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Vol. 11 No. 11 - November 5, 2011


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VFW prepares for holiday shipment of military care packages

Below: From left, VFW Post 7829 and Women’s Auxiliary members Linda Henn, VFW Women’s Auxiliary president, Martine Arndt, Craig Smith, Bob Guffin, Darby Kelly, Kiem Guffin, Janna Kjonaas, and Priscilla Barrera at the Sundance Mountain Lodge parking lot. They are preparing care packages for distribution by Thanksgiving to troops in Afghanistan. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

On Oct. 1, the Women’s Auxiliary of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7829, located in Monument, met to prepare and mail care packages to the deployed troops serving in Afghanistan. Some of the 44 parcels are being sent to Fire Chief Steve Kjonaas, who is a retired Air Force serviceman and is presently deployed to Afghanistan. He will distribute them to service members on the front lines in his area at Camp Shank.

Other parcels will be sent to the 13th Air Support Operations Squadron, also in Afghanistan. Items to be packed were funded by the Colorado Springs Whole Foods stores.

Auxiliary President Martine Arndt noted that this was the first of many gatherings to supply the troops with the common items that are not found on the front lines. Arndt noted that the next meeting of volunteers to prepare packages for Christmas delivery will be held on Nov. 10 from noon to 3 p.m. at Sundance Mountain Lodge.

Post Commander and retired Air Force Lt. Col. Tony Wolusky advised that the men and women deployed in Afghanistan will have a dismal Christmas on the front lines away from home and family. He said Post 7829 is dedicated to ensuring that the Monument area will help to brighten their days in the holiday season.

Volunteers are needed to help to pack the packages, and by adopting one serviceperson, some holiday brightness might be sent from Monument to Afghanistan. Gifts may be added to the other items in boxes.

Wolusky encouraged the use of cash donations and items such as toiletries, multivitamins, beef jerky, trail mix, nuts, dried fruit, games (no batteries), playing cards, baby wipes, antibacterial wipes, juice boxes, hygiene products, hair clippers, energy drinks, Propel powder for drinks, Diet Snapple, air fresheners, foot powder, bug spray, DVD movies, chap stick/Carmex, and SPF sunscreen. Perhaps some local supermarkets and drug stores might donate items for these men and women overseas to help make this holiday brighter for them, he said.

Original notes and gifts from schoolchildren and adults will greatly help to personalize these packages. Children and families as well as grade school, high school, and church groups are welcome to assist in the preparation and filling of the packages.

Wolusky said that without volunteers, the amount of packages that can be sent would be limited. More importantly, he continued, is the need for items and cash donations. Cash donations may be designated for the purchase of these items and may be sent to VFW Post 7829, PO Box 1512, Monument, CO 80132-9998. The VFW Post is a nonprofit corporation in good standing under Colorado law (ID Number 20091530354) and is a federal tax-exempt veterans organization under IRS Code Section 501(c)(19).

Cash and in-kind donations to VFW Post 7829 are tax deductible, and a receipt will be provided. Those wishing to volunteer and commercial establishments with in-kind gifts may contact Wolusky for information at 719-225-7778 or 719-481-4419.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor district finalizes ranch purchase

By Candice Hitt

On Oct. 17, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board voted to finalize the purchase of the JV Ranch located in southern El Paso County. The ranch will serve as the district’s renewable water source. It offers significant water rights, a reservoir, and storage rights to provide for future water needs of the district.

Currently the district is dependent on the Denver Basin Aquifer, which is a nonrenewable source of water. Aquifers are depleting and are not a reliable source for a long-term supply of water.

More than 130 people attended the meeting to discuss concerns over the purchase. The district held public meetings Sept. 27 and 29 and Oct. 8 to discuss the need for a renewable water source and the impact it will have on customers.

District Manager Jessie Shaffer gave a PowerPoint presentation about the district’s history and the increased need for a renewable water source. Factors considered in purchasing the JV Ranch included the cost of financing, revenue stream stability, interest rates for bonds, and the overall borrowing cost. The intent is to keep costs to a minimum.

The cost for the JV Ranch will be between $25 million and $30 million, depending on the water court outcome. Woodmoor will use revenue bonds to finance the JV Ranch acquisition with a 25-year repayment plan. The average customer will be charged a water investment fee estimated at $48.50 per month beginning in January 2012 to help pay for the acquisition. The district plans to close the deal this month.

Customers raise concerns over purchase

During the meeting, the floor was open to customers to discuss concerns about the purchase. Many expressed concern over the cost, how the district will deliver the water to customers, and what future costs will be involved in building an infrastructure to deliver the water to the area.

"Why not let customers vote if they want to purchase?" asked Joe Carlson. Carlson also stated the district "should promote conservation as an alternative."

Carl Janssen, a supporter of the purchase, thanked the board and stated his "support in moving forward with the purchase as they have done due diligence as a district."

Information about the district’s renewable water plan is posted at www.woodmoorwater.com.

**********

The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Nov. 11 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me.

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Donala completes CSU connection, applies for $7.3 million loan, plans water rate increases of up to 60%

Below: Donala board president William George congratulates Susan McLean, Donala’s conservation/landscape manager, on being named employee of the quarter. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Oct. 20 monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, district general manager, reported that the connection between the district’s water infrastructure and Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) distribution pipe in the vicinity of Northgate Road was completed Oct. 18 at a cost of about $700,000. Water is currently flowing through the connection for Donala use at about 200 gallons per minute.

The district’s service agreement with CSU calls for a minimum of 100 acre-feet of Colorado Springs water to be supplied to the district in 2011 and a minimum of 200 acre-feet per year in subsequent years. The maximum amount that can be drawn per year is 1,000 acre-feet. Since the connection has been completed late in the year, CSU agreed to revise the minimum requirement to 50 acre-feet during 2011 and shift the other 50 acre-feet to 2012 so the minimum requirement during 2012 will be 250 acre-feet.

The district must pay a system use fee of $354,807 and paid $296,902 for a CSU pump at Northgate Road.

The total cost for the first 100 acre-feet to be drawn during 2011 and 2012 could be as high as $22 per 1,000 gallons.

Using leased water from the Pueblo Board of Water Works (PWBB) and water from Willow Creek Ranch when those rights are granted, the cost for CSU transportation of that water is projected to be about $10.36 per 1,000 gallons.

The highest rate the district currently charges any of its customers is about $11 per 1,000 gallons, and some customers pay as little as $3.40 per 1,000 gallons. In 2010, the average rate paid in the district was about $5.60 per 1,000 gallons.

Board approves application for $7.3 million loan for infrastructure improvements

At its September meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution to apply to the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) for a loan of about $7.3 million for infrastructure improvements needed to transport and treat up to 4 million gallons per day of renewable water Donala will be receiving through its connection with CSU.

This is the first debt to be issued under the ballot measure passed in May 2010. In accordance with the ballot measure, the loan is to carry no more than 6.5 percent interest and a maximum repayment period of 25 years.

At the Oct. 20 meeting, Joe Drew of Drew Financial and Dee Wisor, bond counsel with Sherman & Howard, presented the application to be submitted to CWRPDA. The Donala board unanimously approved the application. After the authority approves the application, it will issue the bonds on behalf of the Donala district. Those bonds will be repaid from revenue the district collects. Drew estimated that the interest rate on the 25-year bonds will probably not exceed about 4 percent.

Duthie noted that the district submitted a previous loan application in October 2010 so it would be in place in the event proposed amendments 60 and 61 and proposition 101 on the November 2010 ballot passed. Since all three measures failed, that application was shelved. That application is now being updated and resubmitted.

Infrastructure work covered by the bond issue is scheduled to be put out for bid in December, with the work to start in January and be completed during 2012.

Agreement reached in Willow Creek Ranch water case

Duthie said agreement was reached Oct. 14 with the Colorado State Engineer’s Office and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the sole remaining objectors to the district’s request to make municipal use of the stream flows formerly used to irrigate the Willow Creek Ranch. The legal documents are being prepared. Formal action will probably be needed at the next CWCB meeting on Nov. 15, which will be too late to take advantage of the scheduled court date Nov. 10.

On July 28, when water court Judge Dennis Maes denied the district’s request for the change of use, he directed the district to continue those negotiations. Prior to the case going to Judge Maes, settlement had been reached with all the other objectors. Duthie said the case will likely be resolved by early 2012.

In November 2008, Donala completed the purchase of the ranch near Leadville and has been reducing irrigation on the ranch and seeking conversion of the excess irrigation water, which flows to the Arkansas River, for use by the district.

The district is expecting to obtain rights to about 280 acre-feet of water per year, which would cover about 20 percent of Donala’s current demand. If that is the final figure ultimately approved by Judge Maes, then, under the terms of the ranch purchase agreement, the district will be obligated to pay Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, an additional fee of about $450,000 less the value of 60 acres the district is selling back to Strich. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

As part of resolving the state’s objections, the board has signed a 20-year contract with the Pueblo Board of Water Works (PBWW) for release or exchange of 250 acre-feet per year from Turquoise Reservoir. The contract calls for a one-time payment of $8,000 and annual costs ranging from $12,500 to $96,470, depending on the amount of water released and the amount of water exchanged. The district will initially pay $192,940 to cover the first and last year’s maximum obligation. The annual cost will increase based on general rate increases approved by the Pueblo Board of Water Works.

The contract calls for direct release of water from Turquoise Reservoir or exchange of water in Turquoise Reservoir for water in Pueblo Reservoir. The cost for direct-released water is $386 per acre-foot. The cost for contract-exchanged water is $50 per acre-foot. In either case, the water is fully consumable, meaning that the district can reuse it to extinction. Due to TABOR restrictions, the contract must be reauthorized each year.

Duthie said that in accordance with the PBWW agreement, water is being released, and that water will be included in the calculations of the cost of water being received through the connection with CSU.

Duthie said that by January 2012, the district expects to have a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for 499 acre-feet of water storage in Pueblo Reservoir. Duthie said that contract cannot be put in place until the district obtains a favorable decree from Judge Maes regarding the water from Willow Creek Ranch.

Water rate increases of up to 60 percent proposed

Duthie proposed the following water rate and fee increases, which he noted would result in a 15 percent to 40 percent increase in the water bills for most users, and a 50 percent to 60 percent increase for high-volume users:

Water rate per 1,000 gallons/month
Range (gallons) Old rate New rate Increase
0-10,000  $     3.40  $    3.90 15%
10,001-20,000  $     4.55  $    5.90 30%
20,001-30,000  $     5.25  $    7.35 40%
30,001-40,000  $     6.60  $  10.25 55%
40,001-50,000  $     9.60  $  15.35 60%
Above 50,000  $    11.10  $  16.50 49%
     
Fixed monthly water fees
Water service SF  $    13.00  $  25.00 92%
Water service MF  $    13.00  $  18.00 38%

The fixed monthly water fee, which provides no water, includes $3 designated for water development.

The proposed water rates for townhome complexes match the proposed residential rates up to 40,000 gallons per month. Over 40,000 gallons, the rate would be $11 per 1,000 gallons per month (up from $8.50 per 1,000 gallons in 2011) or $9.50 per 1,000 gallons per month (up from $7.50 per 1,000 gallons in 2011) for those townhome projects that have made significant reductions in their irrigated landscaping.

The golf course rate for potable water is the same as the residential rate. The rate for reuse water for irrigation is proposed to increase to $3 per 1,000 gallons per month (up from $2.48 per 1,000 gallons, a 21 percent increase). Untreated water for the golf course from the district’s wells is proposed to increase to $4 per 1,000 gallons per month (up from $3.60 per 1,000 gallons per month, an 11 percent increase).

Duthie recommended keeping the sewer fee unchanged at $27 per month, with $2 of that fee designated for sewer development and used to help pay off the debt for the expansion of the wastewater treatment plant.

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

Availability of service fees charged to owners of vacant lots would remain unchanged at $300 per year.

A possible property tax mill levy increase is being considered for 2013.

Draft budget reviewed

Based on the proposed 2012 rate and fee increases, Duthie distributed copies of a draft budget for 2012. Some highlights:

  • Total projected revenue for 2012 is $15.758 million. Some of the larger amounts are $7 million from bond sales for infrastructure improvements for handling renewable water, $2.312 million from water sales, $1.132 million from property taxes, and $893,000 from sewer service. The budget projects a 25 percent increase in water sales revenue due to the proposed increase in rates and fees.
  • 2012 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $6.031 million. Some of the larger amounts are $1.084 million for repayment of loans, $650,000 for salaries, $613,566 for wastewater plant operating expenses, $400,000 for repairs and maintenance, and $300,000 for utilities.
  • 2012 capital project expenses are estimated at $7.9 million, including $7 million for infrastructure improvements to handle renewable water and a payment of $450,000 to Strich.
  • The projected ending total fund balance for 2012 is $8.086 million.

A hearing on the proposed budget, rates, and fees will be held at the next board meeting, Nov. 29.

Other matters

  • Susan McLean, conservation/landscape manager, was named the employee of the quarter for her work advising residents on landscape design to reduce water consumption. McLean has provided designs to 16 customers. She also designed and created the Donala Demonstration Garden on Gleneagle Drive just north of Struthers Road. The garden showcases plants that require little irrigation and do well in this area.
  • The completion of the Donala Extended Water Supply Study (DEWSS) draft report has been delayed one month to include information on direct potable reuse (DPR). In DPR, the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant would be sent to the water treatment plant and receive additional treatment before being mixed into the potable water system. Duthie noted that DPR is in use throughout the world.
  • During the three months from July 1 through Sep. 30, the district’s $3.778 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.39 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.05 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 11.7 months.
  • Duthie said the district pumped about 35.6 million gallons of water in September, which is 22 million less than in September 2010; however, the total usage for the year will likely top the all-time record of 388 million gallons set in 2008. Twenty-four customers each used more than 40,000 gallons during the month.
  • Duthie said that well 11 has failed, probably due to pump failure. Duthie said this is the fourth well to fail so far this year. He noted that this well is 10 to 12 years old. Of the four wells that have failed this year, three were in the Denver aquifer and the fourth was in the Arapahoe aquifer. Despite the well failures, Duthie noted that no more than two wells have been down at a time and the district is not having any difficulty keeping up with the demand.
  • There continue to be problems with the blowers at the wastewater treatment plant. Three of the original four blowers have failed. Duthie said the blower failures might be due to human error during their manufacture; however, the failures are coming after the expiration of the two-year warranty period. He added that these blowers should last 15 to 20 years. New blowers cost about $18,900 each and rebuilt units cost about $15,400 each. In September, the district purchased another new blower, so it currently has three operating: one of the original blowers, one rebuilt blower, and the recently purchased new blower. Excelsior Blower will be analyzing the three failed blowers to try to determine the cause of the failures.
  • Duthie said that if the changes in creek standards being proposed by the EPA are adopted, they would not immediately affect the wastewater plant’s operations because the plant’s current permit is good until 2015. He added that after that, the plant would likely have five years to implement the new standards. He noted that in addition to tighter standards for phosphorus and nitrogen, regulations on metals including nickel, cadmium, and mercury are being considered.
  • The board unanimously approved an extension of the intergovernmental agreement with the Academy Water and Sanitation District (AWSD) under which emergency overflow from Donala’s lift station in the Ridge at Fox Run is handled by AWSD and emergency overflow from AWSD’s lift station on Tari Drive is handled by the Donala sewer system.
  • The district’s water conservation plan, which has been available for public comment for the past 60 days, was unanimously approved by the board and will be submitted to the state for approval as required by the district’s service agreement with CSU.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting Nov. 29 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of each month. The district does not plan to hold a meeting in December.

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

John Heiser can be reached at johnheiser@ocn.me.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Oct. 5: Options for meeting tougher regulations explored

By Susan Hindman

Sometime in the next couple of years, residents of the Academy Water and Sanitation District will be facing another bond issue and rate increases, driven by new state regulations mandating tougher water quality standards for effluent.

Wastewater treatment facilities across the state will have to come up with affordable ways to treat the effluent, the wastewater that is released back into small streams, if new standards proposed by the Water Quality Control Division are approved. The Division is part of the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment.

Regulation 32 restricts ammonia levels in the water, which Academy’s lagoons currently cannot treat. Within this regulation is another requirement that the residual chlorine, left over from chlorine disinfection to treat E. coli, meet a standard that Academy also currently cannot meet. Regulation 31 controls the standards for chlorophyll and nutrient levels in the water. And Regulation 85, which Academy is currently exempt from, sets limits for total phosphorus and nitrogen numbers in effluent.

Roger Sams of GMS Engineering, the district’s engineer, detailed what the district is facing and possible options in response. These options have been discussed in the past, but not in detail or with estimated dollar figures attached, at least for two of the options. Academy could do one of the following:

  • Continue to collect waste but pipe it to Colorado Springs Utilities for treatment, at an estimated cost of $4.6 million plus annual user charges, in addition to the costs of operating and maintaining the collection system.
  • Build a sequencing batch reactor plant to treat the waste it collects, at a cost of $3.5 million plus annual service and operational fees.
  • Approach neighboring Donala Water and Sanitation District about providing wastewater service. The board agreed to explore this option and authorized Sams to prepare a draft memo to Donala.

An earlier option to connect with the Air Force Academy’s wastewater system would not work, Sams said, mainly because of a state requirement that the district has to return water to the river system. Any wastewater piped to the AFA would remain on its grounds.

No matter what option is chosen, an election would need to be held to get voter approval for another bond measure to pay for it. Academy’s current bond, which paid for a new water treatment facility, will be paid off at the end of 2013.

Director Ron Curry asked Sams when the board should expect changes to begin. Sams estimated 18 months to two years. "The driving force regarding the schedule would be the discharge permit," he said, which is currently awaiting renewal. Once the permit is renewed, the district will have to demonstrate to the state that it is making progress toward implementing changes.

Curry expressed concern that the district’s residents be made aware of the impending changes as soon as possible. "With either of these options, we’re going to have to float another bond issue that’s in excess of the current bond issue, so the community will have to agree to have a higher mill levy," he said. "Secondly, it appears to me that … we would have to float a bond issue and raise rates. That’s the direction this seems to be going."

Curry wants the district to create a website that would offer a place to post announcements and notices, as well as have a blog so that dialog about the upcoming changes can be started. Currently the district has no website; the only option for residents to hear about what is going on (other than attend meetings and follow OCN articles) is to receive minutes by mail, if requested. He said he will explore costs and options for a website.

**********

The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meetings are scheduled for Nov. 2 and Dec. 7.

Susan Hindman can be reached at susanhindman@ocn.me.

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Triview Metropolitan District special meeting, Oct. 3: Triview board approves $5 increase in monthly wastewater fees

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 3, the Triview Metropolitan District board held a special meeting at Monument Town Hall to determine whether to comply with a Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority demand to raise wastewater fees by at least $4.92 per month. The increase would keep the district in compliance with the covenants of the authority’s two loans to Triview for capital improvements to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The board voted 3-1 to approve a resolution authorizing a $5 monthly basic fee increase for each district customer effective Oct. 1, with Director Robert Fisher opposed. Director Steve Cox and District Manager Mark Carmel did not attend this meeting.

The board unanimously approved delaying the regular Oct. 11 board meeting until Oct. 25 to allow Triview board members time to learn about the loan covenants and the method used by the authority to calculate the required fee increase. The board would meet with the authority staff during the week of Oct. 10 to prepare for the public discussion of the approved $5 rate increase at the Oct. 25 meeting.

The board had also previously scheduled two special board meetings on Oct. 4 and 5 to discuss negotiations on a water purchase agreement, entirely in executive session.

Background: Triview received a notice on July 28 from the authority saying that the district was out of compliance with the loan covenants for the 2006 and 2008 Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund loans the authority made to Triview, about $5 million and $2 million respectively. The authority’s notice stated that its audit of Triview’s most recently submitted quarterly accounting showed that Triview must raise its user rates within 45 days of this notice and be in effect within 60 days to return to compliance. The district must sustain cash reserves in the loan reserve fund equal to 110 percent of the sum of the four quarterly principal and interest payments made to the authority for the district’s loans.

At the Sept. 13 regular Triview board meeting, Monument Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said both semi-annual loan payments have been paid for 2011, and there was $500,000 in reserves not counting payments that will be received from the Vistas developments.

Discussion of resolution

Several board members in attendance initially said they were opposed in principle to complying with the existing covenants and raising the rate by $5. However, Board President Bob Eskridge was already a director when the Triview board approved the first authority loan in 2006 as well as the 2008 loan. Director Robert Fisher was appointed to the board on Jan. 22, 2008, and Directors Steve Remington and Steve Cox had already been elected to the board on May 6, 2008, before the second authority loan was approved by the Triview board on July 22, 2008. Director Steve Hurd was appointed to the Triview board to replace former Director Julie Glenn on Dec. 8, 2009.

There was confusion during the discussions leading to approval of the rate increase about whether the Oct. 1 billing had been mailed and whether the sewer fee should be collected immediately with the Oct. 1 billing or in arrears with the Nov. 1 billing. The Triview staff confirmed that the Oct. 1 bills had not yet been printed because the board had not decided whether it would comply with the authority’s demand for the fee increase, how much the fee increase would be, and when it would start being collected.

The board directed that an insert be printed and placed in the Oct. 1 bills that said that the fee would increased by $5 effective Oct. 3, but not collected until Nov. 1 and that the regular monthly board meeting would be changed to Oct. 25.

Some of the points stated by Triview board President Bob Eskridge were:

  • He did not believe sending out a mailer before this special meeting at a cost of $600 was "worth it" based on a survey of "a bunch of folks I know."
  • Mailing out a notice of a $5 increase with the Oct. 1 bill is not good enough.
  • Some of the points stated by Triview Director Robert Fisher were:
  • He could not support the draft resolution to adopt the rate increase effective on Oct. 3 because the board did not "properly" notify the Triview residents and explain the rate increase at a public meeting.
  • The draft wording proposed "to satisfy a bunch of bureaucrats up in Denver would be a disservice to the people who elected us to this board."
  • The board had not provided notice with a letter in the bill or a separately mailed letter, even though the latter would cost about $600.
  • He did not believe there would have been "a pitchfork mob at the door over a $5 rate increase."
  • The board does not know whether the loan covenant requires the reserve amount to be calculated against district revenue every quarter or not.
  • The board needs to see copies of the two loan covenants and spread sheets for the full term of each loan.

Some of the points stated by Triview Director Steve Hurd were:

  • The board should pass another resolution 30 seconds after approving a resolution similar to the proposed fee increase resolution to "turn this into a zero-sum game because we know we are fine for this quarter. We are not missing the money for this quarter."
  • He asked if the board could approve a fee increase resolution worded "so that we say that it’s maybe effective today, but billed three months in arrears and every quarter we reevaluate and reassess," then "immediately 30 seconds later we decide we don’t actually collect it."
  • "You know, I’m just trying to do a three-card monte with this thing but only because the fiasco should stay in this room and (we) shouldn’t have to deal with the customers and residents of the district."

Some of the points stated by Triview Director Steve Remington were:

  • "We received the letter for this notification in July and there is just no excuse to be sitting here at the eleventh hour contemplating this like we are."
  • The board needs to hold a discussion on the rate increase at the next Triview meeting.
  • Nothing about this fee increase resolution has to be permanent.
  • The money raised by the rate increase could be held separately in reserve.
  • A member of the board should attend the Oct. 7 power authority board meeting to try to get a further delay in applying the rate increase and ask that the reserve calculation be calculated once a year, rather than quarterly.

Some of the points stated by Triview’s attorney Gary Shupp were:

  • If the resolution to raise the rate by at least $4.92 is not approved at this meeting, the district is out of compliance and, technically, the authority can call one of the loans, "a high price to pay."
  • There is no point in passing a second resolution that would be a public record point that the power authority board can pull out and say that Triview did not do what the authority directed by covenant.
  • Waiting until after the Oct. 7 power authority board meeting would put the district at risk for a default on the second loan.
  • If the wastewater fees are currently collected in arrears, the first increased fee would not have to be billed until Nov. 1, after the Oct. 25 board meeting public discussion, to remain in compliance with the loan covenants.

The meeting adjourned at 6:13 p.m.

The next morning, the Triview staff and Shupp informed Eskridge that the wastewater fee is not collected in arrears. Per Shupp’s advice, Eskridge directed the staff to add the $5 fee to the Oct. 1 bills so that the district could remain in compliance with the authority loan covenants. The bills were sent out on Oct. 4 with an insert that noted the fee increase was effective Oct. 1 and the date for the regular board meeting was changed to Oct. 25.

After learning of these changes, Fisher requested that the board hold a special meeting on Oct. 10 to discuss this change in the start of the fee collection by Eskridge. However, Eskridge did not attend. No votes were taken at the Oct. 10 meeting. There was also an executive session on negotiations regarding the district’s agreement with the town for using town staff to operate the district and a water purchase agreement.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Triview Metropolitan District special meeting, Oct. 25: $5 monthly fee increase explained

By Jim Kendrick

During the Oct. 3 special meeting, the Triview Metropolitan District board unanimously approved a $5 increase in the basic monthly service fee for all its customers effective Oct. 1 and delayed the regularly scheduled Oct. 11 board meeting for two weeks so that the board could prepare for a public comment session on the basic wastewater fee increase. This fee will be listed on bills as the "CWRPDA $5 fee."

The Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) had demanded in a July 28 letter that Triview raise wastewater fees by at least $4.92 per month to restore compliance with the covenants of the authority’s two loans of $5 million and $2 million to Triview for its share of the costs for capital improvements to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. (See the article for more details on the Oct. 3 meeting.)

Director Steve Hurd was out of town and did not attend the Oct. 25 meeting.

Triview resident Walt Schwarz asked about the reasons behind the $5 wastewater fee increase. Board President Bob Eskridge briefly reviewed the history of the repairs to the Upper Monument facility and the CWRPDA’s loans to Triview to pay for part of that expense. He said that the district and authority have different interpretations of how the 110 percent loan reserve should be calculated, quarterly (CWRPDA) or annually (Triview.) It was finally determined on Oct. 4 that the $5 fee increase had to start being charged at the beginning of October to return to covenant compliance.

Director Steve Remington explained the reserve ratios requirement in the loan covenants that allows CWRPDA to raise Triview’s rates. He noted that the district’s revenues and reserves are lower in the winter than in the summer when people are sprinkling their lawns, the cause of the debate over quarterly versus annual reserve calculations.

Remington stated, "In the name of full disclosure I need to tell you that I think, and I’ll take the heat for this along with everybody else, I think as a board we blew it a bit. I mean they notified us in July that we had this problem. We thought we had it worked out with them. We should have done a better job of getting all that in writing because then they changed their mind on us at the last minute and we ended up in a scramble. I can tell you that this board never intended or wanted to change our water rates without going to the public first ever. We kind of screwed it up. I don’t know how else to say it. We screwed it up. But having said that, I’ll tell you that as a board we also decided that this $5 (increase) is getting set aside until we have this issue resolved."

Remington added, "If we get the covenant changed or something else and we don’t have to charge this five bucks, then we’re going to return it. … We didn’t want to be here after the fact. It’s not very comfortable."

Schwarz asked, "So then potentially this $5 fee goes away?" Remington replied, "We hope so, but we can’t promise that. That’s the hope if we have a successful meeting with (CWRPDA staff) and can get them to see it our way instead of their way, then yes, it will go away. "

Schwarz asked for more details on the issue from the district in the future. Remington said future information would be published on the district website.

Financial reports

Monument Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented the August financial report. Some of the items noted by Smith were:

  • August general fund revenues were up 18.6 percent, or $510,000, compared to July, due to collection of 99 percent of annual property taxes and slight increases in monthly sales and auto taxes.
  • August general fund expenditures were down 25 percent, or $550,000, from July’s.
  • The net general fund balance at the end of August was $1.06 million.
  • August enterprise fund revenues were down 0.5 percent, or $6,000, compared to July, an improvement of $60,000.
  • August enterprise fund expenditure revenues were 3.9 percent, or $49,000, over budget, $181,000 worse than July due to loan payments totaling $244,000 to CWRPDA.
  • The total 2011 enterprise fund balance through the end of August was a net loss of $55,000, an improvement of $120,000 from the net loss at the end of July.
  • August capital projects fund revenues totaled $253 in interest compared with total expenditures of $104,086 for well and road improvements and a new park.
  • The net total surplus for all Triview funds at the end of August was $1.431 million, a one-month increase of $88,000.
  • Some tap fee revenues from Promontory Pointe will be escrowed to a new separate account with ColoTrust (Colorado Local Government Liquid Asset Trust).
  • A new separate restricted loan reserve account will be set up for the 110 percent reserve required for the two CWRPDA loans.
  • Total sales tax revenue received in October was $111,713.
  • Three payments over $5,000 were unanimously approved:
  • $5,709 to Applied Ingenuity LLC for a transient voltage surge suppressor for Well A-8
  • $80,179 to Donala Water and Sanitation District for Triview’s share of Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility fourth-quarter operations
  • $14,645 to Summit Recreation LLC for the new Kitchener Park 16-square-foot shelter

During a public hearing, Smith presented the first draft of the preliminary 2012 district budget. She said she expects the board to approve the 2012 mill levy on Nov. 8 because it is not changing. The mill levy approval must be forwarded to the state by Dec. 15. If necessary, the 2012 final budget can be approved at the subsequent board meeting on Dec. 13.

Other matters

  • The board unanimously approved, during a public hearing, a ratification of an amendment to the inclusion agreement with the Lutheran Family of Christ Church to purchase only a single 1.5-inch domestic water service tap and sewer tap.
  • After a lengthy, contentious discussion that lasted well over an hour, the board made no decision regarding the agenda item for a proposed contract for engineering design and construction of the Promontory Pointe water pressure booster system, which will also improve water pressure in parts of Jackson Creek.

At 7:30 p.m., the board went into executive session for contract negotiations regarding mouse habitat, water operations, a water purchase agreement, and a 2012 service delivery agreement.

The board came out of executive session and immediately adjourned at 9:35 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 8 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 884-8017

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Oct. 11: New draft discharge permit issued by state

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 11, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) learned that facility Manager Bill Burks had received a new draft discharge permit for the years 2012-16. The major changes in the permit were a reduction in the copper limits—9.7 parts per billion on average and 15 parts per billion for a single test result—and a number of new testing requirements for heavy metals. Initial comments were due back to the state Water Quality Control Division by Oct. 17.

Burks also introduced the facility’s new CPA, Jackie Spegele, to the JUC.

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 districts’ boards: Dale Smith from Palmer Lake, Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Jim Whitelaw from Woodmoor. Typically, several other district board members and the district managers also attend the JUC meeting.

Financial report

Spegele has purchased the practice of CPA Nolan Gookin, the JUC’s former accountant. She has changed the name to Numeric Strategies and taken over Gookin’s offices at 255 N. Jefferson St. in downtown Monument. Spegele said that Gookin will continue to work with her for about two weeks each month during an ownership transition period that will conclude on April 30. She also noted that her mother, Carol Boyer, is working with her, "doing marketing and individual tax preparation." She is now preparing the monthly JUC financial report.

Spegele advised the JUC to hire an auditor who is certified for "yellow book" federal and state loan audits and a person that others are already happy with. She endorsed having an auditor that would perform the Woodmoor and JUC audits to save time and cost. She also recommended that the JUC ask to see the auditor candidates’ latest peer reviews and findings.

Burks noted two payments: $11,504 to the state for the new draft discharge permit fee and

$22,929 to Liquid Waste Management for the final payment for 2011. The JUC unanimously accepted the financial report as presented.

There was a brief discussion of the latest revisions to the draft 2012 facility budget.

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund said that it would still be difficult for Monument to contribute to the building of a $79,000 heated garage in 2011 or 2012, but the line item should be retained in the 2012 budget. Burks noted that a sealer would be applied to the existing concrete pad to protect it in the interim.

Burks noted that there may be some minimal changes in expenses for 2012 for additional engineering consulting work by Tetra Tech for new reports that have to be prepared and a significant increase in testing for heavy metals, such as mercury. Burks said the final budget should be ready for a public hearing and approval at the Nov. 8 JUC meeting.

District manager reports

Wicklund reported that a loss of power from the new Wakonda Hills lift stations had occurred on Oct. 8. The auto-dialer at the lift station did not call him. Troubleshooting by telemetry consultant Timberline and Qwest showed that the Qwest telephone line had failed. It was repaired on the same day.

Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette noted that Woodmoor’s annual collection line cleaning project had been completed. He said Woodmoor would hold a public meeting on Oct. 17 regarding the district’s purchase of JV Ranch as a source of renewable water. Wicklund noted that Woodmoor would pay about $9,000 per acre-foot to own, rather than lease, some of the ranch’s water. An acre-foot is 325,851gallons.

In other matters, Burks reported that copper had again been undetectable in the facility’s treated effluent in September.

The meeting adjourned at 11:57 a.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Nov. 8 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 3: Awards presented to Landreth and Maggard

Below: On Oct. 3, Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth was honored by Mayor Travis Easton for his contributions to the town over the past six years. Landreth has taken over the Director of Public Works position in the Town of Buena Vista.

Below: On Oct. 3, Monument Town Inspector Greg Maggard was honored for his contributions to the town’s Department of Development Services by Mayor Travis Easton as his son Grady displays the certificate.

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 3, the Monument Board of Trustees gave an award to departing Director of Public Works Rich Landreth for his contributions to the town. Landreth had accepted a new position as Director of Public Works in Buena Vista. The board also gave an award to Town Inspector Greg Maggard.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith distributed the first draft of the preliminary 2012 budget. At the end of the public agenda, the board met with the directors of the Triview Metropolitan District board to jointly discuss intergovernmental agreements and receive advice on legal questions.

All seven trustees were present.

Landreth to depart

Mayor Travis Easton said he had mixed emotions about giving Landreth an award for "leaving us." Town Manager Cathy Green noted that Landreth had been part of the town staff for over six years as one of the town’s managers and the rest of the staff would miss his contributions. She also noted that he had made millions of dollars of improvements to the town’s infrastructure.

The trustees individually thanked Landreth and shook his hand. Landreth thanked the board and staff for their support.

Maggard cited for his breadth of work

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, noted that Maggard had been on the town staff for three years and had "really expanded his work tasks way beyond what I envisioned for the inspector position." Due to the reduction in the number of inspections over the past year, he has taken over the work involved for town permitting. Kassawara has also asked him to do engineering tasks, because Maggard is working to obtain an engineering degree.

Easton noted that Maggard had volunteered to take on the primary responsibility for a lot of the duties and tasks of the vacant assistant planner position and the quality of his work is worthy of recognition. Maggard has also performed these new duties:

  • Helped draft the town’s new sanitary sewer collection system specifications.
  • Provided background information and field research for the town’s ongoing water demand study.
  • Conducted research on porous asphalt pavement for preparing specifications to be added to the town standards.
  • Developed new town sidewalk specifications and revised the town sidewalk ordinance.
  • Performed a complete revamping of the departments filing systems for record drawings.
  • Processed new applications for development and review.
  • Reviewed new site plans and engineering plans for all new development submittals.

Easton personally thanked Maggard for these new efforts and a job well done.

Financial reports

Smith reviewed the layout and basic assumptions of the 2012 budget, including retained but unfunded staff positions. She asked the trustees to read the draft budget and prepare their questions for the staff. She said she would email the budget to the trustees as well in case they prefer to make comments electronically.

Smith also presented the August financial report:

  • August general fund revenues were more than budgeted by 3.6 percent, or $78,000, a decline of $88,000 compared to July revenues.
  • August general fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 3.3 percent, or $77,000, an improvement of $66,000 over July.
  • The general fund was under budget by $178,000. However, this was a $23,000 improvement from the end of July.
  • The water fund was under budget by $56,000 in July, a decline of $160,000 from the previous month.

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for the Circle K store at 1130 West Baptist Road in the King Soopers shopping center.

The board went into executive session at 7:11 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or 481-2954.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Trustees hold town hall meeting Oct. 17

Below: On Oct. 17, the Monument Board of Trustees held a town hall meeting at the Lewis Palmer School District 38 Administration Building. Several citizens gave opinions on current issues to the trustees. This was not a regular board meeting. There was no formal agenda and the board did not conduct any business. In the photo, D-38 board candidate Gordon Reichal is giving his views on regional issues and D-38 curriculum issues. At the head table (L to R) are Trustees Jeff Kaiser, Tommie Plank, Stan Gingrich, Rafael Dominguez, Mayor Travis Easton, Town Attorney Gary Shupp, Town Treasurer Pamela Smith, and Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Monument Planning Commission, Oct. 12: Two of three town code updates approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 12, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved two ordinance code revisions regarding "uses by special review" and "zoning districts designated." The board continued the hearing on a third ordinance for a code revision regarding "defining moving signs" after a lengthy discussion about people wearing costumes and waving signs at the side of a road to advertise a business.

All seven commissioners were present.

Uses by special review

Several changes were made to the "uses by special review" regulation to improve its organization and to clarify and improve the town staff review process to assess the compatibility of a proposed use with surrounding land uses and developments due to the range in size, intensity, and activity levels of the proposed uses.

Zoning districts designated

The "zoning districts designated" chapter of the town code establishes the various zoning districts and addresses the town’s zoning map. The staff added provisions to clarify the interpretation of the zoning district map and the zoning district boundaries.

Definitions of moving and exempt signs

The proposed revision to the "moving and exempt signs" ordinance generated a lengthy discussion about balancing free speech rights, suitability of costumes, and the safety of passing drivers, and an appropriate maximum for the number of people and number of locations to be allowed for performing this type of advertising. No resolution of the commissioners’ differences could be reached. This item will be continued to Nov. 9.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held on Nov. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 166 Second St. A second meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 16 at the PINZ bowling alley, 18650 W. Highway 105. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Oct. 13: Council reviews licensing of marijuana facility

By David Futey

Before the Oct. 13 meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council, the Medical Marijuana and Liquor License Authority heard testimony regarding a possible illegal grow facility.

Mayor John Cressman and Trustees Dennis Stern and Gary Coleman were excused from the meeting. Trustee Nikki McDonald ran the meeting.

Medical Marijuana and Liquor License Authority

Prior to the council meeting, the Medical Marijuana and Liquor License Authority heard testimony regarding the closure of a medical marijuana grow facility on Sept. 2. The facility was operated by Herbal Outfitters at 579 County Line Rd. The closure was a result of an inspection by the Medical Marijuana Board (MMB). Upon inspection of the facility, the MMB contacted Vice, Narcotics and Intelligence (VNI), which removed the plants from the facility after the plants were signed over to VNI by one of the owners.

Officer Nikki Tezak said, "The grow had been going on for more than a month and security systems were missing."

Town Clerk Tara Berreth testified that she was called to the facility by Tezak. She noticed that only three out of nine cameras appeared to be working. There were no sealed doors that closed. There were grow rooms located on the main floor and in an upstairs room. Then-CEO Chris Szeremy surrendered all plants. Berreth told VNI the town would proceed with revoking the license. Berreth contacted Town Attorney Larry Gaddis, who said a show cause hearing was needed.

Gaddis asked Berreth if Szeremy was listed as an owner. Berreth indicated that Szeremy is listed as the chief executive officer. Berreth said she had heard that "he had sold illegally before and wanted to get legal with the Town of Palmer Lake." Szeremy was arrested on Sept. 2 but under separate charges.

Attorney Gregory Goodwin testified as a representative of the other owners. Goodwin first asked if Szeremy had been charged with possession of marijuana or a drug-related offense. Berreth said she had no idea if he had been charged as that would have been a felony and not gone through the Town. To her knowledge, Berreth said Szeremy had been charged with check fraud and a driver’s license issue.

Goodwin said his clients, the other owners of Herbal Outfitters, are unclear about what happened. He said Szeremy has been removed from the company for his conduct. Goodwin said Szeremy was not authorized to grow or possess marijuana at that location at that time. Prior to Sept. 2, the other owners had no reason to believe anything illegal was going on. Goodwin continued that the owners knew the facility was not compliant with state regulations and was not supposed to be used at this time.

The retail dispensary had to temporarily withdraw its application due to litigation with Douglas County. Szeremy was made aware that the grow facility was not to be used until litigation was resolved. Goodwin said Szeremy was not acting on behalf of the company. Other members do not have the intention to use the facility at this time, but they want to keep their business license application and want to recover from the damage done to the company.

Goodwin concluded by saying "The town does not punish the entire company due to wrongdoing of one individual even though he had been acting on behalf of the company."

Gaddis said the town has 10 days to issue an order and send it out to the interested parties. The hearing was then closed.

The authority meeting ended at 6:45 p.m., and the Town Council meeting began.

Fire Code resolution approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a resolution to accept the 2009 Fire Code with amendments. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman provided copies of the amendments to council. The present codes have been in existence since 2006. Kauffman said there is an interest in keeping the codes consistent for Pikes Peak Regional Building, contractors, and installers. The goal is to have the county commissioners approve the code in November and formally implement codes in January 2012.

Falcon, Cimarron Hills, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department and Security are among the entities that have approved the code. Gaddis said council will need to adopt this by ordinance, which will be voted on at the next council meeting.

Rezoning approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a request for a master plan to include a minor subdivision, a rezone from RA (Residential Agricultural Zone—5 Acre) to R10,000 (Residential Zone—10,000 sq. ft. minimum, Single Family) with a vacation and replat of interior lot line and a private forestry access easement. Tim Wagner of Wagner Land Surveying did the land survey and represented the parties involved. The property, which will remain forested, is at the top of Ben Lomond, the landmark mesa just east of Palmer Lake. .

Economic development

Economic development Trustee Michael Maddox provided the following updates:

  • He continues to gather information for the www.visitPalmerLake.com website. This site will promote Palmer Lake businesses, show hiking trails, and list information on events.
  • Maddox met with Alicia Gatti of The Depot Restaurant and Vic Tis of the Fine Art Center to finalize plans on November events honoring veterans. Among the scheduled events are Wisdom Within These Walls, which will consist of stories told by veterans at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts on Nov. 11-13 and a special dinner at The Depot on Nov. 12, with 50 percent of the proceeds from the dinner going to support the Military Creative Expressions program.
  • He is continuing the planning for a spring art conference, which will involve Palmer Lake area venues and businesses.

Police Department

Palmer Lake Police Chief Kieth Moreland presented the Palmer Lake Police Department Life Saving Award to current Palmer Lake Officer Jennifer Jack and former Palmer Lake Officer Robert Grado.

On Aug. 3, 2011, Jack was dispatched to assist the Colorado State Patrol with a rollover accident on Interstate 25 when it was reported that two of the occupants were seen at a trailer park on Beacon Lite Road. Jack found them and discovered that the male was bleeding from the head. She requested medical assistance; however the individual began complaining of severe neck pain. Using her emergency room technician training, Jack had the accident victim lie down, applied direct pressure to his head wound, and braced his head between her knees, immobilizing him.

At Memorial Hospital North, it was discovered that the victim had a fractured C-2 vertebrae. The attending nurse noted that the slightest movement, even a sneeze, could have broken the individual’s neck. Medical personnel said Jack’s actions helped save his life.

Grado, presently a commander with the Denver Regional Transportation District Police, was awarded for action he took in August 1993. Grado assisted three adults and three children out of a Grandview Mobile Home Park home that had a broken gas line. After arousing a man in the home to open the door, Grado instructed that he do not turn on a light switch or do anything else that could create a spark. The gas company assessed the damage to the gas line and determined that the probability of explosion was certain had any spark occurred. At the time of the incident the Palmer Lake Police Department did not have any formal award recognition, so the award was presented at this meeting.

Water

Water Trustee Max Stafford said water use is "getting closer to fall and winter usage rates." He expects the surface water treatment plant to be completed in January 2012.

The dredging of the reservoir is completed but the cleanup is ongoing.

Fire Department

Fire Trustee Rich Kuester said the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department would host the Second Annual Kids Carnival on Oct. 29.

Kuester announced that Alex Brown, Bryan Price, David Robbins, Matt Gladin, Zach Thorn, and Richard Bassett became probationary members during the September business meeting.

Town staff

Bookkeeper Linda Firth said a preliminary budget should be available by the November council meeting.

Consent items approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved the following consent items:

  • Business license for The Villa—Chris and Kerri Boller
  • Business license for Crystal Peak Fitness—Carrie Doody
  • Business license for Encore Painting Inc.—Sandra Stroh
  • Request for an increase in fee in lieu of land—School District 38
  • Request from the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee to hold a dance in the Town Hall

The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

**********

The next regular council meeting will be on Nov. 10 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or call 481-2953.

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@ocn.me.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Sept. 28: Three firefighters promoted to driver-engineer

Below: On Sept. 28, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board President Scott Campbell swore in firefighters, from left, Wayne Krzemien, Roger Lance, and Jonathan Urban, who were promoted to driver-engineer status. Photo provided by the Donald Wescott FPD.

By Jim Kendrick

At the start of the Sept. 28 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, three firefighters were promoted to driver-engineer status: Wayne Krzemien, Roger Lance, and Jonathan Urban. They were sworn in by board President Scott Campbell. Family members in attendance helped pin on their new badges in a laughter-filled ceremony.

Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall reported all expected property tax revenue for the year had been received from El Paso County. Some specific ownership tax revenue for motor vehicle sales will still be received later this year. About 72 percent of the district’s total budgeted 2011 expenditures had been spent through the end of the third quarter.

Marshall also distributed the first draft of the 2012 district budget. She led a discussion of about two-thirds of the line items in the draft budget. There was board consensus to hold a special meeting on Oct. 12 to complete the review of the first draft. Some of the major revisions discussed were:

  • There will be a 4 percent drop in district assessed property values and revenues for 2012 and 2013.
  • Creating three new full-time firefighter positions and converting the fire marshal position to a full-time position for 2012, after an increase in payroll from about $700,000 to over $1 million in the past three years, without planning to ask for a mill levy increase for 2012 or 2013, while increasing 2012 pay for current employees.
  • Firefighters from other districts will continue to work part-time for Wescott to cover shifts when four to six Wescott full-time staffers are deployed to wildland fires with the district’s only tender and/or one of the pumpers or brush trucks.
  • There will be no 2012 contribution from the district nor a 90 percent matching contribution from the state to the volunteer firefighter pension fund, because it remains actuarially sound for the near term.

Chief’s report

There was a total of 137 calls in August, bringing the year-to-date total to 1,086, a substantial increase over the 842 calls in 2010 for the same eight-month period. Construction of the new station on Highway 83 is proceeding on schedule.

Fire Marshal Margo Humes reported that she had recently conducted 20 inspections with 367 violations noted, of which 186 had been corrected voluntarily. She also discussed new proposed international fire code amendments.

Fire Chief Vinny Burns noted that seven new volunteer firefighters had joined the staff. The district website’s new design is now operational. A new Firefighter II training class started on Sept. 29. Burns listed the events the district participated in for the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, as well as several other local training and community service activities.

The district collected over $14,000 during the annual Muscular Dystrophy Association Fill the Boot campaign over the Labor Day weekend.

The semi-annual pension board meeting was confirmed for Oct. 26.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m.

Jim Kendrick can be contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Oct. 26: Pension board meets before regular board, learns of new revenue cut

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 26, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District volunteer firefighter pension board concurred with the recommendation from volunteer firefighter Lt. Tim Hampton and elected to not make a contribution to the pension fund because it remains actuarially sound.

The last contributions by the district to the volunteer pension fund were made in late 2008 and 2009—$100,000 each. This amount resulted in the last state matching grant of $90,000 each to the pension fund in early 2009 and 2010. The total fund balance continues to grow, despite the current economic climate and payout of retirement benefits to current volunteer retirees. There was about $24,000 of net growth in the first half of the year after total payments of $16,875 were made.

The pension board consists of the five directors of the Wescott board and two active Wescott volunteer firefighters. Pension board meetings are held twice a year. Volunteer firefighter Lt. Bryan Ackerman, the other volunteer member of the board, was unable to attend this meeting. Wescott Director Joyce Hartung was also unable to attend due to icy roads.

In other matters, the pension board unanimously approved a motion to begin creating annual pension fund budgets. The volunteer members of the board will analyze the need and feasibility for any changes to volunteer survivor and line-of-duty injury/death benefits and report on possible recommendations for increases at the next pension board meeting on April 25, 2012.

Hampton asked the pension board to begin seeking annual replenishment of the current annual expenses of the pension fund while there are only a few retirees drawing benefits to ensure even greater long-term fund stability. There was consensus to have the district board make a $6,000 contribution to the pension fund by the end of 2012, once the actual expenses for the year are known. This $6,000 donation will result in a state match of $4,000 in early 2012 under the state’s current matching fund rules.

The pension board adjourned at 7:34 p.m.

Regular board meeting

The regular board meeting began at 7:45 p.m. Director Joyce Hartung was absent due to icy road conditions.

Financial statement

The district’s Horseshoe 2 wildfire deployment reimbursement from the state yielded a net profit of about $22,000. The other six district wildfire incidents are expected to yield an additional net profit of about $38,000. The deployed vehicles that generated this revenue were the district’s only tender and the 1999 brush truck.

Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall reported that the district has exceeded its budget for fuel, due to higher prices. Funds will be transferred from another line item. There was an $8,000 expense to replace the heating and air conditioning unit for Station 1. Total expenditures through the end of September remained at 74 percent, keeping the operational budget on track for 2011.

Chief’s report

There was a total of 125 calls in September, bringing the year-to-date total to 1,171. There were 981 calls in 2010 for the same nine-month period. The new policy of closest response being coordinated with the Tri-Lakes Monument and Black Forest districts has produced the higher run total. Most of the additional dispatches are to Jackson Creek for dispatches in the Tri-Lakes district.

The board agreed to take a tour of construction progress at the new station on Highway 83 on Oct. 29.

Seven firefighters participated in fall wildfire mitigation chipping in Pleasant View estates. The rental cost for the chipper was $400.

The board unanimously approved adoption of some aspects of the 2009 International Fire Code plus amendments presented to the board for consideration on Sept. 28. The major amendment calls for 30 feet of wildfire mitigation from the front and rear of buildings and houses larger than 3,500 square feet in wooded areas.

Chief Vinny Burns said this adoption standardizes the code rules enforced by every fire marshal in the North Group of county fire districts, in particular the requirement for in-house sprinkler systems for new homes in excess of 6,000 square feet. He explained that these large homes are being built in rural areas without hydrants for the most part. There is not going to be enough water available on arriving apparatus to prevent a fire at a house of this size from spreading to the trees, creating a wildfire situation.

Burns also noted that Wescott had participated in the region-wide Up in Smoke exercise that included field exercises, like evacuation practice, and table-top command and control activities. The exercise was very successful in identifying issues regarding interoperability of non-standardized equipment, particularly the need for most fire departments to purchase adapters to be able to interconnect to hydrants and other apparatus as far south as Pueblo.

The board discussed the latest draft of the 2012 district budget, which had been scheduled for a final vote at this meeting. However, there was board consensus to postpone the final vote until the November meeting, which will be held on Nov. 16, rather than Nov. 23, due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Burns said that the district received a letter from the county assessor the week before this meeting that stated the district’s property tax revenue would be decreased by an additional $86,000—for a total reduction of $186,000 in 2011 property tax revenue—due to a recent court decision to allow exclusion of some properties in the south end of the district’s service area.

The most significant proposed expenditure cut resulting from this additional loss of revenue was the elimination of the proposed full-time position for the district fire marshal starting in 2012. The long-term plan to hire a total of six new firefighters will be restricted to only three new firefighters until there is more construction within the district to increase property tax revenues. A cut of $60,000 in the building repair reserve fund was one of several similar cuts also proposed.

No final decisions were made on how to cut the originally proposed first draft of the 2011 budget. The board scheduled its December meeting for Dec. 7 to ensure that the final mill levy request and budget for 2012 can be approved before the state’s Dec. 15 deadline.

The meeting adjourned at 9:22 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Nov. 16 in the Station 1 conference room, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680.

Jim Kendrick can be contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Sept. 28: Impact fees to be used to cover 2012 budget shortfall

Below: From left are firefighters Mike Rauenzahn, Franz Hankins, Jon Bodinsky, Capt. Kris Mola, Tyler Brown, and Janaka Branden, Ryan Rockx, and district office manager Jennifer Martin. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Members of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District B shift ascend the Incline in Manitou Springs on Sept. 11. This climb memorialized New York Fire Department Rescue 4 unit, which lost nine individuals in the Sept. 11, 2001, rescue effort at the World Trade Center. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District B shift members atop the Incline in Manitou Springs on Sept. 11. This climb was to memorialize the nine firefighters from the New York Fire Department Rescue 4 unit who died at the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. Photos by Franz Hankins.

By Bernard L. Minetti

During the Sept. 28 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Fire Chief Robert Denboske discussed the $291,000 shortfall in assessed value tax revenue and the $25,000 shortfall in specific ownership tax income for the 2012 budget. To alleviate this shortfall, Denboske suggested that he be allowed to pay the equipment lease fees for 2012 out of the $600,000 impact fee fund. The fund is restricted to building and equipment uses.

Board President Charlie Pocock said that originally the impact fee fund was set up for construction of a firehouse in the Jackson Creek area. Because cooperation between the Tri-Lakes and Donald Wescott districts has become much more efficient, the need for the station is not as strong.

A motion was made that Denboske’s suggestion be incorporated into the budgetary process for 2012. The motion passed unanimously.

Treasurer John Hildebrandt said that through August, the district has received $3,149,898, or 97.68 percent of budgeted income. He also reported that receipt of specific ownership tax revenue to date amounted to $187,575, or 68.43 percent of the annual budget. Hildebrandt noted that ambulance revenues were $410,107, or 83.7 percent of the budget. On the other hand he noted that impact fee revenue had not changed and remained at $23,476, or 39.13 percent of the budget expectation.

Hildebrandt also noted that administrative expenses remained high, primarily due to fees for liability insurance premiums, the county treasurer’s fee, and workers’ compensation insurance premiums. Medical expenses were high due to a maintenance contract and supplies. Utilities were below budgetary expectations, while fuel costs continued to rise. He summarized by noting that overall budget expenses were at 65.86 percent, under budget by 0.80 percent.

Denboske said total personnel training hours for the district were 191.5. Of that total, 120.5 were fire/all hazard specific, 59 were EMS specific, and 12 were for physical fitness. Denboske noted that this report compared favorably with previous reports.

Pocock then noted the actions of B shift members, who were present, concerning the anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001. When B shift got off shift on that morning this year, they realized that it was difficult to take part in any of the climbs, hikes, or other events for the 10-year anniversary. This was due to their early start times. Lt. R. Graham and his crew from Station 2 decided that the shift should create its own commemoration experience. They chose to hike the Incline in Manitou Springs, which ascends 2,000 feet over more than a mile.

The shift, as a group, decided to do the climb in all their firefighters’ gear. Capt. Kris Mola thought it would be a good idea to climb in remembrance of the effort and sacrifices of the New York Fire Department Rescue Unit 4. That unit was chosen because it lost nine firefighters on that day in 2001. A similar number from the B shift would take the hike. Jennifer Martin, office manager for the district, accompanied the group. Pocock noted, emotionally, that this commemoration was extremely noteworthy, and he and the board congratulated all the participants.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact district Office Manager Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Oct. 26: Sprinkler issue tabled for two years;  firefighters’ pay frozen for one year

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, following the recommendation of Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman, tabled the pending residential sprinkler coding issue for a period of two years at the board’s Oct. 26 meeting.

In October 2013, the issue is to be revisited. Kauffman noted that only 15 fire departments in Colorado have adopted the sprinkler coding. They are north and west of Denver. He also said that pressure was received from homebuilders of the area due to the cost of sprinkler installation in new construction.

Kauffman said construction costs ranged from 50 cents a square foot in Arizona to $3.50 to $4.50 a square foot in other parts of the country. He also stated that costs declined in areas where the codes have been in place longer.

Director Roger Lance asked Kauffman if the cost issue overrode the safety of firefighters and people. Kauffman replied, "Yes."

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that September represents 75 percent of the budget timeline for the year. He noted that the district had received $3,168,312, or 98.25 percent of the budgeted property tax revenue and $214,126, or 78.12 percent of the specific ownership tax revenue. This amount reflected a $46,903 decrease from the 2010 budget.

Hildebrandt said ambulance revenues to date were $447,003, or 91.23 percent of the budgeted allocation. Revenue from impact fees from the Blevins apartment complex amounted to $128,260 and the impact fee total for the budget timeline was $151,736 or 252.29 percent of the amount budgeted.

Pay freeze for firefighters

Chief Robert Denboske requested that the board approve a pay freeze for district firefighters for one year because of lower revenues. The board voted to freeze firefighter pay scales with the exception of the items covered by legislative fiat such as health-care costs. Denboske noted that personal insurance costs will rise 3 to 6 percent in the coming year. He also advised the board that the district would be "creative" in keeping the budget within allowable resources.

Denboske requested that the board write off overdue ambulance billing invoices. He noted that Medicare and Medicaid allowed only one billing per event. He told the board that aging reports of overdue bills were compiled monthly. The overdue bills now amounted to $215,000. This included unpaid bills from 2010 and earlier. Director Lance made a motion to write off the 2010 billing and older unpaid invoices. The motion passed unanimously.

Denboske presented the board with the district’s 2012 budget proposal. Board President Charlie Pocock noted that the proposal would be reviewed and be an agenda item for passage at the Nov. 16 board meeting.

District Training Officer Mike Keough reported that the total personnel training hours for September amounted to 170 man-hours. Of that amount, 107.5 were fire/all hazard specific and 62.5 were EMS specific. There were no physical fitness hours logged in September.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding the meeting, contact Fire District Office Manager Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911. The December meeting will be on Dec. 7.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, Oct. 20: Board finalizes Operations Advisory Committee, discusses performance framework

By Harriet Halbig

On Oct. 20, the School District 38 Board of Education voted to finalize the work of the Operations Advisory Committee (OAC) and thanked the committee for its efforts. Committee members Deborah Goth and Karen Shuman received plaques from board President John Mann. Absent members were Jeff Bodily, Roy Graves, Marilyn Edwards, Mike Mikelson, and Curt Broeker.

The committee, originally known as the Facilities and Environment Committee, has varied in size from five to nine members over its tenure. It was charged with analyzing maintenance needs for the district, prioritizing capital needs, monitoring spending on Palmer Ridge High School, and forecasting enrollment.

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman commended Colorado Springs City Council member Angela Dougan and Monument Town Planner Karen Griffith for their assistance with planning, zoning, and land use issues, especially concerning the intersection of highways 83 and 105. Mann also presented them with plaques honoring their achievements.

New forensic science class at Palmer Ridge

Palmer Ridge High School Principal Gary Gabel introduced teacher Kait Cumsille and two of her forensic science students, senior Christiane Welch and junior Brendan Monogue.

Welch and Monogue expressed excitement at the opportunity to apply science, biology, biochemistry, and other disciplines to real world situations.

The semester-long class, with a law enforcement focus, includes class work, field trips and guest speakers such as school board member and Sheriff’s Office Detective Mark Pfoff. Students are presented with a hypothetical case and taught to interview suspects, evaluate eyewitness accounts, and research aspects of a case through the use of Ipads.

Both students said that they found the class fascinating and valuable in development of critical thinking, observation, and problem-solving skills.

District performance frameworks

Director of Assessment/Gifted Education/Technology Dr. Lori Benton presented a draft of the district performance frameworks used by the Colorado Department of Education in evaluating and rating districts and schools. She said that the district has access to one-year and three-year reports.

Aspects involved are:

  • Academic achievement based on CSAP scores.
  • Academic growth—a comparison of one year’s scores to the previous year’s by the same individual.
  • Academic growth gaps, usually involving educationally disabled, socio-economically disadvantaged, and English language learners.
  • Post-secondary and workforce readiness based on ACT scores and graduation and dropout rates.

Benton said that the use of this framework enables the district to identify areas that need additional attention.

Benton reported that the district’s achievement over the past two years has earned it accreditation with distinction.

The Lewis-Palmer graduate

Director Dr. Jeff Ferguson and Superintendent John Borman reported on their further discussion of desirable traits for Lewis-Palmer graduates.

Ferguson said that he is on a committee at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs involving a rethinking of general education. He has consulted a number of books on the subject of readiness for college and the workforce and determined a few necessary traits:

  • Knowledge of culture
  • Critical thinking skills
  • Personal responsibility for one’s actions
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Holistic approach to problems

Ferguson said that students must prepare for jobs that may not now exist and these skills, plus skilled use of technology, will prepare them for the future. He predicted that in the future of our society, many jobs will disappear or be sent overseas, while creative jobs and service jobs will remain here.

Borman said that community engagement between the district and local businesses will serve the students as well as the community. In his previous job in the Greeley schools, he served on a committee that met with business leaders and asked what they sought in employees. They sought people with good problem-solving skills, a strong work ethic, and the ability to create good interpersonal relationships.

Borman said his hope is to develop opportunities for apprenticeships or job sharing in the community and develop an appreciation of the value of good citizenship.

He said that such technical institutions as MIT are beginning to acknowledge that there is a need for a well-rounded education, including the humanities, for an individual to make a maximum contribution to society. He said that he was pleased that D-38 can continue to offer the arts in its curriculum because the students can manage the academics as well as the enrichment aspect of education.

Mann suggested that the board contact graduates from two to six years ago to learn whether they felt well prepared to enter post-secondary education and the work force.

Examination of district reserve funds

Wangeman spoke to the board about the various reserve funds maintained by the district, some of which are accessible for spending and others that are restricted, such as those required by TABOR. She said that a new method of auditing financial books allows the board to more easily see what funds are in these reserves.

Funds are committed to such purposes as retirement payments, the refinance of the administration building, and contracts for such things as utilities, insurance, and food service.

Wangeman said that the district’s reserve fund balance is now 21 percent, higher than that of most districts.

Ferguson commented that the OAC had expressed concern with the condition of the district’s capital assets and the fact that they were not being diligently maintained. He asked that Wangeman suggest specific uses for the capital reserve fund to address this problem. He also suggested that she take into account such possibilities as a spike in the cost of utilities and rescission of funds by the state.

Red Cross shelter agreement

In the wake of last spring’s acid leak emergency, the American Red Cross has requested that the Grace Best facility be used as a shelter in future emergencies. If the need for a second shelter arises, it will be Palmer Ridge High School. The board approved the request.

Enrollment update

Borman reported that the Oct. 1 count of students went well but is not yet finalized.

At this time it appears that enrollment is flat from last year. This is a positive sign, because enrollment had been expected to decline by over 100 students.

Superintendent update

Borman reported that the Empty Bowls dinner went well, but he was disappointed by the number of district activities that presented a conflict on that date.

Discussions about new revenue sources continue. The most recent discussions involve the creation of a home school enrichment program, perhaps one day a week at Grace Best. Other districts offering similar programs have waiting lists for the service.

Borman said that such a program would offer several advantages, the first of which would be the opportunity to demonstrate what the district can offer to these families should they decide to transition to a public school environment.

Unlike an online academy, the district would not be responsible for the test score participants in a home school program. Recent articles in local newspapers have expressed concern over the dropout rate of those attending online classes.

Board members’ comments

Board member Gail Wilson said that she attended a recent meeting of the Colorado Association of School Boards and learned that local control of school boards remains a concern. In some areas, political parties are endorsing candidates for school board positions.

Pfoff commented that he had enjoyed his interaction with the students in the forensic science class and looks forward to the field trips to the crime lab and courtroom.

Consent agenda

The board approved a number of routine issues such as the minutes of previous meetings, appointments and resignations, special education contracts, and routine requests.

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster said that the operational policy revisions on the consent agenda included a revision of the policy on bullying, acknowledging that cyber bullying is a continuing problem that exposes students to bullying 24 hours a day. He said that the middle school is addressing the problem and retaliation is now being added to the criteria.

A second policy revision concerns response to concussions. The state has made a training video on the subject for athletic coaches.

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The Lewis Palmer School District 38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Nov. 17.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, Oct. 11: Principal gives update on Lewis-Palmer Elementary

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer School District’s District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) heard a report from Lewis-Palmer Elementary (LPES) Principal Lois Skaggs at its Oct. 11 meeting.

A new procedure of the committee is to hear a report from the principal of the school at which the meeting is held. In this way, the committee will become familiar with all campuses.

Skaggs said that her school has been recognized as a John Irwin School of Excellence, placing it in the top 8 percent in the state, and a Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for the highest growth in scores over three years.

Skaggs reported that LPES has a student population of 434 students and a high level of gifted-talented identifications. For this reason, a number of parents choose the school.

Some weaknesses exist in growth among those with educational disabilities and those needing to catch up. The school’s goal is for sixth-graders to be 90 percent proficient in CSAP tests.

There are a number of before- and after-school enrichment programs, taught by LPES teachers, such as cooking, chess, robotics, and ceramics. Parents pay for their students to attend these programs. Those on free or reduced school lunches may attend for free.

Skaggs said that each day, 10 to 20 parents are in the school on a volunteer basis and that the PTO has been successful in raising funds for the school’s needs.

Legislative update

Board of Education Liaison Gail Wilson said that she would continue to serve in that capacity until after the school board election.

Wilson said that no new legislation is being proposed at this time.

The Board of Education has voted to eliminate policy governance as its management model. Wilson said that the board’s relationships with Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman and Superintendent John Borman are very comfortable and that the board is developing its own management model. She said that policy governance was a model from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) and had been applied to the local district.

A continuing concern of CASB is retention of local control of school affairs. There is concern that political parties are involving themselves in school board affairs by supporting or opposing school board candidates.

District performance framework

Dr. Lori Benton, director of Assessment, Gifted Education, and Technology, explained the framework whereby the state Department of Education evaluates and rates schools and districts.

Five aspects of a district’s performance are evaluated by the state:

  • Academic achievement measured by test scores
  • Academic growth measured by comparison of present scores to those of a year ago by a given individual
  • Academic growth gaps, usually involving English language learners or educationally disabled students
  • Post-secondary and workforce readiness of those over the age of 15
  • ACT scores of high school students

The state Department of Education places increasing weight on the growth model in evaluating achievement.

Schools each develop a school improvement plan to address any weaknesses in performance. These plans are monitored by Benton’s office and reviewed annually by DAAC.

The district’s performance in growth and scores earned it accreditation with distinction for the past two years.

Benton said that parents who wish to view the framework may go to schoolview.com, and enter the district or the school they wish to study.

Committee for Political Achievement

Committee for Political Achievement Chair Cori Tanner reported that the Meet the Candidates event for the Board of Education election went smoothly and was streamed on the district’s website and could still be accessed.

She said that she hoped that the candidates heard the concerns of the public and was glad that those watching online could ask questions.

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair presented the 2012-13 school calendar for the committee’s review. She said that this is the first reading and that the calendar is based on last year’s with dates adjusted as holidays differ.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held on Nov. 9 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Special Education Advisory Council, Oct. 19: Transportation for special needs students discussed

By Harriet Halbig

At the Oct. 19 meeting of the District 38 Special Education Advisory Council, Transportation Manager Robin Mossman and Driver Trainer Lois Krohn presented an informative talk on transportation for special needs students.

They stressed that the Transportation Department requires a lot of information from parents in order to safely transport and care for special needs students. This information includes health issues of the student such as allergy and seizures, and other underlying conditions such as diabetes, and detailed contact information for parents. Alternate emergency contacts are critical. There is also a mechanism by which parents can notify the Transportation Department that a child will not need to be picked up on a given day.

Employees of the department are trained in confidentiality so that parents should not hesitate to divulge complete information.

Krohn said that the health form distributed to all students at the beginning of the school year is often not processed for several weeks, whereas the form specific to special education students goes directly to the Transportation Department so that the information is immediately available. Legally, the district is not required to transport students without this information.

Transportation staff members need to know what safety equipment will be needed for each individual, such as special seat belts, and whether the student uses a wheelchair. Some wheelchairs are not approved for use on buses.

Krohn said that the district’s registrar is now supplying the special information forms to parents as they enroll their children in the district. These forms are kept on a clipboard next to the driver while transporting the students.

Krohn suggested that the best place to fill out the necessary forms is at the student’s IEP (individual education plan) meeting. At one time, a representative of the Transportation Department was present at initial IEP meetings, but that is no longer the case.

For those students attending summer classes under ESY (extended school year), an additional form is required.

Special Education Department report

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury gave a brief report on the state of the department. She said that there has been an influx of special needs students this year because District 38’s standards are higher than those of most of the surrounding districts. For this reason, there is a need to maximize the resources available in the district, such as the paraprofessionals and other staff who may assist in any way.

When asked about an earlier campaign to identify all physical resources in the district, Fleury said that unfortunately that campaign has been suspended because the combining of the middle schools and other shifts in populations made it difficult to follow the resources. In addition, many of the resources in use were the personal property of the teachers.

Although special education has been protected from cuts more than other aspects of the district, the increase in class sizes affects everyone.

The district is still considered by the state to have identified too many English language learners as educationally disabled. The number of English language learners in the district has increased from 250 to 300 over the last year.

The number of special education students has not changed significantly over the past year, but the severity of disabilities has increased as more people choose the district, Fleury said.

This year, Monument Academy is providing its own services, but its employees are trained by District 38.

Fleury said the district used federal funds to purchase several netbooks for the use of students in the program and have obtained textbooks for blind and dyslexic students. Some of the netbooks are also equipped with WordQ and SpeakQ software, which provide word suggestions to students as they work.

Fleury briefly described the Peer Support Program at Palmer Ridge High School in which 29 general education students pair up with special needs students. Brandy Doan, coordinator of the program, will train teachers in the concept.

Committee Chair Suzanne Faber commented that this program would also be welcome at the middle school level, where many students have expressed an interest in mentoring classmates.

Attendees were shown an informative DVD about the special education process produced by the Colorado Department of Education.

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The Special Education Advisory Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of the month at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The topic of the next meeting is inclusion.

Harriet Halbig can be contacted at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Partial results of the Nov. 1 election

These are the final unofficial results as posted at www.elpasoelections.com/2011Coordinated/results-text.html. Consult the website for details. The Academy school district results may be subject to a recount.

Academy School District 20

Director (vote for not more than two)
Glenn L. Strebe
9252 (42.09%)
Tracey Johnson
7414 (33.72%)
Kim Wright 7376 33.55%
Bill Murray 4731 21.52%

Total Votes 28773

Lewis Palmer School District 38

Director District 2 (vote for 1)
John Mann
3928 (48.83%)
Ken Valdez 2548 (31.68%)

Total Votes 6476

Director District 4 (vote for 1)
Mark Pfoff
3672 (45.65%)
Gordon Reichal 2750 (34.19%)

Total Votes 6422

Director District 5 (vote for 1)
Robb Pike
3749 (46.61%)
Alfred C. Maurer 2673 (33.23%)

Total Votes 6422

Proposition 103 (STATUTORY)

Increase Taxes
NO
81677 (69.94%)
YES 33583 (28.76%)

Total Votes 115260

5B-Black Forest Fire District

Increase Taxes
YES
1627 (57.03%)
NO 1207 (42.31%)

Total Votes 2834

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Oct. 7: Board approves funding for Baptist Road engineering and design work

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 7, County Engineer Andre Brackin briefed the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) board on the current phase of the county’s preliminary planning for widening Baptist Road from the I-25 interchange west to Hay Creek Road and building a bridge over the railroad tracks to alleviate traffic problems caused by passing trains and crossing blockages caused by repairs.

Brackin solicited BRRTA financial participation to increase the limited amount of money available for this project.

County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams and Commissioner Steve Hisey were absent.

Brackin reported that traffic engineering consultant firm Fellsburg, Holt, and Ullevig will be contracted by the county for $180,861 to perform corridor planning, alternative analysis, and conceptual design for completion by mid-2012 . Once a preferred alternative is selected, preliminary and final design and engineering plans would be completed by early 2013. Construction would be completed by the end of 2014.

However, Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funding available for this project is $4.66 million. The total requirement is estimated to be about $10 million to $11 million. If the four-lane bridge is built, the additional cost could be as high as $13 million.

The BRRTA board unanimously approved a contract amendment for an amount not to exceed $14,570 with engineering firm PBS&J to perform preliminary engineering and design work for the project.

In other matters, the board unanimously approved final documentation to receive a reimbursement of $3 million from the Colorado Department of Transportation as partial payment for the construction of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. When received, this money will be used to pay off some of BRRTA’s bonds early and save a considerable amount of interest.

The board also unanimously approved a payment of $12,174 to Triview Metropolitan District for repair of a Triview 10-inch sewer line that was damaged during construction of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The repairs were performed by Redline Pipeline of Monument.

The board went into executive session at 3:20 p.m. to receive legal advice on negotiations.

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The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first Friday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Board of County Commissioners, Oct. 27: Willow Springs zoning and conceptual plan approved

Below: On Oct. 27, John Maynard of land planning consultant firm NES and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman explained to the Board of County Commissioners how the existing Watt family Willow Springs ranch driveway and concrete bridge over Monument Creek have frequently supported 18-wheelers and concrete trucks in the past. This driveway was found acceptable to serve as a secondary emergency access road when the commissioners approved the Willow Springs Zoning and Conceptual Plan by a 3-1 vote with District 1 Commissioner Darryl Glenn opposed. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 27, the Board of County Commissioners gave final approval to the proposed Willow Springs zoning and conceptual plan by a 3-1 vote with Commissioners Darryl Glenn opposed and Sallie Clark absent. This completed about five months of on-again, off-again scheduled-then-postponed hearings on changing the zoning of this foreclosed 248-acre parcel from agricultural to Planned Unit Development District zoning.

The announced purpose of the county zoning change is to make it easier for the landowners, Integrity Bank & Trust of Monument and HBC Willow Springs LLC of Kansas, to sell the mostly vacant property, the former horse ranch of the Tom Watt and Mike Watt families. Integrity owns the former Tom Watt and Mike Watt homes and is renting them.

The two foreclosing banks, after extensive venue shopping, chose to go back to the county to seek rezoning and abandoned the annexation agreement and Planned Development Sketch Plan that the Monument Board of Trustees had already approved.

For information regarding the history of the Willow Springs project, search the exact phrase "Willow Springs" at www.ocn.me.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Oct. 26: Board discusses preparations for election, capital improvements

By Harriet Halbig

Vice President Jim Hale reported to the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board that members of the association’s nominating committee have met with representatives from the League of Women Voters regarding ballot design and procedures for the election in January.

Hale said that the goal was to simplify the design of the ballot, making it unnecessary to cut apart the document, and simplifying the need for a signature. In the past, a number of ballots had to be discarded without counting due to improper use.

Hale said that two individuals have expressed an interest in running for a position on the board (three seats will be up for election), but no biographical information has been submitted.

Improvements at the Barn

Director for Common Areas W. Lee Murray reported that new chairs had been purchased for the Barn, the wood floor had been refinished, and exterior maintenance had been performed on the building. The resurfacing and painting of the parking lot are also complete.

Murray reported some vandalism to one of the community’s signs, and a broken fence near Toboggan Hill.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that spending is 2 percent below budget for the year. The proposed budget for 2012 had been sent to members of the board. Homeowner’s dues will increase by 3 percent for 2012. The board voted to approve the 2012 budget.

Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen said that, although the last bear sighting occurred three weeks ago, they are still awake and active, and warned homeowners not to leave trash outdoors overnight before pickup and to keep grills and birdfeeders indoors.

Nielsen also reported the apprehension of two juveniles breaking into cars in the Woodmoor Park area of the community during the past month.

Nielsen also said that signs will be posted near Toboggan Hill regarding parking during sledding season. If parked cars obstruct traffic, the Public Safety Department may close down the hill on a given day. He cautioned that only sleds are allowed on the hill, not skis or snowboards. Skating is not allowed on any of the ponds, and residents are advised that use of the common areas for recreation is at their own risk.

Association manager Matt Beseau reported that association Secretary Craig Gaydos had prepared a spreadsheet indicating which homeowners had yet to vote on the WIA governing documents. In the next month there will be a campaign to phone these individuals or go door-to-door seeking their input. A written signature is required to ratify the changes. Nielsen offered the services of his officers to deliver or pick up ballots to expedite the process.

Beseau also reported that the association had been notified of an upcoming meeting of the El Paso County Commissioners regarding zoning and development along the I-25 corridor. Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis volunteered to attend the meeting. The WIA board discourages commercial development along its boundaries.

The board voted to spend $2,500 to upgrade the association’s Quick Books software for record keeping. The capacity of the present system has been reached. Beseau said that the new software’s capacity should be sufficient for many years.

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The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. In accommodation of the Thanksgiving holiday, the board will meet on Nov. 16.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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October Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Overall it was a "normal" October around the region, as temperatures and precipitation (rain and snow) ended up right where we would expect. Temperatures ranged from a high of 75°F on the 1st and 2nd to a low of 6°F on the 27th. Plenty of sunny and mild days were interrupted by a couple powerful but quickly moving storms that produced some snow and wind.

As often occurs during this time of the year, when we are quickly transitioning from one season to the next, we experience a little of both seasons over a short time, sometimes within the same day. October started off with mild and dry conditions, as highs reached into the mid-70s during the first three days of the month. This is about 10 degrees warmer than normal for this time of the year and has made for some very nice "Indian summer" conditions.

Overnight lows have also been warmer than would be expected, with mainly upper 30s and low 40s around the region. There has been just enough moisture to produce afternoon and early evening clouds after morning sunshine, with a few light rain showers during the afternoon of the 2nd. However, these did not amount to more than a trace.

The remainder of the first full week of October continued to see mild and quiet conditions with morning sunshine and scattered afternoon clouds. Temperatures were well above normal, with highs in the low 70s on the 3rd and 4th, then 60s on the 5th and 6th. However, a powerful storm system was brewing to our west, already bringing unseasonable heavy rain and mountain snows throughout much of the western United States.

This system came through Colorado in two pieces, with the first mainly affecting the mountains and western Colorado, and the second hitting us head-on. Heavy snow began to pile up in the high country on the 6th, with very windy conditions affecting the Front Range and Eastern Plains. These winds were in response to the strong jet stream moving through and the tight pressure gradient caused by high pressure to our north and east and deep low pressure to our west.

Gusts over 70 mph caused some damage in the area and made for some miserable travel at times. This first system moved through from west to east as a Pacific cold front, a very unfavorable direction for producing precipitation here.

However, a separate area of low pressure was gathering strength to our southwest and was moving through the region in a preferred path for snow on the Palmer Divide. This storm rolled through late on the 7th and began to hammer the region during the early morning hours of the 8th. Rain quickly changed to snow as colder air worked in from the north.

Heavy snow and blowing snow fell from around 4 a.m. through the early afternoon, with most areas above 7,000 feet picking up 4 to 10 inches of snow. Quite a change from the tranquil, mild previous couple of weeks. Temperatures remained cool, with lows in the 20s and highs only hitting the 30s on the 8th and low to mid-40s on the 9th.

The second week of October was a quiet and mild week overall, with temperatures warming after our first snowstorm of the season. Highs reached the upper 50s on the 10th, then moved into above-normal territory from the 11th through the 16th, reaching as high as the low 70s on the 13th and 15th. Skies were mostly sunny through the period as well. Overnight lows continued to dip into the upper 20s to mid-30s, right about normal for this time of the year. No precipitation fell during the period, making for a nice time to enjoy some fall sunshine and beautiful fall colors.

The week of the 17th started off cool and a little wet. A quick-moving cold front brought rain on the morning of the 17th, then some snow during the early afternoon. Temperatures were held down as well, only hitting the upper 40s to low 50s. The next morning started off cold, with low 20s and a few flurries, and even with plenty of sunshine the rest of the day highs only managed the mid- to upper 40s.

Quiet weather returned for the rest of the week and temperatures slowly climbed to above normal levels as we headed into the weekend. With the clear skies, morning lows consistently felt well below freezing, but the daily sunshine allowed a quick warm up with highs hitting the 60s each afternoon from the 20th through the 23rd.

The second powerful storm began to affect the region over the next few days, with gusty southwesterly winds producing record highs on the 24th around the region, quickly followed by a cold front during the afternoon of the 25th. Rain turned to snow during the evening of the 25th, with snow and blowing snow continuing through the next afternoon.

Temperatures only managed to reach into the upper 20s on the afternoon of the 26th, and as skied cleared quickly that evening with light winds and fresh snow on the ground, temperatures plummeted to the single digits, even touching below zero in some of the coldest spots. Most of us picked up another 4 to 8 inches of new snow with this storm.

Sunshine returned for the remainder of the month, providing for beautiful weather for the last weekend of the month and for trick-or-treaters during Halloween.

A look ahead

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

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

October 2011 weather statistics

Average High 59.9° (+0.7) 100-year return frequency value max 67.7° min 50.7°
Average Low 28.8° (-0.5) 100-year return frequency value max 36.8° min 26.4°
Monthly Precipitation 1.68" (+0.17") 100-year return frequency value max 4.63" min 0.18"
Monthly Snowfall 15.2 (+1.02") Highest Temperature 75° on the 1st, 2nd
Lowest Temperature 6° on the 27th 
Season to Date Snow 15.2 (-1.0") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 11.25" (+1.95") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 640 (+6)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be contacted at billkappel@ocn.me.

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Letters to Our Community

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the view of OCN even when the letter writer is an OCN volunteer. Click here for letter guidelines.

Woodmoor ranch purchase questioned

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) is now in the ranching business!

Yep, as of 10:10 p.m. Oct. 17, by unanimous vote, the customers of WWSD became the proud owners of JV Ranch to the tune of $28 million—negotiations of which were held behind closed doors.

As an attendee of that meeting, I was utterly dismayed at the complete irreverence the board members displayed toward the community that elected them and the opposition that was clearly voiced by 30 speakers and over 100 in attendance. Just after public comments were completed and before a vote was taken, the board members each made statements defending their support for this measure. This behavior convinces me that the board members already had their minds made up and what the public had to say was irrelevant. This so-called public meeting was nothing but a farce.

In my observation of this four-hour dog and pony show, it was apparent to me that there is a self-serving symbiosis between the board and Jessie Shaffer, manager of WWSD. Shaffer, just like the Pied Piper, appears to be very successful at manipulating his followers with his Jedi mind tricks to make the board believe that the ranch purchase is the only viable way for WWSD to have any type of existence in the future. Shaffer is so good at selling his biased approach to problem solving that he could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.

There was no specific plan for any infrastructure to transport this water and no specific costs associated with it. Our water bills will have an added tax of almost $50 a month for 20 years to pay for what could amount to be a massive boondoggle!

The board members said that we needed this acquisition so that they would have a bargaining chip to work with for future negotiations with other water boards. It appears to me that this is nothing more than a very pricy power grab, mastered by an elitist, small-minded group of people.

I find this board’s attitude of "We know better than you" reprehensible and insulting. This is nothing more than Obamacare on steroids!

Jennifer Davis

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Great gift books

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Are you making your holiday list? When you begin checking it twice, consider adding books, those rare presents that can be opened again and again. Following are some suggestions for readers with varied interests.

The Wake of Forgiveness
By Bruce Machart (Houghton Mifflin) HC, $26; PB, $14.99

Winner of the 2010 Reading the West adult book award, this is a gripping American drama of misplaced guilt, familial struggle, and a search for identity.

In 1895, a Texas rancher loses his wife as she gives birth to the couple’s fourth son, Karel. Haunted by thoughts of the mother he never knew and the bloodshot blame in his father’s eyes, Karel becomes a talented horseman. At 15, he is faced with a high-stakes horse race that puts his father’s fortune, his brothers’ future, and his own fate in the balance.

Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson (Simon & Schuster) $35

Based on more than 40 interviews with Jobs conducted over two years—as well as interviews with more than a hundred family members, friends, adversaries, competitors, and colleagues—Isaacson has written a riveting story of the roller-coaster life and intense personality of a creative entrepreneur who revolutionized six industries: personal computers, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, and digital publishing. He built a company where leaps of the imagination were combined with remarkable feats of engineering.

Although Jobs cooperated with this book, he asked for no control over what was written, nor even the right to read it before it was published. He encouraged the people he knew to speak honestly. His friends, foes, and colleagues provide an unvarnished view of the passions, perfectionism, obsessions, artistry, devilry, and compulsion for control that shaped his approach to business and the innovative products that resulted.

Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week
By Joel Osteen (Faith Words) $24.99

Hosting a televised broadcast reaching over 200 million households each week, Joel Osteen is known as a man who maintains a constant positive outlook. In this book, he combines his personal experiences with scriptural insights and principles for true happiness.

Seriously … I’m Kidding
By Ellen Degeneres (Grand Central Publishing) $26.99

Degeneres, a hilarious entertainer, best-selling author, model and record company owner, expounds on many of her favorite topics—from hosting a talk show to what makes her happy.

Lost Memory of Skin
By Russell Banks (Ecco) $25.99

In this bold and emotionally provocative new novel, Banks probes the intellectual, moral, and cultural state of an era in a troubled society where zero tolerance has erased any hope of subtlety and compassion—a society where isolating the offender has perhaps created a new kind of victim.

Aleph
By Paulo Coelho (Knopf) $24.95

In a frank and surprising personal story, the best-selling author of The Alchemist returns to his beginnings as he embarks on a remarkable and transformative journey of self-discovery.

The Dovekeepers: A Novel
By Alice Hoffman (Scribner) $27.99

A story of murder, magic, faith, love, loyalty, fate, and personal destiny, this is the richest and most mesmerizing novel of Hoffman’s illustrious career. The lives of four sensuous, bold, resourceful women intersect in Masada in the year 70 A.D. during the desperate days of the siege of Jerusalem as the Romans are drawing near.

Comfort Food Fix: Feel Good Favorites Made Healthy
By Ellie Krieger (John Wiley & Sons) $29.99

Krieger presents a healthy take on classic American comfort foods with 150 soul-satisfying recipes—each featuring nutritional information, mouth-watering full-color photos, and tips for eating well.

Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific 1941-1942
By Ian W. Toll (W.W. Norton) $35

Stoll tells the epic tale of the first searing months of the Pacific War when the U.S. Navy shook off the worst defeat in American military history and seized the strategic initiative.

If you’re looking for gifts that will continue to give enjoyment long after the wrappings are thrown away, why not consider books? They can be perfect companions for these long cool nights.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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High Country Highlights: Fall and winter watering

By Woody Woodworth

This time of year in our beautiful state of Colorado, we experience fluctuating temperatures, arid climate, and little or no precipitation. November and December are typically dry and the small amount of snow that falls contains little moisture. Most of our wet snows arrive on the Front Range in early spring around March.

While we wait for the spring snows to arrive, our trees, shrubs, perennials, and lawns can suffer from drought. To keep them healthy, follow a few basic guidelines for supplemental watering from the Colorado State Cooperative Extension.

Newly planted trees are most susceptible to winter drought injury. Trees generally take one year to establish for each inch of trunk diameter. For example, a 2-inch diameter tree takes a minimum of two years to establish under normal conditions. Many trees have shallow roots and will require additional water.

Trees obtain water best when it is allowed to slowly soak into the soil to a depth of 12 inches. Winter methods of watering trees include: sprinklers, deep-root fork or needle, soaker hose or soft spray wand. Apply water to many locations under the dripline and beyond if possible. If you use a deep-root fork or needle, insert no deeper than 8 inches into the soil. As a general survival rule, apply 10 gallons of water for each diameter inch of the tree. For example, a 2-inch diameter tree needs 20 gallons per watering. Use a tape measure to measure your tree’s diameter. Water one or two times per month.

Newly planted shrubs require more water than established shrubs that have been planted for at least one year. Mulch all your shrubs to help retain moisture. In dry winters, all shrubs benefit from watering from October through March. Apply five gallons two times per month for a newly planted shrub. Small established shrubs, less than 3 feet tall, should receive five gallons monthly. Large established shrubs, more than 6 feet tall, require 18 gallons monthly. Decrease amounts to account for precipitation. Put water within the dripline and around the base of the shrub.

Woody plants with shallow roots require supplemental watering during extended dry fall and winter periods. Herbaceous perennials in exposed sites are more subject to winter freezing and thawing. This opens cracks in soil that expose roots to cold and drying. Plants receiving reflected heat from buildings, walls and fences are more subject to damage. The low angle of the winter sun makes this more likely in south or west exposures. Winter watering combined with mulching can prevent damage.

Lawns also are prone to winter damage. Newly established lawns, whether seed or sod, are especially susceptible to damage. Susceptibility increases for lawns with south or west exposures. Water only when air temperatures are above 40 degrees F. Apply water at mid-day so it will have time to soak in before possible freezing at night. A solid layer of ice on lawns can cause suffocation or result in matting of the grass. Windy sites result in faster drying of sod and plants and require additional water.

Some facts were used with permission from the Colorado State Cooperative Extension.

Woody Woodworth is a member of the Garden Centers of Colorado, actively involved in the green industry, and operates a garden center in downtown Monument. He can be contacted at woodywoodworth@ocn.me.  

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Green-winged teal: Anas crecca

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in.

Below: Drawing of Green-winged teal ducks by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Fall migration along the many corridors of the Central Flyway is winding down. Last week’s snow chased off remaining songbirds, and it will be several months until we again hear their sweet songs.

But this doesn’t mean all the birds have left. In fact, it is a great time to watch and feed our local residents, including chickadees, rosy finches, nuthatches, dark-eyed juncos, Steller’s jays and more. It is also a good time to look for migrating waterfowl that typically breed in northern regions and winter on Colorado’s streams and lakes.

Winter waterfowl

Until a few years ago, I didn’t know that ducks wintered in Colorado. On a January morning, photographer Linda Hauff invited me to join her as she took photos of frosty vegetation along the South Platte River in Littleton. I’m glad I tagged along because I was truly surprised at the number of duck species I found there.

In past columns I’ve featured the common merganser, the golden eye, bufflehead, and a number of other ducks that winter along the Front Range. One duck that I’ve yet to write about and is found here in winter and summer is the green-winged teal. It is a highly migratory dabbling duck that is commonly found across much of the United States and Canada.

At 13 to 16 inches in length with a weight of just under a pound, the green-wing teal is the smallest of the puddle ducks. Like most ducks, this species is sexually dimorphic. The male is handsome with a rich cinnamon-colored head, iridescent green crescent-shaped ear patches and a large white stripe that extends from the top of its shoulders down to its belly. The female is drab with light tan to brown color feathers and looks a little like any other female dabbling duck but smaller. Both sexes have a narrow dark beak, pinkish legs, and a green speculum on both wings that distinguishes them from other ducks, thus the name.

The green-wing teal’s preferred habitat is shallow but permanent mud-bottomed ponds and marshes with dense vegetation. It uses its webbed feet to push its beak along the surface of the water to sieve out small invertebrates and vegetation. Lamellae, or hair-like platelets inside its beak, filter tiny water-borne seeds, snails, mollusks, and insect larvae from the muddy water.

It’s courtship time

It’s November, and already green-winged teals have begun their courtship. Three or more drakes swim around the female and whistle, make burping sounds, display their breasts, and raise head feathers to impress her. The hen swims away and makes a sharp quacking sound; perhaps she’s hoping that one of the males will follow her. This behavior continues until February when pair bonds form. Pairs are generally thought to be monogamous, however ducks aren’t really monogamous in the traditional sense but they do remain together until the female’s last egg is laid, usually in June.

While a few green-winged teal nests can be found on the Palmer Divide, most pairs fly farther north to breed on northern prairies and can be found as far north as the Arctic tundra. Males fly separately from females and land first. Teals fly in daytime and at night. Once the females land, they begin to build nests in dense vegetation near water.

After the nest is complete, mating begins. The hen lays one egg a day for about 10 days and when finished, females begin to incubate their eggs. The drake is no longer needed, so he leaves to join other males that are molting.

Nesting together allows the females to take short breaks to eat and stretch their wings. This is a good example of how safety is achieved through the hens working together. Imagine a poor fox after an alarm has sounded and a hoard of angry hens attacks it from all directions! Teals are known to aggressively defend their nests.

Hatchlings can walk and feed them themselves

Hatching begins about three weeks after incubation begins, and all the chicks hatch within a few hours of each other. All duck species are hatched precocial, meaning the chicks are able to walk and feed themselves. The hen leads them to food and demonstrates how to eat but she does not feed them. Teals are precocial but are unable to regulate their temperature and are more sensitive to cold than other ducks. So the hen must keep the chicks nestled under her wings until they are able to generate their own heat before she can lead them to water. Within a month the chicks will have grown into adults, joined a flock, and begun to migrate to their winter habitat. Fall migration runs from August through November.

Teals are known for their high-speed flight and erratic twists and turns. They are a favorite with duck hunters for the challenge they present. Duck hunters enjoy the fall when large flocks of teals dive down to join the decoys the hunters have set out. Next to mallards, the green-winged teal is the most hunted duck and is reported to be quite tasty.

Despite the large number of green-winged teals taken by hunters every year, their conservation status remains healthy. This is in part due to efforts of groups like Ducks Unlimited that actively work to identify, purchase, and protect wildlife habitat and corridors. While I only hunt with binoculars, I understand why hunters enjoy their sport and have a healthy respect for groups that realize their future lies in habitat conservation.

Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. Email her at elizabethhacker@ocn.me to share bird pictures and stories.

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Art Matters: There’s art around every corner

Below: Dr. Michael Maddox (L), Director of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TCLA), and Kristen Davis, Administrative Assistant, as they complete the preparations on behalf of the disabled veterans for the "Military Creative Expression (MCE)" art show, which is a highly successful program using art therapy for veterans who have returned from war with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Photo provided by the TLCA.

By Janet Sellers

We have outdoor art on just about every block in each of our Tri-Lakes communities, certainly along many streets, that invites a closer look and a photo opportunity in any season. I don’t know about you, but I like to take a break in the day and just enjoy being in town, out of doors, and in a nice, familiar place like our community.

Our weather, while changeable, still allows us to get into town on a bike or on foot to get around. The Monument sculpture park is so pretty now, I can just see happy things going on there in the near future in every season. And of course, Palmer Lake, under the watchful star on the mountain, is one big country walk of art and fun.

That can only happen in a place where the local merchants and venues bring together their eclectic imaginations to tempt us with their offerings. With our grand Rocky Mountain backdrop for the cozy shops and eateries, any day is a good day for a friendly walk though town to shop and look at fine art, vintage, new stuff, antiques, books, or garden wares.

If you want to make art or showcase your own imaginative talents, you can make that happen in our town, too. Shops in Monument that offer a place to make it and take it include the famous Bead Corner on Front Street and Crafty Laine on Washington Street, while some places will do consignment sales as well as hosting artists’ works for salon-style shows in their eateries or shops.

Besides the actual shops, we have local events and venues that go all year-round to stir up excitement and make for an afternoon of local, artful fun.

In Palmer Lake, while you shop or just enjoy the many artful places, you can vary the day’s game plan and bring your kids and their friends to play at the lake playground or the Santa Fe Trail, and get some fun outdoor action going. Come back across the road, because the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts not only has first-rate art shows and music events, but that gift shop, full of goodies, is in there, too.

Creative thinkers such as artists always need a venue, and sometimes they don’t need it every single day of the week to warrant renting a space long term. Many "trunk shows" or other single-shot events in a year just need a place to show up and show off.

Dr. Michael Maddox, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts’ Director, said the center could be available for long-term rentals on days that it normally is closed. Maddox mentioned the facility would be "perfect for use as a dance or exercise club, church on Sunday mornings, etc." My personal take on it would be for a group of entrepreneur-type artists or musicians to rent it for their own venues such as weekly studio work, practice, events, shows, or even trunk shows or a combination of those. For more information, contact the TCLA or Maddox at 719-481-0475.

November art events

Palmer Lake, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts:

Friday, Nov. 4, is the opening reception for two new art shows. The Annual Artist Member Exhibition will be in the main gallery, Lucy Owens Gallery will have Military Creative Expression (MCE) a highly successful program using art therapy for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. The exhibit is a collaboration among TCLA, the Colorado Springs Fine Art Center’s Bemis School of Art, and the MCE to honor our veterans.

Historic Monument:

Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, the Local Artist Banners go up, thanks to The Historic Monument Merchants Association partnering with the Town of Monument to provide the annual display. For additional information or to sponsor or volunteer for a future public art project, please call project Chairperson Vicki Mynhier at 719-460-4179.

Small Town Christmas will be on Dec. 3, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., a day filled with open shops, arts and crafts and activities for children, and special events.

Let’s support our local art venues and see what fun we can have right here (that doesn’t involve an interstate schlep). Whether you ride your bike, walk in sandals, or wear your snowshoes, all of our community is within a few minutes of some local art and crafts.

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

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Women’s Club selling locally-designed Christmas ornaments

Below: Monument artist Sheila Schneider holds the 2011 Classic Colorado Collection Christmas ornament. Schneider designed the pine cone line drawing on the ornament. Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

Since 2008 the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) has offered the Classic Colorado Collection. The collection consists of limited-edition Christmas ornaments, with each year’s version having a unique line drawing design representing Colorado and created by a Colorado artist.

These custom blown-glass ornaments are made in America and are $15 each. Proceeds from the ornament sales go to the TLWC grant fund.

Monument artist Sheila Schneider designed this year’s ornament decoration, a pine cone on a tree branch. The design is in gold on green. TLWC member Yvonne Jennings said, "Proceeds from the sales go back into the Tri-Lakes community through grants distributed by the Women’s Club."

Over the past 34 years, the TLWC has distributed over $600,000 in grants into the Tri-Lakes community.

This year’s ornaments can be purchased at Covered Treasures Bookstore in Monument and from Jennings by contacting her at (719) 649-4413. Jennings may also be contacted if you are interested in past-year ornaments. Information on the TLWC is at www.tlwc.net.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

360 runners compete in D-38 fundraiser, Oct. 1

Below: Racers finish the 5K race. Photo by Candice Hitt.

By Candice Hitt

A warm, sunny morning Oct. 1 provided perfect conditions at Don Breese Stadium for 360 racers to participate in the first Fun Run to raise money for local District 38 schools. Thirty percent of registration fees were donated to the D-38 school chosen by each racer. Each school also had the opportunity to earn an additional 20 percent.

Race coordinator Kelly Gillespie said, "This is a huge fundraiser for schools, and the goal is to make this an annual community event." She also thanked the Palmer Ridge Honor Society, Lewis-Palmer National Honor Society, Robin Adair, D-38 teachers, the Parent Teacher Organization, and students for helping with the event. King Soopers and Safeway donated gift cards.

Racers received goodie bags full of samples, coupons, and snacks. Race day activities included face painting provided by the YMCA, food, vendors, and music.

Sponsors for the event included Archdale Eyecare, Summit Subway, Woodmen Nissan, Rocky Mountain Heart Savers, Rosie’s Diner, Monument Orthodontics, Fit Fast Training, Bear Creek Mortgage, Bravo Arms, American Dental Group, Juice Plus, The Sundance Studio, and Eldorado Natural Spring Water.

The top three female runners of the 10K were Kristian Madsen with a time of 47’05.71, Sarah Porter with a time of 49’33.30, and Mary Carey with a time of 50’17.65. The top three male runners of the 10K were Barry O’Mahony with a time of 37’33.87, Greg Mikesell with a time of 43’20.87, and Jonathan Emig at 44’15.84.

The top three female runners of the 5K were Autumn Githara with a time of 23’37.40, Stephanie Barreire with a time of 25’32.84, and Bridget Eller with a time of 25’39.34. The top three male runners of the 5K were Thomas Zarkovacki with a time of 18’11.99, T. Heffner with a time of 22’59.84, and Dylan Hudson with a time of 23’19.87.

No results were available for the mile run.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me.

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Art group raises money for scholarships, Oct. 1-2

Below: From left are Suzanne Jenne, Palmer Lake Art Group president; Margarete Seagraves, 40-year member and jewelry artisan; Barbara Fraser, notecard and silk scarves artisan; Tsilla Reyner, jams artisan; Susie Rieple, rock painter and author; Shirley Hawkins, retired Marine Corps 1st sergeant and two-time Purple Heart awardee and rope basket artisan; Bob Towery; and renowned pottery artisan Anne Shimek. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) held its annual Christmas Craft Fair fundraiser in the Palmer Lake Town Hall on Oct. 1 and 2. Proceeds from the art sales and shows help fund scholarships for District 38 high school seniors who plan to continue their studies in art. Recipients receive scholarship awards to assist in their college fees and costs. Many who have received assistance have attended universities and art schools in Colorado and across the country.

Member Barbara Fraser said that the group was incorporated in 1968 as a nonprofit organization of artists and crafters, including anyone who appreciates art and who is interested in furthering the arts in the Tri-Lakes community. She noted that originally, the fair was held at a corral at the Ruth Staeber ranchette. The group was known as the Palmer Lake Little Art group.

Fraser said that in May of each year, students submit their art for judging in the Fine Arts event and, at that time, scholarships are awarded to those who demonstrate excellence and talent in their submissions.

PLAG sponsors two art shows, in winter and spring, held at various locations around the region. The winter Christmas Craft Fair normally occurs on the first weekend of October every year. Fraser has been a participant for 40 years and during that time has held the posts of president, vice president, treasurer, and secretary.

The present president, Margarete Seagraves, noted that the members and guests enjoy meeting and interacting, as well as the educational and exhibiting opportunities. Widely known artisan potter Anne Shimek, who has participated for the last 38 years, said meetings are held on the second Saturday of every month except July, starting at 9 a.m. for social time and 9:30 a.m. for the business meeting. A demonstration usually follows each business meeting.

**********

PLAG meetings are held in the Vaile Hill Gallery, 118 Hillside Road, in Palmer Lake. The gallery was the summer home of the late Lucretia Vaile, a deeply respected and active civic-minded individual. She willed the home to the town of Palmer Lake with the proviso that it was for the use of the Palmer Lake Art Group.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Oct. 12: Empty Bowls event helps those in need

Photos by David Futey.

Below: An always anticipated part of the Empty Bowls is the guests’ selection of a bowl that they get to keep. Individual artists and pottery groups from Bemis Art School, Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High School, Pikes Peak Community College, and the Pikes Peak Woodturners contributed bowls made of wood and clay.

Below: Woody Woodworth and the Sliders Trombone Ensemble from Lewis-Palmer High School provided musical entertainment for Empty Bowls guests. 

Below: The many volunteers, including those pictured from Lewis-Palmer District 38, helped ensure a successful Empty Bowls event.

By David Futey

On Oct. 12, citizens from the Tri-Lakes area and beyond once again showed their support for those in need by attending the 2011 Empty Bowls fundraiser for Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC). Support for the event came in many ways and from numerous sponsors.

Restaurants and churches from Palmer Lake, Monument, and Colorado Springs contributed the soups, bread, drinks, and desserts. The Monument Hill Kiwanis, Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High School Key Clubs, staff of Lewis-Palmer High School and District 38, and the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club were among the volunteer groups, along with individuals who took part in assisting with the planning and operation of the event.

Information on TLC is at www.tri-lakescares.org 

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

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Wine and Roses event raises $18,000 for nonprofits, Oct. 28

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Jan Vaughn, left, and Alaine Nolt, second vice presidents for charitable events, organized this year’s Wine and Roses gala.

Below: Diane Smith of Peak Beverages and KRDO-TV anchor John Karroll were among the servers.

Below: A portrait photo package and Thanksgiving cake were among the items for the silent auction.

Below: Debbie Kessler, left, and Sally Stephenson are this year’s co-presidents of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

By Harriet Halbig

The tenth annual Wine and Roses event on Oct. 28, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, raised more than $18,000 to support local nonprofit organizations.

The gala event held at the Inn at Palmer Divide featured wine tastings, beer and spirits tables, a raffle and silent auction, and on-site chefs offering samples of such specialties as cupcakes and chocolate in addition to main courses.

Several celebrity servers from local television stations and government entities offered samples of wines, and Wine Seller owner Dirk Stamp took orders for future delivery of the wines.

Offerings in the silent auction included jewelry, photo packages, a festive Thanksgiving cake and many other tempting items.

About 250 tickets were sold in advance, with many more sold on the day of the event. The $18,000 raised included proceeds from the raffle and silent auction.

Proceeds from the event support activities of local schools, fire districts, police departments, and other nonprofit groups.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is a nonprofit 501c3 organization that was founded 35 years ago to further charitable and educational programs. The group holds two large events each year, the Pine Forest Antique Show in the spring and Wine and Roses in the fall.

For membership information, please visit the club’s website at www.tlwc.net.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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500 participate in Family Health Fair, Oct. 29

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Justin Cooper of the Tri-Lakes YMCA was on hand to offer information about membership and upcoming events.

Below: Rhianna Carlson is fitted for a bicycle helmet at the Penrose-St. Francis booth.

By Harriet Halbig

An estimated 500 people attended the 10th annual Tri-Lakes Family Health Fair on Oct. 29 at Palmer Ridge High School. Half the attendees took advantage of various screening procedures.

Co-sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 and 9Health Fair, the event offered the community a variety of services and information. Various local businesses also supported the event.

Attendees could be tested for diabetes, have blood work, have their vision and hearing tested, and learn about such services as home health care, child safety seat installation, dental and chiropractic care, nutrition supplements, and credit counseling.

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services fitted children for free bike helmets and the Fire Department distributed information about emergency services.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes area celebrates Halloween

Photos by David Futey.

Below: Shawna Schotanus (standing) and Laura Wilks as Raggedy Ann served treats outside The Village Merchants.

Below: Firefighters from Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Department had a captive audience along Second Street as they passed out Snaplight Safety Sticks.

Below: Santa Fe Trail Jewelry owner Mary Lee offers a treat to little duckling Piper Richie.

Below: La Casa Fiesta hostess Morgan Bryson hands out an array of candies to trick-or-treaters outside the restaurant.

By David Futey

During the late afternoon of Oct. 31, downtown Monument came alive with ghosts, goblins and other Halloween-costumed children of all ages as they followed the Pumpkin Patch Trail during the Safe Trick or Treat event.

The trail led Halloween celebrants to 21 downtown Monument businesses that offered candies, popcorn and other treats. The festive event was sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association. Information on the association is at www.monumentmerchants.com.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

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October and November Library Events: Come to the library for LEGOs!

Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Clare Wissinger and Angela Strecker of the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library provided refreshments and information to potential members.

Below: Skylar Hefty was one of the young patrons to enjoy the Pumpkin Patch Party. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

October flew by with a fantastic pumpkin party and other Halloween events, a successful food drive for Tri-Lakes Cares and a thought-provoking film, Play Again, about the effects on teens of spending long periods before computer screens and cut off from nature.

The Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library offered refreshments and information to potential members during National Friends of the Library Week. Their many contributions to the library are most appreciated.

November promises to bring some new and exciting activities for the whole family.

Teens in grades 7 through 9 are invited on Wednesday, Nov. 2, to a meeting of BookEaters. Come eat snacks with your friends, make awesome wands, and talk about that wonderful Harry Potter (books and movies). The time is 3:30 to 5:15 p.m.

On Friday, Nov. 11, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., teens age 12 and up are invited to Crafty Teens. Enjoy snacks with your friends while making hair flairs and friendship bracelets—just in time for gifts for Christmas.

The exciting Family Fun event for November is LEGO Fun for All. LEGO enthusiasts of all ages, join us for LEGO Day. The library will provide the LEGOs and you bring the creativity. Please do not bring your own LEGOs. However, donations are gladly accepted. Be sure to bring your camera to record your creation. All pieces used to make projects remain the property of Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD). Join us on Saturday, Nov. 12, at 1:30 p.m.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, Nov. 18, at 10 a.m. to discuss Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Saturday, Nov. 19, from 1 to 5 p.m. This is a driver refresher course designed for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the four hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required.

On the walls during November will be From a Distance, photography by Ronda Kimbrow. In the display case will by Colorado Springs original maps from Chuck Robinove.

Palmer Lake library events

Join the Palmer Lake Library Knitting Group on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Knitters of all skill levels are welcome. Bring your project and stay as long as your schedule allows. The group includes experienced knitters who are happy to assist you as you improve your knitting skills. Call 481-2587 for more information. Please note that the library will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 24, for Thanksgiving.

Help your child improve fluency by reading to a Paws to Read dog. Read with Misty, the sweet and tiny Sheltie. Misty loves to listen to readers and will walk like a human if you ask her. Read to Misty and select a prize on Thursday, Nov. 10, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 19, will be LEGO Fun for All at the library. LEGO enthusiasts of all ages, join us for LEGO Day. We’ll provide the LEGOs and you bring the creativity. Please do not bring your own LEGOs (although donations are gladly accepted). Be sure to bring your camera to record your creation. All pieces used to make projects remain the property of PPLD. The fun begins at 10:30 a.m.

New members are welcome and no registration is required at monthly meetings of the Palmer Lake Book Group. The group will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, to discuss The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. Call 481-2587 for more information.

On the walls in the library, view new works from Expressions of Beauty—Shared, photography by Laurisa Rabins.

All library facilities will close at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23 and remain closed Nov. 24 for Thanksgiving.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Oct. 20: A history of Colorado railroads

Bwlow: Palmer Lake Historical Society members and visitors listen to noted historian and author Claude Wiatrowski as he discusses the history of Colorado’s railway systems. Wiatrowski is the author of Railroads of Colorado, a book that provides a comprehensive written and photographic history of Colorado’s railroads. Photos by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Oct. 20 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was highlighted by the presentation Discover Colorado’s Railroads by author and railroad historian Claude Wiatrowski. Known for his book, Railroads of Colorado, Wiatrowski entertained an audience of 70 Historical Society members and visitors with his detailed history of Colorado’s narrow and standard gauge railroad systems.

One of the railroad systems that was discussed was the Denver and Rio Grande, which founded the town of Durango in 1879. The railroad arrived in Durango in 1881, and construction to Silverton was completed in 1882.

Wiatrowski noted that this line was built to haul silver and gold ore from the San Juan Mountains, but it also provided amazing views and still runs today as a Durango tourist attraction.

Another rail system that was discussed was the Manitou and Pike’s Peak Railway Co., which began construction in 1889. Wiatrowski noted that this rail system utilized a special "rack rail" that meshed with a "cog wheel," which was placed in the center of the two rail tracks. Rack rail systems can provide the "push" to propel trains up 48 percent grades while ordinary rail systems can only manage 4 to 6 percent grades. The maximum speed for this system is about 25 miles per hour; otherwise the cog might jump out of the rack rail.

Wiatrowski discussed several other rail systems such as the Leadville, Colorado and Southern railroad and the Cripple Creek and Victor narrow gauge system. He also noted that Colorado has a very comprehensive rail museum located in Golden.

**********

The next Palmer Lake Historical Society event will be on Thursday, Nov. 24, at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The presentation will be Historical Personalities of the Academy Area. Jack Anthony will provide the overview of this subject. This will be the final presentation for 2011 by the Historical Society.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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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.

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
November Menu

    Nov. 2: Ham, scalloped potatoes & salad
    Nov. 9
    : Chicken Dijon, mashed potatoes & salad
    Nov. 16
    : Beef brisket, garlic mashed potatoes & salad
    Nov. 23
    : NO LUNCH; D-38 CLOSED FOR THANKSGIVING
    Nov. 30
    : Meatballs over noodles & salad

Rolls and butter served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert also provided.

An activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Associates. Meals provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.

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Sertoma bellringers, Nov. 25

Legacy Sertoma of Monument will begin collecting for the annual Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign Nov. 25 (the day after Thanksgiving) at the local Walgreen’s, 265 W. Highway 105, Monument (at Baptist Road), noon to 6 p.m., seven days a week until Christmas Eve. For more information, contact Sam DeFelice, 481-8623, or e-mail scdefelice@aol.com.

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Coat drive at Wescott Fire Department through Nov. 27

Donate your extra coats to Coats for Colorado Springs and El Paso County. You may drop off new or clean gently-used coats at Wescott Fire Department, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., through Nov. 27. Coats will be distributed to those in need through the support of Partners in Housing and the Salvation Army. For more information, contact Fire Marshal Margo Humes, 488-8680 or e-mail mhumes@wescottfire.org.

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2012 Wildland Fire Crew Training Academy, apply by Nov. 30

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Crew is seeking active, enthusiastic citizens in the local area to become new volunteers for one of the best wildland fire crews in Colorado. The Wildland Fire Crew protects our county’s residents, homes, businesses, and wild lands and also provides mutual aid assistance to other agencies, such as Fort Carson Fire Department, U.S. Forest Service, Colorado State Forest Service, and neighboring city and county fire departments. As part of the team you will also participate in numerous outreach activities and form friendships that will last a lifetime. The next Wildland Fire Academy is scheduled to begin Jan. 5, 2012. Applications are due by Nov. 30 and are available at 210 S. Tejon St., Colorado Springs, or on-line at http://shr.elpasoco.com. For more information, contact Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Program Coordinator Cathryn Richards, at 520-7216 or cathrynrichards@elpasoco.com.

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CSU Extension Advisory Committee needs volunteers, apply by Dec. 5

Community-minded citizen volunteers are needed to serve as Family/Consumer Science representatives (must have knowledge in food safety and nutrition) and Horticultural/Natural Resources representatives on the CSU Extension Advisory Committee. Applications are due by Dec. 5. Representatives are appointed for three-year terms. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Community Corrections Board seeks volunteers, apply by Dec. 5

Community-minded citizen volunteers are needed to serve as Citizen-at-Large members on the Community Corrections Board. Applications are due by Dec. 5. The Community Corrections Board advises the Board of County Commissioners on community-based and community-oriented programs that provide supervision of offenders being diverted from prison and those transitioning back into the community after prison. Citizen-at-large representatives are appointed for three-year terms. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Colorado Gardener Certificate Training, apply by Dec. 15

Colorado State University (CSU) Extension will offer the Colorado Gardener Certificate training course beginning Jan. 11, 2012. The eight-week course provides low-cost, focused education in best management practices for home horticulture in Colorado. Classes are taught by CSU faculty, horticulture extension agents, and green industry professionals. After completing the training program, home gardeners and green industry workers will have gained skills in identifying and diagnosing the most common insects, diseases, and abiotic problems encountered in the home landscape. The cost is $575 and includes a comprehensive set of CSU’s fact sheets. Applications are due by Dec. 15. For an application or information call Diana Rhodes, 520-7688.

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Singers and musicians needed for Christmas production

Tri-Lakes Music Association seeks singers, orchestra musicians, and anyone who would like to help in any way. Be a part of this exciting Tri-Lakes Christmas tradition. Performance dates are Dec. 9-10, 7 p.m., and Dec. 11, 2 p.m. Vocal practices meet every Sunday, 1 p.m., at The Inn at Palmer Divide, 443 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. All proceeds from the show go to Tri-Lakes Cares and two $500 college scholarships. For information contact Bob Manning, 232-4114, or e-mail rwgmanning@comcast.net.

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Black Forest AARP Chapter wins for third consecutive year

The Black Forest AARP Chapter has been recognized for the third consecutive year as the best AARP Chapter in Colorado at the Annual Volunteer Recognition Program on Oct. 14 in Arvada. The chapter received an additional award for its exceptional involvement this past year in local charitable activities. The Colorado Springs-area Black Forest AARP Chapter meets in the Black Forest Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, Shoup and Black Forest Roads, the second Wednesday of each month at noon. Persons interested in being an active asset to the community are welcome to visit a chapter meeting before making a decision to join. There is no age requirement; all are welcome. Dues are $10 per year. Contact Chuck at 749-9227 for more information.

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Lewis-Palmer High School alumni create grant program for students

The Ranger Legacy Fund is a charity started by a group of alumni of the Lewis-Palmer Class of 1992. Matt Schroeder–together with former classmates Matt Lang, Tim Cross, and Amy L. Neill–formed the foundation to provide high school students access to extracurricular activities that are no longer available, or are too costly, due to school budget cuts. Their objective is to raise $20,000 by their 20th reunion in 2012. They call it the LP20x20 campaign and it would provide the initial seed money for the endowment and create an annual grant program of $800-$1,000 for district students. The grant can be used to explore any student interest–athletic, academic, or artistic. The group will target the class of 1992 and their families to raise the initial $20,000, but their vision is for the following classes to perpetuate the legacy by raising $20,000 by their 20-year reunions. For more information, visit the foundation’s website, www.LP20x20.org, or www.facebook.com/LP20x20 and www.twitter.com/LP20x20.

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Attention artists and crafters

Bring your arts and crafts to sell in the Holiday Boutique and Bazaar Dec. 3, a fundraiser for St. Peter Catholic School in Monument. For information and participant forms, call Susan at 488-3308.

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Help on the way for heating bills

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) helps residents struggling to pay their home heating bills. LEAP benefits provide assistance to help low-income families with their heating bills but are not intended to pay the entire bill. The eligibility period for LEAP runs Nov. 1 to April 30. LEAP is a mail-in only program and applications are accepted each year during the eligibility period. For more information about LEAP benefits, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435).

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Tri-Lakes Cares Thrift Shop has moved!

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is now open Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at its new location, 245 Jefferson St., Monument, right next door to Tri-Lakes Cares. 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 website, www.trilakescares.org.

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Library patrons can now download eBooks to their Kindles

Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) is excited to announce that its eBook collection is now compatible with the world’s bestselling eBook reader, the Amazon Kindle. Patrons can now download popular and classic eBooks to a Kindle device or any mobile device running the free Kindle app, such as iPhone, iPad, Android, and more. PPLD also offers eBooks and audiobooks for use on a PC or Mac computer and popular mobile devices such as a smartphone, MP3 player, and eBook reader like the Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony Reader. To get started, visit www.ppld.org/cybershelf.

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Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!

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

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Tri-Lakes HAP Thrift Store in Palmer Lake

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

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