service to Palmer Lake and many of the neighbors changed their positions on the proposed fully staffed station. PLVFD and DWFPD remained opposed to the variance at the December meeting.

After the town and the two districts approved a joint resolution in October 2002, to move forward with unification, negotiations between the three entities broke down completely by early 2004.

A separate unification agreement was signed between Woodmoor/Monument and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District boards in early 2004. This new agreement also offered membership to Tri-Lakes, but they declined to participate. However, this second agreement was effectively dissolved within months after a significant change in the membership of the Woodmoor/Monument board following the May 2004 special district election.

Since then, Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument formed a fire authority without offering participation to Palmer Lake or Wescott. The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority was created in January 2005. Woodmoor/Monument unilaterally rescinded its unification agreement with Wescott. Neither PLVFD nor Wescott has expressed interest in joining TLMFA since it was created.

The fire authority combines Tri-Lakes’ and Woodmoor/Monument’s operational resources. The Woodmoor/Monument incident command Blazers have been moved to Tri-Lakes Station One and the Woodmoor/Monument ladder truck is frequently re-deployed to this Tri-Lakes station as well, due to the Tri-Lakes ladder truck being frequently out of service.

However, each fire district remains a separate entity with its own board for the purpose of raising revenue, conducting budgeting and auditing functions, maintaining its own infrastructure, and providing operational funding to the authority. The constituents of the Woodmoor/Monument district continue to pay a 34 percent higher property tax mill levy than Tri-Lakes even though each district now receives essentially the same level of service.

Palmer Lake narrowly rejected a ballot initiative proposing a half-cent sales tax (rather than a property tax) to fund PLVFD in April by just six votes. The same ballot issue for a half-cent sales tax for the fire department will be on the ballot again in November. The town budget still provides about $40,000 annually to PLVFD and Association fundraisers continue as well.

Tri-Lakes ambulance service contract still controversial: At the Aug. 10 town council meeting, there was a lengthy discussion between Allen and Miner about the history of ambulance and unification negotiations with Tri-Lakes. Allen said Miner was biased against Tri-Lakes. Miner said Allen and the new trustees needed to learn the complicated history to understand why unification negotiations had always been unsuccessful. Some trustees said that the council should consider the new proposal objectively despite this history.

Miner and Coleman noted that Tri-Lakes was still not following the written procedures for negotiations because it had used Allen to present its case to Parker instead of Chief Beckman. Allen said he had merely delivered the document to the town administration building as a courtesy to Tri-Lakes Battalion Chief Bryan Jack. Miner said Jack knew that he should have personally given the document directly to Beckman.

Gaddis concurred with Miner and said the board has always believed that negotiations should start at the chief-to-chief level. Gaddis added that PLVFD recommendations are brought to the fire trustee, who then presents them to the council. Assistant PLVFD Fire Chief Robert Lee, speaking for the firefighters in attendance, said that they had still not seen the proposed agreement and that it looked like the Tri-Lakes board was "going behind their backs again."

Discussion ended at that moment, due to all the firefighters’ beepers going off. They left immediately to respond to an emergency dispatch. Copies of the existing and proposed service agreements were subsequently passed out to the trustees for their review prior to a discussion on negotiations with Tri-Lakes at the offsite/retreat meeting on Aug. 23.

Coleman reported that the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department had 28 calls in July, of which 12 were for mutual aid. There were nine medical calls, three fire calls, eight wildland fire calls, and one traffic accident plus two public assists and five other calls. He said the volunteers had also supported a Palmer Lake Library open house on July 27 and the historic Estemere mansion open house on July 29 with engine displays. He added that the department had received a Wildland Fire Grant for new pants and shirts from the Colorado Wildland Service.

There were 165 calls for police service in July, down from 172 last July, with nine custody arrests and 62 traffic citations reported.

PLVFD roof repair authorized: The council unanimously authorized Buildings Trustee Trish Flake to select one of three bids to repair the leaking roof of the PLVFD fire station and initiate needed construction prior to the next council meeting in September. The bids ranged from $13,800 to $16,600. Contract selection was deferred because none of the bids included the small additional cost for replacing wood supports under the roof that had been found to be damaged after the bid request was published.

Flake also reported that the town would seek a different kind of Colorado Tennis Association (CTA) grant to resurface the town’s tennis courts rather than try to arrange for five years of CTA-approved tennis lessons which was a condition of the previously awarded grant. After writing the winning grant proposal, Palmer Lake tennis instructor Kim Makower withdrew his offer of five years of instructional services in May following a dispute with the council over the scheduling of a formal public relations grant presentation ceremony at a scheduled town council meeting, another condition of the original grant, and Makower’s unsuccessful run for mayor.

Economic Development: Economic Development Trustee Miner reported that her committee was forming citizen teams to perform the community assessments for the town’s economic planning consultants. She also reviewed the progress report she gave the previous week at the workshop meeting. (See article on the Aug. 3 meeting.)

Awake the Lake: Awake the Lake spokesman Jeff Hulsmann expressed concern and surprise that Parker was researching plans to use the town’s D-3 well to maintain the level of Palmer Lake instead of his committee’s proposal to dig a new well in the lake. He said the sudden change in direction might discourage support members of the county Parks Department and other state and county agencies who are looking for an integrated long-term lake development plan before giving the town supporting grants.

Fire hydrant issue discussed and dismissed: Allen said that the town had not supported hydrant testing in Forest View Estates on July 10 during an Insurance Services Organization (ISO) inspection of Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District. Allen is a Forest View Estates resident. This subdivision elected to continue to be taxed as part of the Tri-Lakes special district after it sought annexation by the Town of Palmer Lake, even though PLVFD would provide service to the area with no dedicated property tax. Allen expressed concern that Mayor Parker’s decision not to allow town hydrants to be tested by ISO for maximum flow would cause insurance rates to go up in Forest View Estates.

Parker responded by saying that town Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt had recommended against testing on that specific day because Orcutt was scheduled to be out of town. Orcutt was not notified by Tri-Lakes Battalion Chief Jack of the ISO testing until 4:30 p.m. the previous day. Parker said Orcutt advised him that hydrant operation by personnel other than town water employees might impose too high a risk on aging downtown residential water mains. Orcutt was also concerned that all 12 Forest View Estates hydrants might be opened to maximum flow at the same time, creating a muddy water problem similar to that caused in late June 2005 when dechlorinated drinking water was being used to fill Palmer Lake and caused the town’s groundwater pump to fail.

There was a lengthy discussion about whether the town should take advantage of what Allen called "free testing." Some citizens did not understand the ISO inspection process and expressed concerns about whether the hydrants in town were functional. However, town hydrants are routinely tested about twice a year, as they are in other regional water and fire districts, while ISO tests hydrants only every 15 years. Miner said too much weight was being given by Allen and troubled citizens to a test that occurs so infrequently. Every town hydrant was opened and tested after the town’s well pump failed while filling Palmer Lake last summer.

Insurance rates for Forest View Estates are determined by the town’s ISO ratings, not those of Tri-Lakes. Palmer Lake will have its 15-year ISO inspection two years from now. On Aug. 11, the day after this meeting, ISO agreed to an alternative method, eliminating the issue.

Land use requests approved: The council approved three land use applications for the following:

  • A sign permit request for Classic Catering by Anne Jones and Company.

  • A request for a change to planned urban development zone by Al Fritts for the Inn at Palmer Lake to divide the 27-acre parcel into two roughly equal size lots.

  • A request for a minor subdivision and conditional use by Kreig Campbell for a proposed multi-use building on a lot behind the Speed Trap Café building on the southeast corner of Glenway and Valley Crescent that is currently zoned for single-family residential.

Jones’ request was approved unanimously with no discussion.

Campbell noted that he had made the changes to his multi-use commercial and residential building that had been requested by the trustees. Coleman, who prepared Campbell’s subdivision drawings, recused himself from the vote on Campbell’s proposal after Town Attorney Gaddis said he should. The other council members approved the request unanimously. The proposal however, will also require a hearing and approval by the town’s Board of Adjustments for variances on setbacks and the reduced number of on-site parking places in the proposed design.

Gaddis recommended that the council approve Fritts’s final drawings on the condition that Gaddis would review and approve all the notes on easements and detention ponds within a day or two before Fritts had the final Mylar copy prepared for recording the replat documentation with the county.

Coleman opposed the subdivision request again for a wide variety of reasons, as he had at every council and Planning Commission hearing he attended this year. Coleman lives in the Rancho Iracema development next to the Training Mission International and the Inn at Palmer Divide buildings, both of which Fritts developed. Coleman’s driveway runs through an easement on the Training Mission International property. Coleman did not recuse himself on any of the council votes regarding Fritts’s request since hearings began in January. Fritts asked to subdivide his lot into two parts at the request of the Small Business Administration and Fritts’s long-term mortgage bank.

Fritts once again said there was no legal basis for any of Coleman’s numerous objections and requests for further review and approval by outside agencies. Gaddis confirmed that Fritts was correct. The council approved the replat (5-1) with Coleman opposed. When Coleman tried to express further objections after the vote, Parker said, "That’s enough."

Water membership contracts approved: The council approved annual contract renewals for continuing town membership in the El Paso County Water Authority and the Palmer Divide Water Group, totaling $6,000. Palmer Lake’s dues are a tiny fraction of the total annual operating budget for both organizations, which represent towns and water districts at water meetings at the federal/state and county levels respectively.

Hulsmann said he opposed the contract renewals because he had never heard of either organization. Gaddis disagreed and said the town could not afford to "be left out of discussions because water’s too important." He also noted that both groups were large enough that water officials needed to listen to them. Flake said she agreed with Hulsmann and voted against the renewals, producing a (5-1) vote on each.

Public comment

Resident Jennifer Farmer said that Palmer Lake needed a town manager. Hulsmann also asked the council to reconsider its position on filling the volunteer town manager position, noting that there are many retired military officers and executives in the area.

Gaddis said he had drafted the original ordinance in 1988 that authorized a town manager position, but that results with volunteer managers had been uniformly counterproductive. He also noted that in most other Colorado towns that are the same size as Palmer Lake, the town managers turn over every 18 months and make lots of mistakes because they never really learn how to do the job.

Resident Denise Kokes said she had received a slow response (15 minutes) from the Palmer Lake Police Department when she reported a disturbance at the Palmer Lake Elementary School’s new playground. When questioned by Parker and Gray about the circumstances of her call, Kokes could not remember which police organization she had called or how her call was transferred to the Sheriff’s dispatch center. Gray pointed out that Palmer Lake police take their own phone calls and these phone calls are not transferred to the Sheriff’s Office. There are inherent delays when the county dispatchers have to ask a lengthy series of questions to determine where the caller lives and which agency should receive the call.

The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m. The next workshop meeting is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 7 in Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. The next regular council meeting is at 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 in Town Hall. The workshops are normally held the first Thursday of the month. The regular meetings are normally held the second Thursday of the month.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission, August 16: Three proposals recommended for approval

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Planning Commission unanimously approved two requests for vacation and replat and one change in a planned unit development for a single family residence. Chairman John Cressman and Commissioner Sharon Solheim were absent. Vice Chairman Ken Trombley presided.

George Parsons’ request for vacation and replat of adjacent lots at 164 and 172 Shady Lane (Lots 23 and 24) was unanimously approved without public or commissioner comment. Parsons owns both lots and each has a house on it. His home and garage are on Lot 23 (164 Shady Lane), which is 5,500 square feet. The structures span the lot line between these two lots and extend onto Lot 24 to the east, which is 10,935 square feet. The other house Parsons owns is on the east side of Lot 24, well away from the common boundary between these lots. Parsons’ request moves the lot line to about halfway between the two buildings. The proposed lot at 164 Shady Lane increases to 11,000 square feet and the other lot decreases to 5,435 square feet. All setback requirements would be met for both houses by this proposal. Parsons had previous approval for the vacation of the portion of an unused 20-foot town right-of-way that is overlapped by the east edge of Lot 24. His recorded plat should show the Ordinance number and the County’s Reception number proving when the right-of-way was vacated.

Thomas Patrick, with the support of the Pinecrest Homeowner’s Association, requested permission to build a single-family home and garage on vacant Lot 8 at the west end of Pinecrest Way. This 33,904-square-foot flag lot has a very large area suitable for building a home and garage though a portion is steeply sloped. There are no issues regarding compliance with the town’s current or expected future hillside ordinance. Patrick’s request was unanimously approved.

Susan O’Banion requested a vacation and replat of her property at 455 Clio Ave. Her proposal would divide the existing two lots into three lots. The existing single-family home to the west, at Clio and Virginia Avenue, would be on the new Lot 1. The existing garage in the center of O’Banion’s property would be on the new Lot 2, and the vacant land to the east would become Lot 3. O’Banion reported that she plans to obtain water and sewer taps and convert the garage to a house.

Vice Chairman Trombley reminded O’Banion of the commission’s notice to her at the Aug. 9 workshop meeting that she would have to get Board of Adjustment approval of variances for the current house and garage that were in violation of the zoned setbacks when she bought the property, if she ever wanted to sell either of them. He also noted that making the new vacant Lot 3 so small, it would be hard to meet current setback requirements if she or a buyer tried to construct a building and that she would be creating her own hardship. O’Banion agreed with Trombley and said she had no plans to sell any of the three proposed properties and had no plans to build on the proposed vacant Lot 3. O’Banion’s request was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 7:14 p.m. The next Planning Commission workshop meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug 13 in Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. The next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. Aug 20 in Town Hall.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, August 21: Area water groups work to find supplemental water sources

By Sue Wielgopolan

The El Paso County Water Authority and the Palmer Divide Water Group have been working to identify additional available surface water sources and establish relationships with potential providers. Donala manager Dana Duthie updated the board on the latest developments. The Palmer Divide Water Group in particular discussed three options for additional water, including agricultural agreements, a satellite well field in the Greenland Ranch area, and possible recharge storage in the Black Squirrel aquifer.

The district’s annual audit revealed no irregularities, although the firm performing the audit made minor accounting recommendations. A portion of the district’s waste plant expansion loan may come from federal grant funds. If so, it will have to provide a separate report documenting how those funds are spent.

Donala waits for release of approved loan funds

Duthie told the board that the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment temporarily blocked the release of loan funds for the expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Last fall, the Health Department and the Colorado Water and Power Authority approved loans for $5 million each to Triview Metro District and Donala for the expansion.

But the state Health Department recently refused to authorize the issuance of checks to cover bills for the plant expansion until a formal public hearing on the proposed changes to the facility had been held. The hearing is required as part of producing the environmental impact statement.

The three partners in the plant—Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes Metro District—scheduled a public hearing for July 28, but no one from the public attended. Duthie submitted documentation of the hearing to the state Health Department, but has not yet received a response.

Duthie told the board that two bills from general contractor Weaver Construction and several invoices for plant design engineering remain unpaid.

Additional service line for underpowered waste plant delayed

Duthie told board members that electrical engineer Mark Reisinger designed a setup to provide temporary power to the equalization basin until Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) is able to furnish a permanent source. The Upper Monument Creek Facility may have to wait for up to 36 weeks for an additional permanent power line, said Duthie. According to MVEA, extended delivery time for the necessary transformer is the problem.

Although the existing service was adequate to power the old plant, it is insufficient to run the many pumps and blowers that are part of the expansion.

Duthie showed photos of the construction site and talked about project progress. He said that the contractor was doing the final pour on the equalization basin walls, and would then start on construction of the catwalk. The screen room and influent station walls were scheduled to go up the following week

Until the additional permanent power line has been installed, temporary power lines will provide service to eight mixers in the equalization basin. Duthie told the board maximum flow periods are already pushing plant capacity; the basin is needed to store sewage for processing during off-peak hours.

The diesel-powered backup generator currently used by the Upper Monument Creek facility has been determined to be inadequate to handle the greater power requirements of the expanded plant. If the generator was used only during power outages, it might be sufficient. However, it is also used to run the plant when the facility is taken offline during peak electrical demand hours as part of a power partner program with MVEA. Mountain View rewards large power users with significant cost savings in the form of credits when the users agree to go offline during peak use hours, which reduces the total demand on the power grid.

Two more generators will be needed at a cost to the district of $360,000 for both. The units will take approximately 20 weeks to deliver.

El Paso County Water Authority activities

Duthie, who is also treasurer of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA), briefed the board on the major topics addressed during the authority’s most recent meeting. Information is available on the authority’s new website at www.epcwa.com.

Transit loss model funding: The transit loss study and model has reached a point where participants must decide on a plan for funding the operation of the model. The U.S. Geological Survey will perform the work under contract, which will include maintaining the gauging stations and computer model.

The water authority is hesitant to assume responsibility for administration of the costs, which would represent a significant accounting function.

Executive agent Gary Barber has been suggested as a likely candidate to act as administrator, as long as his salary is proportionately increased. Eventually, model participants may decide to hire part-time help to take over those duties.

As yet, the agencies contributing to the study and model have not reached consensus on how each entity’s share of the costs will be decided. The issue of allowing non-governmental participants has also not been adequately addressed. The Fountain Mutual Ditch Co. wants to be included but will need to reimburse the other entities an undetermined proportionate share for the initial study.

Black Squirrel aquifer recharge to be studied: The Colorado Water Conservation Board may co-sponsor a study of the Black Squirrel Basin as a possible recharge/storage site, along with other local entities including Cherokee Metropolitan District, the Upper Black Squirrel Groundwater Management District, the Sunset Metropolitan District, and Colorado Springs. The study would assess feasibility and determine wells and infrastructure needed. Cost and water quality are also considerations.

Duthie noted that recharge water would have to be treated to a high level of purity to avoid contamination of the entire alluvial aquifer.

The Cherokee Water District previously conducted a pilot study on using the shallow closed basin for storage. Effluent was spread on 20 acres, allowed to percolate through the soil, and pumped out again from Black Squirrel Creek, so some preliminary information is already available.

The Black Squirrel Basin is attractive to northern El Paso County water suppliers because of its proximity to the area and its status as a closed basin, meaning it is not connected to the Arkansas.

Duthie told the board that the water authority may buy into the study if the basin appears to be the only real option for large-capacity water storage.

Palmer Divide Water Group meetings

Colorado Springs Utilities addresses pipeline request again: Duthie reported that on July 19 two Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) staff members met for the second time with the Palmer Divide Water Group to discuss Tri-Lakes-area water providers’ repeated requests for inclusion as partners in the city’s Southern Delivery System (SDS) pipeline. CSU water supply manager Wayne Vanderschuere hinted again at possible future cooperation but would offer no assurances of participation in the SDS or any other CSU project.

Courtney Brand, project engineer and geologist for CSU, also attended the meeting.

Vanderschuere urged that northern El Paso County water providers be patient and reiterated that the SDS is too far along in the process to start over or to incorporate major revisions. Duthie said he believes any changes to the SDS after one of the environmental impact statement alternatives has been accepted would require an additional environmental assessment at the very least.

The Palmer Divide Water Group (PDWG) has been researching options for alleviating the inevitable future water supply shortage facing communities in the Tri-Lakes area as the aquifers are depleted. Only a renewable source will solve the problem.

The PDWG would like to be able to set up agreements with Arkansas Valley farmers to fallow a percentage of their land each year and sell the water to northern El Paso County providers. To that end, the PDWG has established relationships with potential Arkansas water providers Pure Cycle Corp., the Southeast Water Conservancy District, the Lower Arkansas Water Conservancy District, and the City of Aurora. The PDWG has also approached Mark Morley, co-owner of Brush Hollow Reservoir, indicating interest in using the lake as a storage facility. But the group needs a transport system to bring the water north, hence its interest in partnering with Colorado Springs on the SDS.

Vanderschuere told the group that CSU has also been working on setting up rotating/fallowing agreements with Valley farmers, and intimated that partnerships may be available after the city has contracts in hand if Tri-Lakes-area providers don’t interfere with the SDS process.

Other obstacles must still be overcome before Colorado Springs will consider entering into any partnership with northern county providers. Mayor Lionel Rivera has stated that cooperation on stormwater issues is a prerequisite, and the City Council disapproves of what it sees as explosive growth in communities outside city limits.

Duthie voiced his opinion to Donala members that the City Council should view rapid growth as a regional problem that all entities, including Colorado Springs, should address. He also pointed out that CSU is struggling with stormwater mitigation and is having problems selling its own program to residents.

Satellite well field may be good short-term option for PDWG members: The PDWG discussed establishing a satellite well field north of the Palmer Divide. The Colorado Water Conservation Board is offering a 4 percent loanfor qualifying water projects. Engineers are evaluating several candidate ranches in the Greenland Ranch area.

Wells in the Tri-Lakes region are exhibiting a significant interference effect; overlap of the wells’ "cones of influence" seems to be reducing yield. Area water providers hope that locating additional wells far from existing ones may extend the life of the wells and the aquifers.

PDWG considers establishment of area-wide conservation plan: Palmer Divide members also discussed creating an area-wide conservation plan. Because Tri-Lakes providers are drawing from the same aquifers, all must participate in order for the programs to be effective. In addition, districts exceeding use of 2,000 acre-feet per year or receiving state grants are required by the state to have a written conservation plan. Though Tri-Lakes-area providers do not presently fall into either of those categories, the group wants to be proactive, especially since applying for Colorado Water Conservation Board loans may invoke the plan requirement.

Duthie told the board that Donala already has water conservation measures in place, though they are not formally documented. The district has a graduated rate structure that charges higher rates for higher use. Donala encourages xeriscaping and maximizes utilization of reuse water and effluent.

Most conservation plans include some form of watering restrictions. PDWG members like the Woodmoor district’s demand management program, which essentially asks residents to limit sprinkler system watering to every third day between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. Participation is voluntary. Similar programs have been favorably received in other Front Range communities.

Bamberger economic study completed: A study commissioned by the PDWG and authored by Bamberger Group documenting the benefits of Tri-Lakes communities to the Colorado Springs economy is complete. As expected, the economic consulting firm found that northern county areas contributed significantly more to the city’s economy than it costs in lost tax revenues and service increases.

PDWG members were given an opportunity to provide feedback to the study. Now it must decide as a group how to present the conclusions to the city of Colorado Springs. The Colorado Springs City Council has long held the opinion that growth outside the city’s boundaries drains tax revenue and is of negligible benefit overall, and has used that reasoning to discourage any regional cooperation that could benefit growth, especially in regards to water resources.

The group has yet to decide how to use the study’s results to its best advantage.

CSU’s Northgate lift station moves forward

Disregarding the recommendation of its advisory water quality council, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) recommended that CSU’s proposed new lift station off Northgate Road be approved. The Pikes Peak Area Water Quality Committee, of which Duthie is a member, had previously recommended disapproval based on the fact that the lift station was redundant. Donala’s lift station just 400 feet away has the capacity to handle the 49 homes Picolan plans to build off Doral Way. The water quality committee encourages consolidation of facilities whenever feasible.

The PPACG decided to recommend approval based on a tentative agreement with Donala to provide a line to CSU’s station for emergency backup should the city’s lift station fail. The new station will cost CSU approximately $400,000 to build.

Mining museum seeks inclusion

Although Mining Museum curators have never spoken directly with Donala staff, Duthie said that attorney Sandy McDougal had recently informed the district that the museum was interested in inclusion.

Duthie suggested that since all of the buildings on the property were probably not plumbed for water and sewer, board members might consider charging tap fees for only two buildings. He added that if the museum generated a significant amount of grease from eating facilities, a grease trap would be needed to properly dispose of the waste.

According to Duthie, attorney Julianne Woldridge was putting together a petition for inclusion.

Well 2A down, waiting for permit to redrill

Duthie told board members that redrilling of Well 2A has been moved up, as the Arapahoe well is inoperable anyway because the pump motor "is fried." Donala had planned to lower the pump in 2A to increase yield. However, because the casing in the active well interior is offset, technicians are unable to lower the pump any farther.

To reach a lower depth, Donala must drill a new well nearby and plug the old cavity with cement. The district has applied to the state engineer’s office for the required permit, but has not yet received it.

New Donala well will be located in Fox Run Park

Donala plans to drill a new Arapahoe aquifer well inside Fox Run Park south of the playing fields and west of the Stella Drive entrance. Duthie said the El Paso County Commissioners must still approve the well permit, which he hopes to attain this fall. GMS engineering is preparing a legal description of the site.

The district’s agreement with El Paso County Regional Parks includes a free 6-inch tap for the park in exchange for the well easement. Donala will also install a metering vault to monitor future use of Donala well water by the park.

Duthie said that the park fills its two ponds from its own Denver aquifer wells. At present, the wells run 24 hours a day and show no sign of slowing. If and when those wells are no longer adequate to sustain the level in the ponds and provide water for the restrooms, the park can switch over to using its Donala tap.

Pipeline looping Triview, Donala water systems being installed

Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt is installing the $132,000 pipeline linking Triview Metro District’s water system with Donala’s. Rocky Mountain Asphalt is the contractor hired by the county to expand Baptist Road.

The Donala board of directors passed a resolution and sent an intergovernmental agreement for the Triview board to sign earlier this summer that committed the two districts to splitting the cost of the pipeline. As yet, Donala has not received a response from Triview.

Duthie wanted to get the pipeline installed while Baptist was torn up, reasoning that the cost would be significantly less than if the neighboring entities had to tear up completed road surface to put in the connecting line. He decided to finance Triview’s portion if necessary, and charge interest should the metro district fail to come up with its share in a timely fashion.

Duthie is waiting to discuss the matter with Larry Bishop, who has been hired to replace Ron Simpson as Triview manager but had not officially started work.

Classic asks Donala for service estimates

Classic Homes has again asked the Donala district for cost estimates for servicing the approximately 650 homes it intends to build on the former Baptist Camp property. Duthie guessed that recent Triview tap rate increases might have compelled the developer to ask for other figures.

Duthie told board members that recent tests indicated Donala sewer lines were capable of handling the additional load should Classic request inclusion. Classic representatives have made no further contact since the district resubmitted its inclusion figures and cost-of-service estimates.

Holiday schedule changes

Duthie told board members that Donala would not receive final tax income numbers until after Thanksgiving, and suggested the board postpone its meeting until the week after the holiday. He said that the district routinely met the last week of November, then cancelled its December meeting.

Board members tentatively agreed to the change.

The meeting went into executive session at 3:15 p.m. to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease or transfer of water, and personnel matters.

The next regular meeting of the Donala board will take place on Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

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Forest View Acres Water District, August 24: Board places property tax measure on the November ballot

By John Heiser

At its regular monthly meeting August 24, the Forest View Acres Water District (FVAWD) board of directors approved placing a measure on the November ballot. The ballot measure, if approved by district voters, would impose a property tax mill levy of an estimated 37 mills on all properties in the district.

Background

Management structure: The board consists of Rich Crocker, Ketch Nowacki, Jeff Walker, Eckehart Zimmermann, and President Barbara Reed-Polatty. Nowacki was absent. Reed-Polatty presided.

The district has retained Special District Management Services, Inc. (SDMS) as its administrative manager. Lisa Johnson, SDMS district manager, served as facilitator and secretary at the board meeting. Deborah McCoy, President of SDMS, was also present.

Dan LaFontaine of Independent Water Services is the district’s contract water operations manager. LaFontaine has submitted his resignation effective Sept. 15. The district is seeking an operations manager to succeed LaFontaine.

After LaFontaine leaves, Mike Bacon of Community Solutions, Inc. (CSI) will be serving as the interim operations manager until a permanent replacement is selected. McCoy is a part owner of CSI.

Water system: The district water supply consists of a surface water plant and two wells, one in the Arapahoe aquifer and one in the Dawson aquifer.

The water is treated with chlorine, pumped through 750 feet of 6-inch water line, and stored in a 250,000-gallon steel storage tank. The water is then distributed through 36,000 feet of distribution lines that vary from 1 inch to 8 inches in diameter.

ASCG, Inc., the district’s engineers, have determined that the water treatment facilities are in good condition, the water tank is in fair condition, and the distribution system is in fair to poor condition. ASCG has prepared a list of proposed improvements. (For the detailed cost breakdown see OCN June 3, 2006, "Forest View Acres Water District, May 25: Board ponders financing $6.2 million for improvements" posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n6.htm#fvawd).

The highest priority items focus on bringing the system into compliance with state Health Department standards for chlorine contact time, installing a looped pipe system to circulate water through the tank, additional water storage to meet daily flow and fire flow requirements, and replacing small and failing pipelines. Future improvements include work on the Dawson well, improvements to the surface plant and water treatment facilities, and upgrading or replacing the booster pump station.

ASCG estimated the total cost for all of the work at $6.2 million.

Operations manager transition

LaFontaine had submitted an invoice showing time spent training Bacon as extra cost services.

Reed-Polatty suggested that his contract obligated LaFontaine to train a successor.

LaFontaine replied that it was not required by his contract.

Crocker noted that LaFontaine had not performed some of the services required by the contract.

The board approved Zimmermann’s motion that in exchange for LaFontaine removing the additional charges, the district would overlook the services not performed.

District operation proposals

Crocker reported that the district received proposals ranging from about $60,000 to about $154,000 per year to operate the district.

CSI was the low bidder. McCoy noted that sealed bids were used and CSI did not know the amount of the other bids before submitting its bid. She credited CSI’s low bid to their knowledge of the district and its operational needs.

Crocker and Reed-Polatty were designated as the district representatives to negotiate with CSI.

Walker said, "I’m a bit concerned with having all our eggs in one basket."

Proposed ballot measure approved

Reed-Polatty reported that one of the board members had proposed that the ballot measure be tabled because it was not likely to pass.

Referring to ASCG’s list of improvements needed, Reed-Polatty said, "Once it has been revealed to us that there are problems, we can’t do nothing."

In response to a question from Crocker, McCoy noted that the bond attorney and the bond underwriter will not be paid until the debt is issued.

LaFontaine suggested that to improve the chances of passing the measure, the district reduce the debt authorization from $8 million to $3 million to cover just the highest priority needs.

Zimmermann replied that the board would have to go back to the voters for more money later to finish the improvements.

McCoy encouraged the board to obtain the maximum amount with one ballot measure.

Crocker said, "Let’s go ahead with the election and see how people feel. In my area, it is 50-50." He said, "The water tank is 35 years old and hasn’t been checked for six to eight years. We don’t have enough water to fight a fire." He added that using a mill levy is the least expensive way to raise the money.

Zimmermann said, "We need to make clear what happens if it doesn’t pass. I don’t want to hear [complaints] that the water bill just went up $100."

Walker said, "I have faith in the residents that they can make up their own minds."

The board announced that it will meet with the Shiloh Pines homeowners association on Sept 10, 6 p.m., at the cul-de-sac at Lake Meadows drive and with the Red Rocks Ranch homeowners association on Sept 11, 7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Station 1.

Paul Rufien, the district’s attorney, noted that the board members can provide information but cannot campaign or lobby at those meetings.

Financial matters

Johnson presented a list of claims paid through Aug. 24 totaling $38,383 that included $13,486 for ASCG’s services, $12,959 to SDMS, $5,128 for electric and gas utilities, and $4,912 for LaFontaine’s services.

Zimmermann noted that the SDMS charges included 31 hours for board meetings. He added that the costs are running considerably more than what was budgeted.

McCoy replied that the district was not managed properly for a long time. She said, "We are being prudent. You are going to come out on top."

Reed-Polatty added, "The district is under-funded."

Referring to the cost of having mid-month meetings and workshops, Rufien said, "You need to move toward a situation where the mid-month meeting is not necessary."

Zimmermann noted that the electric bill is very high. LaFontaine replied that the district operated much of the month on water from the Arapahoe well. He added that the lack of a working Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) increases the amount of electricity used.

Operations report

LaFontaine reported that during July, the district’s surface plant produced 18,600 gallons, averaging 24 gallons per minute over 5.3 days. The district’s well in the Arapahoe aquifer produced 2.49 million gallons, averaging 106 gallons per minute over 16.3 days. The net monthly production was 2.67 million gallons.

Water sales for July totaled 1.81 million gallons.

LaFontaine calculated the net loss from the system during July was 613,536 gallons or 25.2 percent of total system use.

LaFontaine reported that two leaking glue joints were repaired July 7.

Bacon noted that improved alarm system and chart recording equipment is urgently needed.

The board reviewed a proposal from Layne-Western to replace the VFD at a total cost of $9,000. The proposal was approved subject to Rufien’s review and approval of the contract.

LaFontaine reported that the installation of infrastructure and preparation of as-built drawings for the Red Rock Reserve (formerly Raspberry Ridge) development should be completed prior to Sept. 15. LaFontaine said he is inspecting the installation.

Residents raise concerns

Scott Miller urged the board to work more cooperatively with residents and look at the whole spectrum of alternatives, including dissolution of the district.

Susan Gates asked that an accounting be provided at the next meeting of the total amounts paid over the past year to SDMS, consultants, and lawyers.

Gates asked if the forensic audit is available. Rufien replied it can be released as a draft. Since it is a very large document, Johnson asked those who want a copy to submit their request in writing and approve the estimated cost.

Dan Spiegelberg noted that ASCG estimated about $153,000 for outfitting the Dawson well, whereas Bacon estimated about $70,000. Spiegelberg said, "I question all the other figures in the ASCG report."

Jeff Dull asked, "Why go after $8 million when you need $750,000?" Johnson replied that $8 million is the authorization.

Anne Bevis expressed concern that the ASCG report proposes to "fix everything at a huge price." She urged the board to reactivate the technical committee so they can look for more cost-effective solutions.

Crocker said, "We have a responsibility to identify all the needs. The biggest need is $1.9 million to add looping for fire fighting." Noting that he had been on past boards that did not address the problems, Crocker said, "We need to deal with it."

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The next regular board meeting will be held Sept 28, 5:30 p.m. at Tri-Lakes district Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). Board meetings are usually held on the fourth Thursday of each month. Those wishing to attend should check the date, time, and location by calling the SDMS at (800) 741-3254 or 488-2110.

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Monument Sanitation District, August 15: Office upgrade nearing completion

By Jim Kendrick

District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that the district building renovation being performed by Access Construction was on schedule and on budget. The district’s first phase of installing new sanitary sewer lines under the streets of the east side of Wakonda Hills is also on schedule and on budget.

Access Construction is remodeling the two suites next to the current office to the south, which will become the new district office area and conference room. The new roof, rain gutters, and front landscape drains are all completed. The district was scheduled to move into its new spaces by the end of August. The vacated district office will be remodeled for expansion of Shani’s Café. The district installed a new grease interceptor under its east parking lot on Aug. 28 to handle the increased size of Shani’s.

The board unanimously approved the appointment of CPA Nolan Gookin to take over accounting for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. The facility is owned equally by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Woodmoor has managed the facility for the other two districts as executive agent since it was designed and built, but recently asked the other two districts to convert the facility into a separate, independently managed entity by the end of 2006. Facility manager Bill Burks will take over day-to-day operations from Woodmoor District Manager Phil Steininger. Gookin will take over facility accounting from Woodmoor office manager Hope Winkler.

The Monument board unanimously opposed Woodmoor’s proposal that Mike Rothberg of engineering firm Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor Engineering (RTW) be appointed co-manager with Burks. RTW designed and constructed the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility and has been the consultant to Woodmoor for facility engineering issues since then. The Monument board prefers that Rothberg continue in his current status as the engineering consultant for the facility, available to Burks as required for consultation on facility issues after Burks takes over.

Wicklund reported that the town’s 36-inch stormwater drain under Beacon Lite Road on the north side of the intersection with Highway 105 had become blocked and the road had begun to wash away during a recent thunderstorm. Wicklund said that when he was notified by Monument Public Works of the problem and the potential for serious damage to the district’s deeply buried sanitary sewer collection line that passes through that intersection, he directed the Wakonda Hills excavation contractor, J&J Excavating, to prevent further damage. This contractor could respond far more quickly than the ones normally called upon by the town. Wicklund said J&J would bill the district for its repair of the town’s storm drain and he would bill the town for reimbursement.

Wicklund said that this storm drain needed to be at least 60 to 66 inches in diameter to handle the increased stormwater flows that have resulted from six years of town construction during a drought without corresponding expansion of town drainage systems.

He noted that town stormwater drainage had also washed away dirt supporting a district manhole for its major collection line along the east side of the railroad tracks south of the intersection of Front Street and Lincoln Avenue, behind Monument Addition No. 5. He added that stormwater was starting to compromise the ballast for the railroad tracks as well, in a manner similar to the damage caused to the east side of the railroad tracks south of the southwest detention pond in Santa Fe Trails a few years ago.

Wicklund said he would have enough information to restate the final months of the 2006 budget and would present a draft budget for 2007 at the October meeting.

The board unanimously approved resolutions for inclusion of six Wakonda Hills properties and one other in Colorado Estates.

The board authorized Wicklund to have engineering consultant GMS, Inc. research possible grants for subsidizing the Wakonda Hills collection system installation. There are numerous federal and state grants for rehabilitation of aging neighborhoods with failing septic systems such as those in Wakonda Hills. Layers of clay under the soil in some steeply sloped areas like Wakonda Hills can carry sewage from clogged septic systems downhill to open surface areas that have been exposed by erosion. The sewage can then flow downhill on the surface to enter a well head and contaminate its domestic drinking water. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is encouraging communities like Wakonda Hills to abandon their failing septic systems and create or seek inclusion into a sanitation district.

The meeting adjourned at 5:03 p.m. The next meeting will be at 4 p.m. on Sept. 20, in the Monument Sanitation District’s new offices on Second Street. Meetings are normally held the third Tuesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Open House, August 12: Facility shows off new capabilities

By Jim Kendrick

Facility Manager Bill Burks and staff members Scott Eilert and Toby Ormandy hosted an open house in the laboratory and administration building that was built by Access Construction. Burks said the purpose of the open house was to show the completed facility’s new capabilities to board members, district managers, employees, and their families, as well as interested residents of the three owning special districts, the Monument, Palmer Lake and Woodmoor sanitation districts.

After treating everyone to hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, and sodas, Burks conducted a tour of the new building’s upgraded laboratory, office complex, equipment control room, conference room, and break room. The tour included visits to the equipment building’s maintenance and treatment machinery areas, map/documentation rooms, and ultra-violet disinfection room, as well as the aeration basins, clarifiers, and sludge lagoon.

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Triview Metropolitan District, August 23: District considers loan allocations

By Elizabeth Hacker

This was the final board of directors meeting for departing District Manager Ron Simpson before Larry Bishop takes over the manager’s duties. Board member Martha Gurnick was absent.

Simpson reported on the status of the ongoing issue with the district’s bond council to finalize the allocation of funds from the loan the district is pursuing from Compass Bank, the impact fee structure proposed by Red Oak, and land dedication for trails or open space.

$36.7 million loan application

Simpson said that the letter of intent to borrow $36.7 million at 6 percent interest had been signed and that the district’s bond council was now evaluating the categorical allocation as part of the application process. One of the concerns of the bond council is the cost of issuing the loan. This cost and the final allocation to categories including repayment of bondholder debt, roads, water, sewerage, drainage, parks, and mosquito control must be finalized. The board expects to work these out before October, at which time they intend to sign the loan.

Impact fees

Simpson had circulated a memo to the board that addressed the impact fees they had adopted that went into effect Aug. 1. Simpson noted that he had discussed the fee structure with Dale Turner of Home Place Ranch, Mike Raider of Promontory Pointe, Joe Loidolt and Jim Boulton of Classic Homes, Kevin Burnett of Red Oak, Steve Stephenson, and attorney Pete Susemihl. Several issues were not thoroughly considered when the impact fees were adopted—in particular, how to address compensation to developers for capital improvements. The impact fee was adopted to cover cost of infrastructure improvements and not operation and maintenance. If infrastructure improvements are made by the developer at their cost, an impact fee for these improvements is essentially charging the developer twice. Simpson suggested the logical solution would be to reimburse or credit the impact fee for a specific function in the amount equal to the cost for improvement constructed by the developer. Simpson used the example of a 200-lot residential subdivision that as of March 1, 2007, would owe $320,000 in drainage impact fees. If the developer’s cost to install drainage improvements on the property is $400,000, the most that would be credited to the property is $320,000. However, if the improvements were less than $320,000, say $200,000, the difference ($120,000) would be charged as an impact fee. Because fees are collected at the building permit phase, the improvements should be made before a permit is issued. In his memo, Simpson recommended that the board modify its position on the adapted impact fee structure.

Attorney Susemihl questioned if the issue was that the fees were so high as to be a deterrent to growth, to which Simpson responded that it was a concern but the issues he was addressing was the double charge for infrastructure. He added that often developers prefer building portions of the infrastructure, particularly roads, parks, and drainage improvements, and having no way to credit the impact fee for these improvements would discourage them.

Kevin Burnett of Red Oak responded to a question by the board that the fees were calculated based on the current cost for infrastructure installation. The board took action to put the impact fee structure on hold until a solution could be worked out that addressed the double-charge issue and directed Simpson to inform developers who have built or are building infrastructure improvements that they will not be charged twice.

Board accepts trail easements

Simpson reported that a north-south 50-foot-wide strip of land about one-half mile in length between the Heights at Jackson Creek and the proposed Promontory Pointe subdivision (east of the Heights) would be brought into the district at a cost of $235,000. He said the 50-foot-wide strip would provide an alternative location to the proposed adjacent 30-foor-wide trail easement to the east. The 50-foot width also works well for the district because it is wide enough to provide for drainage, utility line stacking, and room for their maintenance vehicles. Simpson said this strip could also serve as a future location for a well.

The 30-foot-wide trail easement runs along the entire western boundary of Promontory Pointe, from Baptist Road to trail’s entrance into Home Place Ranch. Most of this 30-foot easement is formed by the rear 30 feet of all the residential lots that back up to the western boundary of Promontory Pointe.

Simpson noted that he had some discussions with the Heights Homeowner’s Association (HOA) about the northern portion of the 30-foot-wide trail easement strip. from the 50-foot strip between the subdivisions.

Simpson pointed out that another Triview easement in the Heights could be used as an alternative trail connection and that Triview already maintained it. He suggested that 30 feet was not wide enough to serve as a utility easement, and that it was redundant since there was already another 50-foot easement in the subdivision that could be used as a connection to Home Place Ranch. He said he was concerned about the district’s ability to maintain the 30-foot-wide strip in Promontory Pointe to HOA standards.

In response to Simpson’s report, Heights HOA President Robert Fisher voiced the HOA’s strong opposition to not continuing the trail in the 30-foot corridor an additional one-fourth mile along the property line between the Homestead and Promontory Pointe to their common boundary with the Home Place Ranch subdivision. Fisher said that if this northern segment of the 30-foot trail easement was deleted from the plat and PD site plan, area residents would forever lose the opportunity for a continuous trail connection. He strongly urged the board not to abandon this one-time opportunity.

The board then considered a number of alternatives for the 30-foot strip. Board President Steve Stephenson expressed concern that a corridor would not be maintained by Triview and that it might turn into a weed patch. He suggested that if it were platted as a larger lot, the property owner would maintain it and save the district taxpayers’ dollars. In response, Director Steve Belzer noted that trail corridors were important, that it could be planted with wild flowers or trees, and that the district discouraged watering large lawns so it may turn into a weed patch anyway. Susemihl suggested that the board could accept the strip into the district but not commit to a purpose for it. The board voted to accept the 50-foot and the 30-foot strips of land.

Baptist Road widening

Simpson reported that the district is being assessed $7,200 for a drainage improvement that wasn’t included in the plans. He suggested that even though the omission was not the district’s fault, it should pay for the improvement because it was needed. The board voted to approve an amount not to exceed $7,200 for the improvement.

Wastewater treatment facility

Chuck Ritter of Nolte Associates reported that the Upper Monument Creed Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility construction was proceeding but that the contract for the equalization basins was a month behind schedule.

(See the Donala article for additional news on upgrade construction at this facility.)

Common land use standards:

Ritter reported that he would meet with town officials the following week to consider common street standards. He requested that Simpson and Larry Bishop be present at that meeting. In response to Stephenson’s question about who is paying for updating the street standards, Ritter said that the town would cover this portion of updating the standards.

District operations and maintenance manager Steve Sheffield reported that the new water meters were in and that he would be replacing some of the older meters that were not working.

He asked the board to approve $8,000 for a perforated PVC drainage pipe to collect run-off in Bridle Ridge. The board asked if he was sure it was run-off, to which he replied that the water did not have chlorine in it and followed the outside of the pipe, so he was quite sure it was. They approved funds for this drainage improvement.

Attorney’s report

The board unanimously approved and signed petitions for inclusion into the district from the developers of Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and Home Place Ranch.

Financial report

District administrator Dale Hill reported that four new permits had been issued, two under the new fee structure. She noted that they had entered into an intergovernmental agreement with El Paso County for the November election to "de-Bruce" all sales taxes for 10 years, and that she had been appointed the election official. Stephenson asked if the wording had to be so "legalese." Simpson asked Heights HOA President Fisher if the group would support this measure, to which he responded that he did not like the wording and had seen examples that were more palatable. Hill and Susemihl said this was wording developed by Wysor and had to be into the state in a few days. Fisher said he would try to find better examples and get them to the board as soon as possible.

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

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Triview Metropolitan District, August 30: Board approves ballot measure

By Elizabeth Hacker

To de-Bruce or not to de-Bruce? That is a question voters of the Triview Metropolitan District will decide on Nov. 7. Their board of directors, Martha Gurnick, Chuck Burns, Joe Belzer, and Steve Stephenson, met Aug. 30, to review the wording of the ballot initiative. Director Julie Glenn did not attend. District resident Robert Fisher, attorney Pete Susemihl, and staff Ron Simpson, Dale Hill, and Larry Bishop were also at the meeting to review the ballot wording.

Board president Stephenson emphasized the reason for placing the question to voters was to pay down the district’s debt in 10 years. He noted that the district could do this if they were allowed to retain sales tax revenues instead of being obligated to return it to the retailer as required under the TABOR amendment to the state Constitution. He emphasized that it would not increase property taxes, and the statute of limitations was 10years.

Robert Fisher questioned the language regarding the 5.5 percent property tax revenue limits and said it was confusing and would be interpreted as a property tax increase. In response, Stephenson agreed that it was confusing but said the language specifically addressed the "growth + inflation = 5.5 percent" calculation enacted as part of TABOR. He added that if approved, the initiative would not increase taxes or the mill levy. Simpson added that the district did not project any mill-levy increases in the future. Fisher acknowledged that it was the county that assesses property values every two years and collects property taxes, not the district. Stephenson added that the mill levy could decrease once the debt was paid.

After a discussion about how important it was for the board to meet with the residents to explain the ballot, the board unanimously approved Resolution 08-2006, which included the language for Ballot Issue 5 and directed staff to send it to the county for the Nov. 7 election.

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Triview Ballot Issue

Commencing January 1, 2007 through December 31, 2017, shall Triview Metropolitan District (without increasing existing tax rates or imposing a new tax) be authorized, for the principal purpose of paying down the District’s debt sooner, to collect , retain, and spend as a voter approved revenue change pursuant to article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution and regardless of the provisions of any other law, including without limitations the 5.5% property tax revenue limit of 29-1-301, C.R.S,

  1. All revenues accounted for in the District’s general fund such as property taxes, specific ownership taxes, sales taxes, property taxes and other revenues received from the town of Monument, impact fees, grant revenues, and investment income, and

  2. In any year in which the District’s water and sewer utility does not qualify as an enterprise, revenues accounted for in the enterprise fund, such as water and sewer user fees, tap fees, inclusion fees, water reuse fees, grants, and investment income?

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, August 10: District will serve new high school

By Sue Wielgopolan

Woodmoor General Manager Phil Steininger confirmed at the board’s Aug. 10 meeting that the site chosen by Lewis-Palmer School District 38 for their new high school lies within Woodmoor Water and Sanitation district boundaries, and the district will provide service. After the contentious potential location on Wissler Ranch was abandoned, the school board selected the property off Monument Hill Road as best suited to meet its requirements.

District 38 has contracted with Pinewood Farms to purchase the 40-acre tract, as well as about 25 acres from Bill Herebic of Monument Gateway Investments. D-38 also intends to buy five additional acres on Lot 5 of the Williams Ranch from Roger Williams. Rumors that D-38 may be negotiating for an additional 13 acres from the Greater European Mission remain unconfirmed. Purchase of the properties is contingent on passage of a district-wide bond issue in November.

Herebic had intended to build about 65 single- and multi-family homes on his property, which was to be named Hillsong Village. The sale of the tract to D-38 will result in a significant reduction in sewer and tap fees for the Woodmoor district.

Herebic had reserved excess water for his development. Steininger told board members that water agreements are attached to the property, not the seller. As a result, the school district will be able to purchase the amount of excess water agreed upon in Herebic’s contract at the price he originally negotiated, which is lower than the price the district would have paid at current rates. D-38 will still have to pay tap fees.

District revises 2006 income expectations

Steininger reviewed the 2006 budget with the board, comparing anticipated income and expenditures with actual figures. In several categories, income for the year to date was significantly lower than expected. He told members that although official budget revisions would not be filed with the state until after final figures were in at the end of the year, the board needed to reallocate funds to cover unexpected well repairs and reprioritized projects.

Steininger told the board that higher than anticipated expenses and delayed collection of water and sewer tap fees resulting from lagging construction schedules accounted for most of the discrepancies. Annexation fees were also below expectations.

Three wells needed repairs in 2006. Woodmoor staff had requested an allowance to cover one well repair, which is usually adequate. Additionally, the amount spent on land acquisition for wells and other district projects was more than estimated.

Though the rise in interest rates contributed $30,000 more to the district’s coffers than expected, and miscellaneous income from Mountain View Electric Association credits and late penalty collections were higher than originally estimated, the total was insufficient to offset the shortfall of about $750,000.

Steininger proposed adjustments to the budget to avoid an increase in expenditures, pushing some projects to the forefront and postponing others. The board voted to approve the revisions.

New wells to be completed in early 2007

District engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that Well 20 was still in the land acquisition phase. Several years ago, the prospective sellers combined the proposed well lot with an adjoining lot to form a larger parcel. Now Woodmoor must go through the subdivision process with El Paso County to re-establish the vacated lot line.

Shaffer has submitted final documentation to the El Paso County Planning Commission for approval. The hearing is on the September calendar for the Planning Commission and the county Board of Commissioners, which must approve the plat. The district hopes to close on the property in September.

Bishop and Brogden have the drilling contract bid forms and ad ready, and drilling could begin as early as October, with pipeline connection excavation to follow.

County stormwater fees discussed

The issue of whether or not the Woodmoor district is responsible for paying drainage impact fees to the county for impermeable surface area created by the new well and its associated structures arose during discussion of fees and permits. Woodmoor’s attorney, Erin Smith stopped the conversation, and told the board to reserve further discussion for executive session.

In executive session, Smith advised members that state law exempts special districts from paying such fees.

Board moves ahead with Maguire property inclusion

The owners of three vacant parcels on the north side of Highway 105 across from the Village Center at Woodmoor have requested that their properties be included in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Though Jim and Donna Maguire have no immediate plans for development, they would like to ensure future water and sewer service from Woodmoor.

President Jim Taylor conducted a public hearing on the inclusion, but there was no public comment.

In outlining the pros and cons of the proposal, Steininger told the board that long-range plans anticipated the eventual inclusion of the Maguire’s property, which is completely surrounded by the district. The previous owners had negotiated rights for four water taps in exchange for utility easements across the land, which were transferred when the Maguires purchased the parcels. Steininger pointed out that service would be relatively easy to provide, because district water and sewer mains bisect the area.

In response to questions from the board, Steininger verified that the current owners held no surface rights to Dirty Woman Creek, and that inclusion fees would not be paid until the sites were developed.

Woodmoor staff recommended that the board move ahead with the inclusion. After members voted to proceed, Smith said she would prepare a draft resolution for inclusion to be presented at the next meeting.

Joint Use Committee open house

Jim Whitelaw, acting as Woodmoor’s alternate to the Joint Use Committee (JUC), told the board that the Aug. 8 meeting was sparsely attended. The committee includes delegates from the boards of the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts and Woodmoor, which co-own the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Plant manager Bill Burks and executive agent Phil Steininger also are on the committee.

Committee members finalized plans to host an open house Aug. 12 at the new office/lab building, which was completed in late 2005. Committee members approved the purchase of a grill, which would later be used by plant staff.

The JUC also continued to refine protocol for the plant’s conversion from contract management by the Woodmoor district to a self-managed facility, and authorized Woodmoor to assemble the necessary paperwork documenting the process.

Wells 11 and 15 back on line; broken hydrants being replaced

Operations manager Randy Gillette reported that Wells 11 and 15 were again operational. The Well 11 pump was lowered on recommendations from consulting firm Bishop and Brogden in order to bring yield back up to the previous level of 200 gallons per minute. Well 15 was initially pulled from service due to check-valve failure on the motor. After reviewing their options, district staff opted to proactively lower the pump as well as install a smaller diameter drop pipe to increase pumping velocity and reduce sediment settling.

Gillette said that Well 2, which has been a consistent producer for the district for many years, finally "gave it up." When the pump was pulled, the crew found that the drop pipe needed replacement. Technicians also inspected the well interior with a television camera to look for corrosion and ensure that the casing could withstand the planned wire brush cleaning. Gillette said Woodmoor plans to keep the pump at the same depth.

Well 2 taps the Dawson aquifer. Though the Dawson is the shallowest of the four aquifers underlying the Tri-Lakes area, it had yielded a low but reliable 45 gallons per minute for decades. Because Dawson wells have traditionally "held up" for the district, Woodmoor chose to repair rather than abandon the well.

Woodmoor is replacing six fire hydrants, including three that are out of service. Lack of manpower and difficulty in obtaining new hydrants from the manufacturer has slowed the operation. The district contracted Nordic Excavating to complete the work, which Gillette expected to be finished by the end of August.

Elizabeth Hacker asked about the significance of the differently colored tops on the hydrants. Gillette responded that each hydrant was color-coded according to pressure, so that a fire crew would know what to expect when hooking up to the water supply. He told members that the district had contracted with the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District to paint the hydrants.

Woodmoor continues sewer pipe lining program

Gillette told the board that TEC would resume lining the sewer mains. The PVC liner is inserted inside the older cracked clay pipes, providing an impermeable plastic interior at a considerably lower cost than excavation and replacement.

The contractor will be working in Zone 5 of the district. Woodmoor hopes to complete video inspections of all its sewer pipes and line those showing significant damage in three to five years.

Gillette applauded the efforts of Lance Nielson for keeping the TV cameras running and completing inspections on time, enabling TEC to meet its schedule.

Meter replacement program hits halfway mark

District engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that technicians had installed about 1,600 meters, roughly half the total number scheduled for replacement. The process is moving ahead smoothly. Shaffer expects to complete the project by the end of 2006.

Development update

Rocky Mountain Custom Wood Structures has submitted plans to build a new commercial office park on six lots north of Colorado Heights Camping Resort and south of County Line Road on Monument Hill Road. Woodmoor is reviewing the plans for the development, which will be called Woodmoor Vista Office Park. The developer hopes to begin construction within two to three months.

Sam Schoeninger of Alexandria Corp., the developer of Lot 27 of Misty Acres Filing 2, has almost finalized plans for 42 patio home sites and is working with El Paso County on road design and location.

Woodmoor contractors must verify employees’ legal work status

Smith informed board members that a law that forbids local government contractors from employing illegal aliens applies to the district. Smith created a contract that places the burden of verifying worker documentation and legal status on any contractor hired by Woodmoor. The contract also specifies penalties for violations.

The Woodmoor board voted to add a clause to the district’s rules and regulations requiring all contractors working for the district to sign and abide by the document’s provisions.

The board went into executive session to receive attorney instruction regarding negotiations for water rights, to discuss county permits and fees related to construction of a new well including fees related to stormwater, and to discuss personnel matters. The Woodmoor board also was scheduled to meet for a special executive session, Aug. 24 to continue discussions on negotiations for water rights acquisition.

The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor board will take place Sept. 14 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held the second Thursday of the month.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, August 16: Board renews insurance policy with VFIS

By Jim Kendrick

Directors Joe Potter and Kraig Sullivan were excused.

Allen Cook of T. Charles Wilson Insurance Co. and Mickey Leonard of VFIS Insurance Co. each gave half-hour presentations on proposals to provide a year’s worth of coverage when the current VFIS policy expires. Each offered property, automobile, malpractice, and employment practices liability, plus an umbrella policy for coverage in excess of the usual limits of the regular policy.

Wescott currently has an accident and sickness insurance policy with VFIS, which was renewed last year for a period of three years. VFIS also provides Wescott’s workers compensation policy and life insurance policies. The board unanimously approved renewal of the VFIS policy based on this company providing training that leads to policy discounts, level of service over the past several years of VFIS coverage, and no significant difference in cost between the two companies’ proposals. Renewal of the VFIS liability policy will cost $14,813.

Treasurer’s report

The overtime budget may appear to be slightly overspent for this point in the year but is actually in line with historical norms due to the increase in vacations during the summer.

Treasurer Dave Cross informed the board that the auditor had completed his portion of the 2005 report and was waiting for a letter from the department’s attorney that is required for submitting it to the state. The auditor reported that the department is using sound accounting procedures and policies.

Cross reported that the district was ready to sign the loan agreement for lease-purchase of the new pumper engine. He noted that at least 10 percent of the $330,000 loan from Wells Fargo Bank needs to be spent within six months of the loan’s origination. He suggested early equipment purchases for the new engine to help use the first $33,000 of the loan. The district has made some minor changes in the engine’s specifications, adding some features and dropping others, since the manufacturer submitted the winning bid of $321,000. The final cost should not change significantly

Chief’s report

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns reported 97 total runs for the month of July, of which 72 were in the district and 25 were automatic-aid or mutual-aid calls. Total runs for the year are at 618.

Chief Jeff Edwards advised the board that Ford had completed wiring harness and exhaust system repairs on AMR’s ambulance 718 and the vehicle was back in service at the Gleneagle Drive station.

Edwards reported that the annual pump and hose tests for the engines had been completed. The ladder test was scheduled to be completed in the next week. He said Wescott had also assisted Black Forest with its pump tests for the Insurance Services Organization certification. The district’s Firefighter I class has been completed as well.

Edwards and Burns attended a budget writing class. Firefighter Curt Leonhardt completed a fire apparatus mechanic class. Volunteer firefighter and personal trainer Mike Forsythe gave a presentation on physical fitness to full-time personnel and volunteers. He is director of the district’s physical fitness program.

Edwards also noted that the department will participate in the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s "Fill the Boot" telethon, with firefighters posted at certain locations throughout the area to raise money for the fund.

The board asked Edwards to give them an update at the September meeting on performance evaluations, the preliminary 2007 budget, and a list of needed equipment purchases, plus a "wish list" of possible expenditures.

The next regular meeting was changed to Sept. 27 due to board members being out of town on Sept. 20 for the annual Special District Association Conference.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the conference room of Station One, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month.

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Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, August 24: New ambulance on the way

By Lee Colburn

With all directors present, President Charlie Pocock called the meeting to order. Rick Barnes, John Hildebrandt, Keith Duncan, and John Hartling, along with Battalion Chief Bryan Jack and Fire Chief Robert Denboske, were in attendance at the August Tri-Lakes FPD meeting.

Financial report

The first new topic covered was the financial report by Treasurer John Hildebrant, who outlined the department’s progress. Closing out August, the budget was within 5 percent over projections. Continued increased expenses associated with Station 2 made up most of the overage. This was due to station repair bills from previous grounds maintenance. All directors were pleased with budget progress.

Ambulance vehicle inbound

Fire Chief Denboske said the new ambulance will be delivered in November and will need to be outfitted with equipment from the old 2282 ambulance vehicle. Following this, the new unit will need official certification before becoming operational. Pocock said the department might need to break out ambulance crews as a separate function from the cross-trained firefighters. Once the department is up to three vehicles, the ambulance service would be the second largest in the county. Also, $11,000 in computer equipment will accompany the ambulance purchase, which was funded by part of a grant.

Station 2 problem unresolved

The water situation with Station 2 remains under investigation, according to Rick Barnes. Further investigation is planned, but the well is not leaking. Nearby on Rollercoaster Road, there appear to be artesian well issues. The station’s septic system is also under investigation. Recent groundwater levels continue to be monitored and are a point of concern.

Third-party billing

The board discussed and passed a motion to forgo renewal of a third-party billing contract that was up for October consideration. Instead, the contract will expire and the department will negotiate a consultant contract under Denboske’s direction.

Tax increase ballot measure and impact fees approved

The board passed a motion to recommend approval of an impact fee proposal that would charge builders $700 per new dwelling or $700* per 2,000 square feet in a commercial project. Pocock stated that this fee would help offset the growth that the Tri-Lakes district is anticipating. The next step would be to formulate the collection strategy with the Town Council and Planning Commission. The board passed, 4-1. the proposal to ask in the November elections for a 1.5 mill levy increase, from 7.0 to 8.5 mills. Denboske was named the election official for this issue. (* This figure was incorrectly stated as $7,000 per 2,000 square feet in the printed paper).

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 27, immediately preceding the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority board meeting at Tri-Lakes district station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley).

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

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Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District, August 23: Firefighters praised for work on Station 3 remodel

By Susan Hindman

Renovations for Woodmoor’s Station 3 are mostly complete, and Battalion Chief Mike Dooley announced it’s "ready for inspection." Directors Rod Wilson and Si Sibell were absent from the board meeting of the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District.

Dooley congratulated all the firefighters—from Stations 1, 2, and 3 and all shifts—who did the renovation work, saving the district a lot of money. He added "kudos" to Battalion Chief Greg Lovato, who did a lot of the construction and framing with his own tools, and firefighter Kristian Naslund, who used his own equipment to paint the bay floor.

The station received new windows, carpeting, tile flooring, rubber matting for the exercise room, beds, and recliners. In addition, the bunk room now has separate male-female sleeping areas, the bay floor was painted, and heating repairs were made.

Dooley said the work—which totaled $21,311—went over the original estimate by $346, and he presented the board with a letter giving a breakdown and explanation of the added expenses.

Board members added their praise and thanks to all. Treasurer Bob Hansen suggested the board do something special for the firefighters, and directors approved spending up to $700 for a barbecue that would include the workers and their families.

Hansen’s treasurer’s report noted that the district is operating at around 6.7 percent under budget. Instead of the projected spending of $103,305 a month, $96,329 has been spent.

With property tax revenues and specific ownership taxes collected so far, and interest income generated, the district’s three bank accounts total $1,075,335.

Hansen said he caught an error in the amount the district had received for firefighter inspection revenues. Woodmoor should have received $3,375 for the work, but only got $1,215. The remainder had been directed to the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District’s account. That has now been corrected.

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Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Authority, August 23: Auditors expenses questioned

By Lee Colburn

The Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Rescue Authority convened its August 23 regular meeting at 8:20 p.m. with a full board and many observers.

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that the district is about 2 percent over budget, and he said he was satisfied with the spending rate. Tri-Lakes Station 2 maintenance issues and differing deposits to the two sub-districts were reasons for the spending deviations. Current revenues are generally on target for the projections.

Driver-Engineer award

Monument Fire Protection District Capt. Curtis Kauffman awarded three firefighters the special rating of Driver Engineer in a station meeting room ceremony in front of wives, parents and department personnel. Firefighters Mike Keough, Ryan Graham and Lisa Frasca were awarded their Driver Engineer’s badges after successfully completing a Colorado Fire Safety Course. The firefighters successfully passed a nationally certified exam, followed by a practical driving test.

Auditor discussion

Board President Tim Miller opened a thorough discussion concerning issues surrounding the services of independent auditor Gordon, Hughes, and Banks. The authority was presented with an invoice well over the original agreed price quote of $14,500 for services rendered during the recent audit. Two additional bills totaled approximately $10,000 in unanticipated overruns. After confirming that none of the additional expenses were communicated to the board during the audit, the board first voted to decline paying any bills over the $14,500 figure. Then board members directed the department to get an itemized listing. The possibility of employing the firm in future consulting and auditing support was tabled pending further investigation.

Administrative assistant hired

The board discussed and decided on the hiring of a part-time administrative assistant as a replacement for the current contract administrative help, which would cease by the end of September. The board also discussed a proposal for increasing the current administrative position to full time. Members decided to discuss this proposal in a future special session.

Personnel policy manual changes

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack presented proposed policy manual changes that the department membership committee created for adoption. The minor changes involved harassment policy rewordings for clarity and revisions to the hiring policy posting. The board accepted the proposed changes.

Executive session rule change

A recent administrative ruling concerning executive sessions will require the board to record all executive sessions closed to public observation. The audio recordings must be secured by a designated member of the board and kept for 90 days before purging.

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Fox Run Regional Park master plan update open house, August 29: Park plan receives favorable comments

By Jim Kendrick

The El Paso County Parks Department held an open house at Pavilion 4 of Fox Run Regional Park to present the interim results of written survey responses submitted by 178 citizens on the department’s draft update of the park’s master plan. The open house was hosted by Director Tim Wolken, Planning Division Supervisor Neil Katz, Park Planner Brian Kay, District I Supervisor Ken Gerber, Maintenance Division Manager Jerry Westling, and Fox Run Regional Park Maintenance Director Bill Campbell.

About 100 citizens attended the session and all were greeted and engaged by staff members who asked them questions and showed them what each of the displays depicted.

Wolken said he was very pleased with the turnout at the pavilion and the uniformly positive comments of the survey responses on the current status of the park. Survey comments indicated preferences for improved rest rooms and expansions of the trail system, open areas, playground, roads, and parking, as well as new horse trailer facilities and an unleashed dog area.

Phase I infrastructure improvements

  1. New Baptist Road Trailhead with parking for vehicles, horse trailers, restrooms, signage, and a link to existing trails ($30,000)

  2. Restrooms/warming hut on the southeast side of the lower lake ($200,000)

  3. Additional parking for 50 more cars south of Oak Meadows, the open space at the southeast corner of the park ($20,000)

  4. New playground to replace existing wooden equipment at Oak Meadows ($70,000)

  5. New water line to improve service for all park facilities (funded separately)

Phase I trail improvements

  1. Ridge Entrance Trail – add 4,200 feet of Tier II trail ($2,000)

  2. Sun Hills Entrance Trail – add 2,000 feet of Tier II trail ($1,000)

  3. Stella Entrance Trail – add 4,000 feet of Tier II trail ($2,000)

The proposed cost estimate for Phase I is $325,000 .

Phase II infrastructure improvements

  1. Upgrades of two restrooms to potable water for hand washing and drinking, and leach fields ($120,000)

  2. Dog park for unleashed walking in 5 acres of fenced area at southeast corner by intersection of Stella Drive and Roller Coaster Road ($25,000)

  3. Additional parking for 25 cars at the new dog park ($16,000)

  4. Improved access at Roller Coaster Road ($50,000)

Phase II trail improvements:

  1. Park trail addition— add 5,300 feet of Tier II trail to perimeter loop trail ($3,500)

  2. Park trail addition—add 3,300 feet of Tier II trail to connect ponds to Pine Meadows ($2,000)

  3. Roller Coaster addition—add 5,300 feet of Tier II trail to connect Roller Coaster Road parking and add perimeter loop trail ($3,500)

The proposed cost estimate for Phase II is $220,000.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, August 16: Board approves matching funds for fire protection grants

By Chris Pollard

Speeding on Moor Drive

Two Woodmoor residents came forward to express their concerns about speeding and aggressive driving on the north end of Moor Drive. It is posted with a 25 mph limit, but they said they had observed many delivery and service trucks and a school bus driving at speeds obviously higher than this. At night the road appears to be used as a detour around the weigh station by semi trucks, and in the early morning an occasional car or two speeds by. They asked why Doewood Drive was not available as a through street as it appeared to have been one previously.

Kevin Nielsen, chief of Woodmoor Public Safety, said that Doewood was never intended to be a through street but was made into one when an adjacent development, Doewood Estates, was under construction. Subsequent lobbying by people on the street reclosed it after the construction was completed.

With regard to the speeding, Nielsen recalled that measurements with the WIA speed trailer had shown occasional speeding up to 70 mph. He suggested they should call the Sheriff’s Office about speeding vehicles and the State Patrol with regard to trucks that were avoiding the weigh station.

Wang named as NEPCO representative

Todd Wang, who has been a Woodmoor resident for four years, was appointed by the board to be a representative for the WIA on the NEPCO land use committee. The board had been looking for somebody with an understanding of civil engineering plans and projects and Todd had volunteered.

Wang said that he had been in the Army Corps of Engineers for many years and had been involved in several construction projects, including local studies on Fountain Creek. He said he had many dealings with other small communities and government organizations on flood control and experience working with developers and builders. He was now transitioning into the private sector.

Support requested for Sheriff’s Budget Request

Bill Walters, vice president, said that the county has a problem with its budget. The sheriff needed money to expand the jail to meet obligatory requirements but traffic patrol money, on the other hand, is discretionary. He said that the northern part of El Paso County has already experienced considerable growth and the Town of Monument has given planning approval for projects that would add several hundred homes south of Higby Road. Clearly, this showed a need for funding extra patrols to cover this. He said that the WIA should make the case to Wayne Williams, county commissioner, that there should be a budget increase for additional services needed to cover the additional growth. Walters was not clear where the commissioners were in approving the budget but suggested that the WIA should send a letter to Williams supporting the budget increase. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office is talking about reducing hours rather than increasing them. Although a good proportion of the growth has been within the Town of Monument there is still extra growth in the unincorporated areas.

Jim Woodman, director of Forestry, suggested that the letter to Williams should ask that service to the Woodmoor area be maintained at current levels.

Overview of high school meeting

Hans Post, president, gave a short overview of the meeting between Lewis-Palmer School District 38 and Woodmoor residents. (See article on Aug. 7 meeting) Main issues mentioned included traffic and other potential nuisances, plus communication and funding. Post said there had been little feedback to the WIA after the meeting and thought there was not enough information available at the moment to make further decisions. He added that he had checked with the county Department of Transportation about speculation on the future of the Monument Hill frontage road and confirmed that there was sufficient space to widen I-25 and the frontage road including space for expanded junctions. The Transportation Department noted that the school district needed to include enough money in its bond issue to cover off-site improvements.

Grant applications for Community Wildfire Protection Program

Woodman proposed that the board allocate extra funds for a major new program related to the Community Wildfire Protection Program. The State Forestry Service had asked the WIA to submit a request for grant money from an $8 million fund set up for mitigation programs. A Woodland Park forestry agency had another $45,000 that was available for the same purpose.

Both granting systems required a Community Wildfire Protection Plan as part of the application. Woodman said that his team had been working on such a plan but had not yet completed it. He had discussed this with both entities and they had suggested submitting preliminary plans prior to the grant application closing date and then, later, follow up with the final plan. Unlike previous grant applications, the money had to be allocated to specific projects. The committee was working to come up with a suitable list with emphasis on the extreme fire hazard present in areas around Fairplay Drive, where there were extensive stands of thick scrub oak. The money could not be moved around once allocated and required a 50 percent match from the entity proposing the work.

From discussions with the two forestry departments, he concluded that he would apply for a grant of up to $8,000 from the Woodland Park agency and $10,000 from the state service. This was based on the chances of receiving a grant based on the funds available, the number of people that were applying for a grant, and the cost of relevant Woodmoor projects.

Woodman said this would mean the WIA board would have to commit to corresponding funds in the grant application. He thought that the WIA needed to make an effort to work on these grants so that both granting entities would be aware that Woodmoor was an active player in wildfire protection programs and interested in future grants. He said he thought that there was already strong competition for these funds and only one in three applications were successful.

He said he still needed to keep his current budget of $12,000 for tree cutting and common areas so that the matching funds would be in addition to that.

Betty Hutchinson, treasurer, said that she thought that the program was fiscally responsible because it would be a major benefit to the whole community. Woodman said he would look to the Forestry Service and the local Fire Department to identify projects to address the highest risk areas and then have the costs estimated by a local forestry service company. The proposal was approved unanimously.

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August Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Summer has continued to be wet and mild around the region as more abundant moisture soaked the Tri-Lakes for much of August. So far this snow season, which begins on July 1 and ends on June 30, we have received over 8 inches of rainfall, far ahead of normal and the most in that time period in at least the past four years. With the numerous days of afternoon and evening thunderstorms, temperatures have remained at or below average on many afternoons. In fact, no heat waves were felt this month, as highs stayed below 90 every day.

August started off the way most of us had hoped, seasonal to slightly below average temperatures and scattered thunderstorms. Six out of the first seven days of the month saw high temperatures hold in the 70s, with 81°F reached on the afternoon of the 4th. Soaking rains fell during the afternoons of the 1st and 2nd, then again during the afternoon and evenings of the 6th and 7th. Once again we were fortunate to escape without having to deal with any severe weather.

The second week of August was much like the first with seasonal temperatures and scattered afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Highs ranged from the mid 70’s to the low 80’s for the week. Accumulating rain fell on the 7th, 8th, and 9th, then again on the 11th and 12th. Pretty much a repeat performance occurred during the third week of August, as temperatures stayed at seasonal levels and several rounds of thunderstorms rumbled through the region. Rains fell hard and heavy during the evenings of the 19th and 20th, with some small hail reported as well. Highs started off cooler than normal, holding in the upper 60s on the 15th, then bouncing back to the upper 70s and low 80s through the end of the week, before a cold front ushered in clouds and cooler temperatures for Saturday. In fact, highs on Saturday struggled to reach the mid-60s, and this was accompanied by fog and rain.

During the last weekend of the month, an unseasonably strong low-pressure system moved through the region and brought with it several rounds of strong to severe thunderstorms. These produced more heavy rain at times on the 25th and 26th and included some hail. This system contained some pretty cool air for this time of the year as well, and this helped generate severe weather along parts of the Front Range and a dusting of snow above timberline. Pueblo was hit hardest with this storm, as severe weather produced a tornado, damaging winds, hail, and flash flooding.

The weather returned to normal for the last few days of the month, as temperatures climbed back into the low 80’s on the 30th and 31st under mostly sunny skies.

A look ahead

September is a transition month for the Tri-Lakes region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change as well, and two out of the past three Septembers have seen at least a trace of snow. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later in the month. Our first sub-freezing low temperature usually occurs during the second or third week as well, so prepare those plants.

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

August 2006 Weather Statistics

Average High 76.5°
Average Low 51.0°
Highest Temperature 86° on the 9th
Lowest Temperature 39° on the 28th
Monthly Precipitation 3.17"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 8.29" (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Fishing with Jimmy and Mike

Recently at a Colorado Springs MDA fundraising event, Monument firefighter Mike Rauenzahn and 13-year-old Jimmy Johnson met and talked about things they have in common. Mike is a young, extremely strong professional firefighter in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department and a member of IAFF local 4319. Jimmy is bright, intelligent, outgoing and not afraid to roll up to Mike in his wheelchair and start a conversation. After awhile the two found something in common: they both like to fish. Mike had called Jimmy’s family a few days after the MDA event to let them know he had developed some pictures of himself and Jimmy at the Chili Cook Off MDA fundraiser.

Mrs. Johnson let Mike know that Jimmy was ready to go fishing anytime he was available. Not only did Mike accept the invitation, he contacted his fellow firefighters from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department, Members of Donald Wescott Fire Department and El Paso County Search and Rescue. All accepted the invitation to go fishing at Monument Lake, in Monument.

Mike did not stop there. He called the local Safeway and asked them if they could supply lunch. They are donating hotdogs; buns, condiments, soda and water for all that attend. Then Mike thought it would be nice to set Jimmy up with some new fishing gear and tackle. Mike called a manager at a local Wal-Mart, who donated a new fishing rod and tackle.

Mike is an exceptional member of our union, fire department, and community. He wants to make this an event that can accommodate more members of MDA next year with more sponsors. Mike has made a friend; Jimmy gets to fish with a great guy. It’s nice to hear a "feel-good story."

Jody Thorpe
Local 4319 President

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The return of eminent domain

Recently there was much concern about the District 38 School Board invoking eminent domain. It was in the news often with a possible "recall the board" campaign mentioned. Because of this, the school board decided to choose a different set of properties to purchase. They did not pursue due diligence and have ended up with an eminent domain decision again.

One of the properties being purchased is in the covenant-restricted Williams Ranch subdivision. A search on the El Paso County clerk and recorder site will show this— http://car2.elpasoco.com/rcdqueryhelp.asp. The covenants are public record, if you wish to verify. The covenants preclude the school board from using the property as they wish unless they invoke eminent domain.

Here is what is ironic. The properties of the Williams Ranch subdivision are currently owned by the children of the late Marion E. (Sandy) Williams. Sandy Williams owned a ranch in the 1940s through the late 1960s, and his neighbor was the Wissler Ranch, which the school board decided not to eminent domain. Mr. Williams sold most of his property in the late 1960s, which later became Woodmoor.

A letter from our attorney is being sent to inform the school district of the decision they have to make. The Williams Ranch subdivision was set up with covenants to protect the living quality of all the property owners. Using eminent domain on one owner affects the lives of all in the subdivision.

Bob Patha

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Page turners

By the staff of Covered Treasures

Looking for a couple of nonfiction "page turners" for the end of summer? Colorado author and Denver Post senior columnist Dick Kreck has just the answer. Kreck will sign two of his fascinating true-crime tales at Covered Treasures during Art Hop from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 21.

Murder at the Brown Palace
By Dick Kreck, $17.95

Crimes of passion ruin lives in this tragic, true story set in our state’s capital. Denver’s grand old hotel, the Brown Palace, is at the center of this riveting drama that involves high society, adultery, murder and drugs. The true characters in this book could not have been better cast. Kreck’s research is excellent, and his story-telling skills make this a book that will keep readers engaged from beginning to end!

Anton Woode: Boy Murderer
By Dick Kreck, $15.95

Kreck’s work combines a fascinating true-crime story with a critical look at the criminal justice system of yesterday and its implications for today.

Anton Woode was a baby-faced, 11-year-old boy accused of shooting a man in the back in Colorado in 1892. As journalist Kreck tells the riveting story of Woode’s controversial trial, harsh prison life and diligent efforts at rehabilitation, he weaves in a well-researched history of the criminal justice system and the Colorado figures that shaped it for better and worse.

Want more regional, compelling history books? Check out the following.

The Southwestern Journals of Zebulon Pike 1806-1807
Edited by Stephen Harding Hart and Archer Butler Hulbert, $27.95

This University of New Mexico Press reprint of Zebulon Pike’s journal was released in conjunction with the bicentennial of Pike’s journey to explore the headwaters of the Arkansas and Red Rivers. Throughout the assignment, Pike kept a meticulous journal of his progress with descriptions of the vast landscape, Indian tribes, and the daily events of the days’ travels. Pike and his fellow explorers were captured in what is now southern Colorado and brought to Santa Fe, N.M., where his journal was taken from him and was not uncovered until the early 20th century. Hart and Hulbert provide commentary to accompany the journal entries. A fascinating read for all who wonder about the man whose mountain is the most famous in the land.

A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains
By Isabella L. Bird, $8.95

Isabella’s letters to her loving sister are recorded in this volume of the Western Frontier Library. Isabella is making her return trip to her home in England and decides to tour the Rocky Mountain area of the Colorado Territory. A young woman traveling alone on horseback was quite a phenomenon in the late 1900s. She found the terrain daunting but invigorating and incredibly beautiful. She described the area as "no region for tourists and women" but might be amazed today at how things have changed.

Helen Hunt Jackson: Selected Colorado Writings
Edited by Mark I. West, $12.95

Helen Hunt came to the Colorado Territory in 1873 due to failing health. The fresh air led to a recovery. Reluctant to come so far from her New England home, she was pleasantly surprised at the awesome beauty surrounding her, and in her writings she is an avid advocate of Colorado. Many of us have moved here from other areas of the country and can relate to her love affair with such a beautiful state. Reading this book of writings will just emphasize our desires to keep Colorado as pristine as possible.

As summer draws to a close, many readers seek meatier books, whether they are literary novels, political books, current affairs or historical books. Colorado history is alive with fascinating characters and amazing feats. Enjoy reading, and visit here again next month!

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High Country Highlights: To Deadhead or Not to Deadhead

By Woody Woodworth

Increase the enjoyment and value of your flowering plants by investigating the potential of deadheading. The process of removing the faded/spent flowers before they set seed with the goal of forcing a plant to rebloom is called deadheading. Some say deadheading is a way of fooling Mother Nature. To decide if deadheading is right for your flowers, consider the normal life cycle of a flowering plant, the goal of deadheading and the proper techniques to follow.

If left alone, a flowering plant would put forth a bloom. The blossom would then be fertilized and set seed. In this complete reproduction task, the plant expends its energy and nutrients to set seed instead of producing more flowers. Annuals are intended to grow, flower, set seed and die.

The main goal of deadheading is to produce more blooms on a plant. This goal extends the value of your investment on annuals and perennials, and beautifies your flower gardens by removing the dried-up flowers. In addition, deadheading your flowering plants conserves plant energy and removes hiding places and food for insects that often become pests in our gardens. It can also reduce the potential for fungal diseases by permitting minor improvements in air circulation.

Not all plants will bloom a second time even after deadheading them (e.g., poppies). You still may want to snap off the spent blooms to save the plant’s energy, to make the plants look neater and to help the plant be stronger and produce nicer blooms the next season.

Deadheading plants is not difficult. You’ll want to plan to remove the seed head before the seeds start to develop—before the florets begin to fall. Snap off any faded or dead flowers between the fingers and thumb. Make sure the stems are broken cleanly. If the stems are tough or if there is danger of hurting the plant as the dead flowers are removed, you may want to use scissors, pruners or a penknife. For plants that get long and gangly, like the blue salvia, you want to cut the entire plant back in half. While it will look "bald" at first, the new growth will rush right out and fill it in.

Fortunately, some annuals, such as begonias and impatiens, are "self-cleaning." They drop their spent flowers and continue to bloom for a long season. Impatiens naturally get leggy when it is hot and wet. These plants benefit by being cut back in half.

While deadheading roses, keep in mind that a bloom stem can be no larger in diameter than the stem from which it grows. Thus, the subsequent blooms will be proportionate in size to the stem from which they emerge. This means the further down the stem you cut, the larger the bloom stem and subsequent buds will become. Keep in mind that the larger the bloom stem, the longer it will take for the rose to rebloom. Make your cut at an angle away from and slightly above the node.

No matter what kind of plant you are working on, do not remove any foliage, even if it starts yellowing. The nutrients for next year’s blooms are still being transported to the roots at this stage.

While deadheading your flowering plants may be a way of fooling Mother Nature, it is also a way to give your garden a longer blooming season. It does not appear to hurt your plants. In fact, it conserves their energy and often provides stronger more beautiful plants the following season.

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Reflections: A Care Bear Color Wheel

By Judith Pettibone

I finished stuffing the oval rainbow tummy I had stitched onto a pair of pink-footed jammies turned backward. I felt a surge of pride at the thought of my 3˝-year-old showing up at her preschool Halloween party as "Cheer Bear," the pink rainbow Care Bear. After cutting off the feet and crafting a wee plush hood with ears, she would be the Care Bear she had requested. Voila! I may even have giggled.

That was 21 years ago, and my now 24-year-old daughter remembers this costume as her "favorite"!

What she has no memory of, except in my telling— which has grown to fable proportions— is what happened the day of the preschool Halloween party.

In the car, the excitement is palpable. Our little preschooler has become what she cherished—a rather worn stuffed animal who accompanies her to all cuddling occasions. She, naturally, never notices the worn part. And one surely would not describe her costume, thus. It was just plain darling … until ….

Words are insufficient to describe what emotions probably crossed my face as I saw one of the other little darlings walk in. Not only was she also a Cheer Bear, she had just popped off the Toys R Us shelf—an ACTUAL Cheer Bear. Her pink velvet body (no backward jammies for this missy) and a fully tucked, stitched and sculpted, identical version of the head of the Bear my daughter carried to bed, was a vision. If it hadn’t been so astonishing, I would have been amazed that anyone—grandma or other—could hand-make such a creation.

Flash forward to yesterday. My youngest daughter has left her comfort zone at Colorado State University and is attending a professional fashion school in Los Angeles. Although artistic, she is not an artist—at least not yet.

Her first rigorous assignment in a color and design class (where, according to the prof, "perfection is possible") was to create her own color wheel—mixing the paints and incorporating a design element. Ten—10!—hours later, she e-mailed us a photo of a very handsome color wheel using the 12 astrological signs. At least, it sure looked handsome to us.

I really did think it looked terrific, amazing even. And then, unbidden, a phrase popped into my head—"Sure hope there aren’t any ‘Care Bear Color Wheels’ in her class."

Just as I’m pretty sure I never made another "realistic" Halloween costume, I’m wondering what else I haven’t tried. How many of our attempts end before they begin? Because of the Care Bear Poem in third grade, or the Care Bear Dessert at the potluck or even the Care Bear team, was the burgeoning poet, baker or athlete discouraged?

We each have our special talents. It’s when we try something new and feel awkward that those internal and external comparisons may make us cringe. I am heartened by the fact that my daughter, out on a new limb, did not seem the least bit intimidated by what she thought the others might bring to the table. Comparing oneself only to oneself could lead us down paths we otherwise may not have traveled.

If someone wants to teach a class in "Sculpting Your Basic Care Bear Costume Head," count me in.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Yellow Warblers

Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

August is prime time for bird watchers. Early one morning, Randy and I observed bluebirds in Castlewood Canyon State Park teaching their fledglings how to forage for food. As the day warmed, the raptors began to soar on the thermal air currents, at which time the songbirds ceased their activity and hid in the shadows of trees to avoid becoming a meal. We also observed a great blue heron teaching an adolescent heron to fish in Palmer Lake. Although the adolescent was the same size as its parent, it did not yet have the distinctive plumage or graceful movement of its parent.

Fellow birder Jean Anderson of Palmer Lake reported seeing a double-crested cormorant. In my search for it, I observed a pair of yellow warblers nesting in a willow. This was somewhat surprising to me because while we previously spotted them migrating through here earlier this summer in Fox Run Park, we had never observed warblers nesting here. That is not to say that they don’t; we just haven’t seen them.

The yellow warbler is the most striking member of the wood warblers or New World warbler family that includes many species that annually migrate between Central and North America. Wood warblers are generally small sparrow-sized perching birds with a big song, but they vary quite a bit in appearance. This family of birds is cherished in many communities. In some states, various warbler species have been designated as the state bird.

The yellow warbler is a little bird, about 6 inches in length, which moves so quickly that until recently, I often misidentified it as a goldfinch. At first glance, it appeared as a flash of bright yellow darting from one tree branch to another. Unlike the goldfinch, it has no distinguishing black markings. In summer, the male is olive-green above and a brighter yellow below. With a good pair of binoculars, one can observe the copper-colored streaks on its breast. The female is olive to brown all over. Other distinguishing features include a small black beak and round eyes.

This summer was the first time we observed the yellow warbler in more than one location. It is an insectivore but also eats berries and is generally found near water or a wetland. This may explain why we’ve never seen one at a feeder. In addition to seeing it near water, we also found it perched in the top of a tall ponderosa pine in the Pike National Forest. The pair we observed at Palmer Lake was busy moving between its nest in a willow tree and a pile of old branches in search of insects to feed the nestlings, which were calling out for more food. Unlike the sweet song of the parents, the nestlings’ annoying chirps would motivate any parent into action.

The biggest threat to the yellow warblers is the cowbird. This native wanderer will lay one of its eggs in another bird’s nest. Sometimes song birds will recognize and destroy a foreign egg or chick, but often they don’t, and will raise it as if it were one of its own. Cowbird eggs will generally hatch a day earlier than other eggs, and because the parent must leave the nest to find food for it, the other eggs may not hatch. If they do hatch, the cowbird chick grows faster and will dominate the clutch. This, in addition to habitat loss, is thought to have reduced the warbler population in the Western states.

We are happy to report that we finally spotted the elusive blue grosbeak, but it was not where we expected it to be. In our research, we had read that it perches in shrubs next to water. We found it on top of a tall cottonwood tree quite a distance from the water. Maybe birds don’t always read the bird books! We were only able to observe it from afar and then for only a few minutes. So next summer we will look for it again. Hopefully, Santa will reward us with a viewing scope so we can get a closer look at it earlier in the season.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available at the gift shop in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. E-mail her with your questions and bird finds at OCN.

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Art Matters: It pays to collect art

Below: September Aspens by Sharon DeWeese (Buffalo Blues Gallery)

By Janet Sellers

I stopped by the Winter Gallery’s Western Art Show recently and was lucky to meet owner Steve Stingley as he talked to his friend, Kit Haddock. I noticed Kit was dressed up in cowboy attire, boots to hat, and I thought he was a cowboy artist in the show. Truly, Kit is exhibiting a large watercolor painting, but it is from his personal art collection and the work is by Denver artist William Matthews, considered in some circles to be the "new Remington."

Kit told me that, as a collector, he considers a number of things when investing in fine art. In the current painting for sale he has at the gallery, he was attracted to the personal memory and moment of the branding of the cattle. Years ago, he had gotten this watercolor at the Matthews Gallery in Denver. He had seen the painting the day before Matthews’ art opening and bought it on the spot. He reports it was a hot item at the actual show, but he was the one who got to take it home. It has gone up quite a bit in value, and although he has enjoyed it for some years, he will also enjoy selling it and hunting for another artwork to add to his collection of Western art.

We talked for a bit about the collector’s viewpoint on selling a painting via a gallery or auction. Kit mentioned that a friend had bought a Western painting for some $65,000. And in a few years the painting was resold to a celebrity in Santa Fe for something like $195,000.

This got me thinking about the secondary art market. The artist’s works are generally bought at the greatest value on the dollar at the earliest purchase moment—from the artist or from the primary art gallery. After that, the price will go up and the value is on its way to increasing year after year. Rare is the buyer or collector who tells the artist the painting isn’t priced high enough, but wait until they go to resell the art work, and they are sure to tell the gallery to up the price as high as possible. It is all in the name of business. Artists, beware! Well, most artists know their primary market value, or they should know it, as well as they should understand the growth factors. It is not hard to learn, but there are certain details that go into the pricing, regardless of genre.

Just what, exactly, influences the price and value in the first decades, especially? According to museums, galleries, art fund advisors and the art auction professionals, there are several critical influences to the value, and therefore the price. Important factors include scholarship, exhibition history, and "freshness to the market." This translates basically into the factors of what the literati have to say, where the art has been to "show off," who’s looked at it, who’s owned it, and if it is fresh on the market. These attributes are usually recorded in detail, and some even hold a title to the work with this data. All of these factors together combine into an ongoing growth market for the art, and such details are especially prized by the art collectors.

Well, speaking of fresh on the market, our community has a lot of art for sale and art events to offer this fall, and here is a list of events for September:

Brown Bag Saturdays at Buffalo Blues: Sharon DeWeese, fine artist and owner of Buffalo Blues Gallery at 135 Second St., downtown historic Monument, will be giving free watercolor demos noon to 1 p.m. Saturdays in September. Begins Sept. 2: come inside, bring your brown bag lunch if you want, and "watch a painting appear before your eyes." Please call 481-3720 to reserve a seat as space is limited.

Annual Member Artists Exhibit at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts: Sept. 2 through Oct. 20. A reception will be held on Sept. 8, from 5:30 to 8p.m. The Member Show is an event to showcase the 100-plus TLCA artist members. The Center is open Wednesday through Saturday from noon to 4 p.m., 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, CO 80133, (719) 481-0475. A Silent Auction has been added to the show benefiting TLCA. The auction will continue throughout the show with winners notified after Oct. 20.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is dedicated to creating community partnerships for demonstrating, teaching, exhibiting and promoting the arts and humanities. The Center is an advocate for artistic growth in the community.

Monthly Art Hop in Monument: September Art hop is 5-8 p.m. Sept. 21. Historic Monument holds its monthly art event. Bring a friend and stroll the town with art in mind. From Beacon Lite Road and Second Street on West to Third Street, enjoy going out on the town for art’s sake.

Free After-Hours Art "Sampler": Bring a friend and munch on biscotti while you visit an art evening for would-be creatives, artists, collectors – every level of interest! Start your art connection this season with the Monument School of Fine Arts at the monthly art evening in September. Short, informal talks and tips on artists’ creative secrets: preserving/protecting art, framing, and the why/how of art buying. Professional artists will demonstrate techniques in several "Studio Samplers" including digital photo, drawing, painting, sculpture and jewelry making. We plan to have them monthly, and the September Art Sampler will meet at the Monument Library on Sept. 26 from 6-8:30 p.m. Drop-in or RSVP: 488-8280

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Over the Bar performs for the Black Rose Acoustic Society, Aug. 25.

Photo by Cari Colvin

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Last Month for the Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site

There’s still time to trim and thin your trees and take your slash to the Black Forest Slash-Mulch Site. The site is a wildfire mitigation and recycling program of the El Paso County Solid Waste Management Department. You 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. The 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.

Slash will be 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. The cost is a donation of nonperishable food for nonprofit Black Forest organizations. 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.

Mulch will be available until Sept. 23. Bring your own tools and load mulch free of charge. In September the mulch loader will be available Saturdays, from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The loader fee is $4 per bucket.

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.

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Cook a pot of Chili for Charity!

The Third Annual High Country Chili Cook-Off will take place in Monument Sept. 16 at High Country Home & Garden, 243 Washington St. The event is a benefit for Tri-Lakes Cares, a local charity and food pantry. Cooks will set up at 7 a.m. and meet at 8:30 a.m. The red and green sample turn-in time is 12:30 p.m., with awards given at 3 p.m. Chili must be cooked at the Washington Street site from scratch with no fillers. Each cook may submit only one chili sample. Washington Street will be closed from Second to Third Street for through traffic. The deadline for entries is Sept. 12. Send entry forms and fee to Colorado Chili Pod, c/o John Montgomery, 1670 Broadway, Suite 3000, Denver, CO 80202. For more information, call Catherine at 481-3477.

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County Citizens’ College

The El Paso County Citizen Outreach Group is still receiving applications to attend the first annual El Paso County Citizens’ College. Seven 4-hour sessions will be held one evening each week at various County facilities Sept. 18 through Oct. 30. Classes are free of charge thanks to private donations from community sponsors. The Citizen’s College will give county residents the opportunity to meet government leaders, learn about county programs and increase their knowledge of how our taxes are being spent.

Additional information and application are available directly from a link on the El Paso County web site at www.elpasoco.com. Even though the due date has passed, you can still apply. If interested, phone Joe Salute, 495-4686.

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Community Meeting on Second High School Site

The community is invited to a meeting Sept. 19, 7 p.m., about a new D-38 high school planned for land north of Lewis-Palmer middle school between Woodmoor Drive and Monument Hill Road, in the general area of Hunter Run Farm. The meeting will be at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. For more information, contact Nancy at 591-0506 or 487-8754.

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Octoberfest at TLCA

Celebrate Octoberfest at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Sept. 30, 6:30 to 10 p.m. Enjoy Octoberfest beer with traditional Octoberfest food, and live music with an Octoberfest flavor. A special beer tasting will feature specialty beers paired with foods. The entry ticket, $25 for members and $30 for non-members, will include five tickets for beer and food, with more available for purchase. TLCA is located in the historic Kaiser Frazer building at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, call 481-0475.

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Wine & Roses coming in October

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s annual wine tasting benefit will be held Oct. 20, 6-9 p.m., at The Inn at Palmer Divide in Palmer Lake. Celebrity wine servers will be pouring dozens of fine wines to enjoy with hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction. Tickets are $40 in advance and $45 at the door. Visit the Web site, www.tlwc.net, or phone 551-1946. Tri-Lakes Women’s Club benefits local nonprofit groups such as District 38 schools, fire and police departments, senior citizen groups, and other nonprofit 501(c)(3) organizations that provide services to residents within the community.

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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

Do you wonder how to keep the deer from munching your freshly planted garden, how to get the skunk out from under your deck without getting sprayed, or how to get the squirrels out of the attic? Colorado State University Cooperative Extension in El Paso County has a staff of trained Wildlife Masters to help you. Call the Master Gardener Help Desk, 636-8921, and you will be called promptly with an answer. A fact sheet will be sent to you by e-mail or regular mail. For more information, call 636-8921 or e-mail csumg2@elpasoco.com.

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Lewis Palmer High School Serteen Club wins Club of the Year Award for the third time

Below: The Lewis Palmer High School Serteen Club was once again the winner of the Sertoma International Serteen Club of the Year Award. The LPHS Serteen Club was presented with the award at the Sertoma International Conference held in Omaha, Nebraska, in July. This is the second year in a row the club has won the award and the third time in five years. The application process for the award is lengthy and closely examined for club activities, cumulative club community service hours, and club member participation. Pictured left to right: Max Williams, Monument Hill Sertoma Serteen Advisor; Cameron Barton, LPHS Serteen President 2006, and Ron Pitt, Monument Hill Sertoma President. Photo and caption provided by Eddie Kinney

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