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Vol. 10 No. 11 - November 6, 2010


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Tri-Lakes community and others support the Empty Bowl

By David Futey

Sometimes it takes a community to help a community. That seemed the mantra for the 2010 Empty Bowl held at Lewis-Palmer High School on Oct. 13.

The 20th annual Empty Bowl was sponsored by the Monument Hill Kiwanis, the Lewis-Palmer High School and Palmer Ridge High School Key Clubs, and the Lewis-Palmer School District, with proceeds from the event going to support the efforts of Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC). TLC Executive Director Haley Chapin was "thankful to all the donors and for the turnout and support received from the community."

Indeed, it takes substantial community support for this annual event. For example, a combination of 33 potters and art organizations created over 1,000 bowls for distribution. Though the majority of potters were from the Tri-Lakes area, potter Anne Shimek noted that a "good number of bowls were received from potters outside of the Tri-Lakes area, and they were glad to help," demonstrating the reach of the event’s goal to assist those in need.

There was also a bit of excitement during bowl selection as numerous attendees of the event arrived well before the 5 p.m. start time to ensure a good selection of bowls to choose from. Every attendee of the event selects a bowl as part of the evening’s activities.

Besides the potters, 16 churches and over 40 businesses and individuals provided goods and services for the event. A number of local businesses and organizations also donated various items for the Empty Bowl Silent Auction. The auction, coordinated by Amy Braun and Kathleen Fulton, had over 75 donations, with some items brought in the day of the event. Braun stated the support for the auction as another example of how the "community rallies around Tri-Lakes Cares."

Information about Tri-Lakes Cares and ways to support its mission is at www.tri-lakescares.org

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me 

See the photos on page 1: Left: Attendees of the Empty Bowl browse the numerous bowl selections. Right: Volunteers from across the Tri-Lakes area assisted with the event, including these administrators from District 38 who served soup. Photos by David Futey. See page 28 for more photos.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department board, Oct. 27: Fire board again defers sprinkler issue

By Bernard L. Minetti

Nearly a dozen building industry representatives upset about a proposed sprinkler requirement for new residential construction spoke out at the Oct. 27 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department board. The requirement is part of the 2009 International Fire Code, which the board was considering adopting for the district. After much discussion, the board approved implementation of the fire code but deferred a decision on the sprinkler requirement.

Board President Charlie Pocock stipulated that the sprinkler provision will be revisited at the October 2011 board meeting for consideration. He noted that the sprinkler requirement only referred to new construction and that there is no requirement for retrofitting or installation upon resale of a home.

During the session, building industry representatives voiced their opposition to the sprinkler requirement. An individual identifying himself as the president of Classic Homes gave a short talk delineating the effect of the cost factor involved with the sprinkler requirement. Director Roger Lance countered that he believed that safety could not be priced out of the equation. He stated that there should be no price tag assigned to personal safety. Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman supported Lance’s position and stated that the cost would be approximately $1 to $2 a square foot, which he believed was minimal in relationship to the fire safety accomplished.

Lance said that the average damage to a "sprinklered" house during a fire was approximately $4,000 to $5,000, while an unsprinklered unit averaged $45,000 in damages. He also said that the safety of fire personnel as well as occupants be considered. Lance added that 10 to 20 years ago, the burn-through time for construction material was about 30 minutes. Now, due to the construction industry utilizing lighter and cheaper materials, the burn-through time is approximately five minutes. This shortened burn-through time endangers all involved in any residential conflagration, especially firefighters.

The building industry representatives agreed with Lance’s statement concerning burn-through times. When asked by Lance directly what the industry objection to the sprinkler installation requirement was, several of the industry attendees replied simultaneously that "cost" was the sole factor. Lance observed that there was little to no apparent concern given to safety considerations by the industry.

Directors John Hildebrandt, Bill Ingram, and Bruce Fritzsche said that they had polled constituents regarding the sprinkler provision and had found stiff opposition. They stated that they believed that their constituents did not understand the overall importance of this safety requirement. Lance was the only board member to prioritize the safety aspect of the sprinkler requirement, citing that fire personnel and occupants were endangered more in a non-sprinklered home than in a sprinkler-equipped residence.

Hildebrandt cited the possibility that Tri-Lakes residents lacked an understanding of the necessity for sprinklers. Hildebrandt, Fritzsche, and Ingram indicated that they feared the reaction of their constituents should this sprinkler requirement be passed. Pocock advised the board that he would personally undertake an education process between now and the October 2011 meeting to educate and inform citizens through the media.

Treasurer’s report

Treasurer Hildebrandt reported that year-to-date budgeted property tax revenue had reached 97.92 percent in September, for a total of $3,150,633. He advised the board that specific ownership taxes had reached 69.89 percent, which equated to $224,364. This was slightly lagging the budgeted amount of 75 percent for September. Hildebrandt then stated that the ambulance revenues were $420,172, or 91.34 percent of the budgeted amount and 16.34 percent ahead for the fiscal year.

Hildebrandt said salaries had exceeded the budgeted amount by 7.99 percent and overtime payments had exceeded the budget by 36.46 percent. Overall expenses were 77.76 percent, or 2.76 percent over budget. Fire Chief Robert Denboske advised the board that the excess expenses were necessary and that he would be attempting to balance the excesses before the end of the year.

Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin advised the board that firefighter Mike Rauenzahn had come up with an idea for the firefighters to recognize October as Breast Cancer Awareness month. The Tri-Lakes firefighters wore pink T-shirts with a fire shield on the front and a design on the back stating, "My Courage, My Fight, My Life" on the top over a pink ribbon. On the bottom of the design were the words, "Our Battle." All firefighters wore these shirts over their uniforms in October.

Martin said Jason White had been hired as a firefighter. She said that White had originally been associated with the Tri-Lakes Fire District beginning in late 1988 as an Explorer Scout working with the district for about seven years. Since that time, he had been employed by the Colorado Springs Fire Department as an emergency medical technician, as a paramedic with Centura Health’s Flight for Life, and with Woodland Park as an ambulance tech.

Training program

Training Officer Mike Keough said the training program had become stabilized as the process has been improved over time with repetition. The training statistics for September for Fire/Hazard Specific classes included 45 sessions for a total of 468 personnel training hours. EMS Specific Training included five sessions that generated a total of 77.5 personnel training hours in this discipline. Physical Fitness training included five sessions for a total of 21 personnel hours. Overall personnel training hours amounted to 468 man hours.

Keough stated that he is continually developing and seeking to improve the training methods and opportunities for the fire employees. He indicated that training was the heart of professional firefighting and emergency services.

Pocock then terminated the open meeting in deference to an executive session titled "Purpose of Developing Strategies for Negotiations."

**********

The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board meeting will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 west of Monument near the bowling alley. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Fire District Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Oct. 27: Information technology contract approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 27, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board unanimously approved two contracts with AMNET Partners of Colorado Springs for maintenance of the district’s information technology (IT) equipment and installation of new IT equipment in the new district fire station to be constructed on Highway 83.

Chief Jeff Edwards was out of town on vacation.

Two IT contracts approved

Wescott volunteer firefighters Lt. Tim Hampton and Lt. Bryan Ackerman work in the IT industry and volunteered to help negotiate the service plan with AMNET Partners President/CEO Trevor Dierdorff. All three answered numerous questions from board members about options and ways to minimize costs while providing adequate protection from problems caused by equipment, software, and viruses.

After a very lengthy technical discussion, the board unanimously approved an IT services contract with AMNET for November and December. The board also approved a separate contract with AMNET for all of 2011. The maximum contract length under the Colorado TABOR amendment is 12 months. The monthly fee in both contracts is $1,450.

New volunteers progressing

Volunteer Battalion Chief Mike Badger reported that nine new volunteer firefighters had completed their orientation program. A total of 11 volunteer firefighters will be taking a Firefighter I class and should graduate in the spring. There are currently 20 volunteer firefighters, and most have already completed their emergency medical technician (EMT) coursework at Pikes Peak Community College.

2009 International Fire Code adopted

The board unanimously approved adoption of the 2009 International Fire Code. The El Paso County Board of County of Commissioners will have to ratify this decision, which is a routine process. The district had been using the 2003 International Fire Code. The board deferred a decision on requiring sprinkler systems to be installed throughout all new single-family homes—as an amendment to the 2009 code—until 2013.

Wescott will continue to require that sprinkler systems be installed in new homes over 6,000 square feet that are built in areas within the district that do not have fire hydrants.

2011 budget discussion continue

There was a lengthy technical discussion regarding a new pay system that would add individual employee certifications to seniority in determining pay grades. Overall, the new system would upgrade pay scales for the most qualified firefighters, a long-term goal of the board. Implementation would add about 15 percent to the total pay and benefits budget. The board consensus was to develop a plan that would increase pay in equal steps over a three-year period.

The board scheduled a special meeting for finalization of the 2011 budget proposal on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. The board will review the final budget at the next regular meeting, which was changed from Nov. 24 to Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. because of the Thanksgiving holiday.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 p.m.

**********

Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. For more information on the next two meetings, call 488-8680.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Oct. 6: Revised permit brings new conditions

By Susan Hindman

Changes in the permit needed to operate the wastewater portion of Academy Water and Sanitation’s operations will require more tests of the lagoon water. Academy’s Operator Anthony Pastorello told the board at the Oct. 6 meeting that he had received a revised wastewater treatment facility discharge permit, which was necessary because of some discrepancies in the original permit application.

The new permit has two changes. "We used to just do CBOD (carbonaceous biological oxygen demand) composite sampling for influent coming in," he said. "Now we have to do that on top of BOD sampling" also for influent. The CBOD leaving the plant is already tested, so "they want to see the percentage of removal."

Second, "We used to test for fecal coliform going out to the creek," Pastorello said. "Now they’ve done away with that, but want us to do E. coli sampling." Both samplings will require slightly "minimal" extra costs.

Two problems solved

Pastorello noticed that excess vegetation was covering up an eroded area of land around the water line of lagoon 1, "creating a safety hazard for … anyone that would step over the affected area unawares." The fast-growing, nutrient-rich vegetation was removed and the bank was re-graded at a cost of $900. The cause of the problem was grit and soil that has been scraped out and packed against the bank during sludge removal last year.

Improperly working compressor pumps at the lower lift station set off alarms when they allowed influent to exceed normal operating levels at the station. Because leaving the two pumps as they were could cause a failure during harsher weather, making it more difficult to repair, Pastorello said it would be best to replace the pumps, which were 15 to 17 years old; the cost was $1,800.

Zero water readings lead to policy change

Four occupied properties have shown two or more months of zero readings for water use. Pastorello sent notices out to each of the residences, saying that their meters need to be repaired and he needs to get inside the homes to do that. But he has not received any response. Three are rental properties.

Because no policy has been set up in the bylaws to handle these situations, the board discussed ways to enforce compliance. The board decided that if a household does not respond to a letter of notification within 30 days after it was sent, then the district will shut off water to the home.

Community members, stakeholders to begin meetings

The group putting together a Source Water Protection Plan—a statewide, voluntary program for public water systems—met and planned the first larger meeting of community members and stakeholders (such as the county commissioners, the state Department of Health and Environment, the sheriff, the county Parks Department, Colorado Springs Utilities, and many others).

The program is designed to assist public water supply systems in preventing accidental contamination of untreated drinking water. The protection plan looks at the land use surrounding the water supply and the potential problems that could cause contamination. The meeting was planned for Oct. 27.

Full disclosure

The auditor informed the board that—per Colorado statutes covering special districts—at every meeting, the board needs to specify that no board member has a conflict of interest with another district.

And that bright green stuff on top of one of the lagoons?

If you have walked or driven past Academy’s facility on Spring Valley Drive, you might have noticed a bright green coating on one of the lagoons. It is duckweed, a tiny, quarter-inch leaf that floats on the top of the water, says Pastorello.

"It’s a good thing," he said. "It helps clarify the water in warm weather. But I’m waiting to see what kind of impact we have when it gets cold and it starts to die off. It looks like more than it is.… You’ll see it one day and it looks like it’s in a quarter of the pond, then the next day it looks like it’s in three-quarters of the pond. It’s just the way that stuff reacts."

**********

The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is Dec. 1.

Susan Hindman can be reached at susanhindman@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Oct. 12: EPA restrictions put pressure on budget

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 12, Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Bill Burks briefed the Joint Use Committee (JUC) on recent changes he had made to the draft 2011 budget based on recent Colorado Water Quality Control Commission regulatory hearings and related workgroup meetings held by the Water Quality Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The original proposed budget total of $893,265 has dropped slightly, after two previous JUC meetings, to $892,765.

These various hearings and meetings are very likely to lead to implementation of substantially tighter statewide nutrient regulations for waters of the state as well as stricter individual discharge permit limits for wastewater treatment facilities statewide. If enacted as proposed, these new regulations and permit restrictions will require the installation of new, very expensive tertiary treatment equipment at every equipment wastewater treatment facility in Colorado.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner boards.

Palmer Lake’s representative and JUC President Dale Smith and Monument Director Lowell Morgan attended this meeting. Woodmoor’s alternate representative, Director Jim Taylor, filled in for Director Jim Whitelaw, who was out of town. The three district managers and several other district directors also attended.

The Tri-Lakes facility won a national award after it was built just over a decade ago for its state-of-the-art activated sludge biological nutrient removal technology. Now the plant has been deemed inadequate by the Environmental Protection Agency due to its new demands for increases in removal of total phosphorus and total nitrogen constituents in the treated effluent the facility discharges to Monument Creek.

The statewide cost to meet these new EPA requirements will be about $1.4 billion. The state’s Water Pollution Control Revolving Loan Fund, which makes low interest loans to special districts for modifications to wastewater-treatment facilities, will only have about $60 million available for projects it approves for public financing in 2011.

The EPA’s demands only apply to wastewater facilities. These facilities contribute only about 10 percent of the total phosphorus and total nitrogen (also called nutrients with respect to aquatic life) that enter state waters in the Arkansas River basin. There will be no new restrictions on local agriculture, which contributes roughly 80 percent of the nutrient load to this region’s rivers and streams.

Another source of higher costs in the 2011 budget is the increase in costs for biannual removal of sludge, the waste product of biological waste treatment that is removed from the facility’s aeration basins and stored in a sludge lagoon for about two years. This sludge is then "de-watered" and hauled off in 18-wheel trucks for direct agricultural application as fertilizer. The cost of removing the water and transport by Parker Ag had roughly doubled to $191,250. Burks noted that Liquid Waste Management made a counter offer of $165,600.

Burks said this saving of about $25,000 would offset other 2011 budget increases associated with:

  • Legal fees regarding numerous tighter limits in the facility’s next five-year discharge permit—$7,500.
  • Final costs for a new storage building—$2,500.
  • Engineering studies on options for additional nutrient removal capital equipment—$15,000.

Burks noted that the district’s environmental attorney Tad Foster has done a good job working with the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council and Colorado Nutrient Coalition in attempting to minimize the size of the cost impacts of new EPA restrictions for Tri-Lakes. Foster arranged to obtain the expert services of environmental statistician Tim Moore through the council. Foster also arranged for expert environmental attorney John Hall to represent the coalition at a variety of nutrient criteria workgroup meetings.

Moore succeeded in reversing a change in whole effluent toxicity testing procedures announced earlier this year by the Water Quality Control Division. The change would have caused all wastewater facilities that had false positive results for toxicity that are caused by the normal variability in these biological reproduction tests for stream aquatic life to be counted as permit violations by the EPA. (www.ocn.me/v10n5.htm#juc)

Moore also succeeded in persuading the division to accept every change he recommended in the implementation of the division’s new multi-metric index procedure for categorizing stream, river, lake, and reservoir aquatic life health throughout Colorado. The JUC previously approved two separate $500 contributions to the Wastewater Utility Council to help pay for each of Moore’s two presentations at state Health Department meetings regarding these regulatory issues. (www.ocn.me/v10n10.htm#msd)

Copper issues are back

Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that the timing of a spike in the copper concentration in Monument’s wastewater roughly corresponded to a customer’s service line backup caused by tree roots penetrating and blocking the flow in the homeowner’s sewer pipe, suggesting that copper sulfate, a chemical that is banned by the district, may have been used within the district. Wicklund suggested that he make a test dump of copper sulfate into the Monument collection system to measure the Tri-Lakes facility’s reaction to a known quantity.

The facility’s September copper concentration test result was 16 parts per billion, well above the discharge permit limit of 11.7 parts per billion per test and 8 parts per billion on average. The August test result was 7 parts per billion. However, this spike will not be reported as a permit violation due to a temporary modification to the permit limit. Another recurrence of this type of copper spike, which was more common several years ago, would cause problems in the near future.

A few months ago, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission approved a regulation change that eliminates renewal of temporary modifications at the end of 2010 for renewed discharge permits. The facility’s permit expired at the end of 2009, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division is three years behind on renewing permits due to staff and budget shortfalls. It is not yet clear whether the copper limits in the facility’s actual discharge permit will change before a new permit is issued at the end of 2012.

Wicklund also reported that the construction of two lift stations in Wakonda Hills was going well. The installation of the wet wells was the next step. Construction is scheduled to be finished by the end of November.

Monthly financial report

Burks reported that the cost of the recent lightning strike damage to a facility generator and pH and temperature meters will be about $5,000. Most of the cost will be covered by an insurance claim. There is a $1,000 deductible for each lightning strike claim.

Burks stated that he had received a more satisfactory alternative bid for a facility security system. Previous bids had been about $5,000. The latest bid was about $2,000. The JUC unanimously authorized Burks to finalize a contract with Rocky Mountain Electric Service at the lower figure.

The meeting adjourned at 11:24 a.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Nov. 9 at the Tri-Lakes facility lab building, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Oct. 20: PPRWA merger with the El Paso County Water Authority on again

By John Heiser

At the regular monthly meeting Oct. 20 of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), it was announced that at the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) meeting Oct. 6, the members unanimously voted to merge the PPRWA into the EPCWA. This is a reversal of the decision in September by PPRWA members to continue the PPRWA and abandon the EPCWA.

The members of the PPRWA are the Cherokee Metropolitan District, the City of Fountain, the Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake, the Triview Metropolitan District, the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

All of the PPRWA members are also members of the EPCWA. Additional members of the EPCWA are El Paso County, the Colorado Centre Metropolitan District, the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., the Security Water and Sanitation District, the Stratmoor Hills Water and Sanitation District, the Sunset Metropolitan District, and the Widefield Water and Sanitation District.

The current plan is for the PPRWA to dissolve in December, the EPCWA to change its name in January to the PPRWA, and for the new PPRWA to revise its bylaws to reflect the role and projects of the current PPRWA.

Donala General Manager Dana Duthie, who is also the treasurer for the current PPRWA, said any remaining PPRWA funds at the end of the year will be refunded to the PPRWA members in proportion to dues paid.

Dick Brown, the current PPRWA’s legislative liaison, would become the new authority’s legislative liaison.

Gary Barber, manager of the current PPRWA and EPCWA, would continue as the manager of the new authority but at substantially reduced funding.

Duthie was skeptical of the prospects for the new authority, which he said may only be able to fund six meetings per year.

**********

The next regular monthly meeting of the PPRWA will be held Nov. 17 at 8:30 a.m. at the Monument Town Hall and Police Building, 645 Beacon Lite Road at Highway 105. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month. The location is rotated among the PPRWA members.

The PPRWA website is www.pprwa.com

The EPCWA meets the first Wednesday of each month at the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners Third Floor Hearing Room, 27 E. Vermijo, Colorado Springs. The next meeting will be held Dec. 1.

The EPCWA website is www.epcwa.com

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Oct. 21: Board receives progress report on water reclamation study

By John Heiser

At the regular monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors Oct. 21, the board received a progress report on the year-long Donala Expanded Water Supply Study (DEWSS). According to Donala General Manager Dana Duthie, hundreds of millions of gallons that are being discharged into Monument Creek by the wastewater treatment plant each year could be captured, extensively treated, and mixed in with the district’s water supply.

The study team includes Roger Sams from GMS, Katie Fendel and David Takeda from Leonard Rice Engineers, and Floyd Ciruli from Ciruli Associates, a polling and public relations firm.

Sams reported on a meeting held Oct. 13 with representatives of the state Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment complex in Denver.

Aurora’s Prairie Waters is a large water reclamation project that is projected for completion by 2012. It will reportedly increase that city’s water supply by roughly 3.3 billion gallons annually. There is information on that project at www.prairiewaters.org. Some of the WQCD representatives who attended the Oct. 13 meeting are overseeing the Prairie Waters project.

Duthie, who attended the Oct 13 meeting, added that the government officials were surprised that a district of Donala’s size is interested in a water reclamation project.

Sams said that over the next month, the primary emphasis for the team will be to identify alternative implementation strategies. Another meeting with state officials is planned before the holidays.

Duthie noted that the district is seeking volunteers to serve on a citizen advisory committee to review the project. He added that a community meeting to discuss the project is planned for March or April 2011.

Rate increases proposed

Duthie proposed the following revised single-family house water rate increases:

Water Rate per 1,000 gallons/month
Range (gallons) Old rate New rate Increase
0-10,000  $     3.30  $    3.40 3%
10,001-20,000  $     4.30  $    4.55 6%
20,001-30,000  $     4.85  $    5.25 8%
30,001-40,000  $     6.05  $    6.60 9%
40,001-50,000  $     8.50  $    9.60 13%
Above 50,000  $     9.70  $  11.10 14%

The minimum water service fee, which provides no water, would be unchanged at $13, with $3 of that fee designated for water development.

The proposed water rates for townhome complexes match the above residential rates up to 40,000 gallons per month. Over 40,000 gallons, the rate would increase to $8.50 per 1,000 gallons (up from $7.70 per 1,000 gallons in 2010.) However, for those townhome projects that have made significant reductions in their irrigated landscaping, the rate over 40,000 gallons per month would only increase to $7.50 per 1,000 gallons (up from $6.70 per 1,000 gallons in 2010).

The rate for reuse water for the golf course is proposed to remain unchanged at $2.60 per 1,000 gallons per month. Untreated water for the golf course from the district’s wells is proposed to remain unchanged at $3.60 per 1,000 gallons per month.

Duthie recommended keeping the sewer fee unchanged at $26 per month, with $2 of that fee designated for sewer development and used to help pay off the debt for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.

No changes are proposed to the water and sewer tap fees and water and sewer development fees charged to developers.

The availability of service fee charged to owners of vacant lots would be unchanged at $300 per year.

A final decision on the rate proposal will be made at the next board meeting, Nov. 30.

Draft budget reviewed

Duthie distributed copies of a draft budget for 2011. Some highlights:

  • Total projected annual revenue for 2011 is $9.393 million. Some of the larger amounts are $4.5 million from bond sales for renewable water projects, $1.997 million from water sales, $1.213 million from property taxes, and $893,000 from sewer service.
  • 2011 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $4.559 million. Some of the larger amounts are $640,608 for wastewater plant operating expenses, $515,000 for salaries, $500,000 for repairs and maintenance, $491,228 for repayment of loans, and $325,000 for utilities.
  • Capital project expenses are estimated at $2.5 million, including $2.225 million for renewable water infrastructure including connection to Colorado Springs Utilities at Northgate Road.
  • The projected ending total fund balance for 2011 is $7.386 million.

A hearing on the budget will be held at the next board meeting, Nov. 30.

High water use continues

Duthie noted that September was hot and dry and the district pumped 57 million gallons, one of the district’s six highest production months ever. Water production through the end of September exceeded the total production during 2009 by over 6 million gallons.

One hundred fifty-five district customers used more than 40,000 gallons during September. Over 600 customers exceeded 40,000 gallons in one or more of the months during the irrigation season.

Duthie noted that even though the irrigation-rationing program has not significantly reduced overall demand, it has reduced the daily peak demand.

He concluded that only higher water bills are likely to lead to increased conservation and said that has been reflected in the proposed water rates described earlier.

Duthie also suggested that if Donala is connected to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) system, the district may adopt a voluntary irrigation-rationing system following CSU’s guidelines.

Water court case hits a snag

Duthie reported that while negotiations are continuing with those opposing the district’s Willow Creek Ranch water court case, the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District has filed a suit of discovery regarding conveyance of water through CSU.

He said the issue seems to center on the use of the Turquoise and Twin Lakes reservoirs and the Otero pump station. The related 1965 contract with the federal Bureau of Reclamation might be interpreted to restrict use of the system for water destined for CSU and Aurora customers.

Duthie said Rick Fendel, Donala’s water attorney, is working to resolve the issue.

Engineering reports from those opposing the case are due Nov. 8.

Other matters

  • Mike Lavin was named the employee of the quarter for his work rebuilding meters, completing 250 residential meter change-outs this summer, and for the excellent customer service he has provided. Lavin started as one of the district’s summer hires. Upon completing his degree, he was hired full-time with the district in May 2005.
  • During the three months from July 1 through Sept. 30, the district’s $3.76 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.42 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.11 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 5.3 months.
  • Duthie reported on the Oct. 20 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. See PPRWA article. He also discussed the issues with proposed stream standard governing discharges from wastewater plants. See the Joint Use Committee article.

Following the public meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel and negotiation issues.

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Nov. 30 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of each month. No meeting is planned for December.

The district’s website is at www.donalawater.org

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 4: Fitzpatrick named full member of Planning Commission

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 4, Carrie Bartow, a CPA for Clifton Gunderson LLP, gave a lengthy presentation on the town’s financial health to the Monument Board of Trustees. Also, the board unanimously appointed Jim Fitzpatrick as full member of the Planning Commission through January 2012. Fitzpatrick was sworn in by Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Whitney.

Fitzpatrick had been appointed as an alternate commissioner on March 10. He fills the vacancy created when former Commissioner Bill Baker resigned on Aug. 11 because of his plans to move out of town.

Trustee Gail Drumm was absent.

Town "financial checkup" earns C+ grade

Town Manager Cathy Green introduced Bartow, who presented an hour-long report on 18 indicators that she and town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s staff will use in the future to track financial health. Bartow, a Monument resident, also prepares the financial report for regular meetings of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority. Bartow based her lengthy presentation on five years of audit and other financial information from 2005 through 2009. She noted that this report is an analysis tool, not an audit.

Some of the highlights Bartow presented are listed below. They are consolidated by overlapping topics rather than by each of the 18 specific indicators. There were numerous questions and answers during this highly technical presentation; they are also highlighted after the summary of Bartow’s report.

General fund: Expenditures exceeded revenues in the last four years, 2006 through 2009. While revenues rose from about $3.2 million in 2005 to $4.0 million in 2008, there was a drop to about $3.7 million in 2009. General fund expenditures rose from $2.9 million in 2005 to $6.3 million in 2009, exceeding the growth in the Consumer Price Index from inflation, at a rate of 15.7 to 26.6 percent per year. If this trend continues, the general fund balance will continue to decline. Previous higher levels of revenue are not likely to return soon. There was no analysis of the separate water enterprise fund and other town impact fee funds. Much of the spread represents the capital cost of the Third Street improvement project.

Revenue sources and sales tax analysis: On average, about 83 percent of revenues are from taxes. Clifton Gunderson recommended that the town more actively review sales tax payments (55 percent of general fund revenues in 2009) to be sure that they are being calculated correctly and remitted by retailers. The board should also consider an increase in the fines charged in municipal court and fees charged for town reviews and services, as well as consider alternative safe investment options that would increase interest earnings.

Bartow also suggested that the town should meet periodically with the 10 largest vendors (62 percent of sales tax revenue) to go over its plans for prioritizing capital infrastructure replacement plans. Intergovernmental revenue dependency will increase as a town priority, but the availability of state and federal grants and low interest loans will continue to decline. Per capita revenue dropped about 30 percent over the past five years, from $900 to $617. Errors by the state revenue office in the amounts sent to Monument cannot be audited by the town. Bartow suggested forming an alliance with the county to initiate audits of the state process.

Expenditure analysis: The relative share of expenditures for capital outlay jumped from an average of about 22 percent in 2005 through 2007 to 31.1 percent in 2008 and 44.6 percent in 2009. The new Town Hall and Third Street renovations have used up most of the town’s capital fund, so these levels should drop significantly in the near term. Per capita expenditures in 2009 only declined 3.5 percent to $983 compared to the 30 percent drop in per capita revenue to $613. On the other hand, the town staff only grew from 42 to 49 full-time equivalents over the past five years while population grew by about 75 percent.

Asset sufficiency ratio: This indicator measures whether the town’s total unrestricted cash and investments are adequate to cover its current obligations or amounts owed. The ratio dropped from 5.9 to 3.1 from 2005 through 2008, then dropped to 0.5 in 2009. A ratio of less than one indicates that the town’s unrestricted cash and investments were not sufficient to pay the bills. The town’s balance sheet for the end of 2009 shows about $400,000 payable to Triview Metropolitan District for construction invoices and about $822,000 in receivables from other governments, which should cover the amount owed to Triview. The end of year timing of these two figures affected the 2009 asset sufficiency ratio. There were corresponding drops in the unrestricted fund balance ratio and the revenues coverage ratio.

Though not discussed during this presentation, Triview is still not paying the full cost of having town staff operate its drinking water treatment facility. Triview is not paying for the services provided to it by Green, Smith, and Public Works Director Rich Landreth to run Triview since its board of directors terminated former district manager Ron Simpson and former district administrator Dale Hill in early 2009. There were three other Triview employees when Simpson and Hill left. All three became town employees when the town took over Triview operations. One became a member of the town treasurer department, while the other two continue to perform Triview duties exclusively. (For more information, see www.ocn.me/v9n6.htm#tmd)

User charge coverage ratio: User charges for town programs only paid for 83 to 87 percent of costs for four of the five years. In 2006, user charges exceeded costs by 5.8 percent.

Assessed values analysis: The town’s assessed value rose steadily from $52.8 million to $106.4 million. Property taxes are about 20 percent of town revenues. However, assessed values are expected to decline in 2011, which will cause revenue drops starting in 2012. The town’s uncollected property tax ratio remains minimal. However, continued increases in unemployment and foreclosures could cause the ratio to increase and affect the town’s credit worthiness for new long-term debt. This trend may mitigate the pressures for expansion of the town caused by a population growth from about 4,100 to 7,000 in the past five years.

Debt per capita: This ratio jumped from $1,015 in 2005 to $1,362 in 2006, then decreased to $664 in 2009, due in large part to a surge in population growth. The percentage of the annual budget going to debt service has declined since its peak in 2007.

Maintenance asset ratio: This indicator dropped steadily from 13.5 percent to 3.2 percent over the past five years, showing a substantial increase in deferral of maintenance of capital assets that may create unforeseen and unanticipated costs and liability in the future. This indicator is skewed by the dramatic increase in capital assets recorded by the town after the completion of most Third Street improvements in 2009 and gives an unfair and unduly negative initial impression. Nor does it include improvements completed within Triview.

Some of the responses by Bartow and town staff members to trustees’ questions were:

  • Town staff cannot reveal individual sales tax revenues from individual businesses to board members.
  • The indicators in this report do not specifically show decreases in some types of expenditures by individual town departments with respect to cash reserves.
  • There have been several rounds of fee increases, all of which have been based on studies of the actual average amount of staff time required for each type of service transaction, resulting in prompt recent changes where necessary. All development service fees are currently being compensated by developer fees, while salaries and benefits have remained fairly flat.
  • Some departments, like the Police Department, cannot raise enough revenue to offset their budget.
  • Bartow said her personal opinion as a resident was that the town received a C+ grade overall. She urged better monitoring and use of more long-term projections when deciding how to finance future capital projects to preclude a further drastic drop in cash reserves.
  • Smith asked the board to determine which of the 18 indicators they would like to be reported on regularly.
  • Bartow noted that Clifton Gunderson is already doing a compliance study on whether vendors are remitting sales taxes to the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority. The BRRTA boundaries overlap the Triview service area boundaries. The results of the BRRTA study could be shared with the Board of Trustees.

Mayor Travis Easton and Trustee Stan Gingrich thanked Bartow for her report, saying, "This is great information" and "The timing is perfect for budget preparation" and analyzing financial policies.

Draft budget presented to trustees

After Bartow concluded her presentation, Green presented copies of the draft 2011 town budget to the trustees. Green asked the trustees to study the document prior to the scheduled Oct. 25 draft budget workshop meeting at Town Hall.

Smith noted that the final budget document will be presented for approval by the board not later than Dec. 6 and must be approved by Dec. 20 in order to be forwarded to the state by the end of the year. Current assumptions for budget development are based on 2010 expenditures through the end of August:

  • General fund expenditures are decreased by 1.41 percent, including capital expenditures.
  • General fund revenues are increased by 1.8 percent.
  • Salaries and benefits do not increase.
  • There is a 20 percent increase in health insurance costs—about $67,000—which will be refined, probably upward, by the end of this year by the town’s health care representative, Dick Welch.
  • No new staff hires or layoffs are proposed.

The town revenue reduction if Proposition 101 had passed would increase from $302,000 in 2011 to $423,000 by 2014.

Amendment 60 would have had no immediate impact because the town has never held a vote on approving an exemption on refunding TABOR limits for excessive property tax or mill levy revenues.

Amendment 61 would have made the town debt ceiling $7,600,341 under the maximum 10 percent limit. The town has $3,292,274 in outstanding non-enterprise debt not paid by a tax that ends when the debt is paid off. A revenue reduction of $518,891 would be mandated after the debt is paid off. Limiting debt to a 10-year maximum term would have forced a debt cash flow increase of $342,378 in annual payables.

If all three measures had been approved by the voters, the town would see a minimum of $1,284,269 in revenue reductions, about a 35 percent revenue reduction.

Trustees’ comments

Easton noted the upcoming annual "Tri-Lakes Thanksgiving Coming Together" dinner on Nov. 25 at Rosie’s Café. There will be three seatings for free Thanksgiving dinners at 11 a.m. noon, and 1 p.m. The event is being sponsored by several Monument and Palmer Lake groups. Transportation to these seatings can be arranged by phoning 640-5442. Please RSVP at 884-8017 if you plan to attend.

Public comments

Nigel Guyot, the community health manager of the El Paso County Department of Health and Environment, stated the he will be going to local town meetings outside of Colorado Springs as part of the county’s "listening plan." He will be present to answer any questions that citizens or board members have and take back any issues to the Health Department.

Corey Koca, field operations supervisor of the Monument Black Hills Energy facility on Base Camp Road, presented a check for $2,000 for Monument community park projects. Black Hills also donates trees to the town every year on Arbor Day.

Easton read a certificate of appreciation to Master Jay Lee of the U.S. Taekwondo Center in Monument Marketplace (www.familyblackbelt.com) "and his dedicated students for their valued commitment to the community" in raising over $40,000 on Sept. 18 for toys, turkeys, and meals for local needy families during their annual "Break-a-Thon" fundraiser for "The Best Christmas Ever."

Personnel manual updated

The board unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes an amendment adding a section that covers employee probation periods.

Snow removal agreement approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution that authorizes the extension of an intergovernmental agreement with the county that exchanges snow removal responsibility on certain sections of roadways around Monument. Landreth said the total lengths of roadway that the town and county take care of are nearly equal in length and make sense from an operations standpoint. Some of the roads affected are Mitchell Avenue, Mount Herman Road, Beacon Lite Road, and Struthers Road.

Liquor license renewed

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license for the Circle K store in the Shell station of the King Soopers shopping center on Baptist Road.

Financial reports and updates

The board approved four payments over $5,000:

  • $15,998 to CIRSA for workers’ compensation insurance for the fourth quarter.
  • $16,415 to CIRSA for liability insurance for the fourth quarter.
  • $6,467 to Lytle Water Solutions LLC for water engineering work on various town projects.
  • $125,615 to Triview Metropolitan District for July sales tax ($117,766), July motor vehicle taxes ($7,702), and June Regional Building Department sales taxes ($146).

Smith also gave a monthly informational update briefing on sales tax revenue through the end of July. Total sales tax revenue is down $125,190 from 2009. July revenues were down $16,133.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that the court date for the Brody lawsuit against the town has been scheduled for April 5, 2011.

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported that he had met with representatives of Kum and Go Corp. to discuss town development requirements for a convenience store/gas station on the corner of Knollwood Boulevard and Highway 105, adjacent to the existing Integrity Bank building. This facility will be the first under this brand in the area.

There were no new commercial land use permits issued during August or September. There were seven new single-family residential land use permits issued during August and none during September.

Landreth reported that the prefabricated restroom building purchased from the now closed Larkspur rest area and installed several months ago at Limbach Park is now operational. The long delay was mandated by a need to resolve wheelchair access issues with Pikes Peak Regional Building Department due to code changes implemented after the modular building was constructed and installed along I-25.

The town’s well 8 compressor has been repaired. The town is operating the Forest Lake Metropolitan District water plant to provide augmentation water and potable water for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment facility. Triview’s September water production was a record high, and the highest production month for 2010 as well, due to lack of rain.

Police Chief Jake Shirk announced meetings with faith-based groups to improve group safety measures. Similar meetings were held with a homeowners association and three neighborhood watch groups. The Police Department received a grant from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club to purchase two digital cameras for evidence collection and an external hard drive for computer forensics.

The meeting went into executive session at 8:30 p.m. to discuss contract negotiations.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 18: Light turnout at town meeting does not dampen discussion

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees held its second annual Town Hall-style meeting on Oct. 18 at Palmer Ridge High School. Local vendors were again invited to set up booths/displays. Citizen and vendor turnout was far less than that of the previous October meeting, which drew about 40 vendors and 200 area residents. There were a half-dozen booths and about 10 citizens in attendance at the second meeting. (www.ocn.me/v9n11pix.htm#bot1019)

Trustees Tommie Plank and Gail Drumm were absent.

Leah Squires, Carol Crossland, and Monument Principal Planner Karen Griffith set up a town Community Garden Committee booth to promote creation of a Lavelett Park Community Garden for a feasibility study during the 2011 growing season. Garden One’s produce, grown by volunteers, will be distributed to local charities or needy families. Garden Two will be for local residents to raise vegetables using their own seeds and tools. For more information, contact Griffith at kgriffith@townofmonument.net or 481-2954 before close of business on Nov. 15.

Trustees’ comments

Introductions by the five board members and senior staff leadership revealed two common turnover themes. Mayor Travis Easton, Mayor Pro Tem Rafael Dominguez, and Trustees Stan Gingrich, Jeff Kaiser, and Rick Squires had all been appointed to the board prior to being elected to regular four-year terms of office. Town Manager Cathy Green, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara, and Public Works Director Rich Landreth had all joined the staff in 2005 (Smith and Kassawara on the same day.)

Mayor Travis Easton announced a meeting at the Monument Marketplace U.S. Taekwondo Center regarding the center organizing and offering a free program on child safety to the local community. Easton noted that he and Dominguez would be attending the organizational meeting.

Senior living center

Chuck Roberts of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance asked about the status of building "a senior residence here" in Monument.

Kassawara stated that the developer who proposed to build a 57-unit senior living center on a large lot owned by the town on the south side of Highway 105, just west of the Lake Woodmoor Drive intersection, "has backed out."

However, the staff has held preliminary meetings with another developer who is proposing to build a facility on the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway near the southeast corner of the Monument Marketplace, across from the new Curves location and O’Reilly Auto Parts. Kassawara added that the maximum size of a facility to be reasonably able to get federal financing from institutions other than banks is 80 living units.

The major difficulty with the new vacant location is the adjacent Preble’s mouse habitat along the shoreline of Jackson Creek. Kassawara said that Triview Metropolitan District’s 404 wetland and mouse habitat permits with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have lapsed, and that "was not workable" for this development. These two agencies will compel the "main Jackson Creek developer" to get amended Triview permits in place before considering the habitat substitutions and mitigation proposed to build a senior residence where Jackson Creek flows under the parkway.

"Nothing is going to happen until that permit gets back on track," Kassawara said. The developer "needs a minimal amount of [mouse] acres but enough to make a difference. He can’t build without it." Kassawara added that the town staff has been working on obtaining an amended permit for the past 18 months since the staff took over operation of Triview Metro District.

Easton said there has been a "task force" for obtaining a senior residence for the past four months consisting of Roberts, Easton, Green, and a representative of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and the Town of Palmer Lake. Easton said it is difficult for developers to view Monument and Palmer Lake as a separate community for building a facility, given the existing density of seniors in Colorado Springs.

Roberts said he would review the 2010 census to update senior statistics for the Tri-Lakes region. He also noted that Liberty Heights is out of reach economically for most local seniors and the nearest "affordable" senior residence is in Colorado Springs on Hancock Avenue. Kassawara said he would update Roberts from time to time. There have been six preliminary development meetings on this proposed location and a seventh was scheduled for Oct. 19.

Tri-Lakes as a destination

Julie Bille, owner of Be Expressed, said she had helped form a small group of local Tri-Lakes region business owners called Tri-Lakes Brand Awareness. The goal of the committee is to promote the region as a "destination location, rather than just an exit ramp," in cooperation with Monument, the Historic Monument Merchants Association, Palmer Lake, and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. The committee meets in Oakley’s Restaurant in the Sunrise Mountain Inn on Woodmoor Drive. She urged the board to help organize the committee to provide ideas to encourage visitors to come here for camping, hiking, the arts, and holding weddings. Dominguez and Kaiser agreed to attend the committee’s Oct. 21 meeting. Bille also praised the success of the Chamber’s 3/50 program.

Third Street work appreciated

Maggie Williamson, owner of Bella Art and Frame, thanked the town and Public Works for the improvements to Third Street. "Now can you do it on Second Street?" After the laughter subsided, Easton explained that the Third Street improvements had exhausted the town’s various capital projects funds. She also urged board cooperation with Palmer Lake and other areas in the Tri-Lakes region.

Nancy Swearingen asked if a shoulder or bike lanes could be added to Jackson Creek Parkway "so you can ride your bike over to the Y without getting run off the road." Kassawara said that a trail would be built when the vacant land next to the parkway is developed. Developers will pay Triview Metropolitan District for construction of bike lanes south of Higby Road and the county for building bike lanes between Higby and Highway 105, because they are required under the town’s road standards in recently revised regulations.

Water update

Swearingen also asked for a drinking water update. Easton noted that the Western Slope of Colorado "has about 85 percent of the available water and the Front Range has about 85 percent of the need." Easton and Landreth explained the purpose of the El Paso County Water Authority and Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and participation in them by the two local towns and special water districts, such as Academy, Cherokee, Donala, Forest Lakes, Fountain Triview, and Woodmoor. They also described proposals for three major new renewable water project options— the Southern Delivery System, Superditch, and the Flaming Gorge project—and the legal difficulties of implementing re-use.

Colorado Springs City Councilman Darryl Glenn attended this meeting and added that a regional approach is needed but may be complicated by six of the seven members of the City Council leaving office after the election. Glenn, who was a candidate for Wayne Williams’ Board of County Commissioners position, complimented Easton and the board for their close coordination with the city and Colorado Springs Utilities.

Copper Ridge

Kaiser asked Glenn about the Copper Ridge development that will extend Powers Boulevard to I-25. Glenn said Colorado Springs had approved the project and the Board of County Commissioners would soon hold a hearing on approving and funding its share of the project. Glenn stated that development of Powers and the Colorado Springs airport are critical for sustaining further expansion of the county’s military infrastructure, as well as improving tourism, particularly in the northern part of the county.

Partial public financing of the Copper Ridge shopping center helped draw "destination retail" to the project, which is a plus for the local region despite the controversy it created in the press, Glenn added.

Improving communication

Easton asked for suggestions to improve communications with citizens. During the ensuing discussion, there were numerous suggestions for using a variety of Internet and surface mail methods, such as water bills and newsletters.

Dominguez said that board members and town staff are very good at responding to requests for information and suggestions from constituents. He also noted to two Air Force Academy cadets attending the meeting for a political science course they are taking that all the trustees are volunteers who are proud of their community and serving on the board. Gingrich described a number of things the trustees do outside of board meetings.

Green proposed moving next year’s town hall session to the "Big Red" D-38 school district building to improve citizen and vendor attendance, because Palmer Ridge High School is not in the town.

The single item of business on the regular meeting agenda was payment of bills over $5,000. The board unanimously approved payments of:

  • $172,143 to Triview Metropolitan District for August sales tax ($113,400), September motor vehicle tax ($3,602), and Pikes Peak Regional Building Department use tax ($141).
  • $39,108 to All Purpose Paving for asphalt repairs.
  • $10,536 to Brooks Plumbing and Heating Inc. for plumbing services for the new restroom in Limbaugh Park.

The meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Planning Commission, Oct. 13: Livestock grazing code amendment approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 13, the Monument Planning Commission approved an amendment to the town’s livestock grazing ordinance. Language was added to the code to better explain how a grazing permit is to be obtained and the conditions under which a 12-month revocable permit will be approved for grazing on undeveloped properties zoned for urban development.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith also explained problems that have arisen in the past when fences were broken and livestock broke out, making noise and occasionally damaging other properties and nearby crops.

The new language in the amendment deleted the provision that fences be set back at least 100 feet from the property line. Grazing must be controlled so that no more than 25 percent of the area’s vegetation has been consumed at any time. The remaining vegetation must not be less than three inches in height. Grazing areas must be kept clean with regular removal of manure, in a manner that minimizes flies, excessive odors, noise, and dust. Drainage and erosion controls must be put in place and maintained to prevent runoff containing contaminants, sediment, and organic waste. Livestock and manure management plans are required in the permit application.

Griffith also recommended a provision in the amendment’s language that would account for a fence or gate being damaged by someone other than the property owner.

Jerry Biggs, an owner of the vacant Lake of the Rockies property southwest of the intersection of Second Street and Mitchell Avenue, spoke in support of the code amendment. Biggs leases this property on occasion to livestock owners.

The amendment was unanimously approved with four conditions that made minor wording changes.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Oct. 14: Council tables vote on sidewalk maintenance

By David Futey

On Oct. 14, the Palmer Lake Town Council met first as the Palmer Lake Liquor and Medical Marijuana Licensing Authority to approve a liquor license. Then the council adjourned that meeting and immediately convened for its regular October meeting.

The absence of Trustee Joe Polonsky was excused.

The Liquor Authority approved a request from Thomas Fletcher Sr. for a new retail liquor store, High Country Wine and Liquor, located at 795 Highway 105.

Regular meeting

Sidewalk maintenance vote tabled

The council unanimously decided to table a vote on Ordinance 6 regarding the care and maintenance of sidewalks. Town staff will maintain sidewalks until the ordinance is finalized. Trustee Dennis Stern said the Roads Committee had a workshop, which was well attended by citizens, where the goals and scope of the sidewalk ordinance were discussed. In the workshop meeting, the committee requested Trustee Bryan Jack to research the requirement of sidewalk maintenance within the Safe Route to Schools grant and review other town ordinances regarding sidewalks.

Jack said requirements for sidewalk maintenance within the grant were difficult to locate due to the volume of written material in the grant and the time frame he had available for the review. Jack said that in the project application, the town committed to maintain sidewalks and keep them in good repair, offering a line item in the budget for funding. Jack said he would like the additional time to review the grant to determine maintenance requirements or other requirements the town will need to meet.

Road Supervisor Bob Radosevich said the sidewalk is completely on town property except a small area on state Transportation Department property. None of the sidewalk is on private property. Mayor John Cressman asked that since the sidewalks are on town property, "Does that mitigate the homeowner’s responsibility to keep them clean?" Stern said other town ordinances that they reviewed stated that sidewalks that are on or abut to a personal property had to be maintained by the property owner.

Jack said that not all ordinances stated property owner responsibility, as in metro districts the sidewalks were maintained by the district. Jack also said there is already an ordinance regarding sidewalk maintenance as it pertains to business owners. Business owners are required to keep the sidewalk clear.

Trustee Max Stafford asked if there was homeowner liability. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said, "Speaking personally, I have an obligation to shovel it (snow) off and if somebody slips and gets hurt, it’s my fault. I am covered by my homeowner’s insurance." Cressman said all homeowners need to research their own insurance.

Trustee Nikki McDonald said the goal is to have more sidewalks in town. Stern said the ordinance can be amended or modified if other sidewalks are added. Stern recommended that the town maintain the sidewalk until the ordinance is finalized.

Baumann thanks town services for response to emergency

Lewis-Palmer District 38 Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman thanked employees of the Palmer Lake Police Department, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, and paramedics in response to a stabbing that occurred between two Lewis-Palmer Middle School students at a bus stop near the school. Bauman said because of the two-minute response time, "a young boy’s life was saved."

Committee reports

Parks and Recreation Trustee Gary Coleman commented on the Palmer Lake Arts and Crafts Event (PLACE), the A Taste of Palmer Lake that occurred during PLACE and other related activities. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Executive Director Susan Adams provided a descriptive and financial overview of the event. The Town of Palmer Lake gave $2,000 toward the event.

Adams said a greater variety of art vendors is needed because there was "too much of the same." She said A Taste of Palmer Lake was "a hit." Fifty tickets were pre-sold and more than 100 more were sold during the event. The restaurants involved indicated they want to do it again next year.

Cressman asked how well the artists did with sales. Adams said "some did well and some did not." She said that the number of artists will "absolutely grow next year." Adams also said the general feedback is to hold the festival again, but she stated that "It needs full community involvement to make this a full town effort." Adams then offered ideas to increase community participation in the event. She also said there will be an evaluation of the date and consideration of the competition with other festivals.

Fire Department

Fire Department Trustee Jack provided the following:

  • Members of the department raised $2,626 for Muscular Dystrophy Association.
  • Volunteers of the department worked 1,304.25 hours in September, with Fire Chief Shana Ball working 228 hours.
  • All department members are now compliant with the National Incident Management System/Incident Command System.

Jane Garrabrant of the Palmer Lake Fire Department Protective Association said the association "fund-raises money for the Fire Department and the star." The association has its own by-laws in order to make determinations on what to fund.

Garrabrant raised a concern that the Fire Department volunteers are stretched too thin due to mandatory training, mandatory 24-hour shifts every fourth week, call response, fund-raisers such as the Chili Supper performed by the department, and participation in other non-fundraising events like the Fishing Derby, fire safety classes for kindergarteners, and the Yule Log Hunt.

She told the council, "My request to you is to think about all those things before saying ‘Let’s let the Fire Department do it’ because "the most important thing we do is train and go on calls." She said she wanted the council to be conscious of requests made of the Fire Department and the association.

Jack responded that he could not recall an instance when the council had directed the Fire Department to participate in an event. Jack said, "The fire department is a function of the municipality." Garrabrant said she knows organizations make requests of the Fire Department but, "We are at a point now where we are trying to raise money and not lose, thus we are being careful what we choose to fund."

Police

Trustee McDonald highlighted a case where a bear destroyed a compact vehicle. The bear was also seen in the evening near the Town Hall area.

Water

Trustee Stafford said plans for the water treatment plant are awaiting approval from the state. Stafford said the engineering firm was checking on the approval status the week of Oct.11.

Roads

Trustee Stern reported that the contractors completed their portion of the Safe Routes to School project, but the town has a few remaining items to complete. The Roads Department placed over 32,000 gallons of water and over 16,000 gallons of magnesium chloride on roads for dust control.

Town Clerk Della Gray received two bids for re-roofing the library, and a local resident will be submitting a third bid. She requested and received approval from the council to create a contest by soliciting designs from the two District 38 high schools for a chain-saw carving of a tree by the Town Hall. The council would have to approve the design.

Gray reported that the Planning Commission board vacancy has been posted and a resident has expressed an interest in the vacancy.

Business licenses approved

The council unanimously approved a business license for Raspberry Mountain Pet Care, 176 Rockridge Road. The owner, Ruth Engleright, stated she is staying within town regulations of no more than four dogs on the premises. The license request was for Engleright to care for pets when the pet owners are on vacation.

The council unanimously approved a business license for High Country Wine and Liquor. The business will be operated by Thomas Fletcher and located at 795 Highway 105. Jack asked if any major modifications are planned, and the owners responded that there will be stucco and a new LED sign. The hours of the store will follow similar hours of other liquor stores in the area, opening at 9 a.m. but staying open a half hour later than other liquor stores, and the business will employ five or six staff.

Gray said the town needs to enter into a formal agreement with the store owners because the town owns the land where the parking lot is located. Palmer Lake resident Gary Atkins requested that the council "look at the road" because there is a driveway just west of Circle Road as a convenience road and speeding is a problem, along with a rise on Highway 105, creating a concern about accidents.

Atkins asked the council to review the access to Highway 105. Jack said the Colorado Department of Transportation’s easement right-of-way will need to be reviewed along with other improvements suggested or needed such as parking lot lighting. The owners will be working with the town on the improvements.

Council opposes amendments and proposition

After a lengthy discussion, the council voted 5-1 to oppose Amendments 60 and 61 and Proposition 101 on the Nov. 2 ballot. Jack was the only dissenting vote. Jack said though he opposes these measures as an individual, he opposes a council measure on them. Originally the council was supposed to have voted on a resolution regarding these issues, but Jack was concerned with some of the wording in the resolution.

During the discussion, Town Attorney Gaddis said there is "difficulty finding any reputable person who has supported these issues" and, if passed "they will have a significant effect on the operation of the town."

Palmer Lake resident Gary Atkins supported the council and the resolution regarding defeat of these amendments. Atkins said, "We cannot grow as a community with less money."

Audit accepted

The council unanimously approved acceptance of the 2009 audit. The town received a Gold Star in auditing standards. Gray said that, after considerable effort, the town has gone from a quad accounting to a dual accounting.

Preliminary budget for 2011

Gray said her greatest concern is that the anticipated town revenues are down by $30,000 for 2010. The town is projected to see a carryover of $52,000 in expenditures. At this time, Gray was unable to calculate the cost for Safe Route to Schools until all the final payments are made. There may be money that can be shifted to pay for some of the Safe Route to School engineering.

Trustees and department heads will be meeting to review the preliminary budget and make requests. The budget needs to be approved by Dec. 15.

Citizens’ comments

Town resident Atkins offered comments on two different topics. Atkins said that the bear problem in town, mentioned in the police report and through incidents that have occurred elsewhere, might require dumpsters with metal lids and bars that lock down the lids. He suggested the council might require businesses and schools to change their dumpsters. He also questioned the impact that sidewalks will have on the community by noting that Monument and Woodmoor have very few sidewalks. Atkins said, "Maybe it isn’t too big of a problem to ask residents to clear snow in high snow load areas, though sidewalks might not be the most practical in a high snow area."

Ron Heard, a representative for the William J. Crawford Memorial committee, said construction of the memorial has been delayed by one year because the organization sponsoring the construction had to become a 501(c)3 nonprofit. This change would provide a tax advantage to donors. The Tri-Lakes Chamber Foundation is now the fiscal agent for the project and is a 501(c)3.

The meeting adjourned at 9:09 p.m.

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A joint workshop and Town Council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. This is in observance of Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Regular meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

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Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education, Oct. 5 and 21: Association will assist search for new superintendent

By Harriet Halbig

Bob Cito of the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) attended the Board of Education’s work session on Oct. 5 to explain the services he and the association could offer in a search for a new permanent district superintendent. At the Oct. 21 meeting, the board approved using CASB in the search for a new superintendent.

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman said he has known Cito for many years and admires his thoroughness and the fact that he has knowledge of the district and of the talent pool in the state.

Cito said that the search process should bring members of the community together. He said there is a need for strong leaders, and the relationship between the district staff and the community is critical. The process should identify the district’s challenges and goals. This information would be gleaned from meetings of focus groups in the community. He said that it is not productive for members of the board to attend these meetings, because he wishes to promote candidness.

These elements will be included in the application document. Applicants should be required to write about why they feel they would be a good choice for the position. This would require them to research the district and thereby display their ability to analyze its problems and how to approach them. The superintendent serves the Board of Education, staff, and community and must evaluate the expectations of each of these groups.

Cito said that individuals working with him will assist in advertising the position, reviewing legal matters, and handling administrative work and background checks. He suggested that the group could also prepare a follow-up report a year after the selection.

Board member Jeff Ferguson asked whether Colorado experience would be necessary. Cito responded that Colorado experience was more important in the selection of an interim superintendent where there would not be time to build experience on the job. He acknowledged that Colorado is a unique place, but if a candidate’s motives and enthusiasm are sufficient, it is not necessary for him or her to have experience in the state.

Cito said that ideally the committee should seek a superintendent who would stay for at least five years. Time is needed to build the momentum to solve big problems and to create trust in the community.

He said that the search committee would aid the district in setting priorities stated at the beginning of the process. This should include eight or 10 abilities such as communication skills, making tough decisions, and following through on decisions. Through the use of these considerations, the applications should be reduced to 10 or so individuals before background checks are performed. Generally there are 30 or fewer applicants.

Local experts and members of the board could then be involved in screening and interviewing.

Due to the timing of the search, Cito suggested that decisions about desired qualities should be made soon. With the holidays coming, the application deadline should be in January, giving applicants four to six weeks to prepare their application. He said that most applications arrive in the last few days before the deadline, as some applicants are seated superintendents and wish to retain confidentiality. CASB is very confidential until background checks are performed, he said.

Once the finalists are chosen, he suggested leaving a week between announcing the intention to interview and making the interview to allow for travel. Cito suggested that if an applicant is offered the position and declines he should pay his own expenses.

Hopefully, the hiring will be finalized in March, Cito said.

Board member Gail Wilson said she had spoken with someone who worked with Cito on a search and liked him very much. Board member Robb Pike said that he may also make inquiries.

At its Oct. 21 meeting, the board voted to proceed with using CASB in the search for a new superintendent.

Accreditation process explained

Dr. Marie Revak, the district’s director of assessment, explained the process by which the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) accredits school districts. She distributed copies of the District Performance Framework Report from CDE and explained that a district is evaluated on the basis of academic achievement, academic growth (over one year), academic growth gaps (academic progress of historically disadvantaged student subgroups and those needing to catch up), and postsecondary and workforce readiness (preparedness for college or jobs upon completion of high school).

Considerations at the high school level include the number of students taking the ACT test, the graduation rate, and the dropout rate.

District 38 is accredited with distinction, putting it in the top 10 percent of over 170 districts in the state.

School districts in turn accredit individual schools based on the school performance infrastructure indicated in the district accreditation. Schools create school improvement plans annually. These plans are presented to the District Accountability Advisory Committee in February and then to the Board of Education in March. Accreditations are due in mid-October.

Detailed information on the process is available at www.schoolview.org

Other board actions

Deb Goth, chairperson of the Operations Advisory Committee, reported that $99,802 remains from the proceeds of the bond issue passed in 2006. The remainder of the approximately $69 million was used to construct Palmer Ridge High School, improve Lewis-Palmer High School athletic facilities and fund Lewis-Palmer High School security and technology. The remainder is on hold pending action on drainage issues at Palmer Ridge. The committee is negotiating with the architects on this matter.

Goth assured the board that all funds from the bond issues have been spent as directed.

Cheryl Wangeman, assistant superintendent of operations, spoke to the board about the National Incident Management System (NIMS) as a basis for incident management in the district. The system provides procedures for dealing with emergencies through the cooperation of federal, state, and local governments. There have been meetings with law enforcement and fire officials and creation of site-based procedures. Administrators have attended training sessions. There are now about 50 people involved in the program, including counselors, nurses, and others. The board voted to approve participation in the program.

Bob Foster, director of personnel and student services, distributed a final draft of policies involving reduction in force and transfers of staff within the district. The changes were prompted by changes in state law. Foster and Board President John Mann stressed that there are no plans for a reduction in force. In fact, there has never been one in the district’s history. The board approved the policy as presented.

The revised policy is now posted on the district intranet site for staff access.

It was announced that Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning Shirley Trees and Revak will be leaving the district at the end of this school year. The board praised both of them for their hard work and innovation and wished them well. Superintendent Bauman recommended that neither should be replaced until the new superintendent has been chosen.

The board received a letter from the board of Monument Academy expressing its desire to extend their contract for five years. Negotiations will now begin to finalize the contract before the deadline of July 2011.

The board approved routine measures such as minutes of previous meetings, requests for leaves of absence, list of substitute teachers and support staff, special education contracts, and other items requiring board approval.

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The Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Nov. 18.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Oct. 12: Academic integrity discussion continues

By Harriet Halbig

Following a brief discussion at the September meeting, the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) on Oct. 12 again considered developing a program for grades K-12 to define and promote integrity in the school setting.

Committee members were concerned about the use of cell phones and other electronic devices to share test and homework answers. Students feel pressure from peers, parents, and society to get good grades to get into top colleges, even when students are not intellectually able to keep up on arrival at college. In addition, students often read about cheating among athletes and business figures.

Committee members shared experiences and information about how other districts handle cheating in the classroom by denying credit to both students when papers are copied or answers are transmitted. Significant penalties should be in place and understood by all parties, they said.

It was suggested that students and parents could be required to sign a statement that they understand the consequences of cheating. Monument Academy has students and parents sign such an agreement.

Many committee members said that they see cheating as a problem but were unable to arrive at specific methods for teaching honesty and integrity at every grade level. The group defined integrity as "doing the right thing although no one is watching."

The discussion will be continued next month.

Adopt a School

Georgina Gittins, a parent from Bear Creek Elementary, spoke about the new Adopt a School program. Based on a program in Florida, Adopt a School enables parents and community members, including businesses, to support their school by adopting a class, a grade, or an entire school for a set, tax-deductible donation.

Teachers purchase needed materials and submit their receipts to their school secretary, who processes the reimbursement. The reimbursement is processed through the district’s Learning Points system, thereby avoiding handling fees. There is a list of approved items, and all items become the property of the school.

Gittins said that Bear Creek has served as the pilot location for the program, and principals of all other schools have been sent information. Information was sent home with students, and there was a booth at Back to School Night explaining the program. To date, there have been 30 adoptions for a total of more than $5,000 in donations. Three schools were adopted, three grades were adopted, and many teachers—including all kindergarten teachers—were adopted.

AdoptD38@lewispalmer.org gives a list of all donors and recipients. Donors can pay online.

Gittins added that those parents and others who volunteer time and support the schools in other ways are also credited for their contributions.

Accreditation of the school district

Dr. Marie Revak, the district’s director of assessment, explained the state’s procedures for rating school districts. Lewis-Palmer District 38 was accredited with distinction, placing it in the top 10 percent of over 170 districts in the state. The districts, in turn, accredit individual schools. For more detailed information, see the article on the Board of Education of this issue.

Committee for Political Achievement

Committee for Political Achievement Co-chair Cori Tanner reported that there will be no further action by the committee until after the election. At that time, there will be letters sent to legislators regarding the impact of the election on school funding and activities.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. Locations vary. The November meeting will be held at Bear Creek Elementary School, 1330 Creekside Drive in Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Exceptional Students Learning Team (formerly Special Education Advisory Committee), Oct. 20: Committee approves new name, hears student’s story

By Harriet Halbig

The Special Education Advisory Committee voted at its October meeting to officially change its name to the Exceptional Students Learning Team. The new name reflects the group’s intention to include special education, gifted/talented, and other groups within one entity.

Anna Amenson, a sophomore at Palmer Ridge High School, spoke to the group about her experiences in the district from sixth grade until the present, telling how testing and other classroom experiences are personalized to meet her needs. Anna’s father, committee Chairman Chris Amenson, said that the family’s experiences in District 38 have been very positive and that Anna’s work ethic and general attitude have allowed her to progress well through the years. She hopes to attend a small college and seek a career related to music.

Lewis-Palmer School District Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman spoke about developments in the district’s philosophy regarding special education since his arrival in 1988. He first served as principal at Kilmer Elementary, where the first special education program in the district was developed. Prior to that time, special needs students were sent to District 20 for services.

At present there are about 600 students in the program, or about 12 percent of the student population.

State audits education plans

Special Education Director Mary Anne Fleury reported that the district has recently undergone an audit by state officials. They examine IEPs (individual education plans) to determine whether they are complete and are being implemented correctly in such areas as timeliness of reporting and attendance by appropriate individuals at evaluation meetings.

Fleury reported that the district’s transition plan, serving students ages 18-21, is designed to aid students in moving to post-secondary education, vocational education, adult services, independent living, or community participation. Participants have their own space for the program and their own vehicle for transportation to various programs in other locations. She said that participants enjoy being a part of an adult program.

Fleury distributed copies of the District Special Education Improvement Plan stating goals to be reached by May 2013 and steps to be taken to reach them. Goals in the areas of student achievement (50 percent increase in access to regular education curriculum for students with disabilities), whole child (50 percent increase in ability to advocate for themselves, 100 percent access to extended school year services for those who qualify), and community engagement (100 percent of materials for use with students with disabilities will be identified and catalogued, 100 percent of parents will feel welcomed and supported in their transition). The document includes measures and action priorities for each goal.

Question and answer session

When asked about the impact of ballot initiatives on the district’s plans, Bauman said that it is fruitless to worry until after the election. At that point, planning can begin to maximize the resources available.

Fleury said that it is critical to be creative in meeting the needs of the students with the resources available. One initiative is to train general education teachers to better interact with special education teachers and students. Some remaining federal stimulus funds will support training in this area.

When asked about plans to purchase new technology for special education students, Bauman said that 162 netbooks had been purchased with federal funds. Training for their use has not yet begun. The district is maintaining what it already owns. The technology director for the district has not been replaced due to budget concerns and the district is looking within for technically savvy people to train their colleagues.

When a parent asked about the bullying in the district, Bauman said that whenever an incident is reported, there is an immediate response from the administration. He said that there is renewed emphasis on the Safe2Tell program, encouraging students to anonymously report suspicious behavior or incidents. At the middle school level, accountability, respect, and trust are being stressed.

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The Exceptional Students Learning Team meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next meeting will be held on Nov. 10.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Oct. 27: Board broadens access to WIA financial information

By Harriet Halbig

The Woodmoor Improvement Association’s (WIA) Board of Directors voted at its October meeting to remove password protection from its financial records. In the past, only homeowners in the association were allowed access to the information without a formal request.

Covenants Director Ed Miller said that he found nothing in the records that required secrecy. He and others said that realtors and potential homebuyers often seek this information to confirm that the association is effectively administered. Last year the password protection was added.

Board President Chuck Maher and Executive Director Matt Beseau agreed that there was no need to guard the information and that the requirement of a signed document requesting access was a waste of staff time. Members also agreed that any requirement that would discourage home sales in the area was counterproductive.

Other decisions made included:

  • Postponing implementation of a staff benefit plan until further research and legal advice could be acquired.
  • Purchasing two new hand-held radios for Woodmoor Public Safety.
  • Hiring a part-time employee to help with budget matters for an indefinite period.
  • Scheduling a work session of the board to discuss the association’s legal documents in anticipation of a vote at the annual meeting in January.

Routine committee reports included a proposal to purchase benches or picnic tables for common areas, a request from a number of members to build a trail parallel to Woodmoor Drive to increase safety for students at the middle school, a report on continuing experiments in scrub oak control, and a report on preparations for the January elections for the board.

Maher asked for suggestions for a winter festival or an event to honor those who volunteer their time for the association. No decision was made.

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The WIA usually meets on the fourth Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m. Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, it will meet on Nov. 17 at the Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive in Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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October Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Much like September, October was warm and mainly dry, with temperatures well above normal and precipitation well below normal. This has been one of the warmest and driest two-month periods of September and October in the last hundred years around the region.

Once again, no major storms affected the region, with only a trace of snow recorded for the month. This pattern we have been in for the last two months is in stark contrast to last year, when we received plenty of snow and cold during September and October and demonstrates how widely the weather pattern can vary around the Tri-Lakes region not only on a daily basis but year over year as well.

Dry and warm weather dominated the region during the first five days of the month as a ridge of high pressure continued to keep any storms from the north from affecting the area. Highs reached well into the 70s on each afternoon except the 2nd. The clear, dry weather did allow overnight lows to drop well into the 30s, right around normal for early October. A bit of a pattern change began to take place over the western United States starting on the 6th as a series of stronger storms began to beat down the ridge of high pressure that had been dominating our weather, allowing more moisture and cooler weather to begin to affect the region.

High temperatures fell back into the low to mid-60s from the 6th through the 9th; with the exception of the afternoon of the 7th when we managed to reach the low 70s. With the cooler air mass in place and the continued clear skies, temperatures finally tumbled below the freezing mark for many of us from late on the 8th through the morning of the 10th, with some of the cold pockets in the area reaching down into the mid-20s. This first freeze of the season was about two weeks later than normal for most areas.

During this time, an area of low pressure became cut off over the Great Plains, isolated from the main upper atmospheric flow across the United States and began to affect Colorado on the 8th with more clouds and gusty winds. The moisture from this storm moved in on the 10th, with a cold frontal passage early in the afternoon, producing our first real upslope event of the fall with plenty of cold rain, breaking a long dry spell. This also brought the first significant snow for many mountain areas.

The area of low pressure continued to spin over Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas for a couple of days. This allowed several bands of showers and thunderstorms to develop and affect the region. This led to areas of fog and showers on the 11th, and then steadier rain during the morning of the 12th as the system moved out of the region. Unfortunately, this was our only precipitation for the week, as high pressure built in quickly behind the departing storm and left dry, mild conditions in its wake. Highs jumped from the 40s on the 12th to the 70s by the 14th and 15th under clear skies.

Another dry week of weather occurred from the 18th through the 24th. Temperatures did vary quite a bit, with mid-60s during the middle of the week to upper 40s on the 22nd. With the dry air and long nights, temperatures did fall to seasonal values, ranging from the mid-20s to the mid-30s across the area. Sunny skies were the rule for most of the week, as an area of high pressure that has been dominating our weather for the last month or so continued to hold strong.

However, an active weather pattern over the eastern Pacific Ocean began to break down that area of high pressure toward the end of the week and into the weekend. This set up our first widespread snows in the high country and kicked in some windy conditions along the Front Range as a strong jet stream slammed into Colorado. Unfortunately, the strong northwesterly flow associated with this active pattern didn’t bring moisture to use, just gusty winds.

As the end of this active weather pattern moved through on the morning of the 25th, a quick shot of rain and snow developed over the area, reminding us that sunny skies and warm weather is not normal for the end of October. Temperatures were held to below normal values for the next two days, with highs only hitting the low 40s and overnight lows dipping well into the teens. However, just in time for trick-or-treaters, quiet and mild conditions developed for the final three days of the month, with temperatures moving back to normal and above levels through Halloween.

A look ahead

November is generally dry and cool around the region. We usually get several light snows interspersed with sunny skies. Gusty winds commonly develop on a couple of days as the jet stream becomes more active and more directly affects Colorado. Our first sub-zero morning low temperature occurs during the month as well. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to the low 40s by the end with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits.

For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

October 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 61.8° (+2.9) 100-year return frequency value max 67.7° min 50.7°
Average Low 31.0° (+2.0) 100-year return frequency value max 36.8° min 26.4°
Monthly Precipitation 0.38" (-1.28") 100-year return frequency value max 4.63" min 0.18"
Monthly Snowfall Trace (-15.7")
Highest Temperature 77° on the 1st, 5th
Lowest Temperature 15° on the 27th, 28th
Season to Date Snow Trace (-16.2") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 5.67" (-4.14") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 577 (+229)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at www.thekappels.com/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, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at billkappel@ocn.me

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

A special thank you for a playground

When teachers and parents at Grace Best Elementary School joined together last February to begin to dream and plan for a new playground for Bear Creek Elementary School, they had no idea what a challenging journey they were about to embark upon!

After endless hours of researching, planning, and fundraising, we can proudly announce the completion of the first phase of the playground with the help of Access Construction. As we overlook the amazing view that includes our playground, we are grateful for the support of our school district families, our PTO, and many local community businesses that generously contributed their finances, materials, and time in order to make this dream come true. See photo,page 26.

We’d like to give special recognition to the following businesses and community groups that donated time, materials, or finances to make the playground possible: Girls Scout Troop 105, Pikes Peak Ice Cream & Gelato, Colorado Springs Orthopedic Group, Texas Roadhouse, Covered Treasures, Buffalo Builders, Nick ‘n’ Willy’s Pizza, Tri-Lakes Dental, D&S Truss Co., Lowe’s Hardware Stores (Lowe’s for Heroes), First National Bank of Monument, Synthes, Van Guard Construction Co., Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, Big A Rentall Center, A. Were Engineering, DMS Building Components, Timbers Diversified Wood Products, Kanzler Foundation Inc., EIB Construction Inc., DPS, Peakview Roofing, Home Depot, Strate Management, Aspen Valley Custom Homes, Signature Tile and Stone, Target, Tri-Lakes Printing, and King Soopers.

A special thanks to Jim Britt, who spent hours working at the site over the summer months in order to be sure the land was well-prepped for the equipment’s installation, and Scott Strate, who coordinated the designing and contributions necessary to build the pavilion.

I’m sure the list of people involved could go on and on. Be assured of our thankfulness for all of you in our community who had a part.

On behalf of the students and the staff, thanks to all for your continued support. Come and enjoy the beautiful playground with your children!

The Bear Creek Elementary School Playground Committee

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Thanks for community’s support

In January, a fundraiser was held in honor of our son Parker, to raise money for his medical expenses (Parker has congenital aniridia and glaucoma). Since the fundraiser was held, Parker has had three additional surgeries, including a cornea transplant and retinal reattachment surgeries.

Unfortunately, the surgical outcomes were not as we all had hoped, and Parker lost all vision in his right eye. However, that has not stopped him from excelling and learning new things. He continues to surprise his family with every new discovery he makes and every milestone he marks. We are optimistic that he will continue to adapt well despite his low vision.

Again, we would like to thank the community for your support and keeping our family in your thoughts and prayers.

Lucas and Natalie Ebaugh

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Funding distinction is important

I would like to clarify a statement in Our Community News dated Oct. 2, 2010, regarding the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) and the Beer and Wine Garden for the PLACE event. The Beer and Wine Garden was funded by the Palmer Lake Fire Department Protective Association, a nonprofit corporation that is the "fundraising arm" of the PLVFD. Therefore the proceeds of that event went back to the association, not to the General Fund of the Town of Palmer Lake.

It is an important distinction because 100 percent of the funds raised by the association benefit the PLVFD, whereas funds raised by the PLVFD itself would go back into the General Fund, where it would be available for use by other town departments, not necessarily for the PLVFD.

The association holds several fundraisers throughout the year, including the annual Chili Supper and Star-Lighting, which will be held this year on Saturday, Nov. 27, at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The association funds these events, and proceeds go toward repairs and maintenance of the Star on Sundance Mountain as well as training and equipment that would not be possible to obtain through the PLVFD’s budget from the Town of Palmer Lake.

In addition to family and work obligations, the members of the PLVFD volunteer many hours to the welfare of our citizens by responding to calls, attending trainings, performing station duties, and helping with association fundraisers and other events in Palmer Lake.

The association is always looking for volunteers to help with fundraisers! Interested parties may contact me at 487-0190.

Thank you.

Jane Garrabrant, treasurer
Palmer Lake Fire Department Protective Association

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Flower lady keeps town colorful

Wide-brimmed cowgirl hat, blue jeans, fluorescent vest, a welcoming smile—who was that lady who spent this past summer filling the varied-size urns along Second Street in downtown Monument with bags of potting soil and a profusion of flowers and greenery as well as hauling 7,000 gallons of water on her jitney?

Several times a week, those urns needed water and care, especially this year with so little rainfall. She also planted and cared for the garden plots at the entrance sign to Monument and Limbach Park with a riot of color and all without blocking the sign itself; not to neglect the 10 barrels of flowers at the Monument cemetery.

I was not the only person to stop and chat with Sharon Williams to compliment her and ask about a specific plant that caught my eye. I was whelmed when Sharon told me she is a master gardener and a native plant master gardener. This explained why the floral displays were so attractive and welcoming to our residents and visitors.

And Sharon is not only a dedicated part-time town gardener but a volunteer with her Wheaton terrier, Quincy, as they visit hospice patients. What energy.

John Howe

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Fall into some great winter reading

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Temperatures are falling along with the leaves, so it may be time to stock up on books for those cold winter nights—or to add to your gift shelf. Following are some new arrivals that appeal to many interests.

The Wishing Trees
By John Shors (Penguin Group) $15

A year after the death of Kate, a former high-tech executive, Ian finds her final wish. She wants him to take their 10-year-old daughter, Mattie, on a trip across Asia, through the countries they had planned to visit to celebrate their 15th anniversary. Eager to honor the woman they loved, Ian and Mattie embark on an epic journey, leaving symbols of their connection to Kate in the form of paper "wishes" in ancient trees. As they celebrate what Kate meant to them, they begin to find their way back to each other, discovering that healing is possible and love endures.

The Pure Joy of Monastery Cooking: Essential Meatless Recipes for the Home Cook
By Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette (Countryman Press) $35

This collection of over 200 recipes captures the essence of culinary and spiritual simplicity as lived at Our Lady of the Resurrection Monastery, with a focus on local ingredients, home cooking, and fine dining.

Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race
By John Stewart and "The Daily Show" writers (Grand Central Publishing) $27.99

Readers take an intellectual voyage through time—back to the very moment of creation—that might help them figure out exactly how and why everything got so totally messed up. Along the way, one finds hilarious answers to life’s toughest questions—completely unburdened by objectivity, integrity, or even accuracy.

Fall of Giants
By Ken Follett (Penguin Group) $36

Best-selling author Ken Follett returns with a magnificent new historical epic. The first in The Century Trilogy follows the fates of five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English and Welsh—as they travel through the extraordinary events of the 20th century, including World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the struggle for women’s suffrage.

An Object of Beauty
By Steve Martin (Grand Central Publishing) $26.99

Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the New York City art world by storm. Groomed at Sootheby’s and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic personality. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallels the soaring heights—and at times the dark lows—of the art world and the country from the late 1900s through today.

Safe Haven
By Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing) $25.99

When a beautiful, mysterious young woman appears in a small North Carolina town, her sudden arrival raises questions about her past. Katie seems determined to avoid forming personal ties until a series of events draws her into two reluctant relationships. Even as she begins to fall in love, Katie struggles with the dark secret that set her on a fearful, shattering journey across the country, and she eventually learns that love is the only true safe haven.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life
By Bill Bryson (Random House) $28.95

Bryson’s lively, inquisitive mind turns the seemingly mundane spaces—bathroom and bedroom and kitchen—into an occasion for revealing the centuries of history that dwell in every home. From architecture to electricity, from food preservation to epidemics, from the telephone to the Eiffel Tower, from crinolines to toilets, Bryson demonstrates that whatever happens in the world ends up in our houses.

Hell’s Corner
By David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing) $27.99

After what appears to be a terrorist bomb detonation at a White House state dinner, Oliver Stone and the Camel Club must stop the attackers, or face the catastrophic results in this exhilarating new book by "the master of the political thriller."

Despite these beautiful, warm fall days, we know that snowflakes will soon be flying, and an exciting new book is a good friend to have around—or you may want to get an early start on that holiday list. Until next month, happy reading.

The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at books@ocn.me

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Common ring-necked pheasant

Click here to view a drawing of Common Ring-Necked Pheasant

By Elizabeth Hacker

November signals the start of the holiday season. Many have already started planning and shopping for the upcoming celebrations. It’s hard to imagine, but Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Our tradition incorporates decorating, feasting, and, lest I forget, watching football. We actually kick off the season on Thanksgiving following the lighting of the Palmer Lake Star with a little lighting ceremony of our own.

The traditional Thanksgiving bird is a turkey, which, thanks to our local grocery stores, can be purchased very reasonably. Some families, especially when one or more members hunt, celebrate with wild game birds including pheasant, duck, wild turkey, and goose. A few years ago, a fellow employee offered me several pheasants. At first I was reluctant to try something new on a traditional holiday where expectations are high, but we found them to be quite tasty, albeit a bit bony.

The little birds were already dressed out, and when I mentioned that I could use some of their beautiful feathers for a table decoration, my co-worker balked. This reaction took me by surprise until he told me that he hunted pheasants primarily for their feathers, which are prized by fly fishermen and fly tiers. He showed me some of his creations and I better understood his hesitation, so it was indeed kind of him to share a few with me.

The ring-necked pheasant is a Mongolian native that was successfully introduced in the United States in 1857. Since that time it has naturalized in many habitats from Maine to California and is a popular game bird in the grasslands of eastern Colorado. I occasionally see them along roads in Greenland Ranch, but I don’t think they have naturalized on the Divide. It is more likely that these birds are farm raised and have escaped from one of the local ranchettes.

It is a chicken-like bird with a short, yellow beak and rounded wings. It is often found in plowed fields where it forages on bits of grain left after cultivation. In addition to seeds, it feeds on grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects, which is helpful in controlling insects harmful to crops. The gnarly grasses along fence rows and ditches provide a food source and habitat for cover.

Like chickens, the showy male pheasant is referred to as a cock or a rooster, and it is a showstopper. Its head and neck are a combination of iridescent blues, greens, and purples, separated by a white ring around its neck, thus the name "ring-necked pheasant." Much could be said about the bright brown and orange hues and the interesting patterns on its wings, but to me, it is its long 20-inch tail that captures my attention. The female is referred to as a hen, and while she is beautiful in a subtle way, her coloring is bland. Pheasants weigh between two and three pounds.

Early each spring, with its ear tuffs raised, the male begins to strut and flap its wings, posturing to establish its "crowing territory." The bare skin around its eyes become engorged and turns bright red. Cocks fight for the privilege to mate with hens that could be one or a harem of as many as four. The dominate cock will have fought off rival roosters before mating begins.

Hens establish nests within the roosters’ crowing territory and occasionally share the same nest. Nests are shallow depressions in the dirt lined with soft grasses that are well hidden under grassy vegetation. The hen lays an average of 10 olive-green eggs. When hens share a nest, there may be as many as 40 eggs. Eggs are incubated for about 25 days before the chicks hatch.

The rooster occasionally will sit on the eggs, but his main job is to guard the territory. The hen will draw predators away from the nest by crying and pretending to be hurt. This behavior is known as the "cripple bird" technique. I have been fortunate to observe this on a few occasions and must say that it is fascinating to watch.

When pheasant chicks hatch they are "precocial," which means they are able to walk away from the nest to feed themselves. The chicks all hatch within a few hours, and the hen must keep the hatchlings from wandering too far from the nest while she continues to sit on unhatched eggs.

Like chickens, pheasant chicks follow the hen and peck and scratch the ground for food. Within a few weeks, the chicks will have grown to the size of the adult.

The lifespan of a pheasant is relatively short. Captive birds that live alone have been reported to live for five years. However, it is rare that an adult male will live more than a year and a female beyond two seasons. When the weather turns cold, many pheasants that hatched during the summer will already have died due to predation or scarcity of food. Most popular hunting reserves rely on stocking pheasants for fall hunters.

I usually advocate protecting birds and their habitat, but I am not opposed to hunting game birds. Most hunters respect wildlife and contribute millions of dollars every year to preserve wetlands and nature preserves that also benefit other bird species. If you are in the mood to try pheasant this holiday season, they can be purchased online.

Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. Prints of the birds she writes about are available on her website with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. E-mail her at elizabethhacker@ocn.me or call her at 719-510-5918 to share your bird stories.

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Art Matters: Who’s minding your brain?

By Janet Sellers

Plato said, back in 400 B.C., that a healthy body promotes a healthy brain and a healthy brain, a healthy body. In the words of the National Endowment for the Arts Chairperson Rocco Landesman, "Arts change the ethos of a community. They enliven it; they activate the public life." On his tours of U.S. art scenes this year, this was his main message to Americans. His message, whether talking to artists or businessmen or donors, is that "art jobs are real jobs that are part of the real economy."

This month marks the absolute height of the visual art buying season. Whether it is because it is the fourth quarter and earnings allow the purchases, or because people have gifts and getting stuff in mind, the most art sales occur from now to the end of the year.

We need our art, and although I have often touted the benefits of arts enrichment from the arts industries’ and social studies’ data on the public art point of view to the personal collector and citizen—as well as off the top of my head—I’ve found some nice, juicy neurological studies to help all the engineers and science buffs get a grip on the arts enrichment benefits in their own left brain language.

Research suggests that a non-stimulating environment stunts our cognitive functions; not getting enough creative stimulation impairs our mental capacities. According to numerous studies by pre-eminant brain authority Dr. Marian Diamond, "... Environmental enrichment concerns how the brain is affected by the stimulation of its information processing provided by its surroundings (including the opportunity to interact socially). Brains in richer, more stimulating environments, have increased numbers of synapses, and the dendrite arbors upon which they reside are more complex."

What is truly good news is that, although the environments of enrichment had a huge influence on babies in a study, enrichment works wonders on the adult brain system. Enriched minds remained in better shape when subjected to periods of under-stimulation, and bounce back faster and more readily than the deprived groups.

The simplest, easiest method is arts enrichment. It stimulates our imagination, and that in turn creates more mental activity in terms of responsiveness as well as generating willingness to interact and to stay alert and engaged. Even when subjects in studies had lost the ability to see well enough to read, those who had someone read to them, or continued novelty exploration and assimilation with the senses and faculties that were working better (smell, hearing, touch) continued to remain healthy into their late 80s and 90s.

Many forms of visual art are also very tactile, such as sculpture, mixed media, fiber arts, and mobiles, and "new art" that involves sound, smell, and touch, as well as vision. Using all our senses healthfully and creatively to consider the why and wherefore of the imaginative arts keeps us whole.

Although I have long heard the virtues of music for these things, studies that have continued since as early as 1901 showed the visual association cortex was the first to be responsive to enrichment, with other sensory input facilitating learning to a lesser degree.

So what does this all mean to us on a daily basis? A simple solution is to get out and walk around our local arts venues and get into the habit of involving ourselves with these artful, enriching experiences. For most of us, arts enrichment is the most efficient way to keep our minds in good shape. It involves the visual and the imaginative mindset that takes in the information and then assimilates it into a meaningful whole.

An art walk every week indoors or outdoors is available here in our local art scene. An artful vision of our beautiful area will grow as well, and in time that vision might lead to improved health. That, and drinking plenty of water and a good diet might keep you going well into your 90s, too.

Art where you live and work also has a huge impact on your state of mind and mindful health.

Here are a number of art enrichment opportunities for your enjoyment, health, and just plain fun right here in our town, and happily, all in one place—the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake:

Tri Lakes Center for the Arts Member’s Show: Nov. 6—reception 5 to 8 p.m. Artists will be present to meet with the public and everyone is welcome. Show dates are Nov. 2-26. 

Holiday Extravaganza: The event is on Nov. 12 and 13 and advertised as a two-day fine arts sale at TLCA. 

From the Earth: Fine Arts Crafts in Wood and Clay: TLCA announces a Call for Entries to artists to participate in a juried wood and clay exhibition. Artists are invited to submit their fine art in wood and/or clay for consideration. Applications due Nov. 12; show dates are Dec. 1-28. 

Visions of Light (VOL): Call for entries for February 2011, the juried photographic exhibition focuses on the photographer’s use of light and is open to all photographers, amateur and professional, working in all mediums, styles, and schools of thought. Photographer John Fielder will serve as judge of the exhibition. Fielder has published more than 38 photography books in 20 years. Visit www.trilakesarts.org for details.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter and sculptor who works in paint, metal, and concrete. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colorado. She can be reached at janetsellers@ocn.me

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Snapshots of Our Community

Bear Creek Elementary School playground completed

See the photo on page 26 in the on-line version of this issue: Sept. 10, Bear Creek Elementary School students and staff gather at their new playground to say thank you to the community. Photo provided by Karen Gingrich. 

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Palmer Lake Fire Department holds open house, Oct. 2

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department held a fire safety open house on Oct. 2. Assistant Fire Chief Greg Lokken explained that the volunteers are on a three-minute response time and that they usually meet that limit. There are 24 volunteers available to respond to fire and emergency medical situations. A volunteer is at the station 24 hours a day.

Lokken further explained that the fire equipment is relatively new. The engine pumper and the brush truck are the two primary fire vehicles owned by Palmer Lake. The pumper, called "2015," has a capacity of 1,000 gallons of water with a stream velocity of 1,250 gallons per minute. Lokken explained that the pumper was acquired in 2002 and the brush truck in 2004. The brush truck is utilized for local grass or brush fires.

During the open house, the vehicles were on display along with information on various exigent fire situations. Brochures and information are always available at the station on the subject of smoke detectors, chimney fires, structure escape methodology, etc.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

See the photo on page 26 in the on-line version of this issue: A Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Team in front of pumper vehicle 2015. From left, back row, are Will Vogel, Fire Capt. Abby Vierling, Fire Chief Shana Ball, Assistant Chief Greg Lokken, and Richard Wolfe. From left, front row, are Fire Lt. Jeremiah Carpenter, Rachel Kelly, and James Harris. Photo by Bernard Minetti

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Art group holds fundraiser to support scholarships, Oct. 2

By Bernard L. Minetti

On Oct. 2, the Palmer Lake Art Group held its annual Christmas Craft Fair at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Group President Margarete Seagraves explained that this fundraiser supports scholarships for School District 38 art students who wish to pursue an arts-related career. She explained that students interested in an art career will submit samples of their work, which are then selected for talent, subject matter, and other subjective selection criteria.

Students interested in pursuing an art scholarship should contact the Group at the Vaille Hill Gallery, 118 Hillside Road in Palmer Lake. They may also be contacted through their website at www.palmerlakeartgroup.com

The art group sponsors three fine art shows each year. The spring show is set up to announce and display the works of the selected art scholarship students. Meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month at 9:30 a.m. in the Vaille Hill Gallery in Palmer Lake.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

See the photos on page 26 in the on-line version of this issue: Left photo: The October Craft Fair held at the Palmer Lake Town Hall is sponsored by the Palmer Lake Art Group to help raise funds for the D-38 art scholarship program. Students interested in competing for a scholarship should contact the group at the Vaille Hill Gallery at 118 Hillside Road in Palmer Lake. Right photo: Palmer Lake Art Group member Iola Pasquale, left, with group President Margarete Seagraves at the October Crafts Fair. Photos by Bernard Minetti.

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Palmer Lake takes part in Walk to School Day, Oct. 6

By Frank Maiolo

On Oct. 6, Palmer Lake Elementary and Lewis-Palmer Middle School celebrated International Walk to School Day. More than 100 children and parents came together at The Village Green in Palmer Lake at 8 a.m. to promote the benefits of safely walking and biking to school.

The crowd was led from The Village Green to Palmer Lake Elementary by students dressed as their favorite storybook characters, which included Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Humpty Dumpty and Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Julie Jadomski, principal, stated they had a good turnout and the students were enjoying the event. Upon arriving at Palmer Lake Elementary the students were provided snacks in the cafeteria and were given a safety overview from Palmer Lake Police Chief Keith Moreland and Jadomski.

International Walk to School USA was created to promote safe routes to school, engage kids of all abilities, enhance the health of kids, and to improve the environment.

Frank Maiolo can be reached at frankmaiolo@ocn.me

See the photos on page 27 in the on-line version of this issue: Left: Storybook characters come to life. Center: Palmer Lake Elementary School Principal Julie Jadomski and parent April Wolf and sons. Right: Walking to school. Photos by Frank Maiolo.

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Variety highlights sculpture show, Oct. 9

By David Futey

During October, sculptures of various shapes and sizes and created from a variety of media filled the Tri-Lakes Center for Arts (TLCA) for the Sundance Mountain Sculpture Exhibition. Juried by Lloyd Anderson and co-chaired by Ronny Walker and Jane Rankin, the exhibition offered works of nationally known and local artists who used wood, terra cotta, ceramic, stone, bronze, and other materials.

Exemplifying the variety of media in the show, Anderson, Walker, and Rankin, left to right, are shown at left with Kathleen Sherman’s "Four Cardinal Points," made of gourds, wood, and metal. Denver resident James Dixon’s sculpture "Sketch" received Best of Show. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

See the photo on page 27 in the on-line version of this issue.

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RMMA Concert, Oct. 9

See the photo on page 27 in the on-line version of this issue: On Oct. 9, The Rocky Mountain Music Alliance (RMMA) held the first concert of its 2010-2011 season. Pictured are pianist Michael Baron and members of the Colorado Springs Woodwind Quartet as they present works by Mozart and Beethoven. The next concert in the free series will be held Dec. 4, 7 p.m. See the ad on page 6 for details. Photo by Peter Wise

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PLVFD participates in fire prevention week, Oct. 13

See the photos on page 27 in the on-line version of this issue: Left: Firefighter David Farr discusses fire prevention with students at Palmer Lake Elementary School Oct. 13. Right: Firefighter Tyler Brown gets assistance demonstrating firefighting techniques. Photos by Fire Capt. Abby Vierling.

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Empty Bowl, Oct. 13

See the photos on page 28 in the on-line version of this issue: Left: The Lewis-Palmer High School cafeteria accommodated diners and a silent auction. Center: Tom Nelson (L), president of Monument Hill Kiwanis, and Bonnie Biggs (R), coordinator of the Empty Bowl event, present Bonnie Irish, Lewis-Palmer School District catering manager, and Carolyn Harvey, a custodian with the Lewis-Palmer School District, a plaque commemorating the volunteer work performed by their respective areas. Right: The Palmer Ridge High School pottery class was one of many art groups that contributed bowls to the event. Photos by David Futey. See also the photos on page 1.

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Hundreds attend 9Health Tri-Lakes Health Fair, Oct. 23

By Harriet Halbig

The 9Health Tri-Lakes Health Fair was held at Palmer Ridge High School on the morning of Oct. 23. The fair was sponsored by 9Health, Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

Among the financial supporters are Intermountain Rural Electric Association, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, Premier Urgent Care, Synthes Corp., and Shafer CPAs.

Services offered included blood chemistry screening, blood count screening, flu shots, skin cancer screening, and a number of other services, all at affordable costs.

Dave Van Ness, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said that 250 individuals took advantage of the blood chemistry screening and an additional 100 people registered for other medical tests or shots. More than 30 additional vendors offered information on their services.

Van Ness estimated that over 500 people attended the fair, confirming that it provides a valuable service to the community. Last year’s attendance was about a third of the 2010 total.

The health fair is in its ninth year. This was the second event held in collaboration with 9Health and the first at this location. Previous fairs were held at the YMCA and other locations.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

See the photos on page 28 in the on-line version of this issue: Left: Beth Christman promoted the YMCA’s Oct. 30 Creepy Crawl event. Right: Therese Gregoire of Penrose-St. Francis offered treats to those who had fasted before a blood draw on the morning of the fair. Photos by Harriet Halbig

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PLVFD holds Kids Carnival, Oct. 31

See the photos on page 28 in the on-line version of this issue: The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department held a Kids Carnival on Oct. 31 to celebrate Halloween. Activities included (L to R) face painting, can knock down, spider web toss, and building scare crows. Photos provided by PLVFD Fire Capt. Abby Vierling.

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October and November library events: Library celebrates All Pikes Peak Reads, Halloween

By Harriet Halbig

Pikes Peak Library District’s 2010 All Pikes Peak Reads program was successfully received in the Tri-Lakes community. Many of the related programs in the Monument Library, such as Snow Bubble and a visit from Nikola Tesla, were attended by enthusiastic audiences. Teens enjoyed a party and an invention program challenging them to build a better frog trap.

The titles in the program were in broad circulation and the subject of many discussions. Patrons enjoyed reading about the theme of innovation in its many guises and hearing lectures by authors Erik Larson and Kenneth Libbrecht.

The Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library hosted a reception to celebrate National Friends of the Library Week, offering treats and information about their organization. Their support is invaluable to the library.

In the final days of October, Not So Scary Stories and Stories in the Dark, both library traditions, brought chills to children of all ages.

The Monumental Readers will discuss "Big Stone Gap" by Adriana Trigiani on Friday, Nov. 12, at 10 a.m. No registration is required and new members are welcome.

On Saturday, Nov.13, at 1:30 p.m. there will be a family program called Draw an Autumn Scene with Monart. Monart School of Art is a nationally recognized art program that teaches realistic drawing skills to students of all ages. Join us to learn about artist Laurel Birch and her "Bali Cats." We will draw and color our cat sitting in a pumpkin, corn, and vegetable patch for a vibrant autumn picture.

Kids ages 9 to 15 are invited to read any and all of the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling and discuss them and the upcoming movie at Read it Before You See It on Friday, Nov. 19, from 4 to 5:15 pm. There will be a trivia game, crafts, snacks, and a chance to win a pass to see the movie, opening that day.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Course will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 20, from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. This is the nation’s first and largest classroom driver refresher course specially designed for motorists ages 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agents for a discount on premiums. Class size is limited and registration is required. The cost is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. A minimum of 10 students is required for the class to be held. Please call 488-2370 or register online.

For information about weekly discussion groups, story times and other programs, please call the library or pick up a copy of our newsletter, Library Out Loud.

Please note that the library will close at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, be closed all day on Thanksgiving, and reopen regular hours on Friday, Nov. 26.

The art on the wall in November will be Capturing the World as I See It by local photographer Ruth Ann Nelson. In the display case will be Flow Blue Pottery, a collection of stone china decorated with Oriental patterns.

Palmer Lake Library programs

Palmer Lake’s Paws to Read dogs are waiting to hear from you. On Saturday, Nov. 6, from 11 a.m. to noon, read with Jax, our Newfoundland dog friend. Read with Misty the sweet and tiny sheltie on Nov. 18 from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Read a story and select a prize.

Join golden retriever Kirby for a party to celebrate the Paws to Read Dogs on Saturday, Nov 20, at 11 a.m. There will be doggie games and activities, doggie crafts, and refreshments (for humans).

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 3, to discuss "Shepherds Abiding" by Jan Karon. New members are welcome and registration is not required.

The Palmer Lake Library will be closed on Thursday, Nov 25.

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and we hope to see you at the library!

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

See the photos on page 29 in the on-line version of this issue: Above: Members of the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library, (L to R) Jonnie Mola, Faye Fuentes, Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library President Angela Strecker, and Clare Wissinger, held a reception and membership drive in mid-October. Below: Braeden Mukpik, Jacob Skaggs and Chris McGann improvised a better frog trap for a library program on innovation. Photos by Harriet Halbig.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Oct. 21: "Bloomer Girl" first white woman to climb Pikes Peak

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Oct. 21 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was highlighted by a presentation from Pikes Peak Community College American history Professor Kathy Sturdevant. She narrated a presentation about "Bloomer Girl" Julia Archibald Holmes, an avid women’s rights activist and abolitionist in her time. Holmes is believed to be the first white woman to climb Pikes Peak.

"Bloomers" were symbolic of the struggle for recognition that all women had then in their attempt to obtain suffrage. The term "bloomers" originated with Amelia Bloomer, who advocated that women wear a pair of loose trousers under a short (just below the knee) skirt to symbolize their struggle for the vote. Holmes added a pair of moccasins and a hat and called her outfit an "American Costume." She ascended Pikes Peak dressed in this manner.

Sturdevant said Holmes was born in Nova Scotia and emigrated to Lowell, Mass., where she became a "textile mill girl." Later, after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, she and her family moved to Lawrence, Kan. Sturdevant noted that the act created the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, and let settlers in those territories determine if they would allow slavery within their boundaries. Although the initial purpose of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was to create opportunities for a Mideastern Transcontinental Railroad, its greatest power was to establish a voting procedure that could eventually lead to the abolishment of slavery in the two territories.

Sturdevant said the act established that settlers could vote to decide whether to allow slavery in the name of popular sovereignty (rule of the people). As a result, opponents denounced the law as a concession to the slave power of the South. The Holmes family members were ardent abolitionists and participated in the cause.

Sturdevant stated that following Holmes’ work in Kansas, she and her new husband, James, became involved in the gold rush of 1859 and migrated to Colorado, which at that time was known as western Kansas. Holmes and her husband were among the first to explore the Front Range and, on June 28, 1858, they viewed the splendor of Pikes Peak for the first time. She was determined to make the ascent, which she eventually did on Aug. 5, 1858, dressed in her "American Costume." She automatically became a part of the "fourteeners" group, which is made up of climbers who have ascended above the 14,000 foot level on any mountain.

Sturdevant said that shortly thereafter, Holmes and her group made their way to New Mexico. Julia, who was fluent in Spanish, became a correspondent for the New York Tribune. Having given birth to four youngsters, only two of which survived, Holmes moved to Washington, D.C. Holmes died in January 1887.

Upcoming events

Join the society on Nov. 18 for "Go West, Young Woman." The presenter will be Bridget Hollingsworth. This event is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

See the photo on page 30 in the on-line version of this issue: Above: Pikes Peak Community College American history Professor Kathy Sturdevant presented a brief biography of Julia Archibald Holmes, the first recorded white woman to ascend Pikes Peak. Photos by Bernard Minetti.

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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.

Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, Nov. 16

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive Nov. 16, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. No appointment is needed; just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For more information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x23.

Volunteers needed for Transit and Rail Division Committee

The Colorado Department of Transportation is looking for a few good people to help direct its new Division of Transit and Rail. The Transit and Rail Advisory Committee will make recommendations to the division director and provide input to the Colorado Transportation Commission regarding the division’s focus. The committee will consist of 11-15 members and be geographically and stakeholder balanced, with at least one representative from the following interest groups: urban transit, rural transit, passenger rail, freight rail (Class 1 and short-lines), municipalities, counties, and the STAC, including representation of metropolitan planning organizations. Members will serve for two to three years, receive no compensation, and meet at least six times a year.

Applications are available at www.coloradodot.info/about/committees/trac/documents/Transit-RailCommitteeApp.pdf. Individuals are discouraged from providing work histories, resumes, or letters of recommendation. Applications are due by Nov. 19.

Volunteer needed for Juvenile Community Review Board

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve as a community-at-large representative on the Juvenile Community Review Board. Applications for the position are due by Nov. 29. The board reviews the case files of juveniles and makes a decision regarding residential community placement. It consists of 11 members; nine are nominated for indefinite terms and two community-at-large members are appointed for three-year terms. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link.

Historic Monument Small Town Christmas, Dec. 4

This day full of holiday activities includes a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, holiday crafts for the kids, reindeer, miniature donkeys, carolers, hayrides, hand-painted holiday banners, a Christmas tree lighting, merchant special events and refreshments throughout Historic Downtown Monument, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Pick up a location and event flier from a participating merchant or call Vicki Mynhier, 884-8016, for more information.

Help on the way for heating bills

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) helps residents struggling to pay their home heating bills. LEAP benefits provide assistance to help families with their heating bills but are not intended to pay the entire bill. Last winter, 15,999 households in El Paso County received help from the LEAP program. The eligibility period for LEAP runs from Nov. 1 through April 30. Applications are accepted each year during the eligibility period. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. For more information about LEAP benefits, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435).

Sheriff’s Office announces YouTube channel

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office now uses its own YouTube channel to share information on recent events and provide information on numerous office resources. The YouTube channel can be accessed from the front page of the Sheriff’s Office website, http://shr.elpasoco.com, or directly at www.youtube.com/EPCSheriff. This YouTube channel will have a variety of informational videos posted. Currently available are the full press briefing conducted July 8 regarding the Monument death investigation, information on the full-scale mass casualty exercise "NOAA’s ARK," and an informational piece on the Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol.

Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Mon.-Fri. and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tai Chi for Health, Fridays, 10:30 a.m.; National Mah-jongg, Fridays, 1-4 p.m.; line dancing, first and second Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m.; bridge, second and fourth Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.; tea time, third Tuesday, 1-3 p.m.; bingo, third Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.; crafts, third Thursdays, 1-3 p.m.; no-cash/no host poker, second and fourth Fridays, 1-4 p.m. Also available at the center are ping-pong, Wii video games, various puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table. For more information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org

Tri-Lakes Cares Thrift Shop in Monument

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is now open Wednesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 341 Front St., Monument. Shop for gently used clothing, books, and household items. Proceeds from Hangers will be used to promote the ongoing mission of Tri-Lakes Cares, a community-based nonprofit. For more information, call 488-2300 or visit the Tri-Lakes Cares Web site, www.trilakescares.org

Tri-Lakes HAP Thrift Store: new location

The new store is located at 790 Highway 105 D in Palmer Lake. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekly specials, books, antiques, clothing, and more! The thrift store is a project of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) to raise funds and resources for Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen Program activities, provide volunteer opportunities for Tri-Lakes residents, and offer affordable merchandise to all Tri-Lakes residents. For more information, to donate items, or to volunteer, call 488-3495.

Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free!

Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays in Monument. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center. There are also articles and notices of events geared toward senior citizens. To subscribe to the free newsletter, send an e-mail with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesHAP.org

Prescription discount program available

People using El Paso County’s prescription discount program card saved an average of 22 percent. There are no eligibility requirements and no strings attached to receive the discounts. You can pick up a free Prescription Discount Card at most county government locations or you can download your own personalized prescription discount card on the county website (bottom of the front page) at www.elpasoco.com

Any county resident without prescription coverage can use this program. Even if you have insurance for prescription medications, you may still benefit from the discount card, since it might save you money on prescription medications your existing plan does not cover. For more information about the county prescription discount program, visit www.elpasoco.com or call 520-6337.

Check out energy savings at local libraries

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) recently started a program allowing consumers to check out "Kill-A-Watt" meters, plug-in energy meters, from local libraries and Book Mobiles in MVEA’s service territory. Kill-A-Watt meters can help consumers assess how efficient appliances really are. This program provides a free way to identify the real energy abusers and reduce energy use. People who have used the meters report unplugging appliances that weren’t being used to save energy. For more information, call MVEA, 1-800-388-9881, ext. 2602; Monument Branch Library, 488-2370; or Palmer Lake Library, 481-2587.

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