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Vol. 11 No. 3 - March 5, 2011


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Contents

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Palmer Lake Library Pajama Party

Be;pw: At the Palmer Lake Library Feb. 5, Paws to Read pajama party participants Lili Freier and Elena Moser work on a craft. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

See the article more on events at the local libraries. 

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Book on Palmer Divide introduced to Historical Society

Below: Communities of the Palmer Divide will be available for purchase at 7 p.m., March 14 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

Below: Palmer Lake Historical Society Vice President Al Walter and member Kim Braun present the society’s new book, Communities of the Palmer Divide, to the members and guests at the February meeting. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Lynn Manzer described the urgent need for volunteers at the February meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. Those interested can contact Manzer at (719) 661-1167. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Feb. 17 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society was utilized to introduce a book containing a comprehensive history of the local area. Kim Braun, a society member, gave a detailed overview of the book, titled Communities of the Palmer Divide.

The book was conceived by Our Community News volunteer reporter Dave Futey. He took his idea to the Historical Society, which accepted the project. A steering committee was formed to oversee the development of the book. The committee consisted of society member Kim Braun, President Phyllis Bonser, Vice President Al Walter, and Futey.

Braun and Walter provided an overview of the mechanics of the compilation and the volunteers who were involved in putting it all together. These volunteers include Bonser, Braun, Roger Davis, Dan Edwards, Judy Harrington, Sharon Jarnigan, Dee and Bob Kirby, Mary Meyer, and Al and Rhetta Walter.

They indicated that they especially would like to thank the local residents who shared their knowledge and photographs of the early life on the Palmer Divide, including Fern (Wissler) Britt, Rogers and Susan Davis, Ethel (Lavelett) Engel, Norma (Younger) Lavelett, Barbara (Thompson) Morehead, Jean (Schubarth) Rathburn, Jim Sawatzki, Darren Schubarth, and Dee Younger.

Braun, in her presentation, cited some of the histories of the many families who migrated to the Palmer Lake area and families who settled into the surrounding countryside and communities.

Additionally, she presented a short description of the book, saying it provided a historical glimpse of the beginnings and growth of communities of the "Divide Country." It presents an insight into what makes the area a unique place to live and to raise a family. She mentioned that in the early days, residents gathered at McShane’s Fort to defend against marauding Native American tribes. Later, residents joined in annual Potato Bake Festivals to celebrate successful potato harvests.

More recently, annual events such as the Yule Log festivities and the lighting of the Star on the mountainside above the Town of Palmer Lake continue the traditions of the past.

The book will be available for initial purchase at 7 p.m. March 14 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

Lynn Manzer, co-chair of the Palmer Lake Historical Society Chautauqua Steering Committee, announced that volunteers who want to help at this year’s event should contact her at 719-661-1167. She also expressed the need for historical exhibits and presentations that might be available from residents of the Tri-Lakes area.

**********

The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. March 17 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The presentation will be "Historical Restoration in Douglas County."

The presenter will be Jerry Woldarek, who will describe the restoration of historical sites.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Feb. 3 and Feb. 17: District picks Borman as new superintendent, discusses long-range plan

Below: LPHS Principal John Borman was picked Feb. 17 to become the new superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38. Photo provided by D-38.

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education selected Lewis-Palmer High School Principal John Borman as its new superintendent, effective July 1, 2011.

A field of 23 candidates was considered for the position. Three finalists were interviewed in mid-February by several committees of staff, community residents, and parents, with the final selection announced at the board’s Feb. 17 meeting.

Borman has been principal of Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) since 2007. Prior to that he was principal of Northridge High School in Greeley and held other administrative positions in Greeley and Aurora. He began his career as a high school English teacher in 1987.

The board thanked Bob Cito of the Colorado Association of School Boards for his assistance in the selection process and thanked the community for its support and participation in the process.

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman will remain in his position until the end of the school year. The board asked that Bauman formulate a transition plan before the next meeting.

Long Term Planning Task Force

Long Term Planning Task Force facilitator Steve Stephenson reported to the board at its Feb. 3 work session, stating that his group had developed almost 90 ideas to consider. The ideas were divided into four categories: those that would eliminate no staff; those that would eliminate no instructional staff; those that would enhance revenue for the district; and plans for restructuring the district in the event of extreme cuts.

Stephenson presented several of the ideas to the board. They instructed him to return at the general meeting on Feb. 17 with estimates of savings or benefit for several of the items in the first and third categories. (For further information on the task force, see the D-38 article in OCN’s January 2011 issue).

Bauman said that he and other area superintendents had met with state representatives and state senators and learned that the Legislature and the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) do not agree on estimates for attendance and revenue. Since K-12 education is 43 percent of the state budget, there will be a potential 10 percent decrease in funding for next year. Assessed property valuation, a major source of revenue for education, is expected to be 10-12 percent lower than the last valuation in 2009.

At the Feb. 17 meeting, several options were discussed at length. Among them:

  • Reformulate the school calendar to save on personnel, utilities, and transportation (see detail later in this article).
  • Restrict attendance at trainings and conference events requiring travel by staff. This option was rejected because many said that staff should be able to stay up to date on theories and practices involving the achievement of the district.
  • Buy used books or use e-books.
  • Save on transportation costs by outsourcing the function, charging a fee for busing, or restructuring routes. The downside of outsourcing is decreased constancy of staff. Wangeman suggested keeping the buses as district property so the decision could be easily reversed.
  • Outsource food service—this idea was reviewed last year and the department has been reorganized and is now earning money for the district.

Revenue-enhancing ideas included:

  • Grants enhancement. Wangeman cautioned that the wealth of the community disqualifies the district for many grants, but that further effort could be put into this option.
  • Energy audits of buildings to save on utilities.
  • Increased rental of district facilities for community use. Gyms and fields are now in such demand that there is often a wait list.

The board thanked the task force for their efforts and requested further information as the budget is more certain.

2011-12 school year calendar

Bauman presented the calendar for the school year 2011-12. He said that the calendar will result in a savings of approximately $150,000 for the district due to a later start (saving on air conditioning costs), fewer short weeks (resulting in larger blocks of instructional time), and a decrease in two days contract time for staff. Each day will be lengthened by five minutes.

He assured the board that there will be My Place child care available during the holiday break and spring break. Board member Gail Wilson commented that this is a safety issue as well as a convenience.

Bauman also assured the board that the calendar provides the required number of days and hours for contact time and that eight snow days are built into the calendar.

The calendar may be seen on the district’s website, lewispalmer.org.

Other items passed included:

  • Certification of exclusive chartering authority for the district. The state must be notified that the charter school’s enrollment is 3 percent above the state average.
  • Approval of renewal of a five-year contract with Monument Academy beginning July 1. Negotiations are still underway and will conclude by May 11.
  • Approval of routine matters such as minutes of previous meetings, hiring and retirement of staff, contracts, revisions of policies, and monthly budget summary.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Educations meets at 6 p.m. on the third Friday of each month. The next meeting will be March 17 at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Feb. 8: New legislative initiatives presented

By Harriet Halbig

At the Feb. 8 meeting of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), Board of Education liaison Gail Wilson reported that the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) has set its legislative priorities for 2011. According to DAAC, among them are:

  • School finances and budget—school districts are concerned that, since K-12 education comprises 43 percent of the state budget, major cuts are in the future. One cause of the revenue shortfall will be lower property values, and property taxes are a major contributor to school funding.
  • Reduce mandates on school districts—CASB is working with legislators to eliminate duplicative and unnecessary reporting requirements for school districts. CASB’s advocacy team will oppose legislation that places further reporting requirements and unfunded mandates on school districts. The time and resources required for excessive reporting are a concern.
  • Constitutional fiscal reform—work is underway to make transparent the individuals who are sponsoring and funding initiatives for constitutional change. Other changes could require signatures from all congressional districts for a measure to be put on the ballot, and a requirement of a 60 percent vote to implement changes.
  • Implementation of educator effectiveness—CASB has been working to ensure implementation of last year’s Senate Bill 191 by providing districts with frameworks and guidelines for assessing teacher effectiveness. It is essential that districts maintain the authority to design evaluation systems that fit their unique needs and have the resources available to implement the legislation.
  • Promote and advance recognition of diversity of school districts—CASB maintains that the diversity of Colorado’s 178 school districts is what positions the state to ensure quality education for all children. Local control is important to members and will be kept in the forefront as this year’s legislative session approaches.

Wilson also reported that the state House passed a bill to give charter schools easier access to vacant district buildings, and the Senate discussed a bill that would allow students to self-administer prescribed medications for asthma and severe allergies. The latter bill would be subject to approval by individual districts.

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman presented the draft of the 2011-12 school calendar to the committee. For further information on the calendar, please see the Board of Education article, or view the calendar on the district’s website, lewispalmer.org.

Standards update

Director of Assessment Marie Revak presented a standards implementation update regarding the state Department of Education’s requirements and progress in their implementation.

New academic standards are being developed in the areas of dance, drama and theater arts, health and physical education, English language proficiency, music, visual arts, social studies, science, and world languages, Revak said. Standards for math, reading, writing, and communicating are being brought into alignment with national standards.

Revak presented examples of these standards as applied at various age levels in terms of expectations and the ability to assess achievement.

CSAP testing will continue through spring 2013.

**********

The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The March 8 meeting will be at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, 1315 Lake Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Exceptional Students Learning Team, Feb. 9: Special Olympics participation urged

Below (L to R): At the ESLT meeting Feb. 9, Global Ambassador Vince Eagan and Area Manager Georgeann Kulton answer questions about the Special Olympics. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

Georgeann Kulton, area manager of the Southeast Area of Special Olympics Colorado (SOCO), spoke to the Exceptional Students Learning Team on Feb. 9, encouraging its participation in the program.

The Special Olympics, founded in 1968 by Eunice Kennedy, offers programs for intellectually disabled individuals year round, divided into four seasons with 20 sports.

Special Olympics involves the disabled in sports and training based on their individual abilities, age, and gender. Athletes usually meet once a week for two hours or so.

Participants must submit an application and certificate of medical exam before participating in an event. Participation is free unless a program is offered through Parks and Recreation or involves fees such as rental of equipment (bowling, skiing). When there are fees, they are often discounted in price.

Kulton said that many athletes exceeded their expected abilities after the training period.

There are several programs in the Special Olympics at this time:

  • Motor Activities—a program serving those in wheelchairs or with serious disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
  • Young Athletes—a new program serving those aged 2½-7 years, teaching skills such as jumping over objects, balancing while walking on a line on the floor, throwing, and catching. The Colorado Springs Parks and Recreation Department will introduce this program in April.
  • Unified Sports—disabled individuals are paired with partners from the general population on teams. Individuals with traumatic brain injuries are eligible for this program.
  • Global Ambassador—athletes tell of their experiences and what the Special Olympics means to them.
  • Best Buddies—a partnering program within schools for social events such as dances and outings.
  • The R Word campaign is a new initiative beginning in March. Individuals inform students about the Special Olympics and ask them to sign a pledge never to use the "r" word to describe disabled peers.

Global Ambassador Vince Eagan spoke of his experience in the program over the past seven years. His principal sport is soccer and he encouraged participation by children of members of the audience. He said he hoped that the Special Olympics would hold a soccer clinic in the fall.

Kulton suggested that Special Education Director Mary Ann Fleury contact her about publicizing Special Olympics in the district. There have been basketball and ski teams from Lewis-Palmer in the past but now only individual participants are involved.

Transitions program report

Remington (full name not given), a participant in the district’s Transitions program for the past three years, spoke of his experiences in the program. Transitions serves district students from the special education program from high school graduation until age 21.

He described his struggles with feelings of isolation and social awkwardness since his diagnosis of Asperger’s syndrome in fourth grade.

He found social interaction easier after participating in sports, giving him something specific in common with other individuals.

Remington accepted help when he found it necessary but challenged himself to achieve independently whenever possible.

He began attending the Area Vocational Program while still in high school, studying welding at Pikes Peak Community College and receiving high school and college credit for his effort. He found the program challenging, but also found that he has a talent for working with the materials and equipment. Now students and faculty sometimes come to him for help or advice.

**********

The Exceptional Students Learning Team meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board, Feb. 23: Director calls sprinkler issue political

By Bernard L. Minetti

On Feb. 23, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board Director Roger Lance took issue with the concept of delaying implementation of a new residential fire sprinkler rule, saying the issue was political and that the building and development corporations were controlling the board. He continued by stating that the lives of firefighters and citizens were being jeopardized because the board had become political. Board President Charlie Pocock responded by acknowledging that the board was political.

Pocock read the sprinkler "lesson" for February into the record. He read as follows:

"Home Fire Sprinklers or No Sprinklers—Fourth Article

Two things should be mentioned this month. First is the recent decision by the NFPA and Colorado Fire Chiefs Association that anti-freeze should not be used in residential sprinkler systems. There was a recent grease fire which caused the discharge of a sprinkler system containing anti-freeze. The fire was worsened by the anti-freeze and there was one fatality and one serious injury. Until an alternative solution, such as insulation, heated pipes, or routing the pipes through interior walls, can be tested and adopted all residential sprinkler systems should be checked and if they contain antifreeze they should be drained and refilled with water. But what happens in our climate when it freezes?

The second item requires a little review. We previously stated that the proposed residential sprinkler systems are "Life Safety" items. That means they are not primarily "Property Safety" systems, although there may be some property safety advantages. That is why the NFPA does not propose to sprinkle garages, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and attics; and why they only require one sprinkler head per room and it only has to flow water for 10 minutes. And why the cost is only $1.61 per square foot or about $4,000 for an average home, rather than the $14,000 for the same size commercial application.

Now, the issue is, what kind of discounts can you realize by installing a sprinkler system? We checked with a number of insurance companies in the Tri-Lakes area and most would offer some sort of discount on a homeowner’s policy. Depending on the type of policy you have and the type of sprinkler system you have the discounts might range between 5 and 10 percent. So let’s say you have the best system and your premium is $1,000 a year, you could then expect to recover about $100 per year. That doesn’t seem like much, but remember the insurance company is insuring property and we are talking about a "Life Safety" system; not necessarily the same thing."

Treasurer John Hildebrandt summarized the district’s financial situation, saying that during the year-to-date, the district has received only $327 of the budgeted property tax revenue, but he added that additional funds would be received by the end of February. He said the specific ownership taxes received were $23,899, compared to the 2011 budgeted amount of $274,126. That total budgeted amount was $46,903 less than the 2010 budgeted annual amount.

Hildebrandt also noted that overall expenses were up due to the payment of liability insurance and the electricity expense generated at Station 3. He said fuel costs were up slightly. He also stated that fuel costs would have to be monitored due to external political events, worldwide, that could affect this expense item.

The board approved the changes to the Personnel Manual that had been recommended by Pinnacle Corp., the insurer for the district. District Fire Chief Robert Denboske noted that the acceptance of the recommended changes caused a slight reduction in insurance premiums.

The second review of the request by Gary and Karen Goodell to include the property located at 6542 Walker Road in Colorado Springs, for inclusion into the Tri-lakes Monument Fire Protection District was finalized and approved by unanimous vote of the board.

**********

The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 23, at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Fire District Administrative Assistant Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Feb. 8: Proposed nutrient regulations remain the major concern

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 8, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) unanimously approved a contribution of $1,500 to the Colorado Nutrient Coalition for representing wastewater treatment facility stakeholders at nutrient criteria meetings of the state Water Quality Control Commission and Water Quality Control Division.

The coalition is seeking to have the state’s Water Quality Control Division develop a regulatory system for phosphorus and nitrogen compounds in state waters that is based on cost-effective and sustainable treatment technologies as well as site specific discharge standards.

The coalition is also advocating that individual wastewater treatment facility discharge permit limits should be based on aquatic life studies that use sound peer-reviewed science that accounts for the wide variety of climate and background stormwater and agricultural runoff conditions in each of the widely diverse geographical regions in Colorado.

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.

Woodmoor Director Barry Town attended as the alternate for Director Jim Whitelaw, who was unable to attend this meeting.

The Colorado Nutrient Coalition is a group of wastewater dischargers, drinking water providers, stormwater control entities, water purveyors and various other councils and coalitions whose interests are all affected by the adoption of numeric water quality criteria for nutrients. The coalition operates under the Colorado Water Congress in Denver to increase the effectiveness of wastewater entities’ negotiations with the Water Quality Control Division. Phosphorus and nitrogen compounds serve as nutrients for plant and aquatic life in streams, lakes, and reservoirs. However, excessive amounts of nutrients can cause excessive algal and plant growth that depletes dissolved oxygen and harms aquatic life.

The Water Congress is a state-authorized nonprofit that acts as the principal voice for the state’s water community. The mission of the Water Congress is to be an advocate for a strong, effective, and fair state water program for its members to the state Legislature and governor as well as U.S. senators, representatives, and federal agencies. See www.cowatercongress.org for more information.

The coalition is seeking regulations that allow for development of cost-effective treatment options that will improve the environment and will be sustainable from a cost and operational standpoint. Preliminary cost estimates for installing the types of new biological nutrient removal systems that are projected to be required of small facilities like Tri-Lakes range from $5 million to $50 million. This facility expansion cost would have to be paid for the most part by the 5,000 homeowners served by the Tri-Lakes facility. The current value of the Tri-Lakes facility is about $6 million.

De Beque nutrient resolution discussed

Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks and Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund discussed a resolution passed by the Board of Trustees of the town of De Beque, Colo., on Dec. 20. The De Beque board’s resolution requests that the Colorado Water Quality Control Division, the governor, and state Legislature "thoroughly ascertain the costs of nutrient regulation prior to adoption" of new wastewater treatment facility regulations and pay De Beque’s costs for responding to these new regulations.

Some of the De Beque board’s statements in the board’s Dec. 20 resolution discussed by the JUC were:

  • The studies prepared by the EPA and others "have failed to establish a level of correlation between nutrients in (wastewater treatment plant) discharges in Colorado and benefits for the aquatic life or downstream user."
  • "The Board of Trustees believes that the cost of the various nutrient regulations being considered by the (Water Quality Control) Division may ultimately threaten the very existence of small towns in Colorado."
  • The board "respectfully requests that the Water Quality Control Commission, the state Legislature, and the governor utilize their financial and regulatory authority, as well as good common sense, to prevent the imposition of nutrient regulations with little or no benefit and unknown, but potentially, great costs."
  • The board requests that "the Colorado attorney general review the legal status of nutrient regulations in other states, in particular, Florida, and take such judicial actions as are in the best interests of the citizens of Colorado."
  • The board requests that "the Colorado Municipal League and the Colorado Special District Association and small wastewater treatment entities" consider taking similar actions to those outlined in this resolution.
  • The board "expresses its support and gratitude to the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for its leadership as well as its financial support in developing (a) cost-benefit analysis of the nutrient regulations irresponsibly being proposed by the division and the EPA."

Governor’s executive order discussed

Burks also distributed De Beque Mayor Troy Hansen’s letter of Jan. 20 to Gov. John Hickenlooper regarding the governor’s Executive Order 2011-005 and nutrients. Hansen wrote, "(T)he Town Board appeals to you, the state Legislature, and our congressional representatives to investigate the matter of nutrients regulations and ensure that our scarce funds are not wasted chasing pink elephants."

Hansen added, "In fact, EPA has itself produced scientific studies questioning whether there is any demonstrable benefit of reducing nutrient discharges."

Hickenlooper issued the order on Jan. 11, his first day in office, with the stated purpose of "Establishing a policy to enhance the relationship between state and local government."

See www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/GovHickenlooper/CBON/1249674959203 for more details of this succinct executive order on "Enhancing the relationship between state and local government."

Part of this executive order states:

"(T)o the extent authorized by law, no state agency shall promulgate any regulation creating a mandate on local governments unless:

"1. The mandate is specifically required by federal or state law;

"2. The agency consults with local governments prior to promulgation of the regulation; and

"3. The state government provides the funding necessary to pay for the direct costs incurred by local governments in complying with the mandate."

The executive order also states that each "agency that is permitted by law to grant temporary or permanent waivers of statutory or regulatory requirements shall adopt rules for granting waivers if a local government can demonstrate that the requirements conflict with other regulations or statutes, or are unduly burdensome. Each state agency shall prepare and publish on its website a policy describing the circumstances in which temporary or permanent waivers will be granted, and the criteria required for obtaining a waiver."

The order also states that each state "agency shall consider any application by a local government for a waiver of statutory or regulatory requirements in light of the goal of increasing opportunities for local governments to exercise flexibility in seeking to comply with statutory or regulatory requirements."

Wicklund said that he had contacted the JUC’s environmental attorney, Tad Foster, and asked him to do a legal analysis up to a cost of $1,500 to determine if Hickenlooper’s executive order would require that there will be no unfunded mandates for new local governments. If so, the executive order may require the state to fund the installation of any new equipment that the Water Quality Control Commission and/or Water Quality Control Division would mandate at nearly every wastewater facility in the state to meet the discharge permit limits arising from new tighter state-imposed nutrient regulations.

On Jan. 19, the Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association approved the payment of Foster’s fee for this analysis. The members of the association are all the water quality special districts in the Tri-Lakes region and the Towns of Monument and Palmer Lake.

The Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority will pay $400,000 later this year for a cost-benefit study that is supposed to determine what benefits, if any, would be produced in waters of the state if the Water Quality Control Division’s proposed new nutrient regulations are imposed by the Water Quality Control Commission at a rulemaking hearing scheduled on March 12, 2012. The Water and Power Authority would also use the cost-benefit data to prioritize the requests for low-interest State Revolving Fund loans that will likely be submitted by every wastewater treatment facility in the state shortly after this rulemaking hearing. These numerous requests will most likely create a funding backlog that will last several decades.

Burks distributed a letter from the Colorado Nutrient Coalition to the Special District Association that summarizes the coalition’s efforts since it was created about a year ago. The coalition’s letter is available at http://www.sdaco.org/blog/2011/february/letter-colorado-nutrient-coalition

District manager reports

Wicklund reported a freezing problem in the valve vault at the Trails End lift station one recent night when the outside air temperature dropped below zero degrees. He said, "I dropped a heater down in there and haven’t had an alarm since." Wicklund noted that the lift station pumps normally do not run between 1 and 5 a.m. and then "have to push some ice," causing the pumps to overload when water use surges each morning. He said he will have a permanent heater installed in the valve vault.

Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported a similar freezing problem that caused a backup in a Woodmoor sewer main in subzero temperatures. He stated that the Woodmoor repair truck’s hose reel and other equipment "froze up" twice. A Donala Water and Sanitation District repair truck that provided assistance to Woodmoor also "froze up." Contractors that normally provide additional backup to the Tri-Lakes region would not dispatch their repair trucks to help Woodmoor because of the temperature. The problem was later solved by a vacuum truck pumping out the blockage from an adjacent manhole when the weather warmed.

Plant manager’s report

Burks noted that the facility’s clarifiers had frozen during some cold snaps. The skimmer in one of the two operating clarifiers, which sweeps pollutants from the upper layer water in the clarifier, had frozen in place in the surface ice, breaking the shear pin that connects the skimmer to its rotating drive shaft in the center of the clarifier.

The fracture of the shear pin protected the skimmer from suffering serious ice damage. No pollutants left the clarifier while it was frozen because of this fail-safe design. The operators removed the ice and replaced the shear pin to restore skimmer operation.

Burks noted that he had purchased a weather station to install on the roof of the facility’s administration building. The weather station will collect wind velocity and directional data that will be used to determine if a wind-powered electric generator at the plant would be a cost-effective supplementary electrical power supply.

There was a lengthy discussion about soliciting an engineering study that would evaluate various technical options for installing and operating new equipment that may help the Tri-Lakes facility meet new nutrient regulations. The 2011 Tri-Lakes facility budget contains $15,000 to pay for this study.

Copper still within limits

Burks reported that the Tri-Lakes facility is performing well. He noted that the potentially dissolved copper concentration in the wastewater in the south Monument collection line ranged from 66 to 110 parts per billion (ppb) during December, which was lower than average. The potentially dissolved copper concentration in the facility’s effluent for January was 8 ppb.

This concentration is less than the facility’s current discharge permit’s maximum of 11.7 ppb, but equal to the permit’s average limit of 8.0 ppb. However, the facility has temporary permit modification limits for potentially dissolved copper of 24.8 ppb on average or a single test maximum of 36.4 ppb. The current expired Tri-Lakes discharge permit for 2005-09 has been administratively extended by the Water Quality Control Division for an additional three years due to an extensive backlog of expired permits.

Note: When the Tri-Lakes activated sludge facility was designed and constructed about 13 years ago, removal of copper from treated sludge was not a concern. The efficiency of the activated sludge process in removing copper was not part of the plant’s design but has become an extremely valuable, if unplanned/unintended performance benefit.

Wicklund noted that the Town of Monument has ceased treating town drinking water with caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) to reduce its acidity. This acidity is dissolving the copper from inside local area water pipes. Most of the copper present in the South Monument sanitary sewer collection line is being leached by drinking water from the inner surface of the copper drinking water pipes installed in new homes along Old Denver Highway. This leaching has already caused pipe failures and leaks in some downtown Monument buildings.

The installation of the town’s caustic soda injection equipment that was installed a few years ago in the town’s water treatment plant at Second Street and Beacon Lite Road caused operational problems that led to the injection system being turned off. The town has made no changes to the injection system design to restore effective operation.

Caustic soda is being added to drinking water in the Donala and Woodmoor sanitation districts. The sodium hydroxide coats the inside of the copper pipes with a barrier that prevents leaching of copper, but caustic soda is only effective if it is continuously added to the drinking water. The Triview Metropolitan District, which serves the Jackson Creek portion of Monument, also is not adding caustic soda to its drinking water.

The Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor sanitation districts have banned the use of copper water pipes in any new homes and in repairs of "grandfathered" plumbing systems.

The meeting adjourned at 11:32 a.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on March 8 at the Tri-Lakes facility lab building, 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 Sanitation District, Feb. 17: Large Wakonda Hills bills ending

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 17, District Manager Mike Wicklund advised the Monument Sanitation District board that the large bills from the Wakonda Hills collection system expansion in the monthly treasurer’s report would "start disappearing now."

Wicklund also said that the state had issued a permit for the new industrial facility Synthes has constructed in leased space separate from the main Synthes plant.

The absences of Directors Chuck Robinove and Lowell Morgan were excused.

Wicklund pointed out bills for $2,800 from A-1 Pumping & Septic Services, and $6,394 and $15, 257 from engineering consultant GMS Inc. The A-1 and larger GMS bills were part of the Wakonda Hills American Recovery and Reinvestment Act project.

All Wakonda Hills construction by contractor Brannan Construction Co. and its subcontractors has been completed, with the exception of some reseeding landscaping that will not be completed until after the spring thaw, and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sign had been taken down on Dec. 14. The final state audit of how the stimulus money was spent was completed in early January.

Wicklund also reported that he had accepted a proposal for the purchase of grinder pumps for those Wakonda Hills homes that cannot discharge their domestic waste to the district’s new collection lines by gravity. The cost for each pump is about $2,000 The district will own and maintain these to ensure prompt, reliable repair service in the event of a backup, he said.

Wicklund noted that Synthes received a new industrial discharge permit for 1,200 gallons per month a few hours before this meeting. No tap fees have been paid to the district yet for 2011.

Wicklund briefed the board on the Feb. 8 meeting of the Joint Use Committee of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. See the JUC article for details.

Wicklund also briefed the board on the heavily attended Feb. 14 Water Quality Forum Nutrient Criteria Work Group meeting he and Jim Kendrick, Operations, attended. The Water Quality Control Division presented two draft regulations for near- and long-term limits on total phosphorus and total nitrogen discharge permit limits for wastewater plants’ treated effluent and a draft request for proposals for a $400,000 cost-benefit study on options for new treatment processes for removing these nutrients.

The stakeholder representatives of the publicly owned treatment works who attended this nutrient criteria meeting were for the most part unhappy with the division’s proposal because of the drastic reduction in the allowed concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen compounds and lack of options for setting site-specific discharge permit standards. The stakeholders were also unhappy with the proposed scope of work for the cost-benefit study.

Wicklund noted the specific complaint he had presented to the three Water Quality Control Division leaders who attended this work group session regarding the division’s first draft request for proposal.

Note: After this meeting, on Feb. 24, the Water Quality Control Division adopted the Colorado Nutrient Coalition’s much more detailed and complete draft request for proposals.

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The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on March 17 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 17: Court date nears in ranch water case

By John Heiser

At the monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors Feb. 17, the board received a report from Donala General Manager Dana Duthie on the progress of the negotiations with those who oppose the district’s proposed change from irrigation to municipal use for water from Willow Creek Ranch.

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. If the water court approves the conversion, this source would cover about 20 percent of Donala’s current demand.

Duthie said they hope to reach agreement with all the opposing parties prior to the March 8 scheduled water court date; however, if agreement cannot be reached, opposing sides will submit legal briefs and await a decision by the water court judge.

Currently, Duthie is anticipating that the district will ultimately obtain rights to about 280 acre-feet of water per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. If that is the final figure approved by the water court judge then, under the terms of the ranch purchase agreement, the district will be obligated to pay Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, about $408,000.

One of the more difficult parts of the negotiation has been with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District. Conditions in that agreement may push Donala to join the Southeastern district.

Water reclamation study effort submits $104,000 grant request

Duthie reported on the yearlong $220,000 Donala Expanded Water Supply Study (DEWSS). Each year, hundreds of millions of gallons are being discharged into Monument Creek by the wastewater treatment plant. The project is considering ways that water could be captured, extensively treated, and mixed in with the district’s water supply.

The DEWSS study team includes Roger Sams from GMS, Katie Fendel and David Takeda from Leonard Rice Engineers, and Floyd Ciruli from Ciruli Associates, a polling and public relations firm.

In a memo to the Donala board, Sams reported that an application for partial funding of the DEWSS feasibility analysis was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation WaterSMART program. A decision on the grant request is expected by the end of April.

The DEWSS schedule calls for preliminary findings to be published in July 2011 and the final report to be published in September 2011. The preliminary design would be completed in November 2011. Community meetings to discuss the project are planned for May and September 2011.

Arapahoe aquifer injection test underway

Duthie reported that initial pumping of water at 250 gallons per minute into one of the district’s Arapahoe aquifer wells produced a rise in the level of water in the well of up to 300 feet. No significant rise was measured in the neighboring Arapahoe aquifer wells; however, some rise was measured in one of the nearby Denver aquifer wells. Duthie said the pumping was suspended during the recent cold weather.

Starting in March, the plan is to increase the pumping rate to 400 gallons per minute for about a month and monitor the results. The intention of the tests is to determine the practicality of pumping water into the Arapahoe aquifer for recovery later during periods of higher demand.

Issue arises with Triview

Donala, the Triview Metropolitan District, and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District jointly own the wastewater treatment plant on Monument Creek south of Baptist Road. Donala covered part of Triview’s portion of the cost for the recently completed expansion of the plant. The understanding was that Triview would repay the loan at the rate of $1,500 per tap as developers complete houses.

According to Donala’s records, Triview currently owes Donala $1.06 million. Interest charges are accumulating at a rate of 4.5 percent per year.

Duthie reported that Triview has agreements in place under which 37 lots within the Triview district have not or will not pay tap fees. Those agreements were made in exchange for construction of various parts of the infrastructure within the Triview district. The Triview district’s position so far has been that since it is not collecting tap fees for those lots, no payment for those taps is owed to Donala.

Duthie said he is working with the Triview manager and board to resolve the issue.

Cost of service analysis presented

Duthie distributed copies of an analysis of the district’s cost of providing water and sewer service during 2010.

Some highlights:

  • Total treated water was 333.3 million gallons, which was 18.7 percent more than in 2009. The associated cost was $7.57 per 1,000 gallons, which was 2.1 percent less than in 2009.
  • Total raw water delivered to the golf course was 9.6 million gallons, which was 110 percent more than in 2009. The associated cost was $6.30 per 1,000 gallons, which was 6.5 percent less than in 2009.
  • Total reuse and Jake’s Lake augmentation water production was 34.3 million gallons, which was 21.8 percent more than in 2009. The associated cost was $4.98 per 1,000 gallons, which was 7 percent more than in 2009.
  • Total wastewater influent to the treatment plant was 156.7 million gallons, which was 9 percent less than in 2009. The associated treatment costs were $4.98 per 1,000 gallons, which was up 9.7 percent from 2009.
  • Donala’s customers used an estimated 48 percent of their water for irrigation, up 9 percent from 2009.
  • Total district income minus costs for 2010 equaled a loss of $98,862. Duthie said this figure since 1998 has averaged $33,335 per year.

Other matters

  • During the three months from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, the district’s $3.77 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.36 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.11 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 6.9 months.
  • Duthie reported on the meetings of the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA). At its Feb. 2 meeting, the group tabled the second amendment to the establishing contract. That amendment, when approved by enough of the EPCWA members, will formally change the name of the authority to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), open membership to water providers outside El Paso County, and accept assignment of the former PPRWA’s projects. That action is on hold until the boards of enough EPCWA members approve it. The project participation agreements that define the terms for EPCWA members to participate in the projects that are being transferred from the former PPRWA are on hold awaiting approval of the second amendment to the establishing contract. El Paso County has delayed moving out of the county administrative offices so the EPCWA meetings will continue to be held at 27 E. Vermijo in Colorado Springs for the rest of the year. Those meetings are held at 9 a.m. on the first Wednesday of each month and are generally broadcast over the Internet using the El Paso County website www.elpasoco.com

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on March 17 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’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, March 2: Air Force Academy offers to share treatment facility

By Susan Hindman

An unexpected option for Academy Water and Sanitation District’s future wastewater treatment surfaced when the engineering facility division manager at the Air Force Academy (AFA) contacted the district about possibly connecting with the AFA’s wastewater treatment plant. Anthony Pastorello, district manager, has been in touch with the facility manager, and the board agreed on March 2 to turn the matter over to Roger Sams of GMS Engineering, the district’s engineer, for further discussions.

The district’s current lagoon system will not be able to meet upcoming state-mandated treatment requirements after 2012. The board has been exploring a number of possible options, which up until now have been to connect with Donala Water and Sanitation District, connect with Colorado Springs Utilities, or build a new treatment facility.

Pastorello said that the AFA is serious about the offer. "They are using 50 percent of their wastewater facility, so they have a lot of room," he said. "Their wastewater treatment facility is just downstream of where we drop into the creek, making a connection between the two entities fairly straightforward."

Protecting the water

Director Jim Weilbrenner told the board that the Source Water Protection Plan committee met Feb. 24 to discuss the 42-page draft that he had prepared based on previous meetings, other input, and his own research. The committee is tasked with identifying potential sources of contamination of the wells that provide the district’s drinking water and with proposing solutions as well as holding public meetings to discuss the conclusions. The committee meets again on April 7.

More about the water

The question of radionuclides in the district’s water sources was raised by director Jim Weilbrenner. Every three years, the state requires the district to sample the level of radionuclides in the water from the wells. In 2009 the district received a monitoring plan from the state, which was completed and returned. The results were not announced but will be included in the state’s next "Consumer Confidence Report," which will be mailed to residents sometime in the future.

While performing routine maintenance, Pastorello discovered a 50 percent reduction in the flow of water in Well 1. Colorado Water Well pulled 47 feet of galvanized pipe and found a large hole in the middle, so the entire line was replaced with PVC piping. The pump motor, which also was not working, was replaced, and the well screen, which had large amounts of iron scum, had to be cleaned. He had the company perform other maintenance, and the final bill was $4,622.

Fire

Director Walter Reiss told the board about a fire in the field off Tari Lane at the dead end approximately a week earlier. Fortunately, firefighters were able to contain it quickly. He said the cause had not been determined.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is April 6.

Susan Hindman can be reached at susanhindman@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 7: Delaney receives 30-year service award

Below: (File photo) July 17, 2008, volunteer Ed DeLaney was sworn in by Monument Sanitation District Chairperson Glenda Smith after being unanimously appointed a director. At the Monument Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 7, Delaney received a plaque for his selfless commitment to the Town of Monument over the past 30 years. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 7, Mayor Travis Easton presented a plaque to Ed Delaney for his selfless commitment to the betterment of the Town of Monument over the past 30 years. Delaney’s service started when he was member of the Planning Commission from 1981 through 1989. He next served on the Board of Trustees from 1989 through 2002 and was mayor pro-tem from 1996 to 2002.

Delaney was the chair of the Home Rule Committee in 2000. He also served on the town’s Parks and Landscape Committee from 1986 through 1993 and returned to the committee in 2002 until it was dissolved in 2005. Delaney was reappointed to the Planning Commission in 2004 and has been its chair since February 2005.

Note: Delaney has also served on the Monument Sanitation District board for most of the past 20 years. His first board term was from 1991 to 2004. He returned to the district board in 2008 and took over as chair in May 2009.

The Monument Board of Trustees also approved several resolutions regarding changes to town contracts required by the merger of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority into the El Paso County Water Authority and the merged El Paso County Water Authority’s subsequent name change to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Trustees Stan Gingrich, Tommie Plank, and Rick Squires were absent.

St. Peter minor site plan amendment approved

The Catholic Diocese of Colorado Springs applied for an ordinance that would approve a minor site plan amendment for the parochial school operated by St. Peter Catholic Church at 55 N. Jefferson St. This minor site plan amendment will allow the school to add the sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade classes in the new space created by the recent school building expansion.

The diocese did not request any changes to the St. Peter buildings, grounds, parking lots, drives, or drop-off facilities or the currently approved maximum school population of 150 students.

Background

In 2007, the Board of Trustees approved a "use by special review site plan" for a pre-K to fifth-grade school. The traffic study for that 2007 approval process was based on 150 students, while the water analysis showed there was sufficient water available for the church and up to 175 students. The design of the recently completed expansion of the school building provides physical space for up to 500 students.

The St. Peter School currently has about 90 students. The enrollment is not expected to significantly increase above 90 students in the near term as the new classes are added. The staff made no recommendation at this time because there was no planned increase above 150 students.

The school would have to seek another site plan amendment if the number of students were to exceed the current approved maximum of 150.

Public hearing

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported that if the church wishes to request approval for more than 150 students in the future, it would need to submit an updated traffic study that demonstrates sufficient capacity for traffic and adequate vehicular circulation. If the church wishes to request approval for more than 175 students, it would need to demonstrate that there is sufficient water availability for the new proposed maximum number of students. He also noted that the Planning Commission had approved the minor site plan amendment on Jan. 12.

Brian Bucher of Bucher Design Studios, the St. Peter Church architect, stated that he is also a parishioner. He noted that the school started as pre-K, then pre-K through second grade, and now pre-K through fifth grade. The school continues to grow and be an asset to the community as a local school choice option. Bucher said this will be the final expansion of the school. He added that the original traffic study for a maximum of 150 students covered the period through 2027.

Father Don Brownstein, pastor at St. Peter Catholic Church, also spoke in support of the grade expansion, which would enable current students to remain in the school for three more years rather than having to transfer. Father Brownstein took over this parish on July 1. This is the third church school he has overseen.

The ordinance for the St. Peter Church school minor site plan amendment was unanimously approved.

Special events town code amendment continued

Kassawara requested that the board continue the public hearing on an amendment to the town code regarding special events until March 21. There are unresolved issues regarding the amendment, which would allow the temporary sale of fireworks from temporary structures, to include tents. The current wording of the town code on special events requires that fireworks be sold in permanent structures.

Fireworks have been sold from tents on a temporary basis from time to time in parts of Woodmoor that are in unincorporated El Paso County. There was board consensus that temporary tent sales of fireworks should be allowed within the town boundaries and would garner additional sales tax revenue. A motion to continue this properly noticed hearing until March 21 was unanimously approved.

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority contract revisions approved

The board unanimously approved the name change from the El Paso County Water Authority to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. Rich Landreth, director of Public Works, is the town’s primary representative to this merged renamed authority, and former Mayor Betty Konarski is his alternate. Landreth noted that the annual dues that the town will pay as a result of the merger and name change dropped to $2,950, an amount considerably less than the dues the town paid to both authorities in 2010.

The members of the merged/renamed authority listed on the contract were:

  • Cherokee Metropolitan District
  • Security Water District
  • Sunset Metropolitan District
  • Town of Palmer Lake
  • Widefield Water and Sanitation District
  • Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District
  • City of Fountain
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District
  • Paintbrush Hill Metropolitan District
  • Stratmoor Hills Water District
  • Town of Monument
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District
  • Forest Lakes Metropolitan District

Note: After this Board of Trustees meeting, Widefield Water and Sanitation District General Manager Steve Wilson sent an e-mail to the member districts and towns of the renamed Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority on Feb. 17 formally notifying them that the Widefield board had voted against approval of the amendment and against continuing Widefield’s membership in the authority.

Continued Colorado-Wyoming Project participation approved

The board unanimously approved an amended Colorado-Wyoming Project participation agreement, continuing town participation in the project under the auspices of the merged and renamed Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. One unchanged purpose of the project is to study, permit, finance, construct, and use a pipeline and its related facilities to deliver water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir or the Green River to each of the project participants.

The other unchanged purpose of the project is to participate under the Colorado Water Resources Cooperative Development Authority establishing contract and intergovernmental agreement to obtain water, water rights, interests, and real property as well as joint financing for these kinds of initiatives.

The members listed on the new agreement are:

  • Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority
  • Town of Monument
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District

Continued Super Ditch Project participation approved

The board unanimously approved an amended Super Ditch Project Participation Agreement, continuing town participation in the project under the auspices of the merged and renamed Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. The unchanged purpose of the project is to lease or undertake other acquisition of water or water rights, interests, and real property as well as joint financing for municipal uses.

The members listed on the new agreement are:

  • Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority
  • Town of Monument
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District
  • Cherokee Metropolitan District
  • City of Fountain

The Super Ditch Project may also be tied to the Southern Delivery System Project to deliver leased agricultural water to the participants.

Continued Southern Delivery System Project participation approved

The board unanimously approved an amended Southern Delivery System Project participation agreement, continuing town participation in the project under the auspices of the merged and renamed Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. The unchanged purpose of the project is to allow members to negotiate as a group or individually with Colorado Springs Utilities for the delivery of raw or other water to each participant through the system, as well as acquisition of water or water rights, interests, real property, and joint financing.

The members listed on the new agreement are:

  • Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority
  • Town of Monument
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District
  • Cherokee Metropolitan District

Other matters

The board also unanimously approved a payment of $5,000 for the town’s cost of participation in this project’s 2011 study on compliance issues regarding the National Environmental Policy Act and related Colorado House Bill 1041 issues. The first phase of the study is being conducted by Leonard Rice Engineers Inc. Phase I includes researching environmental compliance requirements to determine what is required and what the components of this compliance will cost.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution designating February as "National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month." Town Manager Cathy Green noted that the resolution states that approximately 1 in 3 adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youths. Young women, especially teens, are especially vulnerable to such violent relationships.

Financial reports and disbursements approved

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

  • $125,169 to Triview Metropolitan District for November sales tax ($117,940), December motor vehicle tax ($7,049), and Regional Building sales tax ($172)
  • $25,378 to CIRSA Insurance for first quarter, 2011 workers’ compensation insurance
  • $13,577 to CIRSA Insurance for first quarter, 2011 liability insurance
  • $20,500 to Let’s Roll Autos & Equipment for a Public Works Department used bucket truck
  • $15,000 to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2011 dues and project participation

Preliminary end-of-year financials reported

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented the "preliminary unaudited" December 2010 financial statements and summary. The town’s audit will be conducted by Cutler & Associates and is scheduled for the week of April 18. Smith said many end-of-year adjustments will change some of these preliminary figures.

The General Fund revenues were less than the budgeted amount by 1.4 percent, or $49,000. The General Fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 5.3 percent, or $184,000. The General Fund overall exceeded the budgeted amount by $135,000, down $9,000 from November.

Water Fund revenues exceeded the budgeted estimate by 4.6 percent, or $52,000. Water Fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 16.2 percent, or $207,000. The Water Fund overall exceeded the budgeted amount by $259,000, which was up $4,000 from November.

Tap fees have already exceeded the 2010 budget by $18,000, due to more development than expected.

The ancillary funds were within budgeted ranges.

The summary was unanimously approved.

Town ends participation in 3/50 drawings

Green presented a summary of the outcomes of the 3/50 Project that the town had supported in 2010 by contributing some sales tax revenues to two cash drawings. The 3/50 Project is a national campaign to support independently owned businesses, based on the premise that $68 of every $100 spent at independent businesses is returned to the local community.

The project allowed people who visited three local businesses and spent at least $50 in them to participate in two drawings for cash prizes of $500 each. People could qualify for the drawings if they submitted receipts for purchases from independent businesses totaling $350 or more for the preceding three months. The total sales tax revenue for the September drawing was $5,580 for 151 entrants, with a submitted purchase receipts total of $93,000. The total sales tax revenue for the December drawing was $1,452 for 63 entrants, with a submitted purchase receipts total of $20,828.

Green reported that:

  • Merchants felt the drawing gave merchants a reason to talk about the 3/50 Project with customers.
  • Despite "a huge effort to avoid any possibility of fraud or cheating, there were several illegal entries" but none of these won either drawing.
  • Both winners were downtown merchants.
  • The $1,000 from the town for prize money was less than 1 percent of the submitted receipts.
  • The drawings generated excitement among independent business owners, but it is unclear how much public excitement was generated.
  • The town treasurer found no increase in town sales tax revenues during the project.

Green said the town will not continue to participate in the 3/50 Project.

Update on Hellbusch property health hazards

Green noted that county planners, building inspectors, the Monument Police Department, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and town and county code enforcement staff met last week to check the status on the Hellbusch property. This property is located in the town and the county at the north end of Mitchell Avenue. While there are a lot of problems remaining, Green reported that:

  • The kennel and puppy mill business has been broken up, with two dogs left that will be neutered and vaccinated.
  • Timelines have been established to clean up unsafe and abandoned buildings on the property, with some cleanup completed.
  • The county has put together a timeline and milestones for getting the existing business legally established.

The town’s previous plan to purchase about $20,000 worth of trees from Mountain Farmer has been abandoned.

See www.ocn.me/v10n6.htm#juc for a detailed report on the variety of health hazards that were found on the Hellbusch property and adjacent Crystal Creek in early 2010.

Green reported that town staff members and the town’s consultant water engineer, Bruce Lytle, will meet with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District to discuss the district’s opposition to the town’s water rights case in water court, seeking water storage rights in Monument Lake.

The town staff and the new Triview Metropolitan District manager are working on three new intergovernmental agreements between the town and the district. Green and town staff department heads have been managing Triview for almost two years, even though the town has received no compensation for their work.

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for Jasmine Gardens Restaurant, 1425 Cipriani Loop.

The meeting adjourned at 8:12 p.m.

**********

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 22: Watering days changed

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 22, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved an ordinance that revised the town code on lawn watering schedule. Since 2005, those with odd numbered addresses could water on odd numbered days and those with even numbered addresses could water on even numbered days.

Now, those with odd numbered addresses can water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and those with even numbered addresses can water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. No watering on Sunday is allowed as before.

All members of the board were present at the meeting.

Tri-Lakes Cruisers car show approved

The board also approved a resolution authorizing a street closing for the 10th annual Tri-Lakes Cruisers car show on June 12. Event coordinator Dan O’Reilly requested approval of a resolution for a temporary street closing. He noted that the show would be similar to previous shows on Second Street between Front and Jefferson Streets and Front Street between Second and Third Streets.

Although the street closing permit runs from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., the show should be concluded by around 2 p.m. O’Reilly said there would be about 200 cars on display, depending on the weather. The club will pay the cost for an additional on-duty Monument police officer to be available on site.

Two continuing engineering services contracts renewed

The board unanimously approved two resolutions for annual renewal of continuing services contracts with Nolte Associates Inc. and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. Neither firm increased their already discounted rates. Mayor Travis Easton, a Nolte employee, abstained from the vote to renew the Nolte contract. These were the last of the three renewals authorized in these five-year contracts.

Financial reports and disbursements approved

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

  • $125,169 to Triview Metropolitan District for November sales tax ($117,940), December motor vehicle tax ($7,049), and Regional Building sales tax ($172).
  • $21,500 to Dellenbach Motors for a 2011 Chevy Impala for the Police Department.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith reported that the total town sales tax for 2010 was $2,630,645, which is evenly split between the town and Triview Metropolitan District. The total 2010 sales tax was less than the budgeted amount by $183,923, or 8.1 percent. However, the town’s half of 2010 total sales tax revenue was $99,320 more than in 2009. Total 2010 revenues to the General Fund were about $49,000 more than budgeted, or 1.4 percent. Total sales tax has increased every year since 2004.

Staff reports

Some of the items that Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported were:

  • The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority will be requesting design proposals for a Baptist Road bridge over the railroad tracks early this year.
  • He issued final approval for the revisions to the new Serrano’s Coffee site.
  • He will continue working with new Triview District Manager Mark Carmel on revised sanitary sewer standards, the Triview Parks Plan, Triview mouse habitat and wetlands permit issues and negotiations.
  • He prepared a summary of the conditions in the inclusion agreements for the Home Place Ranch, Sanctuary Pointe, and Promontory Pointe developments for Carmel to present to the Triview board.

Some of the items that Rich Landreth, Public Works director, reported were:

  • The Forest Lakes Metropolitan District water plant is providing water to flush the Valero truck stop sewer line and to service the Upper Monument Creek Regional wastewater Treatment Facility.
  • The Forest Lakes Metropolitan District has completed a connection to the Triview wastewater interceptor line on West Baptist Road and will be billed by Triview based on these sewer flows.
  • He is obtaining prices to repair and upgrade Triview’s A water treatment plant.

Downtown plan presentation

Town Manager Cathy Green gave a lengthy slide show presentation on the history of the downtown planning portion of the town’s comprehensive plans since 1984 for the recently appointed trustees. She proposed some options for the board to consider:

  • Bring in a municipal finance expert to discuss financing long-term projects.
  • Create a downtown committee to investigate business owners’ desire to create a non-volunteer management organization.
  • Hire a consultant to investigate the feasibility of establishing an Urban Renewal Authority.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Rafael Dominguez noted that he had received a thank you letter from Tri-Lakes Cares for the Giving Trees project. People took tags off the Tri-Lakes Cares tree in the reception area of Town Hall and donated what was listed on the tag to this charitable organization.

Trustee Gail Drumm reported that Pikes Peak Regional Building Department reported no change in housing starts and a further decline in commercial building starts. Drumm also stated that Regional Building’s annual donations to Colorado Springs’ Economic Development Committee of about $70,000 continue to cause the loss of at least one Regional Building Department job per year "to support the pet project of the directors."

Easton thanked the staff for getting the town on Facebook. He also received a thank you letter for the Police Department’s Santa on Patrol event.

Trustee Tommie Plank said she and Cathy Green had met with D-38 Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman and two school board members to discuss areas where shared efforts could save money. A pedestal will be installed at the "Big Red" headquarters building on Jefferson Street for an additional piece of art from Tri-Lakes Views to be displayed.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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

Jim Kendrick can be reached at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Feb. 10: Crawford Memorial upgrade in the works

By Candice Hitt

On Feb. 10, the Palmer Lake Town Council listened to construction plans presented by Ron Heard on the upgrade of the Crawford Memorial. This new larger memorial will replace the existing Crawford memorial at the north end of Palmer Lake to better honor longtime town resident Master Sgt. William Crawford. The opening ceremony for the memorial is expected on Veterans Day this November.

New sign available for advertising

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department requested $290 to pay for half of a recent sign purchased to provide advertising. The board voted 8 to 1 to approve the request. In addition to the department’s use, the sign will be available for the Town Council to utilize as needed. The sign will be installed along Highway 105 between the Depot Restaurant and the post office.

Committee reports

Roads Trustee Dennis Stern reported the replacement of two snow plows that are now installed on town trucks. The majority of January expenses were related to equipment repairs.

Parks and Recreation/Economic Development Trustee Joe Polonsky reported the Fire Department had 33 calls and 1,075 volunteer hours in January. Members also took part in a Douglas County training exercise to enable them to assist dispatch and search and rescue teams.

Police Trustee Nikki Mc Donald reported that the Police Department had 50 case reports, 17 traffic summons, one DUI arrest and 137 calls.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. March 10 at Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml or call 481-2953.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me

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Area residents agree public transit plays important role

By Bernard L. Minetti

El Paso County residents may have mixed feelings about how well the area is recovering from the recession, according to a news release from the Future of Regional Transit study group. An overwhelming majority of respondents in a recent countywide survey agreed that public transportation plays an important role in the community. When asked how to best deal with local transportation issues, 44 percent favored adding more transportation options such as public transportation and bicycle lanes, while 35 percent of respondents said they favor adding highway capacity.

Those findings, among others, were shared with the Future of Regional Transit Steering Committee during its monthly meeting on Feb. 4 at the Fountain Valley Senior Center. The survey, conducted by the Denver-based Kenney Group during late January, canvassed more than 400 active voters in El Paso County. The survey has a 4.9 percent margin of error.

Unsurprisingly, county residents were most interested in jobs, unemployment, and the economy. Overall, 42 percent of respondents said they think Colorado Springs is on the wrong track, while 38 percent said the community is headed in the right direction. Just over 20 percent said they did not know.

Regarding public transit, most respondents strongly agreed that public transportation’s most important role is providing mobility for those who have no other transportation options. "Respondents recognize the importance of public transit for the elderly, disabled, and those unable to drive," said David Kenney of the Kenney Group. "Ninety-five percent of those we polled said that was very important or important." In comparison, about 75 percent said transportation options are important to relieve traffic congestion, improve air quality, or reduce gas consumption.

The survey provided insights into the community’s views on several topics. Views on the recent cuts in transit service revealed that more than 70 percent gave increased service a high priority. In response to a question that asked respondents to rate present service, 42 percent rated Mountain Metropolitan Transit as excellent or good in the service provided.

On the topic of governance of transit operations, 30 percent said that keeping the transit provider under the auspices of the City of Colorado Springs was a good idea. Fifty percent said that that it did not make any difference or they had no opinion. In the question asked of those who were opposed to the City of Colorado Springs operating the transit system, 85 percent stated that it should be run by a separate entity.

In responding to the source of funding for increased transit operations, 60 percent said that a dedicated funding source should be assigned to the transit issue, while 66 percent favored a sales tax. Twenty-seven percent desired property taxes while 39 percent favored vehicle registration fees as the funding source.

A majority of respondents said they view traffic congestion as a serious problem for the Pikes Peak region; at the same time, however, two-thirds of the respondents said traffic has little or no impact on their daily lives. Specifically, 60 percent of respondents think traffic in Colorado Springs is a serious problem, 56 percent think regional traffic is a serious problem, and 66 percent of respondents said traffic has little or no impact their daily lives.

In response to other questions: more than 70 percent of respondents said they get good or average value for their tax dollars, 18 percent said they think vehicle registration fees are too high, 16 percent said property taxes are unrealistic, and 10 percent cited sales taxes as too steep.

"These survey results indicate significant support for a regional approach to public transit services," said Marc Snyder, chair of the Future of Regional Transit Steering Committee. "Not only is there regional support for service, but there’s considerable support for increasing service to levels that existed before the economy dictated significant transit cuts."

A copy of the survey can be requested by calling (719) 385-5974, or it can be accessed online on the study’s website: www.springsgov.com/units/transit/FutureofRegionalTransit/Study_Surveyv2.doc. For additional information regarding the study, see www.FutureofRegionalTransit.com

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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El Paso County Planning Commission, Feb. 15: Fire station site, retreat center upgrades approved

Below: The front elevation of the proposed fire station.

Below: The proposed location on Highway 83 opposite Stagecoach Road.

the planning commission packet on the firestation as a PDF file. This is a 996  Kbyte fileand will take about 6 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program. Click here for help with PDF downloads

the planning commission packet on The Hideway as a PDF file. This is a 1.37 Mbyte file and will take about 8 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program. Click here for help with PDF downloads

By Susan Hindman

The location of a proposed fire station on Highway 83 was approved by the El Paso County Planning Commission at its Feb. 15 meeting. The Donald Westcott Fire Protection District plans to build the station as part of a two-phase development of a five-acre lot northeast of Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road. The second phase will be the construction of a 2,000-square-foot community building.

The property is part of 895 acres owned by David and Mary Wismer. A separate 40-acre parcel within that acreage was created, and the district will lease five of those acres to build the 9,200-square-foot Station 3. The land is heavily treed and undeveloped. The station will house two to five fire personnel on a 24-hour basis.

According to a condition of approval, the district will need to submit a site development plan application to, and have it approved by, the El Paso County Development Services Division, before a building permit can be authorized. It needs to adhere to the standards of the RR-5 (residential rural) zoning. The property is surrounded by residential and "grazing" properties. Forty-eight adjoining property owners were notified about the proposed fire station.

In a separate action, the commissioners approved a special-use request by The Hideaway to continue operating a recreation camp on Walker Road and to increase accommodations from 34 to 50 overnight guests. In addition, the facility would be expanded in a series of eight phases over the next several years.

The Hideaway sits on 20 acres one-half mile east of Highway 83. Because of its residential rural zoning, it requires special use approval. The retreat center hosts primarily religious training groups and boards from Denver and Colorado Springs, according to Planning Commission documents.

The phased increases would include adding overnight guest rooms, a 2,400-square-foot caretaker house, a 1,100-square-foot gatehouse with living quarters, and accessory structures as well as expanding the existing 10,661-square-foot facility. The facility could accommodate 92 day guests and 50 overnight guests. Final buildout will take up less than 4 percent of the 20 acres.

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District will require an on-site water source be put in at the time of expansion.

Decisions by the planning commissioners are considered only recommendations for action by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, which will hear both issues sometime in the future.

Susan Hindman can be contacted at susanhindman@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Feb. 23: Board plans for membership vote on governing documents

By Harriet Halbig

On Feb. 23, the Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association discussed plans for a membership vote on its revised governing documents.

Over the past year and a half, a committee has met with attorneys to bring the association’s Bylaws, Articles of Incorporation, and Rules and Regulations into compliance with state law. The original documents required various voting majorities (some a simple majority, some a two-thirds vote of the membership) for changes and described categories of membership that no longer exist.

At its annual meeting in late January, the board announced to the membership that the process of voting on the revisions would begin in the first quarter of 2011 and be concluded within a few months. Original and revised documents can be viewed on the association’s website, woodmoor.org, and hard copies of the documents can be picked up at the office at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive.

Board Secretary Craig Gaydos said that the association’s newsletter will explain the approval process to the membership and a mailing of ballots regarding the revisions would follow shortly thereafter.

The board has established dates and times in early April for three meetings at the Barn to have question and answer sessions about the documents.

Phone system issues

The association continues to have problems with its phone system. The original supplier of the system is no longer in business and the lease on the equipment expires in 2012. The board voted to hire someone to reconfigure the system to last until the expiration of the lease. Replacement of the system would be too expensive.

Other matters

The board approved the purchase of several card tables for use by a bridge club and for dinners and other events.

There has been little activity in the architectural control and covenants areas due to the severe weather. The Forestry Committee is planning spring events, training for new volunteers, and researching grants for the association and homeowners.

Association contact with Qwest regarding the laying of cable along the median of Fairplay has come to an impasse. Qwest has declined to send a representative to speak to the board.

Vice President Jim Hale said that, although the January board election went relatively smoothly, a number of ballots were disallowed due to improper signatures. He said that a representative of the League of Women Voters has volunteered to help simplify the process for next year’s election. The proxy system was also a cause for confusion.

Common Areas Director W Lee Murray reported that the association has rented out two office spaces in the Barn.

Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported that Mark Pfoff, a detective with the El Paso Sheriff’s Office, has opted to teach a class on The Real Law and Order through the school system’s Learning Points program rather than speak at an association event.

**********

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Woodmoor Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on March 23.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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First responders talk about emergency situations

Below: Paulette Miksch, left, and Pete Glesser speak with Shirley Karlstrum at the Black Forest AARP Chapter meeting Feb. 9. Photo provided by Stan Beckner.

By Stan Beckner

What are the key indicators that someone is suffering a stroke or heart attack? What should you do?

Paulette Miksch, nurse practitioner, and Pete Glesser, firefighter/emergency medical technician from Black Forest Fire Rescue, provided the life-saving answers to these and other critical questions in an informative presentation at the Black Forest AARP Chapter meeting on Feb. 9.

They talked about the causes and classic symptoms of heart attacks and strokes using diagrams and graphics. Also discussed was the latest CPR technique and the automated external defibrillator, a portable electronic device widely found in most public buildings and malls. It diagnoses and can correct arrhythmia.

Emphasis was placed on dialing 911 and staying on the phone so that responders can be quickly dispatched using the best mix of fire rescue, ambulance, and helicopter services available.

Several suggestions were made that would greatly assist emergency responders:

  • House numbers should be prominently displayed and readable even under poor lighting conditions.
  • In rural areas, access roads and lanes to residences must not only be clearly marked, but also have sufficient road base so that emergency equipment can gain access without becoming stuck in mud or encountering obstructions that would prevent entry.
  • Once paramedics arrive at a destination, they need to have immediate access to a complete list of prescription and nonprescription drugs that the distressed person is taking. This list should be kept in an easy-to-find location, such as attached to the refrigerator with a magnet.
  • Cell phones should include an ICE (in case of emergency) number, so emergency responders have someone to call.

Organizations interested in receiving the presentation by NP Miksch and FF/EMT Glesser should contact the Black Forest Fire Rescue at 495-4300.

**********

The Black Forest Chapter of AARP meets for a potluck luncheon on the second Wednesday of each month. The next one will be held Mar. 9 at 11:30 a.m. at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, Shoup and Black Forest Road. For information contact Electa Beckner at 596-6787 or Chuck Eaton at 495-2443.

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Winter finally arrived during the first two weeks of February, with brutal cold and consistent snow as several surges of Arctic air invaded the region. During the first few days we were stuck in some of the coldest air to affect the area during the first week of February since 1951.

Record low maximum temperatures were set at many locations around Colorado, as highs did not reach above zero. High temperatures only managed to "warm" to minus 10° F during the afternoon of the 1st. The official high for the day actually occurred at midnight when we were at minus 8° F ahead of the really cold air.

To make things even more exciting, winds were gusty all day, causing wind chills to be as low as minus 50° F! Temperatures like these are dangerous and can lead to frostbite within five minutes. Snow wasn’t heavy with this first push of cold air, with generally 1 to 3 inches accumulating and blowing around.

Temperatures slowly moderated over the next few days, finally reaching above zero for about two hours on the afternoon of the 2nd before plummeting again to more than minus 20° F that night. After a cold start, we did manage to reach the low to mid-20s for afternoon highs on the 3rd, downright balmy compared to the previous few days, but about 15 degrees cooler than average.

The first three nights of the month saw temperatures reach between minus 15 and minus 20° F each night, an extended cold period which is something we don’t see very often around here. In fact, we were below zero for 62 hours from Jan. 31 through Feb. 3. We finally managed to get above the freezing mark for a few hours on the 4th, with highs reaching into the mid-30s and overnight lows staying above zero.

However, with the slightly warmer temperatures also came higher levels of moisture. This led to light snow and blowing snow again falling on the 3rd and the 4th with 2 to 4 inches accumulating. On the 5th we saw a brief break between Arctic air masses, as quiet conditions moved in during the morning. However, another mass of very cold air was poised to move through later that day and when combined with a strong northerly flow led to heavy snow and gusty winds that afternoon and evening and into the next afternoon. This turned out to be our biggest snowfall of the season (so far), with 6 to 10 inches falling.

Again, a brief window of quiet weather followed this round of cold and snow, with highs reaching into the upper 30s on the afternoon of the 7th under mostly sunny skies. However, the final in the series of cold blasts of air was ready to make an entrance later that evening. Around 11 p.m., the cold front rushed through with gusty winds and heavy snow. Temperatures again plummeted, barely reaching the high single digits the next afternoon. Overnight lows again touched near minus 20° F from the evening of the 8th through the morning of the 9th under clear skies and a foot of fresh snow cover. Temperatures remained cold over the next few days, not reaching above the freezing mark until the afternoon of the 11th, thereby making the first 11 days of February one of the coldest stretches in the last hundred years for this time of the year. Making matters worse, the extended period of extreme cold took its toll on much of the region’s plumbing, with many residents and businesses experiencing frozen/burst pipes.

Interestingly, this extreme cold not only affected us, but most of the country east of the Cascades and Sierra Nevada ranges. All-time record lows were set in Arizona and New Mexico, heavy snow occurred down to Mexico and east/northeast from there through New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. A large percentage of the country from the Gulf Coast through the East Coast was covered by a substantial snowpack during this period, so we weren’t the only ones enjoying the wintry conditions.

The proverbial switch was flipped during the 3rd week of February, as we quickly moved out of the cold and snow and into mild and dry conditions. Skies were clear to start the week of the 14th with seasonal temperatures on Valentine’s Day. High pressure continued to build into the area from the southwest and, when combined with southwesterly winds, helped push temperatures to above normal levels over the next few days.

Highs hit the mid 50s on the 15th and 16th as we continued to melt the snowpack left behind from the first two weeks of the month. Temperatures cooled to normal over the next few days, with highs holding in the low to mid-40s. Then on the 19th, we warmed quickly as gusty winds developed ahead of a vigorous storm moving through the region.

This system brought more heavy snow to the high country and something unusual for us. There was so much energy with this storm, that even though it moved in from the west, it was able to overcome the strong downsloping (drying) effects that we normally experience when storms move through from the west, and it instead produced thunderstorms and rain. This is very unusual for February for two reasons. First, we almost never see rain in February, and second it’s even rarer to see thunderstorms in February. Cooler air arrived behind the system, and a last band of moisture produced a quick shot of snow on the morning of the 20th.

The month ended on a quiet note, giving credence to the saying "in like a lion, out like a lamb." Sunshine was abundant during the last week of the month as temperatures started off the week of the 21st right around normal, with highs in the 40s. Clear skies and seasonal temperatures stuck around for the next few days before a shallow surge of cold air affected the region on the 25th. This produced lots of fog, flurries, and rime ice and kept high temperatures in the mid-20s that afternoon.

However, this shallow air mass quickly retreated to the east as strong southwesterly winds began to kick in ahead of a series of storms moving in from the west. As usual, the systems moving in the from the west, where they produced record cold and snow from Washington through California and into Nevada, left all their moisture in the mountains. Therefore, we stayed dry over the last few days of the month as temperatures warmed through the 40s and well into the 50s to end the month.

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30 to 50 inches of snow that shut down the region. However, snow that does fall begins to melt quickly this time of the year, providing beneficial moisture for our plants and limited inconvenience for us. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

February 2011 Weather Statistics

Average High 36.3° (-3.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 9.8° (-3.4) 100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 58° on the 13th
Lowest Temperature -21° on the 2nd
Monthly Precipitation 0.95" (+0.14" 25% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.10" min 0.02"
Monthly Snowfall 16.1" (+2.8", 17% above normal) 
Season to Date Snow 41.2" (-32.9", 44% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 8.13" (-5.26", 39% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1176 (+90) 
Cooling Degree Days 0

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached 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.

Women’s Club donates proceeds from event

On Jan. 31, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club was proud to sponsor a community educational event. The program, "In Case of Emergency, Break Glass! Organize Your Life," was held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Over 120 attendees were present on a bitterly cold evening to hear Dr. Mary Kelly’s presentation.

In addition to Dr. Kelly’s highly informative and moving program, guests enjoyed the warm, sophisticated ambiance of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and delicious food by Mozaic Restaurant at The Inn at Palmer Divide. Award-winning radio personality Captain Dan from KLite 106.3 introduced Dr. Kelly with his signature humor and enthusiasm.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is proud to have presented checks for $900—proceeds from this event—to both Tri-Lakes Cares and Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Haley Chapin, executive director of Tri-Lakes Cares, and Gail Wilson, president of the board of directors of Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, were on hand to accept the donations.

The mission of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is to support the Tri-Lakes community through charitable and educational endeavors. The club raises funds and awards grants to qualified organizations in the Tri-Lakes region. (Grant application information is available until March 15 at www.tlwc.net.) The club also promotes the education of its members and the community through informational programs.

Gerrie Maixner and Lisa Simms
Co-presidents, Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

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D-38 duped again!

On Saturday, Feb. 12, along with four other D-38 community members, I attended six hours of interviews with the three D-38 superintendent finalists. The board members asked 17 standard questions and several follow-up questions. Each candidate then queried the board. Here’s what I learned.

Mark Payler, superintendent, RE-8 Weld County, has "broad experience in pre-K through 12 education" and "strong business, financial, and instructional skills." He met the board’s top two of 10 qualifications published in the D-38 "Announcement of Vacancy Superintendent of Schools." However, he told the board what they did not want to hear. He said a superintendent is a CEO in charge of the business of people. He also said he could not support a mill levy override in November 2011 because those are about trust and relationships, which take time to build.

Dr. Kevin Hahn, assistant superintendent of Poudre schools, is responsible for 29 elementary schools. His forté was data and systems, processes and plans, and, yes, building community relationships. What I learned about the board, however, was truly much more revealing. The D-38 School Board wants the staff "noise" stopped, someone to handle next year’s fiscal crisis, and no focus on a strategic vision for the first full year on the job.

Here’s my conclusion: money matters; trust matters more. Judge for yourself. Although D-38 was not required to transcribe or record the events of this open session, highlights are available on www.lpd38.org

By the way, on Feb. 25, Superintendent Payler’s Fort Lupton Middle School was awarded the National Middle School of the Year award. It was the only Colorado finalist, one of 400 schools competing across 20 states. Payler clearly met and exceeded the district’s No. 10 qualification: "A belief in ‘servant leadership.’" Congratulations!

Ana Konduris

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Superintendent "search" reveals arrogance

Having been invited to be a community participant in the recent Lewis-Palmer School District 38 interviews for the next superintendent, I—a 25-year patron of the district—was hopeful that the Board of Education was attempting to rebuild a level of trust with the constituents of this district that has been declining for the past eight years. While watching their "search process" closely and attending board workshops and community input meetings, I was optimistic that the board was truly looking for an experienced candidate who could help this district regain ground that has eroded within the community.

Throughout the process, I heard many rumors from staff and community members that the "search" was a sham and the candidate had been determined as early as last summer (before they had even begun the official search). Now that the so-called search has been finalized, I believe those rumors to be true.

Why our board wasted almost $15,000 on a search that wasn’t real is just another example of their complete arrogance and disregard for the children, staff, and taxpayers of this community. Although the board members have changed over the past eight years, unfortunately we haven’t seen improvement in their attitudes.

With three members coming up for re-election in November, it is our responsibility to look now for fiscally conservative replacements who are willing to listen to the constituents of this district so that they can all work together to maintain the high standards this district is known for.

Jody Richardson

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Hiring process was anything but transparent

It was intriguing to watch the School District 38 superintendent search morph from a very transparent, inclusive process to the pretense of such. Bob Cito, the consultant paid by the district to assist with the search, laid out a plan that could have helped to rebuild community trust and identify characteristics, experience, and credentials that would benefit D-38 the most.

What Cito envisioned as a transparent, vigorous, and informative selection process became skewed into one in which committee members were hand-chosen by the current Board of Education (BOE) and administration. And, unlike Cito’s suggestions, following the lengthy interviews, none of the committees were allowed to rank order or recommend the candidates. They were only allowed to give information about strengths and "concerns." It was clearly communicated that only the BOE would be making the choice, devoid of real counsel from anyone else.

What were the criteria identified by the school board members in hiring a new superintendent? First, the successful candidate had to understand the central administration "family." Second, the successful candidate did not have to understand financial details because the assistant superintendent of operations is responsible for that area. Third, the BOE did not want someone who would make changes. Finally, the successful candidate had to be someone who understood the special Lewis-Palmer culture.

Why the charade? No other candidate but one who works in the district could meet these criteria. Why did we spend almost $15,000 and an inordinate amount of volunteer time for a conclusion that was predicted by many, both inside and outside the district, at the end of last summer? A possible conclusion is that the BOE spent the time and money to placate the district’s constituents.

I wish John Borman the best in his endeavor to turn this district around. I would also like to apologize to the two other candidates for wasting their time.

Stephen Boyd

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Authors among us

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Have you ever dreamed of writing a book? Some of your Tri-Lakes area neighbors have done more than dream. They have published single books, series of books, and even some best sellers. Samples of their work are described below.

Wiggle, Squiggle, Giggle
By Noelle Berry and Norma Brough (Active Learning Resources LLC), $20

This resource for families with young children provides activity ideas that are fun and easy to implement; stimulates children’s development through play; uses gross and fine motor activities to reinforce skill development; develops social and interaction skills; and pulls children away from television and computer games. Developed by an occupational therapist and a physical therapist, this valuable guide uses inexpensive, readily available materials and requires minimal preparation time.

A Lifetime of Jokes, Quotes, and Other Things
By Vern Dayhoff (Peanut Butter Publishing), $19.95

This often-humorous collection shows the world through the eyes of a military man, a baseball fan, a sportsman, a world traveler, a birder, a naturalist, and a public school biology teacher. Dayhoff’s anecdotes, jokes, and recollections were gathered over a period of years and cover such diverse topics as "A German’s Point of View of Islam," and "Chemical Analysis of Women."

Kitty and the Midnight Hour
By Carrie Vaughn (Grand Central Publishing), $6.99

A 1991 Lewis-Palmer graduate, Vaughn has launched a successful series starring Kitty Norville, a late-night radio host who is the country’s only celebrity werewolf. Titles include Kitty Goes to Washington, and Kitty and the Midnight Hour.

Dreamhouse Kings Series
By Robert Liparulo (Thomas Nelson), $14.99 in hardcover and $9.99 in paperback

Following on the heels of four successful adult novels, Liparulo has developed the best-selling Dreamhouse Kings series for younger readers. These creepy, mysterious fantasies feature the King family whose destiny is to fix history, and whose dream is to get home. The series begins with House of Dark Shadows and concludes with the sixth book, Frenzy, which includes a reader’s guide.

Sandcastles Last Forever
By Donald Koterwas (Mirror Publishing), $10.99

This is a touching story of a 10-year-old boy and his fantasies of the past and dreams of the future. Koterwas has added beautiful illustrations to highlight a life lesson passed on from father to son.

Mule Train Mail
By Craig Brown (Charlesbridge), $16.95

The Wild West meets the modern world in this surprising look at the last remaining mule train delivery in the United States. Anthony the Postman delivers the mail, but he doesn’t drive a mail truck. He drives a train of mules from the top of the Grand Canyon to the town of Supai far below. Brown, an elementary school art teacher, adds colorful illustrations that make this children’s picture book a delight for young and old alike.

The Gift
By Deb Stover (Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc.), $6.99

Trading life as a Chicago homicide detective for a job as a nomadic insurance inspector was supposed to keep Beth safe, but when she becomes tangled up with Ty Malone and a suspicious missing person case, she feels anything but safe. A blend of mystery and romance, Stover’s 12th novel is a real page-turner.

The Sixth Extinction
By Karl Roscoe (Spruce Mountain Press), $13.95

A meteor strike sparks a worldwide chain reaction of destruction. By chance, a small group of survivors takes refuge deep within the safety of Cheyenne Mountain. The president of the United States, his advisor, a geologist, a general, a psychologist, a pop diva, and a trucker fight their way to a new reality and eventually, a new world.

The Immeasurable Spirit
By Latoya Lucas (Carminor Press), $16.95

Wounded during combat in Iraq, Lucas tells the remarkable story of how faith and perseverance played a role during and after the physical devastation she sustained in service to her country. The book also encourages those who have disabilities to believe in themselves and never to subscribe to the limitations set by others.

March winds and snows bring some indoor days. Why not settle down with one of these books by one of our talented local authors? You may be surprised at how engrossing and entertaining they can be.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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High Country Highlights: Digging deeper into composting

By Woody Woodworth

In this article, we’ll explore getting started with composting, investigate different types of compost enclosures, and explain helpful hints to keeping a healthy compost pile.

Setups for a compost pile range from simple to elaborate. One basic compost method is to pile material in a heap and mix the compost materials on the ground. Compost is easier to turn when piled on concrete or another hard surface, but worms and other beneficial organisms from the soil will have a harder time reaching the pile. Level ground is a good surface and will help keep moisture in your pile.

The appropriate location for a compost pile is a shady area protected from wind to prevent the pile from drying out. Be careful when setting up your compost area to not attract wildlife or unwanted pests. Uncultivated areas of your garden are good places for compost piles.

The dimensions of the pile, as a rule of thumb, should be at least 3 feet high by 3 feet wide by 3 feet long to maintain sufficient heat in its interior. We usually don’t have a problem with too much rain, but when a rainy period occurs, cover the pile to prevent it from getting too wet or losing nutrients to leaching. Turn the heap every week or two.

Bins are used to help to contain the compost heap and keep it out of sight, and can make it easier to turn. They can be made of concrete blocks, wire mesh, or wood. If the bin is a movable type, it can be lifted from the pile and placed next to it when it is time for turning; just shovel the heap back into the empty bin. Old garbage cans can be used as holding units if they have enough large holes to allow air to circulate and holes in the bottom to allow water to drain.

Some commercial composting units called turning bins feature rotating barrels that make mixing the pile easier and reduce the use of shovels or forks for turning. Another way to make turning easier is to build two or three adjacent holding units. The first is filled with the new pile. When the pile is turned, it is shifted into the next bin. By the third turning, the pile is usually on its last month of decomposition.

Here are a few helpful hints for making composting easier:

Chop or shred leaves, twigs, and other materials to speed composting. Smaller pieces of organic material "cook" faster than larger pieces because more of the material surface is exposed.

A compost pile needs the right mix of materials to quickly decompose. When building the pile, try to have at least one part nitrogen-rich materials for every two to three parts carbon sources. You may need to experiment with different materials and proportions to develop enough heat for rapid decomposition.

If there is not enough nitrogen-rich material, sprinkle small amounts of organic nitrogen fertilizer between layers.

Balance moisture and aeration to develop heat; too much of either results in a "cold," inactive pile. The hotter the pile, the faster the composting takes place. The temperature of an active compost pile normally ranges from 120 to 150 degrees F. Higher temperatures (140–160 F) kill harmful pathogens, insects, and weed seeds. Avoid turning the pile too often, because the heat is lost whenever the pile is turned. Turn it immediately, however, if an odor develops; the smell should fade away.

Avoid mixing under-composed materials with finished compost. And have a protected area to store finished compost if it isn’t going to be used immediately.

The composting is completed when the pile does not generate any more heat. When the pile is cool and the compost has aged for about four weeks, it should be finished. The pile should be much smaller than its original size, and the original materials should no longer be recognizable. The compost should be dark, loose, crumbly and without any strong or unpleasant odor.

Use the compost to mix into the soil or to make compost tea to use for watering crops, seedlings, and starts. Spread compost on your lawn and under shrubs, flowering plants, vegetables, and trees.

Composting is an environmentally sound practice that can be done almost anywhere. It’s safe for kids to help, and parents can teach their kids the benefits of reusing waste to help the planet.

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 reached at woodywoodworth@ocn.me

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: European starling and Shakespeare’s birds

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: In 1890, 60 European starling were released during a Shakespeare festival in New York. Today there are more than 140 million starling in the United States. Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

"Beware the ides of March" is a foreboding quote from William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar that still resonates today. Prior to Shakespeare’s play, the ides referred to a happier time in the middle of a month when the full moon’s glow brightly lit up the world. The ides of March took on its sinister meaning when in the play, a seer warns Caesar of his impending death by uttering the now infamous quote. When said today it indicates that there is trouble ahead.

You might be wondering what Shakespeare has to do with birds. He was a romantic naturalist whose poetic verses are loaded with scenes of nature and birds. The following poetic verse from As You Like It is but one example of Shakespeare’s reference to nature.

"Under the greenwood tree
Who loves to lie with me,
And turn his merry note
Unto the sweet bird’s throat,
Come hither, come hither, come hither.
Here shall he see
No enemy
But winter and rough weather."

Shakespeare includes many species of birds in his plays. Late in the 19th century, a Shakespearean made it his mission to introduce all of these birds into the United States. In 1890, 60 European starlings were released in New York’s Central Park. Since that time, this bird has increased in numbers and spread across the country. Starlings were first observed in Colorado in 1939, and today this bird is found in all states, Canada, and Mexico with an estimated population that exceeds 140 million.

Perhaps if I thought of Shakespeare’s beautiful verses when I saw a starling I’d have more respect for this bird. To be honest, it is my least favorite bird. I often cringe when I see it and quit using millet seed at my feeders to discourage them from coming to my yard. The aggressive nature of the starling and the fact that it is everywhere and dominates the habitats of so many native birds shouldn’t rile me because it’s their nature, but I’m bothered when I see them.

It’s really not such a bad bird. It’s a robin-size songbird that resembles a pudgy blackbird or grackle. Unlike these graceful undulating fliers, the flight of the starling is direct, swift, and aggressive. Adult birds are dark with triangular-shaped wings and short tails. In the right light, its feathers appear iridescent with white speckles on the tips. Its beak is long and pointed. During mating season the beak is yellow but turns a darker brown in the off season. Males and females look alike but juveniles are a drab brown.

Starlings nest early in the year and courtship begins in March. The male attracts a female by building a nest in a cavity, a birdhouse, or under the eves of a building. If the female is interested in taking a mate, she will finish the nest. In April or May, she lays up to seven eggs and by the end of June, the juveniles will have joined a flock. In some areas, the starling will produce two broods a year.

I see starlings perched on wires or in trees all year in Colorado Springs but generally only in the warmer months north of the Air Force Academy. But whenever I see them, there is never just a few of them. Starlings are communal birds and in some areas flocks will contain huge numbers of birds. The flocks on the Palmer Divide are small.

When birds flock in huge numbers it increases the possibility of disease. Although there is no scientific proof that starlings spread swine-borne viruses, swine producers believe that they do. Huge flocks are attracted to swine farms where they consume protein-enriched food fed to pigs. Of course they do what birds do and leave their droppings behind, which if infected by viruses could spread to swine or other animals.

In all of Shakespeare’ writings, the starling is mentioned only once. In Henry VI, he refers to the starlings’ ability to mimic sounds. Although I find this play to be one of Shakespeare’s darkest works, it was a revelation for me to learn that during Shakespeare’s time, the starling was a prized caged bird probably similar to caged parrots of today. It was valued because it could be taught to say a few words.

Similar to jays, starlings mimic other birds but have a wider vocal range and like a ventriloquist, they can "throw" sounds so you can’t be sure where the sound originated. Once while on a bird walk, I heard the chirping songs of Wilson’s warblers calling back and forth. Search as I might, I could only find one male warbler. It didn’t dawn on me that a starling was answering the warbler until I saw a starling lift its head to vocalize.

One of the joys of birding is being able to identify birds by their song. Each bird has a unique call, and many birders know all of them. One birder who uses sound to find birds once said to me when she heard a starling mimic the bird she was looking for, "I wonder how many birds will one day be extinct because of that darn bird."

What if that Shakespeare enthusiast had overlooked the one reference to the starling in that dark play? Would the starling be spread across our Continent today? Only Caesar’s seer would have the answer to that question!

Elizabeth Hacker is a writer and artist. Prints of the birds she writes about are available on her website www.ElizabethHackerArt.com, with proceeds benefiting habitat preservation. E-mail her at elizabethhacker@ocn.me or call her at 719-510-5918 to share bird stories.

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Art Matters: Fiber art: the multi-dimensional art of the future

Exploring textile arts "Tuesday Tarts" is a local textile group that has two different groups meeting to explore techniques and practices in textile arts. Although they are fiber-based, they explore many mixed media techniques and are open to any mixed media artists. Members are required to host an occasional demo generally once a year or less. Tuesday Tarts meets the first Tuesday of the month at the Heart and Hand bead shop in Monument. 6:30-8:00 p.m. Photos by Liz Kettle.

Below (L to R): Ruth Chandler, Cindy Wyatt, and Donna Goodrum.

Right (L to R): Lori Nicholson and Venisa Gallegos

See also the Palmer Divide Quilt Group photos below.

By Janet Sellers

Fiber art has morphed beyond quilts, wall hangings, clothing, and soft sculpture. Those artifacts have grown beyond two dimensions. Artists include into their works natural objects, recycled and up-cycled materials as well as newly made ojects d’art, and the mix is stunning.

Not only are fiber artists enjoying their genre, it has grown beyond genre and barely has a category anymore, given its far-reaching ranges of expression. It embraces folk art, ancient elements, and abstractions as well as practical forms applied in dazzling ways.

Cloth and beaded books, boxes, and baskets have moved into the arena of the imagination and color dimensions that include fiber, cloth, gems, plastics, dry and wet adhesives, thread creations (purely threads as medium) and felted fibers of wool, silk, wood, paper, and just about any colorful thing that will come together to make an idea manifest.

From the overhead and out-of-hand’s-reach lighting and aerial atrium art hangings to the very touchable and sensuous hand-held books and seating, the fiber artists make their imaginations visible in so many ways.

Mixed media pieces can have metal, cloth, paper, paints, crayons, wax—you name it, it’s been included in the artists’ works. Many artists with a quilting background use their sewing machines to whirlwind effect and connect threads with these elements, and there are so many helpful products appearing each month for the embellishment part alone that it is mind boggling.

The nifty part of this fine art is that just about every person of every culture has a personal fiber relationship for all their lives. This translates into an immediate, if not intuitive, understanding of fiber art at first glance and, when fortune smiles, first touch as well.

We are lucky to have hundreds of fiber artists in our area, many of whom share their beautiful work and extensive knowledge in numerous ways. From inspiring local exhibitions (and our locals are nationally famous, too!) and classes to extensive retreats and "staycation" get-away-from-it-all weekend workshops, these busy artists have a lot to offer our area in terms of art, imagination, and pure visual energy.

Fiber art meetings

Our local Palmer Divide Quilters group meets at the library once a month for a quilting bee as well as its monthly meeting, and other bees are held in members’ homes. Members will be holding a quilting retreat Sept. 7-11 at The Inn at Palmer Divide, Palmer Lake.

A Palmer Divide Quilters Show will be held at Monument Library for the entire month of March for the annual quilter’s art exhibit. Every possible surface and space will hold the many works of the PDQ members.

Self Expressions is a group of artists working to learn more about art and the creative process. They share techniques, although they don’t focus on them. They say, "We challenge ourselves with suggested topics for exploration each month. This is generally a "food for thought" rather than a "make this thing" topic. It meets the third Wednesday of the month from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Heart and Hand bead shop, 251 Front St., Monument, 719-487-9900.

The Artist Trading Cards (ATC) group makes fiber-based trading cards for fun. Every other month has a theme and the off-months trading cards can be on any topic. The group says, "If you haven’t tried ATCs before, just drop in to one of our meetings to see what we are about. We have a lot of fun!" It meets from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of each month at Heart and Hand bead shop, 251 Front St., Monument, 719-487-9900.

Local fiber artist studios such as Liz Kettle’s Textile Evolutions hold classes, workshops, and events such as retreats throughout the year in our area. You can find all kinds of information at the website www.textileevolution.com and her blog online where she also offers wonderful—and some are free—online tutorials on mixed media fiber art and more. I think I’ve learned more about fiber art from Liz and her books and blog than entire museum art exhibits on the subject, to tell the truth.

Call for artists

Front Range Open Studios is currently accepting applications from full-time, professional artists and fine craftsmen in all mediums, for participation in an open studio public event , to take place one weekend in September. Applicants must have their studios in Larkspur, Palmer Lake, Monument, Woodmoor, Gleneagle or Black Forest. For Artist Benefits, Fees, Requirements for participation and an Application form, go to www.frontrangeopenstudios.com

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter and sculptor who works in paint, mixed media and concrete. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colorado. She can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me

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Snapshots of Our Community

Monument Homemakers’ Club starts second century

Photos by Frank Maiolo.

Below: Irene Walters (far right) presented certificates to Jo-Anne Read, Elaine Goodrum, Beverly Wells, and Faye Brenneman

The Monument Homemakers’ Club is beginning its second century of community service in Monument. It is Monument’s oldest service organization started its 101st year on February 3. The club meets the first Thursday of each month at Tri-Lakes Fire Department Administration Building, 166 Second Street, (Second Street at Jefferson Street in Downtown Monuemt). Arrive at approximately 11:30 a.m. Meals are served at noon. Bring a food dish to pass and your own dinner service and flatware. The club usually has a program and short meeting. For reservations or information, call Irene Walters, Co-President, at (719) 481-1188 or Jean Sanger, Co-President, at (719) 592-9311.

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Legacy Sertoma Club presents Red Kettle collections

Below: Bruce Duncan (R) of the Salvation Army accepts the check from President Joe Montoya (L) and Sam DeFelice who headed up Legacy Sertoma’s Red Kettle efforts. Photo provided by Legacy Sertoma

On Feb.10, the Legacy Sertoma Club presented Bruce Duncan of the Salvation Army a check for $9,155.79, the entire collections from their Red Kettle bell ringing efforts.

From Thanksgiving until Christmas, Legacy Sertoma, with the help of some outside volunteers, rang the bells at Hobby Lobby on Woodman Road, and at the two Walgreens in the Tri-Lakes area.

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The Legacy Sertoma Club holds dinner meetings at the Inn at Palmer Divide, 443 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake, at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month.

For information, call Ed Kinney at 481-2750.

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Visions of Light photographer Williams honored, Feb. 12

Below (L to R): Photographers John Fielder and Gwynne Williams. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

Acclaimed Denver photographer John Fielder (on the left in the photo), and Gwynne Williams stand astride Williams’ photo titled "Wasdale Walls & Moraines." Williams’ photo was awarded First Place in the Visions of Light photography show held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts during February.

Fielder judged the show and selected Williams’ photo from among 86 juried-in images.

Michael Maddox, TLCA interim director, said, "Over 50 photographers from coast to coast were represented in the show."

Williams said his photo was taken in the northwest portion of England known as the Lake District. This area is a glacier valley and is home to the deepest lake in England, the Wast Water. Williams described the "walls" in his photograph and of that area as glacier rubble that was assembled into wall structures by the Vikings in 950 A.D.

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Information on upcoming events at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is at www.trilakesarts.org

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@ocn.me

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Sundance Mountain Lodge opens doors to VFW Post

 Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Monument VFW Post 7829 Commander retired Air Force Lt. Col. Tony Wolusky, left, accepts a generous welcome to the post’s new Monument headquarters at the Sundance Mountain Lodge from operations manager Reese Rodriguez. Rodriguez stood in for lodge owner Gary Oakley, who made the space available to the post.

Below: Air Force Cadets, from left, Cory Williams, Gordon Spahr, David Rice, and Drew Petry attend the VFW inaugural meeting at the Sundance Mountain Lodge. These cadets, who are juniors at the Academy, formed a liaison group with Monument VFW Post 7829. Williams said that they are aiming to have different cadets attend each meeting to familiarize the students with local veterans and their experiences.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The February meeting of the Monument VFW group was held at the Sundance Mountain Lodge, 1865 Woodmoor Drive. Gary Oakley, lodge owner, has allowed the VFW to make the lodge its new headquarters for the Tri-Lakes area.

The group was given the Carson Room as its meeting center. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month. The VFW Ladies Auxiliary will meet at the same site.

Post Commander retired Air Force Lt. Col. Tony Wolusky, announced that the Monument VFW Ladies Auxiliary institution and installation of officers will be held at Doolittle Hall at the Air Force Academy from 1 to 5 p.m. on March 13. The event marks the official inception of the Auxiliary. It is open to all veterans, their families, and the general public.

Wolusky also thanked The Depot Restaurant in Palmer Lake, where the VFW had met previously.

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The next VFW meeting will take place March 15, 7 p.m. at the Sundance Lodge. All veterans are invited.

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Wahl named essay contest winner

Right: Joe Wahl, Monument Academy eighth grader, reads his winning essay at the National Heritage Banquet, Feb 23. Photo provided by Legacy Sertoma.

"What Freedom Means to Me" was the subject of papers written by District 38 eighth-grade students and entered in Legacy Sertoma’s National Heritage essay contest.

The top three winners at each school were awarded plaques and cash prizes.

At Monument Academy the winners were Joe Wahl, 1st place; David Tran, 2nd place; and Colton West, 3rd place.

The Lewis-Palmer Middle School saw Emily Back win 1st, America Klopfenstein 2nd, and Cade Bains 3rd place.

Following further judging for district-level recognition, first place winners from all area schools were recognized at Sertoma’s National Heritage Banquet, Feb. 23 at the Double Tree Hotel. Joe Wahl of the Monument Academy was named 1st place winner and received a plaque, a US Savings Bond, and a flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol building.

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PDQ exhibits quilts at Monument Library

On Feb. 28, Palmer Divide Quilt (PDQ) Guild members worked together to set up their annual exhibition at the Monument Library. 

Below (L to R): Marian Taylor, Dona Sorensen, JoAnne Urevich, Barbara Normoyle, Cat Mikkelson, Monica Scott, Shirley Gisi, Deanne McCullough. Photo provided by PDQ.

Below: Deanne McCullough and Monica Scott. Photo by Janet Sellers.

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February and March library events: Special programs planned for week of spring break

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Brogan Collins decorates valentine cookies.

Below: Sophia Harvey contemplates decorating her valentine. 

By Harriet Halbig

Many patrons enjoyed the Love your Library winter festival at the Monument Library. Hundreds joined us to make three-dimensional valentines, get their faces painted, enjoy refreshments, decorate cookies, try their hand at hand bells, and scream with delight as Jim Jackson of the Manitou Art Theater juggled vegetables and encased a young patron in a bubble.

As always, many thanks are due to the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library, whose sponsorship makes such events possible.

The second annual Home School Resource Fair on Feb. 25 brought together many parents and representatives of local organizations and businesses who can aid in the educational activities of home school families.

March will bring a variety of activities to the library.

The family fun event will be Science Matters on Saturday, March 12, at 2 p.m. Join Science Matters to find out what happens when you mix solids, liquids, and gases together, or whether you have the genetic code to be more sensitive to spicy foods, and take part in other fun experiences with chemistry, physics, electricity, and biology.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving program will be offered on Thursday, March 17, from noon to 4 p.m. This is a refresher course designed for motorists age 50 or older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required. Please call 488-2370 or go online to ppld.org.

The Monumental Readers book group will discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett at 10 a.m. No registration is required and new members are always welcome.

Spring break programs

On Monday, March 21, from 1:30 until 3 p.m. join the Young Rembrandts for Amazing Ants! First- through fourth-grade artists will explore their creative side. Registration is required at 488-2370.

An Eric Carle Celebration will feature the works of one of the most colorful, classic children’s authors and illustrators with stories and crafts. The program will be offered on Tuesday, March 22, at 10:15 and 11 a.m.

On Wednesday, March 23, at 2 p.m. join musicians Mary Sue and Cari for songs and silliness suitable for all ages.

On Thursday, March 24, at 12:30 p.m., second- through fourth-graders are invited to be part of Pikes Peak KidsREAD. Bring in a special book and dress as your favorite character. We will take a picture of you and your favorite book, and may even film your book review for PPLD-TV (Comcast Channel 17). Parent permission required.

Inspector Magic Mark Weidhaas will present the fun and fabulous Lobster Tales later that day at 2 p.m.

BookEaters, a new book club for teens, begins on March 9 from 4 to 5:15 p.m. Read House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo and come meet the author at the library. Share snacks and conversation about the book.

Art exhibit

This is the 10th consecutive year that the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers have warmed the Monument Library by hanging their needlework on the walls and in the display case at the library.

Palmer Lake events

Join the Paws to Read dogs at the Palmer Lake library to practice your reading skills for a quiet and nonjudgmental audience. On Saturday, March 5, from 11 until noon, read with Jax the Newfoundland. On Thursday, March 7, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. read with Misty, the tiny Sheltie. On Saturday, March 26, from 11 until noon, join golden retriever Kirby for some reading.

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun program for March is Paper Airplanes Flying Everywhere on Saturday, March 19, at 10:30 a.m. Learn how to make your very own paper airplane and fly it wherever it may go.

The Eric Carle Celebration program will come to Palmer Lake on Wednesday, March 23, at 10:30 a.m. Celebrate one of the most colorful, classic picture book author-illustrators with stories and crafts. This program is for children 3 and up with a favorite adult.

The Palmer Lake book group will discuss The Help by Kathryn Stockett on Friday, April 1, at 9 a.m. New members are welcome and no registration is required.

Harriet Halbig may be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me

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Western Museum of Mining and Industry, Feb. 3: Museum lecturer explores history of Colorado coal mining

Below: Al Amundson at WMMI. Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

On Feb. 3, Al Amundson, project manager with the Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety, spoke at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry about the history of coal mining in Colorado and mine subsidence. Admundson described how coal forms from plant material that was submerged in a swamp environment 50 to 300 million years ago. The water in a swamp environment is typically deficient in oxygen, which greatly slows decay and prevents insects and other organisms from consuming the material.

The beginning of coal mining in Colorado coincided with the Pikes Peak or Bust Gold Rush in 1859. At that time, coal was mined for home heating, to provide heat energy for steam locomotives and to power mining equipment. From that time until 2010, Colorado produced 1.4 million tons of coal.

Colorado Springs has approximately 25 coal mines, with the last mine closing in 1957. The majority of Colorado Springs coal mines were located in the Rockrimmon and Cragmoor areas, encompassing some 22 square miles.

The depth of the mine shafts in those areas range from 40 to 500 feet. The relative shallowness of the mine shafts can lead to mine subsidence, where a collapsed shaft causes a shifting of earth at the surface. This can cause damage to a house, such as cracking in the walls and foundation, or even create sinkholes. Though other factors, such as expanding clay soil, might lead to similar problems, if you suspect mine subsidence, Admundson suggested calling 1-800-44-MINES for information.

Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmi.org

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@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.

Daffodil Days Fundraiser for Tri-Lakes Cares, March 4-6

Welcome springtime into your home or office with sunny daffodils and help others in the community who continue to need assistance through Tri-Lakes Cares. Participating merchants from the Historic Monument Merchants Association will offer daffodils for sale in their shops March 4-5. The price is "a dollar a daffy." All proceeds go to Tri-Lakes Cares. Participating churches will assist as well with daffodils for sale at their Sunday coffee hour. For more information, call Linda Roberts, 488-2065.

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Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, March 15

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive March 15, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. No appointment is needed, just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For more information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x103.

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Free income tax filing assistance by AARP

Free income tax filing assistance and e-filing is offered by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Tax-Aide program. Trained AARP volunteers will be available every Monday and Thursday through April 18, noon to 7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument, to answer questions and to assist filers in completing their federal and state income tax returns. Please note that March 17 tax assistance will only be available 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Volunteers will assist taxpayers in preparing their Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ; and will assist in claiming any Earned Income Credit, Child Tax Credit, and/or Education Credits to which the taxpayer might be entitled. Filers are asked to bring proof of Social Security Numbers for themselves and for any dependents they are claiming. Filers should also bring their W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc., to complete their 2010 return, plus a copy of last year’s (2009) tax return.

For more information, or to make an appointment (recommended), please call Jim Taylor, 488-1317.

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Ladies Auxiliary to VFW Post 7829, March 13

The newly formed Ladies Auxiliary to VFW Post 7829 will be instituted and the elected officers installed March 13, 1-5 p.m., at Doolittle Hall on the U. S. Air Force Academy. Anyone wishing to attend may contact Martine Arndt at Martine.Arndt@yahoo.com or Commander Tony Wolusky at twolusky@aol.com to get your name on the list for entry to the event. New members are always welcome. If you are a female relative of a veteran who served on foreign soil during war or other military action, you might be eligible. The group will hold regular meetings the third Tuesday each month, 6-7:30 p.m., at the Sundance Mountain Lodge, 1865 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For more information or to determine your eligibility, call Martine Arndt, 231-5323, or e-mail Martine.Arndt@yahoo.com.

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

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

Grant applications, instructions, and guidelines can be downloaded from the TLWC website, www.TLWC.net, or by sending a request with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. The mission of the club is to support the Tri-Lakes community through charitable and educational endeavors. For more information, please e-mail Donna Wagner at donnamwagner@comcast.net.

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Citizens’ Police Academy, April 5

The Monument Police Department is now accepting applications for the Citizens’ Police Academy. This no-cost 8-week program will be held Tuesday evenings, 7-10 p.m., at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., April 5 through May 24. It is open to all who live or work in the Tri-Lakes area. Participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, use of force, computer forensics, internal affairs, community policing, tactical considerations, and much more. They will also have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons. For more information or to download an application, visit www.monumentpd.org and click on the Community Services button. Or you can stop by the Monument Police Department and pick up an application. For more information, call the Monument Police Department, 481-3253.

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CSU Extension Advisory Committee volunteers needed

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as Family and Consumer Science representatives on the CSU Extension Advisory Committee. The ideal candidates will have experience/knowledge of nutrition and family relations. Applications for the open positions are due by March 25. 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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County Planning Commission volunteers needed

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the Planning Commission. Applications for the open positions are due by March 25. The Planning Commission reviews planning petitions and makes recommendations to the board on land use requests, and prepares a master plan for unincorporated areas of the county. 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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Library’s Adult Reading Program

Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD) kicked off "Just Read," its annual adult reading program, in February. The program runs through April 4, and adults 18 and older with a library card can win prizes for reading. To register, bring your library card to any PPLD library and sign up at the information desk or sign up online at ppld.org. Reading logs will be available at all libraries, but you may keep track of the books you’ve read using any method you choose. For more information, call Monument Library, 488-2370; Palmer Lake Library, 481-2587; or visit www.ppld.org.

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

Beginning in January and running each Monday through March, seniors will be admitted into the museum for just $2.50 (regularly $6). Come see the museum that works! Tours begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd. (I-25 Exit 156 A). For more information, call 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Volunteers needed for El Paso County District 1 Citizens Advisory Board

County Commissioner Darryl Glenn is seeking volunteers for a non-partisan advisory board to work with him to establish a method of communication with the constituents of District 1. Volunteers would provide feedback and disseminate information about the delivery of county services. Volunteers interested in serving on this advisory board should submit their notice of interest to: DarrylGlenn@elpasoco.com or sign up via Facebook at Facebook/DarrylGlenn, El Paso County Commissioner District 1. Please include your name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, and precinct number.

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Electronics Recycling Event, April 9

Palmer Ridge Bears Baseball will sponsor a recycling event April 9, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at Sundance Mountain Athletic Center, 1808 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Drop off your old electronics for a nominal recycling fee. All proceeds will benefit Palmer Ridge High School Baseball. If you have questions about what items can be recycled, contact Blue Star Recyclers, 494-4238.

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Pine Forest Antiques & Garden Show & Sale, April 30-May 1

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will hold the 35th Pine Forest Antiques & Garden Show & Sale April 30, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and May 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. The popular show features quality antiques from around the world and local dealers, gardeners, educational seminars, and presentations related to gardening. Admission is $6 per person.

TLWC invites community businesses and citizens to participate in the event as sponsors or volunteers. For additional information, contact Kendell Vliet (kendell.vliet@hp.com 481-8588) or Carolyn Hodges (c.hodges210@gmail.com 358-8591)

TLWC sponsors two major fund-raising events: the Pine Forest Antiques & Garden Show & Sale in the spring and Wine and Roses, a wine-tasting event, in October. Over the last 36 years, TLWC has awarded more than a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations. For more information about TLWC, visit the website, www.tlwc.net.

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Multiple sclerosis support group

A multiple sclerosis (MS) group is forming for the Tri-Lakes and surrounding areas. If interested, please contact Susan at susan@tinybrook.com.

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Clear snow and ice around mailboxes for letter carriers

Letter carriers are instructed to not deliver to mailboxes and locations that are too hazardous or difficult to access. Support your letter carrier in providing safe and timely delivery of your mail. Following snowstorms and bad weather conditions, please clear a safe path to your mailbox or business. If possible, do not park your vehicles in front of your mailbox. Combined with the snowy and icy conditions, this can make it very difficult for your letter carrier to access and deliver to your mailbox.

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Help 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 families with their heating bills but are not intended to pay the entire bill. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Applications are accepted each year during the eligibility period. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. For more information, call (866) 432-8435.

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