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Vol. 10 No. 4 - April 3, 2010


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Lance, Leonhardt, and Ridings and receive Phoenix Club Award

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Below: On March 17, the Donald Wescott Fire Department (DWFPD) Chief Jeff Edwards (left) presented the Phoenix Club Award to Capt. Scott Ridings (right) and firefighter/EMT Curt Leonhardt (center). Firefighter/EMT Roger Lance will also receive the award at a later date; he was unable to attend this meeting. During an emergency mutual aid dispatch to Jackson Creek, these firefighters performed a "cardiac save" on a man by taking over cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, clearing the airway, applying electric shocks with an automated external defibrillator, and stabilizing his pulse and breathing until Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District personnel could transport him to a hospital. The patient has since left the hospital. Photo by Jim Kendrick. For fire district articles, click here.

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Water authority dissension continues

By John Heiser

At the March 17 regular monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), consequences of the actions of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District continued to dominate the discussions. The members of the PPRWA are the Cherokee Metropolitan District, the City of Fountain, the Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake, the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor district. The City of Fountain and the Town of Palmer Lake were not represented at the meeting.

As reported in the Feb. 6 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 actions by the Woodmoor district have complicated the PPRWA’s negotiations with the Super Ditch Co., which is filing for similar exchange rights and will now have lower priority.

The Super Ditch Co. consists of the Bessemer Ditch, Highline Canal Co., Oxford Ditch, Catlin Canal, Otero Ditch, Holbrook Canal, and Fort Lyon Canal. The PPRWA is in negotiations with the Super Ditch Co. to lease about 2,000 acre-feet of water per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

In February, the Super Ditch Co. announced that it would not negotiate with the PPRWA representatives as long as Woodmoor district representatives were present.

In a letter to the PPRWA, Jessie Shaffer, manager of the Woodmoor district, said the Woodmoor district is still interested in Super Ditch water but agreed to bow out of the negotiations as long as Woodmoor’s annual dues are not used to fund the negotiations. In the letter, Shaffer noted that some less desirable alternatives would be for the PPRWA members to vote to expel the Woodmoor district from the authority, or the PPRWA could break off negotiations with the Super Ditch Co. and leave those negotiations to the individual PPRWA members.

Dana Duthie, manager of the Donala district, said Woodmoor’s proposal to exclude its dues from covering the costs of the Super Ditch negotiations is "unacceptable."

Larry Bishop, manager of the Woodmen Hills district, the newest member of the PPRWA, agreed and said that his district does not need anything from the Super Ditch Co., but he supports the Super Ditch negotiations as a team effort. He expressed concern that the PPRWA is "splintering." He said, "I’m not going to be OK with that." He later added that if the PPRWA is disintegrating, "This puts me in a bad position with my board and residents."

Randy Gillette, Woodmoor’s assistant district manager, who was representing the Woodmoor district at the meeting, said, "We struggle with how much we can disclose. We don’t intend to jump ship, and we’re keeping the best interests of the group in mind." He noted that Shaffer is planning to discuss the situation with representatives of the Super Ditch Co.

Kip Petersen, manager of the Cherokee district and president of the PPRWA, said, "The whole organization is in a tough spot."

Duthie made a motion to proceed with the Super Ditch negotiations as a group and not accept Woodmoor’s proposal to exclude its dues from covering the costs.

Rich Landreth, Monument’s Public Works Director, said he wanted to wait to hear the outcome of the discussions between Shaffer and the Super Ditch Co.

The vote on the motion was 3-2 with Duthie, Bishop, and Petersen in favor and Landreth and Gillette opposed.

Rick Fendel, attorney for the PPRWA, said that according to the PPRWA bylaws, to pass, a motion must receive favorable votes from a majority plus one of those present and voting, which in this case would require four votes in favor, so the motion failed.

Bishop added that if the group is not unified by next month’s meeting, he may be put in a position where he would have to ask for Woodmen Hills’ withdrawal from the PPRWA and "I don’t want to do that because I think this is a group that can actually get something accomplished."

Petersen said he hoped that Shaffer and Super Ditch could resolve the difficulties but, if not, all the members signed the PPRWA intergovernmental agreement and the costs will be shared equally, even if Woodmoor does not participate in the negotiations.

Open meetings issue arises

Fendel reported that he researched Colorado’s open meetings statutes and concluded that as long as three or more PPRWA members are present, those negotiations cannot be conducted in private. Even though executive sessions can be held to provide guidance for negotiations, the actual negotiation cannot be done in executive session. If, on the other hand, the PPRWA members are attending the negotiations as individual representatives of their districts, then those negotiations could be conducted in private.

Despite these difficulties, the PPRWA planned to hold another meeting with the Super Ditch representatives on March 19.

Member districts to consider participating in Colorado-Wyoming Coalition

The members voted to discuss with their boards the idea of participating in Donala’s membership in the Colorado-Wyoming Coalition of water providers that is looking into bringing water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northwestern Colorado to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a 70,000 acre-foot facility being constructed three miles southwest of downtown Parker.

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The next regular monthly meeting of the PPRWA will be held April 21 at 8:30 a.m. at the Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. (at Highway 105). The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

Additonal water and sanitation district articles can be found here.

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, March 4, 11 and 18: Board continues dialogue with community as it plans for coming year

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Below: District 38 Chess Tournament sponsor Steve Waldmann with some of this year’s winners. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education held three meetings during March. The first was a work session. The board approved a new health insurance program in response to a 6.5 percent increase in premiums. In order to keep the expense to the district constant, the board opted to offer health and dental coverage with optional vision coverage. The co-pay will be slightly increased and employees may purchase vision coverage independently.

In discussing the district budget for future years, members agreed that there are many uncertainties, including unanticipated rescissions by the state and the outcome of ballot measures in November. If the specific ownership tax is abolished, the results could be felt as soon as January 2011, and the loss to the district would be over $1 million per year.

The board decided to attempt to prioritize future cuts based on philosophical priorities such as the value of performance excellence.

Buses, for example, offer access to schools and field trips. The removal of buses was the first major cut considered. If the use of buses is removed, so is equal access to school services. Board member Mark Pfoff suggested that the Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) be tasked with finding a revenue stream so that buses will continue to be available. He said that buses support the core value of safety and security for students.

Board member Gail Wilson suggested that the board could propose a mill levy override specifically for buses. Most members agreed that it would be unwise to propose a mill levy override unless they were fairly certain of its passage.

A second proposal was to increase class size from 25 to 30, whether across the board or in certain age groups. Wilson said she would require research on the impact of such a change on learning.

A third proposal was to decrease compensation of district employees. Each 1 percent decrease would result in a gain of about $250,000. Board member Jeffrey Ferguson said that there are already emotional repercussions from the loss of staff members, but that perhaps a pay cut would allow retention of some teachers to maintain teams that work well together.

Pfoff commented that staff compensation is already impacted by cutting benefits and pensions. He said some teachers are struggling with their current compensation and a cut of as little as 3 percent could be catastrophic for them.

A fourth proposal was to go to a four-day school week. Savings would result from transportation. Longer days would require dropping younger kids off the bus after dark. This solution is most often used in small, rural districts.

Board President John Mann expressed his frustration with the fact that the district does not know how much funding it will have from the state. Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman confirmed that, although she receives frequent updates from the state, the figures frequently change.

There was more discussion about reactions to closing Grace Best Elementary School, moving sixth grade to an elementary school and having only one middle school. District Superintendent Ray Blanch reported that he had attended a meeting earlier in the day at Lewis-Palmer Middle School along with two members of the board. He said that he felt positive about the atmosphere at the meeting and that parents seem to be adjusting to the idea of change.

Ferguson and Mann said that parents had approached them to say that these major decisions were made in haste and that the future effects of the decisions are unknown. Some parents were requesting that the board consider a k-8 campus.

Pfoff said he had received a lot of positive e-mail messages. He felt that the decisions were based on input from the community earlier in the process He said that many subsequent decisions had been made on the basis of the reconfiguration and many hours had been spent in planning to implement the decision.

The board decided to hold a meeting the following week without an agenda, a town meeting where the public could come and state their opinions.

Town meeting, March 11

The town meeting was attended by several hundred people, several of whom made statements.

Board members opened the meeting by explaining the budget process and their priorities. Wilson said that the two primary issues in the budget are out of the control of the board. They are funding from the state and declining enrollment. Decisions were made after extensive input from the principals of all schools, staff and the community.

Board Treasurer Pfoff explained the budget. He stressed that reserves are necessary so that any program begun in August can be carried through the school year, regardless of rescissions from the state. Revenues come from state funding, ownership tax and mill levies.

In the public segment of the meeting, the following comments were made:

  • The reconfiguration decision was made in haste. Request the board pause for a year for further study before implementing
  • The decision was made on the basis of faulty financial figures
  • Pause to allow for further community input. Present system is proven to be successful and concept of a single grade 7-8 middle school is unproven
  • Concern that sixth-graders in the elementary schools will miss part of the middle school experience
  • Concern that younger kids were given more consideration than the middle schoolers
  • Concern that traffic at Lewis-Palmer Middle School will be a problem
  • Suggestion that the public have a greater part in decisions by validating priorities and creating an independent board to look at district finances
  • Concern about class sizes
  • Waiting a year to implement the decision would not help—it would cost money the district does not have. Further discussion will not help. Instead, take the initiative and apply for grants and work to change how schools are funded
  • The board deserves credit for its long and hard work. Grace Best fifth-grade class used to split between middle schools and will now stay together. Teach kids that change happens and do not change the plan now
  • The plan is a good one because it places an elementary school where one is needed
  • A Grace Best teacher with two children in the district said she felt informed and able to express her opinions. Blanch was available on many occasions. She felt that it was good that the board made its decision early. Students are now engaged in the process of transition.
  • The most flexible kids are the youngest ones and they are the ones who will need to adjust to new schools. There is plenty of capacity in the elementary schools to absorb the sixth grade.

Board Vice President Robb Pike thanked those attending for their civility and activism. He said that he would not change his vote on the basis of what he had heard. He said that teachers and principals have told him that they want to move forward.

Ferguson said that he was impressed by the public’s commitment to the school system. He concluded that the public wishes to hear about a long-term plan for the district and that clarity of information is important.

Wilson said she would not change her vote. She said there is a need to be fiscally conservative and to bank funds now in anticipation of future cuts.

Pfoff said that class sizes are important and that teacher/student relationships are at the core of the educational experience. These relationships will be maintained, because the people of the district will make it work.

Regular board meeting, March 18

The board met on March 18 at Palmer Ridge High School. Pike presided. President Mann was absent and excused.

Some of the winners of the district’s chess tournament were introduced and acknowledged along with their sponsor, Steve Waldmann. (See photo on the right). Players ranged from kindergarten to high school ages.

Citizen comments referred to the fact that board projections of enrollment differed greatly between those of the district and those of the state. The differences were so great that schools could be over capacity, requiring the use of modulars.

Blanch said that the projections made by the OAC and the district indicated that the enrollment in grades 7 and 8 is unlikely to change in the next several years.

He also explained that building capacity is expressed in two ways. Program capacity refers to use of all spaces for their original purposes. Buildout capacity refers to optimum use of all spaces in a building. The difference between the two can be 20 percent in student numbers. New uses of rooms can include the addition of a preschool or special education uses.

The district owns two modulars at Grace Best Elementary. These include eight classrooms with hallways and restrooms.

Blanch said that student learning will not be impacted even if the use of modulars is necessary.

A citizen said she felt that the board’s decision was not based solely on funding and said that there was an inappropriate sharing of authority between the superintendent and the board. She said that the decrease in enrollment in 2008 does not necessarily indicate a trend.

Pfoff responded that e-mail he has received has been positive and that the board is being fiscally responsible. There are many unknowns in the future and we need to have enough reserves to end a year as we begin it, he said. There is no indication that next year will be better.

Another community member said that she supports the board’s decision and wants reassurance that the decision is firm. Pike confirmed that the reconfiguration will go forward.

The board voted to approve Charles Stovall as the new principal of Kilmer Elementary. Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning Shirley Trees said that 26 applications were received for the position. All applicants must have a principal license and at least five years of classroom teaching experience. A committee of 11 narrowed the pool to 12 applicants of which seven were interviewed. Three names were forwarded to Blanch. They were not ranked. The information was then submitted to the board.

The subject of renaming the new elementary school was tabled until April.

The board discussed the closed campus policy at the high schools. Both campuses had initially been open, allowing students to leave the campus during lunch and other free periods. The principals then requested that freshmen and sophomores should remain on campus unless parents filled out a form requesting that they be allowed to leave. The board approved of this policy with the stipulation that the students be required to return in time for their next class after lunch. Blanch confirmed that the attendance office would be notified should the students not return in time.

Long-range planning: In his superintendent’s report, Blanch explained the Long Range Planning Task Force to the board. The task of this group will be to maintain a vision for the district if resources continue to decline and to look at alternatives addressing the impact on learning, utilization of schools, boundary changes and future school construction.

Members of the task force include members of Building Accountability committees, a member of the District Accountability Advisory Committee, staff from each level of the district, the superintendent, a member of the board, a member of the operations staff, and potentially a member of the community.

Members of the task force must have experience on a building and district level, expertise in a specialty, and be open to alternative approaches. The application process will be like that for the Operations Advisory Committee.

The task force will create and evaluate alternative models and solutions as needed to address the need to constrict or expand with the economy. Blanch envisioned a seven-month process. Reports will be presented as needed. He presented a time line beginning in May, including a public input period in September, with a presentation to the board in November.

Performance assessment: Director of Assessment Marie Revak explained new student performance assessment tools in elementary science and sixth- through eighth-grade math and science. An example of these is the eighth-grade math kit called Dude, That’s My Car in which students select a vehicle and determine its fuel consumption and other attributes and then determine how to finance its purchase. In the process, they must collect data, analyze it, and report on their results.

In keeping with the recent emphasis on writing skills, high school freshmen write in civics class, and sophomores and juniors write in history class. The social studies teachers evaluate the writing in view of the facts, while English teachers evaluate them in terms of organization and grammar. First drafts are hand-written and final drafts are computer-generated.

Revak said that grading standards are the same at all campuses. She said that the district is one of the highest achieving in the state in the area of science.

In the future, the group will create social studies assessments at the elementary level and a conceptual chemistry assessment at the high school level.

Bob Foster, assistant principal of Lewis-Palmer Middle School, presented a report on monitoring of staff. He said he has put in motion the revision of staff handbooks so that expectations of staff are made clear and consistent. Volunteer applications and manuals are also being revised.

Among the subjects addressed in the staff manuals are the limits of authority for use of district funds by each individual. Job descriptions are also updated.

There was a brief discussion of the use of these materials to recruit, retain, and encourage excellence among staff. Professional development is not addressed in these documents, as Blanch said they are part of the evaluation process.

Ferguson said that motivation for teachers should somehow be addressed in order to maintain an effective staff.

Foster said that he plans to chat with focus groups in the various buildings about such issues. The goal is to determine what the district can do to make conditions more positive and pleasant.

One concern from last year’s staff survey was that over 40 percent of staff said they were unwilling to dissent for fear of retaliation.

Wangeman briefly spoke on considerations for the 2011-12 budget. She confirmed that reserves should be increased to at least $1 million due to possible rescissions and cost of retirement compensation. Enrollment should be conservatively projected, especially due to the fact that most of the teaching staff is now tenured. In the event that enrollment exceeds projections, additional teachers can be hired at the beginning of the year.

Wangeman said that the OAC has been charged to monitor the costs of buses and technology. Two years ago the district spent $3 million on capital investments. This year it will be a little over $1 million.

If all laid-off employees collect unemployment benefits, that would cost the district another $40,000, she said.

Wangeman anticipates $3 million in cuts for 2011-12. The November ballot measures present an additional unknown risk, making it impossible to finalize plans until the results are known.

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

The meeting was adjourned at 10 p.m. so that the board could go into executive session to discuss personnel and other matters.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets on the third Thursday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on April 15 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

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D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, March 9: State Rep. Stephens responds to letter campaign at meeting

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By Harriet Halbig

A key initiative of this year’s District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) is the new Political Achievement Subcommittee.

The idea for this group arose from a presentation by Great Education Colorado, an interest group created to monitor legislation involving education and to advocate for local schools during the budget process. Last month, over 150 letters signed by parents from this district were hand-delivered to our local state representatives.

State Rep. Amy Stephens attended the DAAC meeting on March 9 to say that, due to the state of the economy, it is unlikely that the group’s campaign will result in additional funding. Many elements are involved, including lower real estate values, declining enrollment and unemployment levels, which affect tax revenues. She said that it is worthwhile to monitor activity at the state level, but any additional funding would need to be from grants and donations obtained by the group. She also cautioned that any new activities undertaken must have funds to sustain them.

Stephens also cautioned that any mill levy override should be of a limited duration and for a specific purpose, such as to fund transportation.

Although Colorado is one of the finalists for funding from the federal Race to the Top program, Stephens said that actual dollars would most likely go to areas considered to be of higher risk than District 38. She said that she has fought any suggestions that D-38 funding be diverted to more rural, less affluent areas, but there are no extra resources at the state level.

Earlier in the meeting, D-38 Board of Education liaison Gail Wilson also reported that recent legislation was in favor of programs funded with gifts, grants and donations. She said that the district would be affected by the Race to the Top only if it involved something like a new test to be administered throughout the state.

The most important current legislation involves PERA (Public Employees Retirement Association), Wilson said. Under this legislation, school districts will be required to pay 20 percent of the base wage of retirees by 2017. Consequently, in lieu of giving raises, districts often deposit the money in the PERA account. The district has already built into its budget an additional $250,000 per year for this.

Sixth-grade planning continues

There was an extensive report on planning for the sixth grade as it transitions from middle school to elementary school. Aileen Finnegan of Prairie Winds Elementary and Julie Jadomski of Palmer Lake Elementary said many "exciting" decisions were made at a meeting held the previous day.

The sixth grade will use the trimester system. There will be departments of science, social studies, language arts, and math.

Social studies in the sixth grade will cover Western civilization and geography. Social studies in the seventh grade will cover Eastern civilization.

Some sixth-grade teachers will teach exploratory subjects. These will include band (brass and woodwinds will be separate), PE, choir, art, and world language. Spanish will be offered at all elementary schools.

There will also be exploratory classes in technology of some kind at each school, including filmmaking and broadcasting. Depending on the talents of individual teachers, there may also be offerings in drama or dance.

Decisions have yet to be made on sports and clubs.

Finnegan and Jadomski reported that parents have generally been open and positive about the coming changes. A number of meet-and-greet events are planned for the near future.

Middle school planning

The Middle School Core Planning Team also presented a report. The following decisions have already been made:

  • The master schedule has been formulated, with academic subjects taught in one-hour blocks and exploratories in 45-minute blocks.
  • There will be four lunch periods, each 30 minutes long.
  • At the end of each day will be 37-minute-long enrichment classes, with clubs taking this time on Fridays.
  • Team teaching will be maintained.
  • Exploratories will include art, jazz band, choir, keyboarding, drama, dance, gateway to technology, PE, Spanish, yearbook, LPMS TV, pre-video production, and a structured study class in which students learn to organize their study habits under the supervision of a teacher.

Several subcommittees have been formed to continue the planning. These include an Athletics Subcommittee, Technology Subcommittee, and others.

The name, mascot and colors of the school will remain the same: Lewis-Palmer Middle School, Home of the Patriots, red and white.

There will also be a Traditions Subcommittee that will combine customs from Creekside and Lewis-Palmer. Members hoped to complete their task by spring break.

During Unity Week, April 26-30, all sixth-graders will go in groups of 20 to tour Lewis-Palmer Middle School. At the end of the week there will be a dance.

The National Junior Honor Society will hold a joint induction ceremony, and there are discussions about holding a student council election late in the year.

SEAC and GELT committee reports

There were annual reports from the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC), the Gifted Education Leadership Team (GELT), and the Early Childhood Education Task Force. (ECETF).

The SEAC report included information on extended school year programs, response to intervention, inventory of resources in all schools, and submission of a position statement to school Superintendent Ray Blanch. The special needs student body is approximately 10 percent of the total population. Further information on these programs can be found in last month’s article on the meeting of SEAC. See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n3.htm#seac

The GELT report included information on identifying gifted students, creating advanced learning plans (ALP) for each student, and seminars and other information sources for the parents of those students involved. Gifted students comprise approximately 13 percent of the student population from pre-kindergarten through high school.

The ECETF report included planning for additional before-and-after school care for students. When parents enroll their children in preschool, the children are more likely to remain in the district after making new friends. The before-and-after school care function was formerly administered by the YMCA.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of the month. Locations vary. The April 13 meeting will be at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Drive in Monument at 7 p.m.

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D-38 Special Education Advisory Committee, March 10: Committee discusses future plans, priorities

By Harriet Halbig

The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) took time at its March meeting to examine its future goals and priorities.

The committee discussed its goal as stated on its agendas and agreed that it is appropriate in that it refers to the committee as a forum for parents’ voices and concerns to be heard by the district’s administration, staff, and community. The committee also sponsors presentations, discusses state legislation and its local affects, and offers networking opportunities.

Committee Secretary Ilanit Bennaim commented that the local SEAC is based on the state level group that was mandated to monitor legislative activity. At the local level, she said the committee is not permitted to advocate for legislative goals, but it can advocate for special needs children in the district.

Special Education Director Mary Anne Fleury distributed a year-long plan formulated by the District Accountability Advisory Committee and suggested that SEAC take a similar approach to next year’s activities.

A general discussion followed regarding such subjects as the scheduling of presentations at future meetings, hosting a resource fair, and other means of increasing participation in the group.

Fleury also referred to a survey administered last year by Dr. Marie Revak, the district’s director of assessment, on the subject of parental perceptions of the special ed program. Among the subjects addressed were whether the parent felt informed of their student’s progress, whether they felt that Individual Education Plans (IEP) were well explained, whether appropriate staff members were present at IEP meetings, and other matters.

After a brief discussion, it was agreed to re-administer the survey with the addition of some questions involving students’ opportunities to self-advocate, appropriate placement of students in the least restrictive environment, adequate inclusion in the general education setting, and adequate academic growth during a school year.

Fleury said she agreed it would be useful to add these concerns and that it would be useful to annually administer the survey to determine whether progress was being made in addressing parent concerns. She also suggested surveying graduates as to what aspects of their education were successful.

In discussing potential subjects for presentations, the following were suggested:

  • Have students appear and give their stories. This gives them an opportunity to self-advocate and gives the audience a feel for the success of the program.
  • Discuss co-teaching options between special ed and general education staff.
  • Have a panel of principals, especially valuable in view of the realignment of grades. Perhaps have them come in September.
  • Have a program addressing literacy, dyslexia, and other general topics. Introduce the audience to the concept of an Individual Literacy Plan (ILP). If a child has an IEP, he or she must also have an ILP even if reading is not the primary area of disability.

Fleury briefly said that the application of stimulus funds continues to include the creation of sensory rooms, purchase of materials, and professional development to be determined by a curriculum committee.

Fleury said that the Extended School Year (ESY) program is being developed to include reading, writing, math, and social studies. She said that social skills will be taught by a psychologist.

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The Special Education Advisory Committee meets on the second Wednesday of each month in the district’s Learning Center at 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next meeting will be held on April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

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

By Jim Kendrick

On March 9, Facility Manager Bill Burks informed the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility that the potentially dissolved copper level in the plant’s effluent was 10.0 parts per billion (ppb) for February, compared to 10.6 ppb for January. In January, Monument had the highest influent copper concentration—a maximum of 146 ppb and an average of 130.8 ppb for south Monument. This concentration exceeds the current permit level, which the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has waived since 2007.

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

  • Palmer Lake Director Dale Smith, who is the president of the JUC
  • Monument Director Lowell Morgan
  • Woodmoor Director Jim Whitelaw

At the start of the meeting, the JUC unanimously approved a motion appointing Whitelaw to replace former JUC Secretary/Treasurer Benny Nasser.

Copper problems still have not gone away

There was consensus that this elevated copper level results from higher waste concentrations, lower wastewater flows, and the biomasses in the two operating aeration basins being less efficient in cold temperatures. January and February have typically produced the highest copper results, up to about 15 ppb in recent years. While the Water Quality Control Division of the state Health Department issued a waiver for 2007-09 that allows an average copper concentration of up to 24.8 ppb and an individual reading of up to 36.4 ppb, the actual facility discharge permit limit for copper is 8 ppb on average and a maximum of 11.7 ppb. The waived 11.7 ppb maximum limit has been exceeded a few times in three years.

The state Health Department set these limits even though its Water Quality Control Division staff knows that the award-winning Tri-Lakes facility cannot meet this restriction even when operating at peak efficiency. The new average copper limit may drop to 1.35 ppb with a maximum of 8 ppb under newly adopted antidegradation standards for Monument Creek. However, current testing procedures cannot detect the presence of copper when it is less than 5 ppb. No copper can be detected in Monument Creek where it crosses Baptist Road above the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Facility.

It is unclear at this time if or when a new more costly copper testing method will be required of Tri-Lakes or if reverse osmosis treatment will be required. Reverse osmosis equipment would cost $30 million to $50 million to install and cost a minimum of $500,000 per year to operate. The 2010 Tri-Lakes facility budget is $694,524.

Burks discussed the EPA biosolids land application report for the facility’s sludge that was removed in 2009. The analysis showed that the metal and fecal coliform concentrations for the removed sludge continues to be well below the maximum Class B sludge limits for direct application to agricultural fields. The analysis was performed by Midwest Laboratories Inc. The facility’s odor-free 9 million gallon facultative sludge lagoon also continues to be the most cost effective and efficient method of sludge treatment available.

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund and Palmer Lake District Manager Duane Hanson reported that the new Joint Use Agreement (JUA) for operation of the facility had been completed by Palmer Lake’s attorney Tim Schutz. Once clean copies of the pages with the required signatures from all three districts are obtained, Schutz will publish the new original agreement and CDs of the document for digital storage.

The committee concurred on Burks’ suggestion for the three district managers to form a committee to draft a separate introduction to the new JUA that summarizes the background for construction of the current facility and the lawsuit and court order that drove the creation of the JUA to provide a permanent history.

Wicklund advised the board that no state decisions have been made yet about imposing new nitrogen and phosphorus limits on the facility in the next few years. There was a lengthy discussion of testing for these constituents and the expensive treatment options that may be required to treat them as well as meet aquatic life standards for Monument Creek. There was consensus that the three districts needed to support continuing monthly representation of the Tri-Lakes facility at Denver meetings of the Water Quality Control Commission, the Water Quality Forum Work Group, and the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council.

Burks reported that the facility’s new pickup truck that he had purchased through the state’s utility vehicle program would cost $19,838. Burks took delivery of the new truck on March 10. The Monument Sanitation District then purchased the facility’s 10-year-old pickup truck, which the new truck replaces, for $6,000. The district will get $2,000 of that back, since it owned one-third of the truck through its part ownership of the Tri-Lakes facility. This is the first vehicle that the Monument Sanitation District has owned.

The meeting adjourned at 11:54 a.m.

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The next meeting is at 10 a.m. on April 13 in the facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, March 18: May 4 ballots seek approval of debt, property tax increase

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Below: At the Donala board meeting March 18, employees were commended for their suggestions that saved an estimated $100,000. Front row: Jackie Sipes, Office Administrator; Dennis Daugherty, Board President; Gayle Schendzielos, Accounts Receivable; Terri Ladouceur, Maintenance Operator; Betsy Bray, Bookkeeper. Back row: Mike Lavin, Water Operator; Del Phipps, Wastewater Operator; Mark Parker, Chief Water Operator. Photo by John Heiser.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

Donala Water and Sanitation District ballots will be mailed to voters between April 12 and April 16 and must be received at the district no later than May 4.

The mail-in ballot includes two measures. One would authorize an increase in district debt of up to $20 million. The other would authorize an increase in property taxes of 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 May 4 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.

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

Three of the five board positions are up for election.

Board positions currently held by board President Dennis Daugherty, Dick Durham, and Tim Murphy are up for election May 4. Durham is not seeking 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.

Statements from the candidates appear here.

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

Cost of service presented

At the March 18 meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, distributed copies of an analysis of the district’s cost of providing water and sewer service during 2009.

Some highlights:

  • Total treated water was 280.731 million gallons, which was 20.9 percent less than in 2008. The associated cost was $7.73 per 1,000 gallons, which was 23.7 percent more than in 2008.
  • Total raw water delivered to the golf course was 4.566 million gallons, which was 76.3 percent less than in 2008. The associated cost was $6.74 per 1,000 gallons, which was 84 percent more than in 2008.
  • Total reuse and Jake’s Lake augmentation water production was 28.167 million gallons, which was 9.5 percent more than in 2008. The associated cost was $4.65 per 1,000 gallons, which was 33 percent less than in 2008.
  • Total wastewater influent to the treatment plant was 172.219 million gallons. The associated treatment costs were $4.54 per 1,000 gallons, which was down 30 percent from 2008.
  • Donala’s customers used an estimated 39 percent of their water for irrigation, down 8 percent from 2008.
  • Total district income minus costs for 2009 equaled $581,563. Duthie said this figure since 1998 has averaged $42,965 per year.

Update on Willow Creek (formerly Mount Massive) Ranch

Duthie reported that the engineering report needed for the Willow Creek Ranch water court case has been completed and filed. 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 deadline for the final engineering report is July 12, so it has been completed more than three months ahead of schedule. 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.

Other matters

bulletDonala employees were commended for their suggestions that are estimated to save the district about $100,000. See the photo above.
bulletDuring the three months from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, the district’s $3.751 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.30 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.11 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 4.7 months.
bulletDuthie reported that at its March 8 meeting, the El Paso County Water Authority voted to give $5,000 to Gary Barber to pursue using a task force within the basin roundtable structure to address the Flaming Gorge/Green River projects. The Arkansas Roundtable would lead the effort. Duthie said he voted against the funding because it is premature. He added that he feels that Aaron Million and Frank Jaeger, the leaders of the two opposing projects, need to come to some understanding first.
bulletDuthie distributed copies of his notes from the March 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 made a presentation to the Colorado Springs City Council during its March 17 meeting as the Utility Board (UB). Duthie said the UPAC presentation by Tom Taylor highlighted the reasons for regional cooperation and the benefits of giving the CSU staff flexibility in negotiating contracts with outlying districts. He noted that many on the City Council oppose the notion of selling "Colorado Springs’ water" to outside entities. The anticipated contracts with outside entities will likely be for transporting water owned by those outside entities.
bulletDuthie reported on the March 18 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). See article above. He noted that the PPRWA will have an opportunity to make a presentation to the UB on April 21.
bulletDuthie reported on the Feb. 24 meeting with representatives of the Super Ditch Co. 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. Duthie said the current known PPRWA demand is 8,120 acre-feet. The Super Ditch is projecting 12,000 to 20,000 acre-feet available. The current proposed terms call for 40-year water leases at $500 per year per acre-foot. The Super Ditch Co. would arrange water storage rights in the Pueblo Reservoir.

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 April 22 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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Monument Sanitation District, March 18: District purchases its first utility vehicle

By Jim Kendrick

On March 18, Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund announced that the district had completed the purchase of the district’s first vehicle, a 10-year-old pickup truck from Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, for $6,000. The district will receive a $2,000 credit from the Tri-Lakes facility because it owned one-third of this used pickup truck through Monument’s one-third ownership of the facility.

The district received five more tap fees from the Trails End development, increasing the total for 2010 to $82,800.

All members of the board were present at the meeting.

Wicklund briefed the board on the March 9 Joint Use Committee meeting. See the JUC article for details.

Water quality meetings update

Jim Kendrick, Operations, briefed the board on meetings of the Colorado Water Quality Control Division/Commission (cdphe.state.co.us/wq/), the Colorado Water Quality Forum (cwqf.org) working group, and Colorado Wastewater Utility Council (cwwuc.org). He had attended the meetings in Denver in the past month as the representative of:

  • Monument Sanitation District
  • Palmer Lake Sanitation District
  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District
  • Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Academy Water and Sanitation District
  • Upper Monument Creek Water Quality Management Association

Janet Keiler, manager of the Permits Section of the Water Quality Control Division, announced at the March 15 Water Quality Forum meeting that wastewater discharge permit renewals would now be delayed three years due to "resource constraints" at the state level. The Tri-Lakes facility’s discharge permit expired at the end of 2009 and now will likely not be formally renewed until the end of 2012.

This delay means that Tri-Lakes’ copper limits might not be changed significantly from the current waiver until 2013. Also, phosphorus and nitrogen limits or reporting requirements might not be implemented until 2013. The cost for new tertiary copper treatment equipment is between $30 million and $50 million, with an additional annual operating cost of roughly $500,000. The value of the Tri-Lakes facility is $6 million, and total operating costs are about $700,000. The additional cost for installing new tertiary phosphorus treatment has not been determined but has been estimated at several million dollars. These costs would require a ballot issue for Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor, because these districts also have resource constraints.

During a presentation to the Whole Effluent Toxicity (WET) workgroup of the Water Quality Forum, statistical consultant Tim Moore of Risk Sciences advised operators that the inherent variability of quarterly WET tests over a five-year discharge permit cycle would produce one or two false positive results for toxicity. Operators should conduct WET tests as early as possible during the month so that a potentially false positive result could be offset and thrown out based on conducting two additional WET tests mid-month. Assuming no toxicity and two negative results, the median result would be a "negative" and become the reported entry on the facility’s monthly Discharge Monitoring Report. Moore said there should never be a reported violation for the false positive, as occurs now.

Once the results of a Discharge Monitoring Report are entered into the EPA database, an error cannot be removed. These erroneous EPA violation statistics are often used by environmental groups and lobbyists to protest permit limits at the time of discharge permit renewal, and Moore has provided a way to preclude those errors. The cost of an individual WET test varies from about $3,000 to $5,000 but is far cheaper than paying lawyers to appeal a discharge permit limitation that a wastewater facility cannot meet.

Wicklund, Kendrick, Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks, and Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette planned to attend another Moore WET seminar on "Using Data Quality Objectives to Manage Uncertainty" at Denver Metro on March 31.

Wicklund noted that one of the numerous Water Quality Forum workgroups Kendrick is attending is the On Site Wastewater System Management Work Group. The group is helping to shape new state Health Department regulations on individual sewage disposal systems to help prevent an environmental hazard like the one in Wakonda Hills or to aid county health departments in discovering such hazards more promptly.

Wakonda Hills update

Wicklund noted that he and consultant contract manager Dave Frisch of GMS Inc. had asked Brannan Construction to delay restarting installation of collection lines in the streets of western Wakonda Hills until after the extensive frost in the ground has melted in April. Most of the collection lines and manholes that remain to be installed in the system expansion will be under existing roads. This project is being funded by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act forgivable loan of $2 million that Wicklund applied for with the assistance of GMS staff.

Fee increase reminder to be mailed with April bills

Wicklund noted that a reminder notice will go out with the early April billing to remind users that user fees increase on April 1 and the higher amounts will be due in May. Residential fees go up to $25 per month. Commercial fees increase to $25 per month and $4.50 per 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons.

Election cancelled

The May 4 district election has been cancelled. No one came forward to run against the board members up for re-election.

The meeting adjourned at 7:52 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on April 15 in the district conference room at 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, March 10: Board hears request to extend use of private well

By Harriet Halbig

A lengthy portion of the March meeting of the board of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District was devoted to a request by a resident of Palmer Lake to extend the use of a private well built in the 1920s to serve an additional lot. The Palmer Lake water authority said it could not service the second lot, and the Town of Monument gave its approval. A decision was not made during the public portion of the meeting.

Director Jim Whitelaw reported that the Joint Use Committee has decided to hear district manager reports before reports from the plant manager at its future meetings.

He said that all test results for the Tri-Lakes Water Treatment Facility were good. There is a possibility that the state will begin testing for selenium, aquatic life, and phosphorus. This may not happen until 2013 but could be very expensive. Whitelaw speculated that state authorities would first monitor levels. Any new industrial plants would be required to pretreat their water before sending it to the plant.

In his district manager’s report, Jessie Shaffer reported that the situation in the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) continues to be that representatives of Super Ditch will not negotiate with Woodmoor Water as a result of its recent actions in seeking to purchase water independently in the lower Arkansas Valley. He suggested discussing the situation in executive session. Attorney Erin Smith agreed that the right to negotiate as part of PPRWA should be defended.

In his operations report, Assistant Manager Randy Gillette reported that 87 percent of the water in the district was accounted for in the previous month. He said that this was unsatisfactory and that there is the possibility of a leak somewhere in the system. Efforts are being made to locate it. If it is found in one of the wetland areas of the district, the pipes may need to be rerouted.

Gillette also reported that the level of the lake is good. He said that there is no forward action on the construction of Arbor Mountain, the potential senior residence planned for the south side of Highway 105 east of Knollwood. There are a few new taps in the Misty Acres area of the district.

After some discussion, it was decided that the May meeting of the board will be held on May 4.

The board went into executive session at 2:30 p.m.

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The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board usually meets at 1 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month at the conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. The next meeting will be on April 8 at 1 p.m. Information: 488-2525.

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Triview Metropolitan District, March 23: Power company gets landscaping easement

By Jim Kendrick

On a dark and stormy night with dangerous whiteout blizzard conditions, the Triview Metropolitan District board approved granting a revocable landscaping easement to Mountain View Electric Association for the Anderson electrical substation north of Ent Federal Credit Union during a 3½-hour meeting on March 23.

Mountain View is expanding this substation and will need all the land inside its lot for equipment. The town has required Mountain View to install a decorative wall and "a significant landscape buffer around the entire substation site to shield the substation from Jackson Creek Parkway and the surrounding properties" when the expansion begins.

Triview owns the vacant lot to the north of the substation, and Mountain View will need to install landscaping on the Triview lot to meet the town buffering requirement for that side of the substation. All costs for installation and continuing irrigation of this landscaping will be paid by Mountain View. If Triview ever builds on its parcel, the district can move the landscaping to another place to meet town buffering/screening requirements at that time.

Board President Bob Eskridge and Director Steve Cox were absent from the meeting.

Election cancelled

The May 4 district election has been cancelled. No one came forward to run against the board members who were up for re-election.

Well 7 needs major repairs

Rich Landreth, Monument director of Public Works, reported that troubleshooting of Triview’s well 7 had shown "It’s not quite the worst-case scenario, but it’s close." The pump needs to be rebuilt, the motor and air line need to be replaced, and the check valve needs to be repaired. The cost for these will be about $53,000. The warranty with manufacturer Centrilift has expired.

Triview operations manager Steve Sheffield noted that all of Triview’s and Monument’s wells use Centrilift pumps and motors. There was a lengthy discussion of Triview’s previous Centrilift pump failure a month after that 12-month operational warranty expired. Landreth noted that the town has had no warranty issues with Centrilift equipment and that this company’s equipment has provided good service, in contrast to Triview’s experience.

Agreement with the town approved

The board unanimously approved a two-year intergovernmental agreement to have the town’s Public Works Department perform as well as manage Triview’s snow removal, street sweeping, and landscaping for a fee of $15,985 per month and a total of $191,820. In the past, the district had outsourced the landscaping requirement to Mark Snoddy of Vision Designed Homes LLC. Snoddy performs plowing and street sweeping for Triview as a subcontractor. Snoddy’s plowing/sweeping contract with Triview expires at the end of April, and the district has purchased the equipment he uses for all these services for $100,000.

Staffing issues

Monument Town Manager Cathy Green advised the board that the town’s department heads cannot provide the level of staff research and reporting that the board is requiring of them before making any decisions. She noted that she, town Treasurer Pamela Smith, and Landreth are devoting 50 percent or more of their time to Triview, for which the town is not reimbursed. "We’ve been doing a lot of free work for Triview because we assumed we were going to have a seamless workforce. That’s not happening." Special district boards normally set policy and provide oversight in meetings that typically last one to two hours per month.

Green asked the board to hire a full time manager to relieve them of this administrative burden. An alternative, lower-cost solution would be for the board to no longer try to directly manage every aspect of day-to-day operations and hire a part-time district manager to handle board paperwork. The board unanimously approved a contract with GAAP Solutions to provide part-time accounting services under Smith’s supervision for $685 per month.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved a contract not to exceed $25,000 with consultant firm Walsh Environmental Scientists and Engineers LLC to assist Triview in renegotiating the district’s expired "404" wetlands and Preble’s mouse habitat permit with the Army Corps of Engineering and the state Division of Wildlife. The district will have to complete the required mitigation of mouse habitat, wetlands, a dam and some ponds destroyed during Triview’s construction of Jackson Creek Parkway. The district will also have to have a water attorney develop and get approval of a permit amendment for a substitute water supply plan for new ponds in this location.

The board gave unanimous final approval for Landreth to have Triview join the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. Prior to the town’s takeover of Triview’s operations, former Triview District Manager Ron Simpson had advised the board not to participate in the authority.

The board approved a payment not to exceed $15,000 for Triview’s share of the cost of installing power factor correction equipment at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. This equipment will filter Mountain View Electric Association power surges and more efficiently use the electricity in all the pumps throughout this plant.

Treasurer Steve Remington asked for a meeting with Smith to review Triview’s Capital Improvement Plan. The board is concerned about making needed improvements in the near term. The debt payment Triview makes to the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for low interest loans for the recently completed $16 million wastewater facility expansion will increase by $1 million per year three years from now.

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

  • $6,156 to Hydro Resources Rocky Mountain Inc. for well 7 pump removal and remote video inspection.
  • $57,944 to Vision Designed Homes LLC for snow removal and street sweeping.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on April 27 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held the fourth Tuesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Board of Trustees, March 15: New Jackson Creek elementary school playground proposed

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

Below: March 15, Grace Best Elementary School kindergarten teacher Karen Gingrich (speaking) and Principal Peggy Parsley brief the Monument Board of Trustees on the Grace Best Elementary New Playground Committee’s plans for developing a playground and park in Jackson Creek between Creekside Middle School and I-25. D-38 is closing Grace Best Elementary School in downtown Monument at the end of the current school year and Creekside will be renamed and converted to a pre-K to 6th grade school in the Fall. The committee will develop the playground and surrounding community park in phases as donations of money, manpower, equipment, and in-kind services allow. In the background (L to R) are Town Attorney Gary Shupp, Town Manager Cathy Green, Town Clerk Scott Meszaros, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara, and Police Chief Jake Shirk. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: At the March 15 Monument Board of Trustees meeting Mayor Travis Easton presents a certificate of appreciation to Kirk Sinnard for the work Sinnard did to reorganize and update the Town of Monument’s web site, www.townofmonument.net. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Jim Kendrick

At the March 15 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees, Principal Peggy Parsley and kindergarten teacher Karen Gingrich described the Grace Best Elementary New Playground Committee’s plans for building the Creekside Community Park playground as part of the conversion of Creekside Middle School in Jackson Creek to an elementary school. The conversion is necessary because the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 school board has announced that it will close the elementary school program at Grace Best Elementary School in downtown Monument. A pre-school program will be continued at Grace Best for now.

Trustee Jeff Kaiser was absent from the meeting.

Donations sought for new playground

Town Manager Cathy Green stated that the new park at the Creekside elementary school location will be a new "exciting" concept that "will be accessible and available to all of the community, not just the students, and they are looking for support and help." Green noted that she did not know how much the town could do for the project but thought a public presentation would help Gingrich and Parsley "to get the word out" to look for individual donations. Green added that she would write letters to support their grant applications.

Parsley noted that the D-38 board had announced in December that Grace Best students would be "relocated" to the Creekside Middle School campus due to the poor economy, declining enrollment, and the condition of the Grace Best building. The following notice is posted at the D-38 Web site:

"On December 17th, the Lewis-Palmer Board of Education voted to approve a realignment of schools. Grace Best Elementary School students will be relocated to Creekside Middle School. All elementary schools will become preschool though sixth-grade facilities and Lewis-Palmer Middle School will become the seventh and eighth grade campus for all district middle school students. Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools will remain ninth through 12th grade campuses with a minor adjustment to attendance boundaries to balance enrollment between the two high schools. This adjustment will be phased in beginning with our current eighth grade class."

Moving all Grace Best students to Palmer Lake Elementary would have made that campus exceed its capacity. The decision to move the students to the Creekside campus reflected the fact that the Jackson Creek area does not have an elementary school, prompting parents in that area to send their children to District 20 schools.

Parsley said that "this is not your traditional opening of a new school," and volunteers are needed to help because the Grace Best staff has been given a short timeframe to make the transition. She noted, "Karen has stepped up" to head the playground committee.

Gingrich presented a slide show on her committee’s goals for the 570 students who will be attending this elementary school. Some of the points from her presentation were:

  • The playground committee would like to provide an outdoor learning environment that provides a natural place for everyone to enjoy, including outdoor musical instruments and an amphitheatre on some of the vacant land between the Creekside school and I-25.
  • Play environments should provide a place for learning and activity, an exercise trail with fitness equipment, an inviting view of the Front Range’s beauty and serenity, and natural features like the existing berm, large boulders, and tree stumps for students and the community’s grandchildren, rather than metal jungle gyms that are typically used only by kids up to 8 years old.
  • The committee needs donors and volunteers to shape the land, install boulders and logs, and provide creative ideas as the park is built in phases.
  • Donations can be financial, equipment, raw materials, or in-kind construction services.
  • Developing the playground and park setting will help unite the community.

Gingrich noted that her committee will be sponsoring several fundraisers to help offset the cost of new equipment. On March 11, teachers and staff held their first fundraiser by scooping ice cream at Pikes Peak Ice Cream and Gelato, located at 481 Highway 105 behind Rosie’s Diner, with 25 percent of all sales donated to the Grace Best playground.

Gingrich passed out fliers that the committee will distribute to raise money by selling decorative tiles that will be mounted on a permanent display wall by the playground in the park. A corporate tile costs $100, and a family tile costs $40. These tiles can be hand-decorated at 2-Watts Creative, 245 Jefferson St. For an additional $10, the committee will have the tile decorated for you.

For more information on contributions, see the committee’s flier under "Announcements" on the Grace Best home page at http://gbes.lewispalmer.org/, under "Community" on the D-38 home page at http://lewispalmer.org, or by sending an e-mail to kgingrich@lewispalmer.org. D-38 has set up a separate account for these charitable donations and will provide receipts for tax purposes.

Green noted that this park would be on D-38 property and not maintained by Triview Metropolitan District. Parsley said she and Gingrich would be back to ask the board to support an application for a 2011 Great Outdoors Colorado grant for the playground. The committee has also applied for a Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant. "Request for proposal" concept plan responses were due to the committee by March 25.

Gingrich said the first phase is expected to be completed by the end of July, in time for the opening of the school year.

Trustee Tommie Plank asked that D-38 consider ways "to keep the Grace Best name alive in this community in some form. She was a wonderful woman and an educator in this area for many years, and it’s very important that we continue to honor those people that are part of our history." Parsley said that D-38 is leaving a pre-school program in operation at Grace Best as well as starting one at Creekside. She said that D-38 would keep the board informed of other plans for future uses of the Grace Best building as they are firmed up.

Town Web site back in full operation

Town Manager Cathy Green presented a certificate of appreciation to Kirk Sinnard, who volunteered to redesign the town’s Web site. She said, "He stayed on top of me to make sure I got him all the pieces that belonged" on the site. "He also stayed on top of our ‘IT’ people to make sure they got us a host, make sure they changed our domain, to make sure the switchover went smoothly, and now he refuses to give it up." She added, "He has done all of this for not a penny."

The board unanimously approved two liquor license renewals for the Diamond Shamrock truck stop on the northwest corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange and the Columbine Garden Restaurant at 481 Highway 105.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved four disbursements over $5,000 proposed by Treasurer Pamela Smith:

  • $89,750 to Triview Metropolitan District for January sales tax ($85,902), February motor vehicle tax ($3,029), and February Regional Building sales tax ($157)
  • $5,871 to Jacobs Engineering for traffic engineering services
  • $16,415 to CIRSA Insurance for second-quarter property/casualty insurance
  • $15,998 to CIRSA Insurance for second-quarter worker’s compensation insurance

Smith noted that the insurance payments dropped $2,500 per year and $5,000 per year respectively for 2010 due to effective safety management by Public Works Director Rich Landreth and Police Chief Jake Shirk. She also noted that sales tax revenues to date are down about $9,000, or 0.9 percent, from 2009. She added that a few new businesses are opening, which should help make up this difference, including the new Walgreens on Highway 105, which opened on March 18.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported, "It’s all quiet on the legal front, or the quiet before the storm. We don’t have anything new or exciting in sight."

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said he expected some development in the Triview area. Meghan Hamilton inquired about the possibility of opening a medical marijuana dispensary called Magpie’s but has not followed up on the initial inquiry. Formal planned development site plan inquiries have been made for Christian Brothers Auto at Monument Marketplace and Service Street Automotive Repair at Monument Ridge.

Kassawara and Green noted that there has been no progress on getting needed information from developer Tim Irish regarding the proposed Arbor Mountain Senior Living Facility. Irish has not replied to pointed letters and two recent e-mails asking for a specific timeline on using the land the town donated to him on the condition that he construct the facility promptly. Shupp said a reasonable time has passed. Plank said it was time to initiate taking the town’s land out of escrow. Town Mayor Travis Easton agreed.

Green and Shupp said that a letter should be written to Irish with a specific date to meet or agree to return the land to the town. If Irish does not cooperate, the town should take him to district court to recover the town’s land. Plank added that it is unfair to area seniors to allow them to believe Irish is actively engaged in building this facility. After lengthy discussion and recommendations by some trustees to Shupp about how he should write the letter to Irish, there was consensus on a March 31 deadline.

Kassawara noted that he would advertise on March 31, with bids due on April 13, for a landscaping contract for Third Street. The four weeks of construction would start no later than May 24, with completion due before the Fourth of July parade.

Landreth reported that plans are proceeding for installing new restrooms at the north end of Limbach Park, using an existing gravity-fed sewer line, potable water, and electrical power. The town has paid for a used Larkspur restroom from the closed rest areas on I-25. It will be delivered later this spring.

Several trustees noted problems at the I-25 Baptist Road and Highway 105 with traffic signals sensing cars at the intersections. Landreth and Easton noted that they have reported these problems to CDOT several times.

Chief Shirk reported that plans are proceeding for the large emergency response exercise that will be conducted at Lewis-Palmer High School in July. Officer Chad Haynes has received four "safe to tell" tips, of which two concerned potential juvenile suicides. Shirk stated that Haynes was able to avert both of these by prompt intervention.

Easton added that Officer Haynes had done a "great job with the kids" who attended Safety Day on March 13 for the Stranger Danger Awareness class. The event was hosted by the U.S. Taekwando Center in Monument Marketplace and co-sponsored by the Monument Police Department, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and Shelter Insurance.

The Mounted Ranger regional response team will provide officers from seven counties for security at the Monument Kiwanis Club’s Fourth of July Parade.

Note: The Monument Hill Sertoma Club is changing its national affiliation to Kiwanis as of July 1.

Green reported that Tri-Lakes Views had selected the two outdoor art pieces that would go on display at Town Hall in May.

The board held an hour-long discussion on the need to reorganize the town’s $51.7 million capital improvement plan to make it more realistic with respect to the small amount of money, no more than $100,000 per year, that will actually be available from annual revenues to be generated in the near future. Nearly all available capital reserve money has been spent on the new Town Hall and Police Department building and recent Third Street stormwater, curb, gutter, and sidewalk improvements. Smith said the amount available annually may rise to $300,000 to $400,000 if the economy recovers to previous highs. No decisions were made.

Green provided a handout on "Borrowing Mechanisms for Municipalities" and briefly discussed the various topics in this document: bond issues, loans, certificates of participation, leases, and lease purchases. None of the issues discussed were resolved. Green was asked to add potential grants that may be available and the required town funding match for each project listed in the current plan.

The meeting adjourned at 8:44 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 5 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month.

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Monument Planning Commission, March 10: A full house once again

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Photos by Jim Kendrick

Below: On March 10, new planning commissioner John Dick and alternate planning commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick were sworn in by Town Attorney Gary Shupp.

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Below: This map shows the land swapped by Forest Lakes Tech Center developer Bill Schuck and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) near the new southbound on-ramp at the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. CDOT needed substitute wetlands and Preble’s mouse habitat (the red parallelogram area) from Schuck to replace the CDOT habitat destroyed during construction of the new northbound off-ramp at the Baptist Road interchange shown at the top center of the map. The arrowhead-shaped land CDOT gave to Forest Lakes in return was unanimously recommended for annexation by the Planning Commission at the March 10 public hearing.

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By Jim Kendrick

It had been almost a year since all seven chairs for the Monument Planning Commission had been occupied for a regularly scheduled meeting, following the resignation of Tom Martin on May 13 of last year. Stan Gingrich was appointed to replace Martin, but was then appointed to fill one of several vacancies on the Board of Trustees before he could attend a commission meeting.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp swore in new Commissioner John Dick and new alternate Planning Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick at the start of the meeting on March 10. The absence of Commissioner Dave Gwisdalla was unanimously excused, and Fitzpatrick immediately took his place for the rest of the meeting.

The Planning Commission then unanimously approved annexation of two acres of land between the vacant Forest Lakes Tech Center parcel and the southbound on-ramp of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The commission also approved several town code amendments that updated sections regarding inactive plats, created a regulation on sketch plats, and eliminated the long-standing inconsistencies between long, very detailed sections of the town code and Triview Metropolitan District regulations regarding road design, water, and parking requirements and standards.

Land swap leads to annexation request

Applicant Dennis Minchow and landowner William D. Schuck of Forest Lakes LLC requested the commission’s approval for annexation of a two-acre parcel as part of the Forest Lakes Addition No. 4 development. Also known as the Forest Lakes Tech Center, this vacant business park is located on the southwest corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange between the interstate and Woodcarver Road. The parcel extends south from Baptist Road to the northern boundary of the Air Force Academy.

The parcel to be annexed was formerly owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT). This two-acre parcel was traded by CDOT to Forest Lakes LLC for adjacent wetlands—that are Preble’s mouse habitat—to the south where Jackson Creek crosses under I-25. The traded wetlands serve as substitute protected mouse habitat for the habitat area destroyed in CDOT land used to build the new dual lane northbound off-ramp to Baptist Road on the southeast corner of the interchange.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith noted that the 1.974-acre parcel meets all statutory standards and criteria for annexation regarding services and contiguity with the rest of the Schuck property, noting that the adjacent vacant Forest Lakes parcel has already been annexed by the town. She stated that the Air Force Academy has requested that future plats and site plans for the annexed parcel note the adjacent Academy runway to the south and the associated building height restrictions and aircraft noise that will occur within this segment of the Forest Lakes business park. Griffith noted that the staff will require the land owner to include this small parcel in the future site plan for the business park.

Griffith stated that there are no unresolved referral comments regarding the proposal. She recommended approval of the annexation plat with one standard condition of approval:

  1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording of the annexation ordinance.

Griffith stated that the proposed rezoning of the parcel to planned industrial development to match the existing PID zoning of the rest of the Forest Lakes business park meets all statutory standards and criteria in town regulations and the Monument Comprehensive Plan. She recommended two conditions of approval:

  1. Forest Lakes Addition No. 4 Annexation shall be approved and recorded prior to recordation of the Zoning Ordinance.
  2. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording of the Zoning Ordinance.

Minchow discussed the history of Forest Lakes’ response to CDOT’s request to obtain 14 acres of substitute mouse habitat—"as much mouse habitat land as they possibly could" for this interchange project and other Front Range projects—during construction of the Baptist Road interchange. He pointed out the boundaries of the swapped parcels of land on a map he had prepared for the hearing. The two-acre parcel swapped to Forest Lakes is a "remnant parcel of the old concrete highway to Denver that went down through this area." It is about a half-mile north of the county’s Santa Fe Trail by the Air Force Academy boundary, and future development will not conflict with trail operation.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said that the business park would be composed of office buildings, despite the obsolete PID zoning, and "will be a high quality development" that meets the town’s view corridor requirements for I-25.

There was no public comment on either hearing item.

Separate motions for the annexation and rezoning, along with the recommended conditions of approval for each, were unanimously approved.

Several revisions of town code approved

The problems the town has experienced with failing infrastructure throughout Triview Metropolitan District and the bankrupt Promontory Pointe development at Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive caused the Board of Trustees to ask the town staff to conduct a comprehensive update and revisions of the town code as time permits during the home building recession.

This problem has been compounded in Triview because this "developer" district is required to provide public infrastructure to developers, while developers are required to build roads, curbs, gutters, water lines, sewer systems, and stormwater drainage systems and then donate them to the town. Triview cannot afford to replace or repair the existing failing infrastructure, much less build new infrastructure to complete the development of Jackson Creek to buildout.

Now that the town has taken over operation of Triview’s assets, the staff has been tasked with standardizing policies and regulations between the previously separate public works operations.

The commission unanimously approved, in turn, four separate code amendments compiled in an inch-thick packet of paper.

The first amendment incorporated changes to the section of town code on "Improvements and Surety." A surety is a cash deposit, bond, or letter of credit that the town can use to complete construction of public improvements, such as roads, sidewalks, or storm drains that a developer or contractor fails to complete. The amendment contains changes that were needed to resolve problems the town has had in getting the money needed to repair or complete infrastructure abandoned by several of the separate bankrupt corporations that developers create for each construction of each subdivision.

On the other hand, the town will no longer require that the entire surety amount is bonded at the start of the project. Sureties will be collected for each phase of a subdivision project rather than requiring the total surety upfront for the entire project. The surety for each phase must be paid to the town prior to receiving grading permits, construction permits, land use permits or recordation of the subdivision plat, whichever comes first.

The second amendment on "Inactive plats or agreements" allows the staff to extend the time limit for up to two years before inactive town-approved plats have to be recorded with the county. The Board of Trustees is now authorized to provide even longer extensions that would allow an unrecorded plat to remain valid indefinitely if the proposal still meets updated review and approval criteria in the revised town code. Until now, an annexation or plat had to be filed with the county within one year of board approval to remain valid.

The third amendment adds a description and overview for a sketch plat. Submittal requirements for a sketch plat would be adopted administratively through the use of staff-developed checklists. The purpose of the sketch plat review process is to evaluate whether a proposed subdivision conforms to Monument’s Comprehensive Plan and review and approval criteria and is compatible with the surrounding neighborhood.

Griffith’s report states that the requirement for conceptual building elevations to be included with sketch plat proposals would be eliminated because they "are not relevant to the subdivision of land" and the elevations "should be addressed through the site plan review process." An approved sketch plat will be valid for three years and does not have to be recorded. The staff can extend validity for an additional two years, then the Board of Trustees can further extend validity indefinitely if it is still consistent with current review and approval criteria. Subsequent approval of a preliminary plat for the development does not invalidate the sketch plat.

The fourth amendment provides "a clear and comprehensive set of standards for developers and their consultants when designing road improvements. By incorporating many of Triview’s standards, the town’s review process will be more cohesive" and make the "entire set of roadway standards intact in one document rather than scattered throughout the code." The amendment also separately adds a reference in the town’s water standards "to the recently completed Town Water Utility Policies and Standards document" for staff convenience.

There was an hour-long discussion of various details of these amendments that reviewed numerous problem areas that have occurred throughout downtown and Jackson Creek and how the amendments might produce more timely and satisfactory results.

There was no public comment on any of the four proposed code amendments.

In four separate votes, each of the amendments was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 14 in Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, March 11: New fire department protocols being developed

By David Futey

At its regular meeting on March 11, the Palmer Lake Town Council learned that the town’s volunteer fire department is formally reorganizing its long-standing internal rules and regulations to provide more specific guidance on how the volunteers will respond to dispatches from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Water Trustee Max Stafford was excused from the meeting.

Committee reports

Fire: Fire Trustee Jan Bristol said the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) volunteers worked 1,100.5 volunteer hours in February. The department has created and implemented 24-hour shift assignments for responding members.

Bristol said that historically, the PLVFD has been operating under a constitution and by-laws. The new by-laws and protocols being developed are a codification of the rules and regulations. Bristol said some protocols are not the same as, or are in contradiction to, what the present by-laws and constitution state. She asked the council and Town Attorney Larry Gaddis if officers can vote to accept the new protocols and start working under those or if they need to continue working under the existing department constitution.

Gaddis said he understood the PLVFD to be a separate nonprofit entity from the town government. Town Clerk Della Gray, who is a member of the PLVFD association that supports the department, said the association now has its own set of by-laws. Gray also noted that the Town Council has separated the PLVFD from the association and the PLVFD is now under the auspices of the town.

Bristol asked if the PLVFD can incrementally implement the new protocols before they are approved by the board. She said this would allow standards to be implemented in a timely fashion as soon as they are agreed upon by the staff and not wait until they are all written and approved by the council. PLVFD Chief Shana Ball said the department wants to follow what the Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire District has done so both groups are following the same procedures, such as how many firefighters/EMTs from a certain department respond on a call. An example of a policy would be a determination of which certifications individuals would need to be a responder on a particular type of call, such as a structure fire.

Trustee Dan Reynolds, who is a former chief of the PLVFD, raised a concern about membership by-laws that may include a term of employment. Reynolds added that membership requirements need to be reviewed by a legal counsel. Ball and Bristol said the requirements for different levels of membership will change. Bristol requested that a list of procedures, which are ready to be implemented, should be put before the Town Council at next month’s meeting.

Police Trustee Bryan Jack, who is a full-time battalion chief in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, said some policies and procedures may be implemented immediately; others may be drawn out to allow members to achieve certification if presently enrolled. For example, he said, someone who might be going through the certification process should be allowed to respond to a structure fire as long as he or she remains in the course.

Bristol said that a list of policies and procedures, those without legal implications for membership, should be presented to the council at the next meeting. She said these changes are a reflection of a culture change by the department and association.

Parks and Recreation/Economic Development: Trustee Nikki McDonald said even though the weather was inclement and cold, WinterFest was a big success as many people took part in the skating. The next town event will be the Easter Egg hunt on April 3. McDonald and Trustee Gary Coleman attended a meeting for the Fall Festival of Fine Art, which is the new name for the fall art festival. Coleman also attended the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s Chautauqua meeting.

McDonald, Jack, and Gray met with Tim Wolken, director of the El Paso County Community Services Department, and Jerry Westling, county parks manager, about "doing something together" in regard to the park adjacent to the lake. The county would give the town the playground area, pavilion, dock, and bathroom. The town would maintain the bathroom, while the county would retain ownership of the bathroom, perform any capital maintenance, and continue maintaining the trail. The town would also be given back the lake. In the past, the town had the underwater rights and the county had the surface rights. This arrangement would give the town jurisdiction on what to do with the lake.

This discussion was a result of the 25-year lease agreement between the two entities that expired in September 2009, though the expiration was not discovered until recently. Jack said the county was open to discussing a new arrangement, and it does not want to renew the lease. The lease provided that any improvement done on town property would revert to the town once the lease had ended. As part of the suggested arrangement, the town would be required to maintain the bathroom on a daily basis but would not be responsible for any capital improvements. Another benefit to the town would be the ability to rent out the pavilion. The county rented the pavilion 44 times, receiving for $100 each rental.

Gray spoke with Palmer Lake resident and town insurer Duane Hanson regarding insurance coverage in order to determine how much the premium would increase for covering non-motorized boats. She said that the insurance company will not cover liability for swimming. Swimming will most likely not be an issue until the lake is filled. The insurance company also recommends the town not own any paddle boats or similar boats and that a private company be contracted for such a service. The town could also offer a permit for personal boat use.

Gray said this is a "prime park" because of the trail, so the county is interested in maintaining it.

addis raised a concern that the town should be prepared to maintain the parking lot, given the county’s financial situation. Gray responded that the county intends on maintaining the parking lot because of the trail, because they have responsibility for the trail all the way to Douglas County. Gray said the county is seeking a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the town. Gray said she will ask Wolken to identify in the MOU what the county intends to maintain to clarify each entity’s responsibilities.

McDonald also reported that the town has signed an agreement with the county regarding noxious weeds. The county will identify the weeds, and town will send a letter to individual property owners, requesting removal.

In ending the economic development summary, Bristol said the town received the $45,000 Community Development Block Grant.

Police: Some of the items Jack discussed during his report on the Palmer Lake Police Department were:

  • The El Paso Sheriff’s Office does not provide statistics regarding how many calls in which Palmer Lake officers "covered" or "held the scene" for sheriff’s deputies, the Monument Police Department, or another agency.
  • Two officer candidates were selected from the testing process. They have been conditionally hired while background and other checks proceed. It was anticipated that they would be permanently hired soon.
  • A police records technician was hired and started March 22. There were 50 applicants for the position.

Water: In the absence of Trustee Stafford, McDonald read the water report. Among the items, it was noted that $2,310 in late charges was collected last month, which is about the average amount.

Roads: Reynolds reported that the Safe Route 2 Schools project will be started once the weather gets warmer. A pre-construction meeting was held with Ideal Concrete Inc.

Town staff: Gray said the town’s April election in on track. Gray requested an additional $1,500 from the general fund for psychological evaluations and physicals of newly hired staff. A decision on this sum was postponed until after the subsequent executive session on personnel matters.

By unanimous decision, the council approved funding of $7,841, contingent upon Stafford’s approval, for a handheld meter reader and filter. Gray made the request for the funds from the water capital improvement fund. The handheld reader needs to be replaced, and the present reader will be used as trade-in. Town Water Superintendent Steve Orcutt also requested a chlorine analyzer for $11,000, but no action was taken by the council.

Restroom for Centennial Park: By unanimous decision, the council approved an expenditure not to exceed $22,000 for the purchase and installation of a restroom for the west side of the lake. The town is evaluating the purchase of a used two-bathroom restroom from the town of Larkspur, from the now closed Larkspur rest area on I-25. Monument is anticipating a cost of $30,000 for the purchase and installation of a similar used Larkspur restroom in Limbach Park.

If purchased by Palmer Lake, the restroom would fulfill a component of the Centennial Park’s master plan. A septic vault would be needed, since no water connection is available. The septic vault would have to be pumped periodically. Gray said an alternative would be using a compost system for the waste, but she said building a new restroom would make more sense for this option.

Funding for the restroom and installation would come from the Conservation Trust Fund, which is presently at $44,000.

Renewal of Sports Rider Park: The council tabled a decision until next month on a lease renewal for the Sports Rider Park motorcycle park on County Line Road. The present yearly lease is $175 and is based on the number of members in the motorcycle club. Reynolds suggested it should be a set fee. Gray said she has not seen the actual lease. Bristol and Jack said the council needs to review the terms of the lease. Gaddis said there is a requirement from the club to insure the town. Gray noted that the town owns the land and the area cannot be built on without a major cleanup.

Medical marijuana ordinance: Mayor John Cressman asked Jack for an update on the medical marijuana ordinance. Jack said a workshop was conducted, and three citizens showed up at the meeting. The citizens were in favor of the ordinance. Jack also received feedback from Police Chief Keith Moreland, who wanted to ensure that contact information was forwarded to El Paso County dispatch so it could be updated to computers in regional fire trucks and police cars. The ordinance was on track for being proposed at the April council meeting.

Cressman asked Jack how many dispensaries and cultivation units could be open in Palmer Lake based on the criteria in the ordinance. Jack said two or three dispensaries and probably one cultivation unit are expected. Cressman then asked what the security requirements would be for the cultivation warehouse. Jack said the security systems would be the same as those required for the dispensary: monitored by a professional alarm system, 72 hours of surveillance information, and exterior lighting. Cressman then asked prospective applicant Susie Breward, who was seated in the audience, what the potential value is at time of harvest, given her proposed capacity? Breward said, "If you are good at what you are doing and you get 2 ounces off of one plant, eight plants to get a pound, a pound would vary on its value, but you would get $4,000 for every eight plants."

Breward said she went to a seminar, and it was said that if you have a "3,000 square foot grow and you maxed it out, it would be valued at $1 million to $1.2 million." Cressman said there are some horrendous crimes in California where owners are being tied up and their crop being stolen. Breward said Lloyds of London is now offering insurance for coverage of loss. Breward also said she will probably "not max out at the biggest number (of plants)" and she "just wants to service her patients." Cressman said the plants "will not be in a vault" and "you will be subject to crime." Breward said she would like the location known only by a few officials because of that concern.

Reynolds spoke with Gray in an effort to determine the license fee schedule. The intent is to cover the administrative costs. The fee schedule will be modeled after the liquor license, because the process is about the same. Fingerprinting and a background check will be performed. At present, $500 is being estimated for the license fee to cover these costs.

After this council meeting, the task force met on March 15 to review input. The meeting was open to the public.

Hotel occupancy tax: The council discussed amending the hotel occupancy tax. Gaddis said this is an excise tax and not a sales tax. Gray asked about changing the ordinance from monthly to quarterly, because the entities that are paying are paying quarterly. This and a related issue were to be discussed in the executive session.

The council went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 8:15 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 8 at Town Hall. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or call 481-2953.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, March 17: Three firefighters selected for Phoenix Club Award

By Jim Kendrick

On March 17, the Donald Wescott Fire Department presented the Phoenix Club Award to Capt. Scott Ridings and firefighter/EMT Curt Leonhardt. Firefighter/EMT Roger Lance will also receive the award at a later date; he was unable to attend this meeting.

Chief Jeff Edwards stated that during an emergency mutual aid dispatch to Jackson Creek, these firefighters performed a "cardiac save" on a man by taking over cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, clearing the airway, applying electric shocks with an automated external defibrillator, and stabilizing his pulse and breathing until Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District personnel could transport him to a hospital. The patient has since left the hospital.

These three names may be familiar. These three, along with volunteer driver/engineer James Rackl and AMR paramedic Douglas McIntyre received the Donald Wescott Medal of Valor on Jan. 22, 2008, the only time this medal has been given in the 27-year history of the department. The five men were recognized for their actions during the New Life Church shooting incident of Dec. 9, 2007. They were the first emergency medical services providers at the unsecured site. The crews of Wescott Engine 1 and AMR Medic 18 knowingly entered a dangerous and unknown situation to provide rapid medical triage, patient care, and transport of the victims to a Level 2 trauma facility at Penrose Hospital.

Treasurer unprepared to give report

Treasurer Dennis Feltz requested that the treasurer’s report be continued until the next regular Wescott board meeting on April 28. Chief Edwards and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns had invited Feltz and Secretary Greg Gent to attend a meeting on March 10 to review financial data available at that time. Feltz had requested that the March meeting be held a week earlier than usual because he would be out of town on the regular meeting date of March 24. Gent attended the meeting with Edwards and Burns but Feltz did not.

Board President Kevin Gould asked Edwards why Feltz was unprepared. Edwards said that the chiefs "normally meet" with Feltz the Wednesday before the board meeting, based on Feltz’s availability, to review the treasurer’s report in the board package. Edwards noted that this schedule gives board members a week to look at their packets and "iron out" any issues. Gould confirmed that this meeting was "a standing policy" and that Gent had reviewed the March treasurer’s report with the chiefs on March 10.

However, Feltz said, "I’d get it and come down to see it. I was waiting for the preliminary ones to come by." Feltz wanted a change in the standing policy. "It’s going to be the Wednesday or Friday because work is running and if I can get a preliminary to look it over because I do based on the previous month." Feltz confirmed that in the past "I would get the board package on Wednesday." Feltz said he got the package on Friday, March 12. However, he was still unprepared for the March 17 meeting, five days later.

Gould said to Feltz, "The standing policy will continue to be then, one week prior you get the board packet" via hand delivery of the packet to Feltz and the other directors "as has been done before." Gould asked Feltz to confirm that he had not stopped by the fire station between March 12 and March 17 to review the treasurer’s report with the chiefs. Feltz made a motion to "suspend the treasurer’s report to the next board meeting." Gould said, "I don’t know that we have any other choice." The other directors agreed with Gould and the motion passed unanimously.

Edwards reported that two firefighters completed Fire Officer 1 certification and two firefighters completed Fire Instructor 1 training at Texas A&M University the week before this board meeting.

Edwards noted that Wescott, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, and the Air Force Academy Fire Department provided backfill manning for all northern Colorado Springs Fire Department stations for four hours during the large Berkshire Apartments structure fire on March 11.

Directors Bill Lowes gave a lengthy detailed update on the monthly subcommittee meeting he and Director Scott Campbell had attended with two Black Forest Fire/Rescue District board directors. They discussed possible line item differences between the two district budgets and legal issues that will need to be resolved with Colorado Springs before making a proposal to combine the two departments. Wescott still has to determine how it could manage with a tax levy of five mills after being included by Black Forest and also afford the new Wescott Station 3 to be constructed on Highway 83 at the Stagecoach Road intersection.

Lowes noted that these discussions with Black Forest have gone on for a year and a half and that both districts will need specialized accounting expertise after the May Wescott elections. Black Forest will not be holding an election this year.

Gould updated the board on a timeline for selecting a contractor for a design/build contract for the new Station 3 in June. Gould recommended that the board continue to use land planning consultant NES for replatting and rezoning the district’s five-acre lot on Highway 83. There was consensus that bidding in the current "lean" construction market should produce very competitive proposals.

There was consensus that the staff should further refine its long-term information technology plan so that bidders would be responding to district needs rather than proposing plans that simply matched each contractor’s individual expertise. Campbell asked that there be a design balance between new equipment purchases to expand district IT capabilities and a long-term "technology refresh plan" for updating existing equipment on an annual basis as it becomes obsolete.

Volunteer firefighter Tim Hampton said he would lead the staff’s development of a requirements document and cost-benefit analysis. Hampton performs these kinds of analyses and proposals professionally in his full-time job. Campbell and the other directors thanked Hampton for taking the lead and asked him to also provide a strategic objectives list.

The meeting adjourned at 8:34 p.m.

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The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on April 28 at Station 1, 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, March 24: Proposition 101 could jeopardize future district funding

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Below: Candidates for the three vacancies on the Tri-Lakes Monument district Board of Directors. From left are Director and Treasurer John Hildebrandt, retired Marine Col. Chez Marshall, Town of Monument employee Rod Wilson, Reserve Air Force Col. and Academy instructor Chuck Schweiss, and Director Charlie Pocock. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

At the March meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Director Charlie Pocock explained how the possible approval of Proposition 101, and to a lesser degree Amendment 61, would severely affect district funding. To ease the impact, Pocock made a motion to combine lease purchase fees for all three fire vehicles into one package. This would reduce payment amounts. At present, one vehicle has nine yearly payments of $37,000 to go, another has 10 yearly payments at $25,000, and the ladder truck has a total of $524,000 yet to be paid. The board passed the motion, and District Fire Chief Robert Denboske was directed to approach Wells Fargo Bank with the proposal.

Treasurer’s report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt advised the board that the accounting for the district was generally on track. Ambulance revenues were about 1 percent ahead of schedule. He also noted that administrative expenses were a little high due to payment of liability insurance, maintenance contracts, and special district association dues. Salary expenses were only 2.3 percent over budget for the year. Electricity for the month was a little higher due to well augmentation at Station 2. Overall expenses were slightly under target at 16.53 percent.

Fire chief’s report: Fire Chief Denboske reported that in the snowstorm of March 19, there were 21 responses to emergency calls. There were 21 vehicle incidents, nine of which were rollovers. During the March 24 snowstorm, there were 30 responses to vehicles sliding off the road. There also was a mutual aid response to the town of Larkspur, where there was a 20-car pileup on I-25. Tri-Lakes fire personnel worked with eight of the victims of the pileup.

Senior Safety Program

District Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin described a grant request that was made by the district to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club to assist in supporting the Senior Safety Program. She described the mission of this program as a combined effort of the district, the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, and the Senior Alliance. The program was designed to assess, educate, and improve the safety as well as the wellness of the senior population in the Tri-Lakes region. This program is offered at no cost to seniors. Included in the program are smoke detector evaluations, home safety assessments, vial of life (emergency personal information), and fire prevention.

The district has no funds allocated for this effort. Walmart has already provided $50 to this program. Fire staff members donate their time for this project. The grant request would provide for the distribution of brochures to further educate seniors in fire safety. The goal of the Senior Safety Program is to teach seniors how to avoid accidents and live happier, healthier, and safer.

Training exercise

District Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman advised the board that the district would participate in a combined emergency effort training exercise on June 14 under the sponsorship of the Palmer Divide Safety Group. District Training Officer Michael Keough said that during the week of June 14, first responders from all types of public safety (fire, emergency, and law enforcement) would have the opportunity to train on and then practice response to an active shooter situation.

Keough said these types of calls have impacted communities across the country and more than once in Colorado. Previously law enforcement first responders, called to these types of emergencies, were trained to establish a perimeter to contain the scene and call for a SWAT team. Fire and emergency responders were trained to "stage" many blocks away from the scene and not respond at the scene to treat and transport patients until the site was deemed "safe."

Keough said that unfortunately, in the length of time it can take to secure the scene and ensure that it is "safe" for fire and emergency responders to enter, victims lose precious time and potentially bleed to death from very treatable and survivable injuries. The tactics that agency responders will learn and then practice during this training take into account that the victims of these events have to receive life-saving intervention and evacuation as soon as possible, while the safety of responders must be ensured.

He added that current teaching nationwide is for the first two to four arriving law enforcement officers to enter the site and go immediately to the threat and stop any further harm from being done. The next arriving officers, along with emergency and fire responders, enter the area and immediately begin to treat life-threatening injuries and evacuate victims while the officers provide security.

Keough reminded the board that during the New Life Church shooting, these tactics were used by all of the responding agencies and were credited with saving time and lives. The district has a team of four tactical medics who are specially trained and equipped to be part of the Monument Police Department Tactical Team. This team, along with other SWAT teams, can be called to any scene of this type. The time it takes for these specialized units to arrive is critical for those with injuries. This response allows all responders from the area to have the training and knowledge to immediately deal with the situation and then begin treatment and evacuation from the scene. It is an effort in cross training to alleviate delays in treating injuries of any victims.

Equipment and facility update

Chief Denboske advised the board that the truck damaged by being backed into an I-25 guard rail had not yet been evaluated by the adjusters because of the snow storms. He advised that the evaluation should be accomplished by the next meeting. Denboske noted that the roof snow restrainers that needed replacement had not yet been repaired but that this would be completed by the next board meeting.

Candidates introduced

Following adjournment, board President Tim Miller introduced the candidates for the board vacancies so that they could speak about their candidacy and to receive questions. The candidates who were present were Director and Board Treasurer John Hildebrandt, retired Marine Col. Chez Marshall, Town of Monument employee Rod Wilson, Reserve Air Force officer and instructor at the Air Force Academy Lt. Col. Chuck Schweiss, and board Director Charlie Pocock.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 28, at 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 west of Monument near the bowling alley. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer at 719-484-0911.

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Special district election candidate statements

Three local special districts are holding elections: The Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The ballots for those elections are due May 4.

Each of the candidates in those three elections was asked to respond to the following two questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a board member?
  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The responses from those candidates who responded to the questions are listed below. Within each section, the candidates are listed alphabetically by last name.

Donala Water and Sanitation District candidates

Warren Gerig Jr.

Warren Gerig Jr. lives in Gleneagle year round and previously lived in Denver during the 1970s. He retired from United Airlines as General Manager after 37 years of service.

Warren is a member of the U.S. Army Special Forces Association, a member and deacon of the First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs, and a member and patron of the 100 Club, Pioneers Museum, and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo.

Board experience: Attended a majority of the Donala Water and Sanitation District meetings in the last three years. Attended Colorado Water Forum 2007—ground water artificial recharge, and attended two SDA (Special District Association) education workshops on SDA rules and regulations, and on financial issues. President of the Rocky Mountain Chapter AFIO (Association of Former Intelligence Officers), Chairman and Director of the Sloane Gardens Apartment Complex London, England. President Emeritus and two-term Board Member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand. Solving difficult problems and issues in and out of work over many years.

Experience in our water issues is extremely important at this critical time in our history. I have been concerned since the 1970s about water quality and quantity with its treatment and the conservation of this limited resource. Several complex and seriously expensive decisions need to be resolved in the near future. One being the need for a new source of water and the cost of the new water. Two the means of delivery of the new water.

There must be a balance between new and old water, conservation and growth or our grandchildren will suffer the consequences and our property values will erode. We must continue to provide reliable service with the lowest possible rates, while providing leadership and sound management philosophy in cooperation with the different water authorities in the State of Colorado.

The water used by most of the Front Range comes from the Denver Basin of Aquifers or sometimes called "Lake Erie Underground." This is a misnomer as all the wells are depleting this water that has been there for thousands of years. We are mining the water and as in any mine, the material being mined can never be replaced. Therefore, it is imperative we prepare for the future now before it is too late and our present water is no longer available in the quantities we require.

Tim Murphy

I am nine-year property owner and resident of the Gleneagle community, having moved here after a 30-year career in the Air Force, and a current four-year member and Vice President of the Donala Water Board. I understand the value of a close community and a well run Water and Sanitation District. At the same time, I serve as Vice President for Operations of a growing local company and understand the challenges of operating in our current economic environment, including fiscal restraint and constant improvement to processes that will make us more efficient and reduce costs. Finally, I’ve had a long drink from the effluent of our waste plant (as a sign of confidence in the great Donala people who operate it) and am as healthy as a horse!

Donala’s primary challenge is securing a long-term renewable water supply to protect our community and property values from the inevitability—eventually—of a depleted aquifer. We have a long-term plan to bring renewable water to Donala and our community. The purchase of Willow Creek Ranch is the first step in that plan, but there will be many more—over many years—to see that plan through. This will require a long-term commitment both from the community and from this and many future water boards. It will also require cooperation between us and the other water districts and communities in Northern El Paso County—as well as cooperation with the City of Colorado Springs. I would enjoy the opportunity to help move that plan along for another four years. The second challenge is increasingly stringent EPA requirements for wastewater that may significantly increase our water bills. Clean water is a great gift and a special treasure for those of us who live in Colorado. But it is important to balance microscopic standards for wastewater with their economic impact, and I believe that current plans may be out of balance. We need to ensure our representatives in Washington are aware of these impacts and work with us to keep wastewater standards and their economic costs in balance.

William Nance

My background includes a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Ohio State University and a broad background with Shell Oil Company in both engineering and project management jobs in drilling and production (both domestic and foreign), pipelining, and heavy construction. Also, my career included several stints in long-range supply planning, economics, and computer development.

Upon retirement, my family and I moved to Gleneagle in 1984. Subsequently, I served on the Donala board as director and board president from May 1986 to May 2004, at which time term limit laws forced me to retire again. I also was general manager of the district from June 1993 to June 1995.

Currently the district’s two greatest issues are (1) the difficult and expensive program of obtaining a renewable (snow melt) source of water to supplement and eventually replace our finite reserves of underground well water, and (2) to create the most efficient and economical financing structure to support the future renewable water supply project(s).

Gene Pfeffer

I have extensive experience within government and private industry running organizations like Donala. In my military career, I commanded a large organization doing technically challenging, time-sensitive work. I was responsible for executing a budget of $300 million per year while providing effective oversight of the taxpayers’ money. Later, in private industry, I spent six years successfully running an electronics manufacturing operation. My formal education as an engineer, along with my graduate degrees in Systems Management and Atmospheric Sciences, provides a good base of formal education for directly supporting activities of the district. My personal interest in water issues and my involvement in community service complement my experience and education. I believe water issues are the key to the future of our communities. I’ve attended many Donala board meetings over last few years. I am very familiar with the issues. I will be responsive to the customers the district serves.

The most important issue facing the district is assuring a reliable, multi-source water system. The district now relies on wells tapping underground aquifers. This approach has served us well and has insulated us from the problems with surface water shortfalls in drought years. According to most estimates, these aquifers should last for many years, but there are no definitive studies of their long-term viability. In any case, we will need deeper wells employing advanced technology to meet our needs. There are pilot projects underway in Colorado looking at recharging of the aquifers using excess stream water during years with high snowmelt. We need to follow these developments closely. Nevertheless, the district needs to intensify its efforts to acquire rights to surface water as a complement to its wells. Long term, we need a water system that is a mix of both underground and surface water.

The other key issue is the efficient and effective operation of the district on behalf of the residents and customers. Having closely followed the board’s activities over the last year, I believe the district has good people and good operations. I aim to keep it that way. I want to see that the district continues to keep its customers and residents fully informed. I want to assure that the district is run as efficiently as possible while meeting the needs of its customers. I also want the district to work cooperatively with adjacent districts and state authorities regarding the larger water issues on the Front Range.

David A. Powell

David Powell is retired from the Air Force, and he and his wife, Patty, have resided in Gleneagle for over 20 years. For 12 years following his military retirement he worked for a government contractor in Colorado Springs, dealing primarily with land and facility use on military installations around the world. Since 1990 he as been an active volunteer in several city and county functions, such as: the Colorado Springs Airport Advisory Commission, the Retiree Activities Office at the Air Force Academy, the Board of Directors for the Gleneagle Civic Association, and currently as a member of the El Paso County Planning Commission and his HOA’s representative to the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO). He is also a Block Captain for the GCA Neighborhood Watch Program.

David envisions two significant issues facing the District: (1) Continue and even intensify efforts to develop renewable water sources for our District to sustain our property values into the future. He proposes continuing efforts to support the objectives of the Pikes Peaks Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) and to develop a partnership with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to move our water from the Pueblo Reservoir to new storage facilities in the District. (2) Through cooperative efforts with other water districts, provide a unified front for the development and distribution of renewable water sources throughout northern El Paso County and the Pikes Peak region. This again is in support of the PPRWA.

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District candidates

Ed Ellsworth

Background/Qualifications:

  • Previous EMT and Donald Wescott volunteer firefighter
  • Business owner – past 9 years
  • Previous corporate senior manager
  • M.B.A from University of Colorado
  • Homeowner in the district since 1996 that cares about our community
  • Ability to work well with people and best utilize resources

Having served as a volunteer at the Wescott Fire Department, and having recently met with department staff members and discussed their concerns, I believe that the department has the right people and resources to successfully accomplish their mission, however, it appears that the current relationship between some board members and fire department staff is less than optimal and long-term goals are unclear. The first thing I will focus on as a member of the board will be to create a more positive and constructive working relationship between the board and department staff. We should all have the same goals and objectives and work together to best achieve them. Second, I will evaluate the opportunity for a stronger, more cost efficient and effective northern Colorado Springs Fire Department by the potential consolidation and merging of the Westcott, Tri-Lakes, and Black Forest fire departments. Change is often difficult, but necessary to become better. With the proposed new Wescott fire station and our community’s interest in spending our tax dollars wisely, now is the time to take action in exploring and pursuing these opportunities and to come up with short-term, mid range, and long-term plans that will take care of and best utilize Westcott resources and best serve our great community.

Gregory Gent

My background, running my own general contractor and real estate agent businesses, has helped in understanding Quickbooks budgets and spreadsheets. I understand construction contracts and land development; both would be valuable while building Station 3.

The two biggest issues facing Wescott Fire Protection District are the building of Station 3 off Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road and the possible merger of Wescott with Black Forest Fire District. The current Board has made major progress toward both of these goals in the past two years.

Station 3 is necessary to provide faster response times to Flying Horse and the southern part of the district. The east side of the district, along the Highway 83 corridor, pays higher insurance premiums due to distance from fire service. ISO ratings can be decreased by building Station 3, resulting in lower insurance premiums for those members of the district. Chief Edwards and Assistant Chief Burns have done an incredible amount of research to find an excellent location for Station 3. Their attention to detail has made our job as a Board much easier. The location of Station 3 fills the void not serviced by any other department.

The merger with Black Forest Fire may be a strong possibility. Further accounting comparisons will need to be investigated. Wescott has always worked well with Black Forest Fire, and the economics may support the consolidation of the two departments.

As a Board member of Wescott, I have never forgotten about the people that built this department. Their dedication to public service and fiscally sound principles made this a department I am proud to call ours. These firefighters are the very best. Many volunteers, past and present, have given countless hours to make sure we are safe. In a community where public service is valued, I am glad to be there to support them.

Kevin Gould

As a current board member on the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, I believe this provides the best background and experience I could have to serve as a board member. I originally filled a vacant position on the board on March 19, 2003. I then ran for election in May of 2004 for a two year term and was successfully elected. At the end of that term, I was again re-elected to serve on the board beginning in May of 2006. Since May of 2008 I have served as Chairman of the board. During my time on the board, I have been a part of and have experienced growth within our community and the Fire District. I have been an integral part of helping and assisting the District grow strategically and appropriately during the past seven years.

I have also been a resident of the Wescott Fire Protection District for 14 years and have been an active participant in our community. I believe strongly in serving and promoting the wonderful community in which we all live. It is my desire to encourage, promote, and strengthen our community, and that is why I enjoy serving as a board member.

There are two important issues that the District currently faces.

The first is the appropriate and strategic growth of the District. The current board has worked diligently and effectively with the Chief and Assistant Chief to identify both short and long term goals for the District. The first goal was to research and provide the best location for a new fire station. This station would provide improved coverage within our District and possibly lower homeowners insurance for some. After months of work, the board has secured a piece of land that was generously donated and is currently working toward proposals that would provide the design and construction of the third station within our district. The second goal was to research the possibilities of combining our district with an appropriate neighboring district to better strengthen both districts for the best possible service of its constituency. This is an ongoing process that is in the initial phases and will be presented to the community upon completion of the studies.

The second issue the District faces is the continued effective and appropriate spending of the taxpayers’ dollars. This is the primary purpose of the board and will always be seriously addressed while I serve.

Joyce Hartung

I served eight years on the Academy District 20 School Board, participating in many leadership roles, including six years as Board President. The Board maintained oversight of a variety of administrative matters, including obtaining financing for major expansion and construction of additional schools to accommodate significant population growth, development of personnel policies to acquire and maintain a highly qualified staff and faculty, and oversight of curriculum development consistent with maintaining highly rated educational standards throughout the District. I also served 10 years with Pikes Peak Hospice and Palliative Care, both as a member of the Board of Directors and as a charter trustee with the organization’s foundation Board. Demand for services provided by this nonprofit organization increased dramatically along with the significant expansion of the community. To meet the major increase in the need for Pikes Peak services, it was necessary to establish creative and innovative ways to increase the ability to serve the community adequately. This was done by consolidating the patient facilities with those of administration and by establishing an aggressive and highly successful Foundation to acquire the funding necessary to conduct daily operations along with meeting the expansion demands. I believe that my past service as a Board member with both the School District and Pikes Peak Hospice provide me with the experience and skills to perform as an effective member of the Wescott Board by bringing an understanding of how to facilitate constructive deliberations through logical problem solving and compatible interaction with other Board members, while maintaining a recognition of the necessity to focus on the needs of the community in carrying out the responsibilities of the District.

Two greatest issues facing the Wescott District and my proposal on how to deal with these issues:

  • Continuing growth in the community and how to accommodate this growth is a major issue. The Board and other leaders in the District must remain knowledgeable of and open minded to the needs of the fire and medical personnel as demands for their service increase. Up-to-date equipment and proper training must be made available to meet the growth in demand.
  • Consolidation of the District with other communities together with maintaining compatible salary structure is an issue. The Board must continue to investigate the potential value of consolidation with other Districts. Salaries should be established at levels consistent with similar Districts in order to attract and keep effective and skilled personnel.

William Lowes

Having lived in Gleneagle since 1978, I have been involved with the Wescott Fire District (DWFD) since it was formed (1981). I served as a volunteer for 24 years as well as a past and current board member. During my terms as a board member, I have participated in the building of both of our current stations, helped the department grow from a total volunteer department to our current paid/volunteer staff, and have been very involved in obtaining voter approval of our current mil levy status. I have witnessed Colorado Springs continually annex development by development of our district. I have worked to upgrade the service that DWFD continues to provide to our remaining area and constituents.

This past year we obtained land for and are beginning the process to build a station on the eastern side of our district. Once this station is complete and staffed, it will provide improved coverage to that part of our district that has been the greatest challenge from our current locations. This location also improves coverage for our neighboring districts and enhances our ability to further partner with them.

I want to participate in the continued viability of DWFD as Colorado Springs continues to grow and annex additional area that is currently part of our district. I want to ensure that the area not annexed by Colorado Springs continues to maintain the excellent fire protection that our constituents deserve and that DWFD has been known for since our formation. This will also ensure that the firefighters who have given so much to our community will continue to have a department that continues to provide quality coverage. We have a very dedicated team, and both their futures and the fire protection and medical coverage for our homeowners and residents depend on proactive action of our board.

Currently, Colorado Springs comprises 61 percent of the value of the DWFD as well as 53 percent of the area. For our future survivability, we must partner with our neighbors, be it a Fire Authority, Inclusion, or Consolidation. Previously and currently our board has been and is involved in discussions with other districts to determine the feasibility of such a partnership. I have been directly involved in all of these discussions, and I would appreciate the opportunity to finish these discussions to help secure a future for our superior, well-trained firefighters that currently serve our district.

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District candidates

Rick Cheever

I am a resident in Monument and actively involved in the community through the Monument Hills Sertoma. I have many friends who live in the Tri-Lakes area as community leaders who support me in my candidacy and provide support to me as a board member.

The board will need to be comprised of leaders with experience working as a leader. Someone who has the vision and intelligence and the capacity to analyze difficult situations, make decisions that frequently may not be popular. I have gained that experience from a long background in a variety of leadership functions. I have a 20-year background in International Business Management at a fortune 500 company where I served on management boards within the company. In addition I have served on the boards of start-up businesses in technology and marketing. I currently serve as Treasurer at the Monument Hills Sertoma, and I serve on the board of the Salvation Army Advisory Council.

The greatest issues facing the Tri-Lakes Monument district are tight budgets and area growth. These are competing forces that provide challenging, extensive complex demands in answering the fire safety needs of the community. One logical solution is the combining of other districts. There has been considerable thought and consideration to combining the Donald Wescott and Tri-Lakes district stations, which, as the demands grow, will likely be the only solution to increasing financial requirements and response demands of the growing community. If, bringing the two together, does occur a new set of challenges must be overcome. Two leadership structures or boards will come together who may not agree on the vision for the single district. Budget management and tax revenue management policies will be revised; personnel matters and district growth plans will be rewritten. These developments require leaders who are capable and willing to contribute the time and significant effort to solve these issues in a cohesive and cooperative manner while continuing to serve the needs of the firelighters union. The effort of each member of the board goes unrealized by the community and is not necessarily a glamorous role; it requires people who are unwavering in their commitment to the community and ready to meet the demands of the districts. When I stepped forward to accept this role, I did so knowing what is expected of me and willing to make the sacrifices required to be a board member.

John Hildebrandt

In 1997 I became treasurer of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District. The budget at that time was $179,000. As treasurer I have been involved with all the changes that have taken place since then, and now oversee a budget of close to $4 million for the Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Protection District. I have an intimate knowledge of the financial operations of the district, where it has been and where it is headed. For over 28 years I have been practicing Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Colorado Springs and understand medical care and emergency medicine, which is the most frequently provided service to the residents of the District.

Over the next four to five years, financial stability will be the most important issue facing our District. With the current and projected economic state of the Federal, State and County governments, we need to remain strong and fiscally sound. We need to be conservative in our spending so that we may continue to provide the current service level to our District residents. Our equipment is up to date, our stations are well staffed, and we have a good working relationship of mutual aid with our surrounding Districts.

As a Board, we have one remaining commitment to our firefighters: to review salaries in September. We tabled a pay raise when we approved the budget in December because of the projected economic downturn and anticipated loss in property tax revenues. If property tax revenues hold strong, then we need to revisit a salary adjustment for our competent and dedicated firefighters.

As a current Board member, I can tell you that the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District is healthy, fiscally stable, has an excellent staff of dedicated firefighters, and is positioned well to make it through the tough economic challenges that lie ahead.

Chez Marshall III

I am a graduate of the United States Naval Academy with a Master’s degree in Acquisition and Procurement. I began my 30 year military career as an aviator, but transitioned to program management with a Level III certification from the Defense Systems Management College. I have served as a Program Management Professional (PMP) for the last four years. Managing programs, balancing budgets and assessing priorities are skills that will help me serve on the board.

In my opinion, the two greatest threats that face the Tri-Lakes Monument District are the impending economic downturn that El Paso County is experiencing and the under-staffed personnel which do not meet national fire safety standards. Assessed property taxes will fall within the coming years, leaving a large deficit in out-year district budgets. Additionally, three propositions have been placed on the November 2010 ballot: Prop 60, 61, and 101. If any or all pass, this will place additional restraints on the resources. With the uncertainty that exists, I feel that it is time for us to begin discussions with the Wescott Fire District, Palmer Lake Fire District, and Black Forest Fire District to integrate resources and training within the northern districts. Greater integration will help shorten response times, improve efficiencies, and build strong relationships to strengthen mutual aid agreements. We can no longer afford to operate autonomously. Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day. We must give them the tools, training, and support they need to get their job done safely. I want to support our firefighters.

Charles Pocock

It seems I’ve always been associated with fire departments. Perhaps it started in 1949 when I received my first Advanced Emergency First Aid card at our local fire station, or in 1954 when I first became a volunteer fireman, or in 1974 when I wrote my Master’s degree thesis on the testing of the new Aqueous Film Forming Foam, or in the early 1990s when I served on the Palmer Lake Planning Commission and was then elected to the Town Council, or in 2000 when I was asked to fill a vacant seat on the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District Board of Directors.

The past 10 years have been filled with challenges and opportunities. Transforming a combination volunteer and paid department to an all paid department, building new stations, buying new apparatus and merging with the Woodmoor Monument Fire Protection District to form a premier fire department that achieved a Public Protection Class (PPC) 3 for Monument (in the top 4 percentile of all cities in the nation) and a PPC 4 for areas outside of Monument with fire hydrants (in the top 14 percentile in the U.S.).

The challenges are not over. The three tax initiatives on the November ballot will test Fire Protection Districts like never before. No one can tell which, if any, of the initiatives will pass but we must anticipate worst case conditions and be prepared to face the new decade with less money and expanded service requirements. But with an experienced and tried Board of Directors, I have no doubt we can do it.

The fire service is dynamic and ever changing. We have great people and a flexible organization which can react to new opportunities and take advantage of Federal and State grants to continuously upgrade and expand our department with the latest technologies, skills, and programs to maintain our position of leadership and provide our constituents with the best fire, rescue and ambulance service available anywhere.

I would like to continue serving our community on the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board of Directors and will appreciate your vote.

Chuck Schweiss

I’ve lived in Monument almost 11 years. As I retire from 34 years of military service, I feel it’s time I give back to my community. Public safety is a huge concern of those in our community and those looking to move into our community. Whether it’s a dramatic thin ice rescue, a potentially disastrous brush fire, or a serious I-25 accident, our firefighters are ready, willing and prepared to handle the situation. I too am ready, willing and prepared to be a member of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Board. My experience in the military is the foundation that will make me a valuable board member. My 15 years as an airline pilot will also provide another perspective. That perspective is employee/management relations in tough times.

Whether it was managing million dollar budgets or multimillion dollar airplanes, I learned how to be successful in high stress situations. I made the tough decisions that contributed to the success of our mission. Our mission here in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District is that of safety. I’ll never forget the day I was on final approach to Ramstein Air Force Base with a gear malfunction. Firefighters and their equipment surrounded the runway as I approached. I was confident the firefighters’ training combined with my flying and a little luck would result in a safe landing. I have confidence that the success of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District will continue to many safe endings.

Those safe endings will not be possible if we aren’t aware of two significant issues: budget and personnel. In the last month, many potential and actual obstacles have risen concerning the fire district budget. We’ll see lost revenue from the devaluation of our homes. Possible lost revenue from citizen tax cut initiatives. We must mitigate the impact to our firefighters. Training, retaining, and keeping the best firefighters will certainly be a challenge.

The challenge begins with fiscal responsibility. Each and every resident of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District is entitled to a high level of safety. That safety is a direct result of the board’s fiscal responsibility and accountability. I will look at every aspect of the district’s finances, from smallest to largest expenditure. No suggestion, idea, or plan from anyone will be put aside. But I will not sacrifice our firefighters, as they are our most important assets.

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March Weather Wrap

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below: (L-R) Hannah and C. J. Spivey enjoy a sled ride down the hill toward Palmer Lake as father Curtiss Spivey looks on. The Spivey’s and others took advantage of a warm March 21, Sunday afternoon to hike the Santa Fe Trail area or have some fun in the snow. Photo by David Futey.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bill Kappel

As was the case for the entire 2009-10 winter, March was again colder than normal, and when combined with higher than normal snow, most of the month felt a lot more like winter than spring. Temperatures averaged 2.2°F below normal for the month, with snowfall totaling over 30 inches and producing over 2 inches of liquid equivalent moisture. This is very beneficial as we head into the growing season with plenty of moisture waiting to soak into the soil as the snowpack melts.

March started off fairly quietly, with temperatures remaining close to average. We started off the first day of the month with some light snow in the morning and cool temperatures. However, mostly clear and quiet weather moved in for the majority of the first week, with highs ranging from the low 50s from the 2nd through the 4th. This was the first time we’d warmed to the 50s since the middle of January. Highs cooled a little under cloudy skies and with gusty winds on the 5th and then bounced back to the upper 40s to low 50s on the 6th and 7th. The variability in the day-to-day weather has begun to pick up as expected as we head into spring.

An active weather pattern set up over the region during the second week of March, as several storm systems rolled through the Intermountain West. However, as had been the case for most of the winter, the majority of the energy with these systems stayed to our south. This is normal during an El Nino winter, when the southern storm track is often more active. This tends to deliver large quantities of snow to the Southwest. Note that places from Flagstaff to Dallas to the Mid-Atlantic states are setting records for snow, and the San Juan Mountains of Colorado have seen well above normal snow this winter. We didn’t completely miss out here, but for the most part only caught the edges of these storms. We did manage to pick up a couple inches on the 8th, then around an inch on the 10-11th, then 3-4 inches on the 14th. Temperatures followed their typical March wild swings, with 50s one afternoon and low 30s the next. Winds have also started to pick up, as is typical this time of the year.

More "normal" mid-March weather during the third week of the month as winter ended and spring began. The week started off on the mild and melting side as the previous weekend’s snow was replaced by sunshine and temperatures in the 50s and low 60s. These were our warmest temperatures since last November, and they definitely gave a feel of spring to the air. But the west/southwesterly winds that helped usher in the warmer air were ahead of a strong and cold storm that quickly changed the warmth on the 18th to snow and cold on the 19th. The high on the 19th was reached just after midnight, with temperatures holding in the low to mid-20s during the day as snow piled up to 6-10 inches across the area, which I guess would be appropriate for the last day of winter. The 20th remained cold as well, with highs again not getting above freezing. But the strong mid-March sunshine quickly began melting the snow, and temperatures rebounded to the low 50s on Sunday the 21st.

Two more strong storms affected the region, one from the 22nd-23rd and the last from the 26th-27th. Each of the storms dropped 6-12 inches of fresh snow and combined with gusty winds to produce some pretty messy conditions at times. Temperatures remained below normal for the entire period, making for a good excuse to stay inside and watch March Madness. Our first real taste of spring arrived during the last few days of the month as a ridge of high pressure built into the area from the southwest. This allowed a warm air mass to overtake the region, and when combined with gusty westerly winds, it produced temperatures well into the 60s and nearly 70° on the 30th. In fact, record highs were set in some locations, including Colorado Springs where temperatures jumped into the mid-70s.

A look ahead

April is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions 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 during 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

March 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 47.5° (-2.2°) 100-year return frequency value max 57.9° min 38.0°
Average Low 20.3° (-0.3) 100-year return frequency value max 27.0° min 12.0°
Highest Temperature 68° on the 30th
Lowest Temperature 5° on the 21st, 25th
Monthly Precipitation 2.40" (+0.43", 18% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 4.29" min 0.22"
Monthly Snowfall 34.1" (+14.1", 30% above normal) 
Season to Date Snow 109.1" (+10.8", 10% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 14.86" (-0.23", 2% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 953 (+36)
Cooling Degree Days 0

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm

Remember, weather affects all of us every day and is a very important part of life for us on the Palmer Divide, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Yes, it really is about water!

During a drought, it’s easy to think about the importance of water. It takes someone with a long-term view to focus on water when it seems to be all around you. But those of us in the town of Monument, whose primary source of water is from wells in the Denver aquifer, can never afford to lose that focus. We know that the acquisition of a supply of renewable water is vital to our ability to continue to live here and have our homes retain value. We know, we are a long way from a river.

Water is a complex issue in Colorado, and it takes awhile to understand those complexities. We need town leaders who are willing to spend the time to learn and then have the courage to make the financial commitments to ensure that we have a long-term dependable source of water. Fortunately, we have those leaders now.

Mayor Travis Easton has been focusing his attention on water since he was appointed. He has engaged the local and regional water community to understand the options, and is actively involved in pursuing those options. He has prepared himself to lead the town toward water decisions that will give us a sustainable future. And he has a great support team! The current council has continued to educate themselves and to work together to formulate a plan. Within the next year, they will need to make important decisions to implement that plan and ensure our future water supplies. The time they have spent learning about water will pay off for us.

My vote is to keep the team in place: Mayor Travis Easton and incumbent Councilmen Rick Squires, Jeff Kaiser, and Stan Gingrich!

Betty Konarski
Former mayor of Monument

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Easton for mayor

Travis Easton is committed to a balanced budget, partnerships for transportation and water, support of local businesses, and being accountable to our citizens. He works hard for our community as a volunteer for two transportation groups and supports programs for senior citizens. He believes that the future of Monument requires initiative, innovation, and collaboration with businesses and nonprofits for the good of all.

Travis welcomes your call at 481-2954 or e-mail to teaston@TownOfMonument.net

Jim Wilson

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Vote "Yes" on Donala Issues A and B

As homeowners and residents of Donala, we are concerned about the long-term renewable water challenges facing those of us who live in northern El Paso County. This is a very real and tangible issue that could have an immediate impact on the value of our homes, the single most important investment for many of us.

While we may have sufficient water supplies from the aquifers to meet our immediate needs, we clearly need to find a renewable source of water. The longer we wait, the harder and more expensive it will be. And just the perception that we have a long-term water issue will drive potential home buyers away and force home values down.

Therefore, we strongly support Donala Issues A and B and urge all Donala residents to vote "Yes" on both issues in the upcoming election. It’s an investment in our own futures.

Ed and Nancy Houle

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Agencies praised for compassion in search effort

This note is to put everyone in the Tri-Lakes area on notice about the remarkable support system we have in the Palmer Lake Fire Department, the Sheriff’s Office, the Police Department, and El Paso and Douglas Counties Search & Rescue.

Three weeks ago, our very much-loved family member Ryan Fenton walked into the mountains near our home for what ended up being the last time. Everyone searched tirelessly from Thursday evening through Saturday at approximately 1:30 p.m., when Ryan was found.

During that time, they treated all of us with such hospitality and compassion that can’t be put into words well. They worked tirelessly and with such precision up until the last. When the news came that Ryan was found, they broke the news so kindly and with well-thought-out words. What a terrible task. They offered their food and their warmth—even though there were so many friends and family there at the station, they could have been crabby and overwhelmed. Not once did they treat us with impatience.

They accommodated us as best they could and treated us like they were our longtime friends. They never made us feel like this was just their job. They prayed with us, laughed, cried, and held us in their hearts. A week later, they were among 840 who attended Ryan’s memorial service far south in Colorado Springs. We hope they heard hope. To us, they truly were a gift from Jehovah, "the God of all comfort."

This has been an unthinkable experience for our whole family and brotherhood of friends. The Palmer Lake Fire Department, sheriff and police, and El Paso and Douglas Counties Search and Rescue are to be praised for their humanness. We feel bad that we seldom think about them until a personal tragedy strikes. They are, for the most part, volunteers. They are always there for us.

Donations may be sent to the Helpers, Box 302, Palmer Lake CO 80133 (please specify Fire Department or Search and Rescue). We are eternally grateful.

The Fenton, Golden, and Edgerton families

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Quality of life "report card" presented

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Photos by Bernard Minetti

Below: Lynne Telford, Pikes Peak United Way chief operating officer, presents a summary of the Pikes Peak Area 2009 Quality of Life Indicator Report. 

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Below: From left, Dave Van Ness, executive director of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Lynne Telford, chief operating officer of the Pikes Peak United Way, and Jean Harris, branch manager of the Monument Library discuss issues concerning the 2009 Quality of Life Report following Telford’s presentation.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

At the March 11 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Council, the center attraction was a presentation of a summary of the 2009 Quality of Life Indicators for the Pikes Peak Region. While the presentation discussed the "report card" items of the study, it also covered strategies to stimulate interest and action in the items.

Part of the project was to identify quantitative measures of the quality of life in the region. These standards for the report were to reflect the idealism of the volunteer Vision councils as they collected composite data on the specific areas of interest.

Pikes Peak United Way Chief Operating Officer Lynne Telford stressed that this report contained area-wide information. She also stated that a volunteer group could be formed to distill the data down to the Tri-Lakes area in particular.

Telford summarized and generalized on the area’s pluses and minuses. Some of the topics studied were: Growing a Vibrant Economy, Promoting Social Wellbeing, Preserving the Natural Environment, Sustaining a Healthy Community, Achieving Educational Excellence, Enjoying Arts, Culture and Recreation, Moving Around Efficiently, Keeping the Community Safe, and Fostering Community Engagement.

Some of the positive items to surface from the report were:

  • Colorado Springs is an affordable place to live.
  • Growth of our military community has a positive economic impact.
  • Crime cases solved were above the national average.
  • Emergency response times are decreasing.
  • Volunteerism is high.

Some of the negative items derived were:

  • 2009 was the fourth year in a row that business conditions have worsened.
  • The number of primary jobs has been declining.
  • 1 in 10 residents has a substance abuse problem.
  • The region has a high instance of suicide.
  • 25 percent of our third-graders do not read at grade level.
  • Motor vehicle fatalities are increasing.

The 2009 Quality of Life Indicators Report may be found at http://pikespeakqualityoflife.org. Click on Reports on the left side of the page.

Jim Wilson of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce briefly spoke on a project concerning transportation requirements for the needy in the Tri-Lakes area. Anyone interested in this or any other project can contact Wilson at 719-338-7188.

The Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Council is sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

**********

The next Tri-Lakes Non-Profit Council meeting will be held on June 10. Time, subject, and location are still pending. For further information regarding this meeting, contact the Chamber of Commerce at 719-481-3282.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Tulips, daffodils, and … new books!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

When bulbs begin to poke their green tips through the snow and buds swell on the lilac bushes, signs of spring in the bookstore are new books—spring and summer offerings. Here is a bouquet of some interesting ones:

The Male Brain
By Louann Brizendine, M.D. (Broadway Books), $24.99

From the author of the groundbreaking bestseller The Female Brain comes this eagerly awaited follow-up that demystifies the baffling male brain and overturns the stereotypes about men and boys. Written in interesting anecdotes, it provides a look at the workings of the male brain, from fetal formation, through the various growth phases, and into male andropause (the equivalent of menopause). It’s a fascinating book for males who might seek to justify their behavior and for females who would like to better understand the men in their lives.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
By Rebecca Skloot (Crown Publishers) $26.00

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells­­­—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. Skloot brilliantly weaves together Henrietta’s story and her unwitting part in developing the polio vaccine; uncovering the secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; and helping to lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning and gene mapping. Astonishing in its scope and implications, this book is hard to put down.

The Pacific
By Hugh Ambrose (NAL Caliber), $26.95

Noted historian Ambrose reveals the intertwined odysseys of four U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy carrier pilot during World War II. Focusing on their real-life experiences and those of their fellow servicemen, the book covers nearly four years of combat, between America’s retreat from China in 1941 and the moment that MacArthur’s plane landed in Japan in August 1945. A companion to the HBO miniseries, Ambrose’s access to military records, letters, journals, memoirs, photographs, and personal interviews gives the book a unique perspective on the war against Japan.

Every Day in Tuscany; Seasons of an Italian Life
By Frances Mayes (Broadway Books), $25

In this sequel to her bestsellers Under the Tuscan Sun and Bella Tuscany, the celebrated writer of Tuscany chronicles her continuing, two decades-long love affair with the region’s people, art, cuisine, and lifestyle. A deeply personal memoir of the delights and challenges of living in Italy day-to-day, this inviting book also contains a selection of favorite recipes.

The Man Who Ate His Boots: The Tragic History of the Search for the Northwest Passage
By Anthony Brandt (Alfred A. Knopf), $28.95

Brandt tells the compelling story of the search for the Northwest Passage, from its beginnings early in the age of exploration, through its development into a British national obsession, to the final sordid, terrible descent into scurvy, starvation, and cannibalism. Focusing on Sir John Franklin, the book covers all the major expeditions and a number of fascinating characters in vivid detail. It is an engaging narrative history that captures the glory and the folly of this ultimately tragic enterprise.

Our spring snows continue to confound and frustrate, but we know they will soon be just a memory. In the meantime, and until next month, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: Amending your soil

By Woody Woodworth

Gardening can be difficult in the Tri-Lakes region. We have extreme temperatures, inconsistent moisture, and most of all, terrible natural soil. The single most important action you can take to ensure success in your garden is to amend your soil.

The two basic types of natural soil in the Tri-Lakes region are clay and decomposed granite. Both types have a good mineral content essential to plants, but both are undesirable for most new plants to grow and thrive. Clay soils have tight, binding qualities that hold water and rob plants of the oxygen they need to grow. Generally, too much clay in a soil mix will drown most plants. Decomposed granite has loose, crumbling qualities that allow water to run beyond the reach of a plants root system, often leading to severe weakening.

How do you know which soil type you have? A simple test is to take a sample of slightly moistened soil and squeeze it in your hand. If the sample binds together and forms a tight clump, you have too much clay. If the sample falls apart and crumbles to the ground, you may have too much decomposed granite or sand.

Fixing either one of these soil types is easy. Most plants will thrive in a mix that is in between the two soil samples. The key is to add organic matter to your soil. Organic materials include peat moss, grass clippings, old leaves, compost, straw or well-rotted manure. Add some organic matter and a loosening agent such as sand or a gypsum product to your tight, clay-like soil. That will provide a mix that will allow water and oxygen to get to the root system of the plant. Add a mix of peat moss and organic matter to loose soil to provide a more stable mixture that will retain more water and help make nutrients available to the plant. In either case, organic matter can provide nutrients and a better growing medium for your plants.

Another condition we can change in our soil is the pH level. The soil pH value is a measure of soil acidity or alkalinity. Soil pH directly affects nutrient availability. The pH scale ranges from zero to 14, with seven as neutral. Numbers less than seven indicate acidity, while numbers greater than seven indicate alkalinity. Most of our soils are alkaline. Those soils contain soluble salts that form a white powdery mineral deposit on the soil surface. A lime treatment will help acidic soil, and rock sulfur, sawdust, composted leaves and peat moss will help make soil less alkaline. Simple soil testing kits are available in most garden centers for less than $10. Many garden centers have information for getting a soil lab test that costs about $30.

Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are primary nutrients in soils that are needed as plant nutrients. Nitrogen aids in top growth, and without it green plants are weak and smaller than they should be. Too much nitrogen, on the other hand, makes plants unable to withstand frosts or heavy winds. By adding phosphorus, your plants grow more vigorously, mature earlier and produce more flowers. Potassium, often called potash, helps plants use water and resist drought. All plants vary and require different balances of fertilizers to grow properly. Check with your local garden center for advice on natural fertilizers that are more environmentally friendly than chemical fertilizers.

You can be a more successful gardener in the Tri-Lakes region by paying attention to your soil. If your soil is prepared correctly before planting, your lawns will require less water, your flowers will have more blooms, and your vegetables will provide you with more yield and will have a longer shelf life.

Woody Woodworth is a member of the Garden Centers of Colorado, is actively involved in the green industry, and operates a garden center in downtown Monument.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Yellow-headed blackbird

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Below: Painting by Elizabeth Hacker of a male yellow-headed blackbird watching over his family. 

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By Elizabeth Hacker

April is the month that crocuses and daffodils pop up through fresh layers of snow, announcing springtime has finally come to the Rockies. It is also the month that birds migrate to the Palmer Divide. One bird that always lets me know that spring has arrived is the yellow-headed blackbird.

As flocks of yellow-heads leave their winter range in the southwestern United States and central Mexico to claim colonial nesting sites in western North American, they stop here. This time of year, I often see one or two perched over the duck pond behind the Monument Branch of the Pikes Peak Library and I am truly astonished by its beauty. I must confess, I am not a big fan of most species of blackbird, but I make an exception for the red-winged and yellow-headed blackbirds.

A medium-size songbird, this 9-inch bird is unmistakable with its bright yellow head, neck, and chest and black body with white wing patches. Even its scientific name, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus is intriguing! As is common in many songbirds, the male is strikingly handsome but the female is a more subdued charcoal brown. While the female may go unnoticed by humans, she definitely has the attention of the flashy male.

Unlike its cousin, the red-winged blackbird, known for its musical trilling song, the yellow-head has a loud raspy call that has been compared to the sound of a rusty door hinge or a hoarse croaking frog, which is what attracted me to the pond behind the library. I could hear it from the parking lot!

The male yellow-head is a polygamist breeder. If he successfully establishes a territory in a protected area of a marsh loaded with insects and other tasty food, he may mate with as many as six females. The male arrives early to stake his claim in a marsh among the reeds. These blackbirds nest in colonies, and many males establish territories in the same marsh. Each male marks his territory and fiercely defends it from other males by chasing them away. Males are not timid and will even fend off human intruders.

Arriving a few days later, the females are immediately pursued by bold males perched on elevated marsh stalks. The male spreads his wings and tail, and loudly implores females to join him. Once spoken for, the female begins to build her nest in the marsh. The male is too busy to help her, so she builds it alone.

Nests are bulky bundles of woven wet vegetation. As the vegetation dries, the nest shrinks and tightens around the stalk, making it sturdy and durable. Nests are located about a foot above the surface of the water.

The female lays three to five greenish eggs speckled with brown. Eggs are incubated by the female and hatch in less than two weeks. Chicks are dependent on their parents to feed them. The male and female feed the chicks regurgitated insects for the first week. The chicks grow rapidly and fledge the nest about 12 days after hatching, probably because there is no longer room in the nest for them. They then join the flock of other yellow-headed blackbirds where they learn to fly and forage for insects, seeds, and berries.

It is interesting that while red-winged blackbirds and yellow-heads share many similarities, they nest in different areas of marshes. This is because the red-wings prefer shallow water marshes averaging less than 2 feet in depth, while the yellow-head blackbirds like marshes with an average 4-foot depth. The yellow-head is more aggressive and will chase off other birds including the marsh wren, which is notorious for raiding nests and eating the eggs of other birds.

Although the Divide is within the breeding range of the yellow-headed blackbird, and it is very possible that it does nest here, I have observed it only in April or early May as it stops here on its migration north.

Unlike other blackbirds, the yellow-heads are found only in the Southwest region of North America. Although its historic habitat has been reduced, its numbers remain fairly strong and viable.

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: Are you the next Herb and Dorothy?

By Janet Sellers

Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a postal clerk and librarian, respectively, are everyday people who decided to collect art, and they do it with great passion. Herb and Dorothy have the knack for the early adoption of artists’ works before they get into the blue chip prices. For 50 years, they have collected art they like and that fits in with their life. The art had to be small enough to carry home via taxicab, small enough to fit in their home. Their art collection is all over their house: lining the walls, under the bed, and in every nook and cranny of their tiny New York apartment.

Herb and Dorothy bought what they liked and have made a lifelong joy of it. The Vogels started their art enrichment quest by going to local arts events and really looking at the art. They look like an elderly couple on their way to the grocery store who ended up at premiere art exhibits by chance. Far from it, they studied and planned each and every art outing and purchase. They trusted their initial reactions to works of art and bought what they liked.

They visited their local art venues, New York City, and hunted for works in their price range.

  • "Art is not limited to the elite few. You don’t have to be wealthy or an art school graduate to enjoy art."—"Herb & Dorothy" documentary filmmaker Megumi Sasaki.
  • "The Vogels had an uncanny ability to select the most cutting-edge art, before others discovered it. The result? A collection worth millions, coveted by every major museum in the U.S."—Public Broadcasting Service.

Did you know that enjoying art is also very, very good for you? By enjoying artworks in person and procuring it to enjoy at home, art helps you to relax and improves your memory. A recent study at Cal Tech and Cedars-Sinai Medical center proved that the relaxed state of mind (theta brain waves) is an enormous benefit to our neurological systems and our minds. These are the brain waves we use in viewing art, by the way. (Notice I did not use the commonly used words "nervous system"; somehow "nervous" never goes with "relaxation" when aligned with art).

"Stronger and more lasting memories are likely to be formed when a person is relaxed and the memory-related neurons in the brain fire in sync with certain brain waves, scientists said," according to the March 24 issue of the journal Nature. "Researchers from the United States said their findings could help develop new therapies for people with learning disabilities and some types of dementia."

Theta and alpha are the brain waves we use in viewing art as art enrichment. The research found the relaxed mind improves incoming information processing, retention, and memory. "Our research shows that when memory-related neurons are well coordinated to theta waves during the learning process, memories are stronger," said Adam Mamelak, a neurosurgeon at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Memory is a key component to good mental health. We use our memory to build our senses of experience and quality of life, and these impact our physical health as well. It makes sense that the relaxing art enrichment experiences keep us sane. While it is common sense that beautiful, attractive art can do this, the discharge of chemicals upon viewing so-called disturbing art may also play a part in our sanity.

Many of us prefer the former version of relaxing, joyful art. And, yet, those discordant splashes of paint, the colliding colors and brush strokes of mediums to visual meaning can affect us in interesting ways. It does so as a release of tension by art as a highly visual experience. Our eyes tell our brains what they see, and it is by our mind’s interpretation of that vision that we get our reaction and memory.

Most of the time, our mind tells us the art is an illusion, but not before our neural memory has had an impact on our body system; we get an adrenal oomph before we get the logical answer, which equals a strong reaction to the art. Many people call this rush "fun" as it relates to their art choices, movie choices, sport choices, and recreations.

We can take up the art habit right where we are. Not only is it a fun way to get out into town and enjoy our creative environment, but it is also a very good way to improve our well-being. As an artist, I make art every day, but I still have a need to look at life and art in novel ways through the art vision of others. So, on that note, here are some local art events to inspire your artful living this month. Perhaps your taste will yield the next amazing art collection, one artwork at a time, just as Herb and Dorothy did.

Calls for artists: Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

Women … A Celebration of Ebullience. The exhibition is open to all artists, all ages and mediums. Register by April 24.

America the Beautiful: The Fiber of our Heart. TCLA hosts the traveling exhibition America the Beautiful July 3-29. It will also offer a simultaneous local show with a call for entries focused on needle and fiber art.

For details on the above calls for artists, contact susanadams@trilakesarts.org

Upcoming art shows

The Artist’s Vision: Birds of the Palmer Divide. An exhibition of illustrations from OCN columnist Elizabeth Hacker, April 1 through May 30 at Wisdom Tea House, 65 Second St., Monument. In the artist’s bio for the show, Hacker states,

"...Visioning is the process that I use to imagine what life is like for a bird."

Voice, Verse, Vision 2010, March 30 through April 10. Original works by Pikes Peak area artists, composers and poets. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.

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

State Champion LP Ice Hockey Team honored, Mar. 8

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Below: Amid a roaring crowd of assembled students, and cheering parents, the Lewis-Palmer Ranger Ice Hockey team was honored with a special assembly March 8 in the Palmer Ridge gymnasium. Coach Fillo gave an inspiring speech about how his team overcame significant odds to get to the finals and then beat the highly rated Ralston Valley team. The ice hockey team is comprised of Lewis Palmer and Palmer Ridge students and has been in existence only four years. Photo by Frank Maiolo.

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Artist Robert Gray honored by his students

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Below (L to R) , Jana Towery, Cydney Spreier, and Robert Gray are pictured with one of Gray’s watercolors, Bar "S" Riders, during the March 5 opening reception of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts gallery show, Friends of Robert Gray. Gray, a Colorado native, had 30 of his dynamic watercolors on display in the TLCA’s Lucy Owens gallery during March. Gray said he started out painting with oils in the 1970s but found them too "tight." He then moved to watercolors, as they offered a more loose style. Though Gray was the featured artist, the show was perhaps more about the 90-plus watercolor works displayed in the main gallery. These paintings were by Gray’s students, as he has taught painting and offered workshops along the Front Range for a number of years. Accompanying a majority of the paintings were notes from the artists to Gray expressing their appreciation for him as an inspiration in their artistic lives. Towery and Spreier were co-chairs for the show. Photo by David Futey.

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The Zen Cowboy Releases CD at TLCA, Mar. 12

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Below: On March 12, Palmer Lake resident and self-described Zen Cowboy Chuck Pyle brought excitement to the Tri-Lakes Center for Arts (TLCA) stage as he played host to a CD release party. Accompanied by fiddle player Gordon Burt, Pyle played a 2-set concert that weaved through a mix of songs from his latest CD along with past works that collectively demonstrated his insightful songwriting style. Pyle’s latest CD, The Spaces In Between, contains 12 songs that cover a wide range of topics. After his TLCA show, Pyle was headed for tour stops in the northeast United States and then on to Texas. Information on Chuck Pyle can be found at www.chuckpyle.com. Information on the TLCA and upcoming events is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

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St. Patrick’s Day Tea Social, Mar. 16

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Photo by Bernard L. Minetti

The Tri-Lakes senior ladies had their annual St. Patrick’s Day Tea on March 16 at the Senior Center at Lewis-Palmer High School. The event was attended by approximately 25 women. Many of the participants brought petits fours or other desserts. The meeting lasted for two hours.

Their next tea social will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on April 20 at the Senior Center to celebrate spring.

The Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen Center also will sponsor a monthly Bingo afternoon on April 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. If seniors are inclined to a Mahjong afternoon, that occurs every second and fourth Friday of the month from 1 to 4 p.m. Additionally, there is a pinochle session on Tuesdays from noon to 4 p.m. Bridge is available on the second and fourth Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

There is no charge and seniors are welcome. For more information, contact Nan Emry at 719-481-8500.

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Haus Muzik String Quartet at TLCA, Mar. 21

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Below: On March 21, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted the Haus Muzik String Quartet for a Sunday afternoon of classical chamber music. The quartet consists of Rebecca Lee and Cynthia Robinson on violin, Jennifer Yopp on cello, and Catherine Hanson on viola. They have been performing together for 18 years and on this day played selections from Mozart, Rachmaninoff, and Debussy in an intimate, in-the-round setting. Call (719) 685-5916 for Information on the quartet. Information on the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

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Senior Alliance Thrift Store Grand Opening, Mar. 22

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Below: (L to R) Larry Lawrence, Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) board member; Colleen Garwood, HAP board treasurer; Mark Ennis, HAP board chairman; Travis Easton, Monument Mayor; Ken Valdez, Tri-Lakes Chamber; Jack Fry, Tri-Lakes Chamber; Diane Wegley, Thrift Store Manager; Ted Rinebarger, HAP vice chairman; Dave Van Ness, Executive Director, Tri-Lakes Chamber. Photo by Frank Maiolo.

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Grandma’s Grits at the TLCA , Mar. 27

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Below: (L-R) Carol Anne Habee, played by Jessica Austgen, tries to convince Bubba Habee, played by Eric Ross, to give over the recipe for their grandmother’s famous grits in the play, Bubba’s Killer Grits. The play was part of a dinner theatre staged at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) on March 27. Austgen and Ross were part of the Castle Rock Players, six-person ensemble that performed the entertaining, comical, and interactive script by Brad Adams. Throughout the performance, cast members weaved through the audience, periodically seeking audience interaction and participation as part of the play. Along with the play, dinner was served by the staff from the Historic Pinecrest Event Center. Information on upcoming plays and events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey

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March and April library events

Below:  Jennifer Owen, left, is a Monument staff member and a member of the district’s RFID team. Here she works with volunteer Faye Lamdin. By the end of the week, more than 27,000 items had been tagged. We continue to tag items coming into the branch each day. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

During the first week of March, the Monument branch was closed to tag our collection with radio frequency identification (RFID) tags. As the first library in the district to undergo this process, we learned what it is like to be flexible and develop procedures as we went along. The initial tagging was completed by Saturday afternoon, March 6. The library reopened during its regular hours beginning Sunday the 7th.

We would like to extend our thanks to the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library for its support (and snacks and lunches!) and to all other volunteers from the community who lent a hand. Volunteers are continuing to help us as we tag all items coming into the branch from elsewhere. This will probably continue for a few more months.

And thanks to our patrons for your patience when access to computers and holds were limited to three hours per day.

The new system will streamline our activities by making us more efficient and allowing us to process an increasing amount of materials without increasing our staff. More of our time will be available to help you with patron requests for information.

In April, there will be a variety of activities for all ages at the Monument branch.

On Friday, April 9, at 10:30 a.m. a member of the Special Collections staff will teach the use of federal census information in research on genealogy and other contexts. Registration is required.

April 10, Saturday at 1:30 p.m. is our annual Duck Day celebration in honor of our feathered friends in the pond to the north of the branch. A local expert will inform attendees about duck habitats and behaviors. Local artists will teach young and old how to draw ducks. There will be treats and crafts, too. Come one and all to meet the mallards and friends.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday the 16th to discuss "Doctor at Timberline: True Tales of a Pioneer Colorado Physician" by Charles Fox Gardiner. The meeting begins at 10 a.m. No registration is required, and new members are always welcome.

On Saturday the 17th the AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. This refresher course, open to motorists age 50 and older, costs $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Upon completion, students receive a certificate that can be presented to an insurance agent for a discounted rate. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Elaine Tevens from the Bead Shop in Monument will offer a class on the history of chain mail and teach how to make a bracelet to students ages 7 to 11 on Monday, April 19, from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. Registration is required. Please call 488-2379.

Saturday the 24th, at 10:30 a.m., adults are welcome to attend Frequent Flyer Goldmine. Ron Stern, a travel expert, will demonstrate how to take advantage of mileage programs, access to free hotel stays, and other deals and upgrades that the general public knows little about.

On Wednesday, April 28, from 4:15 p.m. until 5:15 p.m., tweens ages 9 to 12 are invited to Read It Before You See It. Come for a fun program based on the book "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" by Jeff Kinney. By attending, you are entered in a drawing to win a ticket to the movie adaptation of the book. Please call 488-2370 to register.

There are several opportunities at the library to express yourself in writing. The first is Life Circles, a group providing discipline, inspiration, and structure for those writing their own memories or family histories. The group meets the first and third Mondays of the month at 10:30 a.m.

There are two writers groups for teens. Older teens meet on odd Saturdays and tweens on even Saturdays from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. Writers meet to share written work (creative fiction and creative nonfiction) and get feedback. There will also be writing exercises and snacks.

On the walls in April will be Warmth in Winter—oil paintings by Steven Mackintosh. In the display case will be Door of Hope dolls from Shanghai, China, made from 1902 to 1937.

Palmer Lake Events

Beginning in April, bring your knitting project and enjoy the company of other knitters on Thursdays from 10 a.m. until noon. Cheri Monsen, expert knitter, will be there to answer questions. Call 481-2587 for more information. No registration required.

Children are invited to read to a Paws to Read dog at various times during the month. Saturday, April 3, from 11 a.m. until noon; Thursday, April 15, from 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 24, from 11 a.m. until noon are the times to practice reading and building fluency by reading to a patient friend.

On Saturday, April 17, Kathy Beers from the Kritter Karavan will bring lesser tenrecs to introduce you to these captivating (and very rare) little animals. You will learn about their lives and habitats, and hedgehogs will be available for gentle handling. You can also make a hedgehog craft to take home. The program begins at 10:30 a.m.

We hope to see you at the library!

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Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting, March 18: "A portrayal of Lucretia Vaile"

Click here or on the photos to zoom in

Photos by Bernard Minetti

Below:  Cathleen Norman, author, historian, and speaker at the March meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society presented a short biography of Lucretia Vaile, who bequeathed a portion of her estate to the construction of the Palmer Lake Museum and Library.

Click on the photo to zoom in

Right: Norman dressed in vintage clothing and presented a short overview of the life and times of Lucretia Vaile. Vaile was responsible in part for the formation of the Palmer Lake Historical Society and the Palmer Lake Art group.

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Bernard L. Minetti

The subject of the March 18 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was "A Portrayal of Lucretia Vaile." Cathleen Norman, local historian and author, gave a detailed and highly informative background study of Lucretia Vaile. With a slide show, she illustrated the period from 1887 to 1910 when Vaile was helping to interest people in the natural beauty of Palmer Lake.

Vaile’s career as a librarian and her experiences as hiker and camper helped her to attract many naturalists to view the natural beauty of the Palmer Lake forests and mountains. As a result, they became more involved and devoted to the Palmer Lake community. While Vaile resided and worked in Denver as a librarian, she spent a majority of her spare time in the Palmer Lake area.

Vaile eventually built a small cottage known as Vaile Cottage in Palmer Lake. The cottage is presently owned by Cyndee Henson, who was present at the meeting and provided some interesting facts about Vaile Cottage. It had been scheduled to be bulldozed for a condominium development. Henson stepped in and was able to stop the destruction by pleading to the developer. She told the developer that Vaile was a patron of the arts and had bequeathed a portion of her estate for the construction of the Museum and Library presently located across from the Palmer Lake Town Hall. She stated that since Vaile had such prominent historical stature in the community, her home was indeed a site that deserved preservation. The developer then relented and the development plans were put on hold. Henson, who was renting the cottage at the time, subsequently purchased the site and has been restoring it.

Jim Sawatzki, another local historian and author who was present, added that Vaile was instrumental in starting the Palmer Lake Historical Society and the Palmer Lake Art Group. The Art Group’s commission is to raise and distribute scholarship funds for Tri-Lakes-area high school students who desire to pursue a career in the arts. The group continues this work today. Sawatzki is the president of this group.

In summarizing Vaile’s impact on the development of Palmer Lake, Norman told the group that Vaile was also instrumental in starting the Colorado Mountain Club in 1912. As part of the club’s activities, Vaile led many mountaineering hikes from Palmer Lake to Woodland Park. The gathering point for these hikes was Vaile Cottage.

Lucretia Vaile was indeed instrumental in the development and growth of the Palmer Lake area as a nature site in Colorado. She continues to be recognized for her part in the development and cultural growth of the Palmer Lake area.

**********

"Early Railroads in the Pikes Peak Area" will be the topic of the April 15 meeting. Howard Noble will be the presenter. Noble is the vice president of the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation located in Colorado Springs. The presentation will begin at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. There is no admission fee and an invitation is extended to all.

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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.

Nighttime Click It or Ticket, April 1-7

Law enforcement is focusing on seat belt laws at night April 1-7. Drivers who are stopped for a traffic violation and are not using a seat belt will be ticketed. The risk of being involved in a fatal crash is significantly greater at night than during the day, due in part to fewer people buckling up at night. There is also a strong connection between alcohol-related fatal crashes and the lack of seat belt use. Last year, 75 percent of the alcohol-related fatalities at night involved drivers and passengers who were not buckled up. Seat belts double your chance of surviving a crash and are the best defense against a drunk driver.

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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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Comedy Show–Put the Nuns in Charge, May 1

St. Peter Catholic Church is bringing the Chicago production to Monument May 1, 7 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd. The comedy takes a lighthearted look at behavior in our modern society and receives kudos whenever it goes. Tickets are $30; 50/50 raffle tickets are $5. To purchase tickets, e-mail PNCtickets@gmail.com; or phone the church office, 481-3511. For more information about the show, visit www.nuns4fun.com

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Spirits of Spring Wine and Beer Tasting and Auction, May 22

The Gleneagle Sertoma Club will hold its annual wine and beer tasting with silent auction May 22, 5 to 8 p.m., in the Blue and Silver Room at the Air Force Academy Stadium Press Box. Highlights include specialties from local chefs, dozens of wine and beer tastings, a professional auctioneer for a live and silent auction, an old-time soft drink and ice cream sampling, and chocolate pairing. All profits go to Tri-Lakes Cares and other local charities. Buy tickets at the door ($40 per person). Your driver’s license allows you to enter either gate until 6 p.m. Tell the guard you are going to the Gleneagle Sertoma event at the stadium press box. Call Sherry Edwards, 488-1044; or Rae Berg, 488-9879, for more information.

Gleneagle Sertoma (SERvice TO MAnkind) provides service and support to numerous charities in northern El Paso County including Tri-Lakes Cares, organizations

for the hearing-impaired, the Boy Scouts of America, patriotic speech contests through the local schools, college scholarships for the hearing-impaired, and the HEARS program which provides low-income people with low-cost audiologist services and hearing aids.

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El Paso County seeks community priorities for transportation plan

The county is beginning its Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP) Update. The update will look to the year 2040 and address options for travel, their cost, and sources of funding. El Paso County residents, businesses, and community organizations are encouraged to help plan for the future transportation needs of our area. Priorities must reflect the county as a whole and input from all across the county is essential to the process.

The prior MTCP Update, completed in 2004, led to improvements in road maintenance. It identified priority projects–such as Baptist Road, Woodmen Road, and South Academy Boulevard–that were then approved for funding through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority. The 2004 update continues to guide planning for future growth.

To participate in the latest MTCP Update, you can visit the website at www.2040MTCP.com and look in the "Hot Topics" section to take the online survey, to request the Priorities Packet, or to see the dates of upcoming workshops. For more information, call the Public Services Department at 520-6460.

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Free gun-lock kit

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

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) ends this month

LEAP is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help people pay winter home heating costs. Applicant income cannot exceed 185 percent of the federal poverty index, which equals a maximum income of $3,400 per month before taxes for a household of four people.

Coloradans have until April 30 to apply for LEAP, and applicants should be patient. Applications can take up to 50 days to be processed. If you’re in need of immediate assistance, contact LEAP right away and apply for emergency assistance. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call toll free 1-866-HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.cdhs.state.co.us/leap to view the most current program application requirements.

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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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Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance Thrift Store: new location

The new store is located at 790 Highway 105 #D in Palmer Lake. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 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 more information call Diane, 488-0878.

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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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