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Vol. 10 No. 5 - May 1, 2010


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Hats a hit at Senior Ladies' Tea Social

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Below: At the Senior Ladies’ Tea Social April 20 the winners of the hat contest are, from left, Irene Clark (prettiest hat), Mary Quattlebaum (funniest hat), and Kay Reuteler (most original hat). Photo by Bernard Minetti. There is more coverage below.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, April 21 Woodmoor district is back in the fold

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Below: Pike Peak Regional Water Authority representatives at the April 21 meeting, from left: Larry Bishop, Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District; Dana Duthie, Donala Water and Sanitation District; Rich Landreth, Town of Monument; Kip Petersen, Cherokee Metropolitan District; Max Stafford, Town of Palmer Lake; Curtis Mitchell, City of Fountain; Jessie Shaffer, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Photo by John Heiser.

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By John Heiser

At the April 21 regular monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Jessie Shaffer, manager of the Woodmoor district, announced that he had received from Peter Nichols, attorney for the Super Ditch Co., a letter that said in part, "Super Ditch is amenable to Woodmoor’s continued participation in the negotiations on the same terms and conditions as the other members of Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority." 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. had announced that it would not negotiate with the PPRWA representatives as long as Woodmoor district representatives were present.

The background on this situation, as reported in the Feb. 6 OCN, was that 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 complicated the PPRWA’s negotiations with the Super Ditch Co., which is filing for similar exchange rights and will now have lower priority.

On April 8, the Woodmoor district announced that its board had approved three contracts to purchase agricultural land irrigated with water from the Highline canal. By stopping irrigation of the land, the district hopes to obtain rights to about 600 acre-feet of water per year.

Formation of the Super Ditch Co. in 2007 was supported by the Lower Arkansas Valley Water Conservancy District as a way for agricultural water rights owners to temporarily fallow agricultural lands on a rotating basis and lease the associated water rights to other users. This is an alternative to the traditional "buy and dry" method, employed in the three Woodmoor contracts, under which municipalities and others purchase agricultural land in order to obtain the associated water rights. Using the Super Ditch Co. method, farmers would continue to own the water rights, which would generate a continuing income from leases, and the lands would only be temporarily dried up.

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 Super Ditch Co. has now apparently decided to put aside its disapproval of Woodmoor’s actions. Shaffer has said that Woodmoor is still interested in obtaining Super Ditch water and wants to participate in the negotiations.

At the April 21 PPRWA meeting, Shaffer said the Woodmoor district is withdrawing the letter in which it agreed to bow out of the Super Ditch negotiations as long as Woodmoor’s annual dues are not used to fund the negotiations.

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 Triview Metropolitan District that serves Jackson Creek has asked to renew its PPRWA membership, which lapsed at the beginning of 2009. Treasurer Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, was asked to calculate how much in back dues and other charges Triview would have to pay.

Duthie predicted that even with Triview’s membership, the PPRWA may not have enough money on hand to cover its expenses through the end of 2010.

Donala, Monument, Triview, and Woodmoor to participate in Colorado-Wyoming Coalition

Duthie reported on the start of the feasibility study sponsored by 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. See the Donala article for details.

Duthie added that PPRWA members need to decide soon if they want to participate in Donala’s $20,000 membership in the coalition’s feasibility study.

Rich Landreth, Monument’s Public Works director, said Monument and Triview are interested in participating. Shaffer added that Woodmoor is also interested in participating.

Participation will be conducted as a project of the PPRWA under which the costs are typically allocated based on the amount of water each participant is seeking.

Following the public meeting, the authority went into an executive session to discuss legal issues and negotiation strategies.

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The next regular monthly meeting of the PPRWA will be held May 19 at 8:30 a.m. at the Fountain Town Hall, 116 S. Main St., Fountain. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

See below for additional coverage of water and sanitation districts.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, April 1, 8, 16, and 26: Board names new school, blocks departure of Monument Academy

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Below: From left, board President John Mann, Erin Duran, Auxiliary Services Director Hal Garland, and Laura Vertucci. Duran and Vertucci were recognized for their efforts in applying for a federal grant for the district. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education met several times in April, enacting significant measures.

At its April 26 meeting, the board voted unanimously to deny Monument Academy permission to apply to the Colorado Charter School Institute (CSI) as an alternate source of authorization to operate as a charter school.

The board first received a letter from the board of Monument Academy (MA) in mid-March indicating that it wished to sever ties with D-38 and become a part of the CSI. Reasons for this decision on the part of MA were unclear.

The district presently provides many services to the academy, including administration of state funding, special education and English Language Learning services, food services, and transportation for field trips. The income to the district from these services is approximately $500,000 annually.

Many factors were discussed in the decision not to release MA:

  • Potential loss of exclusive chartering authority within the district, allowing numerous schools to open without Lewis-Palmer D-38 review (presently all applications for new charter schools are reviewed by the District Accountability Advisory Committee)
  • Potential lack of local control
  • Concern about the quality of special education services offered under CSI
  • Potential lack of continuity in curriculum—MA students attend D-38 high schools
  • Concern about stated goals of CSI in terms of graduation rate and other factors
  • Lack of sense of community if the school separated from district
  • Short time frame in which to make a decision

Board President John Mann said that he would notify the MA board of the decision and suggested reaching out to it to discuss an improvement in relations between the two entities. He also suggested meeting with MA parents. The five-year contract between D-38 and MA expires next summer.

Creekside becomes Bear Creek

The board voted on April 1 to rename the Creekside Middle School campus Bear Creek Elementary School. In its extended discussion, the board considered whether to retain the Grace Best name and whether it was appropriate to name the new elementary Creekside Elementary.

As reported from an earlier meeting (see OCN March 2010, page 23), a committee from Grace Best convened to consider possible names from suggestions by students and families involved. The two options offered were Bear Creek (the Grace Best mascot is a bear, and "creek" from Creekside) and Fox Trails. They recommended that the name Grace Best remain at its present facility. The family of Grace Best, a former teacher in the district, had been consulted and agreed with this suggestion. The building will continue to be used for educational purposes such as a preschool. Board member Jeff Ferguson, who was on the board when Grace Best was named, commented that it was important to continue to honor a teacher in naming a school.

Board member Mark Pfoff objected to renaming Creekside because it shares a name with the street on which it is located and has a history of its own. He felt that if the name were to be changed it should only be changed to Grace Best, but that option would cause confusion if someone were to attend a meeting or game at the present Grace Best location.

Board member Robb Pike said that the policy for designating a name should be changed to refer only to new campuses rather than existing ones. The board agreed to reconsider the policy for future applications. At a later date, the board decided to create naming committees by formal vote to avoid confusion.

The board voted 3 to 2 to rename the campus Bear Creek Elementary, with Pfoff and Ferguson opposing the measure.

Bear Creek playground approved

In an additional action involving Bear Creek Elementary, the board voted on April 16 to approve the expenditure of $107,000 toward the construction of a playground at the site.

Grace Best Principal Peggy Parsley said that the playground at Grace Best cannot be moved to Bear Creek without voiding its warranty. The presence of a preschool at that site also makes retaining the playground desirable.

She explained the bidding process for selecting the contractor for the Bear Creek playground, including consideration of such factors as safety, design, price, quality and the ability to meet student needs. Eight vendors participated in the bidding.

The district’s capital reserve fund includes a $175,000 line item for this construction.

Parsley said that it was determined that savings resulting from community involvement in installing the playground were insufficient to outweigh safety concerns.

The board continued to feel frustration with the uncertainty of revenue in the coming years. Three ballot initiatives would make a serious impact on district funding beginning in January of 2010. Rescissions by the state are frequently unannounced. Utility costs are also volatile.

Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman said it would be possible to adopt monthly budgets if the board so requests. At present the budget is considered and adjusted quarterly.

Long-range planning task force in the works

The board agreed that a long-range planning task force should be created and charged with monitoring changes in funding sources and offering models to the board for adjustments resulting from changes in resources. The task force could also be charged with developing a method for informing the community of developments as they occur. The task force would include members from the community as well as the school district.

Superintendent Ray Blanch recommended that the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) would be a good resource to help form the task force and oversee the recruitment process. (See the DAAC article.)

Blanch said that plans should also be made to adjust to expansion in the district as the economy recovers. He also commented that some suggestions—such as a further reconfiguration or closure of additional campuses—can be put into play much less quickly than others.

Pike said he would hope that the present reconfiguration could be kept in place for at least two years due to the stress and adjustments it involved. He stressed that the district keep the public informed throughout the planning process.

Pfoff said that safety valves should be built into the budget so that major short-term decisions could be avoided. He pointed out that the Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) is already charged with forecasting and monitoring such figures as enrollment and capital costs. DAAC should only involve itself in recruitment of task force members and acting in an advisory role, he said.

Pike suggested that the framework for the task force should be to consider a range of funding with trigger points specified to indicate when actions would take place.

The task force would be a board committee as the board develops the vision for the district and would act as a resource. The group will be called a task force rather than a committee because it will be created to get the district through a difficult time.

Wangeman gave a brief presentation regarding budget processes. She pointed out that in 2011-12, the federal stimulus funds will be gone and the state is not offering information as to whether they will be replaced.

Regarding uncertainties about unemployment costs, Wangeman said that districts are waiting as late as possible to hire in this economy.

Blanch mentioned that potential gains from outsourcing food services should be available in May.

Two recognized for grant application work

At the April 26 meeting of the board, Auxiliary Services Director Hal Garland recognized Erin Duran and Laura Vertucci for their contributions in developing a grant application for a federal Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) grant. These grants provide funds for local agencies or districts to create plans to address emergencies in terms of prevention-mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. School plans must coordinate with state Homeland Security plans and address such contingencies as an infectious disease outbreak such as an influenza epidemic.

Garland said that Duran works in the homeland security field and that Vertucci contacted a number of law enforcement and other agencies while preparing the application.

Garland also mentioned that the district’s weapons in schools policy must be altered to include the federal requirement of mandatory expulsion and the federal definition of a firearm. He said that the policy includes all district property including buses and athletic events. The policy refers only to students. The superintendent determines the length of the expulsion, typically a year.

In his superintendent’s report, Blanch commended Creekside Principal Caryn Collette and others for their efforts in planning for the coming year.

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

Executive sessions were part of all meetings except that of April 16.

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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 May 20 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, April 13: DAAC to create long-range planning task force

By Harriet Halbig

District school Superintendent Ray Blanch asked the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) on April 13 for help in forming a long-range planning task force. On behalf of the Board of Education, Blanch said that fluctuation and uncertainty in the funding process require in-depth evaluation of options in coming years.

The board has made significant cuts in the 2010-11 budget and has opted to increase its reserves to operate as planned even if ballot issues pass that would threaten cash flow and revenue after January 2011. For 2011-12 and future years, Blanch reported that it would be useful to have a list of options that would be put into play at pre-determined trigger points in the event of unexpected rescissions of state funds and other possible loss of revenue during the budget year. He said that an additional $2 million to $3 million may need to be cut in 2011-12 alone.

Referring to the board’s conversation at its recent meeting, he said that board Vice President Robb Pike suggested that the task force include members from outside the district’s staff and parents. These members should include those with expertise in such fields as financial planning, demographics, banking, real estate and other fields. The third-party members could be from outside the district if deemed appropriate. Members of the Colorado Association of School Boards have done similar consulting in the past.

The task force’s discussions could result in such options as closing additional campuses, curtailing transportation, and curtailing staff costs.

The charge of the task force would be to determine how to retain the district’s strategic vision with fewer resources. In October, following the annual student count, the district will have a better idea of expected revenue and the amount of unemployment benefits required for teachers who have been laid off at the end of this school year. In November the district will know the results of the ballot initiatives, including one forbidding the district from borrowing funds, threatening payroll cash flow in the first two months of the year, and one virtually eliminating the Specific Ownership Tax levied on the purchase of such items as cars, RVs and boats.

Blanch anticipated that the board would request a November report from the task force, followed by community summits to discuss alternatives.

Members of the Board of Education would serve as resources. There would be a shared cyberspace where results of research could be shared. A method for informing the public of developments would also be created.

Blanch suggested that the task force should consist of 20 to 25 members, including teachers and others with specialized knowledge. All members of DAAC need not be involved, but the committee would immediately be charged with identifying a facilitator to head the task force and determining an application process, membership, the formal charge for the group, and the benchmarks at which various proposals would be activated.

There was concern that recruiting could be a problem, based on the difficulty the Operations Advisory Committee has had in finding members with such expertise in the past. Possible avenues for recruiting are newspaper advertisements and contact with such local groups as homeowners associations, small-business owners, the chamber of commerce, and others. It was hoped that stressing that the health of the school system affects the health of the community would aid in recruiting.

District Assistant Superintendent of Operations Cheryl Wangeman presented an overview of the 2010-11 budget and the possibility of the Monument Academy leaving the district to join the Charter School Institute. For more detailed information, see the D-38 article.

Asked if the district was seeking to independently generate revenue, Wangeman said that the addition of before and after school programs will serve as a recruiting tool as well as a source of revenue. The district’s preschool population has doubled, activity fees are being increased, spaces in school buildings are rented for community use, and the Learning Points program generates additional revenue.

If Monument Academy left, the district would lose revenue of about $500,000 per year for services now provided. These services include administrative services and the provision of special education and English Language Literacy services. A mitigating factor would be that school districts can benefit from a student averaging program that would provide revenue for five years after the students leave the system. The district would also potentially lose its exclusive chartering authority in the event of the departure of Monument Academy.

Regarding the DAAC Political Achievement Committee’s activities, Gabriele Lacrampe reported that the state Legislature is considering legislation to allow an increase in taxes to benefit education that would be exempt from the Taxpayers Bill of Rights (TABOR) regulation. She urged members of DAAC to go to Denver on April 19 and 23 and testify in favor of the legislation. Although the committee has not formally voted to support the legislation as a group, she stressed that all concerned citizens should make their feelings heard.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee usually meets on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The May 11 meeting will be held at the district Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument at 7 p.m.

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D-38 Special Education Advisory Committee, April 14: Differentiated and team teaching benefits explained

By Harriet Halbig

The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) heard a presentation on differentiated and team teaching at its April 14 meeting. The meeting was chaired by district Director of Special Education Mary Anne Fleury.

Charmaine Thaner, a former general education teacher and now an educational consultant, gave the presentation. She stressed the theme that all students deserve curriculum and instruction that is appropriate and respectful and that maximum integration of special needs students into the general population is a goal.

Participation by special needs students in the general student population accomplishes a number of goals, including dispelling myths about students, meeting the needs of diverse learners, increasing teacher effectiveness and meeting legal requirements to teach in the least restrictive environment.

Differentiated teaching involves evaluating students in terms of their skills, interests and learning profile. Talking with parents and previous teachers yields information about a student’s interests, which may be integrated into the curriculum. Teachers will also speak with the student and refer to his or her IEP (individual education plan). Following this investigation, a determination will be made as to the student’s strengths, such as math, music, logic, physical coordination or artistic talents.

Based on the state’s academic standards, teachers will then start with the goal of meeting grade level performance and work backward to find the best way to meet that goal. In some cases, it might mean meeting individually with a student to learn new vocabulary in preparation for a class, for example, then allowing the student to attend the class with his peers.

To demonstrate the success of the teaching, a student may create a slide show, a PowerPoint presentation, a photo essay or a skit to present to the class, rather than the more conventional paper. A demonstration of this concept was offered by Brandon Jackson, son of committee member Marie Jackson, who presented a book report at the beginning of the meeting with the help of his computer, which spoke for him as he referred to a poster he had made about a book he read.

The concept of team teaching involves two people delivering instruction together in a general education classroom to a diverse group of students. The teachers plan jointly and deliver instruction in large or small groups. Parents are invited to become a partner in the process by sharing information about students and their abilities and strengths. In some cases, one of the teachers may be a special educator or an older student. When necessary, students who are struggling with the content of the lesson materials will be coached individually to help them keep up with the rest of the class. A way to describe this technique is that services for the student are pulled into the classroom instead of pulling the student out to receive extra help.

Benefits of co-teaching include the recognition that every student belongs in the classroom, co-teachers can learn strategies from each other, students benefit from various teaching styles, and two teachers participate in evaluating progress.

Thaner’s website is www.visionsandvoicestogether.com

Fleury said that the district is looking into co-teaching at Palmer Ridge High School by having support teachers with expertise in math, social studies, or science paired with general education staff. In addition, paraprofessionals now act as support staff.

Team teaching is in its second year at Lewis-Palmer Elementary. Most students are not aware that one of the teachers is a special education teacher.

New parent liaison

Fleury introduced newly hired parent liaison Michelle Nay, a parent of three district students and member of SEAC for the past few years. Nay is trained as a secondary education teacher. Her position involves contacting families who are new to the district and informing them of the services offered by Lewis-Palmer schools. She will also promote membership in SEAC.

Fleury commented that in some instances, parents would prefer to discuss questions or issues with another parent rather than a district administrator or teacher.

Fleury explained the need for the committee to re-examine its bylaws and elect new officers for next year. She encouraged that there be two co-chairmen, a vice chair, and a secretary. A treasurer, although mentioned in the present bylaws, is not necessary, as the committee has no dues or other funds to administer.

To clarify a statement made a few months ago, Fleury said that the state does not require a formal individual literacy plan for students. The Colorado Basic Literacy Act requires that a student who is a year or more behind in reading must be reported and the district must develop a plan to remedy the problem, but the plan is not an individual document. This issue was mentioned in a previous article regarding the committee’s position statement.

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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 May 12 at 6:30 p.m.

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Monument Academy Board of Directors, April 21: Community likes idea of charter release

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Below: Principal Lis Richard handed out commendations to students who had participated in recent competitions. Photo by Candice Hitt.

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Below: MA’s Odyssey of the Mind team that won second in the state competition will be participating in the World Finals in Michigan May 24-30. It consists of four sixth grade students: (from the left) Oriana Ramirez-Luckert, Emily Clear, Paul Reimann, and Grayson McKeown. Photo and information provided by the Monument Academy.

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By Candice Hitt

The Monument Academy (MA) Board of Directors addressed the community in a meeting April 21 about the possibility of the charter school being released from its contract with Lewis-Palmer School District 38. The present contract expires at the end of the 2010-2011 school year.

MA has looked at the options available, including the possibility of changing its authorization to another entity. Board members met with the Charter School Institute of Colorado (CSI) to understand the pros and cons of any decision to change authorization. This option requires permission from D-38, which planned a vote on the matter at its April 26 meeting. If the vote is in favor of releasing MA from its contract, then MA can apply to CSI for new authorization. If they vote no, both parties will resume negotiations on next year’s contract. (On April 26, the D-38 board voted against releasing MA. See D-38 article.)

The MA board has been receiving feedback from parents, staff, and the community on the issue of splitting with D-38. Treasurer Jay McKeown said that the "vast majority" of families approved of the idea. However, some concerns were raised, including how MA would pay for programs such as special education. Currently, programs such as these are purchased and would continue to be purchased if MA split from D-38, so no financial impact or deterioration in service quality would be expected.

One of the incentives for D-38 to approve the split was the compensation from the state to districts that lose pupils. If MA left D-38, the decrease in student numbers would make D-38 eligible to receive that money, which is substantial, up to $1 million per year, for four years. However, board President Diana Helffenstein said that legislation has been introduced that would no longer make those funds available. She felt it was likely that D-38 would not release MA because it could now be a money-losing venture: D-38 would lose its per-pupil funding and not be reimbursed for the loss of students. Yet, should D-38 release MA before July, it would still receive the money.

MA may receive an additional $200,000 to $300,000 from CSI to administer its own special education and early language learner programs.

Students commended for efforts

Principal Lis Richard handed out commendations to students who had participated in recent competitions. These included the Brain Bowl, Odyssey of the Mind, Spelling Bee, the Math Olympiad, and Doodle for Google. In addition, select band students were recognized for their individual talents.

Odyssey of the Mind is an educational program that encourages students to use creative problem-solving skills in local, state, and global competitions. MA’s team has advanced to the world competition, which will be held in May in Michigan. Students on the team told the board about their fund-raising efforts and asked if they might get support from it as well. The board responded by telling the students to continue their efforts and report back at the May board meeting. Meanwhile, those in the community wanting to help the team raise traveling money can donate through American National Bank.

Finances look good

MA Senior Accountant Nancy Tive and McKeown reviewed the financial report. Overall, MA is over budget on revenue and under budget on expenditures. As a result, following a salary freeze last year, teachers will receive salary increases this year.

Current enrollment is about 750, with projected enrollment for school year 2010-11 at around 900 students, including preschool. MA’s facility was built to allow for expansion, should that need come up in the future to accommodate a growing enrollment.

The addition of two new sports, football and cheerleading, is being considered by MA. The school would coordinate with Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation to provide the necessary facilities to accommodate these sports, because MA does not have its own field or equipment.

Election coming up

The election for new board members is coming up in May. Each board member serves a three-year term, and several terms are ending this year. In addition, the board will be increasing from five to seven members. A "meet the candidates" town hall meeting was planned for April 29. Ballots were distributed in April and are due back May 7. New board members’ terms will begin in June.

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The next meeting of the Monument Academy board of directors is May 12, 7 p.m., in the school library.

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Joint Use Committee, April 13: Attorney updates committee on pending tighter limits

By Jim Kendrick

On April 13, environmental attorney Tad Foster briefed the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility on recent and upcoming regulatory hearings and meetings of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment regarding the state’s June 7-8 hearing on basic standards and methodologies regulations for surface water and their application to the Arkansas River basin’s water quality standards. Foster is a former state water quality control commissioner.

Foster also discussed whole effluent toxicity, phosphate, nitrogen, arsenic, heavy metals, temperature, E. coli, dissolved oxygen, nonylphenol, and dilution standards. This was a lengthy and very technical presentation. This article includes some of the topics discussed.

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

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

Foster and Jim Kendrick of the Monument Sanitation District are representing the Tri-Lakes facility at the state’s Water Quality Control Commission hearings and numerous Water Quality Control Division work group meetings. Foster also attends Colorado Water Congress sessions. Foster and Kendrick also represent the owners of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility on the south side of Baptist Road, which treats wastewater from Donala Water and Sanitation District, Triview Metropolitan District, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. Kendrick also represents Academy Water and Sanitation District at these hearings and meetings. See www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/wqcc/index.html for a complete listing of Water Quality Control Commission hearings and www.cwqf.org/Workgroups/Workgroup.htm for a listing of the Water Quality Forum meetings and the forum’s work group meetings that Foster attends along with Kendrick.

Foster also represents the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council (CWWUC), which is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. See http://cwwuc.org for a complete listing of CWWUC meetings and activities that are being attended by Foster and Kendrick.

The following members of the Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association (UMWQMA) have joined CWWUC:

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

Consultant describes toxicity testing

Foster discussed the $10,000 CWWUC study on testing errors for chronic sublethal whole effluent toxicity (WET) tests he had arranged to be performed by consultant Tim Moore. The JUC and UMWQMA each contributed $500 to Moore’s study.

Moore presented the results of his WET study on Feb. 9 in Denver to the division’s Water Quality Forum WET Work Group meeting at the Health Department. His study showed how to practically and cost-effectively show when a false positive test for toxicity has occurred. If the EPA allows Moore’s proposed statistical procedure to be formally implemented via a commission rule-making hearing, it would help prevent further creation of needlessly misleading false records of statewide wastewater discharge permit violations. Moore’s study and several other related WET presentations are at www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/WhatsNew/WET.html

Foster said, "The division in this case really does not want to do any of this testing, but they are being forced by EPA to move forward on it. So the division is listening with all ears to try to understand all the nuances that Tim (Moore) is very capable of understanding" and educating staff members about them.

Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks noted that he has chronic WET tests performed on the facility’s effluent at a consultant testing lab every three months. These chronic WET tests cover a seven- to eight-day period of three reproduction cycles of live ceriodaphnia dubia micro-organisms (sometimes called a water flea) in 100 percent effluent—no dilution. None of these sublethal chronic WET tests of ceriodaphnia dubia in Tri-Lakes effluent during the past 19 years has ever resulted in a failure.

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

The toxicity test for the first quarter of 2010 resulted in a failure of micro-organisms to reproduce and grow at an acceptable rate in a reference sample in clean water that contained no Tri-Lakes effluent. However, reproduction and growth in the Tri-Lakes effluent was much higher than in the reference sample and met state standards for showing no toxicity. All WET tests compare reproduction and growth between a reference sample and an effluent sample.

Two repeat tests for reference samples of ceriodaphnia dubia micro-organisms were then performed that showed normal reproduction and growth rates, which resulted in the median statistical result being a "pass" for the group of three reference samples from the same population of ceriodaphnia dubia micro-organisms. These two additional tests eliminated the reporting of a "false positive" for toxicity based on only the first reference sample, which would have resulted in a possible discharge permit violation.

Foster noted that never having had a failed WET test of its effluent for nearly 20 years shows that the Tri-Lakes facility is performing in a clearly superior manner, and the division should drop the requirement for WET testing rather than reclassifying Monument Creek as "impaired waters of the state." The inherent statistical variability for WET testing normally results in an average of one failure for every 20 tests. There are 40 tests during each five-year permit period, with one reference and one effluent sample for analysis and comparison each quarter. No less than four effluent tests should have resulted in a false positive for toxicity over the past 20 years.

However, the Tri-Lakes facility will continue to be required to perform these chronic WET tests under its current discharge permit because of Monument’s industrial plants, even though all their industrial solid wastes are captured during pretreatment of their industrial wastewater and shipped away in storage containers for hazardous material disposal. These industrial plants discharge their pretreated wastewater and domestic wastewater (from restrooms, drinking fountains, etc.) into the Monument Sanitation District collection system. Because there is a remote chance that there could be dumping of these hazardous materials into Monument’s system, despite the lack of any evidence of toxicity, the WET tests will be a continuing requirement under current EPA/state rules, because there is still "reasonable potential" for pollution.

Foster said he will argue in his basic standards pre-hearing statement and during the facility’s next permit cycle that the facility’s track record shows that WET testing limits "should go away."

Variability in test results is well-documented

The major concern from wastewater treatment facility operators throughout the state is the well-documented high variability in sublethal chronic WET test results and the high number of false negative and false positive results that occur during these WET tests. This problem is worst in areas where streams contain hard water—over 100 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved minerals, like calcium and magnesium, which is particularly harmful to these two species. There is little statistical difference in the number of false positives and false negative results for sublethal WET tests performed on stream samples taken from above and below the various effluent discharge points along Monument and Fountain Creeks.

This problem is very prevalent in Fountain Creek stream segments 2a (north half) and 2b (south half) between Colorado Springs and Pueblo due to the hardness of the stream water. Even if a test result could be shown later to be a false positive, this erroneous result would still remain listed as a chronic WET test failure on the treatment facility’s monthly discharge monitoring report under current EPA regulations.

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

Changes sought in other standards and regulations

Foster noted that the Wastewater Utility Council is also pursuing revisions in proposed state standards and regulations regarding temperature, nitrates, and arsenic as well as a change in the state’s definition of when a stream is effluent dominated. Monument Creek has always been classified as effluent dominated, because the effluent flows from the Tri-Lakes facility have been larger than the natural stream flows past the facility most of the time for more than five years of any 10-year period of facility operation. The regulations that have applied to Tri-Lakes until two years ago were in the "use protected" category that reflected that the flow in Monument Creek below the Monument Lake dam came mostly from the facility.

Recently, Monument Creek was reclassified by the state to "antidegradation" status, which significantly changes the hundreds of limits that the division will now apply to the creek and to the Tri-Lakes facility.

The Water Quality Control Division’s regression analyses have resulted in a multi-metric index of 20 for aquatic life in Monument Creek below the Tri-Lakes facility’s discharge. This statistic is far below proposed state standards for measured aquatic life.

Foster noted that this anomaly is in fact caused by the installation of rip-rap stones along the sides of the creek to prevent further erosion similar to that caused by previous stormwater flooding. These stabilizing rocks unavoidably eliminate a favorable environment in a creek with high sediment for the specific type of aquatic life that is being measured by current statewide standards and are causing the very low multi-metric index statistic. This statistic appears to imply the existence of toxicity due to Tri-Lakes effluent to those in the division and EPA who are unaware of the high likelihood of flash flooding in major storms. Such storms scour the sides of the creek of vegetation and the stream bed of its aquatic life.

Aquatic life in the stream bed disappears when Monument Creek flows naturally sharply diminish or stop altogether. In the latter case, the flow in the creek becomes entirely composed of effluent from Tri-Lakes and Upper Monument Creek.

Foster will be hiring an expert to prepare a report that specifically analyzes the erroneous inference created by the division’s multi-metric index.

However, the state’s proposal to the EPA to use the multi-metric index to determine facility performance may still result in a false determination that Monument Creek has reasonable potential to be excessively polluted by the Tri-Lakes facility. The northern segment of Monument Creek will likely be added to the state’s Monitor and Evaluate List, or 303(d) list, of impaired water. That would require the Tri-Lakes facility to perform otherwise needless additional costly testing and reporting for a variety of potential toxicants that are not currently present in Monument Creek in addition to the current testing for minuscule and often undetectable amounts of copper in Tri-Lakes effluent. At a minimum, new additional tests would probably be required for E. coli, phosphorus and nitrogen (ammonia, total inorganic nitrogen, nitrates, nitrites), and heavy metals.

Copper problems in effluent

Burks reported that the potentially dissolved copper level in the plant’s effluent was 7.7 parts per billion (ppb) for March, compared to 10.6 ppb for January and 10.0 ppb for February. In February, one of four South Monument interceptor influent test samples had the highest influent copper concentration—120 pp ­––and an average concentration of 115.3 ppb. The maximum South Monument influent sample copper concentration in January was 146 ppb, and the average of four samples was 130.8 ppb.

South Monument has the newest houses in the district, and they are most likely to have the highest leaching of copper into the wastewater stream. The interior of copper pipes in older homes gradually becomes coated, and the rate of leaching decreases. The town is adding caustic soda to its drinking water, which should enhance coating of the pipe interiors and further reduce leaching, which in turn should reduce copper concentrations at the wastewater facility.

January and February have also typically produced the highest copper results for effluent in recent years, up to about 15 ppb. This peak in influent and effluent concentrations is due to higher waste concentrations, lower wastewater flows, and the biomasses in the facility’s two operating aeration basins being less efficient in cold temperatures.

Most of this copper is leached from copper drinking water pipes inside homes. Monument, Woodmoor, and Triview have banned copper pipe for new or replacement plumbing installations. Caustic soda is being added to the town’s drinking water to help minimize leaching, which has caused pipe failures and leaks in some downtown Monument buildings.

The division previously issued a temporary modification to the Tri-Lakes discharge permit for 2007-09 for copper that allows an average concentration of up to 24.8 ppb and an individual reading of up to 36.4 ppb. The actual facility discharge permit limits for copper are 8 ppb on average and a maximum of 11.7 ppb. These limits have never been enforced.

Different terms, same meaning

Foster noted that there is no significant difference in the meaning of the following three terms: temporary modification, discharger specific variance, and waiver when implementing new standards. They are used in slightly different situations within water quality regulations. The EPA prefers the use of discharger specific variance regulations to the state’s use of temporary modification regulations. The state’s temporary modification allows more time for testing and data collection to establish "the correct standard" using a biotic ligand model for establishing levels of copper toxicity for aquatic life in Monument Creek. A discharger-specific variance acknowledges that there is no technology available in the next 20 years and/or funding available to meet a new tighter standard. Foster has filed a position paper with the state declaring that the division continues to stick with the use of temporary modifications to prevent the EPA from using different standards to negate current state policies.

Although the current permit expired at the end of 2009, it has been administratively extended for two years because the division does not have sufficient staff to renew permits statewide in a timely manner.

The division announced in March that the facility’s permit will not be renewed until the end of 2012, and the temporary modification will remain in force until then.

The state Health Department imposed these tighter copper limits several years ago 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. A reduction in the new average copper limit to an average of 1.35 ppb with a maximum of 8 ppb has been proposed under newly adopted antidegradation standards for Monument Creek. However, current testing procedures cannot detect a copper level of 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 whether a new more costly copper testing method will be required or if reverse osmosis treatment will be required. Reverse osmosis equipment would cost between $30 million and $50 million to install and a minimum of $500,000 per year to operate. The value of the Tri-Lakes facility is $6 million, and the 2010 facility budget is $694,524.

Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the facility won an award 10 years ago as a state-of-the-art plant, and now the EPA finds it totally inadequate. Foster added that the state’s goal of achieving better metal removal through the use of temporary modifications to give treatment facilities time to analyze, understand, and improve treatment was justified by Tri-Lakes biotic ligand model studies, copper pipe restrictions, and the Monument district helping the town pay for the use of caustic soda in town drinking water to minimize copper leaching—all success stories that the EPA should acknowledge and factor into its tighter discharge permit policies.

Foster recommended a study on how the facility’s use of carbon may be removing other metals to a level where they are undetectable.

Tighter nutrient restrictions may be postponed

Foster noted that excessive amounts of nutrients, particularly total phosphorus and total nitrogen in wastewater and streams, leads to high algae growth rates. The algae consume too much of the dissolved oxygen in the water, and desirable aquatic life "strangles and perishes." The 8,000-square-mile hypoxia zone in the Gulf of Mexico due to excessive total phosphorus and total nitrogen at the mouth of the Mississippi River is the most prominent example out of about 400 hypoxia zones in the U.S.

However, Foster added that the science of defining limits for nutrients in widely variant water bodies is not well known and under severe attack. Still, the EPA is demanding that Colorado apply a statewide standard for total phosphorus and total nitrogen. While there may be a general range of total phosphorus and nitrogen stream concentrations that promote healthy growth, there are very many variables that control algae growth. The sand beds and trees over Monument Creek reduce and often prevent growth of desirable aquatic life as well as algae, for example. EPA has no system for addressing that.

Kendrick noted that a study by the Cherry Creek Watershed staff presented to the commission on April 12 showed no correlation between phosphorus and chlorophyll-A in 2009 data and a negative correlation for nitrogen and algae, which means removing nitrogen actually harms the reservoir.

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

This does not mean that EPA’s plan to impose much tighter phosphorus and nitrogen limits, which few if any state wastewater treatment facilities can meet, will not be imposed. Installing tertiary clarifiers and tertiary filters would cost many millions of dollars that would have to be paid for by the 4,500 constituents of Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor. Burks said the facility may be able to reduce phosphorus to about 2 ppm by using alum and ferric choloride for chemical precipitation of excess phosphorus, though this process would significantly increase the cost and complexity of disposing waste sludge. However, the currently proposed limit from WQCD is 0.135 ppm, a number that EPA considers too high.

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

There was general agreement that the facility should start testing Monument Creek for temperature and phosphorus above and below the effluent discharge location as soon as possible to establish a baseline for future permit negotiations. Making these measurements jointly with the Upper Monument Creek facility may reduce costs.

Other matters

Mercury non-compliance problems that have recently occurred in Security have been isolated to a few dentists, and there are no industrial sources. Even though the proposed mercury standard is 10 parts per trillion, it should not be a problem for Tri-Lakes. Amalgam separators—the equipment used to resolve the problem—have been installed in Security dental offices, one of the few places in the country where such equipment has been installed.

E. coli problems are occurring in upper Fountain Creek, leading to an "impaired waters" categorization, but they may be caused by pigeons rather than domestic wastewater.

The imposition of nonylphenol standards for plastic water and wastewater pipes has been postponed until January 2017. Monument has imposed a prohibition on new and replacement copper drinking water pipes, which has resulted in the widespread use of plastic residential water piping. It remains to be seen whether Monument’s copper problems will be replaced by nonylphenol problems. Denver Metro and Colorado Springs Utilities have detected nonylphenol in their wastewater and have begun collecting data on nonylphenol concentrations and the problems they might cause.

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

The meeting adjourned at 11:48 a.m.

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The next meeting is at 10 a.m. on May 11 in the facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held at 10 a.m. on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, April 8: District contracts for water rights in Lower Arkansas valley

By Harriet Halbig

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District voted at its April 8 meeting to approve contracts for water rights along the Lower Arkansas River.

Due to concerns about a decreasing water supply in the Denver Basin aquifers, the district has sought alternative sources for water. In past years, the district has secured water rights on Monument Creek, developed Woodmoor Lake and built a facility to treat surface water in an effort to maintain a viable water supply.

In December 2009, the district filed in Water Court to move water upstream from the lower Arkansas River through a system of storage facilities. The April 8 action approved several contracts representing approximately 600 acre feet of water per year. This action is part of the district’s Renewable Water Plan to develop a sustainable source of water resources.

Details of the contracts were not available. Further information can be found at www.woodmoorwater.com

Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported by phone that no leak had been found in the district’s system and that the apparent discrepancy in the previous month’s readings was due to the timing of the readings.

Gillette also said that the district is in touch with the contractor for the White Fawn/Deer Creek project about resurfacing the road. He also reported that there had been no new construction in the district.

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The next meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Board will be held on May 6 at 1 p.m. at the conference room at 1855 Woodmoor Drive. For further information: 488-2525.

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Monument Sanitation District, April 15: Construction to resume for Wakonda Hills collection system expansion

By Jim Kendrick

On April 15, Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund informed the district board that Brannan Construction Co. would begin mobilizing equipment to resume construction in Wakonda Hills on April 30. Construction will resume during the first week in May. The collection line project is being financed by an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act forgivable loan of $2 million.

The recently approved fee increase to cover the increased costs of meeting tighter federal and state wastewater treatment requirements went into effect on April 1. The new fees are $25 per month for residential and $25 for the first 5,000 gallons and $4.50 per thousand gallons thereafter for commercial. The new fees will be reflected for the first time in the May 1 bills. Fees are paid in arrears for the previous month.

Even though the district’s fees have increased, they remain the lowest in the region, including those charged by Colorado Springs Utilities.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on May 20 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 22: May 4 ballots seek approval of debt, property tax increases

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Below: Donala President Dennis Daugherty congratulates Ginnette Ritz on being named employee of the quarter for her work on the district’s May 4 election. Daugherty is term-limited. This was the last meeting in his term. 

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Below: This was also the last meeting in Donala board member and former OCN volunteer Dick Durham’s term. Photo by John Heiser.

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By John Heiser

Donala Water and Sanitation District ballots were mailed to district voters between April 12 and 16, and completed ballots 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 were published in the April issue of OCN and are posted at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n4.htm#statements

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

Fixed-income investments tied to economic outlook

Scott Prickett, managing director with Davidson Fixed Income Management, reported to the board on the status of the district’s $3.74 million in cash assets that Prickett manages.

During the three months from Dec. 1 through Feb. 28, investments showed a yield of 0.24 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.08 percent during the same period.

Prickett said he is currently maintaining an average weighted maturity of about 180 days because his firm is anticipating an increase in interest rates in the fourth quarter of 2010 or the first quarter of 2011. He estimated that in January 2011, rates for two-year notes should exceed 1.6 percent. He said, "We want to be in a good position when rates ramp up."

Willow Creek (formerly Mount Massive) Ranch court case on schedule

Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, 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.

Those opposing the district’s court filing are expected to file competing engineering reports. The district is planning to host representatives of opposing parties at the ranch toward the end of June or first part of July. The water court date is set for March 8-11, 2011.

District seeks storage in Pueblo Reservoir

Duthie noted that, as an important part of gaining access to renewable water, the district needs to obtain storage rights in Pueblo Reservoir and the related storage facilities that include Turquoise Lake and Twin Lakes.

The Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District, which now encompasses a nine-county area in southeastern Colorado, was created to oversee the Pueblo Reservoir and associated facilities built by the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project approved in 1962 and completed in 1990. A history and description of the Fryingpan-Arkansas Project is posted on the Southeastern district’s Web site at www.secwcd.org/History%20and%20Description.htm

Donala is not currently a member of the Southeastern district. As a result, if Donala obtains storage rights in the reservoir, it would be among those districts with the worst spill-priority. That means that when the reservoir is full and must spill water, the water owned by those with the worst spill-priority is lost first. Besides Donala, other non-members include Aurora, Victor, and Round Mountain. The spill is done proportionately based on the rights held, so only a portion of Donala’s water would typically be lost.

Duthie reported that if the Donala district were to become a member of the Southeastern district, that would not carry with it any water or storage rights but would reduce the cost for obtaining storage and would improve the spill priority for whatever water Donala does obtain. Membership in the district carries a 0.5 mill property tax mill levy and so would require approval by Donala voters. The Southeastern district also asks new members to pay an additional fee based on the amount of taxes that would have been paid over the life of the district. Duthie estimated that figure at $442,000. He calculated that it would take 35 years of membership in the Southeastern district to reach break-even based on the reduction in the cost of purchasing water; however, the improved spill priority might be important. He noted that in wet years when the most water would be spilled, water should be readily available for purchase.

Duthie said the district’s current plan is to apply for out-of-district storage in Pueblo Reservoir for 2011 and continue to assess the costs and benefits of joining the Southeastern district.

Connection to CSU delayed

Duthie reported on the April 7 meeting of the CSU Utility Policy Advisory Committee (UPAC).

The UPAC has completed its review of CSU’s policies regarding providing service to areas outside the city limits and made presentations to the Colorado Springs City Council during its March 17 and April 21 meetings as the Utility Board.

Duthie said the UPAC presentations 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. Duthie said that at the April 21 meeting, the UPAC was directed to come up with more specific policy recommendations. This will further delay finalizing a contract between Donala and CSU regarding the proposed connection at Northgate Road.

Super Ditch negotiations continuing

Duthie reported on the April 20 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.

Members of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) are in negotiations with the Super Ditch Co. to lease about 2,000 acre-feet of water per year. Duthie has said the current known PPRWA demand is about 8,120 acre-feet. The Super Ditch Co. 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.

The Super Ditch Co. is anxious to sign lease agreements with customers so it can file with the water court; however, potential customers, including Donala, are reluctant to sign those agreements without assurances from CSU that the water can be transported through CSU’s current and planned infrastructure.

Flaming Gorge feasibility study update

Duthie reported that the Colorado/Wyoming Coalition met on April 14 to kick off its feasibility study. Wyoming members of the coalition include the cities of Torrington, Casper, and Rawlings. The Colorado members include the Parker Water and Sanitation District; the South Metro Water Authority, which has 16 members; the Town of Castle Rock; Douglas County; and the Donala district. The Colorado members formed a new entity called the Colorado Water Authority.

A representative of a Wyoming group opposing any project that draws water from the Green River spoke at the April 14 meeting and said that the county commissioners there have committed $450,000 to fight any export of Green River water.

The engineers involved in the feasibility study, States West Water Resources, Integra Engineering, and Lytle Water Solutions, estimate that there are 140,000 acre-feet of water available in the Flaming Gorge Reservoir. Their rough estimate for the cost of the project to pipe that water east and south to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir is $3.5 billion. The feasibility study is estimated to take about 12 months.

Duthie noted that, due to the Donala district’s limited financial resources, by the end of the Flaming Gorge project’s feasibility study, the district will have to make a decision as to whether it will pursue Super Ditch water from the south or Rueter-Hess water from the north. Each of those options would have significantly different local infrastructure implications.

Other matters

  • Ginnette Ritz was named employee of the quarter for her help in preparing for and conducting the district election. Ritz works part-time for the district.
  • Duthie reported on the April 21 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). See PPRWA article.

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on May 20 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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Town election results

Results of the April 6 town elections are as follows (the names of elected candidates are underlined):

Monument

Mayor: Travis Easton – 493,  Gail Drumm – 202

Trustees (3): Stanley Gingrich – 476, Jeffrey Kaiser – 466, Rick Squires – 400, Jeffrey Bornstein – 315

Question A: Publishing ordinances by title only: Yes – 440, No – 188

Palmer Lake

Mayor: John Cressman – 80

Trustees (3): Nikki McDonald – 75, Dennis Stern – 74, Joe Polonsky – 73

Issue 1: Excess revenue retainage – 2012: For – 80, Against – 17

Issue 2: Retainage – 2013: For – 79, Against – 18

Issue 3: Retainage – 2014-17: For – 68, Against – 29

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 5: Triview maintenance agreement approved

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Photos by Jim Kendrick

Below: Monument resident Steve Meyer was presented two plaques by Mayor Travis Easton at the April 5 Board of Trustees meeting, one from the Town and one from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments for his service on the Highway Advisory Committee and many other events.

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Click on the photo to zoom in

Below: Palmer Lake Historical Society representative Jim Sawatski received a $2,000 donation from the Monument Board of Trustees on April 5 for the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua at Palmer Lake which will be held on the first weekend in August, from Aug. 6 to Aug. 8. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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By Jim Kendrick

On April 5, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution for a new intergovernmental agreement for the town’s Public Works Department to take over landscape, sprinkler system, and road maintenance for which Triview Metropolitan District is responsible. Triview has previously outsourced this work to a private contractor. Triview will pay the town $15,985 per month for the services. The Triview board approved the agreement at its March 23 meeting.

Trustee Gail Drumm was absent from the meeting.

The two-year intergovernmental agreement with Triview states that "maintenance shall be performed at a level equal to that of the Town of Monument based on budget." Public Works staff will be using Triview’s equipment when performing maintenance in Triview, and the agreement includes Triview funding for maintaining the district’s equipment. Triview’s costs will be tracked as separate line items from other Public Works operational accounts. Triview will pay for one new full-time employee as well as the summer hires that work in Triview. All Triview accounts are identically structured to similar Public Works accounts.

Meyer cited for volunteer work

Mayor Travis Easton and Town Manager Cathy Green presented two plaques to Homestead resident Steve Meyer, recognizing his contributions in publishing the www.monumentmatters.org Web site and being a volunteer member of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Government’s Citizen’s Advisory Board for four years. Meyer is moving to Texas. Easton noted the service contributions Meyer had made to Monument’s Police Department.

Chautauqua donation approved

Local historian Jim Sawatski discussed the return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua at Palmer Lake, Aug. 6-8. Chautauquas are normally held on the first weekend in August.

This will be the third annual Chautauqua. The first Rocky Mountain Chautauqua was held in Palmer Lake’s Glen area in 1886. They continued until 1910.

Sawatski noted that he was previously on the Chautauqua board from 1998 to 2001 and has been reappointed. He also noted that the Board of Trustees made a donation to his 2007 film about the annual Chatauquas, which were restarted in 2008. Attendance at the 2009 event was five to six times the attendance of the first year. CD copies of Sawatski’s half-hour film, which was broadcast twice by the Public Broadcasting System, are available for loan at local libraries. The film will also be shown at this year’s Chautauqua.

Sawatski thanked OCN for publishing a Chautauqua article. It can be found at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n3.htm#chautauqua

Sawatski also described all the historical exhibits on Monument that are maintained by the Palmer Lake Historical Society as well as local Monument history books the society has published. Monument was the first village built in the Palmer Divide area. The items are displayed at the Lucretia Vaile Museum, which is open on Saturdays in the Palmer Lake Library building. For more information, see www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs/

The board unanimously approved a donation of $2,000 from the board’s $5,000 contingency fund for the 2010 Chautauqua and publication of books on local area history. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith noted that the Palmer Lake fireworks and senior citizens programs were previously supported from this contingency fund, but these events now have their own separate line items in the town budget for annual donations.

Arbor Day resolution approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution declaring that Arbor Day will be celebrated on April 30 in Monument. Public Works Director Rich Landreth noted that the staff will plant five trees that day.

Financial matters

Two payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:

  • $76,115 to Pioneer Sand Co. Inc. for improvements made under the Third Street contract.
  • $7,330 to Hart Inter Civic Co. for printing of town election paperwork.

Smith’s informational briefing on analysis of the 2009 budget was continued until April 19 so that Drumm could participate.

Downtown merchant campaign

Easton and Trustee Tommie Plank led a discussion of the national "3/50 campaign" for downtown Monument stores that would be implemented for a three-month trial by a subcommittee of the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) from June 1 through Aug. 31. "Monument bucks" would be issued as an incentive to local shoppers based on the amounts shown on sales receipts from local businesses. They would be redeemable at other local stores.

Plank said, "If half the employed population spent $50 each month in locally owned independent businesses, it would generate more than $42.6 billion in revenue." Also, "For every $100 spent in locally owned independent businesses, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll, and other expenditures" compared to $43 for merchandise purchases at town chain stores. There is often no return for Internet purchases. This does not apply to services that generate no sales tax.

HMMA will hold two raffles for one $500 prize each this year. The second raffle runs from Sept.. 1 to Nov. 31. Turning in receipts from participating HMMA merchants totaling at least $350 will qualify a shopper for one raffle ticket. HMMA is asking the town to contribute $10.50 toward the raffle prize fund for each set of receipts totaling $350 or more that is turned in. Smith asked Plank to ensure that HMMA members don not call these $10.50 contributions "tax rebates." Trustee Jeff Kaiser asked that HMMA post a list of participating HMMA stores on its Web site.

After a lengthy technical discussion on options for the mechanics of this program, the board determined that a vote on the contribution HMMA is asking from the town will be scheduled at a later meeting when there is more information on how the town 2010 budget is doing.

Reports and updates

Town Attorney Gary Shupp stated that the District Court had dismissed the 2003 lawsuit against the town by the defunct Rockwell-Ready Mix Corp. and Kalima Masse with prejudice and all parties are required to pay their own costs.

The town has filed a motion for summary judgment regarding the Brodie lawsuit against the town regarding an easement on property on Third Street.

Shupp also noted that the developers of the defunct Arbor Mountain Senior Living Facility proposed on Highway 105 East of Knollwood Drive had complied with a letter he had written to them asking for them to sign a document releasing from escrow the town’s lot that had been donated to the project. No alternative plans have been made.

Green reported that it was time to start performing due diligence on purchasing Fountain Mutual Shares for surface water rights. There was consensus on having the staff prepare the required documents for approval at a later meeting.

Green said that Monument Nursery, at the east end of North Monument Lake Road, is for sale. She said the town and Triview could split the $20,000 cost and transplant trees throughout town. The board asked Landreth to have the trees evaluated.

Trustees’ comments

Plank reported that Tri-Lakes Views will formally unveil three new public art pieces that will be on display, two at Monument Town Hall and one at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts at 304 Highway 105 (at the north end of Palmer Lake.) The Monument Town Hall event will be held on June 19 in conjunction with the HMMA’s Summer Soul-stice event.

Kaiser reported that having the Colorado Department of Transportation improve the timing of left-turn lights for southbound I-25 traffic for westbound Baptist Road motorists during rush hours was addressed at the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority meeting on April 2. (See BRRTA article for more information.)

Easton noted that he had received many positive comments about the town staff’s work at meetings he had attended at the YMCA and with local business owners.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 19: July the Third parade street closing approved

By Jim Kendrick

On April 19, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a street closing permit for the annual Fourth of July Parade to take place on Saturday, July 3, so that the downtown traffic will not conflict with typical Sunday morning downtown events. The Palmer Lake fireworks will still take place on Sunday, July 4. The board also approved a resolution authorizing a street closing for the ninth annual Tri-Lakes Cruisers car show on June 13.

Mayor Travis Easton and Mayor Pro-tem Rafael Dominguez were absent from the meeting. The other trustees unanimously appointed Trustee Tommie Plank as acting mayor pro-tem so that she could chair the meeting.

July 3 parade approved

Don Johnson and Patrick Quinlan of Monument Hill Sertoma, which will become a Kiwanis club on July 1, requested a temporary closing of Lincoln Street, Front Street, Third Street, and Beacon Lite Road from 9:15 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. for the traditional clockwise routing of the Fourth of July Parade through downtown Monument. Their request was unanimously approved.

This is the first year that Monument will own Old Denver Highway between Baptist Road and Santa Fe Drive, which will require the town staff to do a little extra coordination on limiting traffic on this section of road from 7:30 a.m. to noon to local residents and the vehicles that will be in the parade. Floats and other vehicles in the parade will organize on the side of Old Denver Highway.

Johnson noted that this is an election year and there would be lots of politicians and political groups in the parade. The large animals from the Renaissance Fair often seen at these parades will be absent because they will be working that weekend in Larkspur. Quinlan will be taking over the parade for the Kiwanis in 2011.

The board unanimously approved the parade resolution.

Cruisers car show approved

John Spence of the Tri-Lakes Cruisers Club also requested approval of a resolution for a temporary street closing. He noted that the show would be similar to previous shows on Second Street between Front and Jefferson Streets and Front Street between Second and Third Streets. Although the street closing permit runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., the show should be concluded by around 2 p.m. Spence said there would be "an outstanding DJ" and 125 to 200 cars on display, depending on the weather. The club will pay the cost for an additional on-duty Monument police officer to be available on site.

The car show resolution was also unanimously approved.

Third Street landscaping contract awarded

The board unanimously approved a resolution awarding a landscaping contract to low bidder Landscape Endeavors Inc. to complete Third Street improvements. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that the base bid of $71,270 included two options. The first offered a cost savings of $1,700 to use 2- to 4-inch rock instead of 4- to 8-inch rock. It was accepted, lowering the bid cost to $69,750. The remaining available budget for the project is $82,735, which provides a contingency fund of $13,165.

Small Forest Lakes annexation approved

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 on CDOT land used to build the new dual lane northbound off-ramp to Baptist Road on the southeast corner of the interchange.

The board unanimously approved:

  • A resolution finding that Addition No. 4 was eligible for annexation
  • An ordinance approving the annexation of Addition No. 4
  • An ordinance approving Planned Industrial Zoning for Addition No. 4

For more detailed information, see the article on the Planning Commission’s hearing on these three annexation items at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n4.htm#monpc 

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 homebuilding 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 board unanimously approved four ordinances that included separate code amendments regarding:

  • Street design
  • Submittal requirements
  • Outdoor lighting standards
  • Water standards
  • Roadway standards
  • Access
  • On-street parking
  • Inactive plats or agreements
  • Sketch plats

For more information on these code amendments, see the article on the Planning Commission’s hearing on these matters at www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n4.htm#monpc and www.ourcommunitynews.org/v10n2.htm#monpc 

The board also unanimously approved an ordinance that amends the town’s traffic code to identically match the latest changes in the state’s traffic regulations approved by the state Legislature which are contained in the 2010 Model Traffic Code. Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the last model traffic code update occurred in 2009.

The board unanimously approved annual liquor license renewals for:

  • Jasmine Garden Restaurant, 1425 Cipriani Loop, Monument, CO 80132
  • Eagle Wine and Spirits, 1060 W. Baptist Road, Monument, CO 80132

Financial reports and updates

One payment of $96,594 to Triview Metropolitan District was unanimously approved. It covered:

  • $91,094 for February sales tax
  • $5,000 for March motor vehicle tax
  • $500 for March Regional Building sales tax.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith gave the informational briefing on her analysis of the 2009 budget that was continued from the April 5 meeting. She noted that the 2009 audit must be presented to the board by June 30 and forwarded to the state by July 31. The town spent about $4.5 million in cash in 2009 on debt reduction and capital projects. Some of the major projects were:

  • $720,000 in debt reduction
  • Third Street Improvement Project
  • Completed the Second Street railroad crossing quiet zone
  • Purchased shares of Twin Lakes surface water
  • Redrilled Well 7
  • Completed Town Hall construction

Smith also gave an informational briefing on sales tax earnings and collections, which are up slightly from 2009. She also noted at the current time there are no savings advantages to paying off bond debt early.

Other matters

Kassawara reported that 21 single-family home land use permits had been issued in the first quarter (six in Triview.) The next ordinance revisions will be on technical standards for sanitary sewer, pavement and concrete design, and landscape design. Some progress is being made on solving mouse habitat issues in Jackson Creek.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported that Monument would be a Tree City USA designee for the 16th year in a row. On Arbor Day, the staff will plant some trees in Triview and along the Santa Fe Trail next to the Public Works buildings.

Town Manager Cathy Green reported that she was still having difficulty scheduling subcommittee meetings between trustees and Triview Metropolitan District directors as well as orientation training dates for new trustees.

The meeting adjourned at 8:16 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 3 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, April 14: Village Center at Woodmoor amendment approved

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Drawings provided by Kevan Kuhnel of JR Engineering

Below: Village Center Filing 4 Preliminary Landscape Plan

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Below: Village Center Filing 4 Retail/office Reference Elevation

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Below: Village Center Filing 4 Branch Bank Reference Elevation

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the drawings as a PDF file. This is a 7.7 Mbyte file and will take about 47 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. Click here for help with PDF downloads. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

By Jim Kendrick

On April 14, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved a major Planned Development (PD) amendment, preliminary PD site plan, and preliminary/final plat for Filing 4 of the Village Center at Woodmoor development, located on the southeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. The commission also approved a Lake of the Rockies Metropolitan District service plan by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Glenda Smith opposed.

Commissioners David Gwisdalla, Bill Baker, and Becki Tooley were absent. Alternate Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick filled in.

Commercial area layout changed

Major PD amendment: Applicant Kevan Kuhnel of JR Engineering, Colorado Springs, and land owner Mag II Monument LLC, St. Louis, Mo., requested a major PD amendment to Mag II’s previously approved zoning and land use plan. The purpose of the amendment is to change the configuration and allowed uses in the previously approved commercial development on the northernmost portion of the filing, along Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. The area being reconfigured is 21.5 acres.

The configuration and uses of the interior portion of this commercial filing are not being changed at this time, but a similar round of hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees will be required prior to approval of final PD site plans for the interior lots before development work can begin.

The existing PD plan has a mix of big box retail buildings and smaller pad sites for C-1 commercial uses such as fast-food and sit-down restaurants, vehicle sales and services, banks, and medical clinics. Conversion to warehousing or wholesaling would require special reviews. The request is for a more limited range of commercial uses that would add offices, office/warehouses, and convenience stores due to elimination of the big box buildings and addition of medium-size buildings with smaller parking lots and associated landscaping throughout.

Principal Planner Karen Griffith noted that the amendment conforms to all nine preliminary PD site plan approval criteria and recommended approval.

The commissioners unanimously approved the proposed major amendment with two standard conditions:

  1. Any necessary technical changes shall be made by the applicant and approved by staff.
  2. All referral agency comments shall be resolved prior to recordation of the site plan.

Note: There were no referral comments to resolve at this hearing.

Preliminary PD site plan amendment

The revised layout will include entry signage and landscape amenities, including a pathway and seating area. The entry roundabout on Gold Canyon Road will also include enhanced landscaping. A final PD site plan will have to be reviewed and approved by the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for each lot when detailed development plans are submitted.

Some of the details of Griffith’s analysis of how this proposal meets all review criteria were:

  • The county’s Major Thoroughfares Task Force has approved the conceptual access plan including the right-in right-out access road (Midland Center Heights) midway between Knollwood Drive and Gold Canyon Road.
  • All Phase 1 (west end) and Phase 2 (east end) infrastructure must be completed before the first certificate of occupancy will be issued for each phase.
  • Construction of an eastbound turn lane for southbound traffic on Knollwood Drive, traffic signal improvements, and striping changes will be evaluated as each lot’s final PD site plan is approved. It will be constructed when traffic counts show they are needed.
  • An evaluation of the need for a traffic signal at the Gold Canyon Road intersection of Highway 105 will begin at the completion of Phase 1.

Griffith recommended approval.

There was a lengthy discussion about traffic flows. Fitzpatrick asked consultant traffic engineer Jeff Hodsdon, of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc., about the difficulty of turning from northbound Knollwood Drive onto westbound Highway 105.

The proposed preliminary PD site plan was unanimously approved with the following five conditions:

  1. A permit for overlot grading will not be approved until a phased grading plan is submitted and approved by the town.
  2. No site development permits shall be issued for Filing 4 until an analysis of the existing and/or expanded detention pond system for the entire Village Center development is reviewed and approved by the town and appropriate improvements, as necessary, are completed and approved by the town.
  3. A site plan improvement agreement shall be executed by the applicants and surety provided for all onsite improvements, and escrow for all offsite improvements, prior to recordation of the preliminary PD site plan.
  4. Any necessary technical changes shall be made by the applicant and approved by staff. This includes corrections to the design guidelines.
  5. All referral agency comments shall be resolved prior to recordation of the site plan.

Note: There were no referral comments to resolve at this hearing.

Preliminary/final plat

The plat proposes 16 lots and one tract on the 21.5-acre parcel.

Griffith explained her analysis of how the plat met the 12 review criteria of the purpose statement in the town’s subdivision regulations. She recommended approval. The proposal was unanimously approved with two conditions:

  1. Any necessary technical changes shall be made by the applicant and approved by staff. This includes providing two permanent reference monuments outside the subdivision.
  2. All referral agency comments shall be resolved prior to recordation of the site plan.

Note: There were no referral comments to resolve at this hearing.

Lake of the Rockies service plan approved

Attorney Peter Susemihl represented principal land owner Jerry Biggs’ request for approval of a proposed metropolitan district service plan for the vacant Lake of the Rockies parcel near the southwest corner of the Second Street intersection with Mitchell Avenue. A sketch plan has been approved for the 70-acre parcel that includes 152 lots for single-family homes. Biggs is proposing the creation of the metropolitan district as a financing mechanism for necessary infrastructure improvements.

Susemihl, the former attorney for the Triview Metropolitan and Cherokee Metropolitan Districts, noted these points:

  • The district’s only purpose is to obtain cheaper financing for construction with no other ongoing governmental functions.
  • The district will finance the wastewater and water lines and roads, which will all be dedicated to the Town of Monument and constructed to its standards.
  • The estimated cost of these improvements is $2,308,500, which would be financed by a property tax of a maximum of about 30 mills to repay tax-free municipal bonds with terms of 20 years to 40 years.
  • Buildout of the development is estimated to take six years.
  • The maximum debt authorization for the metro district is $5 million in case buildout takes longer.
  • Homebuyers would be made aware of the district’s mill levy on a form of disclosure signed at closing and recorded against each lot.
  • The estimated metro district debt for each lot will be $19,000 to $40,000.
  • The average value of a property is estimated to be $400,000.
  • The bonds will be "limited tax schedule obligation bonds," which in this case limits the maximum mill levy at 35 mills, placing the risk on the bond owner rather than the homeowner.
  • Other property taxes are estimated to be about 85 mills for a total of about 115 mills.
  • The district would not be able to use the power of eminent domain to condemn a private use for another private use.
  • The district would be able to use the power of eminent domain to condemn a private use for a public use, such as roads and public utilities.
  • The district will also be responsible for construction of sidewalks and also turn them over to the town.

There are three steps for establishing the metro district:

  1. Gain town approval for the service plan, which includes the intent and powers and the financial plan of the district.
  2. Petition the court to hold an election.
  3. Hold an election for the first set of board members, typically associates of the developer and their spouses who buy property, since there will be no residents. Subsequent board elections are held every two years.

Smith stated that she had concerns about a developer metropolitan district because the infrastructure often does not get developed and the tax rates on the properties create hardship on the lot owners and development in the long term.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the town has much more control over infrastructure installation and acceptance process than in the recent past. The town has no money to install the infrastructure.

The commission approved the service plan by a vote of 4-1, with Smith opposed.

The meeting adjourned at 8:34 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 12 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, April 2: BRRTA and PPRTA having trouble getting some sales taxes

By Jim Kendrick

On April 2, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board agreed to have BRRTA staff work with county staff members who also collect sales tax revenue for the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) to combine their efforts to more efficiently achieve full compliance in collecting and remitting full payments to each authority.

Monument Trustee Jeff Kaiser announced that he was replacing Monument Trustee Rafael Dominguez as a member of the BRRTA board. County Commissioner Amy Lathen’s absence from the meeting was excused.

Sales tax revenue shortfall highlighted

BRRTA’s accountant Carrie Bartow of Clifton Gunderson LLP reviewed BRRTA’s sales and use tax reconciliation report. The report was unanimously accepted.

BRRTA’s manager, Denise Denslow of RS Wells in Greenwood Village, also discussed the status of BRRTA’s sales tax collection. The expected sales tax revenue for this year had been projected to be $100,000 to $115,000 per month in bond documents, but it has been only about $60,000 to $70,000 per month after the Christmas peak.

Denslow recommended that the board should "start pressing a little bit harder" on getting all vendors in BRRTA within full compliance for collecting and remitting the authority’s temporary 20-year one-cent sales tax. She noted that there is "reason to believe that some of our vendors are quite a bit below what their national averages are" for similar sized stores and "there might be some errors in their calculations of sales tax."

Denslow noted that BRRTA does not have direct access to gross sales for BRRTA vendors when asked by Kaiser what keyed her concerns. County Commissioner Wayne Williams suggested comparing sales tax revenues to those remitted by the same vendors to Monument. Bartow noted that the state has not been receiving sales tax revenue from several businesses in Monument.

County Commissioner Dennis Hisey recommended that Denslow contact county staff members who are working on resolving a similar type of apparent sales tax revenue shortfall for the PPRTA and "tracking down some of the vendors that are having a little trouble with the concept." Hisey offered to have the county help Denslow achieve more cooperation from state revenue staff as well.

Denslow thanked Hisey for the offer to save money on enforcement and said she would contact the county officials working PPRTA’s revenue problem.

Note: PPRTA provided most of the funds for widening Baptist Road from the interchange east to Desiree Drive and plans to provide funds for widening Baptist on the west side of the interchange in the future.

Bartow also reported on BRRTA’s various cash and bond accounts. The debt service fund has about $3.1 million and the capital projects fund has about $2.9 million for a total cash position of about $6 million as of April 2. She noted that BRRTA’s ColoTrust accounts are currently yielding about 0.06 percent in interest, compared to over 5 percent a few years ago.

Bartow noted the trust department of American National Bank, which has been administering BRRTA’s bond funds, has been "bought out by UMB Bank." Her financial report was unanimously accepted.

The board unanimously approved three checks for a total of $5,603:

  • $2,559 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for accounting services
  • $1,165 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $1,879 to RS Wells LLC for BRRTA management services

Williams asked if fees would be going down now that construction on the I-25 Baptist Road interchange is drawing to a close. Denslow and BRRTA’s attorney, Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw & Harring, said the fees have already begun to decline.

Construction update

County Engineer Andre Brackin reported that only general maintenance is being performed on the widened portion of Baptist Road now. He noted that the timing of the lights at the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection has been improved. The county transportation staff is starting to do preliminary work on engineering reviews for widening Baptist Road on the west side of I-25. This is a normal part of the county’s capital improvement plan cycle and the Major Transportation Corridors Plan public meeting cycle. Williams asked Mayor Travis Easton to keep the county abreast of any future town annexations and traffic studies that determine the amount of money and in-kind work that developers must contribute to road building.

BRRTA interchange project manager Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering reported on the last significant construction work remaining for completion of the I-25 interchange. Now that the weather is warming, Mountain View Electric Association will be able to resume boring work for burying the remaining electric power lines that are still on adjacent above ground utility poles. All standard lighting required by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be installed on the interchange after the power lines are relocated.

Storm drains, earth work, and the driveway for the Valero truck stop can also be completed now. Torres suggested that the board consider changing the new Valero right-in-right-out driveway from asphalt to concrete to make it more durable. This will cost an additional $28,750 but save future maintenance money for the county and town. The concrete would take about a week to cure, while asphalt could be driven across a few hours after installation.

There is about $154,000 in unspent funds remaining for the interchange project. A motion to approve the upgrade to concrete was unanimously approved, with the condition that board members would ratify the approval by a reply e-mail after receiving a county staff report on the final amount of added cost.

Improved light timing sought

Kaiser asked Torres and Brackin for assistance in getting CDOT to further improve the timing of the left turn light during the morning rush hour for those going southbound on I-25. Kaiser said some frustrated drivers were tired of waiting at a red light when there is no other traffic at that intersection. Some are driving farther west on Baptist Road and making aggressive U-turns at the west end of the new roadway, by the Valero access, to come back east to make a right turn onto the southbound on-ramp. Kaiser said this is a hazardous condition that should be improved. Brackin said that new major intersections require several adjustments to signal timing, and he would coordinate with CDOT.

Dennis Minchow of the Schuck Corp., which owns the property on the southwest corner of the intersection, asked the board to be fair in providing access improvements to the interchange and Baptist Road for all adjacent properties. Williams said that the board would not provide THF Properties, which owns the closed hardware store on the northeast corner of the interchange, "with a windfall" of free roads and utilities as requested by THF, because that would be unfair to the taxpayers and the Schuck Corp., which has no access improvements from BRRTA.

Minchow joked, "We’d like a new road, too" but he also made it very clear that providing $2.4 million in road and utilities improvement to THF would be very unfair to BRRTA’s taxpayers.

The board went into executive session at 3:10 p.m. to consult with and receive advice from Hunsaker for developing negotiating positions for providing an access to THF.

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The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on May 7 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first Friday of the month but will become more infrequent now that nearly all planned construction has been completed. Call for information at 884-8017 before making plans to attend BRRTA meetings in the future.

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County transportation officials receive local public input

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Below: Attendees discuss road plans on a large county map. Photo by Harriet Halbig

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By Harriet Halbig

Members of the El Paso County Public Services Department (formerly the Department of Transportation) conducted a Connections Workshop at Lewis-Palmer Middle School on April 21.

The meeting, one of five addressing the unincorporated areas of the county, was held to gather public input on such issues as widening or adding thoroughfares; adding intersections, traffic signals or stop signs; adding grade-divided intersections; and maintenance issues.

During his brief presentation, Everett Bacon of LSA Associates explained that planning for the county extends 30 years into the future and is updated every five years. He showed a map of the county indicating population and job density and road improvements already included in the plan. These include widening Highway 83 from two to four lanes, widening Old Denver Highway, and widening I-25 from four to six lanes.

Bacon said that the population of the unincorporated area is expected to grow 3 percent per year, while the incorporated area is predicted to grow at a 1.5 percent rate. Employment numbers are predicted to grow a bit faster.

County planners consult a number of sources in preparing their predictions, such as the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, developers’ buildout plans, the El Paso County land use plan, chambers of commerce and other groups.

As in other sectors of government, funding of transportation is a problem at present. This is due to the rising cost of imported materials for roads and the fact that gas tax revenues are shrinking due to increased gas economy of vehicles and more vehicles operating on electricity or alternative fuels. The gas tax is calculated at 40 cents per gallon and has not increased with the price of gasoline.

Maintenance consumes 60 percent of county transportation costs, accounting for about $1,500 per dwelling per year, about 60 percent of the national average.

The over-65 population is also growing, requiring that thought be given to how they will get around the county when they no longer are driving. This could involve an increased number of sidewalks and handicapped-access intersections.

An exercise was conducted in which citizens could determine what improvements they would like to see within the $65 million budgeted. Among the suggestions were to extend Powers north to intersect with I-25 and to improve east-west travel through the northern part of the county. It was also suggested that maintenance involving noxious weed control and drainage should be improved.

The map of proposed improvements created at this meeting was the sixth during the week. Meetings previously had been held in Falcon and Widefield. Meetings were held in Calhan and Black Forest later in the week.

The next round of public meetings will be held in the fall, at which time the maps created in these meetings will be combined and resubmitted for public input. In the interim, groups such as developers, seniors, freight interests and others will be consulted.

Those wishing to express their opinions can go to www.2040MTCP.com to take a survey. MTCP is the major transportation corridors plan.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, April 28: Woodmoor residents to receive survey

By Harriet Halbig

Woodmoor residents will soon be surveyed on such subjects as the administration of the association, forestry issues, covenants, public safety and community events. The survey was announced at the April 28 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA).

All residents will receive a postcard offering them the option of responding to the survey online (via a link through the WIA website) or requesting a hard copy to be delivered to their home and picked up at a later date. Those residents who have e-mail addresses on file will have e-mail notification as well.

The board began discussion of a survey last spring, and it was recently revived as a priority of the new board. All residents are encouraged to respond promptly to make their opinions known.

Other subjects discussed at the meeting included re-entry into Firewise membership, recent architectural projects such as roofs, fences, paving and decks, and a recent increase in criminal mischief in the Woodmoor Park area. Kevin Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, reminded residents that bears will soon emerge from hibernation and discouraged residents from leaving pet food, bird feeders, grills, and trash outside.

It was also announced that the Forestry Committee will have grant money available to homeowners whose lots are considered high risk for wildfires. These homeowners will be notified directly of their eligibility to apply for funds.

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April Weather Wrap

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Below: Photo taken on Wuthering Heights in Gleneagle looking southwest. The sun is the dot mid-center obscured by the next storm coming. Taken April 23 in the late afternoon. Photo by David Futey.

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By Bill Kappel

Temperatures and precipitation for the month were right at normal, however, this was truly an example of the mean between the extremes as most of the month was warm and dry, interrupted by two cold and snowy periods. In fact, all the snow and most of the precipitation accumulated on only five days during the month. Wind was also a constant companion, with winds gusty over 30 mph on at least 10 days during the month.

The first week of April was windy and warm, melting most of the leftover snow from the end of March and finally giving plants a chance to grow. Wind gusts as high as 60 mph occurred on a couple of the afternoons, especially west of I-25. Temperatures were in the 50s and 60s, with the exception of the 2nd when a cool surge held highs in the low 40s. No precipitation fell during the week, as a couple powerful storms just missed us to the north.

The week of April 4th saw windy and mild weather with one quick shot of snow. Temperatures were mild on the 5th with highs hitting the low to mid-60s, aided by strong, west-southwesterly winds. These strong winds blew around some dust and when combined with a bone dry airmass led to some high fire dangers in the region. Wind gusts hit the 60 mph mark in some areas of the Palmer Divide for the second time in three days.

As is usual in these scenarios, these strong winds were ahead of a storm system moving through the Southwest. This storm brought a quick shot of snow and cold during the morning of the 7th, as 3 to 6 inches of snow quickly accumulated and made for a messy morning commute. Temperatures were chilly with highs only reaching the upper 30s. Mild westerly winds kicked in again over the remainder of the week and through the weekend, with temperatures jumping back into the 50s and 60s.

More mild, windy weather affected the area for most of the week of the 12th, with scattered afternoon and early evening thunderstorms developing—more like May and June than April. Temperatures started off in the mid- to upper 60s on the 12th through the 15th with clear to mostly clear to partly cloudy skies. An unsettled pattern did move in briefly to end the week with rain, fog, and below normal temperatures. The low clouds held highs well below normal, in the 40s on the 16th and 17th. Afternoon thunderstorms on Sunday the 18th dropped some brief hail in some areas which looked more like miniature snowballs than your typical summertime hail.

It was quite a week of weather around the region from the 18th to the 26th as a pattern change took hold and we returned to winter during the middle and end of the week. The week started off the same way most of the month had gone, quiet and mild, with highs hitting the mid to upper 60s on the 19th and 20th under mostly clear skies. Of course, just when you thought you might be able to relax and that maybe we missed the big snows that we normally see in April, winter returned with vengeance.

Initially, warmer air remained over the region ahead of a developing storm that was moving through the Southwest. Moisture increased across the region with rain and thunderstorms moving into the region on the 21st. Unsettled weather moved in on the 22nd when we received rain, hail, ice pellets, wet snow and some sun all in one afternoon. This was the leading edge of the major storm that was about to hammer the region. A cold front moved across the Palmer Divide from the north late that evening just as an area of low pressure was redeveloping over the eastern plains of Colorado. High amounts of moisture were also drawn into the region as this storm set up. Snow began to fall in earnest around 1 a.m. on the 23rd, with heavy snow accumulating 10-20 inches by that afternoon. Snow continued off and on through the early afternoon of the 24th.

Snowfalls totaled 15 to 25 inches across the area and, when combined with strong northerly winds, made for some messy conditions around the area. Further, because temperatures were near freezing during the event, the snow was heavy and wet, putting a high amount of stress on our trees, many of which succumbed to the weight of the snow. This snow brought large amounts of total moisture, with 2-3 inches of liquid equivalent soaking into the soil and providing a nice boost to our plants.

Also, it’s interesting how important variations in elevation become this time of the year, as most areas below 7,000 feet received much less snow. In fact, areas south of Woodmen road had mostly rain and almost no accumulating snow. This sharp gradient between snow and no snow is especially prevalent during the transition seasons around the region.

Warm and windy weather quickly returned following the departure of this storm, with highs rising through the 50s and into the low 70s on the 28th, melting most of the snow, but again accompanied by strong winds. Cooler, unsettled conditions then returned for the last two days of the month, dropping temperatures back well below normal.

A look ahead

May often experiences a wide variety of weather conditions in the region from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms, and even some snow. May 2007 was a snowy May, with over 20 inches accumulating for the month, then last year was close to average with just a few inches. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

April 2010 Weather Statistics

Average High 55.1° (-1.2°)
Average Low 28.6° (+1.5°)
Highest Temperature 73° on the 28th
Lowest Temperature 14° on the 8th
Monthly Precipitation 3.43" (-0.05", 1% below normal) 
Monthly Snowfall 31.1" (-1.6", 5% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 140.2" (+10.4", 10% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 18.29" (-0.15", 1% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30) 
Heating Degree Days 695 (+4)
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

The D-38 "mess": One senior citizen’s perspective

To balance this year’s budget and to handle next year’s anticipated reductions, District 38 has taken drastic actions—detrimental actions. Today, many now question D-38’s capacity to handle the tough challenges ahead.

In 2005, D-38 had $11.1 million in surplus funds. The School Board depleted that account—deliberately. As a result, the Colorado state auditor put D-38 on its "watch list" of 15 school districts with two or more financial warning indicators. While still "on probation," D-38 continued its pattern of deficit spending in 2008-09. Why? Because it was counting on the taxpayer to pass a mill levy override to solve its financial woes. And that explains why D-38 is 0-for-3 on mill levy overrides.

The latest revelations regarding D-38’s fiscal management have added fuel to the fire. In November 2009, D-38 identified a budget shortfall of about $3 million for next year. A private citizen discovered and confirmed that D-38 had overestimated the shortfall by approximately $900,000.

Also in November, the state indicated that D-38 would receive an additional $650,000 this year due to an unanticipated increase in student enrollment. Instead of banking the extra money to help solve next year’s anticipated budget shortfall, D-38 spent it all. Both Monument Academy and D-20 also experienced increased student enrollments this year. The difference? Their additional funds were placed in reserve.

Here’s what I expect from D-38 leadership: Manage the taxpayer’s money with prudence—no waste. When times are good, set money aside for the inevitable rainy day. When times grow lean, hunker down. Do the tough stuff first; no Band-Aid fixes. Avoid scare tactics. The sky will not fall; the earth will not open up. This, too, shall pass.

Bottom line: The price of public trust—priceless.

My complete perspective is found on www.lpd38.org

Ana Konduris

An ill-conceived plan with unintended consequences

I am writing to express my concerns over the Gleneagle Golf Club owner’s plan to build 47 townhomes on the club’s driving range, in close proximity to numerous homes in Eagle Villas Owners Association and the Gleneagle Civic Association.

As you may recall, the owner submitted a Planned Unit Development (PUD) rezone and a sketch plan amendment to the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) last July. The submittals requested a 25-fold density increase of a 10-acre parcel from the current RR-5 zoning to PUD and a "minor" sketch plan amendment changing the use of those 10 acres from recreational open space to multi-family housing. The submittals were narrowly and conditionally approved by the BOCC. A condition precedent to implementation was imposed on the owner to submit a development agreement for BOCC approval. The development agreement was to assure the Gleneagle community that if the owner were permitted to build the townhomes on the driving range, the remainder of the golf course would continue to be operated as a golf course.

The owner submitted his proposed development agreement to the county on April 15. In short, this document provides no substantive assurance to the Gleneagle Community that the golf course will remain a golf course. Rather, it presents a shopping list of all the possible land uses the owner is considering once he has decided to shut the golf course down. The proposed development agreement simply does not does not meet the spirit or intent of the BOCC’s direction to the owner.

The BOCC is tentatively scheduled to consider the proposed development agreement May 27 (check http://bcc.elpasoco.com/ the week of May 24 to confirm). Citizens from the community will be given an opportunity to comment on its merits and demerits as well as the entire land use project. A number of us will urge the commissioners to vote "no" on the development agreement, and we ask other concerned citizens to join us. A "no" vote would render the conditionally approved rezone and sketch plan amendment null and void, thereby precluding the construction of the 47 townhomes on the driving range. We invite each property owner in northern El Paso County to attend the meeting and join us in defeating this ill-conceived land use project.

This project, if approved, will not only have deleterious impacts on community character, neighboring properties’ value, quality of life, traffic and many other issues. It will also set a dangerous precedent, demonstrating that the county Master Plan can be changed at the stroke of a pen, and crucial provisions of the Land Development Code can be conveniently ignored. This, in turn, sends a strong message to current and prospective property owners in El Paso County: "Expect no protection from the county Master Plan and Land Development Code when owning or buying property in El Paso County."

Doug Jenkins

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Chamber presents awards to those who made a difference

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce gave out four awards at its annual Dinner and Silent Auction, held April 17, which brought together more than 150 members and invited guests.

Chuck Roberts won the Volunteer of the Year Award, which recognizes an individual who has made an outstanding personal contribution to the Tri-Lakes community. Roberts won for his many years of work on behalf of seniors in the Tri-Lakes area. The other nominees for this award were Laura Hannon, Larry Lawrence, and Ann Sulley.

The 2010 Business Person of the Year Award went to Heather Buchman, owner of Second Street Art Market and Wine Bar and Sparrow Marketing. The award recognizes and rewards a business owner, manager, or primary employee who has persevered and excelled in the last year. The other nominees were Margo Csintyan, owner of Margo’s On The Alley; Jesus Damian, owner of TLC Computer; and Jim White, managing partner of Phil Long Ford of Chapel Hills. 

The Non-Profit of the Year Award publicly recognizes a nonprofit Chamber member that has made an outstanding contribution to the Tri-Lakes community, making it a better place to live and work by achieving its goals and objectives. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts took this award, which was accepted by Executive Director Susan Adams and several of TLCA’s board members and staff. Other nominees were the Historic Monument Merchants Association, Monument Hill Sertoma, the Tri-Lakes Business Incubator, and the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

This year, a special award was created to be given only in years when a Chamber member makes an unrewarded, selfless act of public kindness, helping to make a difference to an individual or group. The Spirit Of Tri-Lakes Award was given to A.B. Tellez, owner of Rosie’s Diner. At Thanksgiving, with help from Rocky Mountain Car Wash & Lube Center, First National Bank of Monument, and his food supplier, Tellez provided dinner for all seniors who came in to eat.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Celebrating motherhood

By the staff at Covered Treasures

May is for honoring motherhood in its various, ever-changing, and challenging facets. One of the most important life roles is one for which there is no formal training and no foolproof manual to fall back on. Many books explore the wonder of motherhood, and a small sampling of fiction and nonfiction follows.

Stubborn Twig
By Lauren Kessler (Oregon State University Press) $18.95

A classic story of immigrants making their way in a new land, this is the saga of several generations of the Masuo Yasui family, beginning in 1903 when Masuo crossed the ocean in search of a better life. He broke the race barrier in the local business community, and his children broke it in school, scouts, and sports, excelling in most everything and becoming doctors, lawyers, teachers, and farmers. It was a tale of the American dream come true—until Dec. 7, 1941, changed their lives forever. The Yasuis were among the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were forced from their homes along the West Coast and sent to vast inland internment camps. Several male members of the family were imprisoned, leaving the women to hold the families together. In a society where they were raised to be subservient, these remarkable women carried the Yasui family through the war years and beyond.

Sweeping up Glass
By Carolyn Wall (Delta Trade Paperbacks) $14

A proud, lonely woman, Olivia Harker Cross owns a mountain—or thinks she does—in Pope County, Kentucky. When someone begins killing Olivia’s wolves, she is forced to face not only her mother, who is going mad, and her daughter, who fled to California, leaving her to raise her beloved grandson, but also her angry neighbors and the wolf hunters of Big Foley Mountain. A haunting mystery, this novel is also a love story and a powerful rumination on secrets, bigotry, and devotion.

Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln
By Janis Cooke Newman (Harcourt, Inc.) $15

Mary Todd Lincoln is one of history’s most misunderstood and enigmatic women. The first president’s wife to be called first lady, she was a political strategist, a supporter of emancipation, and a mother who survived the loss of three children and the assassination of her beloved husband. Yet she also ran her family into debt, held séances in the White House, and was committed to an insane asylum. By framing this novel in the first person, Newman allows us entry into the inner, intimate world of this brave and fascinating woman.

Home Safe
By Elizabeth Berg (Ballantine Books) $15

This beautifully written novel is a richly resonant story of a mother and daughter in emotional transit. Recently widowed Helen Ames, overcome with grief and unable to do the work that has always sustained her, begins to depend too much on her 27-year–old daughter. Then Helen is shocked to discover that her mild-mannered and seemingly loyal husband was apparently leading a double life. When a phone call from a stranger sets Helen on a surprising path of discovery, mother and daughter reassess what they thought they knew about each other, themselves, and what really makes a home and a family.

For One More Day
By Mitch Albom (Hyperion) $12.00

What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one? For One More Day explores that question and tells the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that lasts a lifetime and beyond. When 11-year-old Charley is abandoned by the father he worships, his mother bravely raises him on her own. Decades later, with his life in shambles, Charley is about to take his own life when he visits his old house and makes an astonishing discovery. Somewhere between this life and the next, Charley learns the things he never knew about his mother and her sacrifices. And he tries, with her tender guidance, to put the crumbled pieces of his life back together. This is a book for anyone in a family.

Natural mothers, and those who are often thrown into that role, do the best they can with what life hands them, and May is a good time to thank them all for loving and trying.

In the meantime, and until next month, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: Springtime gardening tips

By Woody Woodworth

The snow and rain we have experienced recently has poised the Tri-Lakes region for a great kick-start to our high-altitude growing season. If you have fertilized or reseeded your lawn, you’ve already finished your springtime chores for your turf areas. If not, use products with slow-release nitrogen so you don’t burn your grass.

There are two basic types of lawn fertilizers: synthetic and natural. Usually the more natural products are safer for the environment and less invasive to our streams and wetlands. Remember to fertilize first, then wait a couple of weeks and over-seed your lawn as needed.

Now is the time to look at the flower gardens and get them prepared, too. I leave most of my perennials alone in the late fall and rarely cut back the dead stalks. I wait until spring because I like the dimension they provide when an early morning frost clings to the various shapes during the winter. But now, off with their heads! We cut back most everything in late April to early May, then fertilize with a dry, granular food and touch up the mulch. I use the Age Old Organic Grow this time of year for fertilizer and then surround the plant with a good helping of Soil Pep mulch.

Cut the dead or damaged canes out of your roses, but do not trim anything that flowers in early spring such as lilacs, purple leaf plums, flowering almond or brooms. Wait until after their bloom to prune. Do not trim back woody vines such as grapes or Virginia creeper or silver lace. New growth will appear from last years’ growth. Cut all ornamental grasses to about five or six inches or just a few inches above the crown to make them more attractive.

Weeding out weeds

The best time to control weeds is when they are young and just popping out. Dandelions can be controlled by using a product with trimec or trimine in it, but I prefer to pull them in the garden. If they start to appear in your turf areas, use a weed and feed product. Wet the lawn and then apply the fertilizer. The active weed killer needs to stick to the weeds for it to be effective. It’s best to not have any moisture for a day after you weed and feed your lawn. You can also use a spot treatment on tough weeds.

Just pick up a ready-to-use spray product at your local garden center, but be sure you get one that doesn’t kill grass. Remember the old adage: One year of seeds equals seven years of weeds.

If you are planning to grow a vegetable garden, you should be preparing the soil now. Use organic materials when possible. I use bagged soils because many are aged, screened and weed free. There is nothing like growing a better crop of weeds then veggies. Sow lettuce, radish, carrots, and beets in mid-May in the garden. Plant onion and potato sets at the same time.

Use containers for tender plants, so you can move them to a warmer place on the frosty nights in May. Try planting leaf lettuce and arugula in window boxes and replant a couple times each year. Set the window boxes on the deck just outside the kitchen door and trim lettuce for fresh salads most of the summer and into fall. Remember, our official frost-free date is June 6, but we have an eighty percent chance of no frost by the third week of May in the Monument area.

Hummingbirds coming

In late April and early May, the hummingbirds return from their tropical winter retreats in Central and South America, and this is the best time to attract them to your backyard. Like all wild birds, hummers have three basic requirements to make a place their home: access to food, water and a good nesting spot. Offering nectar-rich flowers and feeders is a good start, but you also need suitable habitat that provides sheltered perches and good nesting places, encouraging females to raise their young. Avoid using red dye in hummingbird water. They are attracted to the red color on the feeder and not what’s in the feeder.

Research shows that these tiny birds have a remarkable memory and frequently return to the same hospitable sites on the same day of each year. If you feed consistently, you may have return visitors, especially during spring and fall migrations. If you can get them to nest nearby, too, you’ll have fledglings who also may remember your address in years to come.

Woody Woodworth is a member of the Garden Centers of Colorado, is actively involved in the green industry, and owns the High Country Home and Garden center in downtown Monument.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: White-faced ibis, an unusual migrant

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Below: Painting by Elizabeth Hacker of white-faced Ibis. 

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By Elizabeth Hacker

As I’m sitting in my studio writing this month’s bird column, I’m watching a pair of western bluebirds courting and anticipating the re-emergence of new life on the Palmer Divide. While we can rest assured that the western and mountain bluebirds will migrate here each spring, it is easy to take for granted the tremendous accomplishment undertaken during each annual migration ritual. Like magic, out of nowhere, birds begin to appear. But their long, often hazardous journey is truly an epic journey they embark on to ensure their species’ survival.

Unlike the bluebirds that migrate to nest on the Divide, some birds migrate through, stopping only to rest before continuing on their migration to time-honored nesting sites, usually farther north. This is the time of year when bird enthusiasts like myself begin to explore habitats in search of the many birds that migrate along the Front Range Flyway. Today I spotted a snowy egret while exploring the marshes around Monument Lake.

I was actually looking for the white-faced ibis, an adaptable and highly gregarious bird that wades around in marshes and wetlands across much of the West. Some years I see these long-legged birds, while in other years I’m not as fortunate.

The ibis is a member of the Threskiornithidae family of birds that includes about 30 species of long-legged, long-necked wading birds with long bills. The white-faced ibis is not as well known as its cousin the spoonbill, which lives on the coasts. I don’t have to travel to coastal regions to see the ibis, because it lives and migrates within the interior western regions of North America.

It is an adaptable semi-nomadic bird that doesn’t necessarily nest in the same place each year. It is quick to find new habitat created by excessive rainfall and floods and avoids drought-stricken regions. During spring migration I often see it here, but not every year.

A wading bird

The ibis is a medium-size wading bird, about 2 feet tall, with long red legs and a long, downward curving bill. I first spotted it at dusk flying high overhead, apparently looking for a suitable place to land. One might think at that distance it would be hard to distinguish it from a heron or egret, and indeed, its legs trail behind it like the heron. However, unlike the heron, which flies solo with a curved neck, the ibis flies in a group formation with a straight neck and has distinctly different in-flight posture.

On the evening I observed a flock of ibis flying overhead, I thought they would probably land for the night. Hoping to get a closer look, I rose early the next morning and headed for the marshes around Monument Lake. The ibis was nowhere to be found. I will continue to look for them until the end of May.

The white-faced ibis is a handsome bird with bronze-brown overall coloring, greenish iridescent wing feathers that glisten in the sun, and red eyes. It has a thin line of white feathers around a bare face. The sexes look alike.

The ibis is socially monogamous and forms a pair bond that lasts at least one season, possibly more. It breeds in colonies and often mingles with other nesting species, including herons and egrets. Usually the male arrives on the breeding grounds, establishes a small territory, and defends his nest site from other males by engaging in threat displays. I have never observed this behavior here, but each spring I’m hopeful that I might happen upon it.

The females arrive a little later and the courtship begins. The birds use various displays to attract a mate, such as preening, rubbing heads, and entwining their long necks. During courtship, the bare area of the faces of both sexes, which is normally flesh colored and nondescript, becomes bright red.

Making a home

Nest building is a cooperative effort. The male gathers the materials, and the female constructs the nest. Nests are sizable structures constructed of sticks, reeds, and marsh plants and are located near water in a tree or low brush. Occasionally the ibis will reuse an old nest or tidy up a nest once occupied by a heron.

The female lays up to seven (usually two to four) pale blue eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for 22 days. A change in incubation duty occurs at least once a day and is often marked by displays involving an exchange of nest material, which may be their way of keeping the nest clean and free of insects.

The chicks rely on both parents to feed them for about a month, at which time they will have grown to the size of the adult and join the colony. Ibis do not mate until they are at least two years of age. The biggest threat to this species is habitat loss, because it relies on wetlands. The times I’ve observed it, it moves slowly through the long vegetation and, if I make a sudden move, it quickly disappears into the marsh.

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

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Tri-Lakes Cares to benefit from art sale

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Below: Tri-Lakes Cares Executive Director Haley Chapin, left, and local artist John DeFrancesco are shown with three of more than 40 paintings DeFrancesco will be donating for the May 15 Community Open House and Art Exhibit and Sale. All proceeds from the sale will go directly to the TLC and be used to support its programs and services. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

On Saturday May 15, a Community Open House and Art Exhibit and Sale will be held at Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Local artist John DeFrancesco is donating more than 40 of his oil paintings for the exhibit and sale with all of the proceeds directly benefiting Tri-Lakes Cares and its programs that assist the needy in the Tri-Lakes area. The TLC is located at 235 Jefferson St. in Monument. The event is free and open to the public.

TLC Executive Director Haley Chapin said, "‘Spring and summer are the slowest donations times of the year, but the need still exists."‘ Chapin said the event will bring awareness to the local community that need is not just seasonal but year round.

The TLC presently has items left over from the holiday food drives, but those supplies are steadily decreasing because of the seemingly ever-increasing need in the Tri-Lakes area. The TLC assisted an additional 500 individuals, with nearly 1,600 receiving food or other services in 2009. Of those assisted by the TLC in 2009, 44 percent reported that they go hungry several days a week, and approximately 66 percent of those served have a monthly income of $1,200 or less.

Because of the more than 12,000 volunteer hours, in-kind donations and low staff costs, the TLC is able to turn each $1 donated into $4 to $5 worth of care. So, the proceeds received from each sale of a DeFrancesco painting at the event will be multiplied many times over to the benefit of those in need in our community. Information on DeFrancesco is at www.johndefrancesco.com. Information on Tri-Lakes Cares and its services is at www.tri-lakescares.org/

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Art Matters: Art Hop springing back into town for 2010

By Janet Sellers

A favorite summer event here in Monument is the monthly Art Hop. It is held in Historic Monument by the Historic Monument Merchants Association (HMMA) every year. Let me take this opportunity to say a big thank you to the HMMA for this happy event. Each third Thursday of the month, the Art Hop group hosts a sort of aesthetic open house free to the public.

Local merchants join or rejoin the group each year and host a venue for artists. Some of the venues are art galleries and some are local businesses that support the arts and walk the walk by offering their walls and spaces to exhibit the art. It is a monthly art event where some places offer new exhibits of art and new artists’ works each month and other venues have one exhibit for a couple of months or longer.

The character of the Art Hop is friendly, open, and busy. Most of the venues not only exhibit the artwork, but also are available to introduce their shops to you. All ages are welcome. While small children will likely have the most fun walking around town with their parents and viewing the outdoor art and gardens, well-behaved, gentle children will also be able to take in the creative event. They just might see something and amaze you with their insights.

It is worth planning for the evening ahead so it’s on your schedule, and then you can include as much as you would like. Personally, I go before, during, and days after the Art Hop to get the maximum benefit. The artists work very hard all year to create their pieces and share them with you at the Art Hop, as do the merchants. So I recommend also making a plan to buy some of the art on your outing, or at least taking notes so you can go back at your leisure to consider a purchase.

What makes for a satisfying time at the Monument Art Hop? Taking in the event as a social scene is one way, and many visitors enjoy just that. Keep an eye out for the place and the art that you like most, and, if the evening is a busy one with lots of people, you may have to think fast and make your purchase right away. There are all levels of art and prices, so that is less of an issue than with art events elsewhere. You can find art in your price range, and so can your friends and guests. Enjoy a cup of punch or a glass of wine after your purchase—just about every venue offers refreshments.

The Art Hop is not limited to large and expensive works, but those are always present and appreciated. Many artists also make small works to exhibit so that there is something for every visitor. On top of that, many venues also offer artists’ prints and note cards to buy. Men and women wear their art purchases around town in the forms of jewelry, wearable art, walking sticks, and more.

In the warmer months, artists can be seen demonstrating their craft, and sometimes we can watch while they are working on or finishing an art piece. This is a very rich experience indeed, as many people, especially children, have never seen an artist at work. As a child, I went with my family to the art fairs of our town and took in the sights and sounds and smells of happy laughter, the artists’ dabbing their works with oil paints, and ceramicists’ clay being formed from a blob into a bowl or vase before my eyes. I’ve always remembered those times fondly.

Each year, more and more shops open their doors and their spaces for artists and Art Hop guests. I’ll try to keep you posted each month with news and new venues so you don’t miss a thing. The Art Hop has its own Web site with information ( www.monumentarthop.org ), and there are brochures available throughout the old town shops that you can pick up and keep.

Bella Art and Frame has moved to 183 Washington St., so May will be a double celebration for owner Maggie Williamson with her grand reopening and the first Art Hop of the season. Drop by (she’s diagonally across from the Covered Treasures Bookstore) and see the new digs. Tell Maggie that Janet from OCN sent you.

A venue new to the Art Hop gala events is Luna Salon and Spa at 163 Washington (two doors down from High Country Store). Luna Salon opened last fall, so it just joined the Art Hop. (Psst: I get to include my latest artworks in sculptures and paintings for its May Art Hop—so exciting). 

The 2010 Monument Art Hop starts up this month on May 20 and goes from 5 to 8 p.m. in Historic Monument, which is located between Beacon Lite Road and Second Street and flows northwest as far as Front and Third Streets.

I hope you will enjoy the Monument Art Hop each month this summer for the beautiful and enjoyable event it is and take home prized possessions to enjoy every day at your home or office. While the afternoons in May are typically warm, sunny and perfect, the evenings may get a bit cooler, so be sure to bring a sweater or a light jacket for your Art Hop evening out. See you there!

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

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Snapshots of Our Community

Two comedies bring laughs to TLCA

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Below: "The Man" (David Berens, at center) acts on behalf of, from left, Marjorie (Kari McPherson) and Ed (Gino Martinelli) as Marjorie’s Mama (Tamara Allgood) and her ex-boyfriend Clyde (Mo Frederick) try to persuade Marjorie to leave her new fiancé, Ed. Photo by David Futey

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By David Futey

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) teamed with Spotlight Community Theatre (SCT) for "An Evening at the Theatre" April 1-3, featuring three nights of two humorous plays based on mistaken identity.

The opening play was "Man of the House." Set in the 1940s, confusion arises when the person everyone assumes is the homeowner and a family relative is actually a debonair safecracker who intends on robbing the house. However, from a visit by the real homeowner’s old high school girlfriend to the arrival of his long-lost relatives, every time the doorbell rings a new setback arises for "The Man," forestalling his original endeavor of making off with the loot.

The second play, "Under Jekyll’s Hide," is an adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Set in Dr. Jekyll’s laboratory, which conveniently doubles as Mr. Hyde’s apartment, the play spoofs the original storyline through a high-energy farce.

The SCT is a Monument-based theater group, with the majority of actors from the Tri-Lakes area. Look for another performance by the SCT in the fall.

Information on the Spotlight Community Theatre is available at www.spotlightcommunityproductions.com/index.html. Information on the TLCA and upcoming events is at www.trilakesarts.org

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Easter egg hunters hit mother lode, April 3

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Below: Hudson Gullion, 3, enjoys talking to the Easter Bunny (Griff Larson of Lewis-Palmer Middle School). Photo by Jim Kendrick. Larger photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

On April 3, Palmer Lake held its annual Easter Egg Hunt. In total, 1,098 plastic eggs were hidden by the Easter Bunny and his helpers. The eggs, filled with various confections, were scattered around the outside of the Town Hall and in all corners of the village green. At 10 a.m, children ages 4 and younger were given a chance to locate a few eggs before the older children raced to find the treats. It seemed to take only minutes before the last eggs were found.

Palmer Lake Town Clerk Della Gray organized the event with the help of Carrie Locke, a Lewis-Palmer Middle School teacher and sponsor of the National Junior Honor Society (NJHS), along with students from the NJHS. Locke said the students "love to help the community" and "it is always great to help Palmer Lake" with activities such as the Easter Egg Hunt.

Locke said the NJHS is available to assist with other civic events in the Tri-Lakes area. Contact Gray at the Palmer Lake town offices, 719-481-2953, if you are interested in assistance from the NJHS.

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Geothermal lecture heats up museum, April 8

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Below: On April 8, Charles Visser, laboratory program manager with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), presented a lecture on the history and present status of geothermal energy development in the United States at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI). Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

On April 8, Charles Visser, laboratory program manager with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), presented a lecture on the history and present status of geothermal energy development in the United States at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI). The lecture was part of the museum’s Heritage Lecture Series.

Visser described how geothermal energy is derived from the natural production of steam and by man-made processes through the injection of water. Geothermal energy essentially makes use of the Earth’s heat, created by radioactive decay, which emanates from the core and flows through the mantle to the Earth’s crust. When this heat comes in contact with sub-surface water, it produces steam that can be used to generate electricity.

An example of using naturally occurring steam for electricity production is The Geysers geothermal field north of San Francisco. In a man-made process, water might be pumped two or more miles below ground to hot rocks through injection wells. The water fractures those rocks, creating pathways for the produced steam to return to the surface through a recovery well.

Volcanic activity, geysers, and hot springs are surface indicators of geothermal activity but do not identify all the possible and available locations of potential geothermal production. Visser also described geothermal’s residential application for heating and cooling homes through the use of a heat pump and tapping into underground temperatures that remain a constant 50-55 degrees F.

Information on the National Renewable Energy Lab is at www.nrel.gov/. Information on the WMMI, along with a link to a podcast interview with Visser, is at www.wmmi.org

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Legacy Sertoma Club holds first meeting, April 8

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Below: The new Legacy Sertoma club held it’s inaugural meeting at The Inn at Palmer Divide, April 8 with 28 in attendance. With Monument Hill Sertoma soon to change to a Kiwanis organization, the new club was formed with the goal of carrying on the legacy of service in the Tri-Lakes area that Monument Hill Sertoma has provided for the past 36 years. The Sertoma (SERvice TO MAnkind) is one of the country’s premier service organizations and concentrates on Hearing Health. While that will be a prime area of support for Legacy Sertoma, the club will also be supporting youth, senior citizens, the arts, and other areas of need within the community. The club holds dinner meetings bi-monthly on the first and third Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. at The Inn at Palmer Divide. All are welcome. For more information, contact Eddie Kinney, 481-2750. Photo and information provided by the Legacy Sertoma Club.

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Poetry, song, and art combine at TLCA, April 9

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Below: With members of the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble looking on, Autumn Noelle Hall reads her poem "Summer Psalm" to the capacity crowd at the "Voice, Verse and Vision" performance on April 9. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

On the evenings of April 9 and 10, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) collaborated with the Colorado Vocal Arts Ensemble (CVAE) and the Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Project to present "Voice, Verse, and Vision," a multi-art form experience.

The performances were the culmination of a year-long effort that began with a call for poems. A total of 12 poems were selected from the 130 received submissions. Once the poems were selected, 30 visual artists created 2-D and 3-D art based on the particular poems they read. In all, 75 works of art were created and displayed at the TLCA.

Voice was the final piece of this triptych. Deborah Jenkins Teske, director of choirs at Colorado College and founder and director of the CVAE, worked with five composers to develop arrangements for some of the poetic selections and directed the CVAE through the choral performance of those selections.

Geoff Ames, board member and treasurer for the CVAE, said the "Voice, Verse, and Vision" program is "meant to cross boundaries of different art forms," and it provides an "inspiration for people to see and hear things in a different way."

Information on the CVAE and a list of its upcoming performances is at http://www.cvae.org/. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at http://www.trilakesarts.org/ 

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Screenings given at Health Fair, April 10

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Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Tom Van Wormer of Monument Hill Sertoma, left, and John Rinedollar of Rocky Mountain Sertoma man the hearing test van.

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Below: From left, Jackie Andreson and Lauren and Jenna Baker built birdhouses provided by Home Depot.

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Below: Event organizer Lisa Gray, left, chats with Megan Fenton of Stellar Styles while Matthew Gray receives a chair massage during the event.

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By Harriet Halbig

The first Tri-Lakes YMCA Health Fair was held on April 10 from noon until 3 p.m.

Among those exhibiting at the fair were the Pikes Peak Library District, Black Forest Honey, several dental and orthodontic practices, skin care specialists, banks, chiropractors, insurance agencies, and investment advisors.

Also available were blood pressure and vision screening and bone marrow testing. Outdoors, the Monument Hill and Rocky Mountain Sertoma clubs operated a van for hearing testing. The group offers low-cost hearing aids and services through Tri-Lakes Cares.

Home Depot offered children the opportunity to build herb gardens and birdhouses.

The organizer of the event was Lisa Gray, the YMCA’s group fitness and senior event coordinator. She said that the Y hopes to make this an annual event.

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Hat contest highlights Tea Social, April 20

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 Photos by Bernard Minetti.

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Below: The food brought to the tea events is made by experienced hands. This is the group that volunteered to prepare and bring the desserts and snacks for the April gathering.

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Below: Eldest honors went to Theresa Parnisi, who is "over 90." She hails from New York City and now lives in Woodmoor.

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Below: Tea attendance is growing. The food and the hat contest were the hallmarks of this event. All ladies 55 and older are invited. There is no charge. The next meeting will be held on May 18 from 1 to 3 p.m. The theme will be "Cinco de Mayo." The Senior Center is located at Lewis-Palmer High School at the intersection of Higby and Jackson Creek Parkway.

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Below: Group organizers are joined by Andy Barton, executive director of the YMCA and board member of Health Advocacy Partners. The Senior Tea organizers with Barton are, from left, Irene Walters, Irene Clark, and Mary Quattlebaum.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

The Senior Ladies’ Tea Social on April 20 drew 32 attendees, a record participation for the group. The theme for the tea was an Unusual Hat Contest. The "prettiest" hat award went to Irene Clark, the "funniest" went to Mary Quattlebaum, and the "most original" award went to Kay Reuteller.

In the group, compliments for being the eldest senior went to Theresa Parnisi. She asked that her age not be mentioned, but she allowed that she was "over 90."

Upcoming senior events

  • The next month’s Tea Social will be held on May 18. The theme will be to recognize the Cinco de Mayo celebration. The tea will be held at the Senior Center at Lewis-Palmer High School from 1 to 3 p.m. All senior ladies 55 and over are invited, and there is no charge.
  • On May 19, those interested can participate in the Senior Bingo from 12:30 to 3 p.m. This event is held in the Craft Room at the Center.
  • On the second and fourth Thursdays (May 13 and 27) from 1 to 4 p.m., Group Bridge is held in the Game Room at the Senior Center.

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Thrift shop pays back Tri-Lakes Cares, April 22

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By Frank Maiolo

Sandy Bauers (on the right), manager of the Hangers Thrift Shop in Monument, presented a check for $7,500 to Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) Executive Director Haley Chapin (on the left) and the TLC Board of Directors on April 22 as repayment of money Hangers borrowed for start-up costs.

At the presentation in the TLC board room, Bauers thanked the TLC board for its confidence, foresight and funding of this store. Board member Judy Lyle said Hangers achieved this goal in record time and thanked the volunteers and the community for their support.

Since its opening in June 2009, the thrift store has been selling low-cost "gently used women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, shoes, jewelry, purses, as well as household items including linens, dishes, utensils, pictures, rugs, kitchen electronics, lamps, books, compact discs, and … knick-knacks."

Profits from Hangers will be used to promote the mission of TLC in the areas of emergency assistance, self-sufficiency programs, and other social services. Hangers at 341 Front St. operates with the assistance of more than 30 volunteers. It is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.

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Sweet Sunny South lays down bluegrass at TLCA, April 24

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Right: Sweet Sunny South band members, from left, Cory Obert, Bill Powers, Shelley Gray, and Rob Miller brought their unique, old-time brand of bluegrass to the TLCA stage on April 24. Photo by David Futey.

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By David Futey

A bit of a Grand Ole Opry feel enveloped the audience at the April 24 performance of Sweet Sunny South at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. With its name on a vertical placard, the use of only two microphones, and with a motto of "Bluegrass.Old-time.Anytime," this Paonia band demonstrated what band member Bill Powers stated: Bluegrass is "easy to start with" musically because of its basic three-chord formula but "becomes technical due to speed and intricacy."

Those statements on bluegrass summarize the original compositions played by the band in its two-set performance, which included selections from its latest CD, "Carried Off by a Twister," along with songs from its previous three releases. Throughout the sets you could feel the traditional bluegrass rhythms one moment, then a high energy, instrumental sound in the next.

Information on Sweet Sunny South and its upcoming tour dates is at http://www.sweetsunnysouth.com/. Information on the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and upcoming events is at www.trilakesarts.org

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Vendors brave snowstorm to participate in Antiques Show

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Below: Lily Golondzinier, left, and Joan Bookman sold embroidered aprons at the show.

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Below: Co-organizers Carolyn Hodges, left, and Debbie Heredia pose with a neon sculpture from Boulder dealer Jerome Naugles. Photos by Harriet Halbig

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By Harriet Halbig

The 34th annual Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Antiques Show went on as scheduled April 24-25 despite a late season snow storm. The organizers, Second Vice Presidents for Charitable Events Carolyn Hodges and Debbie Heredia, reported that only one vendor was unable to make it to Monument for the weekend. In the history of the show, only the 2009 show was postponed due to weather.

Fundraising sources from the show included ticket sales, sales of embroidered aprons, baked goods, and cafeteria offerings such as steak soup and cinnamon rolls.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is an organization of women living within the boundaries of Lewis-Palmer School District 38. They hold two major fundraising events annually, the Antiques Show in the spring and the Wine and Roses wine tasting in the fall. Proceeds from these events are distributed through a grant process to schools, police and fire departments, and other nonprofit organizations in the area. To date, over $550,000 has been granted through this program. The application deadline for this year was in mid-March, and grants will be announced in May.

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April and May library events

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 Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: .From left, Varinia, Ella, and Nathanial Bearsheart demonstrate a grand entry dance during the American Girl program. In the background, Brad Bearsheart accompanies the dance on the drum. 

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Below: Bead Corner employee Rose Burnham helps students with their projects.

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By Harriet Halbig

During April, the library settled into the expanded use of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags for its collection. The remainder of the branches should complete the process by the end of May. In the meantime, thanks for your patience!

Patrons are encouraged to try the new self-check machines to check out materials. The machines are now located at the circulation desk, so assistance is nearby.

During April, the library celebrated National Library week with a reception in the lobby area and the chance to chat with the district’s executive director, Paula Miller.

The month of May will be one of transition from the school year into the summer.

On Monday, May 3 and 17 at 10:30 a.m., join the Life Circles group, a supportive group that provides discipline, inspiration, and structure during the process of writing your memories or your family’s history.

Saturday, May 8, bring the family for a fun nature event at 1:30 p.m. Kathy Beers from the Kritter Karavan will bring her hedgehogs and lesser tenrecs to introduce you to these little animals. You will learn about their lives, their habitats, and their endearing behaviors, and you will be able to gently handle the hedgehogs. You can also make a hedgehog craft to take home to remind you of the experience.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Saturday, May 15, from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. This refresher course is especially designed for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited, and registration is required.

On Wednesday, May 19, at 4 p.m., patrons age 8 and older (younger ones must be accompanied by an adult) are invited to design a Dr. Seuss puppet. It’s strange! It’s amazing! Join Denise Gard and her sock puppet, Mitzy, and let your talent shine. Please pre-register by calling 488-2370, as space is limited.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, May 21, at 10 a.m. to discuss "The Accidental Tourist" by Anne Tyler. New members are welcome, and no registration is required.

On the walls of the branch in May will be a series of acrylic works by Anthony Matthews, featuring various Colorado scenes using Impressionist techniques.

In the display case will be The Greatest Novel Ever Written, a display of over 50 editions in many languages of "Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, first published in 1605. The collection has old, new, illustrated, and multi-volume sets of the novel. All the books are from the personal collection of Chuck Robinove.

During May, children’s specialist Julie Simmons and teen liaison Diane Sawatzki will be visiting area schools to promote the 2010 summer reading program, which will kick off on June 1. The theme for the children’s program is Make a Splash. The teen program is Destination…Unknown. There will be many special programs during June and July at both branches and prizes for all!

We hope to see you there!

Palmer Lake events

The Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss "Olive Kitteridge" by Elizabeth Strout on Friday, May 7, at 9 a.m. New members are welcome and no registration is required at this monthly book club. The book for June, which will be discussed on June 4, is "The Eleventh Man" by Ivan Doig.

The Palmer Lake Knitting Group meets each Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon. Cheri Monsen, expert knitter, will be on hand to answer questions. Bring your knitting project and enjoy the company of other knitters. No registration is required. Call 481-2587 for further information.

Let your child practice reading and build fluency by reading to a Paws to Read dog. No registration is required. The times for the program are Saturday, May 1, from 11 a.m. to noon, Thursday, May 20, from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m., and Saturday, May 22, from 11 a.m. until noon.

The Family Fun program for May will be Tarantulas and Other Creepy Crawlies. Tarantula wrangler Rowen Monks will bring her collection of tarantulas, giant cockroaches, millipedes, spiders, and a scorpion. Learn fascinating facts about these creatures and how they survive. The program will be on Saturday, May 15, at 10:30 a.m. No registration required.

See you at the library!

Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District locations will be closed May 31 for Memorial Day.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting, April 15: Evolution of the Denver & New Orleans Railroad

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Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Howard Noble, vice president and chief operating officer of the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation, left, and Gregory Roberts, secretary and lead restoration specialist for the group. 

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Below: Jody Clark briefs the Palmer Lake Historical Society April meeting attendees on the achievements and latest developments of the 2010 Chautauqua Planning Committee. She noted that many exhibits and other items of interest are scheduled to be part of this year’s Chautauqua exposition.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

At the April 15 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, Gregory Roberts, lead restoration and overhaul specialist for the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation, presented an overview of the evolving railroads of the mid-1800s. Roberts explained that the Denver & New Orleans rail plan opened the route to Palmer Lake. Territorial Gov. John Evans was the planner and overseer of the construction of this line, which was to be built east of an existing narrow gauge line.

Roberts said the narrow gauge lines were inconvenient, since it was necessary to transfer freight from narrow gauge cars to standard gauge rail cars on the trip to points south. The transfer expenses were not practical. Roberts described the effort of Evans to replace the narrow gauge with a standard gauge, which was the design for his Denver & New Orleans line. This rail line was the first standard gauge to serve Palmer Lake, and the tracks are in use today. The Denver & New Orleans Railroad did not exist under that name for long. Roberts said there have been almost a dozen name changes from that time to the present. The Burlington Northern now owns and operates its trains on the original track bed.

Howard Noble, vice president and chief operating officer of the Pikes Peak Historical Street Railway Foundation, talked briefly about the hand brakes on the rail cars of those days. The hand brake wheel was located at the car roof level, and the brakemen accessed it by walking the roof planks on the top of each car. Noble explained that an average of two brakemen a year were killed falling from cars. Subsequently, the federal government enacted a statute that required that hand brake wheels be located at the car platform level.

Noble was asked to update the Historical Society on the status of the proposed trolley line in Colorado Springs. The proposed line would connect downtown Colorado Springs with the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, a distance of seven miles. He explained that at present, the feasibility study is being formulated and commented on by the public and by other interested parties. He further explained that in the study, answers were still needed for route alignment, funding options, streetcar designs, and environmental impact. The Colorado Springs Streetcar Feasibility study is a citizen-driven initiative funded by a federal transit planning grant and by donations from local organizations.

Upcoming events

  • An illustrated history of the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railway will be presented May 20 by Claude Wiatrowski, based on his book, All Aboard for America’s Mountain. Wiatrowski is also the author of Railroads Across North America and An Illustrated History and Historic Colorado: Day Trips & Weekend Getaways to Historic Towns, Cities, Sites & Wonders. 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. Remember, the motto of the Palmer Lake Historical Society is, "History should be more than a memory."
  • The next 2010 Chautauqua planning meetings will be held on May 3 and 17 and June 1. They will be held in the Palmer Lake Town Hall at 6:30 p.m.
  • On Sunday, May 16, from 2 to 6 p.m., you can enjoy two games of bowling and a free shoe rental for $5. Pinz Bowling Center will donate $2.50 of each purchase, as well as $2 for each large pizza sold, to the Historical Society. Pinz is located at 855 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, contact Pinz at 719-487-7469.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society Chautauqua April meetings: Chuck Pyle accepts Chautauqua invitation

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Below: Jim Sawatzki, local historian, author, and speaker, second from right, explains the mechanics of his presentations for the 2010 Chautauqua to the planning committee. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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By Bernard L. Minetti

Al Walter, Chautauqua planning committee member, announced April 19 that musician Chuck Pyle had been booked for the Saturday evening of the 2010 Chautauqua. Walter described Pyle as a Coloradan and a western singer and musician who is well known in the Tri-Lakes area and always commands a large audience. There will be no charge for the performance.

Walter also advised the committee that many events have been confirmed and the program is growing. Some of the confirmed events include a pancake breakfast, a guided tour through the Glen and the Chautauqua sites, a portrayal of Lucretia Vaile, a potato bake, an ice cream social, a vintage baseball game, a dinner theater and melodrama, and a 2nd Colorado Infantry Encampment at Lakeside. A pig roast and barbecue also will be held at Lakeside.

Walter reminded the committee that the Palmer Lake’s original Chautauqua took place in Glen Park, centered on an auditorium built on what is now known as Chautauqua Avenue. Chautauqua activities included lectures, debates, concerts, campfire gatherings, and burro excursions up to the reservoirs. Due to changing times, the Chautauqua eventually faded away by 1910. However, in August 2008, the Palmer Lake Historical Society sponsored a one-day event to revive the Chautauqua Assembly, followed in August 2009 by a three-day 2009 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua.

The committee reflected on the need for the 2010 Chautauqua to build on the success of last year’s event, which drew over 1,000 people to Palmer Lake to watch and participate in the activities over the three-day period. History-related events this year will include more interactive activities for the entire family. In addition to bringing back some of last year’s events, the committee is planning a series of demonstrations on "‘how to"‘ make items, such as candles and pickles, and "‘how to"‘ do things, such as milk a cow/goat, make quilts and make beadwork.

The 2010 Chautauqua weekend will take place on Aug. 6, 7 and 8, beginning Friday, Aug. 6, at 6 p.m. and ending Sunday, Aug. 8, at 3 p.m. Events and activities will take place throughout the town of Palmer Lake, beginning Friday night at historic Pinecrest and ending Sunday afternoon beside the lake at Palmer Lake. Most events will be free. Brochures will be available in the near future with a schedule of all the events.

Volunteers are still needed for the vaudeville activities and the soap and candle-making demo, and general volunteers are needed to help coordinate and make the event a success. With the exception of the vaudeville activity, no experience is necessary. If you are able to participate, contact Walter at 719-559-0525 or attend the planning meetings. They are scheduled for May 3 and 17 and June 1. They will be held in the Palmer Lake Town Hall at 6:30 p.m. Businesses interested in participating can contact Gary Coleman at 719-481-8937. Visit www.palmerlakechautauqua.org for information on the 2009 Chautauqua event.

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Slavens and Collson honored

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Below: Monument residents Peggy Slavens and Patty Collson were honored by former employees and volunteers of the Air Force Academy’s Thrift Shop April 16 for their 30 years of combined community service. Photo and information provided by Stacy Kluckman.

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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.

Put the Nuns in Charge comedy show, 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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Slash and Mulch season begins May 1

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here! Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps) will be accepted May 1 to Sept. 12. Mulch will be available, while supplies last, May 22 to Sept. 25. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The loader fee is $4 per bucket, approximately 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County, co-sponsored the Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners. The program’s purpose is to teach forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information, visit www.bfslash.org or phone 520-7878 or Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024.

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Fire Protection Districts’ special elections, May 4

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) and Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) are holding special elections May 4, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. TLMFPD’s polling place is the Tri-Lakes Administrative Center at 166 Second St., the prior Monument Town Hall in downtown Monument. DWFPD’s polling place is Station 1 at 15415 Gleneagle Dr.

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CASA 4-1-1 Night, May 6

Learn how you can become "a child’s voice in court" and make a lasting difference in the life of an abused or neglected child at CASA’s 4-1-1 Night May 6 at 5:30 p.m. This one-hour informational presentation will be held at the CASA office, 701 S. Cascade in Colorado Springs. For more information or to RSVP, call Amy Pattin, 447-9898, ext. 1033 or visit www.casappr.org.

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Wescott Fire Department Summer Safety Fair, May 15

Meet Wescott firefighters and other emergency personnel May 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Wescott Fire Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Health professionals and local merchants with special offers will also be there. See firefighting and emergency equipment, firefighting demonstrations, Flight for Life and Memorial Hospital helicopters, a crash car exhibit, and a bike rodeo. Enjoy a free lunch served by firefighters and health and safety giveaways. For more information, call 488-8680.

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Bowling Fundraiser for the Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua, May 16

The Palmer Lake Historical Society and PINZ are holding a fundraiser May 16, 2-6 p.m., at PINZ Bowling Center, 855 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Enjoy two games of bowling and a free shoe rental for only $5. PINZ will donate $2.50 of each purchase, as well as $2 for each large pizza sold, to the Palmer Lake Historical Society. For more information, contact PINZ at 487-7469.

The Town of Palmer Lake was the home of the first Rocky Mountain Chautauqua in the late 1800s and hosted the annual event until 1910. Last year’s Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua brought over a thousand people to Palmer Lake to relive history and experience life as it was more than 100 years ago. This year’s event, August 6-8, promises an even greater glimpse into activities that were a part of everyday life in the late 1800s.

You can be a part of the Chautauqua this year. Last year’s Vaudeville show played to a standing-room-only crowd at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The search is on for talented (and not so talented) musicians, jugglers, performers, etc. (anyone with a unique or quirky act or parlor trick suitable for a family audience). This is an opportunity for a few minutes of fame (or embarrassment) and a chance to become part of Palmer Lake legend. If you are up to the challenge, please contact Mary at marymeyer53@comcast.net. You won’t be sorry!

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Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, May 18

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive May 18, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. No appointment is needed, just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For more information, call Jackie Sward, 481-4864 ext. 23.

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Tri-Lakes Cares Hosts Community Open House, May 18

Tri-Lakes Cares invites the public to its Community Open House Art Exhibit and Sale May 15, 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sample local wines and appetizers while you view, and perhaps purchase, the paintings of local artist John De Francesco, with all proceeds directly benefiting Tri-Lakes Cares. De Francesco will be present to answer any questions and will give a brief painting demonstration.

Tri-Lakes Cares has provided emergency assistance, self-sufficiency programs, and other social services to residents in Northern El Paso County for over 26 years. It is located at 235 N. Jefferson in downtown Monument. For more information, visit www.tri-lakescares.org or call 481-4864.

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Art Hop is back, May 20

The third Thursday of each month, May-September, 5-8 p.m., the galleries, restaurants, and boutiques of historic downtown Monument stay open until 8 p.m. for a celebration featuring art openings, great food, live music, and other adult-oriented special events. For more information, call 481-3282.

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Colorado Cyber School Information Session, May 20

eDSCD, The Colorado Virtual School, is a free, online public school program offered by the Douglas County School District to K-12 students in Colorado. Parents and students can work with staff to design an education option that best meets their needs. Schedules can incorporate classes both at school and online. An information session will be held May 20, 6-8 p.m., at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Woodmoor Dr. Admissions counselors will be present to answer parents’ questions. For more information, visit www.edscd.org.

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District One Community Meeting with Sheriff Maketa, May 20

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will meet with District One residents May 20, 6:30 p.m., at Woodmoor Pines Country Club, 18945 Pebble Beach Way, Monument. Sheriff Maketa will address topics of interest, including crime patterns and statistics for your area. Questions and input are welcome. Find out how you can become involved to help prevent crime in District One. For more information, phone Geri Elsasser, Crime Prevention Coordinator, 520-7151 or e-mail geraldineelsasser@elpasoco.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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Sheriff’s Office announces second Citizens’ Academy

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the 7-week Citizens’ Academy that will be held Tuesday evenings, 6-10 p.m., June 1 to July 13. The academy will offer participants a broad overview and unique insight into the various functions of the Sheriff’s Office. Participants will go on a ride-along with deputies to observe the variety of calls handled by the Sheriff’s Office and take a tour of the detention facilities to experience the challenges facing detention staff. Detectives will take them through the process of criminal investigation, and participants will learn about use of force, vice and narcotics operations, and emergency services.

The Citizens’ Academy is a pre-requisite for the Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol volunteer program. A Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol Academy will be held July 20 to Sept. 21. Please note that citizens are not required to attend the Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol Academy after completing the Citizens’ Academy.

There is no charge to attend the Citizens’ Academy, but seating is limited to the first 40 completed applications received. Applications must be submitted by May 24, 5 p.m. Those interested in attending the Citizens’ Academy can obtain an application from the Sheriff’s Office Website at http://shr.elpasoco.com/ or may phone Deputy Bill Huffor, 520-7107, or Deputy Matt Stoneback, 520-7340, to request an application.

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BOCC to consider Gleneagle Golf Course townhouse development, May 27

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners is tentatively scheduled to consider the proposed Gleneagle Golf Course Townhouse development agreement May 27 (check http://bcc.elpasoco.com/ the week of May 24 to confirm). Citizens will be given an opportunity to speak regarding the development agreement and the project. The board meets at 9 a.m. in the third floor hearing room at the County Office Building, 27 E. Vermijo Ave., Colorado Springs. For more information, check the Website, or call 520-7276.

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Hooked on Palmer Lake Kids’ Fishing Derby, Jun. 5

This popular community event features many prizes, give-aways, and awards as well as fishing instruction for kids 16 and under. It’s at Palmer Lake June 5, 8 a.m.-noon. A limited number of free poles will be available. If you received free gear in the past or have your own please bring it. Recommended bait, if you can bring it, includes salmon eggs and worms. No child will be denied admission for lack of ability to pay. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult, no exceptions. Tickets are $2 in advance and can be purchased at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce (481-3282), or $3 at the lake. For more information, call 481-3282.

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Native American Inter-Tribal Festival, June 5

The Palmer Lake Historical Society, with the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and Project Lighthouse, is sponsoring a free, one-day Native American Festival June 5, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake, and across the highway next to the lake. This festival is a celebration of Native American history and culture and will include storytellers, drums and dancers, art and artisans, an exhibit of birds of prey by HawkQuest, and plenty of vendors and food for purchase (including Navajo tacos and fry bread). This is not a powwow—drums by invitation only.

Arvel Bird, a Paiute/Me’tis Native fiddler/flutist, will close out the festival with an evening concert at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. The Bearsheart Dancers from Monument and other Native dancers will also perform. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7:30 show. The cost of the concert is $15. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. For more information phone Al Walter, 559-0525, or e-mail wldrdr@hotmail.com.

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Denver Burn Camp Run, June 27

Help firefighters help kids! All proceeds send kids injured by fire to the Childrens Hospital Burn Camp. Join your firefighters for a beautiful ride down the rolling hogback country to Palmer Lake, with festivities and lunch at historic Palmer Lake Town Hall. Register 8:30-10:30 a.m. at West Metro Fire Training Center, 3535 S Kipling, Lakewood (southwest corner of Hampden and Kipling). The ride ends at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, at noon. Festivities include a live auction, door prizes, and 50/50 drawing. All motorcycles, cars, and trucks welcome. Cost: $15/rider $20/couples or cars. New! Sponsored riders – visit www.DenverBurnCampRun.org. For more information, call Eric Sondeen, 303-475-8210.

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Bears coming out of hibernation; take precautions to avoid conflicts

Bears are emerging from hibernation throughout Colorado. At this time of year, bears are looking for new plant growth and fresh grass to eat to help them restart their digestive systems. But bears are opportunistic feeders and will exploit any available food supply, including garbage, pet food, bird seed, and home and restaurant table scraps. When people fail to store garbage, pet food, or bird feeders properly, bears will find those sources and cause conflicts in residential and business areas. Bears that become habituated to human food sources can be dangerous and often must be euthanized.

Many communities in bear country have ordinances regarding trash storage that apply to wildlife, so abide by those rules. Detailed precautions you can take can be found at http://wildlife.state.co.us/. To report bear problems, contact your local Colorado Division of Wildlife office, 227-5200, or local law enforcement.

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Rabid fox found in Woodmoor

The El Paso County Heath Department has released information regarding a rabid fox found in Woodmoor. For the first time this year the disease is being passed from species to species. This is a friendly reminder to NOT feed wild animals and to report suspicious looking wild animals to the Department of Wildlife, 227-5200, and they will dispatch someone.

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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 last 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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Check out energy savings at local libraries

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) recently started a program allowing consumers to check out "Kill-A-Watt" meters, plug-in energy meters, from local libraries and Book Mobiles in MVEA’s service territory. Kill-A-Watt meters can help consumers assess how efficient appliances really are. Each meter comes with easy-to-follow instructions. It displays kilowatt-hours and makes it easy to find out your electrical expense. This program provides a free way to identify the real energy abusers and reduce energy use. People who have used the meters report unplugging appliances that weren’t being used to save energy. For more information, call MVEA, 1-800-388-9881, ext. 2602; or Monument Branch Library, 488-2370.

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Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free!

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

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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, Mondays, 1:30 p.m., and 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 sing-along, 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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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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