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Vol. 10 No. 3 - March 6, 2010


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Dramatic ice rescue

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Below: Dramatic ice rescue by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) on Feb. 9 of a large dog that had fallen through the ice on Lake Woodmoor. Firefighter participants included Patrick Dougherty, Marcus Matthynssens, and Lt. Ryan Graham. Other assisting firefighter personnel included Monty Vawter and Janaka Branden. Pulling the rope to bring the animal and rescuers to shore were Capt. Chris Mola, Battalion Chief Lovato, Tony Tafoya, Mike Smith, Jake Villa, and Mike Rauenzahn. Photos by Kate Horton. See TLMFPD coverage.

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PPRWA divided over coalition

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Below: On Feb. 17, Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District and head of the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition, presents his plans to the PPRWA for a project to bring water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Photo by John Heiser

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By John Heiser

At the Feb. 17 regular monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District and head of Colorado-Wyoming coalition of water providers, presented his plans for a pipeline to bring water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northwestern Colorado to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a 70,000 acre-foot facility being constructed by Jaeger three miles southwest of downtown Parker. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

Jaeger, who discussed this potential project with the PPRWA at its Dec. 19, 2008 meeting, said he still needs additional coalition members to help fund $240,000 worth of research into the feasibility of the project. Each member pays a $20,000 membership fee.

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 Water and Sanitation District. Kip Petersen, manager of the Cherokee district and president of the PPRWA, and Larry Bishop, manager of the Woodmen Hills district, were absent.

Jaeger reported that the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation has said there are 165,000 acre-feet of water available at Flaming Gorge. He added, "We aren’t sure if it is real or not." He stressed the importance of determining the feasibility prior to proceeding further with the project, saying, "You need to do due diligence to know what you’re talking about."

Jaeger contrasted this with the approach being taken by entrepreneur Aaron Million, who is proposing a similar project to bring water from the Green River in southwestern Wyoming. Million has reportedly already initiated an environmental assessment of the project. In response to a question, Jaeger estimated that an environmental assessment would cost about $4 million.

Jaeger noted that Million’s project is dominated by agricultural interests and that Million has been quoted as saying that he intends to set the rate charged municipal users at 10 or 20 times the rate charged agricultural users.

In implied contrast to Million’s privately funded project, Jaeger said the coalition is composed largely of municipal water providers and plans to have a "wide open process" as it analyzes the possibilities.

Gary Barber, manager of the PPRWA, has circulated a task force proposal under which the Green River/Flaming Gorge project plans 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 Colorado Springs Utilities’ Southern Delivery System were resolved through a task force approach and legislation that created the Fountain Creek Watershed District.

Jaeger said Barber’s task force plan is "good stuff" but premature. He expressed concern that the task force would start asking questions before the feasibility study is far enough along to provide answers.

Barber estimated that even starting now the task force would likely not be under contract until the fall. He added that his proposed six- to eight-month schedule could easily slip to January 2011, a point at which Jaeger plans to have the majority of the feasibility study completed.

Jaeger still said that starting to organize the task force now would be "getting the cart before the horse."

Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, asked Jaeger whether given the demand for water north of the Palmer Divide, there would be any water left for Tri-Lakes area water providers.

Jaeger replied that the answer to that question will not be known until the feasibility study is completed. He added that he has estimated Parker’s demand at 31,000 acre-feet per year but, with reuse of wastewater effluent, Parker’s demand may be cut to 16,000 acre-feet per year. He also suggested that he could provide storage in the Rueter-Hess Reservoir and has excess capacity in his 10 million gallon per day water treatment plant, so he could conceivably provide treated water directly to Tri-Lakes area water providers.

Following Jaeger’s presentation and further discussion, Duthie made a motion that the PPRWA join Jaeger’s coalition. His motion failed for lack of a second.

Rich Landreth, Monument Public Works director, who represents the town and the Triview Metropolitan District on the PPRWA, said he is supportive of the project but cannot commit without consulting the Monument and Triview boards.

Jessie Shaffer, manager of the Woodmoor district, said that he wanted to hear first from Million. He said, "We need to get information on both horses in the race."

At that point, Duthie said that Donala would join the coalition. He added that if the other members later wish to participate, they can reimburse Donala for their portion of the $20,000 fee.

Super Ditch negotiations hit a snag

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.

As reported in the Feb. 6 issue of OCN, on Dec. 30, the Woodmoor district filed with the water court seeking a decree for exchange rights on Fountain Creek and the Arkansas River. 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.

The action by the Woodmoor district has complicated the PPRWA’s negotiations with the Super Ditch Co., which is filing for similar exchange rights and will now have lower priority.

At a Feb. 8 meeting between PPRWA representatives and Super Ditch representatives, the Super Ditch contingent refused to negotiate as long as anyone from the Woodmoor district was present. The Woodmoor representatives voluntarily left the meeting.

Shaffer noted that the PPRWA bylaws permit any member to participate in any committee, including the committee that is negotiating with the Super Ditch. He suggested that the PPRWA stop negotiating with the Super Ditch until they let Woodmoor attend the negotiations.

While other members expressed concern about the situation, it appeared that the negotiations with Super Ditch will continue whether Woodmoor is allowed to participate or not.

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

**********

The next regular monthly meeting of the PPRWA will be held March 17 at 8:30 a.m. at the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District Office, 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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Palmer Lake Town Council, Feb. 11: Town survey results presented

By David Futey

Karen Stuth, senior vice president with The Research Intelligence Group (TRiG), presented the results from the Town of Palmer Lake’s Community Survey 2009. Mayor John Cressman said results of the lengthy survey will be posted on the town’s Web site, www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us

All trustees were present.

This was the first Palmer Lake survey ever conducted—a pen and paper survey with 335 completed surveys received. Stuth commented that this survey was "an excellent survey in the way it was distributed." The requirements to take the survey were: you had to be over the age of 18 and live in Palmer Lake at least six months out of the year or work in Palmer Lake. The returned surveys represented 21 percent of the 1,600 possible respondents, "a gigantic representation," Stuth said. Thus the survey "represents the population of Palmer Lake very, very well." There was a 95 percent confidence level, with a ± 5 percent variation on each data point, in the results.

Of those who responded:

  • 96 percent were residents
  • 4 percent worked for the town, police department, or fire department
  • The average age was 51,
  • 47 percent were male
  • 53 percent were female
  • 95 percent were Caucasian.
  • 33 percent had less than a college degree
  • 64 percent had college or professional degrees
  • The average household size was 2.7
  • 34 percent of households have children, with an average of 1.9 children
  • 59 percent of households have no children
  • The average income was $87,400
  • 56 percent have lived in Palmer Lake more than 10 years
  • 87 percent own their homes
  • 10 percent are renters

The quality of life in Palmer Lake was rated as:

  • 87 percent as extremely satisfied
  • 9 percent as neither satisfied or dissatisfied
  • 3 percent as not satisfied
  • 1 percent as not at all satisfied

Stuth said, based on the results, "people are incredibly happy to live in Palmer Lake." She said it was the highest community satisfaction survey she had ever seen. Overall, the respondents were very satisfied with the Palmer Lake Police Department and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD). The only measure for the PLVFD that scored somewhat low in the community was for wildfire mitigation.

A satisfaction level of 37 percent for the town’s administration is high, as this number is 10 percent in most community surveys. The Palmer Lake Town Council received 35 percent in satisfaction. Stuth said "people are very, very concerned about drinking water" and are generally concerned about the availability of water. The town’s married people are more concerned than others about water. Stuth said 72 percent think it is important to keep Palmer Lake filled and that this was especially true for relatively new residents. Control of noxious weeds was a concern for 46 percent of those surveyed.

The majority of people who responded to the survey feel safe, with the main safety concerns being speeding and speed limits not being maintained, concern for wild animals, and the need for full police protection. Regarding roads, the major concerns are the paving of roads, dust control, and drainage. The following is a sampling of other results:

  • Only 37 percent feel a Partial Quiet Zone is needed at County Line Road and the railroad crossing
  • 93 percent indicated that the Palmer Lake Star is important to quality of life in Palmer Lake
  • 81 percent use the Palmer Lake branch of the Pikes Peak Library District
  • 93 percent participate in the Fourth of July Fireworks, and 85 percent said it was important to the quality of life
  • The tennis courts and Santa Fe Trail are the most used recreation areas
  • Residents patronize local businesses eight times a month
  • Regarding the Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS), 42 percent participate in it and 72 percent feel it important to the quality of life. Older residents were found to have a greater interest in the PLHS.
  • Awareness of certain events, such as the Chautauqua, the Columbine Festival and Winterfest, and organizations such as the Vaile Museum, is low for those under age 35.

When survey respondents were asked to rank the importance of items to their personal quality of life, the future supply of drinking water (84 percent), the fire department and medical services, the condition of roads, neighborhood safety, and keeping the lake filled were at the top of the list.

Stuth offered the following recommendations based on the survey results:

  • The Police Department should consider having an officer available a day or two a month for neighborhood watch and community safety programs
  • The police should engage in a study to improve their sensitivity to the small town dynamic
  • The PLVFD should further develop a wildfire mitigation program
  • The town administration and council should consider a meet and greet, since people enjoy the small town dynamic and would appreciate a chance to meet the council and learn how the town operates.
  • Local businesses should seek to develop their retail area to bring in more business traffic
  • Patronage of local businesses by town residents, at 8.1 times a month, is very low relative to other towns, thus steps should be taken to improve that number
  • Awareness of certain activities should be improved

Stuth concluded that the small town dynamic is integral and a fundamental reason why people "love to be in Palmer Lake" and that overall this was "an incredibly positive survey" relative to other communities she has studied.

Committee reports

Mayor John Cressman said he is "excited" about the task force being formed to determine how to proceed with the medical marijuana ordinance regarding cultivation and distribution. He said Trustee Bryan Jack would be provided information on the committee’s first meeting during his report.

Fire Trustee Jan Bristol reported that the PLVFD will participate in a mock mass casualty disaster in June with the Palmer Lake and Monument Police Departments and Tri-Lakes Volunteer Fire Department. A minimum of 150 patients, patrons, and media are expected to be involved. Among a lengthy list of items in her report, Bristol stated that PLVFD firefighters Will Davis, Reilly Brickell, and James Harris passed the Fire 1 exam and practical held at the Air Force Academy burn tower. Firefighters Vicky Baker and Greg Lokken will have new and revised department protocols finished by the end of February.

Bristol also said that all officers are required to be NIMS compliant, with ICS 300 and 400 being completed in March. Fire Department volunteers contributed 877 hours of time in January, with Lt. Jeremiah Carpenter volunteering the most at 203 hours, followed by James Harris (117) and Will Davis (103).

Trustee Nikki McDonald gave the Parks and Recreation, Economic Development Committee, and Fireworks report. She announced that Winterfest will be from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 13. The ice on the lake is 10 to 12 inches thick. There will be free skate rentals. Roads Department staff made racks on which to hang the skates.

McDonald, Trustee Gary Coleman, and Town Clerk Della Gray met with a Monument Hill Sertoma Club committee interested in expanding the William Crawford Memorial. The completion of the proposed expansion has been pushed back to Veterans Day 2010. The committee presented its plans later in the council meeting. McDonald and Coleman requested that the Sertoma committee draft a written agreement regarding maintenance of the memorial.

Police Trustee Bryan Jack thanked the PLVFD for donating two automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) to the Police Department. The department is still short on officers and continues to use part-time officers. Two part-time officers, Kelly Carroll and Ryan Koski, were recently added. The original 27 applicants for the two full-time officer positions were narrowed down to four after 19 of the applicants took the test. These final four candidates will be participating in interviews with Police Chief Keith Moreland.

There were 45 applicants for police records technician. After a screening process, three candidates were selected for in-person interviews. Jack noted that Chief Moreland has been "wonderful to work with," "easy to get along with thus far," and has performed eight patrol shifts as primary officer among his other duties. Moreland has also modified his office door by adding a window to allow viewing inside his office. Jack said Moreland has been "exceptional" thus far in performing his duties and managing the department.

Jack then provided an overview on the medical marijuana task force. The task force had a 56-minute meeting with a goal of drafting an ordinance for the regulation of medical marijuana. Jack hoped to have a draft of the ordinance by the March 4 PLTC workshop meeting. Jack said he would review House Bill 1284 and portions of other town’s ordinances, and possibly extract portions of those for the draft ordinance. He said the Planning Commission is acting in an advisory role to council on this matter and has already provided a suggestion on zoning.

In his report, Water Trustee Max Stafford said $2,760 was collected in water bill late charges. Stafford met with engineering consultant Tetra Tech – RTW regarding the water plant layout. He said engineering plans should be available "in the near future."

Trustee Dan Reynolds provided the Roads Department report. The department distributed 15 bid packets, with seven companies bidding on the Safe Routes to School project. Ideal Concrete Inc. was awarded the project. On Jan. 27 a notice to proceed was received from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The Roads Department asked for the council’s approval to sell a riding mower and snowplow so upgrades could be purchased. The council approved this request by consensus.

Gray said that after mailing out a list of "Frequently Asked Questions" on the recent rate increase in the monthly water bill mailing, the town received questions from many people. Gray noted that many of these people who "walked in or called in" said they had thrown out the FAQ enclosure or had not taken the time to read it.

Proclamation for Freedom Week: Cressman read a proclamation recognizing Freedom Week. In celebration of the week, Monument Hill Sertoma sponsors a writing contest, What Freedom Means to Me. Ted Bauman of Sertoma, said Sertoma sponsors this event each year and that 583 eighth-grade students participated in the contest. The top three were selected from each of the participating schools, Creekside Middle School, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, and Monument Academy Middle School. Bauman said those students were honored at a Sertoma breakfast.

Creekside Middle School student Jay P. Corr read his first-place essay, "Ebony and Ivory: the fruit of freedom." His essay described his father’s and mother’s struggle to achieve freedom. Corr said his mother is Caucasian and grew up in Montgomery, Ala., during the civil rights struggles while his father was a "warrior" born in Gambia on the West Coast of Africa. Within his essay, Corr said, "To me, freedom to me is the story of my dad’s journey to pursue the American dream which resulted in my existence with the physical gift of life."

Code amendments approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved Ordinance 2 to incorporate amendments proposed by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. Todd Welch, Regional Building counsel, discussed how the changes to Regional Building’s electrical and plumbing codes bring them into alignment with annual changes to state codes. The state has adopted the 2008 National Electrical Code, and Welch asked the council to adopt it. He also explained that plumbers are licensed by the state. State law allows a plumber to install water heaters. The county only allows mechanical contractors to install water heaters.

Jim Vernon, chief plumbing and mechanical inspector, stated that plumbers can now attach the gas line and vent system to a water heater as well as install, repair, and maintain them. Previously, a plumber would have needed a mechanical license to repair the gas line and venting. Cressman, who is a general contractor, noted that "improper venting is what kills people and causes fires."

Council approves funding for Potato Bake Fine Arts Festival

By unanimous decision, the council approved $2,000 from the Lucy Owens Fund for seed money toward the Potato Bake Fine Arts Festival on Sept. 18-19. Susan Adams, executive director Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), presented background information on the development of the festival and a summary budget. Adams sees the festival as a joint venture between the TLCA and the Town of Palmer Lake and its merchants, given each entity can provide a certain expertise toward the coordination of the festival and related events.

Adams said the festival is an opportunity to "bring back the history of the area in a fun way." Potato farming was a significant industry in this area with over 20,000 acres once devoted to the farming of that crop. Entries and booths for fine arts, the sale of wine and beer, and sponsorships would be the event’s main sources of income. The event is projected to have a juried fine arts festival, musicians on stage at various localities, family-oriented activities, and a Potato Ball. The projected budget for the event is $19,500. Adams requested $2,000 from the Town of Palmer Lake. The TLCA is providing $3,000 toward the festival.

Expansion of the William Crawford Memorial Garden

Ron Heard spoke on behalf of the MSgt. William J. Crawford Memorial Wall of Valor & Freedom Trail Committee. The committee is interested in expanding the Crawford Memorial on the north end of the Palmer Lake trail. The expansion would include a brick walkway and wall made of high-density sandstone from Colorado, which can be engraved and sand-blasted. Heard said that many in the area do not realize Crawford was a Medal of Honor recipient. Of the 40 million who have served in the military, only 3,500 have received the Medal of Honor and only 115 of those recipients are still alive. Heard said that the present memorial "is difficult to see, the plaques are low, and the present memorial has been neglected."

The committee approached the Monument Hill Sertoma and received a strong base of support. The proposed memorial would include recognition of other veterans from the Palmer Divide area. It is unknown how many veterans are from or associated with the area, and determining those individuals is one of the first tasks of the committee. Heard said he was at the meeting to "let you (council) know we are serious about the project, building it, and having the memorial completed by Veterans Day 2010." Heard said the Town of Palmer Lake owns the land, but it is leased to El Paso County. He is talking to County Commissioner Wayne Williams about the land use. Trustee Reynolds asked who will be responsible for maintenance of the memorial. Heard responded that the Monument Hill Sertoma is anticipated to assist with maintenance. Information on the project can be found at www.crawfordmemorial.org

Buena Vista Road approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved the vacation and replat requested by Bob Nance for his property at 0 Buena Vista Road.

Financial payments approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a reimbursement of $27,000 to the Roads Supplement Fund from the General Fund, contingent on attaining projected revenue goals for 2010. Trustee Reynolds pointed out that in 2008, the Roads Department surrendered $27,000 to support a shortage in Police Department funding and that this is a request to refund that money. Gray said that if budget is reached, the transfer would not occur until November or December.

Gray said, "When we reach the bottom line of the budgeted revenue amount in the General Fund, that would include the $27,000 that goes back into Roads Supplemental Fund." Gray said that last year the town was $7,000 short on projected revenue. Bristol wants a review at the end of the first quarter to "take a measured approach" to see how the revenue and expenses are at that time.

By unanimous decision, the council approved a not-to-exceed payment of $3,000 for the advertising and administrative costs, such as sight tests and physicals, for the police officer and police records technician positions. The expected cost is $2,700 to $3,000. Gray said this funding would come from the General Fund.

Gray received permission to close the HUD account since the town survey is completed. She also sought guidance on how to pay a $1,715 invoice for attorney fees associated with the lake from Harvey Curtis. Gray said if that payment is taken out of the lake maintenance fund, it would "wipe out that fund." The lake maintenance fund should be built up and not be reduced, she said. Cressman asked if Awake-the-Lake could fund the payment, and Gray said she did not know. Cressman then suggested taking half the amount out of the lake maintenance fund and request the other half from Awake-the-Lake. Stafford said he would make the request to the Awake-the-Lake Committee.

Bristol asked that the council set up its quarterly budget review in April after the March budget numbers are compiled. It was requested that the meeting be separate from the standard council meetings. Jack concurred that it should be in April so this council could provide the new council with a present accounting of the town’s budget status. An election is scheduled for April 6, but the new council would not be sworn in until May.

Library repairs

McDonald asked about the status of the library roof repair. Gray said an insurance claim was submitted, but it was denied. The town will need to seek bids for the repair. Gray said a bigger concern at the library is the ramp. If the ramp is not repairable and torn down, the new ramp would need to be a switchback. The existing ramp is "illegal," Gray said. She said the library has not given an indication that it would or would not assist with funding the project. She also suggested that the Palmer Lake Historical Society be approached for funding the project. Bristol said the results of the survey should be shared with the library, because it indicates the importance of the library to the town.

Business licenses approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved the following business licenses without discussion:

  • Yoga Pathway Studio
  • Sattvic Stuff
  • Tri-Lakes Nia
  • American Legion Post 9-11 (The Depot Restaurant)
  • Red Rudd—B & E Filling Station—New owners are purchasing the restaurant.

Senior Alliance donation

By unanimous decision, the council approved $3,000 for the Senior Alliance. Director Chuck Roberts spoke briefly, providing an update on the Thrift House move and the Senior Center, and made a request for funding. He said Monument has provided a $3,000 donation as well.

The council entered an executive session at 9:14 p.m., as requested by Jack, regarding a personnel matter. The meeting adjourned at the conclusion of the executive session with no further actions taken.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, March 1: Change in staffing for Triview requested

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Below: Chief Jake Shirk of the Monument Police Department introduced the town’s newest police officer, Bob Steine, and his family to the Monument Board of Trustees on Feb. 1. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Below: At the Feb. 1 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk announced that he is running for El Paso County Sheriff. At the Mar. 1 board meeting, Shirk said he appreciated all the support he has gotten for his campaign. He also noted that a Monument police officer has completed all required truck inspection training and will start checking heavy trucks on Monument roads. Photo by Jim Kendrick

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By Jim Kendrick

On March 1, Town Manager Cathy Green requested that the Monument Board of Trustees consider having Triview Metropolitan District hire a management employee to relieve some of the work she, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, and Public Works Director Rich Landreth are doing for the metro district. All trustees were present at the meeting.

Green first reviewed the history of the town staff’s takeover of staff responsibilities for Triview.

Triview could not turn in a balanced budget in December 2008. Triview closed its office building, and Green, Smith, and Landreth took over district management. The town added three full-time staff employees to town staff, but they are still paid by Triview. The Triview district manager was terminated and his assistant resigned. The district’s consultant attorney was terminated. The district’s $47.6 million debt was refinanced to 30-year fixed-rate bonds, lowering interest payments considerably.

A working group consisting of two directors from each board worked with a third-party attorney to draft an intergovernmental agreement for having the town operate Triview, but had no success in reaching a final draft.

The staff had expected its workload to drop more than it has and Triview meetings to be down to once a quarter by 2010. This has not happened. The department heads cannot devote full attention to their primary town responsibilities. Both boards understand this situation and want a change.

Green proposed that Triview hire a district manager to act as a liaison between the town and district staff members and that Triview financial matters be outsourced to a CPA. Triview has asked that the working group of subcommittees be restored. Mayor Travis Easton and Trustee Rafael Dominguez volunteered for the town subcommittee. Trustee Jeff Kaiser volunteered to be an alternate member.

Chili cook-off moving one block west

Woody Woodworth of the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) announced that the group’s seventh annual fundraising chili cook-off is moving from Washington Street to Limbach Park . He requested a "preliminary nod" of approval to have Front Street temporarily closed on Sept. 18 for the event’s beer garden tent in front of Mountain View Medical, which is located on the southeast corner of Front and Second Streets. Alcohol is prohibited in the park. Money raised by the event will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares and to beautification of downtown by HMMA.

Woodworth noted that the medical building’s parking lot has direct access to Front and Second Streets. The board unanimously agreed that it would grant a Special Event Liquor Permit in the street. The board asked him to contact Front Street home businesses that would be affected by this temporary closure for comment on his request. Woodworth noted that the owner of the La Casa Fiesta Restaurant is in favor of the event. Woodworth will formally apply for approval of the cook-off and permit at a future board hearing.

Two engineering contracts renewed again

The board unanimously approved two resolutions for annual renewal of continuing services contracts with Nolte Associates Inc. and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Neither firm increased their already discounted rates.

Minor annexation hearing approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution after a public hearing to set a hearing date for annexation of an irregularly shaped two-acre parcel of land adjacent to I-25 near the southbound on-ramp of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The hearing is scheduled for April 19 and will be advertised four times.

Financial report

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith distributed the preliminary, unaudited report for December. She noted that the 2009 audit process by Cutler & Associates would begin in the second week of March. There will be no further 2009 updates until the audit is completed in May or June. A motion to continue acceptance of the report until the next regular board meeting on March 15 was unanimously approved.

Capital Improvement Plan recap

Green distributed a summary of the board’s re-prioritization of short- and long-term capital projects at the Feb. 16 board meeting. She recommended that the board hold a workshop to hear presentations from a bond attorney and financial expert to determine how to finance these projects, since there is no town money available for capital projects at this time. The board asked her to schedule this as a one-hour agenda item for a regular meeting.

The board agreed to a tentative workshop date of April 24 to hold an orientation event for new board members. There are currently four candidates for three trustee slots and two candidates for mayor. Petitions were due on March 5 after this edition of OCN went to press.

Rockwell concrete batch plant case may end

Town Attorney Gary Shupp stated that a motion to dismiss has been filed on the case to recover attorney’s fees by Kalime Masse, former owner of the Rockwell concrete plant. Shupp said he anticipates that a signed document should be received in a week or so, which would end this suit.

The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 15 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Joint Use Committee, Feb. 9: Tighter effluent restriction limits remain a concern

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 9, the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility took a step toward becoming a more prominent voice for Colorado’s small treatment facilities at regulatory hearings and meetings held by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding the state’s water quality programs.

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

Palmer Lake’s representative, Dale Smith, who is the president of the JUC, attended the meeting by telephone. Monument’s alternate representative, Director Chuck Robinove, chaired the meeting; Monument Director Lowell Morgan was out of the country. Woodmoor’s representative, Director Jim Whitelaw, was also present.

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that on Jan. 27, the Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association had unanimously approved a contribution of $500 to the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council to help pay for a $10,000 study conducted by consultant Tim Moore on errors in chronic sublethal whole effluent toxicity (WET) tests and to become a member of CWWUC. The members of the Upper Monument association are:

  • Academy Water and Sanitation District
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District
  • Monument Sanitation District
  • Palmer Lake Sanitation District
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District

The Wastewater Council (http://cwwuc.org) is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. Its mission is to professionally and responsibly promote environmental protection by supporting legislation and regulations that achieve well-defined environmental benefits while maintaining local flexibility.

The following are some of the council’s current activities:

  • Conducts special projects funded by members.
  • Holds monthly meetings to discuss water quality and wastewater issues and make recommendations.
  • Holds subcommittee meetings to develop positions on water quality and wastewater issues.
  • Tracks state and federal wastewater treatment facility and water quality issues, guidance, policies, and regulations.
  • Works directly with the Water Quality Control Division (WQCD) of the Health Department on critical issues
  • Receives frequent presentations/updates from WQCD staff.
  • Coordinates with similar water quality nonprofit organizations for drinking water and stormwater districts in monitoring state and federal regulations and legislation.

Moore presented the results of his WET study on Feb. 9 in Denver to the division’s Water Quality Forum WET Work Group meeting at the Health Department. His study showed how to practically and cost effectively show that a false positive test had occurred. If the EPA allows it to be implemented, it would help prevent creation of needlessly misleading false records of statewide wastewater discharge permit violations.

Moore’s study and several other related WET presentations are at www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/WhatsNew/WET.html

Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks noted that he has chronic WET tests performed on the facility’s effluent at a consultant testing lab every three months. Chronic WET tests cover a three- to seven-day period, while acute WET tests last 24 hours. To date, none of Tri-Lakes’ sublethal chronic WET tests has resulted in a failure. Tri-Lakes will continue to be required to perform these chronic WET tests because of Monument’s industrial plants, even though all their industrial wastes are captured during pretreatment and shipped away in storage containers for hazardous material disposal. These industrial plants discharge only pretreated water and domestic wastewater (restrooms, drinking fountains, etc.) into the Monument Sanitation District collection system.

The purpose of these WET tests is to determine if the facility’s treated effluent is toxic to the growth and reproduction of ceriodaphnia dubia and flathead minnows, which are warm water species. However, Monument Creek is a cold water stream, and neither of these two species lives in this region. Burks noted that regulations for acute WET testing allow the use of other species—daphnia pulex, daphnia magna, rainbow trout, and brook trout—in tests on a cold water stream, but EPA regulations for chronic tests do not allow the same substitution.

The major concern of treatment facility operators throughout the state is the well documented high variability in sublethal chronic WET test results and the high number of false negative and false positive results that occur during these WET tests. This problem is worst in areas where streams contain hard water—over 100 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium—which is particularly harmful to these two species.

There is little statistical difference in the number of false positives and false negative results for sublethal WET tests performed on stream samples taken from above and below the effluent discharge point in Monument and Fountain Creeks. This problem is very prevalent in Fountain Creek stream segments 2a (north half) and 2b (south half) between Colorado Springs and Pueblo due to the hardness of the stream water. Even if a test result could be shown later to be a false positive, this erroneous result would still remain listed as a chronic WET test failure on the facility’s monthly discharge monitoring report under current EPA regulations.

Nonetheless, the EPA has mandated that sublethal chronic WET testing become a nationwide standard, which will increase testing costs and the problems that will result for numerous false test results in areas like southeast Colorado. The Water Quality Control Division does not agree with the EPA’s mandate but may have no choice in mandating implementation by September 2010. See "Welcome Statement" under WET Work Group at www.cwqf.org/Workgroups/Workgroup.htm for the division’s statement of opposition to the EPA’s sublethal WET testing mandate.

Burks and Wicklund asked the JUC to contribute $500 to help pay for this Wastewater Council WET testing study, noting that Tri-Lakes, like most small facilities, will likely need reciprocal statewide financial help from the larger dischargers for future regulatory issues. Wicklund also said that the EPA’s proposed changes in WET testing procedures will increase the cost and complexity of testing and may result in more frequent testing. Wicklund noted that Tri-Lakes’ environmental attorney, Tad Foster, is a former state water quality control commissioner who attends WQCD hearings along with Jim Kendrick of Monument Sanitation District.

Wicklund asked Palmer Lake and Woodmoor to join the Wastewater Council. He also noted that all the members who attended the Jan. 27 Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association meeting had voted unanimously to have the association join the Wastewater Council and to ask their district board to join the council so they could collectively have a larger voice at WQCD hearings and meetings. Woodmoor’s Jim Whitelaw said he would propose that Woodmoor join at its Feb. 11 board meeting.

Wicklund and Burks had previously asked all the district managers at the Jan. 27 Upper Monument meeting to ask their board to contribute $900 to help Monument pay for Kendrick’s representation at Health Department meetings in 2010, and they had agreed to ask. Burks asked that Smith and Whitelaw also ask the other directors of the Palmer Lake and Woodmoor boards to each contribute $900 to help Monument pay for Kendrick’s representation at three to five meetings each month.

The JUC approved a motion by a 2-1 vote, with Smith opposed, to also contribute $500 to the Wastewater Council to help pay for Moore’s $10,000 WET testing study.

Tighter nutrient restrictions may be postponed

Wicklund reported that Kendrick had talked to Dave Akers, program manager of the WQCD Water Pollution Control Program, at the division’s Feb. 8 rulemaking hearing on new E. coli limits. Kendrick asked Akers whether new state phosphate or nitrogen limits set by the EPA would be imposed on the Tri-Lakes facility when its new discharge permit is issued. Akers told Kendrick that if there were to be any changes to effluent limits for these types of nutrients in the future, they would likely not be put into place for the Arkansas River basin until 2013. These possible new phosphate and nitrogen limits would not apply to the Tri-Lakes facility’s discharge permit until 2015 at the earliest.

The current expired Tri-Lakes discharge permit for 2005-09 has been administratively extended by the division’s permit section indefinitely. There is a backlog of hundreds of expired permits in Akers’ permit section due to the tremendous unplanned load of awarding and administering EPA stimulus grants/loans (including Monument’s $2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant for completion of the Wakonda Hills collection system) and numerous state government furlough days. These delays will not be resolved soon.

This does not mean that EPA’s plan to impose much tighter phosphorus and nitrogen limits, which few if any state wastewater treatment facilities can meet, will not be imposed. The cost of installing tertiary clarifiers and tertiary filters will cost many millions of dollars that would have to be paid for by the 4,500 constituents of Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor. Burks said that alum and ferric chloride are typically used in a clarifier to remove phosphorus by chemical precipitation, adding chemical sludge to the existing production of biological sludge as an operational waste product that would also be stored in the facility’s sludge lagoon. He said the facility may be able to reduce phosphorus to about 2 ppm currently. However, the currently proposed limit from WQCD is 0.135 ppm, a number that EPA considers too high.

Burks said there will be time to start planning for expansion since a tighter phosphorus standard is not expected until 2013, but he had no hope of meeting the proposed standard. Colorado Springs Utilities probably does not have enough land to build phosphorus treatment within its facilities, so the EPA will likely only force small plants in this area to comply. He noted that the cost of starting weekly testing for influent and effluent phosphorus levels in 2011 would not be excessive.

Wicklund noted that 95 percent of phosphorus in state waters throughout the country comes from agricultural fertilizer runoff. Asking the state’s wastewater facilities to spend millions of dollars each on the other 5 percent of phosphorus will not restore the viability of aquatic life in the "dead zone" at the south end of the Mississippi River or the adjacent portion of the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

There was general agreement that the agricultural contribution was too large a political problem for EPA and WQCD to address. However, EPA will continue to place tighter restrictions on wastewater facilities, particularly on the small districts that cannot afford costly legal challenges to new permit limitations that the state opposes as well.

Information on the division’s nutrient criteria workgroup is available at www.cwqf.org/Workgroups/Workgroup.htm 

Copper problems have not gone away

The copper concentration in the facility’s effluent for January was 10.6 parts per billion (ppb). January and February have typically had the highest copper results, up to about 15 ppb. In December, Monument had the highest influent copper concentration—138 ppb for south Monument, though the plant’s discharge concentration was only 5.8 ppb. Most of this copper is leached from copper drinking water pipes inside homes. Monument, Woodmoor, and Triview have banned copper pipe for new or replacement plumbing installations. Caustic soda is being added to the town’s drinking water to help minimize leaching of particles of copper from the inside of the copper pipes. This leaching has already caused pipe failures and leaks in some downtown Monument buildings.

The cost of installing tertiary reverse osmosis treatment facilities for meeting the copper limits that EPA had initially demanded that the state impose in 2008—even though the facility cannot meet them—has been estimated by the plant’s engineering consultant to be $30 million to $50 million. The value of the facility is $6 million. Operating costs would double at a minimum. The EPA had already proposed an average copper limit for the Tri-Lakes facility of 1.35 ppb for 2008 and 2009, well below the minimum detection limit of 5.0 ppb.

However, the state has allowed the existing waiver of a maximum of 24.8 ppb for average copper readings and a maximum of 36.4 ppb for an individual test reading to stay in place. The waiver allows more time for testing and data collection to establish limits using a biotic ligand model for establishing levels of copper toxicity for aquatic life in Monument Creek.

The drinking water limit for copper is 1,300 ppb. Many multivitamin pills include supplemental copper as well as selenium. The south end of Fountain Creek, segment 2b, remains on the EPA’s monitor and evaluate list due to ambient levels of selenium that are higher than the federal stream standard.

Wicklund noted that Monument’s drinking water had very little caustic soda treatment last month due to a town well problem that has now been fixed.

JUA finalized

The final version of the consolidated Joint Use Agreement that incorporates all previous amendments has been completed by attorney Tim Schutz and was conditionally approved with a few typographical corrections still to be made. After the JUC members have signed the document, a digital ".pdf" master copy will be prepared and forwarded to each district for internal distribution to staff and board members.

The meeting adjourned at 11:44 a.m.

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The next meeting is at 10 a.m. on June 9 in the facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, Feb. 11: Board votes to join wastewater council; Nasser honored

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: Benny Nasser, president of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board, receives an award from the Joint Use Committee for his work on updating their organizational agreement. Presenters are Bill Burks of the Tri-Lakes Water Treatment Plant and Dale Smith, chair of the JUC. Photo by Harriet Halbig

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Harriet Halbig

At the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board meeting Feb. 11, President Benny Nasser received an award from the Joint Use Committee (JUC) for participating in the review and updating of that committee’s organizational document. The award was presented by Bill Burks, executive director of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment facility, and Dale Smith, chairman of JUC.

Reporting on the most recent meeting of the JUC, board member Jim Whitelaw said that all test results are fine, but that copper content is still high in south Monument. He said that the body’s budget will be completed by August.

Whitelaw also reported on the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council. He said that the JUC’s plant is not a member but that individual water works may join at the cost of about $200 per year. Monument is a member and Palmer Lake is considering membership. He said that the organization is primarily a lobbying group.

District Manager Jessie Shaffer agreed that the group is a collection of entities that lobbies regulators such as the Environmental Protection Agency rather than the Legislature. The group meets once a month. Jim Kendrick from Monument presently attends the meetings, and Shaffer suggested that Woodmoor contribute to his expenses. He will then report back on activities at the meetings.

The board informally approved membership and support of Kendrick’s participation.

Whitelaw said that water is not presently being tested for phosphorus, but that may be upcoming. Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette said that phosphorus is becoming controversial and results largely from agricultural runoff and laundry soaps. He said that the test would cost about $50 and suggested that it be performed for information purposes. He said that EPA standards are being re-evaluated and this might become an issue in the future.

In his manager’s report, Shaffer discussed the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) and its objection to Woodmoor seeking to purchase water independent of the authority. He said that the exchange decree created by the board does not exclude future participation by other members of the authority, but apparently there is ill will within the group. He pointed out that when Donala purchased water in the Leadville area, there was no objection.

The consortium of farmers on the lower Arkansas River known as Super Ditch sees Woodmoor’s action as a threat to its plan to lease water to all members of the PPRWA and has therefore excluded Woodmoor from future discussions. Shaffer said he has written Super Ditch to say that he wishes to remain involved in group negotiations. He also pointed out that PPRWA’s attorneys have said Woodmoor cannot be excluded.

Shaffer reported that the transit loss committee of the El Paso County Water Authority has reported that two new members are joining the group. A decision must be made as to how the funds from these memberships will be applied, whether to this year’s budget or a reserve fund. A long-term arrangement for the administration of the model has not yet been reached.

In his operations report, Gillette reported that maintenance on the south treatment plant required draining and cleaning a filter, resulting in a lower amount of water billed for the previous month. He also reported that the district had purchased a newer dump truck. The lake is filling as projected, and the White Fawn/Deer Creek project remains incomplete until the ground thaws and allows for repaving. There is no new construction underway.

Shaffer reported that he is working toward completion of the district-wide water augmentation plan and policy. The district’s regulations require that Woodmoor will own all water and water storage rights within the district. The staff is working on finalizing a policy and plans to provide a service to property owners to arrange for water court storage rights decrees and individual facility approvals by the Colorado Office of the State Engineer for replacing evaporative losses that occur in ponds and dams.

The board voted to approve an agreement with THC Utility Management Specialists involving an analysis to develop user charges for wastewater service.

In her attorney’s report, Erin Smith briefly explained the process for holding elections for the board, saying that the intention to hold an election has been announced in the Tri-Lakes Tribune, and she would collect statements of intent at this meeting from any members running for re-election. If there are no more nominations than positions, the election will be cancelled and any vacancies can be filled by appointment.

Before adjourning to executive session, the board agreed to change its March meeting date from the 11th to the 18th.

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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 1855Woodmoor Drive. Due to a schedule conflict, the next meeting will be held on March 18 at 1 p.m. For information, call 488-2525.

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Monument Sanitation District, Feb. 18: Wakonda Hills tap fees will increase Oct. 1

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 18, the Monument Sanitation District approved an increase in tap fees for Wakonda Hills properties that are not included in the district by Sept. 30. Brannan Construction Co. is expected to have completed Phase 2 of the district’s sanitary sewer collection system expansion between July and October. The size of the Oct. 1 increase will be determined at a future board meeting.

Tap fees for the approximately 40 properties that have not yet been included in the district will remain at a fixed $5,500 until Sept. 30. The district will credit up to $1,000 of the property owner’s cost for installing a sewer service line toward the fixed tap fee. For example, if installation of a service line costs the property owner $1,500, the district will give a $1,000 credit toward tap fees, leaving a $4,500 balance.

The balance can be financed through the district with no interest for 15 years. For example, a balance of $4,500 would require 180 monthly payments of $25. Once connected, monthly user fees will apply. If a property owner wishes to pay off the financed tap fees early, there is no pre-payment charge. If a property owner sells the property, the balance due on the amount financed by the district must be paid off at closing.

The district will not require any property owner to connect to the district collection system unless the property’s septic system has failed. However, the district is strongly encouraging all Wakonda Hills property owners to connect as soon as possible to protect their drinking water wells from being contaminated with bacteria and nitrates. Raw wastewater is being discharged into the ground as a result of failing septic systems and may flow into adjacent well heads. Children and pets in the community have been seen playing in and walking through failed leach fields with raw sewage on the surface of the ground.

The county Department of Health and Environment will continue to inspect Wakonda Hills septic systems to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the community from raw wastewater. If a septic system has failed or fails in the future, the Health Department will compel the property owner to connect to the district collection system. A petition for inclusion is required at that time. Petitions for inclusion into the Monument Sanitation District are available at the district office at 130 Second St. A petition must be signed by each person listed as an owner on the property deed and notarized. Free notary service is available at the district office.

Those who choose not to include by Sept. 30 may still petition to include in the future, but the new tap fees will apply. The district’s financing option may not be available after that date, and the property owner may have to pay all legal costs associated with inclusion.

For more information, contact the district at 481-4886.

The board held a public hearing on nine petitions for inclusion for single Wakonda Hills lots. The nine petitions were unanimously approved.

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The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 18 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Triview Metropolitan District, Feb. 23: Board election cancelled

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 23, Monument Town Manager Cathy Green announced that no one had applied to run against incumbent Triview Metropolitan District board members Steve Cox, Bob Eskridge, and Steve Hurd, whose terms were to expire in May. After the meeting, OCN confirmed that no one else had applied before the deadline and that the election had been cancelled. These incumbents will serve additional four-year terms. Robert Fisher’s and Steve Remington’s terms expire in May 2012.

Robert Fisher chaired the meeting. President Robert Eskridge and Steve Remington were out of town and excused.

Dana Duthie, district manager of Donala Water and Sanitation District, and engineering consultant Roger Sams of GMS Inc. briefed the board on operations at Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Donala board member Bill George also attended. Some of the topics in their presentation were:

  • History of the facility
  • The intergovernmental agreement between the owner districts: Donala, Triview Metropolitan District, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District
  • Financing and reimbursement for facility expansion
  • The facility’s budgeting process and 2010 budget

After the hour-long discussion, Duthie and Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth noted that re-deeding of the facility is required to adjust the percentages of facility capacity that the districts own to correctly reflect the capital improvements that have been made to the facility:

Triview—44.0 percent or 0.77 million gallons per day
Donala—38.9 percent or 0.68 MGD
Forest Lakes—17.1 percent or 0.30 MGD

Donala will hold 6.7 percent of Triview’s share of ownership in escrow until Donala’s loan of $1,076,354 to Triview on Jan. 8, 2009, is paid off. The loan helped pay Triview’s share of the facility expansion cost.

Landreth noted that he would have the resolution for this re-deeding ready at the special meeting on March 2—a workshop on the district’s capital improvement plan—when all five Triview board members could be present. Landreth said he would also present a resolution at the March 2 meeting for a one-year lease of some of Triview’s effluent to a commercial customer. Duthie said that Donala may also be interested in leasing some of Triview’s effluent in the summertime for sale to the Gleneagle golf course as re-use water. He noted that Donala could use this revenue to help pay off Triview’s loan. Note: The Triview board formally approved both resolutions on March 2.

The board agreed to purchase used trucks, a Pelican street sweeper, and associated additional equipment from Mark Snoddy of Vision Designed Homes LLC. Snoddy performs plowing and sweeping for Triview as a subcontractor. Snoddy’s contract with Triview expires at the end of April, and Monument’s Public Works Department will take over these responsibilities. Triview is buying the equipment for town employees to use in Jackson Creek. The board members agreed to pay for the equipment with four monthly payments of $25,000 each. The street sweeper will be inspected by a Pelican mechanic and the trucks by JJ Tracks. Landreth and Sheffield will prepare the paperwork required to complete this sale.

Staff report

There was one payment over $5,000 to VDH in the amount of $10,136 for January snow removal and street sweeping.

Green discussed a letter of interest from water attorney Chris Cummins of Felt, Monson, and Culichia LLC. She said she would invite him to the next regular Triview board meeting on March 23.

Green noted that Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara has combined Triview’s and the town’s road and water standards into single documents that will be submitted to the Monument Planning Commission, then the Triview and town boards.

Green suggested that the Triview and town boards form subcommittees to revise the Triview service plan. Triview will ask the county to allow the town to be the approving authority for the revision. She said the members of the town’s subcommittee would be Mayor Travis Easton, Rafael Dominguez, and Jeff Kaiser.

Operations manager Steve Sheffield reported that Well 7 is undergoing repairs for a broken check valve but that the other equipment appears to be in good shape after six years of operation. An underdrain on a filter at the B water plant has been fouled by particles of rust and debris. The underdrain will be repaired by the end of February. The water meters on the well sites have all been replaced. The Misty Creek Park is nearing completion and is now usable.

The septic tanks at the Valero truck stop at the I-25 Baptist Road interchange have been removed. Triview’s Baptist Road collection line that services the truck stop will have to be flushed monthly until more sewer users connect to this line.

The meeting adjourned at 7:38 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on March 23 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 24: Board approves debt and mill levy questions for ballot

By John Heiser

At the Feb. 24 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, the board unanimously approved placing on the upcoming mail ballot election measures to increase district debt up to $20 million and increase property taxes up to 5 mills as needed to help repay the additional debt.

A primary purpose of the measures is to fund the infrastructure changes needed to connect to Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) for access to renewable water. The mill levy could potentially yield additional annual revenue of up to $412,000.

The district currently has $7 million in debt used to fund the recently completed wastewater treatment plant expansion. The loan repayment costs on that debt run about $500,000 per year.

The current property tax mill levy paid by owners of property receiving water and sewer service from the district is 16 mills, which yields annual revenue of about $1.2 million.

If voters approve the ballot measures and the board approves applying the additional 5 mills, the property tax paid by owners of property in the district would be 21 mills, which would yield annual revenue of about $1.6 million.

Board President Dennis Daugherty noted that the district currently has $6 million in cash and is "nowhere near the point where we need to be borrowing money." He added that the board is focused on minimizing expenses and has no intention of borrowing more than is needed or approving an increase in the mill levy if the debt can be repaid from other sources of revenue.

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported on the schedule leading to the election. Pro and con comments on the ballot measures must be submitted to the district by March 19. The district will mail summaries of those comments to the voters April 2. Ballots will be mailed to voters between April 12 and April 16. Ballots must be received at the district no later than May 4.

Now that the ballot measures have been approved, the district is prevented from advocating passage of the measures. All information on the election and related projects has been removed from the district’s Web site.

District residents, including some former board members, have formed a committee called Water for the Future to support passage of the measures. Information on the committee and its views is posted at www.donalawaterfuture.webs.com

Potential effects of initiatives 60 and 61 discussed

Duthie reported on an analysis of what would happen if state ballot initiatives 60 and 61 were to be approved by voters in November.

  • If initiative 60 passes, annual property tax revenue to the district would be limited to $810,000. If the May ballot measures pass, that would increase to about $1.2 million, which would be about the same as the current revenue.
  • If initiative 61 passes, no further borrowing by the district would be allowed even if the May ballot measures pass.

Even though Duthie now thinks that an agreement with CSU may not happen this year, in light of the uncertainties regarding ballot initiatives 60 and 61, he is recommending that during 2010 the district borrow an additional $7 million to fund infrastructure changes. He said the current $1.2 million in property tax revenue would cover the loan payoff even if voters do not approve the additional 5 mills in May. Although not sufficient to implement all the proposed changes, the $7 million would cover the immediate capital improvement needs.

Board candidates announced

Board positions currently held by 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.

The candidates for the three positions are Warren Gerig Jr., Tim Murphy, William Nance, Gene Pfeffer, and David Powell.

For more information on the election, contact Jackie Sipes, the district’s designated election official, at 488-3603.

Update given on Willow Creek (formerly Mount Massive) Ranch

Duthie reported that he has reviewed a second draft of the engineering report needed for the Willow Creek Ranch water court case. The revised estimate is that there has been historic use of about 332 acre-feet per year for irrigation. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. The final engineering report must be filed by July 12. The district is planning to host representatives of opposing parties at the ranch in July. The water court date is set for March 8-11, 2011.

Donala signs on with the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition

Duthie reported on the Feb. 17 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). (See the PPRWA article.)

With Murphy abstaining because, due to business travel, he had not had time to read the contracts involved, the remainder of the board unanimously approved signing up with the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition headed by Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District and paying the $20,000 membership fee. The fee is needed to pay for engineering studies to determine the feasibility of the project, which would construct a pipeline from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northwestern Colorado east across Interstate 80 to the Front Range and then south to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir. The Rueter-Hess is three miles southwest of downtown Parker and about 27 miles north of County Line Road.

Other matters

  • During the three months from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, the district’s $3.753 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.53 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.17 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 4.7 months.
  • Duthie reported that at its Feb. 8 meeting, the El Paso County Water Authority voted 6-2 to authorize Gary Barber to pursue using a task force within the basin roundtable structure to address the Flaming Gorge/Green River projects. Duthie said he and Jessie Shaffer, manager of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, opposed the measure, preferring to wait to first hear from Jaeger. Duthie noted that the Denver Metro Area Roundtable has authorized $20,000 for the task force, which will be led by the Arkansas Roundtable.
  • Duthie distributed copies of his notes from the Feb. 3 meeting of the Colorado Springs Utilities Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC). The UPAC has completed its review of policies regarding providing service to areas outside the city limits. The UPAC will make presentations to the Colorado Springs City Council during its February, March, and April meetings as the Utility Board (UB). Duthie said the UPAC appears to favor giving the CSU staff flexibility in negotiating contracts with outlying districts.
  • Duthie also reported on the Feb. 17 UB meeting. He noted that many on the City Council oppose the notion of selling Colorado Springs’ water. The anticipated contracts with outside entities will likely be for transporting water owned by those outside entities.
  • The water from Well 14A in the Fox Run Regional Park, which has shown higher than usual amounts of radioactivity from radium, is now being mixed 4:1 and used in the potable water system. Testing has found no radon gas present at the water plants and the wastewater plant. Radioactivity in the sludge from the wastewater plant remains an issue.
  • Duthie distributed a suggestion for adding a small-scale potable reuse element to the new infrastructure planned for connecting to CSU. After 10 steps of water treatment, disinfection, and mixing, wastewater plant effluent would be used in the potable system. The cost of the system is being estimated.
  • One-year contracts were unanimously approved to lease effluent to Stonewall Springs Quarry and to Cross Creek Metropolitan District. The lessees will pay $500 per acre-foot. The revenue will be split between Donala and the Triview Metropolitan District.

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 March 18 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, March 3: Water rates going up

By Susan Hindman

April’s water bills will reflect increased rates approved by the Academy Water and Sanitation District’s board at its March 3 meeting. Although the service fees were raised in the past year, the actual water rates have increased only for those using over 12,000 gallons, said Treasurer Walter Reiss.

He and Anthony Pastorello, the district’s operator, examined the 2009 numbers and found that while it costs the district $6.27 to produce 1,000 gallons of water, most residents are paying only $5 per 1,000 gallons. The district is in need of money for reserves—to cover future costs as well as emergencies—so instead of increasing the rate by the $1.27 difference (considered a break-even number), the rate was increased by $2, to $7 per 1,000 gallons. That rate is good for all households using 12,000 gallons of water or less per month. The rate for those using more than that will not change; it is currently $11 per 1,000 gallons.

Board President Richard DuPont expressed concern over how residents will view this increase, but Director Ronald Curry believed that "most people in this community have just been waiting for this to happen." While nearby districts pay less for water, those districts serve a larger number of people.

Academy services 302 homes. Of those homes, around 89 percent use less than 8,000 gallons per month, and 11 percent (30 homes) use more than that. Seven homes use more than 12,000 gallons, and the highest use is one household that uses between 30,000 and 40,000 gallons per month.

Academy’s $20 service fee (per household) for water "should be for capital investment (but it) is basically getting floated over to operations, so there is no money for future development and engineering," Pastorello said.

Curry suggested these numbers be examined every year, and "if the costs go down, we ought to reduce the rates."

Fire station water use

In the past, the district has raised questions regarding the high water use at the Wescott fire station on Sun Hills Drive. Because of a misreading of the meter, the fire department was overcharged by $900. The board voted to refund that amount.

Elections

The May election to fill two directors’ seats was canceled because only the directors who currently hold those seats submitted self-nomination forms. June Walters and Reiss were sworn in for new four-year terms.

Web site

Curry said that once he files all the election paperwork, he is going to explore low-cost options for setting up a Web site for the district. "I’ve been thinking for a long time that we need a Web site," he said, noting that an impending increase in postal rates will be costly to the district. He emphasized that the site would be very simple and inexpensive.

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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 April 7.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Feb. 24: Board accepts bookkeeper’s resignation; staff will manage district finances again

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 24, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board unanimously accepted the unsigned written resignation of former board bookkeeper Angela Morton. The other directors rejected Treasurer Dennis Feltz’s request to hire another bookkeeper so that he could continue to manage the district’s day-to-day finances. They also voted to transfer the management of day-to-day finances back to the district staff due to financial management problems that have continued to occur since Morton was hired on Nov. 1. Some of these problems were incorrect payroll payments, late credit card payments that resulted in the district’s account being frozen, and late filing of some 2009 IRS tax documents. The other directors also directed Feltz to retrieve a computer he had purchased for Morton with district funds without the board’s knowledge or prior approval.

Former Wescott board Chairman Brian Ritz, former Wescott Executive Assistant Ginette Ritz, several Wescott full-time and volunteer firefighters, administrative assistant Cheryl Marshall, and Black Forest Fire/Rescue District Chief Dave Ury attended the meeting. Morton did not attend this meeting. Boy Scout Spencer Chambers also attended the meeting to help qualify for a communications merit badge and was accompanied by his father, Wes Chambers. The absence of Director Bill Lowes from the meeting was excused.

Jan. 27 minutes amended

Before Morton’s resignation was discussed, there was a discussion about how the Jan. 27 meeting minutes described the discussion about Feltz’s rejected claim that Marshall’s 2010 2 percent pay raise had never been approved.

Feltz asked board secretary Greg Gent to change the following sentence in the proposed Jan. 27 minutes that Gent had written and submitted for board approval: "Feltz believed that punitive action should be taken against Marshall by denying her a 2 percent raise." Feltz stated, "I didn’t have anything with [sic] punitive damage or punitive actions. I stated my opinion about I wasn’t going to vote for a 2 percent raise because of her statement." However, there was never a board vote on Jan. 27 on a pay raise for Marshall.

Gent asked, "How do you want that to read?" Feltz replied, "I didn’t make the statement about punitive actions against Cheryl Marshall. My statement was that I [sic] not going to vote for a 2 percent raise because of her statement." Feltz asked that this sentence "be stricken" from the minutes. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n2.htm#dwfpd for previously reported details on Wescott’s continuing financial problems and Feltz’s rejected claim about Marshall’s pay raise.)

There was no objection to Feltz’s request to delete the sentence he objected to in the draft Jan. 27 minutes.

Board Chairman Kevin Gould also proposed a change to the Jan. 27 minutes. Gould said he would provide board Secretary Greg Gent with wording that more accurately describes what he meant when he proposed three procedural options at the Jan. 27 board meeting for moving forward with designing and constructing the proposed Station 3 at Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road. Gould arrived at the Jan. 27 board meeting after the discussion about financial matters and Marshall’s pay raise had concluded.

Gent made a motion to approve the Jan. 27 minutes as amended. Gould seconded. The motion was unanimously approved.

Board approves accounting changes

Feltz reported that the district had received "a bill" the previous week for about $4,500 for volunteer Battalion Chief Mike Badger’s self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) that had been purchased for volunteer firefighters. He said, "We had to just re-advise it, readjust it, and I think it was mostly out of Badger’s equipment fund that we re-advised it." Feltz said that Morton "just deducted that money from last year and on the books itself even with all the money rolling over. We can’t, we can’t purchase things in ‘09 and pay for them in ‘010." Feltz had recommended final approval of the 2009 budget at the Jan. 27 meeting.

Campbell and Gent stated that this should be a 2010 expense if it is paid in February. Chief Jeff Edwards agreed with Feltz that this was a 2009 expense. Marshall stated, "Actually the auditor recommended that you make this an accounts payable" in 2010 for 2009.

The board approved an amendment to the 2009 budget for this revision.

Campbell noted that the district’s payment to insurer VFIS had increased. Marshall stated that the district provided additional new $10,000 life insurance policies for board members and staff. Several board members and firefighters had not been previously covered per district policy. Feltz said that insurance coverage for people who had left the department had been dropped in early 2009.

Feltz said there are continuing errors by Paychex Inc., the payroll check consultant hired by the district last fall, with regard to overtime payments, Fire and Police Pension Association benefits, and tax issues. He added that Marshall had "been catching it" and they were "just small errors" and "very minor issues." Feltz stated that "at least we got check and balance printed out keep it going [sic]."

Gent commented on the continuing Paychex errors and said, "We’ve consistently had errors with them, and I kind of wonder if it’s even worth the money. What do they offer that we need?" Feltz said, "They’re doing the checks for us. They’re keeping the vouchers. They’re keeping the ledgers for us right now about the money so we have, in a sense, we have a check and balance method. Cheryl puts in the amount of hours. They’re doing the checks." Feltz added that Wescott could check to see if Paychex is doing this work appropriately.

Gent asked how that is different from when the staff did this work and payroll information could be checked then too, having only added "one more person in the mix that is not really doing their job satisfactorily?"

Gould asked Assistant Chief Vinny Burns to give a short review of how the district financial management has evolved since he became Wescott’s first paid employee.

Edwards noted that the board changed auditors in 2007 and the new auditor, Tom Sistare, noted that there was a control deficiency that did not allow management or employees to prevent or detect misstatements on a timely basis. Edwards said he implemented a four-tier management structure to correct this control deficiency. Firefighters manage their respective line items in the first tier. The next tier is reviewing by shift captains and Chiefs Burns and Edwards. The third tier is Marshall, who confirms that money is available. The fourth tier is final review and approval by the treasurer before submission to the board. The financial information is then reviewed by the board. Ginette and Brian Ritz said district checks were signed by the two chiefs and two board members on the recommendation of the district’s auditor. Burns noted that Marshall never signed checks.

Edwards said Sistare’s 2009 audit found that these four-tier review procedures for each budget category were "outstanding" and encouraged ownership of the budget and helped train young firefighters on management responsibilities. There have been four tiers of review for former Treasurer Dave Cross and now for Feltz. Edwards stated that the existing four tiers of staff checks and balances system had identified and corrected deficiencies for five years until five months ago when the board changed the process. In 2008 the practices were shown to the board and accepted by the board.

Gould said that problems are improving slowly and the "bookkeeper has been an issue from the get go." Gould said Morton had submitted a letter of resignation, offering to continue working until a replacement was hired. Gould asked the board to decide whether to keep Paychex and whether to hire another bookkeeper.

Campbell said the district needed to terminate the relationship with Morton who had resigned and is "obviously disgruntled." He added, "I’m not sure why we changed what we were doing. I’ve stated before at previous meetings that my understanding at the time was that the request for Paychex and for the bookkeeper were operational requests" from the staff. "What was it that we were trying to fix?" Gould said the bookkeeper was to "partner with" Feltz with his treasurer duties.

Gent said that he thought that the bookkeeper was not taking over all financial responsibilities and would only be helping Feltz with oversight of the department. "Where are we now?"

Feltz said there was a $10,000 "mistake" for wildland deployment in 2008 when Wescott paid the deployed firefighters and then the federal government paid them as well. Feltz stated that there was an underestimation of overtime payments that was "incorrectly adjusted." Burns said that there was a miscalculation that he and Edwards reported to the board several times and was adjusted by the staff.

Feltz added, "Then there was the FLSA issue." Feltz was referring to a largely unknown change in the federal rules of the Fair Labor Standards Act several years ago regarding overtime payments for firefighters that similarly surprised numerous fire agencies in Colorado. This error was also detected and corrected by the staff and resulted in an unbudgeted additional payment of about $35,000 to Wescott staff for 2008 and 2009. (See http://firechief.com/leadership/management-administration/firefighting_flsa_revisions_raise/ for information on pay restrictions.)

Feltz also claimed that $355,000 for debt services in 2008 was not paid due to the board paying off the debt in 2007. Gent asked if the auditor had commented on this $355,000 in a report. Feltz replied that the district has about "$200,000 in the bank but not in our budget," and "we had additional money than what we started with." He added that the audit "says how much we have in the bank, but then when you look at our ledger it never shows the correct amount as the beginning amount." However, the district’s auditor found no discrepancies, and all funds have been accurately reported.

Feltz said Paychex provides the W-2a and an electronic signature on where the money is going. Paychex is double-checked by the bookkeeper and Marshall.

There was a lengthy discussion of other technical issues. Some of the issues are noted below.

Gent said the bookkeeper should be able to provide oversight for the board with only five to six hours per month. He asked where was the oversight in the system Feltz had created where Morton wrote all the checks.

Marshall asked Feltz how the chief could run the department without any knowledge of what Feltz and the bookkeeper have done other than Feltz’s monthly report to the board. Feltz said the chief should maintain his own ledger.

Campbell said that the board should not be running daily financial operations and that "no individual board member should have power beyond the board as a whole" outside of a board meeting. "I’m not sure that where we’ve ended up solves anything. I think it actually it creates an attitude of distrust." He said that the original goal was to fix mistakes when they occur, not take it away from people if they make a mistake.

Campbell said the control should return to the chief and the staff and Feltz should be given information to provide oversight. He said he did not believe a bookkeeper was required for Feltz and outsourcing payroll to Paychex should be retained if Paychex stops making errors.

B shift Capt. Sean Pearson noted that Paychex is not as responsive as Marshall had been in correcting errors and that Paychex had never yet produced a mistake-free payroll. Pearson also noted that he and his wife are quite concerned that a person who is not a district employee that he knows and trusts now has access to all their private information. Marshall noted that the district made a profit on the deployments and the second and third payments were accurate. She noted that Feltz did not respond to her requests for help on the first federal payment yet continued to blame her for errors.

C shift Capt. Scott Ridings said that he had asked Feltz to come to the station to help resolve the FLSA payroll issue. Feltz never came to the station. Ridings stated that he felt that Feltz never trusted anything the staff did to correct the FLSA problems.

Edwards spoke at length about what has happened to his ability to manage the department based on the requests Feltz made to the board. Some of the points he made were:

  • I did not ask to have payroll and maintaining the books removed from Marshall and transferred to the board’s bookkeeper.
  • We’ve never had the level of financial problems encountered in the past five months since the board voted for the change.
  • What business in the middle of a budget cycle changes its payroll system by outsourcing it without input and buy-in from the staff?
  • Who else takes the books away from the staff after three quarters and gives it to a bookkeeper who has no familiarity with a special district?
  • For the first time in the five years I’ve been here we’ve had credit cards frozen. Why do I have credit cards frozen? That’s totally unacceptable.
  • I’m held accountable for a $3 million budget and I can’t have access to my books every day, and I’m told I can have a report once a month when I had continuous access before, which I need.
  • We should not change from Paychex, if they can get the job done, during this year so that we can be able to provide correct information to the staff and IRS.
  • Cheryl and I gave 110 percent to that bookkeeper to help things go smooth. We did not shoot ourselves in the foot. That reflects on me when firefighters’ checks are wrong, bills don’t get paid, and can’t use their credit cards.

Campbell observed that Ben Franklin said effectiveness is doing the right things and efficiency is doing things the right way and the board has not focused on both.

Brian Ritz said the board’s mission is to support the chief, establish the budget based on the chief’s request, and provide the opportunity to use the budget appropriately, and is ultimately responsible for it. Edwards has no control over his budget right now. The board is handicapping a capable person. The board needs to take a step back and let the chief have a chance to do his job.

Gould said that everyone needs to be professional and honest. The district should continue to use Paychex if its performance improves. Dropping the bookkeeper is OK if the signature process is changed to include a board member signature for checks over $1,000 or $2,000 and one signature from the chiefs. The treasurer must have full and complete access to financial records in a professional manner. Communications between the board and staff need to be professional.

Gent asked if Feltz had purchased a computer for Morton. He said, "Yeah we did. It’s in the contract. But it goes back to us. It’s a computer that she went out and bought—QuickBooks system."

Gent asked, "If she’s an independent contractor, why are we buying her a computer?" Feltz replied, "Because all the data on there was our information, so that she kept it secure and would give it right back to us instead of downloading from her own computer to anything else."

Gent asked, "Do we have the computer back?" Feltz said, "No. She’s still doing it if we want." Note: The original contract Morton signed on Oct. 28 does not mention purchasing a computer for Morton. OCN was unable to get a copy of the amended contract from the staff. A revised copy of the contract has not yet been provided to the staff.

Campbell said, "If we’re not going to move forward with replacing the bookkeeper with another bookkeeper," the board needs to "terminate and be done and get this equipment back. We can move forward, we can give the control back to the chief, let him run his budget the way that he needs to. We’ve got to work out the communication issues that are still going to be there. We’ve got to make that work." Campbell added that the board did not need a bookkeeper.

Gould said communication between the chiefs and Feltz was the key issue and needs to be professional.

After further discussion there was consensus on returning to the tiered management system Edwards had established with a signature from a chief and a board member on checks larger than $2,000, with exceptions allowed for emergency expenditures like wildfire evacuations.

A motion to accept Morton’s resignation was unanimously approved.

Chief’s report

Edwards reported that C shift had performed a cardiac save in a mutual aid response on Misty Creek Drive in Jackson Creek in the Tri-Lakes Monument district. The firefighters, Capt. Scott Ridings, Roger Lance, and Curt Leonhardt will receive Phoenix Awards for their successful emergency response.

Edwards and Ridings noted that the district’s community wildfire prevention plan is nearing completion. When approved by the state, federal and state grants will become available to the district, homeowners, and homeowners associations for wood chipping, mulching, and wildfire mitigation.

Four firefighters will attend a two-week course at Texas A&M for Fire Officer 1 and instructor certification. Burns, Lance, Leonhardt, and Capt. Mike Whiting will attend. Gould and Edwards noted that this is the best and most cost effective course in the country that is recognized by Colorado.

Edwards also noted that the district has begun to participate in the Central Mountain Training Resource Team with members from seven counties. The team will provide additional training and funding for equipment.

Edwards also attended the first annual El Paso County Health Department training for 211 responses for special needs people who do not require 911 first responder services. Special needs people will be able to register online in the near future for this program through the United Way so they will be helped in situations like wildfire evacuations. Chief Ury noted that the headquarters for this service is being moved and should reopen soon. See: www.ppunitedway.org for more information.

Burns noted that training by Badger and his three volunteer lieutenants has been completed for the nine new volunteer firefighters. Most live in or very near to the Wescott district.

Gould noted that he had met with Edwards and Burns to determine room, engine bay, and equipment requirements for the new Station 3.

Campbell reported that the board subcommittees from Wescott and Black Forest continue to meet. The subcommittees will try to get a recommendation completed before the May special district elections. Gould also noted that no steps had been taken yet to re-plat the 35-acre lot that Shamrock Ranch owner David Wismer has set aside at Stagecoach and Highway 105 for development. When the parcel is re-platted, Wismer will donate the five-acre lot, which is currently being leased by Wescott for Station 3, to the district.

The meeting adjourned at 9:43 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 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, Feb. 24: Subcommittee formed for union liaison

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Below (L to R): TLMFPD Chief Denboske congratulates firefighter Mike Keough, Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, firefighter Franz Hankins, and firefighter Rudi for their outstanding performance in the Jaws of Life rescue of a vehicle occupant on Highway 105. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

On Feb. 24, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board discussed its proposal to form a subcommittee to deal exclusively with the International Association of Fire Fighters union (IAFF) and to bring matters and concerns to the board for resolution. The resolution proposal document was provided to the board and follows in its entirety:

"Summary: As requested by the Board of Directors of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD), to propose a sub-committee to accommodate the opportunity for the TLMFPD staff members of IAFF 4319 to communicate with the Board of Directors.

Introduction: IAFF members do not feel that they, the staff, have the ability to communicate with the Board. The Board of Directors does provide for communication as follows:

  1. IAFF members are able to provide agenda items regarding which they would be able to speak to the Board at a regular scheduled meeting.
  2. The opportunity to speak at the point within a meeting noted as "items not on the agenda" for staff members.
  3. IAFF members can follow the chain of command and the Fire Chief can present such items at the Board meeting.

The IAFF members, however, feel that the chain of command aspect inhibits their ability to speak freely at Board meetings.

Proposal: To ensure that the concerns of the IAFF members are known to the Board, it is proposed that a sub-committee be formed to enable this communication. The sub­committee will meet on an as needed basis. The sub-committee will consist of two members of the Board as well as two TLMFPD staff members from IAFF 4319.

Dissemination: The sub-committee Board representatives will report on all sub­committee meetings to the Board. These reports will be given at the next regular Board meeting as an agenda item."

The proposal was unanimously adopted by the board after a motion by Director Charlie Pocock, seconded by Director Bill Ingram. Directors Pocock, Barbara Kelly and Ingram volunteered for duty on the subcommittee. Only two were needed. A drawing was held and Directors Ingram and Pocock were selected.

Linda Ousnamor, owner of The Pencil Pusher, which is the district’s bookkeeping firm, read the treasurer’s report into the record. She advised the board that this monthly report covers 8.33 percent of the budget year.

The year-to-date monies received were $360, which is 0.01 percent of the expected annual property tax revenues. More property tax revenue will be received on March 10. Specific ownership taxes received by the district amounted to $24,138, or 7.52 percent of the budgeted annual revenue of $321,029. Ambulance revenues were $38,264, or 8.32 percent of the budget. This figure places the ambulance revenue on target.

On the expense side of the ledger, administrative liabilities were skewed due to a large payment for liability insurance. Salaries were 39.7 percent over budget due to three pay periods in January. Electricity costs were high due to having to run the well at Fire Station 3 to accommodate the need for water augmentation to the Great Divide Water Co. This occurs occasionally as part of an agreement that allows Station 3 to utilize water from Great Divide and to have part of the station’s parking Lot on Bent Tree property. In return, the district pays for the well to run to augment the water in the aquifer. Great Divide provides water to the Bent Tree, King’s Deer, and Arrowood communities.

Ousnamor advised the board that the final fire district audit for 2009 will begin March 1 and will be presented in May.

Chief Robert Denboske then provided a summary report of calls received during the period since the last board meeting.

On Feb. 9, Battalion Chief Greg Lovato and his team were called to Lake Woodmoor, where a large dog had fallen through the ice. Utilizing standard techniques, the rescue was accomplished without further incident. Firefighter participants included Patrick Dougherty, Marcus Matthynssens, and Lt. Ryan Graham. Other assisting firefighter personnel included Monty Vawter and Janaka Branden. Pulling the rope to bring the animal and rescuers to shore were Capt. Chris Mola, Battalion Chief Lovato, Tony Tafoya, Mike Smith, Jake Villa, and Mike Rauenzahn.

Denboske noted that this rescue of an animal used training techniques that were in place for human rescues of this nature. He noted that the process worked perfectly.

Chief Denboske also described a cardiac emergency on Feb. 17 at Jackson Creek Mall. The Donald Wescott team was on site and paramedic Elliot Link and his Advanced Life Support team from Station 3 arrived to assist.

Also, a head-on collision occurred on Highway 105 on Feb. 17. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack and his crew, Franz Hankins, Rudi Gillette, and Mike Keough, were involved in the rescue requiring use of the Jaws of Life to extricate one vehicle occupant. The board congratulated the team for its outstanding performance.

Chief Denboske then advised the board that he was working on a situation that required a permanent determination of the water source for Fire Station 1. A report would be provided to the board at the next monthly meeting.

Denboske said the snow retainers installed on the roof of Station 1 were breaking away and needed reinstallation. This was necessary to avert harm to individuals and equipment by falling ice and snow.

In his equipment update, Denboske advised the board that a fire truck had been damaged on a call to an I-25 accident. In positioning the truck in a relatively difficult situation, the driver apparently caused the truck hit a guardrail. Denboske said the damage was estimated at $8,000 to $10,000. An internal investigation was being conducted.

Director Tim Miller said a personnel policy review would be conducted in March.

The meeting was then adjourned.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meets the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is March 24 at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. Meetings are normally held the fourth Wednesday of each month. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer at 719-484-0911.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, Feb. 18: School Board discusses changes for upcoming school year

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education, meeting at Lewis-Palmer High School on Feb. 18, held an extensive conversation regarding changes for the upcoming school year and their influence on morale in the community.

During the citizen comment segment of the meeting, concern was expressed that the decision to move the Grace Best student body to Creekside would have unforeseen repercussions in the future and that decisions had been made by the board out of the public view.

Members of the board reassured the public that all decisions had been made in meetings and work sessions open to the public. They said that all school principals and members of the administration had been consulted, in addition to other staff and administration members and members of the community, before such major decisions were put to a vote at a public meeting in December at Grace Best Elementary.

In response to comments by teachers that morale is suffering due to dismissal of teachers, Superintendent Ray Blanch commented that the district is required to lay off teachers of fewer than three years employment first and to retain tenured employees. He said that in all cases, teachers were notified in person of their future in the district and that teachers who will remain were consulted about their preferences of future assignments within the district. Sixth-grade teachers were asked whether they would prefer to move to an elementary or remain in a middle school environment. He said that it is very upsetting and regrettable to lose young teachers with great promise and acknowledged the emotional price of some decisions on the budget.

Blanch also said that after this year, 90 percent of the remaining teachers will be tenured. It has been 20 years since it has been necessary to have a reduction in force of tenured teachers. It was agreed that the method of instituting a reduction in force should be added to the board’s policy governance document so teachers are assured that decisions are made fairly and they have input.

Board member Robb Pike said that he and others are always available to attend small group discussions to answer public questions as to why some decisions were made. Board member Mark Pfoff concurred that it is important for the public to know its concerns will be heard.

In response to the suggestion that deeper cuts be made now to avoid further disruption in the future, board members responded that they wish to retain as many instructors as possible at any given time to maintain the highest possible quality of experience. The state notifies the district on a quarterly basis regarding funding. Since the December meeting, an additional $400,000 has become unavailable for the upcoming year. The board agreed to hold a work session in the near future to determine whether they have sufficient information to decide on further reductions as necessary.

Physical education teachers and students from Palmer Ridge High School held a brief presentation on their electives of weight training, dance, Pilates, yoga and other offerings that allow students to experience physical activities and training that they can use for a lifetime. Over 200 students have registered for yoga and Pilates. These classes do qualify for graduation credit. The only classes offered by the department that are non-credit are those involving CPR and first aid/rescue techniques.

When asked whether he thought team sports participation should receive graduation credit, department Chair Monty Gutowski responded that it would deprive students from instruction in nutrition and other topics with lifelong value. He said that the present offerings strive to get people out of their usual comfort zone and encourage them to try new things.

As part of the curriculum, students are also required to write about exercise strategies, meal planning, and related subjects. They learn how many calories they should consume in a day and what the best sources are. This writing aspect of the curriculum was added as part of the school’s school improvement plan.

Blanch said the district is considering partnering with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs to enable students who wish to pursue a career in sports management or physical education to get college credit for their work.

Grace Best Principal Peggy Parsley and third-grade teacher and Naming Committee Chairman Tom Pulford presented results of a survey to determine a new name for Creekside Middle School when it becomes an elementary school. An initial decision was made to leave the name Grace Best with its building and pursue a new identity. The new name cannot be the name of a person. Each class could contribute up to three alternatives. Forty names were submitted. The committee deleted names that were duplicated in nearby districts. The committee met on Feb. 10 to analyze the results of the survey.

The two final names submitted were Bear Creek Elementary (from Grace Best’s bear mascot and creek from Creekside) and Fox Trail Elementary. The vote for the two was very close. When asked why Jackson Creek was not considered, they responded that all students do not originate in that neighborhood. The board will vote to decide the name at its next meeting.

Regarding budget reductions and future considerations, Blanch reported that he received notification from the state that cuts for next year will be $3.6 million, the maximum previously considered by the board. While daunting, he said he was glad to finally have the amount in writing rather than as conjecture. He reminded the board that ballot issues regarding specific ownership tax (levied on automobile sales) and state income tax may deprive the district of additional funding. A budget work session was arranged for March 4 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. in the administration building.

The board discussed participation by the district in support of funding an adequacy lawsuit. Blanch referred to the greateducation.org website for further information on this suit, which holds that Colorado’s school funding level does not meet constitutional standards requiring a thorough and free system of public schools.

The board voted to support the suit. See www.greateducation.org/statistics-faqs/funding-faqs/adequacy-lawsuit/ for more information on the suit.

Blanch reported that the district was accredited with distinction by the state. The accreditation is now based on growth rather than solely on scores.

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

Wilson commented that, in the midst of all the negative news, it should be remembered that the students score well on advanced placement tests, have the highest graduation rate in the state, and generally have a lot to brag about. District students are found to be well prepared for college and in little need of remediation when they get there. She said that these achievements are worth fighting for and remembering in these times of challenge.

Pfoff commented that it might be worthwhile to schedule regular gatherings for community discussions of the challenges facing the community,

The board went into executive session at 10:45 p.m.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets on the third Thursday of each month. The next meeting will be in the Sunset all-purpose room at Palmer Ridge High School on March 18 at 6 p.m.

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Lewis-Palmer District Accountability Advisory Committee, Feb. 9: Legislators are focus of school funding concerns

By Harriet Halbig

The District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) will express its concerns to legislators about school funding.

Cori Tanner, committee member at large and chair of the Committee for Political Achievement (CPA), stated at the Feb. 9 DAAC meeting that it was critical to complete the tri-fold flier about the committee and make the local community and parents aware of the committee and its activities.

Tanner said that she had composed a letter to send to legislators expressing concerns about school funding. She distributed these letters to members of the committee from all schools, asking that they be duplicated and distributed to members of the various Building Accountability Advisory Committees (BAACs) and returned to her when signed. In this way, she hopes to impress on the legislators that a significant number of voters are concerned about the problem of funding for education. The letters will be hand-delivered.

In her School Board Update and Legislative Review, board liaison Gail Wilson reported that the board continues to work on further budget cuts. At the state level, no legislation is currently being considered that includes additional funding. As a consequence, the district must seek grants and donations for additional funding.

The Colorado Association of School Boards will not support legislation with unfunded mandates. As a result, there may be a conflict between those forces supporting pre-k-12 funding and those supporting higher education.

Gabriele Lacrampe reported on meeting with Great Education Colorado, the group that was organized to work at the state level for more funding for education. She said that even districts that passed recent mill levy overrides will have to make major cuts. A new group, Great Future Colorado, is attempting to build a statewide coalition and planned to hold a rally. She planned to attend the rally and invited other interested parties to do so. The committee voted to join the organization as a group.

Members of the committee read and discussed the School Improvement Plans from all district schools and returned to request further information on specific issues.

These subjects included:

  • Literature and language arts will now be combined at the middle school level. How will this differ from past practice?
  • More information is needed on Project Lead the Way and Gateway to Technology at the middle school level. Both stress innovation.
  • Northwest Evaluation Association tests will be eliminated at some levels but will continue to be used at the elementary level and for special education and English Language Literacy levels. A new Colorado Student Assessment Program test will be introduced in 2012.
  • Common goals must be sought for both high schools as eighth-graders will now be coming from a single school.
  • Palmer Ridge is stressing writing improvement and the use of writing in all of its classes, including math and physical education. Who will train the teachers in these disciplines to evaluate the writing skills of their students?
  • Regarding the realignment of schools, elementary school principals are meeting and working with sixth- and fifth-grade teachers regarding the new feel for sixth grade. Parents should be assured that much consideration is being put into the new configuration of schools for the coming year. Sixth-graders are also being asked about aspects of that year that should be retained.

DAAC’s March meeting will be held at Grace Best Elementary and will involve further discussion of School Improvement Plans, a report on Me and My World, a survey of elementary students by Dr. Marie Revak, director of assessment for the district, and information on the Project Lead the Way and Gateway to Technology programs.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month. Locations vary. The March 9 meeting will be at Grace Best Elementary School, 66 Jefferson St., Monument, at 7 p.m.

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Lewis-Palmer Special Education Advisory Committee, Feb. 10: Superintendent responds to position statement

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Below: District 38 School Superintendent Ray Blanch addresses the committee. Seated on the right is Special Education Director Mary Anne Fleury. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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By Harriet Halbig

Chris Amenson was elected chairman of the Special Education Advisory Committee on Feb. 10 following the resignation of Brent Byrnes. Byrnes’ children no longer attend schools in District 38.

Dr. Ray Blanch, superintendent of schools, attended the meeting to respond to the committee’s position statement, presented to him during the past month. He said he has received a number of e-mails and phone calls on the subject and wished to address the committee. In the form of a draft improvement plan, he set forth a number of goals to be met in the next three years. The document was divided into sections aligned with the district’s priorities of student achievement, whole child, and community engagement.

By 2013, Blanch wishes to increase access to the general curriculum by special needs students by 50 percent. This will be achieved through professional development for general and special education teachers and training for paraprofessionals to enhance student access. Co-teaching models will also be developed, and hardware and software programs will be used to allow special needs students to more easily participate.

Regarding the whole child, students with special needs will increase their ability to advocate for themselves by 50 percent by 2013, Blanch said. Measures to this end will include student participation in Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings where appropriate, participation in general education classrooms, and increased use of assistive technology devices to enhance students’ ability to communicate.

In addition, all students who qualify for Extended School Year (ESY) services will maintain or show improvement in their IEP goals as a result of participation, Blanch said. IEP students will participate in summer experiences with general education students.

Regarding the community engagement aspect of the district, all materials owned by the district for use with students with disabilities will be identified and cataloged by May 2013. These materials include curriculum materials and equipment. The inventory is currently underway.

In addition, by May 2013 all parents of students with disabilities new to the district will feel welcomed and supported in their transition into D-38 schools, Blanch said. A survey will be developed to determine the level of support received and areas in need of improvement. A parent liaison position will be developed to support the entire families of new students, and a parent connection network at each school site will be developed.

Finally, by May 2013, all transition students, those ages 18 to 21, will be enrolled in post-secondary programs or employed, Blanch said. To this end, coursework, training, and counseling needed for these students will be identified, and a vehicle has been purchased to facilitate transportation of students to training programs. Transition from one school to another and one grade to another will also be improved.

Parents’ comments indicated that these transitions are now being unevenly achieved and improvement is required in some locations.

Blanch said that his improvement plan was created with input from the Special Education Advisory Committee, special and general education teachers, and others. He said that the document is in draft form and he wishes for it to remain that way so it may develop as needs arise and as resources vary from one year to the next. He also said that the mention of specific programs was deliberately omitted, because students enter and leave the district during their education.

Blanch outlined some specific programs that will utilize stimulus funds specific to the special education program. These include the purchase of the vehicle for the transition program, physical improvements at Lewis-Palmer High School, creation of a new space at Lewis-Palmer Middle School for teaching of life skills, purchase of sensory and assistive technology, professional development, career curriculum, and materials for preschool use. He stressed that all expenditures have not yet been finalized.

Blanch stressed that the stimulus funds will no longer be available after the 2010-11 school year. He also mentioned that some ballot initiatives for 2010, such as the possible elimination of the Specific Ownership Tax (levied on automobile purchases) and reduction of the state income tax, will make further cuts in school budgets necessary if passed. The state used to require that districts retain a reserve for capital expenditures. That reserve is no longer required. The amount of any mill levy override (MLO) is limited to a percentage of a district’s budget. Consequently, any future MLO will be smaller due to the shrinking budget.

John Mann, president of the Board of Education, was also in attendance and confirmed that committee members should be aware of the uncertainty of funding beyond the year 2010-11.

Other reports: Special Education Director Mary Anne Fleury gave a brief report on staffing for the coming year. She said there will be four resource teachers at Lewis-Palmer Middle School next year. There had been five between Creekside and Lewis-Palmer in the past. She said that caseloads are presently being analyzed for the coming year.

The subcommittee performing the inventory of special education resources reported that the task is far more extensive than anticipated. It has completed two sites and has scheduled three more. Members now are working on determining categories for the resources, and they reiterated that copyright and general applicability must be considered in the process. Some of the materials are decades old and some have never been used.

A new chairperson was sought for the Someone Who Cares Award subcommittee. No volunteers were forthcoming.

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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 March 10 at 6:30 p.m.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board, Feb. 24: Board holds first meeting, makes changes

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association held its first meeting of the year at the Barn in Woodmoor.

Members-at-large George McFadden and Larry Goad were absent. Paul Lambert attended via cellphone. Jim Hale, Nick Oakley and Lambert were elected to the board in January. McFadden is the former president and Goad is a continuing member at large. McFadden and Goad requested that they be members-at-large with no additional committee responsibilities.

President Chuck Maher said that the board has revised its policy on executive sessions for this year. In the past the executive sessions have been held at the end of the public meeting and, as a result, any actions taken occurred after the public had left. Executive sessions will now be held before the public meeting, with votes taken during the public meeting.

WIA member Vic Harshberger said that there was a mention online of a possible foreclosure auction of the Woodmoor Pines Country Club in June. He said that negotiations are being held with bankers and others to avoid such a sale.

Brian Vickers spoke on behalf of the Woodmoor Business Group, saying that the group meets twice a month and will hold a chili cook-off on March 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Barn to introduce community members to their businesses and to recruit new members.

In his vice president’s report, Jim Hale said he hopes to unify the board this year. Part of his responsibility is to oversee the association’s staff, and he hopes to update the employee handbook. He also wishes to create a strategic plan for the community and solicited volunteers for committees. A survey will be done to learn of the community’s wants and needs.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that dues are being paid at a good rate and that over 10 percent of members took advantage of the new ability to pay by credit card. He said he is still trying to determine a way to make financial information available to members only.

The board voted to distribute the newsletter by bulk rate mailing in the future rather than through saturation mailing. In the past, residents of outlying communities received the WIA newsletter while some members did not receive it, especially those with post office boxes and those who live out of state.

Oakley also reported on covenant control, saying that 30 violations were reported in January. It was unknown how many were resolved.

Woodmoor Public Safety representative Kevin Nielsen reported that his staff will participate in a county-wide emergency training program in June at Palmer Ridge High School. He also reported that Public Safety has submitted a grant application to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for training and equipment.

The board approved the appointment of Jennifer Davis to the Architectural Control Committee.

Reporting on common areas, Hale said he will examine all of these and decide on future action. He said that the trail in the Marsh is not yet complete and that a parking lot will not be built. A second trail on the site is yet to be built, and he said he will get in touch with the contractor. He also said it will be instructive to see how the trail ages.

Secretary Jim Wilson said that the previous board voted in November to stop offering support, supplies and staff to the Firewise program. The board voted to reverse that decision. The board also voted to reaffirm acceptance of the Community Wildlife Protection Plan as a guiding document for the organization.

Wilson also said that re-examination of the governing documents of WIA should be continued. The process was begun last year. He said that changes to some documents can be made by a vote of the board, while others will require a vote by the membership. The documents involved include the articles of incorporation, the bylaws, the covenants, and the rules and regulations. He proposed to appoint Hans Post to chair a legal audit committee. He said there are volunteers willing to examine the various documents.

Wilson assured that any decisions requiring membership action will be clearly explained before the vote is required.

The board voted to reinstate membership in NEPCO (the North El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations).

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The Board of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive. The next meeting will be held on March 24 at 7 p.m. For information, call 488-2693 or go to woodmoor.org.

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

The three months of meteorological winter turned out to be very cold for us, with temperatures averaging well below normal. This was the case for most of the country, with record cold and snow hammering most areas from Arizona through Texas and into the Mid-Atlantic states.

Here in the Tri-lakes region, temperatures were 6°F below normal for the month and were colder than in January. In fact, we never managed to get as warm as 50°F during the entire month—very unusual. This also allowed plenty of snow to stick around since once again we didn’t see any warm temperatures and/or strong westerly winds. Precipitation was also above normal for the month, with nearly 20 inches of snow accumulating.

The first week of February saw a return to a slightly more active weather pattern after a very quiet January. Temperatures remained right around normal for the week, with highs in the upper 30s to low 40s and overnight lows in the single digits and teens. A strong storm system did move by to our south, just brushing the region with 1-2 inches of snow on the 3rd and 4th. Much heavier snow fell south of Highway 50 and through New Mexico and Texas. The rest of the week was mostly sunny and quiet.

Cold and unsettled weather took hold for the majority of the second week of February. Temperatures started the week off on the cold side as highs struggled to reach the 20s on the 7th, 8th, and 9th with overnight lows in the single digits. This chilly air was accompanied by light snow, with most of us accumulating 2-5 inches over the three-day period. Another quick-moving system brought 2-3 inches of fresh snow during the evening of the 11th, and then temperatures warmed slowly through the rest of the week and into the beginning of the weekend, touching 40°F on the 13th under mostly clear skies.

But another strong cold front moved through early in the morning on the 14th, which sent temperatures tumbling and produced around an inch of windblown snow. Temperatures fell to below zero just before midnight on Valentine’s Day, making for an even better excuse to snuggle up with a loved one to stay warm.

Cold weather continued to dominate the region through the week of the 15th with a prolonged light snow piling up a decent amount. Temperatures started the week off below zero, but at least we had plenty of sunshine. Highs reached through the 20s on the 15th to the 30s on the 16th and low 40s on the 17th and 18th ahead of the next surge of cold air. This cold front moved in during the afternoon of the 18th with light snow developing and temperatures falling. Light snow continued off and on through the weekend, as several surges of reinforcing cold air moved in. Temperatures did not rise above the 20s Friday through Sunday. The heaviest snow fell on the 21st. Most of us picked up 5-8 inches of snow during the period.

Temperatures remained very cold to start off the week of the 22nd, with clear skies and fresh snow cover, and overnight lows dipped well below zero. However, on the other side of the spectrum, the sunny skies and stronger late February sunshine did help highs reach into the 30s and 40s the next few afternoons. A quick moving storm began to affect the region on the 25th, with snow showers developing. The heaviest of the snow activity was along and west of I-25, where 2-4 inches of new snow fell by early on the 26th. Sunshine again returned to on the 26th and 27th, before a final cold front moved in to end the month.

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30-50 inches of snow that shut down the region. March 2009 started off very warm and quiet, then snow began to pile up quickly at the end of the month and continued into April. Kind of makes you wonder what we’ll see this spring. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit http://www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

February 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 34.7° (-5.3°) 100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 9.3° (-4.5) 100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 45° on the 24th
Lowest Temperature -7° on the 15th, 22nd, 23rd
Monthly Precipitation 0.76" (+0.06" 9% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.10" min 0.02"
Monthly Snowfall 18.3" (+5.7", 45% above normal) 
Season to Date Snow 75.0" (+1.0", 1% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 12.49" (-1.06", 8% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1201 (+132)
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 everyday 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

Fundraiser for son appreciated

To the Tri-Lakes community, Town of Monument employees, and caring citizens:

On Jan. 9, a fundraiser was put on by Mary Russelavage in honor of our son, Parker. Parker was born in June 2009 with a rare genetic eye condition called aniridia (no iris), and as a result of the aniridia, he also has glaucoma. He has had six surgeries to date to help control the glaucoma and repair a detached retina, in an attempt to save his partial vision. The money raised will be used to help fund future surgeries for Parker and fund research in the field.

For more information and to support research, please visit www.visionfortomorrow.org

We want to thank everyone who came out to the Pinz Bowling alley to show their support. We can’t begin to express how blessed we are and how blessed little Parker is because of the generous people in our community. We are hopeful that we will see medical advances in the coming years that will help not only aniridics but all other visually impaired individuals.

Big thanks to: Mary Russelavage and Monument Cops for Kids, Town of Monument employees, Pinz Bowling Alley, The Orchid Riot, Matt Martinez, and the Denver Broncos Cheerleaders

Silent auction donors: Monumental Toys, The Depot, Big Mama’s Honey, Vitae Salon, Anne and Julie, Kathy Spence, The Broadmoor Hotel, Bill and Irene Walters, Sally and Mac McInnes, Sharon Williams, Rosie’s Diner, Bayou BBQ, and Cost Cutters.

Thank you all so very much from the bottom of our hearts! God bless.

Lucas, Natalie, and Parker Ebaugh

Editor’s note: After the Feb. 6 edition was published, Mary Russelavage informed OCN that one band listed in the flier, Rated M, had disbanded just before this event. She said that the band Reckless graciously and enthusiastically filled in with minimal notice. Reckless has performed at other regional charitable events as well. OCN regrets the error in the caption.

Fireworks? Now?

You may think I’m crazy, but I am here to talk about this year’s Fourth of July spectacular celebration of "Fireworks and Fun" in Palmer Lake. Last year was a great success with over 20,000 people in attendance. Our fireworks display was choreographed to music and aired live on KKFM 98.1 and 92.9 the Peak FM. To make sure everything is on schedule and all preparations are ready for you to enjoy our July 4 festival, we must bring it up now.

This year, our activities will include the Rocky Mountain Tractor Pull, a tractor rodeo, climbing wall and zip line, tractor-pulled hay rides, old-fashioned family games, live music by several local bands, "the best small-town fireworks show in America," and much, much more! It keeps getting better every year because of your support.

We at the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee try extremely hard to keep this special event exciting and safe for all. Would you become a valued team member and help us out with any donation you can? All donations are greatly appreciated! Comments and ideas are welcome also.

Our plans are to have even more activities and vendors for this year’s extravaganza. This is the largest visibility event in the Tri-Lakes area. Sponsors, donors, and advertisers can be included in the 2010 event booklet and various media advertising by contacting us at: Palmer Lake Fireworks, POB 54, Palmer Lake, CO 80133. For advertising, contact Rhonda McCauley, Macronder@yahoo.com, 487-0138. Vendors should contact Mary Russelavage, mrusselavage@townofmonument.net, 213-6349.

All donations are tax-deductible, as the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee is registered as a 501(c)3 organization.

Rhonda McCauley

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Spring into spring with a new book

By the staff at Covered Treasures

What does spring mean to you? Whether your thoughts turn to gardening, Easter, bird watching, traveling, or relaxing with a new novel, there’s a book waiting for you. A few suggestions follow.

The Easter Egg
By Jan Brett (G. P. Putnam’s Sons), $17.99

It was time for the bunnies to decorate eggs for the Easter Rabbit. Hoppi is finally old enough to try creating the winning egg and become the one who helps the Easter Rabbit on Easter morning. But, as Hoppi hops along and sees one fantastic egg after another, he begins to wonder how he can compete. He goes into the woods to think, and just when he figures out that he only has to make the best egg he can, his plans take a most unexpected turn. Brett’s lovable bunny hero and her remarkable Easter Rabbit will enchant readers as they enjoy exquisite illustrations filled with dazzling eggs. This is an unforgettable Easter story and another Jan Brett classic.

Durable Plants for the Garden
By Plant Select, James E. Henrich, Editor (Fulcrum), $24.95

This landmark publication features the first 74 plants promoted by Plant Select, a collaborative venture aimed at identifying and distributing the best plants for gardens from the High Plains to the intermountain region. In a user-friendly format, this volume shares the story behind the selection of each plant, as well as detailed plant descriptions, growing tips, and anecdotal comments. Photographs and botanical illustrations make this both an informative and beautiful resource. Plant Select is a cooperative program combining the talents and expertise of Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens, and landscape and nursery professionals from throughout the Rocky Mountain region.

Brushed by Feathers
By Frances Wood (Fulcrum), $16.95

Wild birds flutter, swim, fly, feed, call, hop, swoop, and sing all around us, but these activities often go unnoticed. This book will help both the casual nature lover and the experienced bird-watcher tune in, whet their desire to notice birds, and expand their understanding and appreciation of what they see. Brushed by Feathers is a collection of intriguing essays providing month-by-month introductions to more than 150 Western birds, accompanied by vivid line drawings and quotes from noted naturalists.

Off the Beaten Path Colorado: A Guide to Unique Places 
By Eric Lindberg (Morris Book Publishing, LLC), $14.95

Tired of the same old tourist traps? Whether you’re a visitor or a local looking for something different, let this book show you the Rocky Mountain State you never knew existed. Peek into Tiny Town, a Lilliputian village of about 100 hand-crafted toy-size buildings; hone your steering skills at the snowy, icy course at Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs; or hike the giant red cliffs of Devil’s Head Lookout Trail for spectacular views of the Pike National Forest and, on clear days, of mountain peaks more than 100 miles away. If you’ve "been there, done that" one too many times, get off the main road and venture Off the Beaten Path.

A Very Special Easter
By John & Wendy (Penguin Group USA), $5.99

From hunting for eggs to sharing treats, you and your little one will delight in turning the pages of this adorable board book. Colorful illustrations show how different animals spend their special day.

Good Night, Little Bunny: A Touch-and-Feel Bedtime Story
By Jane Yolen (Simon and Schuster), $7.99

Little fingers will love the touch-and-feel textures that appear throughout this sweet board book. Jane Yolen’s rhythmic, rhyming text and Sam Williams’ adorable illustrations make this the perfect read-aloud bedtime story.

Unfinished Desires
By Gail Godwin (Random House), $26

This sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory is set at an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship leads to a story in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations—and Goodwin captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.

Despite the March snows that are sure to come, spring is just around the corner; so get ready. Until next month, happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Cranes

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Whooping Cranes mixed in with a flock Sandhill Cranes.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

March migration has begun along the Front Range. Bluebirds are making their way north as Randy and I prepare to head south to Monte Vista for the Crane Festival. Flocks of cranes fly over and often land on the Divide as they make their way to the Platte River Valley near Kearney, Neb., where a half million congregate to court and prepare for their long journey north. In March and April, Randy and I often bundle up and sit on our deck with our binoculars to watch and listen for cranes, and sometimes are rewarded with a sighting. Such was the case when a small flock was sighted two years ago in Palmer Lake.

This year we are being proactive in our search for this remarkable bird and will attend the Monte Vista Crane Festival from March 12 through 14. If we are lucky, we may see them perform their elaborate mating dance, prance, and jump 3 feet into the air! We are also hoping to see a few whooping cranes mixed in with the sandhill cranes.

Cranes are fascinating birds and are thought to be the oldest surviving birds on Earth. Fossil evidence indicates that cranes have been here for several million years. Two species of cranes are native to the United States: the sandhill and the whooping crane. While the population of sandhill cranes has declined, it remains viable in comparison to the whooping crane, which has not fared as well and nearly vanished in the mid-20th century.

Named for their loud single note call, whooping cranes once were prevalent across much of North America, however never as numerous as the sandhill crane. By 1941, it was estimated that only 17 whooping cranes remained. Habitat loss, overhunting, the hat industry, and egg collectors all contributed to its decline and brought the whooping crane to the brink of extinction. Thanks to the dedicated conservation efforts by Canada and the United States, the whooping crane is making a steady, albeit slow, recovery. Today their population is estimated to be less than 500 birds, with about 350 being reintroduced into the wild.

Cranes are wading omnivores that spend their days in fields and shallow wetlands and streams foraging for berries and grains and grubbing for insects, frogs, snakes, lizards, and small mammals. The crane forges for food with its bill, which resembles a chisel and is probably as sharp. Bright red forehead feathers stand out from the ash-gray feathers on the adult sandhill’s body. Immature birds lack these red feathers. Adult cranes also have a "bustle" over their rump that the juveniles attain at about 2 years of age.

Compared to the sandhill crane that stands between 3 and 4 feet in height, the whooping crane stands a towering 4 to 5 feet and is the tallest bird in North America. This magnificent bird is pure white, whereas the sandhill is a dusty grayish-brown. The crane’s long neck and legs are similar in appearance to that of the great blue heron or snowy egret. While many of the crane’s habitat and diet requirements may overlap with the heron’s, it is a distinctly different bird. Unlike the great blue heron and snowy egret, the crane flies with a straight neck and does not have a "thumb," so it cannot perch or nest in a tree.

Cranes are social birds that dance, run, leap high into the air, and prance all year. During the spring migration they are especially animated, and we hope to see some of these antics in Monte Vista.

Cranes form long-term pair bonds that often last for life. When looking for a mate, cranes vocalize in a behavior known as "unison calling" where they throw their heads back and unleash a passionate litany. They strut and dance to attract a mate.

At about age 4, cranes choose a life mate and, though the birds are highly social in winter, during spring nesting they become solitary and fiercely defend their territory from other cranes. Females lay two eggs that are incubated by both parents for about 35 days. Because nesting conditions are harsh, siblings squabble for the limited food brought to the nest by the parents. It is rare for both chicks to survive, and the first hatched has the advantage. Fledglings begin to fly at about 2 months but remain with their parents for a year or more, long enough to learn ancestral migratory routes.

The whooping crane population was reduced to such small numbers that it no longer knew how to migrate, and it was necessary for rescuers to teach them. Various techniques, including using ultra-light planes to simulate a parent as well as introducing the whooping crane into flocks of sandhills have been tried with varying success. Slowly, populations of the whooping crane are being re-established. Hopefully, one day this majestic bird will fly over and stop on the Palmer Divide. But until the whooping crane has recovered, Randy and I will have to travel to various locations to find it.

On another note, I was asked by Tom and Dianne Wisdom to display about 60 of my bird paintings at the Wisdom Tea House in Monument during April and May. I look forward to demonstrating my technique and talking about birds at the tea house during the show opening on April 10 and at this season’s first Art Hop on May 20.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available on her Web site www.ElizabethHackerArt.com, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. E-mail her at elizabethhacker66@yahoo.com or call her at 719-510-5918 with your questions and bird stories.

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Art Matters: Objets du jour: Quilts, fiber, multimedia, and more

By Janet Sellers

It’s March, and that means the Palmer Divide Quilters’ show is up at Monument Library already. Each piece—some are actual quilts, some are quilted garments, and some are mixed media quilting art pieces—has a number pinned to it so we can look up the details for it and the artist’s information.

When you get to the library to enjoy the quilt show, look up above the books. The quilts are hung from the rafters and ceiling as well as the walls. This is likely the biggest art show in town, with quilts in every direction overhead. Every year, their bright colors and patterns seem to invite in the spring season for us.

We may not touch them, but it is really tempting to do so. Sometimes I just want to feel the thickness, the elaborate stitching, and the complex textures and layers that make up these creative wonders. If all of the visitors did touch them, though, they could be damaged. Still, as eye candy, we do have the whole month of March to enjoy them, and there are so many to see! It may take a number of visits to the library to take in them all.

This year more of the works are objets d’ art in a quilted visual source. I got there the day it opened, but the artists had already left after hanging the show, and the viewing key wouldn’t be available until after this goes to press. So, I called on my famous friend of fibers, Liz Kettle, to learn more about these new fibers and embellishments to share with you.

I had to wait in line, so to speak, since she was super busy preparing to be in a PBS special on fiber artists, and had also just wrapped on a new book, due out in April. She squeezed me in to talk with her in her studio as she was finishing some pieces for the upcoming video session in Cleveland. My questions were pretty elementary as regards these beautiful objets d’ art. "What are quilts vs fiber art vs. mixed media?" Perhaps a better question is, "What is mixed media?" or even, "What is embellishment in fiber?"

"As our world gets more oriented to technology, art becomes more important to support our humanness," Kettle said. "Fiber art is particularly appealing as an art form because it is so tactile. Its history as a child of traditional quilting brings the familiar feel of comfort and taking care of family. Fiber art connects us back to our culture and history. And yet it expands on that connection ....

"Fiber art is developing into a mixed media art form as artists pull from many different experiences and include them in their work. They can do this because the textile medium is incredibly flexible. My book is intended to give artists permission to tell their story in any way they choose. We give them the tools to help make it easy."

Kettle knows of what she speaks. Co-author of three fiber technique books and creator of endless fiber artwork pieces that she exhibits nationwide, she lives her art and artfully lives with it. I visited her new teaching studio in Woodmoor and, over the course of several months, have watched the art and the creativity burst forth in every color and texture imaginable. From cloth, to weavings, to metal pieces, to clay, the unlikely mixing of materials transforms each part into an artful whole.

Mixed media generally combines three or more art-making materials in fabricating the art. Time was, mixed media was a craft and an "out there" form of craft, certainly not the common fare. These days, various materials become art in the mind and with the hands of the artist, not because of the materials. Now we see collage, assemblage, frottage and fromage. Well, I am kidding about the last one. But in Tibet they do make colored butter sculptures and vibrantly colored sand paintings, so that’s not as far off as it sounds.

Mixing things into the art for a richer visual experience is what Liz Kettle’s work is all about these days. Her workroom/studio in Woodmoor is a sight to behold, jam-packed with new and vintage finds. Everything I would like to play with is in there. Paper, paint, fibers, stamps, rubber stamps, metals, patina materials—once I even saw her carefully draping wet fabric over an old lawn tool to absorb the rust for its beautiful color. She told me,"... this reddish brown color is perfect with green patinas."

She uses real things, real fibers, and real imagination to create her artwork. Often, when I see her work, I wonder to myself how she comes up with these ideas. What would be just another rusty lawnmower to one person is a veritable stockpile for her in terms of rich browns and reds waiting to be harvested from the rust of the years.

In the early 20th century, the Tiffany Co. and artists of the Art Nouveau period defined their art with exemplary design and meaning, and the actual materials used were considered of lesser importance. The utmost care and thought went into the flow and line of the pieces, the drape of a material such as gold wires encasing gems, and the use of natural elements and natural forms in expressing the fine art and the fine objet d’ art.

So the concept of mindfulness over matter has evolved now to include many traditional crafts and reload them mindfully for the fine arts in an explosion of many things to many people. Seeing this art form is interesting and exciting. Mostly, I think to myself how much extraordinary patience these things take to start and then actually finish. I’m going back for more. Join me!

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

TLWC honors past presidents, Feb. 4

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Photo and information provided by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

On Feb. 4, current leaders of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) held a breakfast for the past presidents. During the breakfast, the past presidents were honored for their contributions to the club.

The TLWC is a non-profit organization that has been serving the needs of the Tri-Lakes Community for more than 40 years. To learn more about this club, please visit www.tlwc.net

Below (L to R): Current Co-President, Yvonne Jennings; Past Presidents: Debbie Bielanski, J.J. Kaelin, Jackie Timura, Terry Franz, Peggy Lilly, and Junette Pearson; and in the back are Co-Presidents Elect Lisa Simms and Gerrie Maixner.

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TLWC holds travel seminar, Feb. 10

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Olga Hellwig of Global Travel Unlimited Vacations from Highlands Ranch explained cruise options at her table.

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Below: Marge Suazo of Maximum Cruise and Tour, left, and Dayna Carnival of Carnival Cat & Canine Care LLC have a partnership—Dayna will care for your pets as you cruise.

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Below: Ann Sentman promotes the Pine Forest Antique Show, to be held at Lewis-Palmer High School on April 25-26. 

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By Harriet Halbig

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsored its first travel-related event on Feb. 10 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts.

Chaired by Nancy Pokorny, Have Budget Will Travel offered several travel-related vendors from Colorado Springs and other areas who explained their services to guests of the evening. Light refreshments were also offered. Almost 100 members of the public attended the free event.

Also on hand was Ann Sentman, publicity chair, who promoted the upcoming antiques show to be held in April.

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Sammy Dee’s blues electrify TLCA crowd, Feb. 13

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Below: Sammy Dee at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Feb. 13. Photos by David Futey

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By David Futey

With an encouragement to the audience to "turn on the boogie," Longmont resident Sammy Dee brought his Louisiana style of blues to the Tri-Lakes Center of the Arts stage Feb. 13. The audience complied with Dee’s request on numerous occasions, filling the dance floor.

Dee, performing with drummer Steve Saviano and bassist Tony Harp, sees his performances as an opportunity to "teach people about the blues as it came first." And given his storied history in the music industry, which includes over five years as a guitar player for renowned fiddle player Doug Kershaw, he knows a bit about the blues and Cajun music.

Dee said Kershaw "taught me how to be a rock star and bring a rock star atmosphere." While touring with Kershaw, Dee played in front of crowds as large as 120,000 and opened for such music icons as B.B. King and Al Green. However, his time with Kershaw is but a small portion of what has been his lifelong passion for music and playing the guitar. Though born in West Virginia, Dee grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and it was there where he acquired his first guitar. Dee said he would "ride his bike around town, picking up trash. One day, I found a cowboy acoustic guitar with two rusty strings." It was with that guitar and learning from a friend who was taking guitar lessons that Dee’s music career essentially got started.

While in the Army for three years in the early 1970s, Dee practiced his guitar nearly every day in an Army barracks shower, using the acoustics to help develop his sound. Upon leaving the service, Dee entered the music industry and has made a living from it ever since. This, along with his development of playing Cajun music, eventually led him to be given the title of Honorary Louisiana Bluesman by the Louisiana Music Commission. Though the honorary title may seem a bit away musically from "The Sound of Music," Dee credits that movie for teaching him "what music was" and is for him. Information about Sammy Dee can be found at sammydeemorton.com. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakearts.org

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Wedding Showcase at the TLCA, Feb. 21

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Below (L-R): J. T. Cline, Nikki McDonald, and Bill McDonald of the Pinecrest Event Center and Lodge were among the 26 businesses that participated in the Tri-Lakes Wedding Showcase. The Pinecrest staff served a trio of meat dishes to attendees of the event. Photo by David Futey. 

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Below: A wedding fashion show was among the activities held during the Tri-Lakes Wedding Showcase. Photo Courtesy of Mountain Hi Photography.

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By David Futey

On February 21, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted the Tri-Lakes Wedding Showcase. The showcase was coordinated by Peggy Wilmoth, who has over 20 years experience in organizing bridal shows. Wilmoth said this event was an opportunity for Tri-Lakes businesses that were represented to "show what they can do for parties and events."She continued that the TLCA is a "beautiful event place" that is overlooked as a location for parties, meetings, and weddings. There were 26 Tri-Lakes area businesses represented at the event. This included various restaurants and eating establishments, hotels and inns, photographers, and other event service providers.

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Lake Ice hosts troops for fishing on Monument Lake

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Below: Front Row: Fort Carson Soldiers. Back Row (L to R): Bill Miller, Rod Smith, and Dave Bryant. Photo and information provided by Bill Miller.

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On Feb. 25, Lake Ice U.S.A., a licensed Colorado Guide Service, with permission from the United States Army and the Town of Monument, provided a day of fishing on Monument Lake for Fort Carson Warrior Transition Battalion.

About 30 rainbow trout fish were caught and released during the event.

Co-owners and Professional Fishing Guides Bill Miller, Monument, and Dave Bryant, Parker, spent time with the soldiers on the ice. Special guest Rod Smith, NFL Hall of Fame and former Bronco football player was there to support the soldiers. Former Monument Mayor Si Sibell provided humor and down to earth conversations.

The Depot Restaurant & Lounge on Highway 105 in Palmer Lake, American Legion Post 9-11 Women’s Auxiliary donated and provided lunch to the soldiers.

Lake Ice U.S.A. has provided more than 50 soldiers the opportunity to fish in the Rocky Mountain Region during the past year. Lake Ice U.S.A. sponsors donate their time and products to give back to those soldiers who have injuries or illnesses and are now rehabilitating. There is information at on the program at www.lakeiceusa.com

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Woo returns to TLCA, Feb. 27

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Photos by David Futey

Below (L to R): Wendy Woo and Robin Hoch.

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Below: Sydney Rose.

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By David Futey

On Feb. 27, Wendy Woo returned to the Tri-Lakes Center for Arts (TLCA), performing with violin player Robin Hoch. Woo has performed at the TLCA at least once a year since the concert series started. This duo graced the TLCA stage last year, shortly after releasing their first CD, Saving Grace. Hoch said the CD has "received a great response" and "has been on iTunes since September."

On this evening the duo also received a "great response" from the audience, which was due to a combination of the local following Woo has garnered and for the tight rhythms and vocals that they delivered. Woo and Hoch are presently songwriting and looking toward entering the studio with a full band sometime in the fall to record a follow-up CD.

Opening for Woo and Hoch was Boulder native Sydney Rose, who performed a four-song set. Rose was singing at the Wildflower School of Voice when Woo approached her about pursuing a music career. Woo has helped Rose along by giving her guitar lessons to enhance her playing. Rose said she "always loved to sing" and "has always wanted to be a singer." To reaffirm that desire for singing, she recounted how, as a child, she would sing the Nat King Cole song "L-o-v-e" around her home.

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Information on Wendy Woo and Robin Hoch is at www.wendywoo.com. Information on Sydney Rose is at www.sydneyrosemusic.com. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org

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February and March library events

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: KKTV Meteorologist is introduced by children’s specialist Julie Simmons.

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Below: Zoey Sailer, assisted by LaKeisha Blackmon, learns about conservation of momentum during the Olympics program.

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Below: Cheri Walsh, Marilyn LaRue, Dick LaRue and Cynthia Zook were among the guests at the Valentine Tea.

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And from the Winter Festival...

Below: Kate Bibighaus (Princess Leia) and Darth Vader at the library.

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Below: Artists from Monart decorated the windows—pictured are Maddy Wood, Alexandra Avery, Naomi Wood, Natalie Wood, Tessa Avery, Connie Avery and Samantha Lassiter.

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Below: Deborah Worthey and sons Seth and Nathan light up the lobby on Friday evening.

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By Harriet Halbig

February at the libraries was full of informative and fun events.

KKTV meteorologist Brian Bledsoe presented a program on winter weather and thunderstorm safety. Monica Livingston and Lakeisha Blackmon offered a fascinating look into the science behind such Olympic sports as ice hockey, curling, and the biathlon. The Valentine Tea with Nancy Stern was delicious and informative. Bo the Llama made new friends at Palmer Lake. And finally, the young artists from Monart painted our windows in anticipation of the winter festival on the final weekend of February.

March will bring changes and excitement to the Monument Branch with the introduction of radio frequency tagging of all materials. The branch will be closed the first week of the month to complete tagging of all materials. By the time you read this, the process should be complete at the Monument Branch.

Due to the closure, the Life Circles group will not meet the first Monday of the month, but on March 15 at 10:30 a.m. This group provides discipline, inspiration, and structure for those writing about their memories or history. The group regularly meets on the first and third Monday of the month.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Thursday and Friday, March 18 and 19, from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14.00 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required. Participants must attend both days.

The Monumental readers will meet on March 19 at 10 a.m. New members are always welcome. This month’s selection is The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.

The week beginning March 22 is spring break, offering special programs.

The first of these is on Tuesday, March 23, at 10:30 a.m. The Night the Moon Ate My Room is a program in which a boy rediscovers his self-confidence by listening to the moon’s stories. It’s a journey of storytelling, acting, character masks, sounds, and live music by Juilliard theater graduate Jesse Wilson.

On Wednesday, March 24, design a Dr. Seuss sock puppet with Denise Gard. Uncap your brain and create a puppet that’s sublime! Join Denise and her sock puppet, Mitzy, and let your talent shine! It’s for age 8 and older unless accompanied by an adult. Please register by calling 488-2370, as space is limited. The program begins at 2 p.m.

On March 31, tweens (ages 9-12) can enjoy a fun program based on the book How to Train Your Dragon by Crossida Cowell. By attending, you’ll have a chance to win a free ticket for the movie adaptation. Please call 488-2370 to register. The program will take place from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.

March is National Quilting Month, so our walls and display case will feature the wonderful works of the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers.

Palmer Lake Branch events

At the Palmer Lake Branch, bring your child to practice reading and build fluency by reading to a Paws to Read dog. The dogs will be on hand on Saturdays March 6 and 27 from 11 until noon and on Thursday, March 18, from 4:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m.

On Wednesday, March 24, at 10:30 a.m., travel through the magical eye of Dippy Futura. Your imagination unlocks doors to many adventures in many lands. Visualize comedy, action, and silly songs with Beth Epley.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss The Color Purple by Alice Walker on April 2 at 9 a.m. New members are welcome.

In celebration of National Quilting Month, the walls will feature a collection of small quilted projects by Harriet Halbig.

We hope to see you at the library!

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Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting, Feb. 18: The rebirth of Old Colorado City

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Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Retired Army Col. David Hughes has been instrumental in the growth and restoration of Old Colorado City. He is a returning speaker to the Historical Society and has an in-depth knowledge of the history and events surrounding Old Colorado City

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Below: Society Vice President Al Walter is a member of the Steering Committee formed to orchestrate the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua for 2010. Your help is needed as a volunteer. He can be reached at 719-559-0525.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

The subject of the February meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was "The Rebirth of Old Colorado City." Retired Army Col. David Hughes was the presenter who was also instrumental in the restoration and growth of this western section of Colorado Springs. He described the period from 1975 to 1995 as a time of "rebirth" for this area. He covered the events that led Old Colorado City out of a time of "slums and blight" to the present-day designation as a "gem" on the west side of Colorado Springs.

His description of the period of the 1940s to the 1970s was stark and moving. Businesses closed and the younger population left for more productive situations. Deteriorating homes and the decline of businesses were devastating to the entire community. The town was "in the dumps" from 1965 to 1975. By 1975, 50 out of 92 commercial buildings became vacant on West Colorado Avenue. Few newcomers during that period opted to locate or start businesses there. He stated that banks "red lined" the area and stopped making loans for starting businesses or purchasing homes in that area.

From 1975 to 1978, the City of Colorado Springs declared the area a "slum and blight" section. This classification opened the door for HUD money to be made available for development. The West Colorado Springs Commercial Club was revived and the Old Colorado City Historical Society was formed. In addition, the Organization of Westside Neighbors came into being. These groups led the effort to reinvigorate and sponsor the efforts that led to the "rebirth" of Old Colorado City.

By 1994, over $1 million was made available as venture capital loans to assist in the beginning of the growth of businesses and to stimulate interest in this area.

Today Old Colorado City is growing and has turned the "slum and blight" designation into a "rebirth" of a historical section of Colorado Springs. Old Colorado City has experienced an amazing period of restoration, and in 2009 celebrated its sesquicentennial birthday—150 years in existence.

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"An Evening with Lucretia Vaille": Join the society on March 18 for a presentation of the life of one of Palmer Lake’s most influential citizens. Cathleen Norman will portray Lucretia Vaille as she presents a history of Vaille’s life and her contributions to the history of the area. In 1968, Vaille donated her home to Palmer Lake as a site for an art gallery. She also was a charter member of the Historical Society. The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Admission is free.

Chautauqua

This year, the Chautauqua is tentatively scheduled for the weekend of Aug. 6-8. The Historical Society will again sponsor this event. Volunteers are needed. Please call Al Walter at 719-559-0525 if you have time to help.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society Chautauqua meeting, Feb. 22: Historical Society begins Chautauqua planning

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Below: The Palmer Lake Society Chautauqua 2010 Steering Committee and volunteers during their first get together. On the far end of the table are Steering Committee members, from left, Ron Heard, Al Walter, Mary Meyer, and Phyllis Bonser. Help is needed to make this year’s Chautauqua as successful as the 2009 event. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

The Palmer Lake Historical Society Chautauqua Steering Committee had its first planning meeting for the Aug. 6-8 event. Steering Committee member Al Walter advised the group that they had secured the services of the Fort Carson Color Guard and the 2nd Colorado Infantry group to perform during that weekend.

The Color Guard is an eight-soldier unit that serves as Fort Carson’s ambassadors to Colorado communities and neighboring states. It carries the U.S. and Army flags in 1874-pattern 3rd Cavalry Regiment uniforms. The Color Guard was organized in 1963 as a 32-man horse platoon and designated Delta 1/10 Cavalry.

The 2nd Colorado Infantry will provide an "encampment," which is its portrayal of the 2nd Colorado Volunteer Infantry. It is a living memorial to the brave men of the West who came down from the silver mines of the Rockies to fight for the Union hundreds of miles away in Indian territory. The unit is known for its successful participation in the Civil War battle of Glorietta Pass in southern Colorado.

Mary Meyer advised the group that the Chautauqua Vaudeville program is seeking volunteers of all ages. Interested persons can come to any planning meeting or contact Mary via e-mail at marymeyer53@comcast.com

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Volunteers and interested individuals are invited to join the society on March 8 and 22 as it prepares for the 2010 Chautauqua. The planning sessions take place at 6:30 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications due March 15

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 Antiques Show and Sale in April. Over the last 36 years, TLWC has awarded more than a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations. For more information about TLWC, visit the Web site, www.tlwc.net.

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Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, March 16

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

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Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance Thrift Store: New location grand opening, March 19

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 grand opening celebration, featuring refreshments and special bargains, is March 19 at 1 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.

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Gleneagle Sertoma Blood Drive, March 25

Penrose-St. Francis Hospital and Gleneagle Sertoma Club will sponsor a blood drive March 25, 1-6 p.m., at Antelope Trails Elementary School, 15280 Jessie Dr., Colorado Springs. There will be food after your donation. To schedule an appointment, call Bill Nance, 488-2312 or e-mail marbil1985@aol.com.

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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. 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.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show, April 24-25

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will hold its 34th annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale April 24, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and April 25, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. The popular show features select dealers, geraniums and embroidered aprons for sale, Country Café with steak soup, a bake sale, glass repairs, and book signings with local authors. The Sky Sox mascot, Sox the Fox, will visit Saturday noon to 2 p.m. Appraisers (three-item limit) will be present Sunday, 1-3 p.m. Admission is $6 per person. Snow dates are scheduled May 15-16.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsors two major fund-raising events: the Pine Forest Antiques Show in April and Wine and Roses, a wine-tasting event, in October. Over the last 36 years, TLWC has awarded more than a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations. For more information about TLWC, visit the Web site, www.tlwc.net.

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Free gun-lock kits

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.

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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).

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Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center is now open

The new Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open noon to 4 p.m. Tuesdays, 1-4 p.m. other weekdays. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multi-purpose room. Programs offered include pinochle Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tai Chi for Arthritis, Fridays, 10:30-11:30 a.m.; National Mah Jonng, Fridays, 1-4 p.m.; line dancing, first and second Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m.; bridge, second and fourth Thursdays, 1-4 p.m.; tea time, third Tuesday, 1-3 p.m.; bingo, third Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m.; crafts, third Thursdays, 1-3 p.m.; Name that Tune and Singalong, fourth Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m. Also available at the center are ping-pong, Wii video games, various puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table. For more information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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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).

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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.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District offers a senior safety program to all Tri-Lakes residents. This program was designed to assess and improve the safety and wellness of the senior population in our region. The Senior Safety Program is offered at no costs to seniors. The program includes smoke detector evaluations, home safety assessments, vial of life, and fire prevention. For more information, call 484-0911 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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