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Vol. 10 No. 2 - February 6, 2010


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Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department receives matching grant from Modern Woodmen of America

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Below: During the Palmer Lake Town Council meeting Jan. 14, Jack and Ginger Frank (Far right), representing Modern Woodmen of America (MWA), present a $5,590 check to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. The check is a matching grant the MWA funded as part of the fire department’s Chili Supper fundraiser held Nov. 28. Proceeds from the fundraiser are used to maintain the Palmer Lake Star. Photo by David Futey. See article below for coverage of the meeting.

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WIA Annual Meeting, Jan. 25: WIA elects directors

By Harriet Halbig

The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) held its annual meeting Jan. 25, following a few months of controversy between incumbent and challenging candidates.

President George McFadden presided at the meeting. After reviewing the protocols involved in the election, including involvement of the League of Women Voters for counting the ballots and the use of a post office box for receipt of proxies, the balloting was opened. There was brief confusion over the procedure of voting on site, as no blank ballots were immediately available.

Seven candidates were listed, one of whom had withdrawn too recently for his name to be removed from the ballot. Each spoke briefly on his goals as a board member. No nominations were offered from the floor

Incumbent candidates Bill Brendemuhl, Gary Marner, and George Labesky said that they were content with the current operations of the board. Efforts had been made to bring the association’s legal documents in line with state requirements. The Barn (the association’s public gathering building and the site of its offices) had been substantially renovated due to mold problems and was now available for use free of charge by members, a new trail had been constructed in a common area known as the Marsh, and several community festivals had been held.

In addition, a new group called the Woodmoor Business Group had been formed to promote business within the community. Accounting practices had also been improved.

The challenging candidates, Jim Hale, Paul Lambert, and Nick Oakley, said that they objected to the adversarial tone of board meetings, projects such as the trail without community input, the expenditure of association funds on social events, reduction of benefits for association employees, and discontinuance of association involvement with the state’s Firewise program. The Firewise program had provided many grants to the Woodmoor community in the past.

Results of the election, made available later in the week, showed that Hale, Oakley, and Lambert were elected. The results are as follows:

H.L. (Nick) Oakley 657
Jim Hale 648
Paul Lambert 656
Bill Brendemuhl 466
Gary Marner 437
George Labesky 364
Ed Miller 90

Miller withdrew from the race a few weeks prior to the meeting, but his name appeared on the ballot.

Following an organizational meeting later in the week, the board for the coming year is as follows:

President – Chuck Maher
Vice President – Jim Hale
Secretary – Jim Wilson
Treasurer – Nick Oakley
Architectural Control – Anne Stevens-Gountanis
Common Areas – Jim Hale
Covenant Control – Nick Oakley
Forestry – Chuck Maher
Public Safety – Paul Lambert
Director at Large – George McFadden
Director at Large – Mari Rollins
Director at Large – Larry Goad

Crime response

Joe Reister of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spoke regarding the responsibilities of his office and response times in the Woodmoor community. Response time for a crime in progress now averages 11 minutes. The Monument and Palmer Lake police departments can also be called in to help when necessary. He said that Woodmoor traditionally has few calls relative to the rest of the county and that response times are continuously being shortened, depending on the severity of the complaint.

Reister said that criminal mischief and vandalism are the primary complaints, largely in the townhome area at the south end of the community. Of eight burglaries during 2009, only one involved forced entry. The others involved doors or windows left unlocked or garage doors left open. He particularly advised those present to lock their cars and remove valuables such as GPS systems from view within a vehicle.

A full-time sheriff’s resource officer is also employed in the Lewis-Palmer District 38 schools.

When asked about Woodmoor Public Safety’s role in law enforcement, Reister said that WPS does not have arrest powers and should not be called in the case of a crime in progress, but if you return home to find a door open or notice vandalism, it should be called first.

Humane Society’s role

Lynn Birch of the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region gave a report on the responsibilities of that organization in Woodmoor. She said that the humane society has been responsible for animal control in the community since l995 with the exception of one year.

Birch said that the society’s responsibilities include response to dog barking complaints, aggressive dogs and injured pets. The society will try to respond within 20 minutes. She said that dog barking complaints require a primary complaint and a witness, and repeated incidents involving a single animal will result in court action requiring testimony. She stressed that the society is only concerned with domestic animals. Incidents involving mountain lions and bears are the responsibility of the Department of Wildlife.

When asked about the ability to scan animals for microchips, Birch said that the scanner is not on the society’s truck but at its building downtown.

Reports

McFadden gave a brief president’s report, noting that surveying being done in the southern end of the community does not indicate plans for development. He explained changes in office staff and said that attempts are being made to put confidential financial information on the association’s Web site with password protection. He said that the association has made it possible to pay annual fees with a credit card in hopes of avoiding collection problems. He said that the social festivals held in the past year have been well attended.

McFadden said that fees for new construction have been eliminated, and notices regarding noncompliance with covenants have been reworded to be easier to understand. The improvements to the Barn include the availability of Wi-Fi and the fact that residents may use the facility for two hours free of charge.

Changes in accounting procedures require check signatures only from board members and two people involved with any contract activity.

Reports were given by the various committees of the organization.

WPS reported that it performed 17,000 vacation checks for 450 residents in 2009. It performed 11,000 hours of patrol and can usually respond in seven minutes to a call from anywhere in the community. Last year, 1,800 calls were received. The public safety office will continue to be staffed by seven individuals in 2010.

The Common Areas Committee reported that the refurbishing of the Barn was its primary achievement in 2009. The trail in the marsh common area is two-thirds complete. No parking lot will be built there in response to public objection.

The Architectural Control Committee reported that two homes were built in 2009 in addition to four additions and four ancillary buildings.

The Forestry Committee said that the number of pine beetle complaints declined in 2009 for the first time. The committee improved its lot evaluation form and conducted 133 evaluations for homeowners in the community. It taught forestry and mountain pine beetle classes, especially concentrating on the lot owned by the Church at Woodmoor, which suffered a severe infestation a few years ago. A seminar on mistletoe was also held. A $37,500 grant from the Colorado Forest Service has been received for the community’s use.

Woodmoor was the first community recognized for its Firewise activities in El Paso County.

The Covenant Committee reported that its noncompliance notification process has been improved.

During an open question session, a number of subjects were addressed.

Regarding the new trail, four bids were sought for the work. It is sustainable and involves no imported materials. One homeowner suggested that the job could have served as an Eagle Scout project at far less cost to the community and to remember Boy Scouts as a good source for such projects.

Residents of Woodmoor Park, the town home development near Lewis-Palmer High School, objected to the posting of a letter in their mail delivery area saying that a vote for certain candidates would result in increased fees. McFadden said that he was not the source of the letter. The president of the Woodmoor Park association said that he had posted the letter because they wish to leave the WIA and hoped for their members to vote as a block.

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For further information on the Woodmoor Improvement Association, call 488-2693 or go to www.woodmoor.org

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Jan. 20: Dissension arises over Woodmoor district’s actions

Below: Map from the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s Web site, www.woodmoorwater.com

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By John Heiser

At the Jan. 20 regular monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), several members expressed disappointment that on Dec. 30, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District filed with the water court seeking a decree for exchange rights on Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. (See map above.)

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 Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor district.

According to articles in the Pueblo Chieftain, Woodmoor is seeking the exchange decree for water it is hoping to purchase from the Highline and Holbrook canals, which primarily serve farmers in Otero County.

Among those opposing the Woodmoor district’s water court filing are the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District.

Some PPRWA members noted that the actions by the Woodmoor district have complicated the PPRWA’s negotiations with the Super Ditch Co., which is planning to file for similar exchange rights and will now have lower priority. The Super Ditch Co. consists of the Bessemer Ditch, Highline Canal Co., Oxford Ditch, Catlin Canal, Otero Ditch, Holbrook Canal, and Fort Lyon Canal. The PPRWA is in negotiations with the Super Ditch Co. to lease about 2,000 acre-feet of water per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

Another sore point was that the Woodmoor district recently sent a letter to entrepreneur Aaron Million expressing interest in being a potential customer for his proposed project to build a pipeline from the Green River in southwestern Wyoming east across Interstate 80 in northern Colorado to the Front Range. The Woodmoor district reportedly expressed interest in about 3,000 acre-feet of water per year from the pipeline.

According to documents Million submitted Jan. 20 to the Army Corps of Engineers, the El Paso County Water Authority is shown as a potential customer interested in 22,600 acre-feet per year, . The amounts of water reported for those shown on Million’s potential customer list total 379,100 acre-feet per year. Million has said he will have about 250,000 acre-feet available. The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation has said that in order to maintain adequate stream flow for fish, only 165,000 acre-feet are available .

Million is going head-to-head with the Colorado-Wyoming coalition of water providers headed by Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District. The coalition has proposed a similar project for bringing water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a 70,000 acre-foot facility being constructed three miles southwest of downtown Parker.

The Woodmoor district’s letter of support for Million has complicated the relationship between the PPRWA and Jaeger, who has invited the PPRWA to join his coalition.

Several PPRWA members expressed concern that the Woodmoor district took these actions without consulting the other members of the authority. That raised questions about the purpose and usefulness of the PPRWA in coordinating the actions of its members.

Jessie Shaffer, manager of the Woodmoor district, replied that the actions they have taken are in the best interest of the Woodmoor district and do not prevent participation in potential negotiations or projects with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) or the Super Ditch. He added, "We are still engaged."

Regarding the letter to Million, Shaffer said it is not a commitment and does not involve any money. It is merely a letter of interest. He said he would be willing to send the same letter to Jaeger; however, Jaeger wants $20,000 as an indication of commitment.

Kip Petersen, manager of the Cherokee district and president of the PPRWA, said the issue is that the other members of the PPRWA were not informed and so were caught off guard and had to do damage control. He asked, "How do we continue to do business when individual members are going in other directions? This is an organizational issue."

Larry Bishop, manager of the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, the newest member of the PPRWA, said the situation bothers him and makes him question whether the annual PPRWA dues is money well spent.

Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala district, asked what the point of the PPRWA is if the projects result in individual contracts. He cited the connections to CSU that involve contracts between CSU and the individual PPRWA members and the Super Ditch negotiations that look likely to result in contracts with the individual members.

Shaffer said a strength of the group is that it presents a united front and opens the door for individual members to negotiate contracts.

Curtis Mitchell, conservation and supply manager for the City of Fountain, agreed with Shaffer that the PPRWA’s stronger voice opened opportunities with the Super Ditch. He added that he was surprised by the Woodmoor District’s actions and has concerns when individual actions start to undermine the group effort.

Gary Barber, manager of the PPRWA, distributed a proposal under which the Green River/Flaming Gorge project plan would be negotiated using the existing basin roundtables, forwarded to the Interbasin Compact Committee for review and adjustment, and made into law by the Colorado Legislature. He noted that this parallels the way the Fountain Creek issues that stalled CSU’s Southern Delivery System were resolved through a task force approach and legislation that created the Fountain Creek Watershed District.

Barber said he plans to meet with Jaeger and that an additional meeting with the Super Ditch representatives is planned for Feb. 8.

At the completion of the public portion of the meeting, the group went into executive session to discuss negotiations and receive legal advice.

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The next regular monthly meeting of the PPRWA will be held Feb. 17 at 8:30 a.m. at the Woodmen Hills Recreation Center West, 11720 Woodmen Hills Drive in Falcon. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board, Jan.14: Board discusses public relations approach, ongoing projects

By Harriet Halbig

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s board of directors discussed ongoing projects at its January meeting.

Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that there were three water main breaks in December and that the system was still using groundwater. He said it would probably be unnecessary to use lake water until irrigation season in April or May.

The White Fawn Drive/Deer Creek sewer project is still on hold until the ground thaws. There have been no complaints from homeowners, and the contractor is responsible for maintaining the roads until repaving can be done. El Paso County is responsible for deciding whether maintenance is required. Gillette said that Woodmoor Water would fill pot holes if necessary.

There is no new subdivision activity.

Reporting on the Joint Use Committee (JUC), Director Elizabeth Hacker said that all test levels have been good. She said that Chuck Robinove suggested applying for federal funds to improve security at the plant, perhaps to purchase cameras. He suggested hiring someone to write a grant proposal.

The committee also voted to hire attorney Tim Schutz to rewrite its joint use agreement, which was recently updated, to incorporate all previously approved amendments into the text of the revised document.

Board President Benny Nasser said that it was Woodmoor’s turn to provide a president of the JUC and asked for volunteers. Board member Jim Whitelaw offered to be the board representative, with Barrie Town and Elizabeth Hacker as alternates.

Nasser asked that a letter be sent to Palmer Lake and Monument to inform them of the decision.

In his manager’s report, Jessie Shaffer said that Colorado Springs Utilities’ Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC) has now delayed until March its decision on whether to allow sales of water to areas outside the city limits. He said that the Donala Water and Sanitation District was holding public meetings to have a bond election to fund a connection with the Colorado Springs Utilities water supply. Director Hacker offered to attend the second of these meetings to learn more about the plans.

Shaffer reported that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority had received an application for membership from Woodmen Hills, near Fountain. The committee voted to admit them, and the Woodmoor Board ratified the decision.

The El Paso County Water Authority, created to administer the transit loss model, will remain in existence through 2010, but a long-term agreement for its administration must still be reached.

Consultant Bill Ray spoke to the board about its public relations strategy. He said there was a recent article in the Pueblo Chieftain about Woodmoor seeking to purchase water rights in other parts of the state. He said the reporter briefly spoke with Shaffer on the phone and used the district Web site to get the remaining information he required. A later letter to the editor of the Chieftain implied that Woodmoor was doing something illegal, and Shaffer assured the board that was not the case.

After contacting the Chieftain’s editorial board, it was decided to respond via a letter to the editor.

Ray recommended that the district have a strong position in place and perhaps post a list of frequently asked questions on the Web site. A map of the district could also be posted with hard copies to distribute on request. He suggested that the district should also be proactive and reach out to other media outlets.

Attorney Erin Smith explained the annual administrative resolution involving posting meeting dates and places and the procedure for an election in May. The deadline for applications by candidates is Feb. 26. Each application must be witnessed by an elector from the district. The election may be canceled if there are no more candidates than vacancies or too few. Nasser is leaving the board, and two other seats are up for re-election. The resolution passed.

Smith recommended that the board not elect officers until after the election.

The board went into executive session to discuss water rights/storage rights negotiations, Super Ditch negotiations, and well 22 site acquisition terms.

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The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board usually meets at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. The next meeting will be on Feb. 11 at 1 p.m. Information: 488-2525.

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Monument Sanitation District Board, Jan. 21: Wakonda Hills project on winter break

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Below: The Upper Monument Creek Water Quality Management Association met on Jan. 27 in the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District conference room and approved Monument Sanitation District’s site application for two small lift stations that are to be installed on the southwest corner of Wakonda Hills by the Santa Fe Trail later this year. The lift stations will serve a small number of homes that cannot be served economically by gravity lines. (Clockwise from left): Jason Meyer, GMS, Inc.; Mike Poeckes, Donala Water and Sanitation District; Hope Winkler, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District; Anthony Pastorello, Academy Water and Sanitation District; Randy Gillette, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District; Bill Burks, Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility; Duane Hanson, Palmer Lake Sanitation District; Steve Sheffield, Triview Metropolitan District; Mike Wicklund, Monument Sanitation District; and Dave Frisch, GMS, Inc. Photo by Jim Kendrick

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

District Manager Mike Wicklund advised the Monument Sanitation District Board that frost buildup would force general contractor Brannan Construction Co. to take a winter break in late January from the ongoing expansion of the district’s Wakonda Hills sanitary sewer collection system. Brannan has concluded all the deepest excavation, down to 27 feet, for new manholes. Brannan will use smaller excavators for the shallower trenching that will resume in the spring.

The majority of the remaining work will require digging in roads on the west side of Wakonda Hills. The existing chip seal that will be dug up in the spring is too thin to rotomill and recycle as road base. When the temperatures remain warm enough in the spring, Brannan will install new asphalt where road segments have been excavated to install the collection lines.

Wicklund reviewed the site application that engineering consultant GMS Inc. had completed that day for the two new small, "package type" lift stations that are needed to provide service to houses on the southwest corner of the Wakonda Hills development that cannot be serviced economically by gravity lines. The Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association was scheduled to hold a site application hearing on Jan. 27.

Other required hearings for the lift stations will be held by the Site Application Review Committee, Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, El Paso County, and the state of Colorado. Current plans call for bids to go out in June if the county and state are as responsive as they have been in the past. Construction may be completed by October.

Wicklund reported that J&K Excavating had completed rebuilding and raising all the district’s manholes to the grade of the new asphalt on Third Street between Beacon Lite Road and Front Street.

The board unanimously approved seven letters of engagement for 2010 for legal, engineering, information technology, accounting, auditing, office cleaning, and building maintenance.

The board approved having Access Construction Co. Inc. perform required annual system maintenance on the district’s building. Access renovated the building in 2006 and is familiar with its systems.

Wicklund advised the board that the EPA is asking states to tighten restrictions on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen in effluent. If the state adopts limits close to the extremely low discharge permit limits the EPA desires, very costly capital projects for new tertiary treatment equipment will be required and operating costs for the facility will also go up substantially. This nutrient problem is separate from the even costlier problems arising from tighter EPA restrictions on heavy metals in the facility’s wastewater. The EPA has also proposed that the facility’s copper limits should be much lower than the facility can currently meet, even though it was an award-winning national model of the state of the art when it was built in 1990.

JUC update

Jim Whitelaw has replaced Benny Nasser as the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District representative to the Joint Use Committee, which acts as the board for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Director Lowell Morgan of Monument Sanitation District and Director Dale Smith of Palmer Lake Sanitation District are the other JUC members. The three districts own the facility in equal shares.

Smith asked the districts to come up with goals for 2010. Monument board President Glenda Smith asked that the annual JUC meeting be switched to the evening in December to allow more directors from the three districts to attend.

Director Chuck Robinove asked Tri-Lakes facility manager Bill Burks to investigate the availability of federal or state grant money for financing development of a plan for improving security of the facility.

Burks reported that the district would receive a new pickup truck in March. Monument is buying the 10-year-old facility pickup truck that is being replaced.

The meeting adjourned at 8:33 p.m.

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The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

Note: Monument Sanitation District has received calls asking if a new wastewater treatment facility is being planned for construction in Wakonda Hills or on the vacant Zonta property adjacent to the south. No new wastewater treatment facility has been suggested or planned for the Tri-Lakes area.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Jan. 27: District prepares for May 4 election

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Below: Jan. 27, Donala board President Dennis Daugherty (L) congratulates Robert Hull for being named employee of the quarter. Photos by John Heiser.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

At the Jan. 27 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported on the community meetings held at the Gleneagle Golf Club on Jan. 13 and 14. (See photo and drawing.)

Duthie said a total of about 100 people attended the two meetings. He noted that the questionnaires submitted after the meetings were all supportive of the proposal to authorize up to $20 million in additional debt for infrastructure to connect to Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU). Most attendees who submitted questionnaires were also supportive of a property tax increase of up to 5 mills to pay off the additional debt.

At its Feb. 24 meeting, the board plans to make a decision on the exact wording of the debt measure and determine whether a property tax measure will be proposed to voters on the May 4 ballot.

Duthie added that a committee of volunteers called Water for the Future has been formed to advocate for the ballot measure or measures once approved by the board. State law prohibits use of district funds to advocate for ballot measures. Duthie said that following the Feb. 24 board decision, all related information, including prior monthly newsletters, will be removed from the district’s Web site www.donalawater.org

Board positions currently held by board President Dennis Daugherty, Dick Durham, and Tim Murphy are up for election May 4. Durham has announced his decision not to seek re-election. Daugherty is term-limited and cannot run for re-election.

Candidates must file a self-nomination and acceptance form with the district by Feb. 26 and be a resident of the district, own property in the district, be the spouse of someone who owns property in the district, or be obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property within the district. For more information, contact Jackie Sipes, the district’s designated election official, at 488-3603.

Revised 2010 budget approved

Duthie distributed copies of a revised 2010 budget. The previously approved 2010 budget was adjusted to reflect the latest information on assessed value and anticipated property tax revenue and to cover the expenses associated with connecting to the CSU water system.

Total projected annual revenue for 2010 is $11.686 million. Some of the larger amounts are $7 million in loans for capital projects including infrastructure needed to connect to CSU, $1.815 million from water sales, $1.222 million from property taxes, and $893,000 from sewer service.

Expenses for operations and administration in 2010 are projected at $4.183 million. Some of the larger amounts are $640,608 for wastewater plant operating expenses, $490,075 for repayment of loans, $480,000 for salaries, $400,000 for CSU water, $400,000 for repairs and maintenance, and $350,000 for utilities.

Capital project expenses are estimated at $7 million, including $1 million for connection to CSU at Northgate Road and $5.5 million for renewable water and infrastructure. Duthie noted that the connection at Northgate Road is in design and engineering. The district is also working with the developer who mitigated the protected mouse habitat in that area.

During the discussion of the capital projects, Duthie noted that the district plans to try an injection well this fall. Water will be injected into one of the districts’ wells and the levels in that well and the nearby wells will be monitored to determine the effect. Based on the outcome of that project, the district may be able to store imported water in the aquifers for later retrieval. Duthie noted that Colorado Springs and Centennial are currently doing this. He said Centennial has reported that much of the injected water remains near the point of injection.

The projected ending total fund balance for 2010 is $4.251 million, down $2.533 million from the starting fund balance for the year of $6.785 million.

The board unanimously approved the revised 2010 budget and the current property tax mill levies of 16.296 mills for those customers receiving water and sewer service and 8.148 mills for those customers who receive only water service.

Mount Massive (now Willow Creek) Ranch update

Duthie reported that the name of the ranch purchased by the district is being changed from Mount Massive to Willow Creek Ranch. He noted that Willow Creek runs through the property and that Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, wants to retain the Mount Massive name for the portion he still owns. The ranch is in Lake County about seven miles southwest of Leadville. The district purchased the ranch to gain access to its water rights.

Duthie reported that engineering work needed for the ranch water court case is almost completed. The preliminary estimate is that there has been historic use of about 310 acre-feet per year for irrigation. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Duthie estimated that once negotiations are completed, the final amount decreed for district use might be around 235 acre-feet per year. The water court date is set for March 8-11, 2011. Duthie said that by that time he hopes to have an agreement with CSU in place to move the water.

Other matters

  • Robert Hull was selected as employee of the quarter for his outstanding contribution to the expansion of the waste plant. He has been an employee with the district for 25 years.
  • During the three months from Oct. 1 through Dec. 31, the district’s $3.752 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.8 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.22 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 5.5 months.
  • Duthie distributed copies of his notes from the Jan. 6 meeting of the Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC). In February, the UPAC is scheduled to provide to the Colorado Springs Utility Board (UB) a recommendation on policy changes regarding providing service to areas outside the city limits. Duthie said the UPAC appears to favor giving the CSU staff flexibility in negotiating contracts with outlying districts. The Colorado Springs City Council is expected to meet in March as the UB to consider the UPAC recommendations and make a decision on modifying the current restrictions on providing service outside the city.

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Feb. 24 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month.

The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 3: Concerns over water, wastewater issues are addressed

By Susan Hindman

A resident’s concerns about water and wastewater issues that she believes the district needs to address more aggressively led to a lengthy discussion at the Feb. 3 meeting of the Academy Water and Sanitation District board.

Sue Wielgopolan, who does work for several local water entities, felt strongly that Academy should rejoin the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) and attend meetings—which it had discontinued doing because of increased dues and fees. The draw, she said, is the PPRWA’s negotiations with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) and the access to surface water that will lead to. She said "this may be the last year" for the PPRWA, "at which point, everybody will start striking their own deal with CSU. But if we’re not in on it, we don’t get a deal."

There was disagreement on the viability and longevity of the water supply. Anthony Pastorello, the district’s operator, noted that the district draws groundwater from the Denver-Dawson aquifers, not the Arapahoe, which is the aquifer in trouble. Future production will be affected once the utilities that have rights to the Denver begin to draw from it. Meanwhile, there is no sign of a direct affect, and Academy’s current water output is 200 gallons per minute. Wielgopolan acknowledged that is good, but said the regional drop in aquifer levels is being tracked. She noted that Woodmen Hills’ output is at 50 gallons per minute, and "you can expect that at some point in time. … As everybody keeps plugging holes in (the aquifer), it’s going to keep depleting."

"We’re very well aware of the water problem in the area," Richard DuPont, board president, responded. "We know what we use each month, and we know what each household uses. When we think the time is right—and the time will only be right when we’re able to get whatever monies would be made available to us to proceed—we will proceed with … doing the things that are needed for this district."

Because an increase in fees will be unavoidable, she said, "education and outreach" need to be done to let residents know what the issues are, "because it is going to get more expensive, and they need to know it’s coming. They’ll be a lot more likely to support paying for it if they understand the issue."

She brought up the district’s other problem: how to handle the change in rules regarding wastewater treatment when the district’s permit is up for renewal in 2012. "My opinion is the cheapest and best option isn’t on the table anymore," she said, referring to Donala Water and Sanitation District’s offer last year to absorb Academy. The board reminded her of the high costs that would have been passed along to Academy’s customers had that merger happened. But, she said, "You’re not going to get off cheap building a wastewater plant, and the state is trying to get rid of all the small districts and all the lagoon systems."

Pastorello said, "Ideally, my opinion is, the way to go is for us to not have our own treatment plant," and said he has talked with CSU about about the logistics of them treating the district’s wastewater.

A voice for small districts

Pastorello serves on the board of the Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association, and he reported that the group passed a resolution to hire a representative to attend the State Waste Water Utility Council meetings. The council meets with the Environmental Protection Agency to discuss regulations at these meetings. The Monument Sanitation District has been sending Jim Kendrick to speak out for smaller districts.

"He’s getting a pretty good response," Pastorello said of Kendrick, "because they’re so used to dealing with lawyers and lobbyists, and now they’ve actually got a representative of a little district. … We were discussing how effective it would be to have a combined voice for small districts at those meetings." So the board voted to pay Kendrick to go to those meetings and represent the association’s members, which include Academy, Woodmoor, Monument, Donala, and Palmer Lake water and/or sanitation districts.

Elections

If anyone is interested in running for a board position, an election can be held in May. A "call for nominations" was posted in the Gazette on Feb. 3. The deadline for self-nomination is Feb. 26. If not enough people want to run, the election will be canceled. Current board members have served for more than a decade, as there are no term limits.

Treasurer’s report

Past-due accounts totaled $4,074, but Pastorello has been actively pursuing payments and said he is expecting to receive checks totaling close to $2,500 very soon.

"We’ve had a rash of unpaid bills over the last couple years—people deserted, left us hanging with a great deal of money, so we have tightened everything down," said Dupont. Instead of three months, payments are now due in 30 days, and water is being shut off on grossly delinquent accounts, with fees charged to disconnect and reconnect service. Treasurer Walter Reiss credited "Anthony’s good follow-up for getting us caught up."

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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 March 3.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Jan. 19: Town employees can donate vacation time to Haiti

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Below: A.B. Tellez, owner of Rosie’s Diner with his family in Town Hall on Jan. 19 after receiving a plaque from the Monument Board of Trustees honoring him for his restaurant’s Thanksgiving dinner open house. He and his staff prepared and served free meals to over 100 Tri-Lakes area seniors. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Below: Assistant Town Clerk Claudia Whitney describes leave donation plan of Monument’s town staff to raise money for the Red Cross to use for Haitian relief efforts at the Board of Trustees meeting on Jan. 19. The board authorized employees to donate up to four hours of leave pay, which could raise up to $5,000 in donations. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 4, the Monument Board of Trustees approved a proposal from Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Whitney to allow employees to voluntarily donate up to four hours of vacation time each as cash donations to the Red Cross for victims of the Haitian earthquake. Whitney noted that the town had done this for Hurricane Katrina victims. Town Manager Cathy Green said Whitney’s proposal could raise up to $5,000.

Trustees Rafael Dominguez and Gail Drumm were absent from the meeting.

Operation Overload

Police Chief Jacob Shirk announced that Monument will host Operation Overload, a large-scale police emergency training exercise, on June 14-18. The exercise will center on a response to an active shooter in a school, with a chemical spill. It will identify weaknesses and areas that can be improved by deliberately overloading the situation, Shirk said. All local police, fire and school districts, ambulance companies, and the county Sheriff’s Office will participate in the training portion of the exercise. The town’s Public Works Department will also be involved to handle the chemical spill.

Shirk said the exercise will require several hundred volunteers. About 120 to 150 volunteers will be "made up" to simulate severe injuries. In the past, the realistic makeup has caused some of the kids to faint from what they see and experience. Local reporters will be asked to participate in developing plans for handling media representatives trying to get into the perimeter. They will also portray intrusive reporters to help test public information officers and police.

Award presented

Mayor Travis Easton presented a plaque to A.B. Tellez, the owner of Rosie’s Diner, for providing over 100 free Thanksgiving meals to seniors in his restaurant. The diner staff volunteered their time to prepare and serve these meals. Members of the board thanked Tellez for his generosity and hospitality in creating this event.

Trustees’ comments

Easton asked all area citizens to be sure to fill out their federal census document accurately and completely. El Paso County should receive about $543 million in federal funds over the next 10 years based on its current population.

Easton and Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that progress has been made over the past several months in negotiating an update of Triview Metropolitan District’s 404 wetlands permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for stormwater drainage, floodplains, and protected mouse habitat in conjunction with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The amount of mitigation that is required has not yet been formally negotiated.

Easton met with D-38 Superintendent Ray Blanch on Jan. 19 to finalize arrangements for meetings between subcommittees of the Monument board and Lewis-Palmer board to coordinate their efforts.

Green advised the board that the town’s Web site would be reopened in a few days. Note: www.townofmonument.net/ was turned back on after this meeting.

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

  • $116,171 to Triview Metropolitan District for monthly sales, motor vehicle, and Regional Building Department taxes
  • $10,778 to Pioneer Sand Co. Inc. as the sixth payment on the Third Street construction project
  • $15,000 to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2010 dues
  • $12,890 to the El Paso County Water Authority for 2010 dues
  • $15,998 to the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk-Sharing Agency (CIRSA) for the town’s first-quarter workers’ compensation insurance
  • $16,415 to CIRSA for the town’s first-quarter liability insurance

Treasurer Pamela Smith noted that the insurance costs dropped about $1,500 from 2009.

Financial report

The town’s annual net budgeted collections through November were down $153,000, or 6.2 percent, which was down another $43,000, or 1.2 percent, from the end of September. Net sales tax revenues were down $98,000, or 4.0 percent. However, total savings for the whole year, accounting for the costs of the Third Street improvement project, were about $560,000.

December sales tax revenue would have to drop $462,000 to cause the town to be over its budget. Since the amount budgeted to be collected for the month is only $304,000, the budget will be balanced, putting Monument in a much better place than most neighboring towns and counties. There were only three months in 2009 when sales tax revenues were less than the amounts budgeted.

There was no growth in the 2010 town budget compared to 2009. A surplus is likely after the 2009 budget is audited. The surplus will be rolled over to the 2010 budget restatement this summer.

Staff reports

A pleading was filed Jan. 19 by Kalima Masse in her ongoing court case against the town for not being allowed to renew a long-defunct business license for the abandoned concrete batch plant on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and North Washington Street. The current landowners have demolished the derelict plant and are planning to build medical offices on that site. If the judge were to award Masse any money for her legal fees for unsuccessfully suing the town, the award would be paid by CIRSA. The cost for CIRSA’s lawyers to defend the town against Massie’s various lawsuits in this matter is also insured.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth noted that the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District had joined the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

The staff then gave an hour-long tutorial on current water issues because of the high turnover on the board since the last water tutorial. The board then went into an executive session on contract negotiations and adjourned immediately after at 9:05 without any further public action.

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The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 16—due to Presidents’ Day—at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, Jan. 13: Planning code amendments approved

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved a town code amendment on Jan. 13 that updated a large part of two sections of the town code regarding land dedications and planned development (PD) districts. After a lengthy discussion on Dec. 9, the board approved a motion by Commissioner Bill Baker to continue to give the commissioners more time to read the lengthy documents. The vote on continuing the hearing to Jan. 13 was 5-1, with Chair Ed Delaney opposed.

The absences of Baker and Commissioner Dave Gwisdalla on Jan. 13 were unanimously excused.

Officers elected

The commissioners re-elected Delaney as chair and Commissioner Kathy Spence as vice chair for 2010.

Amendments to update code approved

The Board of Trustees has directed the staff to update the town code as time permits.

This update of subdivision regulations makes the code sections more consistent with other code sections, the Monument Comprehensive Plan, and the Monument Parks, Trails, and Open Spaces Plan.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith gave an overview of the lengthy revision, noting one additional change from the package the commissioners had received on Dec. 9. The maximum length of time between recordation of a PD site plan and issuance of a town certificate of occupancy was extended to five years. The certificate of occupancy was chosen over a building permit to ensure that a developer starts construction before the PD site plan becomes null and void.

If a certificate of occupancy is issued within three years of recordation, the project will be considered vested and the PD site plan approval will not expire.

The commissioners discussed several defunct projects whose PD site plans are now null and void rather than being in an undefined status. New PD site plans must be submitted and approved for these defunct projects before building permits can be issued and construction initiated.

The revision removes obsolete zones from the code that are still in the Monument Comprehensive Plan: planned industrial development (PID), planned heavy industrial (PHID), planned commercial (PCD), and planned commercial heavy (PCDH). All these will now be reviewed under a single planned development zone. Existing properties with these obsolete zones will be rezoned to PD at no cost to the property owner.

Some of the other changes are:

  • More flexibility in the percentage of land that must be dedicated for open space or school sites.
  • The cash-in-lieu rate when land is not dedicated is the amount that Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has set—$83,160 per acre—with the option to be able to update that rate in the future as needed.
  • Several errors and inconsistencies were corrected or eliminated.
  • Review and approval criteria were created for PD sketch plan applications.
  • The time limit for recording an approved PD site plan with the county was extended from 180 days to one year. The staff can administratively approve an extension of up to two additional years, and the Board of Trustees can indefinitely extend an approval.
  • The additional standards for heavy industrial PD zones now apply to any industrial uses.

Separate motions for the subdivision code amendment and the zoning code amendment were unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 7 p.m.

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The regular meeting on Feb. 10 has been cancelled due to a lack of items to consider. Meetings are normally held at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road (by the Highway 105 intersection) on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Jan.14: New fire chief sworn in

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Below: With members of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department seated behind her, Shana Ball takes the oath of office for PLVFD fire chief position. Ball took the oath during the Palmer Lake Town Council’s January 14 meeting. Photo by David Futey.

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Below: A bassoon quartet from the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony (CSYS) takes a bow after playing for the Palmer Lake Town Council and those in the audience at the council’s Jan. 14 meeting. At the meeting, Mayor John Cressman read a proclamation that recognized the 30th season of the CSYS. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

The Palmer Lake Town Council approved the appointment of Shana Ball as fire chief at the Jan. 14 meeting. Town Clerk Della Gray administered oath of office. Chief Ball presented a plaque to Dan Reynolds in recognition of his leadership as the previous fire chief.

Water Trustee Max Stafford was excused from the meeting.

PLVFD receives matching grant from Modern Woodmen of America

Jack and Ginger Frank presented a check for $5,590 to the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department as a matching grant based on the proceeds received from the PLVFD Chili Supper. The Chili Supper is a fund raiser to maintain the Palmer Lake Star. (See the photo.)

Proclamation for the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony

Mayor John Cressman read a resolution recognizing the 30th season of the Colorado Springs Youth Symphony (CSYS). In particular the resolution mentioned the "quality of music and innovative performances" and the positive impact on children ages 8-18 who are members of the symphony and are "cultural ambassadors for Colorado Springs."

CSYS Music Director Gary Nicholson told the council that 15 percent of the CSYS performers come from northern El Paso County and that many members of the symphony have moved on to musical careers with orchestras and symphonies. There are 10 chamber ensembles, four orchestras and two bands with over 300 musicians involved in the CSYS. On this evening a bassoon quartet from the CSYS played a melody of patriotic songs.

Committee reports

Mayor: Cressman said that representatives from Census 2010 were at the Council of Area Governments meeting and that completing the census was important for the town financially. "It’s safe, it’s easy, it’s important, it’s in our hands." Gray added that census officials may be in Town Hall from March 19 to April 19 "on an as-needed basis."

Cressman also said, "I still haven’t spent any time with our new police chief, which I’d like to, to get to know him." Chief Keith Moreland is a former member of the Monument Police Department. Cressman added that Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk is "ecstatic about relieving himself of that duty." Shirk served as the part-time acting Palmer Lake chief until Moreland switched departments to replace him.

Fire: Trustee Jan Bristol reported that the fire department association and town each own various pieces of equipment used by the PLVFD. An inventory will be conducted to make formal lists of "who owns what." Assistant Fire Chief Greg Lokken is working on standard operating procedures and an update should be ready by the end of February. Cressman noted that installation of new equipment and decals on the new rescue vehicle had been completed.
Parks/Recreation and Economic Development: Trustee Nikki McDonald announced that Winterfest will be Feb. 13. She said volunteers are needed to help with the planned improvements for skating activities and managing the town’s skates. She also said the ad book for the Fourth of July fireworks needs to be developed.

Bristol said the town had applied for a $45,000 grant for a "Clean and Green" initiative through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Approval has been received by the county’s advisory board. The next step is for the El Paso Board of County Commissioners to approve the recommendation of its advisory board. The intent of the initiative is for cleanup activities, home environment-related needs such as weatherproofing, skirting around trailers, and for a "nuisance officer" who will track the applications for the funds and the vendors being used.

Bristol is hoping for in-kind money or supplies from local construction vendors. Nearly $2,000,000 was requested for the county’s small towns and unincorporated areas. So far $681,000 has been granted by HUD. Assuming the funds are approved, Bristol hopes Palmer Lake will receive the full amount by June.

Police: Trustee Bryan Jack said he met with the new police chief "multiple times and has conversed on the phone with him." The chief is conducting an internal survey of employees in order to get their perspectives on the department. Jack said the biggest challenge is that there are only two full-time officers. They will be interviewing for a third full-time officer on Jan. 30.

Ads for the vacant police administrative records technician were published in OCN and the Tribune. For more information on this vacancy, call 481-2934 or see www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us

Water: Cressman stated that a "frequently asked questions" document has been compiled to provide information on the water rate increase. The FAQ document will be enclosed in next month’s water bill. Gray commented that not many people have asked about the rates because "they have read it in the paper."

Harvey Curtis, the town’s water attorney, Stafford, and Cressman met with Division Engineer Steve Witte of the state Division of Water Resources for the Arkansas River Basin. The result of the meeting was that the state is not going to let the town use water from the reservoir for the lake. Cressman said that when the industrial water right was transferred to the town, "whoever did the verbiage in that deed was very unkind to the town. It did not describe clearly what we could do with that water." The town was trying to use an industrial water right for a municipal water right.

Cressman said the ability for the town to use the excess water to fill the lake "is probably not going to happen." He said Curtis may have some other ideas on how to make the excess reservoir water marketable. Also if the town used the water in that manner, municipalities downstream would be "screaming at him for allowing us to use that water."

Roads: Reynolds read a lengthy summary of road activities and projects conducted in 2009. Reynolds and Cressman thanked former Roads Trustee Jack and Palmer Lake Roads Supervisor Bob Radosevich for their efforts.

Town staff: Gray said the 2009 books are not closed as yet as some expenditures and revenues are still outstanding. Five houses were shut off for "habitual non-payment" of the water bill. Water to one house was turned back on due to the presence of a small child in the home and arrangements were being made for payment. Gray said they have received $2,138 on four other houses so "we are starting to make people be accountable." Water Clerk Tara Berreth is temporarily assisting the Police Department with its clerk duties.

Town survey completed: Gray said the final cost of the town survey was $3,257, and the results of the survey should be available at the February meeting.

Medical marijuana cultivation and dispensaries

Gray said the Planning Commission is inclined to allow marijuana dispensaries and cultivation on County Line Road and dispensaries only in a C-2 zone at the West End Center area, if the council wants to allow them. Gray provided a document from Idaho Springs for possible guidance on the issue. The document had an establishment checklist, overview of processing information, license application for a dispensary, license application for employees and owners, a copy of a temporary moratorium, and other related information and forms. She noted that Idaho Springs’ separation requirement is only for day care and schools and not residential areas. The city charges a tax and the following fees to pay for increased police involvement:

  • Business license fee
  • Sign fee
  • Application fee ($500)
  • Annual permit fee ($500)

Gray’s recommendation was to place a moratorium on them in February until the council determines how it will proceed.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis offered a couple options to the trustees. If the council does not do anything, it could be treated as any other business. A moratorium could be imposed until it is studied. If the council does not want them at this stage, it could impose the 1,000-foot limit. Gaddis recommended imposing the moratorium during a special meeting to provide adequate public notice and then turn the various regulation proposals over to the Planning Commission to make a recommendation to the council.

Gaddis also said the state Legislature is reviewing this matter, but it is unclear at this point what, if anything, they will vote on. If legislation is passed, the state law will supersede any local ordinance. For example, a state police officer could arrest someone within the town limits where local officers could be directed otherwise. Reynolds suggested that council proceed with a moratorium so the zoning issues could be further studied for "what is a legal viable business."

The council requested that Gaddis draft an ordinance for a moratorium and present it at a special meeting on Jan. 21. Gaddis recommended a 90-day moratorium to give the council time to act. The length of the moratorium could be adjusted if a resolution is achieved. Regulations should include food preparations and kitchens as well as areas of cultivation and dispensaries.

Gray said "we have somebody waiting in the wings" to apply for a dispensary in February. Gray said she has been told a dispensary already is dispensing medical marijuana in Palmer Lake. "No one will tell me who it is. I can’t do anything about that one" to make them get a business license.

CDOT approves Sidewalk to Schools

Radosevich reported that the Colorado Department of Transportation gave approval to move forward with the Sidewalk to Schools project. Ideal Concrete Inc. is the approved contractor.

Train Display at the WMMI

Trustee Gary Coleman reported that he set up a train display at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry. This is the fourth year Coleman has set up a train display with proceeds benefiting the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. He thanked the museum for the advertisement and the opportunity to set up the display. Coleman received $424 in donations for the department.

Highway Lane lease agreement approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a lease agreement with Loran Burlage of Circle B Farm & Ranch Supply LLC. Highway Lane is a platted street parallel to Highway 105 owned by the town. The location was previously leased by Curt Reese of Monument Motors Subaru.

The lease is guaranteed for one year. The town can terminate the lease for non-payment. Either party can terminate the lease after one year with a 90-day notice. The town receives $1,800 a year in lease payments.

Designation of election official

By unanimous decision, the council appointed Gray as the town’s designated election official.

Vote on TABOR issues postponed

The council continued the hearing and vote on whether three TABOR issues would be placed on the 2010 ballot until the Jan. 21 special meeting.

The meeting ended at 8:14 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Town Hall. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/ or call 481-2953.

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Palmer Lake Town Council special meeting, Jan. 21: Medical marijuana moratorium approved for 90 days

Palmer Lake 2010 Ordinance 1 as PDF file. This is a 305 Kbyte file and will take about 2 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

By David Futey

On Jan. 21, the Palmer Lake Town Council held a special meeting to address an ordinance governing medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation, TABOR ballot issues, and change of investment banks.

Trustees Max Stafford, Nikki McDonald, and Dan Reynolds did not attend the meeting.

By unanimous decision, the council approved a 90-day moratorium on medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation. Town Clerk Della Gray met with the Planning Commission on Jan. 20, along with Trustees Max Stafford, Nikki McDonald, and Dan Reynolds. They agreed to have a combined meeting of the Planning Commission and council on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. The purpose of the meeting would be to discuss the dispensary and cultivation ordinance and seek a consensus on how to proceed with the complex problem of drafting zoning and operating regulations. Gray said she would be encouraging businesses and other interested parties who want to provide input. An advance notice announcing the Feb. 4 combined meeting was sent out on Jan. 22.

An application for a medical marijuana business license was turned in on Jan. 20. It cannot be approved until an ordinance is finalized. Police Trustee Bryan Jack said "we are not bound to the 90 days" if the moratorium passes. If there is consensus at the Feb. 4 combined meeting, passage of an ordinance on dispensaries and cultivation can be considered immediately by the Planning Commission as early as Feb. 17 and by the Town Council on March 11. Fire Trustee Jan Bristol said "we would rather solve this sooner than later."

Gray said she will provide a packet of information for commission and council members attending the combined meeting. Regarding the issue at the state level, Gray said the "state is silent on the issue of dispensaries and cultivation" even though it passed laws in 2000 and 2008 related to both.

TABOR issues on the ballot

By unanimous decision, the council approved the posting of TABOR issues on the May 4 ballot. The last time TABOR was on a ballot, retention of excess revenue was based on Awake-the-Lake. Jack said there may be "other topics which may capture a positive vote." For example, Jack suggested placing sidewalks under road maintenance or parking. After further discussion, the previous list of purposes that retained revenues could be spent on was expanded to "if allowed to keep the excess revenue it would be for the purposes including but not limited to the maintenance of buildings, improving parking and continue sidewalk projects, road maintenance, parks, and to develop water supplies."

Gray said that the wording of each of the three TABOR issues should be identical.

Upon questioning from Cressman as to how much would be available, Gray said that "$24,000 to $50,000" could be available if the voters approve the town’s ballot initiatives. Jack said these initiatives would be affected by statewide votes on Amendment 60 & 61 and Proposition 101. "If those pass, we do not know what happens with these ballot initiatives."

Investments moved

By unanimous decision, the council passed a motion to move town investments from Wells Fargo to Colotrust. By Gray’s accounting, the town "lost $1,700" in interest from Wells Fargo.

The interest rate through December averaged 2.8 percent at Colotrust compared to 0.07 percent at Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo has another avenue for investment, but it requires a minimum balance of $100,000 to receive 2.5 percent. If the amount goes below $100,000, the rate goes to .1 percent. Gray said the town used to have investments in certificate of deposits, but when the revenue started to decline, the funds were moved to avoid a penalty. Gray said she will determine how Colotrust is insured before proceeding with a transfer.

Jack endorsed Gray’s recommendation, noting that Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District uses Colotrust. The transfer was unanimously approved.

The special meeting ended at 6:29 p.m.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Jan. 27: Bookkeeping problems continue

By Jim Kendrick

Treasurer Dennis Feltz reported at the Jan. 27 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board meeting that he is still having problems managing the accuracy of Wescott’s paycheck records after taking control of the district’s payroll two months ago. Feltz also tried and failed to reverse Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall’s 2 percent pay raise for 2010 after Assistant Chief Vinny Burns stated that Feltz was trying to take punitive action against Marshall outside of executive session without offering her the chance to attend the board meeting.

Chairman Kevin Gould’s absence from the meeting was excused, and the 7:30 p.m. meeting was chaired by Secretary Greg Gent.

However, Gould arrived at the meeting at 8:35 p.m. from an out-of-town trip. The board unanimously approved Gould’s proposal to begin planning for construction of Station 3 at the intersection of Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road by soliciting proposals for a design-build contract.

Bookkeeping problems discussed again

Background: The Wescott staff, like those in most fire districts nationwide, had discovered in 2009 that it had not been complying with a change in the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that was made several years ago. This revision reduced the maximum number of hours firefighters could work without getting overtime pay. See www.flsa.com/overtime.html and www.ourcommunitynews.org/v9n9.htm#dwfpd for details of these complex overtime rules and the Aug. 26 board discussion of the back pay issue.

Wescott then had to amend its 2009 budget to pay its employees for those hours that no one, including the district’s auditing firm, knew were overtime. The Wescott staff researched the matter and the district paid its firefighters a total of about $32,000 in back pay for the previous two years.

The calculation of the correct amount of overtime pay was unknowingly complicated by Chief Jeff Edwards’ initiative to have Wescott firefighters begin participating in federally reimbursed wildfire deployments in California during this two-year period. The purpose of Wescott’s participation was to provide hands-on training to better prepare firefighters for a potential local wildfire event. The learning curve was steep for district employees to correctly complete and process the numerous federal forms necessary to apply for district reimbursement for firefighter pay/benefits/leave and district brush truck use in California as well as accounting for these reimbursements once they were finally received.

During this two-year FLSA settlement period, the firefighter union’s candidates, Feltz and Scott Campbell, defeated former board President Brian Ritz and former Director Joe Potter, who sought re-election in May 2008. Feltz had declined to run for re-election in 2006.

Gent was also elected in May 2008 after having been appointed on Jan. 16, 2008, to fill a vacant seat on the board. Former board Treasurer Dave Cross resigned on Feb. 27, 2008, due to new duties assigned to him at his job with United Airlines. Bill Lowes, who left the board as chairman in 2004 due to term limits, was appointed on April 13, 2008, to replace Cross, a month before the May election in order for the district to comply with the 60-day limit in state statutes for refilling vacant seats. Feltz and Lowes are former Wescott volunteer firefighters.

Ginnette Ritz, who had prepared budgets and payroll as the staff’s former administrative assistant and the board’s recording secretary, retired in July 2008. She had been hired by Wescott long before her husband Brian was appointed to the board to fill a vacancy and subsequently elected by the directors to be board chairman after Lowes left the board in 2004.

This past fall, the Wescott board determined that it needed more assistance and decided to outsource the payroll functions of the district, as Black Forest Fire and Rescue District has done. By using the same payroll company as Black Forest, Paychex Inc., the board thought it would help with merger negotiations between the two districts. Paychex Inc. began issuing paychecks in September 2009.

Although the first two biweekly pay cycles performed by Paychex for Wescott were correct, firefighters were underpaid by an average of $300 for one subsequent pay cycle, and checks were not issued to Edwards or Assistant Chief Vinny Burns for another pay period. Paychex also had troubles listing accumulated leave correctly. It ran an extra payroll that resulted in an additional $35,000 being withdrawn from the district’s checking account. Numerous valid checks had to be cancelled because the checking account was overdrawn. Other administrative problems have occurred due to the limited compatibility between Quickbooks accounting software and Paychex software.

At the Sept. 16 board meeting, Feltz stated that Black Forest bookkeeper Donna Arkowski, who is also the chair of the Geography Department at Pikes Peak Community College, had declined Feltz’s request to become the Wescott bookkeeper. She intends to retire soon from Black Forest. Arkowski offered two names for the board to consider— bookkeeper Angela Morton, who lives in the Wescott District and charges $35 per hour, and certified public accountant Sue Richards, who specializes in special districts, has an office in Colorado Springs, and charges $50 per hour.

During discussion of the "CPA interviews" agenda item at the Sept. 16 Wescott board meeting, Feltz was asked by Gould, Lowes, and Gent for a recommendation on which of the two candidates he wanted to hire based on his interviews of them. Feltz recommended Morton over Richards based on Morton working within the Wescott district and Morton’s fee being lower than Richards’ fee.

Feltz also said that Arkowski had told him that only bookkeeper skills were required based on her 15 years of experience doing the bookkeeping and board secretary duties for Black Forest. Feltz noted that Arkowski has always been paid $15 per hour by Black Forest. Note: Administrative Assistant Marshall’s initial pay was $15 per hour and rose to $15.75 at the end of her probation period. As a part-time employee, she receives no benefits.

Lowes said that having a bookkeeper "would have kept us out of this FLSA debacle, I fully believe, and (would have) saved us $35,000." He added, "I think we really need the expertise to help Cheryl with this." He said Morton could learn through on-the-job training and gain the same credentials as the CPA who has already worked in special districts. Note: Marshall’s last job was working in the Pentagon for over 20 years, rising to the position of the top Pentagon budget analyst for the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier program. Marshall resigned from this position to move to the Tri-Lakes area recently when her husband retired from the U.S. Marine Corps.

Gould requested a motion based on Feltz’s two reasons for recommending Morton. Gent made a motion to hire Morton. Feltz noted that Arkowski agreed with his recommendation of Morton and that she would need to be bonded. Feltz stated that he would forward Arkowski’s bookkeeping contract with Black Forest to attorney Tim Schutz for "him to take a blast at it." The board then approved the motion to hire Morton by a 4-0-1 vote. Campbell abstained.

At the Oct. 28 board meeting, Feltz presented a contract reviewed by Schutz that he and Morton had already signed for board "approval" rather than "ratification," which is the correct technical term for a board’s endorsement of a completed contract, agreement, or payment. The signed contract called for Morton to start work on Nov. 1, but does not list a 20 to 30-hour per month cap on her work schedule. The contract also calls for Morton to perform most of the written duties of the administrative assistant. Campbell objected to the contract already being completed, noting that he had been led to believe incorrectly that Edwards and Burns wanted someone else to take over financial, check writing, board secretary, and election officer duties to allow Marshall to have more time to support the chiefs.

Gould directed the other board directors to review Morton’s contract after the Oct. 28 meeting and e-mail any concerns they might have with the Morton contract. Gould said he would forward those concerns to Schutz, who would determine if a contract amendment is required. If so, Schutz would prepare the amendment.

At the Nov. 16 board meeting, Edwards noted that Morton would be attending the board meetings to present her financial reports and that Arkowski attends the entire Black Forest board meeting so that she could record and prepare the meeting minutes. He also noted that the board had never provided the chiefs with a revised list of Morton’s duties and which ones she would be taking over from Marshall. In the absence of further board guidance, he had to assume that Morton’s role would parallel Arkowski’s. Gould said that Marshall was still the board’s recording secretary and that Morton was the board’s financial support.

Edwards stated that "it would be very redundant" to have Morton and Marshall attend board meetings, since Marshall’s former primary duty was to provide financial information to the board. Edwards offered an alternative to save money, suggesting that Marshall could draft meeting minutes from the official recording of board discussions.

Marshall stated that she now preferred that the duties that support the board be assigned to Morton and that the duties that support the chiefs be assigned to her. She stated that she reports to Edwards and no longer wanted to support the board. When Gent called for an executive session, Marshall demanded that she be allowed to attend it, noting that the board had held several executive sessions to discuss her duties and performance without her having the opportunity to attend.

"I’m tired of my name being brought up in executive session," Marshall said. "I have never had the opportunity to talk to this board. That’s not right."

After Marshall reviewed more administrative errors by Paychex and the steps she had taken to correct the consultant’s errors, the board went into executive session.

Following that executive session, Morton had been assigned all the financial management duties previously performed by Marshall.

No district employee manages the district’s day-to day-finances now. Feltz has directed bookkeeping consultant Morton to take over all budgeting, bookkeeping, and other financial matters, and she reports directly to the board. The only information Morton provides to Edwards, Burns, and the rest of the staff now is a copy of the monthly financial report that she prepares for Feltz to present for the board’s acceptance at regular meetings.

Marshall, who trained Morton on firefighter payroll procedures and Quickbooks accounting software, now only provides the working hours and leave hours for each firefighter verbally by phone to Paychex for each two-week pay period.

Prior to this board policy change, Edwards and Burns had tasked each of the three shift captains and several other firefighters to manage various budget lines directly related to their specific duties in order to provide management training and professional growth. Edwards and Burns also received budget assistance from Marshall. The new policy change removes these staff check-and-balance safeguards previously in place within the district staff and previously praised by the district’s auditor.

Three candidates are opposing the re-election of Gould, Gent, and Lowes in the May 2010 election. Six candidates are running against the six incumbents of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board in the May election.

Financial reports

On Jan. 27, the board discussed the November report first. Feltz noted that he had been absent during the previous regular Wescott board meeting on Dec. 2 and asked if the November report had been discussed and, if so, approved. Gent stated that consideration of the November report had been tabled on Dec. 2 due to Feltz’s absence. There were no comments or questions regarding this report, and a motion to accept the November report was approved 4-0.

Feltz opened discussion of the December treasurer’s report by commenting on continuing issues concerning having Paychex prepare and deliver payroll checks to district employees. "The taxes have been paid, but the interaction between Paychex and our Quickbooks is still not working as it stands. I called Paychex last Friday, and that’s when I found out that we have computer access. We just don’t have communication access, meaning we can’t talk to Travis up in Paychex. That’s been corrected. And then I’ve talked to him a little bit and notified him about the problems we are having and then we’re planning on making a joint phone call with him as well as Donna Arkowski from Black Forest to correct this." A meeting between Feltz, Morton, and Arkowski was scheduled for Feb. 2.

The Paychex employee named Travis who has just taken over the Wescott account is also the person who coordinates the preparation and distribution of Black Forest paychecks with Arkowski. Feltz said that the previous Wescott Paychex contact during all the problems with accuracy and execution of payroll was a new Paychex employee, "a startup guy from New York," while "Travis is a local guy who Black Forest has been working with for the last year or two." Feltz added, "You know, I asked him questions he could answer and I instructed on problems we had in certain areas, and I think he acknowledged it."

Feltz added, "So the taxes have been paid. The only issue is that the correction is not totally correct and the taxes in here mean taxes we paid for the employees."

Feltz noted that the coming year’s experience with the new budget format for 2010 should be a learning tool for "overages and underages" in budget categories. The estimated rollover amount from the end of 2009 to the start of 2010 may be more than the amount estimated, but the specific change will not be known until the audit is completed. Feltz said that there is about $200,000 to $300,000 in the bank that cannot be used until the 2009 audit is completed and the official rollover amount is increased. Tighter controls are needed so that less money is tied up in the new year once Station 3 is opened.

Lowes noted a recent news story about a fire district administrative assistant embezzling money under "the same type of system that we were previously utilizing for our treasurer, and I think it really to speaks for us for taking the pro-action that we have done so that we are not subjected to a similar situation that happened at Cimarron Hills, where there was a lack of supervision and the administrative assistant was able to embezzle some funds." He added, "I want to say that I do not believe Cheryl would be involved in something like that, but the idea was that we needed to be pro-active and eliminate any potential for something like this to happen." Note: Theresa Klein was fired by Cimarron Hills in July 2008 when financial discrepancies were first discovered. News stories have reported that $113,000 was taken. Klein was arrested on Jan. 27.

There was a controversy about the Nov. 19 minutes prepared by board secretary Gent. Feltz stated that there was an error in the minutes regarding the final budget decision on line item 410.1 concerning administrative staff pay. Feltz also claimed that "we only agreed on the firefighters" getting a 2 percent pay raise and never addressed an increase from Marshall’s "2009 salary." However, Marshall is paid a part-time hourly wage.

Gent said he remembered the discussion when Marshall was hired at $15 and when her pay increase to $15.75 was approved after her probation was completed. Gent also said he remembered the pay raise being across-the-board to include Marshall, and that he had written down notes on Nov. 19 for the minutes to state that Marshall’s listed pay rate would be $16.06 and that there would be a 2 percent raise for 2010 for all district employees.

The minutes show that Marshall was directed Nov. 19 to reprint the final budget reflecting the decisions the board made that night and to change the amounts in the first draft for the Dec. 2 meeting from the previously proposed across-the-bard pay increase of 3 percent. The final 2010 budget line item description with justifications and the final spreadsheet distributed on Dec. 2 both show a budgeted amount of $25,053.60 for Marshall in line item 410.1 based on a pay rate of $16.06.

However, Feltz repeatedly asserted that Marshall had not been granted a raise during the Nov. 16 board meeting, denying that the other board members and chiefs had an accurate recollection of her raise being approved as part of a pay raise for all employees.

Morton stated that Marshall’s correct 2009 pay rate was shown in the Paychex log. Campbell stated that he had asked the chief on Nov. 19 at the start of the budget discussions if the pay raise was 2 percent for everyone, and Edwards had said yes.

Feltz stated that the meeting minutes were incorrect and that Marshall did not deserve a raise for a variety of reasons. Gent said that she got a 2 percent raise, and it was unfair for Feltz to try to single out Marshall "after the fact" to deny her a pay raise when she was not present at the meeting. Burns objected to Feltz discussing what Marshall had said in the Nov. 19 executive session and said that it was not the right of the board to be discussing a personnel issue about her without her presence. "We shouldn’t be doing this," Burns said. "We shouldn’t be having this discussion in this forum" because Feltz was "talking about taking punitive action" against Marshall.

Gent said the issue could not be discussed in an executive session until the next board meeting to allow Marshall the opportunity to be present.

After further objections by Feltz, Campbell said, "The issue is whether the minutes are right." Lowes said, "I think we should correct the minutes and move on."

After 22 minutes of discussion, Gent made a motion to approve his draft Nov. 19 minutes with a correction to his paragraph that incorrectly stated Marshall’s 2010 pay rate would be $16.22 rather than the correct amount of $16.06 per hour. A second correction would state that the 2 percent pay raise applied across the board to all employees rather than just to firefighters. Gent’s motion to approve his minutes as corrected was approved 3-1, with Feltz opposed.

Chief’s report

Capt. Mike Whiting presented the 2009 end-of-year run report. There were a total of 1,393 runs, a 7 percent increase from 2008. There were 872 alarms for Wescott and 521 auto/mutual aid alarms to support other districts. Whiting noted that it was difficult to do a more thorough analysis similar to those using data recorded with different software in previous years. It is harder now to separate the 431 American Medical Response ambulance runs from the other Wescott runs, Whiting said. This unavoidably affects numerous categories of statistics, particularly average times for Wescott apparatus, in a negative manner due to the nature of medical emergencies that prevent prompt responses to the next emergency call more than other types of emergencies.

Edwards noted that two fires within the Wescott district had occurred in apartments with sprinkler systems that significantly limited damages. About $60,000 of the total $62,400 loss was for the total immolation of a classic Corvette within the Colorado Springs city limits. Edwards added that the statistics show improvements in rapid response and quality of service, the most important measures of district performance.

Edwards also reported that:

  • Seven firefighters had completed leadership training at the Wildland Academy in December.
  • The final stage of Community Wildfire Protection Plan development will involve participation by area homeowners’ associations, particularly for wildfire mitigation in Pleasant View Estates and Sunhills.
  • Nine new volunteers have been screened and selected to begin orientation on Feb. 19, and many already have firefighter and/or EMT experience.
  • Annual ice training was completed this year at a different pond, located at Shelty Drive and Walsen Road.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:04 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24 in the Station 1 conference room, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board, Jan. 27: Board discusses revenues, expenses

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Fire Marshal Curtis Kaufman (center) presents statistics for fire prevention, education, and inspections in 2009. To his left is Chief Robert Denboske. To his right is Firefighter Elliot Link. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bernard L. Minetti

The January board meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District was hallmarked by a discussion of the 2010 revenue/expense status of the district. Treasurer John Hildebrandt reviewed the 2009 final figures, stating that as of Dec. 31, tax revenues were $3,081,897 or 99.68 percent of the budgeted amount. Specific ownership taxes (SOT) were $317,628 or 91.73 percent of budgeted revenue. Ambulance revenues were $397,602 or 86.44 percent of the budgeted revenue. The overall expenses were 100.66 percent of total revenues.

Hildebrandt then reviewed some of the unusual changes in expenses. These included variations in maintenance contracts, building maintenance, communications, insurance, and medical equipment.

Chief Robert Denboske noted that the maintenance contracts had been stabilized and would not be an issue causing huge variations in costs. Supply costs for building maintenance were down because they were using supplies that were in excess of original needs. Denboske said that the expense figures in the communications line item of the budget had increased because the telephone line item had been moved into the communications section of the budget. The information technology contract now includes phone system costs, and phone service is no longer listed as a separate expense category. The insurance line item had been over budget for many years. Denboske explained that foretelling annual insurance expenses was extremely difficult since there were so many variables involved. Medical equipment expenditures had taken an unusual jump because the department had purchased two patient gurneys at a cost of $12,500 each. Funds had been transferred from another area that was under budget.

Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman provided a statistical analysis of his activities for 2009. Included in his activity review were a minimum of 30 public education requests reported to the Fire Prevention Division. There were nine FireWise inspections. Fire inspections were done at 150 out of 173 buildings. That amounted to 87 percent, while the 2009 goal was 90 percent-plus. Kauffman indicated that the 2010 goal was to try to reach 100 percent. There are 400 to 450 businesses in the district, but many buildings have more than one business occupant.

During Fire Prevention Week, 30 classes were taught. A total of 1,177 children received this instruction. Kristina Topp assisted the department by coordinating the schedule for the schools, Kauffman said.

During questioning by the board, Kauffman stated that building inspection compliance had greatly improved in the last three years. National standards require that new homes over 6,000 square feet must have a fire suppression/sprinkler system. Tri-Lakes has not adopted this standard.

Firefighter Elliot Link advised the board that all fire vehicles have a laptop computer that lets fire personnel view the event location almost instantly. The system also has the capacity to view locations of other governmental events, such as police activities, on their laptops. This provides the district with the capability to be coordinative and efficient in utilizing position information. Link and the volunteers have also helped improve the district’s GPS and cellular capability.

Denboske presented a statistical summary of emergency calls for 2009. While the total calls for the year increased from 2,013 in 2008 to 2,075 in 2009, the breakdown of the types of calls remained almost the same: medical 48 percent; alarm, fire or carbon monoxide alarm 9 percent; traffic accidents 27 percent; HazMat 2 percent; rescue 1 percent; utility problem/odor/electrical 2 percent; fires, other 5 percent; structure fires 1 percent, and citizen assist/service calls 5 percent.

A sensitive item that was raised by Denboske concerned the gate on Doewood Road. It is the understanding of the district and the board that this gate was allowed by the El Paso County Commissioners as a temporary installation. Denboske noted that it is an unnecessary restriction to access by emergency vehicles and recommended that it be removed. The board responded that it was the County Commissioners’ responsibility and liability was theirs. It was hoped that the commissioners would act to resolve this impediment. (See the article on the County Doewood gate meeting for more information.)

The board then noted that three board members had received a letter from Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters that requested a meeting with them. The question arose as to why only three members had received this invitation. It was also noted that one of the reasons for the invitation was to discuss "Progressive Visions" in the district. The board directed a question to Franz Hankins, president of Local 4319, requesting a definition of the term "Progressive Visions." Hankins replied that it was not a political phrase but more a generalization of the future of the local and its interrelationship with the board. He also mentioned that letters should have been sent to all board members. Hankins was queried about the need for a meeting. He cited their requirement for some form of official communication with the board. At present, the union local members are restricted because they, as fire district employees, have to observe the internal district chain of command.

Director Charlie Pocock responded by noting and reviewing the statutory limitations on such a meeting. He also noted that the union representatives were free to attend the monthly board meetings and discuss whatever they wanted to as long as the procedures for these meetings were followed.

Board President Tim Miller discussed two statewide initiatives and one proposition. These, if passed, may have an impact on the district’s funding. Essentially, Proposition 101 would drop auto registration fees from $400 or $500 or more to $1 or $2, depending on the type of registration. The other two issues, Initiatives 60 and 61, would have the effect, if passed, of restricting property taxes and the ability of local governmental entities to impose certain taxation.

Miller also introduced the "Focus Colorado: Economic Revenue Forecast." The state’s 2009-10 General Fund shortfall is $600.6 million, which is $39.9 million higher than anticipated. It also cited that revenue for spending in the General Fund would be $1.5 billion lower in 2010-11 than the amount currently budgeted to be spent. The forecast also mentioned that school districts statewide will experience a 5.4 percent decrease in property tax assessed values and a 1.4 percent increase in enrollment in the 2010-11 tax year. The information substantiated the treasurer’s concerns regarding future district revenues.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 24 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 Jennifer at 719-484-0911.

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School District 38 Board of Education, Jan. 21 and 28: Additional school budget cuts considered

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education met twice in January to continue its discussion of additional budget cuts for 2010.

Before addressing this problem, there was a brief discussion of overall priorities to keep in mind. Among them were:

  • Health of the district’s staff
  • A vision of what a graduate should look like
  • Financing the goals of the board
  • Safety and security
  • General pursuit of excellence.

The district has the highest graduation rate of any in the state at 95 percent. Board member Mark Pfoff suggested that the district determine how many graduates continue on through college. He suggested trying to contact graduates after their first semester of college to determine whether they felt well prepared. Board member Robb Pike also said that, whether or not a graduate continues through college, the goal should be to produce productive citizens for the community.

Prior to discussion of specific line items, Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman said that the state has dropped all minimum funding levels for the next year. An additional $400,000 has also been rescinded by the state. As a result, decisions on the use of a capital reserve fund have been made:

  • Gravel will be used to repair paved areas around schools.
  • Field trip requests will not all be scheduled due to a shortage of buses. A reserve of $70,000 is being set aside for bus repair because new buses are not being purchased.
  • PCs in elementary schools will not be replaced, although some are older than the students who use them. Instead, software contracts and leases will be maintained with additional maintenance costs added to compensate for the age of the hardware.

Conversion of Creekside Middle School will require mothballing Grace Best Elementary, moving, and creating a preschool playground.

TABOR (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) requires that the district maintain a 3 percent reserve. The district maintains an additional 3 percent reserve for emergencies such as unexpected rescissions by the state.

Scheduling changes

The board discussed a number of line items in its 2010-11 budget. It approved a change in high school scheduling (requiring teachers to teach an additional section) for a savings of $650,000. The board also approved a middle school scheduling change, utilizing the teaming concept for a savings of $200,000

At its Jan. 28 meeting, the board continued its budget discussion. Superintendent Ray Blanch said that the number of administrative positions would decrease from 17 to 11, with many support positions remaining in place. He said it was unlikely the size of the administrative staff would increase for at least five years.

Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning Shirley Trees said that the current trend in education is toward site-based management. This lets each principal customize to the needs of each site. The goal is to maintain equity between campuses with regard to art, music and physical education by sharing teachers between campuses.

Board member Jeff Ferguson expressed concern about not funding new buses. He said the policy is unsustainable, as remaining buses would continue to break down, limiting the ability of students to get to school or other activities.

Board member Gail Wilson commented that by not funding bus purchases, the board is creating legacy debt for future boards, a policy the board wishes to avoid.

No resolution was reached to this dilemma.

Food service outsourcing

In discussing the outsourcing of district services such as food service, maintenance, transportation, and grounds, the board agreed that the food service option was the most preferable. Outsourcing maintenance caused security concerns, and it was agreed that it was important for students to know their bus driver and for the district to depend on the drivers to come out regardless of the weather if the district was in session. Employee loyalty to the district is also of value. Wilson suggested the possibility of sharing staff with such community partners as the YMCA for grounds keeping or custodial work.

Wangeman said that the district should maintain ownership of capital resources such as the buses and kitchen facilities even if outsourcing were implemented. The administration was instructed to seek RFPs (requests for proposal) for food services. Blanch said the RFP procedures are structured under state law.

Elementary staff reduction

In discussing the elementary staff reduction line item, there was concern with eliminating instructional coaches—those staff members who teach best practices to preschool teachers, teacher’s aides and others. Palmer Lake Elementary School Principal Julie Jadomski said that other teachers on staff have stepped in to fill this function. The decision to eliminate the coaches was difficult, but she said that the staff reached it after a careful examination of their priorities. Some more senior teachers are training the more junior staff.

Benefit changes

The district now offers a limited variety of benefit options. The district is involved with a pool of others paying benefits after 30 days of employment, so that parameter cannot be changed. At present, the minimum number of weekly hours to qualify for benefits is 30 with the exception of bus drivers, for whom the minimum is 25.

Wangeman said that many of the bus drivers are otherwise retired and the availability of benefits is important to them.

The proposal is to pay for 100 percent of an employee’s health coverage but not for family, optical or dental coverage. Administrators now get family coverage as part of their negotiated contract. After discussion, it was decided that the administrators should receive only the benefits that other employees receive, demonstrating that all employees are sharing the fiscal hard times.

The proposal to give all employees the same benefits passed.

Increased fees

Wangeman said that fees would be raised to $35 per sport, with a fee of $5 per student for general fees such as workbooks and other consumables for grades K-12. Individual class fees for art or lab science would be $35, and there would be a graduation fee of $30 to help defray the cost of renting the facility.

She said class fees have to be for consumables under state law, and the district must be able to prove the actual cost of the items covered.

Wilson suggested a family cap on fees, but Wangeman said there had been no objections in the past and principals may always waive a fee. Jadomski said very few families requested a waiver.

Wangeman said there has been discussion of a distinction between band and athletic fees. The present policy provides that if travel is for a competition there is no transportation fee, but if it is a field trip (for example, for the band to attend a concert) a fee can be charged.

Other matters

On other matters, Wilson said that she had attended a meeting of staff from Creekside and Lewis-Palmer Middle Schools and was impressed with their positive approach to merging.

Blanch reported there are no solid plans for the change in high school boundaries. There have been inquiries from the Fox Run area regarding transportation to Creekside.

Trees said that planning is underway for integrating sixth grade into the elementary schools. Many groups have been consulted, including all K-12 teachers, fifth- and sixth-grade students, parents of fifth-graders, the Building Accountability Advisory Committees (BAAC) of each school, Parent Teacher organizations and other Pre-K-6 schools in other districts.

A few elements of sixth grade have been determined for next year:

  • Use of teaming
  • Use of current sixth-grade materials
  • Standard exploratory experience at all sites that differs from pre-K-5 (same course options at all locations)
  • Continuation of math acceleration (availability of pre-algebra in sixth grade)

To keep the public informed of developments, there will be an e-newsletter, updates to BAAC and PTOs, and conversations between principals and fifth-grade students. There is also a notification process for staff placement to ease transitions from one site to another.

Blanch reported that the community survey administered by e-mail received about 1,500 responses and will be very useful in determining future actions.

The calendar for 2010-11 was approved after some discussion.

The board approved routine matters such as minutes of previous meetings, resignations and appointments of staff, monthly budget summary, and other matters.

Diane Jensen, a music teacher from Lewis-Palmer Middle School, was congratulated for achieving national board certification.

Blanch announced that the annual stakeholder’s information (formerly known as the annual report of the district) is no longer required to be published and mailed. The report can now be accessed at the district’s Web site, lewispalmer.org.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next meeting will be Feb. 18 at 6 p.m.

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D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, Jan. 5: Budget reviewed before public survey

By Harriet Halbig

Lewis-Palmer School Superintendent Ray Blanch spoke about the next steps in budget cuts for the district at the Jan.5 meeting of the School District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC).

As hosts of the two community budget summits in December, the committee did not have a formal meeting last month.

Blanch mentioned the groups and individuals with whom he has previously discussed potential reductions (see DAAC article from December) and that he also spoke with state Rep. Amy Stephens about the possibility of reconsidering the formula for funding at the state level.

Blanch said that the decision to close a school was made first because it required the most lead time to implement and to offer families involved maximum time to adjust to the new configuration. Had the measure not passed, the board would have needed to cut $800,000 elsewhere in the budget.

For the next step, Blanch is discussing a long list of possible cuts with four specific groups: the Lewis-Palmer Education Association, the Superintendent’s Teacher Advisory Council, the Superintendent’s Support Staff Advisory Council, and DAAC. DAAC is included for its function as advisor to the board and its representation of all schools within the district. The purpose of discussing this list is to shorten it before presenting it to the public in the form of a survey.

Postcards will be sent to all addresses in the district requesting citizens to go to the district Web site and complete the survey. The results will be tabulated before the next meeting of the Board of Education.

Blanch said that it is important to learn of the community’s priorities as we face the next few years of budget challenges. If specific cuts are unpopular to the public, they will be moved lower on the list.

Regarding possible revenue sources, Blanch mentioned before and after school care and the participation of home school families for partial funding in the district. He said that the district has historically charged lower fees than neighboring districts, and a $10 increase per student would bring it on par with them.

In an effort to increase enrollment, the staff at Creekside Middle School is reaching out to students of District 20’s Antelope Trails Elementary to tell them that Creekside will be transformed into an elementary school in their neighborhood for the coming year. Creekside will replace Grace Best Elementary School, which will be closed this summer because of high operating, maintenance, and upgrade costs.

Blanch went through an extensive list of potential reductions, answering questions from the committee. He thanked the committee for its input and had them rank the list in terms of which cuts would be most and least acceptable.

The committee unanimously approved the charge for the Committee for Political Achievement. This committee will strive to become familiar with state and national education legislation as it impacts the district, communicating with parents, students, and the administration on issues influencing the district. It will also coordinate with other agencies and organizations, including those in the Tri-Lakes area, to communicate with legislators and policymakers in the state and nationwide to create adequate funding for K-12 education.

Board of Education legislative liaison Gail Wilson reported that the Legislature was still out of session, but she explained the legislative process and how to participate by attending hearings and offering testimony. She also offered a Web site (www.leg.sate.co.us) on which to track the progress of bills.

Deborah Goth presented an update from the Operations Advisory Committee (OAC). She explained that a major function of the committee is to provide enrollment projections to the district administration. In addition, it determines the functional capacity of each school by determining the size of spaces and their potential uses. This information is important, for example, when a cafeteria is relatively small, requiring creative scheduling of lunch periods.

Goth said that the next potential growth in population is likely to be in 2012 and then, as now, the growth in D-38’s student population is likely to be in classes above fifth grade due to the high price of housing in the district.

The OAC also participates in determining which capital improvements should have funding priority and their impact on student learning. Building maintenance personnel often suggest the improvements.

The OAC is seeking new members. Interested persons should go to the district website, lewispalmer.org, for an application. Committee members need not be parents of students in the district.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month. Locations vary. The Feb. 9 meeting will be at Prairie Winds Elementary School, 790 Kings Deer Point East, Monument, at 7 p.m.

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D-38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Jan. 13: Committee discusses response to intervention, position statement

By Harriet Halbig

The January meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee began with a discussion of its revised position statement, first introduced at the December meeting.

The statement was introduced as a vehicle to give direction to the D-38 Board of Education and Special Education Director Mary Anne Fleury regarding concerns of parents of students in the special education program and possible solutions.

When asked to approve the statement as presented, it was suggested that the format be altered to present problems as well as solutions or to prioritize a few issues rather than offer such a broad range of concerns.

After further discussion, Secretary Ilanit Bennaim suggested that the committee meet with Superintendent Ray Blanch to discuss the document. She asked for volunteers to attend the meeting,

Director Fleury reported that the school district had just learned that funding for 2009-10 has been reduced by $112,000 and that the 2010-11 funding will be $400,000 less than anticipated.

She said that some of the subjects in the position statement, such as the extended school year (ESY) and meeting of teachers in advance of classes are being addressed.

Concern was expressed about the two weak spots in the district’s performance—successful transitioning between grades, schools, and school/community, and the English Language Learners (ELL) and the fact that they seem to represent a disproportionate number of participants in the special education program. These have been problems for two years.

Fleury offered a presentation on the Response to Intervention (RTI) program. This program has been in effect since 2004 and is used to respond to learning disabilities. Mental conditions such as autism are not treated through RTI. She said that it is a program used in many districts nationwide and essentially involves four steps:

  • Define the problem (for example, lack of attentiveness, low test scores)
  • Analyze why the problem is occurring
  • Decide what to do about the problem and how to monitor progress
  • Evaluate whether intervention worked

The primary approach to intervention is to move from the least intervention to the most and from the least directed to the most directed. General classroom teachers are the ones who are most likely to become aware of the initial problem, based on test scores or classroom behavior. Before removing a student from a general education classroom, a series of alternatives are tried, including flexible scheduling to allow for small group instruction, creative use of personnel, additional instruction time, and weekly monitoring of progress.

Once a problem has been identified, parents are brought into the team to solve it. In this way, parents and teachers can share observations and cooperate to support the student. Parents can also request a progress report at any time if they are concerned about the rate of improvement. The school team could include regular and special education teachers, psychologists, reading interventionists, counselors, and a principal, depending on the problem being addressed.

In cases where quantitative analysis is possible, a gap analysis is conducted, determining the point at which a student’s scores are sufficiently below grade level to require an intervention. A plan is then set in motion to improve progress until the student’s scores meet the grade level for that student.

Fleury said that a student entering the district with an Individual Education Plan (IEP) would not undergo the RTI program.

In her general report, Fleury said that she is now determining the impact of the reconfiguration of schools on special education students. She said that the number of special education teachers would not change, but caseloads may change as a result of the reconfiguration.

The committee to inventory special education programs and resources available in the district reported that it has begun to make a list of the expertise of all staff and would like to make a list of what the staff needs so that stimulus funds may be put to use. The goal of the committee is to put all resources into a database accessible to the entire district.

The committee will send a letter to each school, soliciting information.

There was a suggestion that it must be determined whether the resources available are privately owned or resulted from conference attendance, and copyright concerns must also be taken into account. It also was pointed out that it would be useful to determine whether a resource has been proven effective.

Marie Jackson presented the draft report of the Extended School Year committee (ESY). She explained that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (ACT) requires each state’s department of education to provide free and appropriate public education. In Colorado, the law involved is the Exceptional Children’s Education Act. The extended school year is defined as special education and related services provided to a child with a disability beyond the normal school year of the public agency in accordance with a child’s IRP and at no cost to the parents of the child.

Jackson stressed that the decision to utilize ESY should be made by a child’s IEP team and should not strive merely to maintain the child’s achievement from the previous school year but to further that child’s progress.

She urged that the document be made available to parents and the Board of Education as a statement of the importance of the program and guidelines for its use.

**********

The Special Education Advisory Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month at the Learning Center at 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Feb. 10 at 6:30 p.m.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Jan. 8: I-25 Baptist Road interchange construction completed for this year

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 8, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) voted on officers for 2010 and approved a regular meeting schedule and posting locations for 2010. All five members are elected to a position so they can sign checks for District Manager Denise Denslow of R.S. Wells LLC. The elected officers are:

  • President – Mayor Travis Easton
  • Vice president – Commissioner Wayne Williams
  • Secretary – Commissioner Amy Lathen
  • Assistant Secretary – Commissioner Dennis Hisey
  • Assistant Secretary – Trustee Rafael Dominguez

Monument Trustee Rafael Dominguez was absent.

The three posting locations for BRRTA meeting notices continue to be Monument Town Hall, the county commissioners’ building, and the Baptist Road King Soopers. The regular meeting schedule will change to the first Friday of the month at 2:30 p.m. in Monument Town Hall. As the number of agenda items declines the frequency of meetings will decrease.

Baptist interchange work done for now

Bob Torres, BRRTA’s contract manager, advised the board that Lawrence Construction had about two weeks of work remaining on the west side of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange this spring. The final payment must be made before May 1. He suggested that Lawrence and Jacobs forward all bills for its remaining work to R.S. Wells by mid-April.

County Engineer Andre Brackin reported that there is no work being performed on Baptist Road east of I-25. Colorado Structures Inc., like other contractors, gave a preliminary estimate for improving the new Baptist Road median that was too expensive to consider finalizing in a formal bid. There is not enough money remaining to put in a concrete surface, and the project is too large for a volunteer river rock installation as an Eagle Scout project.

Brackin noted that records are being compiled from previous studies of Baptist Road west of I-25. There may be up to $1 million of savings in phase 4 of Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s South Academy project, and BRRTA could ask for this money to be redistributed to BRRTA’s planned improvements for West Baptist Road.

Mountain View Electric Association has finished all power line relocations except for the area where its Preble’s mouse environmental permit has not yet been approved. There is some related electrical work that needs to be completed for street lights as well.

Several payments approved

The board unanimously approved two checks:

  • $4,114 to R.S. Wells for district management services
  • $3,890 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for accounting services

The board unanimously ratified three checks for:

  • $90,761 to Jacobs Engineering Group for contract management work
  • $69,370 to Jacobs Engineering Group for contract management work
  • $1,128 to PBS&J Engineering for engineering design work

BRRTA’s accountant, Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson, gave a brief summary of her quarterly report that covered the authority’s transactions through Jan. 4. She noted that the annual interest on the authority’s Colotrust account had earned 0.23 percent. Her unaudited financial statement was unanimously accepted.

2010 budget approved again

The board again approved the 2010 budget that was approved at the previous BRRTA meeting, because the public notice was not published in the newspaper on time. Motions to approve the budget resolution and appropriate the funds for the 2010 BRRTA budget were unanimously approved. Similarly, the board unanimously approved the amendment to the 2009 capital fund a second time because of this public notice problem.

Both documents were unchanged.

County Line Road speed limit questioned

Commissioner Dennis Hisey asked Brackin to review the speed limit on County Line Road west of I-25, which many Palmer Lake residents have expressed to him is set to maximize ticket revenues. Brackin noted County Line Road is segmented between El Paso and Douglas Counties, with both counties responsible for maintenance. The El Paso County segments are set at 45 mph wherever possible. He also noted that the Indi Drive and Beacon Lite Road intersections are essentially blind intersections.

The board went into executive session at 3 p.m. to receive legal advice and develop negotiating advice.

The meeting adjourned after the executive session.

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Doewood Gate meeting, Jan. 13: Citizens comment on future of controversial road gate

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Photo taken in 2006 of the Doewood controversial gate. Photo by Chris Pollard.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

County Commissioner Wayne Williams and County Engineer Andre Brackin of the El Paso County Department of Transportation hosted a standing-room-only community meeting on Jan. 13 at Palmer Ridge High School concerning the controversial Doewood Drive gate.

The meeting was arranged to solicit public comments on the improvements needed on Doewood Drive as well as traffic flow, safety concerns about flow in the affected neighborhoods and the county’s plan to consider removing the Doewood Drive gate between the Chisholm Trail and Ridgewood Circle intersections. A roster was passed around to create an e-mail notification list for future public meetings.

A 1996 resolution established that the barricade would remain in place until completion of several other streets that were planned for the area and acceptance of those new streets for county maintenance. Those conditions were met, and the neighboring streets were accepted by the county on Nov. 24, 2009. The streets include Hammock Oaks Drive, Misty Acres Drive, Old Antlers Way, Painter Drive, Alexandria Drive and Mepham Court.

History

Williams first gave a short history of the issue starting with the 1972 Woodmoor master plan, which shows a gap in the middle of Doewood Drive on vacant land that was not part of Woodmoor. All the plats dating back to the first filings in 1963 and 1966 show the county’s Doewood Drive right-of-way and the county’s intent to complete the connection of the north and south segments where the gate is currently located.

Some of the filings he mentioned were: Woodmoor, Woodmoor Ridge, Heights, Woodcrest, Doewood Subdivision, and Misty Acres Subdivision. Every filing’s plat since 1963 that is related to Doewood Drive has shown and still shows the currently closed segment as a through road. Note: The link for these 38 slides is available at the top of the Transportation Department home page at http://adm.elpasoco.com/Transportation/

Williams noted that he was not in office and Brackin was not the county engineer in 1996, when the resolution was passed. Williams added that he had spoken to former District 1 Commissioner Duncan Bremer and former Department of Transportation Director John McCarthy "to get their remembrance of the background" on a number of public discussions leading to the October 1996 resolution on the subdivision improvement agreement and erection of a barricade across the platted but unpaved Doewood Drive right-of-way between Doewood Estates and Woodmoor. A green metal gate was installed in July 2000 to provide emergency vehicle access between the two communities as Doewood development progressed.

A county road with a traffic count greater than 3,000 per day changes a road’s designation from "local road" to "collector road." A county traffic study from 2007, before Misty Acres Drive was opened, provided these traffic counts:

  • Woodmoor Drive north of Highway 105—9,800
  • Monument Hill Road (the I-25 frontage road)—1,195
  • County Line Road east of Monument Hill Road—5,252
  • Doewood Drive—1,760
  • County Line Road east of Doewood Drive—3,608
  • Old Antlers Way—1,961
  • Doewood Drive south of Old Antlers Way—695

Williams showed a slide of a page from Exhibit A of this subdivision improvement agreement. This document showed that the county had collected money at that time from Doewood Development LLC, the developer, as an assurance to pay for paving the road segment between the Chisholm Trail and Ridgewood Circle intersections. Assurances are deposits or bonds that are used by the county to pay for completing improvements if a developer fails to install them as required as a condition of approval of a site plan and plat.

Williams showed a slide of a page from Exhibit B of this subdivision improvement agreement. Exhibit B was proposed by the staff of the county’s Transportation and Planning Departments "as a result of their site inspections and public input regarding traffic and safety issues relating to Doewood Drive."

Williams noted that Doewood Development failed to construct and install the third of three required improvements listed in the portion of the originally proposed Exhibit B of the subdivision improvement agreement that was adopted by the board:

  1. Doewood Drive from Ridgewood Circle to the southern boundary of the Doewood Subdivision will be constructed to county standards as a gravel road.
  2. A gate or chain acceptable to the county Department of Transportation and Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District will be placed across Doewood Drive at the southern boundary of the Doewood Subdivision or adjacent to Ridgeview Circle to stop public traffic.
  3. A cul-de-sac acceptable to the county Department of Transportation shall be constructed at the south end of Doewood Drive within the Doewood Subdivision.

Williams said he did not know why the cul-de-sac was not built, because he was not a commissioner at that time. He also noted that there was "logically not a need for a cul-de-sac" since "there is no one who lives" south of the Chisholm Trail intersection because Doewood Drive is cut off. "Two of the things were done, the rest of the development was completed, the funds were released, the developer went away," Williams said. He noted that these three items in Exhibit B were incorporated in the Doewood resolution.

Williams stated, "Now there are other parts of Exhibit B that are not specifically adopted by the board. Those parts say what happens in the future." This second set of recommendations was listed at the bottom half of the slide of the same single page in Exhibit B. Williams read them:

"End of Developer Responsibilities

The gated or chained condition shall remain in effect until such time as the following occurs:

a) the construction and acceptance into the county-maintenance system of Chisholm Trail from the Doewood Subdivision to connect with the southerly terminus of existing Chisholm Trail within the Woodmoor Subdivision. b) the construction and acceptance into the county-maintenance system of a yet-to-be-named road, extending westward from the Doewood Subdivision to Monument Hill Road (Interstate 25 frontage road).

At such time these two (2) roads are constructed, a determination will be made by the Board of County Commissioners through a public hearing process as to the disposition of the segment of Doewood Drive between Ridgeview Circle and the Doewood Subdivision. This segment may either be vacated or remain as an emergency access only."

Williams said that the two roads had been constructed in 2005 and accepted after Brackin had worked with the developer and the bank that took over ownership to ensure that they met county standards.

Williams said this meeting was the start of the public hearing process listed in the final paragraph to provide a convenient place for Doewood and Woodmoor residents to provide their input. The rest of the public hearing process will be held at the BOCC hearing room in downtown Colorado Springs at a regular BOCC meeting. The date for the next hearing has not been announced but is planned for April.

In concluding his history, Williams noted that any group of people attending an event will have different remembrances.

Options

Brackin noted that he started working for the county in 1996 but does not remember much about that process as a new employee.

Some of the options Brackin presented were:

  1. Remove the gate, vacate the platted county right-of-way, and give the land to the adjacent property owners. It would cost $5,000 to $10,000 to remove the gravel and restore the land for the homeowners.
  2. Create the cul-de-sac south of Chisholm Trail that was never built—not practical now that development is completed and a large part of the adjacent homeowners’ yards would be lost.
  3. Leave the gate where it is without resolving continuing arguments within the area over traffic circulation.
  4. Remove the gate and pave the existing gravel road for $20,000. Chip sealing is not a real option.
  5. Remove the gate, pave the existing road, and straighten the "fairly tight" curve by Aspenwood Drive for $45,000. One residence would lose a major part of the front yard for a 200-foot turn radius for an "urban local" road.
  6. Remove the gate and upgrade the road to county "rural collector" standards for $1 million for 80 feet of right-of-way—not practical due to low traffic count, preliminarily estimated by staff to be about 600-700 per day rather than the standard of 3,000-10,000.
  7. Remove the gate and open the existing gravel road—not practical due to dust and no weight bearing capacity leading to high-cost frequent maintenance.
  8. Remove the gate, restrict "thru" trucks and trucks over a specified weight—little Sheriff’s Office coverage availability.
  9. Install a remote-controlled gate that can be opened and closed by emergency vehicles.

Brackin also noted that changing the grades on Doewood Drive to make the road safer would have a high cost and substantial impact on adjacent lots. While no traffic flow study had been completed, the area is nearly built out and lacks the commercial development that could create collector-level traffic of 2,500 trips per day.

Next steps

Williams listed these next steps in resolving the issue:

  • Collect public input via e-mail until Jan. 30.
  • Review public input in February.
  • Evaluate options based on public input.
  • Develop and publicize staff recommendation via e-mail and the www.elpasoco.com Web site.
  • Two-week public comment period on staff recommendation.
  • BOCC hearing in April 2010 with a minimum two-week notice.

Public input

Williams invited representatives for organizations to speak first, followed by individuals based on where they were sitting/standing, using a front row to back row sequence. Each representative and individual could speak only once. Some group representatives later gave their personal views one time as well, based on where they were seated. He asked that people not repeat what others had said at length.

During the three hours of comments, Williams reiterated several times that Exhibit B was part of the staff’s recommendation as an amendment to the subdivision improvement agreement that was presented to the BOCC at the 1996 hearing. He also reiterated several times that the last three paragraphs recommended in Exhibit B (which are quoted above in italics) were not formally adopted by the board when it passed a resolution on the subdivision improvement agreement. In particular, he reiterated that the board rejected the recommended limitation in the final sentence, which states, "This segment may either be vacated or remain as an emergency access only."

Many people in the audience disputed Williams’ statement about the formal record not incorporating this two-options-only recommendation. Many people had a copy of Exhibit B, and many of them repeatedly referenced this last sentence as a restriction on the available options of the BOCC. Many of them also asserted that they had been told at the time that this sentence would be adopted or that it had been adopted. Williams explained each time that those sentences had not been adopted in the public record.

Williams said, "I can’t speak to what my predecessor may have said in a meeting or what was said in a home. That’s why we’re allowing people to make comments as to what that is. But based on the public record, the only part that gets incorporated in the resolution, the only part of Exhibit B that’s incorporated, (is) the developer’s requirement to build three things, one of which was never built."

Neither Williams nor any resident presented a copy of the final resolution on the subdivision improvement agreements.

Several individuals made general comments that were not specifically for or against opening Doewood Drive at the gate. There were many general comments and suggestions, and many of those were frequently repeated:

  • Complete a new traffic count that includes new traffic flows, created by the additional area traffic, that have resulted from the opening of Palmer Ridge High School and the Misty Acres development since the 2007 study was completed.
  • Perform an analysis to determine what year the potential traffic count for Doewood Drive would increase to 2,500 to 3,000 per day, the threshold for becoming a collector road.
  • Many people were opposed to any change that would likely increase the volume or speed of traffic on their street, which would make walking on their street less safe for them, their children, and pets.
  • Many noted the increase in traffic and the resulting heightened risk from student drivers in their neighborhood due to the opening of Palmer Ridge High School.
  • Many people asked that the county widen and regrade Doewood Drive and install curbs and gutters.
  • A majority of speakers spoke of vehicles of all types stranded in drainage ditches blocking the road in both areas.
  • Some noted that when they bought their houses or lots, Doewood Drive was a dirt road.
  • Many described Doewood Drive and several nearby residential streets as dangerous, narrow, badly paved, and poorly graded roads that are in "hideous" condition.
  • Several intersections in both areas have blind spots that prevent you from seeing oncoming traffic if you need to make a left turn and are even more treacherous when ice does not melt due to the shade of the numerous adjacent trees.
  • Several residents told personal and occasionally emotional stories of serious injuries to family members in accidents as well as frightening daily driving experiences in Doewood and Woodmoor while dodging parked or turning school buses and delivery trucks.
  • Many residents have lost repeatedly mailboxes to out-of-control passing vehicles.
  • School buses and delivery trucks routinely skid hazardously whenever it snows or ice forms on the roads in the shaded spots.
  • The county should consider installing speed bumps and stop signs in Doewood Estates to control speeding, particularly at each blind intersection.
  • Schoolchildren are at risk every day when they cross the street at school bus stops because of blind turns and narrow roads that heighten the risk when people pass the buses, despite the flashing red lights that require vehicles to stop.
  • If the gate is kept, change the name of both parts of Doewood Drive to emphasize to truck drivers that it is not a through road.
  • If the county improves Doewood Drive, it should also improve Top O’ the Moor and Old Antlers Way to the same extent.

Some of the comments made in opposing the opening of the Doewood gate to traffic were:

  • The Woodmoor Improvement Association board passed a resolution by a 4-3 vote that requested that the county vacate the gated segment of Doewood Drive—leaving the gate in place until the reclamation work is completed.
  • The Doewood Estates Homeowners Association passed a resolution that also favors vacation of the roadway in the gate area.
  • A petition with signatures of 118 Doewood Estates residents who oppose the opening of the gate was presented to Williams.
  • Increased traffic on any area road would make conditions worse, particularly in snow and limited visibility when large trucks and school buses get stuck in ditches more often, blocking more traffic than usual.
  • Pictures were displayed showing blind curves and fire engines and delivery trucks blocking local roads.
  • The number of 18-wheel vehicles getting stuck in Doewood and Woodmoor drainage ditches while avoiding the I-25 weigh stations will soar, blocking more traffic—"If you build it, they will come."
  • Many pedestrians who continue to walk on Doewood Drive and other Woodmoor roads, up to three times a day, have had to jump out of the way with their dogs to avoid being hit by several 18-wheelers when someone took down the gate. There are no county funds available to monitor truck traffic in either area.
  • People who want the gate removed are really putting their convenience above the safety of others.
  • Additional snow plowing on Doewood Drive will make it disintegrate more rapidly.
  • Many residents in Woodmoor do not want the gate open either.
  • The last sentence of Exhibit B (see above) was agreed to by former Commissioner Duncan Bremer, county staff representatives, and Woodmoor Fire Chief Crawford in a meeting in a local resident’s home.
  • The county should build a walking trail to replace the gravel road rather than vacating the right-of-way.
  • Many Doewood Drive property owners will sell if the Doewood Drive is opened to through traffic, driving down property values and county property tax revenues.
  • There will be a higher fire hazard due to more cigarette butts being thrown from vehicles.
  • Emergency vehicles should not slow down near Palmer Ridge High School because Monument Hill Road is not a school zone.
  • If a cul-de-sac was required, the intention was to never make Doewood a through road.
  • The Woodmoor comprehensive plan calls for only local roads and no collector roads.
  • Opening the gate is the same as creating a collector road.
  • Crime will increase in both areas if access to I-25 is improved.
  • Duncan Bremer said the gate would never be opened. How can the county not honor that promise?
  • Portable weigh stations could be used on local area roads to help stop trucks from avoiding the weigh stations on I-25.
  • The revenue from the road and bridge mill levy is about $7 million per year for the county. The county gets a small part of the state’s 22 percent portion of the gas tax. Most roads money comes from the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.
  • No board can restrict the actions of a future board, including never opening the currently closed right-of-way.
  • It would be harder to open the closed segment of Doewood Drive in the future if the right-of-way were vacated, because it would most likely have to be condemned at that time.

Some of the comments in favor of taking down the gate were:

  • Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District continues to prefer that the gate is removed due to difficulties opening the gate when the lock is frozen or rusted shut and snow blocks the gate, preventing quicker access for area evacuations. New school traffic on Monument Hill Road and Misty Acres Drive must be considered, because apparatus cannot go faster than 20 mph over the speed limit near a school.
  • A petition with 160 signatures from Woodmoor residents who requested that the gate be removed was presented to Williams.
  • Two of the Woodmoor board directors who voted against the opening of the gate own houses on Doewood Drive.
  • Drivers from other north county fire districts often do not know the gate will block their path when using GPS navigation in responding to mutual aid dispatches to support major Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District emergencies and may get stuck while trying to turn around their very heavy fire engines.
  • Saving the two minutes it takes to open the gate during a heart attack response when the gate’s lock is jammed or the gate is blocked by snow could save a life.
  • There is no guarantee that every emergency vehicle has a bolt cutter, and residents may not be able to open the gate during a wildfire emergency if trapped.
  • The gate – unlike a cable – is too strong to be rammed open by any emergency vehicle or private auto, leaving all residents at risk in a wildfire.
  • Removal of the gate will allow more flexible and rapid response by emergency and police vehicles.

Note: Former Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Chief David Youtsey was interviewed on Aug. 8, 2000, regarding the newly-installed gate. He expressed his safety concerns and opposition to the gate. He had written a letter to the developer in January 1996, in which he approved new construction in the Doewood development based, in part, on the direct access provided by Doewood as a through road at that time. Youtsey noted that when Janice McMullen’s husband was stricken with a fatal heart attack in 1999, it took firefighters an extra four minutes to reach her house in the northern part of Doewood. Rescuers could not get past the chain. The lock was jammed. (See http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4191/is_20000808/ai_n9973019/ for the interview.)

Some of the responses Williams and Brackin made to comments were:

  • Most of the residential roads in the unincorporated county do not meet county standards for sidewalks, curbs, and gutters, including Woodmoor’s Doewood Drive, Top ‘O the Moor Drive, Blueberry Hills Road, and Old Antlers Way.
  • There is not enough money in the county budget to retrofit all of Woodmoor and Doewood Estates with sidewalks.
  • Traffic counts are performed in every area every two to three years, budgets permitting.
  • Traffic counts are performed before a capital project is started.
  • In nearly every case where speed bumps have been installed in the county, residents soon call and request that they be removed.
  • Beacon Lite Road traffic is currently 800 per day, not 3,000 per day as asserted as a point of comparison to what will likely occur on Doewood Drive if the gate is opened.
  • The county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan will be updated this year, and this neighborhood may be included in a growth analysis, though Doewood Drive would not be included normally.
  • Brackin has one traffic engineer and one technician to investigate stop sign installations at every intersection in the county and no budget for hiring a consultant to study them.
  • Tri-Lakes Battalion Chief Bryan Jack reported to Williams that the Doewood gate was opened nine times in the past three years by Tri-Lakes.
  • The Monument Police Department advised Williams that it has a very slight preference for opening the gate.
  • The Sheriff’s Office, which is significantly undermanned, advised Williams that it has no preference on the gate.
  • The voters recently voted down a tax increase that was targeted toward public safety. There is now only one sheriff’s deputy assigned to north El Paso County, down from two.

As the meeting ended at 10 p.m., Williams reminded everyone that they would be notified of the next hearing via the e-mail address they had listed in the attendance roster, and further information will be also be provided on the county’s Web site.

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January Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

The year has started off on the dry side, with very little moisture falling during January 2010. However, this is not a big cause for concern, as January is normally one of our driest months. Therefore, when we average less than an inch of precipitation for the month, not getting that full amount is almost meaningless in the overall water year perspective. Let’s hope we get a wet spring. Temperatures were a little below normal for the month, with some very cold temperatures during the first week really helping out. Once again, there were no Chinook winds to really warm things, so the majority of the days were pretty close to normal.

The quiet conditions that ended December continued into the first few days of January. Temperatures returned to "normal" levels after failing to reach those proverbial heights during the majority of December. Highs hit the mid-30s to low 40s on the 1st and 2nd, then dipped back down to the low 30s on the 3rd. Some light snow showers and flurries did move through on the afternoon of the 2nd and evening of the 3rd. In fact, a few lightning strikes occurred with the snow and graupel showers that moved through between 1 and 2 p.m. on the 2nd. Thunder in January is extremely rare in the region. However, these were fast-moving thunder snow showers, and they only dropped a trace to a half inch before moving off to the southeast, but it still made for a very interesting weather day on what was otherwise a quiet start to the month.

The first full week of January continued the trend from December of colder than normal weather with light snow at times. Snow was light overall with just over an inch falling during the week. Afternoon highs jumped above freezing on the 1st and 2nd, then plummeted below freezing again through the 7th. The coldest air arrived on the 7th and 8th, with highs struggling to reach the single digits and low teens on the 7th. Overnight lows were very cold as well, with readings well below zero on the 6th, 7th, and 8th.

However, this was the last cold outbreak to affect the region for the next two weeks as a pattern change took hold of the western U.S. High pressure moved into the region from the west and allowed air masses originating from the desert Southwest to dominate our weather. This kept the cold air well to our east and gave us a chance to thaw. Temperatures returned to normal and above normal levels from the 9th through the 17th, and no organized systems moved through to bring any precipitation. Winds were again well behaved during this time, which kept temperatures from getting too warm and allowed much of the leftover snowpack to survive—at least in the shaded areas.

The weather became very active for Colorado during the week of the 18th; unfortunately the majority of the action was in the mountains and points west from there. A series of powerful Pacific storm systems slammed into the West Coast and desert Southwest. These brought huge amounts of snow to the Four Corners region and our San Juan Mountains, but not much for us on the Front Range. These were some very powerful storms, with record low-pressure readings set throughout the entire state of California and into Nevada. Snow was measured in the 5- to 6-foot range in the Sierra Nevada, around Flagstaff, Ariz., and in the mountains around Durango. Tornadoes touched down in the LA area and around Phoenix, and extensive flooding from heavy rains occurred in Southern California and Arizona.

However, as is typical in these scenarios, the moisture and energy from the storms is used up in the Sierra Nevada, Basin and Range, and in our Colorado high country. By the time the storm reaches the region, there isn’t much left and, with no upslope component to work with, it’s as if the storms never happened. We did manage to squeeze out a quick shot of snow on the afternoons of the 19th, with up to an inch accumulating in some spots, and some flurries fell on the 22nd and 23rd. Temperatures also stayed right around average to slightly above for the week, with highs in the 30s and 40s.

The last week of January was basically normal around the region, with temperatures ranging from the upper 20s to low 40s for highs and a little light snow. The week started on the cool side with highs only hitting the mid-30s from the 24th through the 26th and overnight lows reaching the single digits. A strong area of low pressure then tracked through New Mexico and Texas during the middle of the week.

This storm brought heavy snow to southern Colorado, New Mexico, and western Texas, but just missed us. If the storm track had been about 100 miles farther north, we would have picked up quite a bit of snow. Instead, we managed to squeeze out around an inch, with plenty of low clouds and freezing fog hanging around on the 27th and 28th. Skies cleared for the last couple days of the month, with temperatures rebounding to around normal levels.

A look ahead

February is often a dry and cold month for the region as we move towards the snowy and unsettled conditions of March and April. Precipitation averages less than an inch, with average high temperatures in the 30’s. It can get very cold in February with Arctic Air making strong pushes into the region, however, days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some nice, sunny days and snow melts faster. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit http://www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

January 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 39.3° (-1.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 48.4° min 30.8° 
Average Low 12.3° (-0.3) 100-year return frequency value max 26.6° min 6.6°
Highest Temperature 56° on the 12th
Lowest Temperature -14° on the 7th
Monthly Precipitation 0.15" (-0.73", 83% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 1.56" min 0.01"
Monthly Snowfall 3.4" (-13.3", 79% below normal) 
Season to Date Snow 56.7" (-5.1", 8% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 11.73" (-1.18", 9% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1215 (+33)
Cooling Degree Days 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 on the Palmer Divide, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Sertoma Club changing affiliation to Kiwanis

On Jan. 16, 2010, after careful research and the consideration of many options, the membership of Monument Hill Sertoma Club voted to change the club’s affiliation from Sertoma, Inc. to Kiwanis International, effective July 1, 2010. This decision was based on the club’s commitment to long-term community service and youth mission objectives. The focus and primary objective of the club is to support projects that improve the quality of life in the local community.

Kiwanis, with its large membership base and financial stability, provides an effective footing for the club to continue to support the region and local community.

Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge Serteen clubs will become Key Clubs and receive the support of a very strong nationally and internationally recognized organization. The transition to Key Club will not affect our youths’ mission of service to the community or the programs they currently support. The benefits for youths include the ability to identify with a larger group of similarly operated clubs and broader service opportunities that create added recognition when applying for college entrance or for an academic or leadership honor/award.

The club has been a Sertoma affiliate for more than 35 years. Membership involves social and educational activities as well as an expectation of time devoted to community service. Over the years, members have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to support a variety of sponsorships.

What will not change with the new affiliation:

  • Commitment to the speech and hearing needs in Southern Colorado
  • How charitable funds are raised, or who is sponsored
  • Commitment to Tri-Lakes community needs, including sponsorship of such events as the Empty Bowls and July 4 parade
  • Commitment to Tri-Lakes youths
  • Commitment to working with other service clubs on projects such as the Soap Box Derby 3rd grade Dictionaries

What will change: On July 1, 2010, our name will become the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club.

We believe that our affiliation with Kiwanis will give our club a greater opportunity to serve the needs of the Tri-Lakes Community for many years to come.

Wayne Claybaugh, president
Tom Nelson
, president-elect
Monument Hill Sertoma Club

Thanks for donations to Sertoma

Thank you, Tri-Lakes community, from Monument Hill Sertoma! Your generous donations to the 2009 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign at Safeway, King Soopers, and Walmart grossed a record $37,347. One hundred percent of the funds will be used to help those in need in El Paso County.

I also want to thank the Monument Hill Serteens from Lewis-Palmer High School and Palmer Ridge High School for their volunteer bell ringing on Sundays during the holiday season, and thank the local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops for their bell ringing on Saturdays.

Please note that Monument Hill Sertoma has changed its national club affiliation to Kiwanis, effective July 1, 2010. The 2010 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign will be sponsored by Monument Hill Kiwanis—same Monument Hill Club, different national association. The Monument Hill Serteens will become the Monument Hill Key Club.

Michael Wicklund, chairman
Monument Hill Sertoma
Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

Let’s be positive

There has been a lot of negativity spread around Woodmoor lately. There has been a sense of an "us versus them" mentality in the air (and in the papers, the meetings, the signs). It may be nice to remind ourselves that we do not have to buy into this mentality or the negativity. Or, if we have found ourselves stuck in it, we can simply decide now to let it go. We can remember that, at the root of things, there is only us. We, our neighbors and friends, are Woodmoor, and we are a mighty fine community.

We can advocate for our community, whether there are changes we aspire to or precious parts we want undisturbed. We can take a stand to help one another and reach our goals. We can let our voices be heard and understood, and we can take the time to understand others.

As we do this, let us remember that we are all humans. Negativity and accusations do little to remind us of the community in which we belong, yet they can go far in tearing it apart.

Let’s be brave. Let’s let go of our defenses, listen to one another, be kind to one another, respect one another, be okay to admit when we are wrong without fear of someone exploiting our "humanness."

Let’s take a moment to look around and remember what a blessing it is to live in such a beautiful place with beautiful people. Let us all be good neighbors.

Thanks for your time in reading this.

Kim Braun

The D-38 budget crisis: What really happened

At the community summits and school board meeting held in December, District 38 officials told the community that Colorado has been below the national average in per pupil funding since 1989, that D-38 has consistently been one of only a few districts receiving the lowest amount of state funding, and that the district has made dramatic budget cuts. Indeed, district documentation indicates that the district has cut spending by over $5 million since 2008.

But district officials didn’t tell us that:

  1. The district had $9.7 million in its savings account and an annual budget surplus of over $1 million in 2004-05, and
  2. Annual total program funding increased by $5.8 million—$3.2 million more than required to keep pace with inflation—from 2004-05 to 2008-09.

Given such a sound starting position and such dramatic revenue growth, why is the district in such bad financial shape? According to a state report titled "Fiscal Health Analysis of Colorado School Districts" published in August 2009, district officials provided the following explanation to the state auditor:

"The underlying cause was a desire by the local school board prior to the 2006-07 school year to spend down fund balances that were growing at a rapid pace. Unfortunately, expenditures were made for staff increases, resulting in an ongoing expense. After years of fund balance growth, the board had a difficult time with the fact that slowing enrollment and too many staff members were causing increased deficit spending."

The district’s response to the state auditor makes it clear: Irresponsible spending created the budget problems, and the district’s failure to take immediate corrective action while waiting for local taxpayers to approve a mill levy override "bailout" made things much worse. Why haven’t district leaders told us what really happened?

More important, can we trust them to make good decisions now?

David J. Cloud

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Love is in the air

By the staff at Covered Treasures

February is the time to set aside gloomy thoughts and focus on what makes the world go ‘round—love. On Valentine’s Day, we celebrate the love of family and friends, and our presidents’ birthdays remind us of what has been risked for love of country. We think you’ll enjoy some of these "lovely" selections.

The Last Song
By Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing), $24.99

The master of the modern love story, Sparks brings us a deeply moving story of a young girl’s first encounter with heartbreak—and love. Seventeen-year-old Veronica "Ronnie" Miler’s life was turned upside down when her parents divorced, and her father moved from New York City to North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, particularly her father … until her mother decides she and her younger brother should spend the summer with their father in North Carolina. The Last Song is a story of first love and love between parents and children. It demonstrates, as only a Nicholas Sparks novel can, the many ways that love can break our hearts … and heal them.

You Are My I Love You
By Maryann K. Cusimano & Satomi Ichikawa (Philomel Books), $16.99

"I am your parent; you are my child. I am your quiet place; you are my wild." With these poignant lines, Cusimano begins a day in the life of parent and child, full of smiles and giggles, messes and meals, boundless energy and well-earned rest. And overall is a large blanket of love. In simple rhyming verse and playful illustrations, the book presents one such day. Share it with your child, or grandchild, and treasure the memories.

Love & War: Finding the Marriage You’ve Dreamed Of
By John & Stasi Eldredge (Doubleday Religion), $22.99

With refreshing openness, the Eldredges discuss their marriage and the insights they’ve gained from the challenges they have faced. Each talks independently about what each has learned, giving their guidance personal immediacy and a balance between the male and female perspectives that has been absent from many previous books on this topic. John and Stasi begin with an obvious acknowledgment: Marriage is fabulously hard, and they proceed to show couples how to fight for their love and happiness.

True Love: Three Novels
By Lurlene McDaniel (Delacorte Press), $9.99

These three young-adult novels explore the timeless question, "Can love survive, now and forever?" Featuring characters with open hearts and the desire to love and heal, these three stories embrace connections and give hope. Titles included are "Don’t Die, My Love," "I’ll Be Seeing You," and "A Rose for Melinda."

The Hearts of Horses
By Molly Gloss (Mariner Books), $13.95

The reader is transported to the American West in a heartwarming story that illuminates a young girl’s love for horses and explores how people and animals touch each other’s lives. In the winter of 1917, 19-year-old Martha Lessen saddles her horses and heads for a remote county in eastern Oregon looking for work "gentling" wild horses. Many of the regular hands are off fighting the war, and though the ranchers are skeptical of Martha’s quiet, unconventional methods, it is clear that she has a serious knowledge of horses. Over the long, hard winter, the townsfolk witness Martha talking in low, sweet tones to horses believed beyond repair—and getting miraculous, almost immediate results. Ultimately, her gifts earn her the respect of the men, the friendship of the women, and an indispensable place in the community.

The Secret of Everything
By Barbara O’Neal (Bantam Books Trade Paperbacks), $15.00

At 37, Tessa Harlow has still not reached one of her goals: to "fall in love and have a family." A rolling stone, Tessa leads worldwide hiking tours for adventurous vacationers. At Las Ladronas, the setting of a childhood trauma Tessa only half remembers, she rediscovers her old hometown and is drawn to search-and-rescue worker Vince Grasso, a widower who is definitely not her type. What evolves is a heartwarming story of family, food and love.

Worries about the economy, the war on terror, or the housing slump can wait—at least one short month—while we celebrate the gift of love. Until next month, happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: The red-tailed hawk and the red-winged blackbird

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Below: Painting of a red-tailed hawk family by Elizabeth Hacker. 

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By Elizabeth Hacker

During the winter, I often hear from readers who see red-tailed hawks, the most common hawk in North America. In late January, Mike and Nan Oberle, residents of North Woodmoor, reported two large red-tailed hawks in the pine trees behind their home. Mike thought it might be the pair that nested there last year. I often walk my dogs in their neighborhood and, judging from the loud shrill call I heard the following day, I suspect Mike’s assumption is correct. Although I didn’t actually see the hawks, a red-tailed’s call is unmistakable, especially when calling to its mate.

Although I’ve walked in the neighborhood for more than 20 years, I didn’t realize that Mike and Nan’s back yard was prime nesting habitat for the red-tailed hawk until Mike pointed it out to me. Their home is nestled in the midst of a large mature stand of pines. On the south side of their property is a large stand of scrub oak, prime habitat for jays and other nut-eaters. On the north side of their property are several acres of lowland marsh, prime habitat for red-winged blackbirds, rabbits and mice, frogs, and snakes.

People who watch the sky know how difficult it can be to be a hawk. Owls and hawks are often harassed by smaller birds. One summer day near Lake Woodmoor, I observed a western kingbird chasing a hawk, tearing out the hawk’s flight feathers one by one as the poor hawk lumbered with its broad wings in a desperate attempt to get away from this pesky little bird. While I felt for the hawk, my sympathy was tempered because I suspected the hawk may have angered the kingbird by raiding its nest or by killing its mate. The hawk was probably an immature bird still learning an important lesson, which is to avoid the aggressive western kingbird.

Hawks are practiced hunters. They sit on a perch and watch until the time is right to swoop down and grab its prey. They are not always successful, and the kingbird is not the only small bird to harass them. Why do smaller birds risk their life to harass this big bird? Because they don’t want to become the hawk’s next meal.

The mature trees in the Oberles’ yard provide protection as well as a good vantage point for the hawks. The two surrounding habitats provide an ample and varied food supply. One day the hawk may take a jay from the scrub oaks while the following day it might grab some mice from the marsh. It returns to the protection of the forest to avoid harassment or if its nest has been discovered. It may fly away until the smaller birds return to foraging for their own survival and forget about the hawk.

The same day I heard the hawks, I observed a large flock of red-winged blackbirds in the nearby marsh. I look for birds every where I go and, nine times out of ten, when I see red-winged blackbirds there will be a red-tailed hawk in a nearby tree. I don’t believe this to be a casual occurrence.

In the summer, communities of red-winged blackbirds nest near water where insects abound. In winter, large flocks must move about the region to forage for seeds and berries, as insects are not as plentiful. Blackbird scouts leave the flock in search of food and when they find it, they send out a signal and the flock descends in a feeding frenzy. I’ve often wondered if this signal may attract the cunning hawk. It makes sense to me, but I have not found research to back up my theory. When blackbirds are focused on eating, do they let their guard down, making them easy prey for a lurking hawk?

Red-tailed hawks begin courting in January. With a little luck, it is possible to see their impressive aerial displays. The male and female soar up on thermal currents, lock talons, and spiral through the air, releasing their grip a few feet above the ground. Red-tailed hawks are monogamous for at least one breeding season and, if successful, may re-establish a pair bond in subsequent years.

The red-tail prefers to locate its nest near the top of a tall tree located at the edge of a forest. The pair works together to build the nest, using sticks and bark lined with grasses, moss, and other soft materials. In early spring, the female lays two to three eggs. The following month, the parents take turns incubating the eggs. After the chicks hatch, the female tends the chicks while the male brings them food.

When the chicks are first hatched, the female feeds them digested food. But before long they eagerly tear away pieces of meat with their beak. Unlike most birds of prey, nestlings do not engage in sibling rivalry, which may result in a higher survival rate and be the reason the red-tail is the most common raptor on this continent.

The young birds fledge the nest about six weeks after hatching but remain in the area and are dependent on the parents until they learn to hunt on their own. To encourage their young, the parents abandon them for several days at a time. The young are vocal and cry out to their parents, begging for food. The parents eventually return with prey and scold the fledglings as if to say, ‘Now that I have your attention, watch how I do this.’ It will be three years before these birds are ready to mate.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available on her website, www.ElizabethHackerArt.com, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. E-mail her at elizabethhacker66@yahoo.com or call 510-5918 with your questions and bird stories.

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Art Matters: Porkbusters: Public art you can support for "free"

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Below: Perception of Freedom by Janet Sellers and Glenn Hayes. Installed at the new Monument Town Hall.

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By Janet Sellers

This month, the Tri-Lakes Views is accepting 2010 entries for its public art call for artists. The first ARTSites, in the 2009 Exhibit, featured two artistic works installed adjacent to the newly constructed Town Hall in Monument. Previous public art work via Tri-Lakes Views sponsorship included various art shows with awards and the mural at Beacon Lite Road and Second Street.

The public art enrichment facts for our state show Colorado public art venues have provided their communities with examples of enrichment far beyond investment dollars made. I would like to share one other town’s example, although such facts stand up for many.

Grand Junction began its public arts program 26 years ago, being artist-led and artist-funded. By that, I mean that the artists design, build, and transport the artwork to the site. The benefits to the community have been enormous, but it was the artists who put out their personal investments of time, labor, and materials to the area and the people.

Those artists invested in the opportunity, proved their plan, and the city of Grand Junction jumped on the value of a good thing and put it into place in their growth plan. Since 1984, that community has enjoyed the benefits of the Art on the Corner program; since 1997, the "1 percent for Art" program has offered the city one of the most visited attractions in Mesa County and in 1998 garnered an Excellence in Public Art award from the International Making Cities Livable organization. Grand Junction’s Web site proudly proclaims,"... More than just beautifying the urban landscape, art in public places creates an engaging and interesting environment and enriches the world in which we live. It reflects the pride we have in our community, cultivates an active arts arena, and attracts residents, businesses, and visitors."

For now, our Tri-Lakes community is relatively smaller than some, but it is one of the fastest-growing communities in Colorado. Our cultural integrity or lack of it will greatly affect our growth, our revenues, and our social values, not to mention our property values and infrastructure.

Public art helps create love of place. Love of place creates community, value, and in turn creates economic strength. Just so you know, it is the artists who have been self-funding the art in our area for many years. But they cannot do it forever here in Tri-Lakes. They will go elsewhere for better opportunities and better funding. I can relate to this first hand. To be honest, as a local painter and sculptor, I did go elsewhere in previous years. I had to, because I had to go where the opportunities existed. Now that we are beginning our local public arts programs, local artists can consider local venues for public art.

For the Tri-Lakes Views call, it will accept entries for amateur and professional artists. Each artist may enter up to two works that have never been previously exhibited within El Paso County. (The display of a maquette does not disqualify an artist.) Most mediums are acceptable, such as metal, stone ceramic or other durable material that can withstand the elements and abuse of an outdoor display. Wood will not be acceptable. Sculptures must be garden size (roughly 3 feet) or larger, but not taller than 15 feet. A $300 honorarium will be granted to each artist chosen for the exhibit. More information is available at www.trilakesviews.org. Or contact Wendy Diggins (719) 660-8311.

Will a $300 stipend to an artist get your community the art you wish to see? Will it bring the tourism dollars to our area and love of place for our residents? Can you afford to build your community in the things that, at least for you, effortlessly bring in the needed tourism, positive cultural attention, and just plain fun walks around town?

While $300 is a start, I think I may have a more enriching solution for our love of place, public art, and funding. You can shell out for taxes or invest deductible dollars in local art and love of place. Some people who could take a deduction may not know they have power to fund the arts, so their hard-earned money ends up funding election campaigns, pork barrel spending, "Men Who Stare at Goats" research (not a joke, it really happened), and so on.

Take your three dollars (or more!) and put them into our local public arts. It’s almost as easy as the tax form to send it in to Tri-Lakes Views (Tri-Lakes Views/Artsites 2010, P.O. Box 2564, Monument, CO 80132). Tri-Lakes Views is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to enrich our community by supporting activities that showcase the arts and preserve the region’s unique history. Its volunteer committee includes members of the business and residential communities of the Tri-Lakes region. www.trilakesviews.org

Our community is naturally beautiful, sunny, and becoming culturally enriched day by day. Bring your family and friends to visit your money at work here in our town via the public art you help create. It will be right here, enriching your life for you 24/7. Let the goats be.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter, sculptor and writer working in the mediums of canvas, concrete/mixed media and paper. Her work supports natural habitat for rural and urban wild (and human) life.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Communications Auxiliary occupies new facility

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Below: From left are Paul Swanson, Mike Skinner, Joyce Witte, Tom Gill and Bob Witte. Not pictured are Elliot Link and Fred Godfrey. All are volunteer members of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Communications Auxiliary. They are available at a moment’s notice to put the communications center into operation should an emergency require their services. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard Minetti

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Communications Auxiliary has moved into new quarters at Fire House 3 on Woodmoor Drive. The auxiliary was created to provide a facility with volunteer communications specialists who would provide support during exigent events such as natural disasters, power outages, forest fires, terrorist activities, and other occurrences that require the auxiliary’s help.

All members of the auxiliary are FCC-licensed amateur radio operators who have completed familiarization courses with the national Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and have received CPR training. They also have active memberships with Amateur Radio Emergency Services (RACES).

Embedding these communications specialists within an agency such as the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District represents a paradigm shift from traditional amateur radio emergency operations to the team concept of operating directly with the served agency.

The primary objectives of the auxiliary are in part to provide technical support to the fire district in the design, installation, and maintenance of communications equipment, and to assist local resources in incident management.

Today there are 650,000 licensed amateur radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million worldwide.

The program is relatively new and is operating with minimum qualified staff in the Tri-Lakes area. Volunteers are always welcome. To participate, a candidate must be an FCC-licensed amateur radio operator and undergo required training courses.

For further information or to volunteer, contact Elliot Link at 484-0911, extension 3371 or Tom Gill at the local Radio Shack at 481-2387.

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Donala holds community meetings, Jan. 13-14

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Below: At the community meetings held Jan. 13 and 14, Dana Duthie, Donala Water and Sanitation District General Manager, presented the district’s plans to connect to Colorado Springs Utilities’ water system and answered questions. About 100 people attended the meetings. Photo by John Heiser. See the Donala article.

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Below: This exhibit, shown at the community meetings, identifies planned changes to Donala’s water infrastructure. The district intends to place a measure on the May 4 ballot to ask district voters to approve up to $20 million in additional indebtedness to pay for the changes. Exhibit provided by the Donala district.

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the exhibit as a PDF file. This is a 3.6 Mbyte file and will take about 22 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Blood drive at Tri-Lakes Cares, Jan. 19

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Photos by Frank Maiolo.

Nurse Practitioner, Jackie Sward, one of the medical coordinators of the Tri-Lakes Blood Drive, said they have blood drives with Penrose St. Francis every eight weeks. Sward said the blood collected in this community, stays in this community. The next blood drive will be in March. Below: The Blood Vessel at Tri-Lakes Cares.  

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Below: Volunteer blood donor, Larry Oliver, and Penrose St. Francis nurse, Amy Perez.

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Drabkin and Brooks charm TLCA audience, Jan. 23

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 Photos by David Futey

Below Annie Brooks.

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Below: Rob Drabkin.

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By David Futey

The audience at the Jan. 23 Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts concert was entertained by two Coloradans, each with a unique sound and style.

Denver’s Rob Drabkin was making his third visit to the TLCA on this evening. Since his last visit in January 2009, this singer/songwriter and guitar player extraordinaire received the 2009 Westword Music Showcase ‘singer-songwriter’ award, his second consecutive Westword award for best songwriter in Denver. He opened the Mile High Music Festival, traveled the United States on a 20-city tour with blues guitarist Davy Knowles, wrote and recorded new material, and introduced himself to new audiences in and out of state on a number of one-week tours.

With solid backing from his father, Harry Drabkin, on saxophone, Eduardo Barbosa on upright bass, and Brian McCray on drums, Rob Drabkin demonstrated that those awards, along with his ever-growing reputation for skillful guitar playing, justify comparisons to the likes of Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews.

With wistful and witty songwriting and a delightful stage presence, Durango’s Annie Brooks won over the TLCA audience with her half-hour set. Writing songs and performing seems to come naturally to Brooks. Those talents came from a childhood where she basically grew up on her parent’s tour bus as they made their way across the Midwest, performing gospel and folk Christian songs at churches and other venues. She now finds herself scheduled for house concerts and other small venues along with an upcoming concert tour to England and Ireland as she seeks an opportunity to connect with people through her music.

Information on Rob Drabkin can be found at www.robdrabkin.com. Information on Annie Brooks is at www.anniebrooksmusic.com

Information on upcoming TLCA events is at www.trilakesarts.org

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Recycling at the TLCA, Jan. 30

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Below On Jan. 30, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted its 2nd Annual Recycling Event and Fundraiser in partnership with BlueStar Recyclers of Colorado Springs. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tril-Lakes area residents were able to drop off a range of electronics products for a nominal charge. Pictured (L-R): TLCA Bookkeeper Janet Morris, BlueStar Recyclers Operations Manager Arnie Navarro, TLCA Executive Director Susan Adams, and BlueStar Recyclers President Bill Morris are pictured with some of the items dropped off during the day. Net proceeds from the recycling went to the TLCA.

Morris said BlueStar is an end-of-life recycler and that the items received today would be broken down to various componentss so they can be properly recycled. This type of recycling helps to reduce the amount of lead and other heavy metals entering into a landfill. There are 8-12 pounds of lead in a television or monitor screen. Large items like televisions can quickly ‘age’ a landfill as they are not readily compactible and do not easily degrade.

Information on BlueStar can be found at www.bluestarrecyclers.com. If you missed this opportunity to drop off your electronics. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey

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All glass show at TLCA

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Below: During the month of January, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) held its first ever all glass show. From jewelry to lamps, and a variety imagery on stained glass, the main and Lucy Owens Galleries were filled with colorful pieces by 25 artists from the Tri-Lakes area and Colorado Springs. Steve and Corky Watt, members of the TLCA gallery committee and owners of 2-Watts Creative in Monument, chaired the show. The Watt’s are shown with one of Corky’s contributions to the show, Underwater Fantasy. Photo by David Futey.

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Kinney named Monument Hill Sertoman of the year

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Below: Don Johnson presented the "Monument Hills Sertoman of the Year" award to Eddie Kinney on Dec. 12 for his determination, patience, persistence, and accomplishments. Kinney has participated in nearly every aspect of club service from highway cleanup to the 4th of July parade. Some of the leadership positions he’s held are Chairman of: Salvation Army bell ringing, Publicity, Corporate Sponsorship, and Membership, as well as Vice President of Programs and Ways and Means. Photo by Warren Gerig.

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Fundraiser held to help fight child blindness

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Below: Mary Russelavage, of Cops for Kids, shown with Parker Ebaugh, organized a very successful 12-hour bowling and live auction fundraiser at Pinz Bowling Alley to help fight child blindness in honor of Parker. Please send donations to Cops for Kids, P.O. Box 725, Monument, CO 80132-0725. Photos and information provided by Parker’s parents Natalie and Lucas Ebaugh.

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Below: The event featured appearances by Denver Bronco cheerleaders Nicole Moore (L) and Christina Puglisi (R) and four musical performances by Matt Martinez, Shannon Roberts with Uprizin’ Entertainment, The Orchid Riot, and Rated "M." 

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January and February library events

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Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Paws to Read dog Sequoia enjoyed stories with a young patron.

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Below: Megan Roscoe got into character while awaiting her performance at the Pooh party at Palmer Lake.

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Below: Patron Charlotte Lawson (age 1), held by Branch Assistant Linda Fuqua-Jones, dressed up to come to the Pooh party.

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Below: Marissa Jones and JoLynn Patterson of the District 20 Home School Academy and Michelle Flower of the Tri-Lakes Home School Support Group shared views with a patron at the Home School Resource Fair.

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By Harriet Halbig

As the new year began, the library returned to its routine, with some interesting accents. The Paws to Read dogs participated in a Family Fun event on a Saturday with stories, games, crafts and refreshments. The dogs sat among the young patrons to listen to the stories and played Musical Squares afterward.

At the end of the month, a well-attended Home School Resources Fair drew several hundred interested patrons to speak to vendors and hear library staff explain some of the resources on the library Web site.

On Feb. 8 a member of the KKTV weather team will present a program on tornado and winter weather safety for kids in grades K-5. Registration is required. Register on the events calendar or call 488-2370.

Feb. 13 will feature a family fun program on the Winter Olympics. Patrons will learn about the science behind hockey, curling, figure skating, the biathlon, and other sports. The program will be at 1:30 p.m. with no registration required.

Also on the 13th, there will be a Twilight Saga Party for ages 10-12 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Come discuss the lives of Bella, Edward, Jacob, and others and enjoy games and refreshments.

For teen patrons interested in writing, there will be writing group meetings Feb. 6 and 20 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Bring work to share or participate in writing activities. Tween writers ages 10-12 will meet on Feb. 27 from 10:30 a.m. until noon.

For our adult patrons, there will be a Valentine tea on Feb. 14 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Nancy Stern will provide light refreshment and offer background information about the customs of social tea. Registration is limited to 30 participants. Register on the Events Calendar, call 488-2370, or drop by the branch.

The Monumental Readers book group will discuss A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving on Feb. 19 at 10 a.m. New members are welcome.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Feb. 20 from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. This is a refresher course for drivers 50 or older. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Registration is required, and a minimum class size of 10 is required.

Tuesday Feb. 23 is the date to celebrate Dr. Seuss as members of Pi Beta Phi appear in costume to read his stories and offer crafts and refreshments for younger patrons. Program times are 10 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Read It Before You See It, a program encouraging patrons to read a book before seeing the film, will feature Ramona and Beezus on Feb. 24 from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. The program, for tweens ages 9-12, will feature food and fun related to the movie and the chance to win a free movie ticket to see it. Registration is required.

And finally, the end of the month will feature an exciting, three-day winter festival, Hooray for Hollywood!

This year the library is pulling out all the stops and offering three special events in one weekend. On the evening of Feb. 26 at Palmer Ridge High School’s theater, doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for a 7 p.m. performance by the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale. Dress up, smile for the paparazzi, and walk the red carpet before a free concert by these talented singers.

Back at the Monument Branch library on Saturday Feb. 27, the emphasis will be on drama as the Lewis-Palmer High School Players perform an original play in Broadway style at 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. Between performances at 2:30 p.m., patrons can take photos with the Storm Troopers, get autographs from performers, and participate in face-painting and crafts while enjoying refreshments.

On Sunday Feb. 28, enjoy the Back Lot Film Festival at the library, featuring local student talent presenting original short films with an introduction by Hollywood producer/director Bob Garner. The program will run from 1:30 p.m. until 3:30 p.m.

Art at the Monument Branch will be Orange and Black, Lewis-Palmer High School student works. In the display case will be glass from the Pikes Peak Depression Glass Club. Depression glass is mass-produced glass manufactured in the late 1920s to l930s.

The Monument Branch will be closed most hours during the first week of March to convert to an RFID (radio frequency identification) system. During this period, staff and volunteers will put an RFID tag on each item in the branch to expedite processing in the future. The library district has set aside funds for the past few years and done extensive research into vendors for this process, consulting districts that have used the system.

During this week, the Palmer Lake Branch will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. to serve local patrons. Holds will continue to be brought to the branch each day, and books may be returned to the outside book drop. The Monument Branch will open from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. each day to provide limited services to patrons, including pickup of holds and checkout of DVDs and a small collection of popular books.

We are excited about this new development and its potential to improve the speed and accuracy with which materials will be processed. Monument has been chosen to be the first branch to undergo the conversion. One branch will be closed at any given time during the next few months until the conversion is complete.

Palmer Lake Branch events

The Palmer Lake Branch book group will meet on Feb. 5 at 9 a.m. to discuss The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. Call the branch at 481-2587 to reserve a copy. New members are welcome.

On Saturday, Feb. 6, and Thursday, Feb. 16, let your child practice reading and build fluency by reading to a Paws to Read dog. The Saturday event is at 11 a.m. and the Thursday event is at 4:30 p.m.

A beginning sock knitting class will be offered on Thursdays, Feb. 11, 18, and 25 from 10 a.m. until noon for those who have always wanted to learn how to knit socks. A general knowledge of knitting is required. The class will demonstrate knitting basic four-needle socks starting from the top down. For the class you will need a set of five No. 6 double-pointed needles and worsted or sport weight yarn. Class size is limited to 12. Registration required. Call 481-2587.

February’s Family Fun event at Palmer Lake will be Llama in the Library, a visit by Bo from Touch the Earth Ranch in Black Forest and his people, Marlice Van Zandt and Michael Shealy. Learn abut these gentle creatures, their low impact as pack animals and how their coats can be used in felting, spinning and weaving. Bo will visit at 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 20.

Hope to see you at the library!

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Historical Society holds annual dinner, election

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: The January meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was highlighted by the Annual Potluck. Pictured (L to R): Phyllis Bonser, PLHS president,;Linda Larson, Refreshment Committee member; and Mary Meyer, who is known for her directing of the vintage clothing presentation in early 2009. All are beginning their walk down the food line at the PLHS Annual Potluck.

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: This table of attendees appears to be happy with the fare.

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: Mary C. Smith provides background music for the potluck. She is a resident of Liberty Heights retirement center.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Palmer Lake Historical Society’s Annual Potluck Dinner and general get-together highlighted the Jan. 21 meeting of the society. It was also the Annual Meeting, where members vote for nominees to the board and take care of other business.

Judy Harrington and Pat McCarthy were elected as at-large board members. Another vacancy due to the resignation of Ron Heard will be filled by board appointment at the February meeting. The only candidate for the vacancy was Jim Sawatzki. Other interested individuals may contact Nomination Committee Chairperson Hans Post at 719-487-7405.

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The topic of the February meeting will be ‘The Rebirth of Old Colorado City.’ Retired Air Force Col. David Hughes will be the presenter. This subject fits into the purpose of the society, which is to ‘preserve and promote history through presentations and activities. …’ The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Individuals desiring membership may join at the meeting. The presentation is open to members and non-members.

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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.

Senior Mondays at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI)

Seniors will be admitted into the museum for just $2.50 (regularly $6) Mondays through the end of March. Come see the museum that works! See giant steam engines from the late 1800s. Tours begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd (I-25 Exit 156 A). For more information, call 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org

Pikes Peak Library District’s Adult Reading Program

Adults 18 and older with a Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) library card can win prizes for reading during the annual Adult Reading Program that runs to March 8. To register, bring your library card to any PPLD library and sign up at the information desk. You can also sign up online at ppld.org. Read eight books to earn prizes that include a chocolate bar from Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and a coffee mug. Read four books by Feb. 8 to be entered in a grand prize drawing for a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory gift basket or Snuggie blanket. For more information, phone 488-2370 or 481-2587, or visit www.ppld.org

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications 2010

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will accept grant applications until March 15. Qualified organizations that provide significant services to residents within the geographic boundaries of School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Qualified organizations include 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools. Grants will be awarded in late May.

Grant applications, instructions, and guidelines can be downloaded from the TLWC Web site, www.TLWC.net, or by sending a request with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsors two major fund-raising events: Wine and Roses, a wine-tasting event in October, and the Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale in April. Over the last 36 years, TLWC has awarded more than a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations.

Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) celebrates 100 Years of Scouting in February

Scouting is an important part of American history. To help Scouts celebrate, for the month of February WMMI will give all Scouts in uniform 50 percent off the regular admission price. The museum is a perfect place for a group tour! Call 488-0880 to book or visit www.wmmi.org for more information. Regular admission is $8 adults, $7 military/AAA, $6 seniors and students, $4 children 3-12, free to children under 3 and museum members. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd (I-25 Exit 156 A).

Tri-Lakes Cares Community Dental Clinic, Feb. 12

Tri-Lakes Cares will hold a community dental clinic Feb. 12, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 235 Jefferson St., Monument. Appointments are required. For appointments and questions, please call Jackie Sward, RN, 481-4864 x23.

Call to artists, Feb. 15 deadline

Tri-Lakes Views (TLV) has issued a Call to Artists for its ARTSites 2010 exhibit. Each artist may enter up to two garden-size sculptures that have never been exhibited within El Paso County. Metal, stone, ceramic, or other durable material that can withstand the elements and abuse of an outdoor display are acceptable. Wood is not acceptable. Submittal deadline is Feb. 15. For more information, visit the Web site, www.trilakesviews.org or e-mail Betty Konarski, bkonarski@earthlink.net

D-38 chess tournament, Feb. 20

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is sponsoring a free chess tournament Feb. 20 at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, 1315 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. The tournament is open to all D-38 students, from kindergarten through grade 12. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., and the first round starts at 9 a.m. There will be four rounds, and the tournament should end by 1 p.m. Parents are invited to remain at the tournament or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Chess sets will be provided, but children should bring their own snacks. Pizza and sodas will be available for purchase, with proceeds paying for trophies and medals. Each student will receive a trophy or a medal, so please contact Steve Waldmann, the Creekside Middle School Chess Club Coach, at 488-9887 or huskerco@gmail.com and tell him that you will be coming to the tournament so that he knows how many trophies and medals to order.

Free income tax filing assistance by AARP

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is offering free income tax filing assistance in the Tri-Lakes area. Trained AARP volunteers will be available to answer questions and to assist filers in completing their federal and state income tax returns every Monday and Thursday, 1 to 7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St. in Monument until April 15 (except Feb. 15, Presidents Day). Free e-filing of both federal and state returns is available. Taxpayers with more complicated returns should seek the advice of a paid professional. Filers are asked to bring their W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc. needed to complete their 2009 tax return, plus a copy of last year’s (2008) tax return. Appointments are recommended. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Jim Taylor at 488-1317.

Free gun-lock kit

The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gunlock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For more information, phone 481-3253.

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)

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. Applications are accepted during the eligibility period for LEAP, which runs until April 30. 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).

County Prescription Discount program now online

Significant savings on medications are just a click away. El Paso County’s Prescription Discount program is growing in size, scope, and ease of access. More than 80 participating local pharmacies and dozens of discount card distribution locations and agency partners are offering the card to their employees and constituents. Now people can download their own personalized prescription discount card on the county Web site 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, log onto www.elpasoco.com/ or call 520-6337 (MEDS).

Tri-Lakes Cares thrift shop in Monument

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is now open Wednesday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 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 Senior Alliance Thrift Store–new location

The new store is located at 790 Highway 105 #D in Palmer Lake. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The thrift store is a project of the Senior Alliance in cooperation with the entire Tri-Lakes Community. The project’s mission is 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 volunteer information call Hope, 481-4640. To donate items (no clothes) call Chaz, 229-5946.

Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Senior Alliance, have developed a Senior Safety Program. The free service includes installing and maintaining smoke detectors, a fire department evaluation of seniors’ homes to identify and correct safety hazards and address seniors’ safety needs, and Vial of Life for in-home storage of medical information in case of emergency. For information, call Lisa Frasca, 488-3304.

Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

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

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