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Vol. 11 No. 8 - August 6, 2011


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Contents

the PDF file. This is a 25.7 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos and will take about 156 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

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July 4th Parade

Below: The July 4th Parade in Monument featured The Pikes Peak Highlanders. Photo by Jim Kendrick. Click here for additional coverage of Independence Day activities in the Tri-Lakes area.

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Board of County Commissioners Meeting, July 28: Willow Springs conceptual plan postponed to Aug. 25; Condemnation for Mitchell Avenue extension rejected

Below: The sketch plan shows the two separate housing areas in Willow Springs Ranch. Access for the northern filing will be from the existing dead-end of Mitchell Avenue (top left) and the existing dead-end of Synthes Avenue (top center). The new east-west road in the white rectangle will connect both of these dead-ends. Access to the southern filing will be from Forest Lakes Drive on the southwest border. Drawing provided by land planning consultant NES, Inc. This drawing and additional materials are posted at www.ocn.me/v8n3willowsprings.htm.

By Jim Kendrick

After three hours of presentations and public comment in a land use hearing on July 28, the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved a request from the landowners that was made by consultant John Maynard of land planning and architectural firm NES Inc. in Colorado Springs to continue the Willow Springs "Zoning and Conceptual Plan (ZCP) Planned Unit Development (PUD) District" rezone hearing until the Aug. 25 BOCC meeting.

The hearing was originally scheduled for July 14 and was postponed first to July 21, then postponed again to July 28. Maynard represented Integrity Bank and Trust Co. of Monument and Hillcrest and HBC Willow Springs LLC of Hillcrest Bank, located in Overland, Kan., the current owners of the foreclosed property. Maynard said the two banks intend "to dispose of these assets" and "minimize their losses."

Development Services Department Project Manager Craig Dossey said the purpose of this kind of PUD plan is to just show "the applicant’s intent for the use on the property" and "creates a presumption of the future zoning." A zoning and conceptual plan is less defined than a county PUD sketch plan, the more typical entry level development plan for a new project of this size.

District 5 Commissioner Peggy Littleton’s absence was unanimously excused.

Mitchell Avenue controversy continues

Maynard asked for the continuation, stating that the hearing had become two hearings on the "Mitchell Avenue extension issue" and the "land use issue." Commissioners Darryl Glenn, Steve Hisey, Marsha Clark, and Amy Lathen each stated in turn, during their concluding remarks, that they would not support the Town of Monument’s proposed condemnation of privately-owned land that would split Georgia Ward’s adjacent 40-acre ranch in half for a proposed southward extension of Mitchell Avenue through the center of her county property. Maynard concurred, saying that there has never been any intent by any of the Willow Springs landowners to use eminent domain and they had rejected the town’s request that the Willow Springs Metropolitan District condemn land for the town.

The two separate vacant areas in the Willow Springs ZCP that are suitable for development are isolated from each other by the extensive floodplain and mouse habitat surrounding Monument Creek and Teachout Creek. This protected land prevents direct access to Baptist Road from the north central residential area from within the Willow Springs parcel.

Integrity and Hillcrest had included the same right-of-way in this ZCP, which had been required by the Town of Monument as a condition of approval in 2008 for the annexation and PD site plan proposed by the previous landowner, MHW LLC. The proposed Mitchell Avenue extension would have connected the existing southern dead end of Mitchell Avenue to the currently approved future north end of Forest Lakes Drive through Ward’s ranch. These two segments of new road would provide direct access from the north half of the Willow Springs parcel to the west end of Baptist Road.

The banks’ August 2010 letter of intent to the county states:

    "The connection of Forest Lakes Drive to Mitchell Avenue was a major review issue with the Town of Monument. Traffic analysis shows that the proposed development functions at an acceptable level without the connection. The town planned this connection as a major [Capital Improvement Plan] project. Area residents were adamantly opposed to the connection. The current owners agree to preserve the right-of-way for Mitchell Road (sic) should public agencies wish to construct it in the future."

After each of the commissioners stated that they would not support condemnation of any land for a Mitchell Avenue extension, Maynard said he also wanted the hearing continued so that he could modify the proposed ZCP to eliminate the proposed Mitchell Avenue right-of-way.

The north central residential area of the Willow Springs property will use Mitchell Avenue to Second Street in Monument for the most direct access to I-25 – at Exit 161. The southwest residential area will use Forest Lakes to Baptist Road for the most direct access to I-25 – at Exit 158.

The commissioners also asked Maynard for additional information on the dedication of land for a proposed Lewis-Palmer School District 38 grade school to serve the future residents of the adjacent, still-undeveloped Willow Springs and Forest Lakes developments, as well as additional information on emergency access and buffer zones.

Nearly all the numerous routine and controversial aspects of this proposed development have not significantly changed since the Willow Springs proposal was first approved by the Monument Planning Commission and Board of Trustees as a Town of Monument annexation and Planned Development (PD) Sketch Plan in early 2008. For previous OCN reports on these Monument hearings see:

Maynard presents less-defined proposal to BOCC

Development Services Department Project Manager Craig Dossey started the hearing by noting that a revised staff report had been printed and distributed on July 28, just before the hearing began. Some of these changes are noted below. However, the revised information in this new staff report handout on Mitchell Avenue is not available in the earlier version of the 132-page/22.4 MB PDF hearing package available for downloading on the county website at http://bcc.elpasoco.com/Documents/Agenda%20Items/Thursday/2011-07-21%202%20-%2007.pdf

The staff report for the June 7 county Planning Commission and the delayed July 14 hearing note that:

  • The county’s traffic impact fee "exceeds the $500,000 contribution that would have been due to the Town of Monument."
  • "The developer has agreed to pay its fair share toward the construction of transportation improvements required as a result of platting this property."
  • "Specific costs and improvements will be determined with future submittals for this development."

Maynard gave the applicant’s presentation. Some of his numerous remarks are discussed below.

The Willow Springs parcel is located in El Paso county and is bounded on the:

  • North by the Synthes industrial park
  • East by the BN&SF railroad tracks
  • South by the west end of Baptist Road
  • Southwest by the graded but still unpaved/unopened Forest Lakes Road and the adjacent still vacant Forest Lakes higher density residential development
  • West by the 40-acre Georgia Ward ranch and other rural residential lots on the east side of Rickenbacker Avenue to the north of Ward’s ranch.
  • Northwest by Monument Creek and the south half of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The three residential homes and lots pictured in the PD sketch plan are still present on the otherwise vacant 248.2-acre Willow Springs property. They are located on the northeast corner, the northwest corner, and the east side of Monument Creek.

Willow Springs background

The Willow Springs property was purchased in 2007 from various members of the Watt family by James Morley and Charles Howard of MHW LLC. Their separate development firm, Infinity Land Corp. of Colorado Springs, applied for annexation to the town of Monument, after discussing development plans with the county’s and town’s development services departments. During those discussions the county staff noted that the county’s Major Transportation Corridors Plan (MTCP) did not show an extension of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road.

Maynard noted that he and other NES employees and consultants represented MHW LLC and Infinity at these discussions as well as during the town Planning Commission and Board of Trustees (BOT) hearings in early 2008.

The Monument Planning Commission and Board of Trustees approved the MHW applications for annexation, PD zoning and a PD sketch plan in early 2008.

MHW accepted the town’s demand for a very controversial condition of approval that requires MHW to donate interior right-of-way to the town that lies to the south of the existing south end of Mitchell Avenue, for extending Mitchell Avenue along the upper western boundary of the Willow Springs property. The town also demanded that MHW agree to payment of a dedicated $500,000 fee toward the remainder of the Mitchell Avenue extension through the middle of Ward’s county property to connect to Forest Lakes Drive, a county road. The town also demanded that MHW add Forest Lakes Drive to its proposed annexation to complete the connection of the existing south end of Mitchell Avenue to the existing west end of Baptist Road.

The traffic impact study prepared by consultant traffic engineer Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation, Inc. for the 2008 hearings showed that the Mitchell Avenue connection was not required to mitigate traffic impacts at buildout. The study assumed 260 houses in the north central area using Mitchell Avenue and 190 houses in the southwest area using Forest Lakes Drive.

Standing room only crowds of Ward’s neighbors supported her objections to Monument’s proposed condemnation of her county land during two heated lengthy BOT hearings in early 2008. Ward and her late husband had already given the county land for connecting Forest Lakes Drive to Rickenbacker Road in the 1990s so that Mitchell Avenue could be connected to Baptist Road. However, there was a lot of opposition from the Wards’ neighbors at the time of this donation to the county. As a result, the county abandoned the project and removed the Mitchell Avenue extension from the county Major Transportation Corridors Plan at that time as shown on the current MTCP map at http://adm.elpasoco.com/transportation/Documents/wall_map_final.pdf.

After the town’s three approvals, Integrity and Hillcrest foreclosed on MHW. Maynard said it "took a little bit of time" for each bank to perform "due diligence" with respect to annexation. The annexation agreement was never finalized nor recorded with the county by MHW before MHW lost the Willow Springs land to Integrity and Hillcrest.

Maynard stated that initially Hillcrest did not know of Integrity’s mortgage interest positions in the three residential properties and that Integrity did not know that it did not have access easements for its three residential buildings through Hillcrest’s property.

Integrity gained access to the former Mike Watt residence on the northeast 10-acre lot from Hillcrest through a land exchange that resulted primarily in the western boundary being adjusted into a more rectangular shape.

Maynard said that there was no access issue onto Mitchell Avenue from the second Integrity lot for the existing mobile home and other buildings on the northwest corner. However, there was a similar exchange of land between the two banks that Maynard said "benefited both properties," resulting in a change in the boundaries of the 5-acre lot.

The third Integrity lot for the former Tom Watt house was also a subject of a land exchange between the two banks. Integrity’s mortgage boundary was moved to add the land for the large circular front driveway for the house, "a primary feature and sale point of that structure," with minor compensating boundary changes made elsewhere.

Maynard summarized by saying that Integrity now has access to all three parcels it owns, the residences are all under lease, and they are all for sale.

After these issues were "resolved," the two banks then "jointly" discussed "finalizing" MHW’s annexation agreement and PD site plans and conditions with the town staff.

Maynard added that there were issues that still could not be "rectified." Integrity bank could not donate the Mike Watt residence and "reconfigured" 10 acres of land to the town for the required regional park, unless its mortgage was paid off. The town still wanted the land donated as a park. Neither bank wanted to contribute to the $500,000 donation requirement for extending Mitchell Avenue through Ward’s ranch that MHW had agreed to as a condition for town approval.

Integrity and Hillcrest never recorded the still viable town annexation agreement, zoning and PD site plan paperwork with the county.

Some details of the proposed zoning and conceptual plan

Maynard noted that the banks’ ZCP proposal called for the parcel to be broken into four parts. Most of the land is currently zoned RR-5 (Residential Rural District) and the triangular section adjacent to Forest Lakes Road is currently zoned RS-20000 (Residential Suburban District.) The new zone would be PUD.

The following uses were proposed:

  • 20.7 acres for three residential lots for the existing houses, each five acres or larger (8 percent)
  • 59 acres at 3-4 dwelling units per acre (24 percent)
  • 10 acres at 1-3 dwelling units per acre (4 percent)
  • 17 acres at 2-4 dwelling units per acre (7 percent)
  • 20 acres at 4-7 dwelling units per acre (8 percent)
  • 106 acres of open space with trail system (43 percent)
  • 4.5 acres for two neighborhood parks (2 percent)
  • 11 acres of right-of-way (4 percent)

The range of houses that can be built, based on summing the individual ranges noted above, is 304 to 470 houses. However, the banks are proposing the same 450 house cap to the county that the town required of MHW as a condition of approval in 2008.

The banks are also proposing the same Willow Springs Metropolitan District concept that was approved by Monument on March 17, 2008 for maintaining only the parks, trails, and open space. The maximum authorized debt for the metro district under the town-approved service plan was to be $10 million with a mill levy cap of 50 mills to maintain 125 acres. The initial mill levy was to be 35 mills. This town service plan was never recorded with the county.

The estimated county traffic impact fee for general county use will be about $650,000 to $1.3 million. The donation of $500,000 to Monument approved in 2008 will probably be dropped in the revised ZCP proposed on Aug. 25.

A separate contribution to the Town of Monument may still be required from the Willow Springs developer for a new right-turn lane improvement to northbound Mitchell Avenue at the Second Street intersection for a fair share payment based on northbound Mitchell Avenue traffic delays during numerous daily at-grade train crossings. Hodsdon’s Sept. 15, 2010 traffic study still shows that the Willow Springs applicants’ fair share would be about 250 feet of the required 550 feet of northbound right-turn lane needed to hold vehicles when trains block Second Street at rush hour, allowing other vehicles to proceed northward past the intersection. (Note: There is no other immediate source of developer funding for financing construction of the town’s other required 300 feet of right turn lane.)

A separate fair share contribution to the town may also be required of the Willow Springs developer for signalization of the intersection of Second Street and Beacon Lite Road, and/or other improvements.

Forest Lakes Drive will not be annexed into the Town of Monument under the ZCP. The Willow Springs landowner will still reimburse Forest Lakes Metro District for its half of the roadway’s construction costs.

There will be no direct access to Baptist Road from the south end of the Willow Springs property due to plans for a future Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority bridge over the railroad tracks. The western ramp will be elevated above the existing grade level and may block the existing ranch driveway access to Baptist between the tracks and Forest Lakes Drive. This driveway is currently planned to be an emergency access road.

Improvements to the already approved intersection at Forest Lakes Drive and Baptist Road will be required at the expense of the Willow Springs developer.

Some changes from the Monument PD sketch plan noted

Maynard discussed the "minor changes" from the previously approved 2008 Monument PD sketch plan (above) in the banks’ ZCP. He said he was using the same NES "land suitability exhibit" map to brief the BOCC that he used to brief the Monument Planning Commission and BOT in 2008.

Maynard noted that Integrity’s house on the separate privately-owned 10-acre residential lot will continue to use the existing gravel driveway access to Old Denver Highway. This driveway runs southeast from the house, then east under a BN&SF railroad trestle and through south end of the unsold remainder of the Watt family property on the east side of the railroad tracks south of the Trails End development. The driveway is adjacent to the barbed wire fence separating the vacant Watt property from the Colorado Sports and Events Center ice skating rink. The gravel access onto Old Denver Highway is just north of the paved entrance to the ice rinks.

Maynard did not discuss the separate, previously approved easement for this driveway that was required for access to a parking lot to be built on the east side of the railroad tracks adjacent to the proposed Monument regional park. This parking lot is shown on the 2008 PD sketch plan above.

During the 2008 hearings, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue District had requested an easement for a secondary emergency access for fire apparatus along the existing dirt driveway from Old Denver Highway to the former Watt residences. However, this easement may not always be available due to frequent flooding by town storm water that flows down the east side of the railroad track and across this single-lane dirt driveway where it passes under a single track trestle bridge. For previous OCN reports on these floods and an uncontrollable mudslide that dumped tons of sediment onto Watt’s driveway and undermined the adjacent railroad tracks to the north, see:

A new two-acre neighborhood park will replace the town-approved 10-acre regional park. The substitute two-acre park will be located adjacent to the west boundary of the 10-acre residential lot. The new park’s boundaries are not defined in the proposed PUD conceptual plan.

Integrity’s new 5.7-acre residential lot and the substitute 2-acre park have reduced its size from 66 acres in the Monument PD sketch plan to 59 acres in the county ZCP.

The amount of road right-of-way dropped from 17 acres in the town PD plan to 11 acres in the county PUC.

While the MHW application uniformly stated in 2008 that the Willow Springs parcel was 259.2 acres, the banks’ current application states that the parcel is 248.2 acres.

Maynard said he would "prefer" a connection of the Santa Fe Trailhead on the northeast corner of Old Denver Highway and Baptist Road to the proposed trailhead in the Forest Lakes development at the north end of Forest Lakes Drive via existing cattle trails within the open spaces that are still being proposed as an interior trail network. The town previously approved a new connecting trail that runs along the sides of Baptist Road and Forest Lakes Drive. Both trail options are currently shown on this draft ZCP.

Maynard then gave a lengthy technical presentation on how this proposed ZCP complies with:

  • The county land development and zoning code
  • 35 policies in the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan
  • The county policy plan
  • County small area plans
  • County concept plans
  • County master plans for mineral extraction, habitat, parks and leisure services

Maynard summarized by citing a quote from the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan that states, "Urban density land use is discouraged except in areas designated mixed use and where adequate services are available." He noted that both conditions apply to all the land designated for residential development.

Maynard said that the buffers in the ZCP are the same as in the 2008 PD sketch plan. He specifically pointed out the extra buffering and additional 100-foot lot line setbacks from the 2008 sketch plan next to the Nasby residence, which is located on the southwest corner of Spaatz Road and Rickover Avenue by the north end of Forest Lakes Drive. See the drawing above for details.

Hisey asked Maynard if there would be any further development on Integrity’s three residential lots. Maynard said further development would require a zoning change. Someone may wish to subdivide some of the vacant land on the 10-acre lot for building houses. This would require a PUD amendment for increased density. Someone may wish to buy back the land for the out buildings and horse arena associated with the residence on the 5.7-acre lot.

Staff report

Dossey, Kari Parsons, and Rich Harvey of the county Development Services Department gave the detailed, technical staff presentation. Dossey listed the types and dates of public notification that occurred for the changed dates of the Planning Commission and BOCC hearings. Parsons expanded on the major points Maynard had made about compliance with all the various county requirements. Harvey noted that the county’s regional traffic impact fee for the project is currently calculated to be about $673,000, but could go as high as $1.3 million in August.

Harvey also said that there has been a very recent change to the proposed 2040 MTCP that again eliminates extension of Mitchell Avenue to Baptist Road. The county had considered adding the Mitchell Avenue extension to Baptist Road back to the MTCP as part of the 2040 plan, as shown in the DRAFT Figure 1d - 2040 Improved Network with Candidate Roadway Improvements, the DRAFT Figure 1f - 2040 Improved Network, and Map ID 36 on page 1 of the DRAFT Table 1 - 2040 MTCP Roadway Improvements charts which are available at:

The amount of underground water available on the property remains inadequate for 450 houses. The deficit was about 67 acre-feet per year in 2008. An acre-foot of water is 325,851 gallons.

Public comment

No one spoke in favor of the ZCP.

Monument Mayor Travis Easton spoke in favor of extending Mitchell Avenue, while noting that it had been downgraded again from possible minor arterial back again to collector status in the 2040 MTCP. "The traffic counts may not justify the connection of Mitchell Road (sic) … I think that the connection is needed especially when you consider emergency situations. I don’t know that the proposed emergency access, the current dirt road through the natural features of the development, is adequate for that." He asked that $500,000 of the regional traffic impact fee be reserved by the county for allocation to the Mitchell Avenue extension as a fair share from the developer "to minimize the impact on the taxpayers" paying the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA). He added that without the Mitchell Avenue extension the lower Baptist Road traffic counts may lower the priority of the proposed BRRTA bridge over the railroad tracks as an "A-list project" for supplementary PPRTA funding.

Hisey asked if the BOT may be likely to look favorably on a future annexation request from the next purchaser of the Willow Springs parcel. Easton said the trustees would entertain it but the town’s currently approved requirements for a regional park and Mitchell Avenue extension "would not be omitted." Hisey said he expected that back-and-forth "jurisdictional shopping to figure out how they could get the best deal" would continue. He added that the town should be happy with the proposed density for a town application.

Glenn asked if earmarking $500,000 for the Tri-Lakes region might be preferable now that Mitchell Avenue cannot be justified for county funding in the 2040 MTCP. Easton said he thought it would still be responsible planning to reserve this funding for Mitchell Avenue.

Tom Kassawara, Monument director of development services, said that a second means of access was considered reasonable when the county required a fair share contribution for Mitchell Avenue extension as a condition of approval for its Forest Lakes development. He noted that the county staff downgraded the future classification of Mitchell Avenue on July 26 from an arterial to a collector road at buildout in the 2040 MTCP, precluding future county funding. County residents adjacent to Mitchell Avenue may only have one means of emergency egress. Mitchell Avenue benefits more county residents than town residents. The county impact fee will likely be reallocated away from the Tri-Lakes region. Some of the other objections he raised were:

  • The previously planned 10-acre regional park would have served more county residents than the substitute two-acre neighborhood park.
  • The Monument Police Department will still provide a lot of mutual aid service to Willow Springs because it will have a better response time than the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.
  • There is no written agreement for providing water to Willow Springs now that the town will not be providing water.
  • District 38 (D-38) has concerns about providing bus service to the southern portion of the development only by Baptist Road.
  • Restricted access without Mitchell Avenue may make the proposed BRRTA bridge over the railroad tracks look like "a bridge to nowhere."

Monument Trustee Rafael Dominguez said he is a retired fire chief and a member of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. He stated that Mitchell Avenue needs to be extended for public safety, that the dirt road should not be considered as an alternate emergency services route because it is not maintained or plowed. He noted difficulties that occurred due to not having the Mitchell Avenue extension, during the recent emergency evacuation for spilled hydrochloric acid. Setting aside only 4.5 acres will diminish the quality of life standard the town had set for the development.

Cheryl Wangeman, assistant superintendent of D-38, said she was not speaking for or against the development, just noting district concerns. The student density for the type of neighborhood proposed is 0.66 student per home which will fill a separate grade school. Students in the north Willow Springs residential area will be served by a different grade school if Mitchell Avenue is not extended.

D-38 needs two major corridor streets to serve a useable 10-acre site provided jointly by the landowners of Forest Lakes and Willow Springs developments, which will be harder without the Mitchell Avenue extension. Older students will be bused to Lewis-Palmer High School and Middle School via Baptist Road, crossing the railroad tracks.

Wangeman noted that D-38 has asked the county in written comments to include a PUD site plan notation or condition of approval that requires the dedication of a specific 7-acre-minimum site that meets the school district’s satisfaction, preferably next to a dedicated park site, prior to approval of a sketch or other type of subdivision plan. This dedication will protect D-38 and its students as the land is sold again and the uncertainty regarding Mitchell Avenue remains unresolved.

Note: The cash-in-lieu amount that D-38 would receive from Willow Springs homebuyers, if land is not dedicated for a school site that satisfies the district, will drop from $1,200 to $1,300 per house to $200 to $300 per house in the county.

Dennis Minchow of the Schuck Corp. asked the BOCC to "put off or postpone any decision on Mitchell Avenue" until it is shown that it is needed or not needed. He stated that Forest Lakes would only contribute 3.6 percent of Mitchell Avenue traffic at buildout, if it were extended to Baptist Road. Willow Springs’ contribution would only be about 3.5 percent at buildout. "Is this portion of Mitchell Avenue really the responsibility of the developments that is only contributing 3.5 percent of the total traffic?"

Several local residents also spoke against approval of the project, raising the same objections presented in the 2008 Monument hearings.

Dossey gave a general response to the objections saying that the staff only looks at feasibility for a density range for ZCP application for a wide range of issues, which causes "chicken and egg" problems. The requirements for lots of expensive supporting reports and data are deferred until a more complete PUD plan is submitted. The plans referred to by all the speakers are guidance, not regulations and do not compel decisions at the ZCP level.

Maynard concluded by asking for a continuation so that he could evaluate Dossey’s proposed additional ZCP notation regarding the proposed buffer by the Nasby lot and Dossey’s proposed additional condition regarding a future Transportation Impact Study on Mitchell Avenue that will be added to the staff report after this hearing. Maynard said that the parties involved could provide better defined alternatives at the next hearing for decisions regarding Mitchell Avenue, emergency access, and any remaining or future county versus town issues. Maynard added that the same emergency access proposal was "acceptable" to the town when the previous landowner was seeking annexation. He added that the town was very supportive at the Planning Commission hearing, though it is not now, and he "wanted to get to the bottom of that."

Glenn offered a motion to continue the hearing until Aug. 25. Hisey seconded. It passed 4-0.

**********

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

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Highway 105 Corridor Study Public Meeting, Aug. 2: County seeks residents’ views on plans for Highway 105

By Harriet Halbig

The El Paso County Transportation Division hosted an open house on Aug. 2 to discuss the Highway 105 corridor between Highway 25 and Highway 83. Ownership of this section of Highway 105 has been transferred from the state to the county, a process that took three years.

Over 60 community citizens came to Monument Academy to express their concerns and opinions.

A laminated aerial photograph of the corridor was laid across several tables and served as the focus of the discussion as citizens noted their concerns on its surface with markers. Several homeowners expressed concern about road noise in their neighborhoods, increasing truck traffic, and dangerous intersections due to excess speed, drainage problems, or blind corners. Others requested traffic signals at the intersections of Highway 105 and Highway 83, and Highway 105 and Rollercoaster Road.

Project Manager Dennis Barron explained that this meeting was the first of several to address the corridor. This first meeting was held to identify short- and long-term concerns of residents and those frequently using the road.

Barron said that funding for capital improvement along the corridor has not yet been sought. Possible sources are the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA), the Baptist Road Transportation Authority (BRRTA), the state, or federal funds. A future ballot measure may also be considered as a source of funding.

Engineering Services Manager Jennifer Irvine commented that only the study of the corridor has been funded, but not any resulting improvements. Changes in the corridor deemed to be crucial to public safety may be quickly implemented with county funding. She encouraged all concerned citizens to submit their opinions online or to the address below.

The timeline for the study continues with the collection of community opinions through the fall of 2011, including prioritization of problems and study of impact of any changes. In the winter of 2012 there will be a second public meeting to discuss results of the study and discuss the corridor preservation plan, determining dollar amounts for each improvement. The finalization of the corridor preservation plan will be announced in spring of 2012.

**********

Citizens wishing to comment on the study are invited to go to www.105corridor.com or send written comments to Highway 105 Corridor Study, 2060 Briargate Parkway, Suite 102, Colorado Springs, CO 80920-1045.

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

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Second Education Forum explores school choice, community relations

Below: State representative Amy Stephens speaking at the July 18 education forum held hosted by Direction 38. Seated at the front (L to R): Ben DeGrow, a senior policy analyst for the Education Policy Center and representative of the Independence Institute; Kayla McGannon, Colorado advocacy director for Stand for Children; State Senator Keith King; Randy DeHoff, director of Strategic Growth for GOAL Academy; Mark Hyatt, executive director of the Colorado Charter School Institute; John Borman, superintendent of the Lewis Palmer School District; and State Senator Mark Scheffel. Photo by John Heiser

By Harriet Halbig

A public forum on school choice and community relations was held at the Monument Academy on July 18, hosted by the Direction 38 citizen group.

Direction 38 spokesperson Ana Konduris said that the citizen group formed two years ago and is proud of its community and the achievements of the graduates of District 38 (D-38) schools. The group consists of active and retired educational professionals and members of the public with an interest in education. They advocate fiscal responsibility and believe that the relationships between students, parents, teachers, and the community are critical to success.

Among the panelists were representatives of traditional, online, and charter schools, along with an advocate for concurrent enrollment, and advocates for school reform via public activism and school vouchers. The meeting was moderated by Dr. Dan Griffin, executive director of Monument Academy.

State representative Amy Stephens welcomed those attending and explained her experience with charter schools and that her son attended parochial school and then Air Academy High School. She supports all forms of education that best suit the individual student.

State Senator Mark Scheffel, who represents Lake, Park, and Teller counties, with parts of Douglas County as well as Monument and Palmer Lake, said that the future success of the country is based on the quality of education received by its children. He said that constituents often ask him about education and there is a great interest in it.

Scheffel and his wife homeschooled their children, and he said the ability to do so is a valuable tool for some. He estimated that about 6,500 children in the state are now homeschooled and many wish they could receive a tax credit to help them purchase supplies and supplemental materials.

Scheffel said that homeschoolers can obtain curriculum materials from public schools and homeschooled students can participate in activities such as sports and music.

John Borman, superintendent of the Lewis Palmer School District, spoke of neighborhood schools and traditional education. He said that it is the moral and ethical duty of the public school system to accept all students and support them through graduation. The system welcomes all individuals, regardless of need or ability.

Borman said that choice in education is a healthy development; available within the system in terms of Monument Academy, magnet schools, cooperation with the community college system, and specialized course offerings.

Borman spoke of his background as a principal in Greeley, with a diverse population and a large number of at-risk students. Through his efforts many students there became the first in their families to graduate from high school.

Borman said Lewis Palmer district parents are well-educated and wish to be involved in the district. Eighty-five percent of D-38’s graduates attend college and the graduation rate is 94 percent. Test scores and participation in Advanced Placement programs place D-38 students at the top of the state in achievement.

Borman added that he views the district as an ongoing work in progress, with continued efforts to pinpoint how the curriculum can be improved and to assist those who need extra help. He believes that the feeling of belonging to a school and a district is important, as are the relationships between students and teachers.

When asked how he would like parents to be active on the high school level, Borman gave the example of the technology center at Lewis Palmer High School, where budget cuts would have prevented staffing the area. Within a few days of mentioning the dilemma, enough parents volunteered to work there that the center remained open full time.

Mark Hyatt, executive director of the Colorado Charter School Institute and former president of the Classical Academy, a charter school in Colorado Springs, said that the charter school movement is a catalyst for change in K-12 education.

Hyatt noted that there are 22 charter schools across Colorado. In some cases these schools have significant conflicts with their respective boards of education. In some cases, parents have a conflict with the board of education that can be resolved by parents getting the board to "alter the public school system" rather than parents founding a charter school. Hyatt said that cooperation between the administration of Academy School District 20 and the Classical Academy led to the passage of a mill levy override in 2008 that benefits both parties.

Senator Keith King represents Colorado Springs in the state senate. He was instrumental in founding three charter schools in the city and currently serves as administrator of Colorado Springs Early Colleges (CSEC).

Upon enrollment at CSEC, students are tested to determine their achievement level. Remedial help is offered when needed. Students graduate with a high school diploma and also varying amounts of college credit from courses attended at Pikes Peak Community College, Colorado Technical University or the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Some students graduate with an associate’s degree. The college level courses are available at no cost to CSEC students. King said the CSEC approach allows students to achieve at their own rate and graduate without the burden of student loans. For those wishing to attend CSEC part time, enrollment in another educational institution is required.

Randy DeHoff was formerly the Executive Director of the Colorado Charter School Institute and is now director of Strategic Growth for GOAL Academy, an online charter school serving at risk youth. He said that high school education is no longer enough to ensure success in life.

DeHoff stated that the option to study online has been available for about 10 years. Online study has evolved from teachers simply giving lectures over the internet into a system in which teachers and students can develop a relationship. Online study offers opportunities to students who are not well suited to classroom study, such as those who have been suspended or expelled, medically fragile individuals, teenage parents, the gifted and talented, and those with attention span limitations.

At present, students can go to centers at Chapel Hills and Pueblo Mall where teachers can help them with tutoring and counseling.

DeHoff said that in Utah a bill was recently passed to allow students to take two courses per year from any approved online source. In Colorado, if a course is offered in a traditional school a student may not take it online. In the future, DeHoff predicts that students will be able to take courses from several sources, including community colleges. At that time, school district boundaries will become less well-defined and the entire education process will change.

Kayla McGannon is the Colorado advocacy director for Stand for Children, a group that promotes public communication with the Colorado General Assembly and local school districts in order to support public education. She said that innovation is the trend for the future of education, as students prepare for jobs that do not yet exist. A recent state law allows schools to waive various requirements in order to manipulate the length of the school day or year and allow for professional development.

Another bill, Senate Bill 191, will require that every teacher and principal be evaluated in regards to student performance on an annual basis. Additionally, the retention of staff will no longer involve a distinction between probationary and tenured staff. Layoffs will be based on effectiveness rather than seniority. SB 191 goes into effect in the 2014-15 school year. In regards to effectiveness McGannon highlighted a number of elements that will be considered, including test scores, promotion of parental involvement, and success in collaborating with other staff.

Concerning innovation, a parent asked whether parents and students have any say in the changes made to the curriculum. McGannon said that parents may ask for a waiver if they feel that the new curriculum is less effective for their child.

Ben DeGrow is a senior policy analyst for the Education Policy Center and represented the Independence Institute. He said that the public generally thinks of public education as a government activity, while the Independence Institute views it as a goal. DeGrow explained the concept of vouchers, which allow parents to enroll their children in the public or private school of their choice. Several states have enacted legislation to allow vouchers. In 2002 the Supreme Court ruled that as long as parents have a choice between religious and non-religious schools, the use of the voucher at either type is legal. DeGrow feels the use of vouchers may promote improvements in the public schools as a result of competition.

But according to DeGrow there will always be some students who do not fit into the traditional system. Douglas County has proposed to designate 75 percent of the state funding per student, and then allow them to take it to the school that best fits their learning style. The Independence Institute has a website describing every school in the state.

A parent in the audience commented that District 49 is an innovative district that has decentralized its administration and put policy in the hands of principals, cutting back on central staffing. He said there is a need to let the rest of the state know what they are doing and what other innovators are doing. Rep. Stephens agreed that D-49 has worked hard and not gotten enough credit for its efforts.

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The third in the series of forums will address building community relations. It will be held August 16, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Lewis-Palmer High School cafeteria, 1200 Higby Road.

Direction 38’s website is at www.lpd38.org.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, July 21: District’s study team focuses on Monument Creek options for water reclamation

Below: July 21, Donala Board President Tim Murphy congratulates Ginnette Ritz on being named employee of the quarter. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the July 21 monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, engineers working on the Donala Expanded Water Supply Study (DEWSS) team gave a progress report on their examination of possible ways to reclaim excess effluent from the wastewater treatment plant.

Each year, hundreds of millions of gallons of water are discharged into Monument Creek by the wastewater treatment plant that the Donala district shares with the Triview Metropolitan District and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. The Donala district has undertaken DEWSS, a yearlong $220,000 study, to consider ways effluent from the plant could be captured, extensively treated, and mixed in with the district’s water supply. Donala General Manager Dana Duthie said that the district is looking to reclaim about 300 acre-feet per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

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.

The DEWSS study team initially narrowed the project options to four, which were identified as Smith Creek, Brown Ranch/Jackson Creek, Monument Creek, and Jake’s Lake.

The Smith Creek, Monument Creek, and Jake’s Lake options would rely on enhanced wetlands, in most cases coupled with soil aquifer treatment. The Brown Ranch/Jackson Creek option would rely on constructed wetlands and employ extended water storage in a reservoir to be constructed on the Brown Ranch near Roller Coaster Road and Higby Road.

On May 5, the four options were presented to the district’s Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). It was suggested at the CAC meeting that use of the Gleneagle Golf Course (GGC) be re-examined. Two options involving the golf course were added: one using constructed wetlands over the entire course and one using constructed wetlands on the central 42 percent of the course.

All the options except the use of Monument Creek were judged to be too expensive or had other significant issues.

At the conclusion of the board meeting May 19, Sams was directed to investigate Monument Creek options in which the effluent would be pumped to various upstream points that would provide three miles of in-stream flow. The water then would be recovered near the district’s wastewater treatment plant and piped to one of the district’s water treatment plants. Duthie said that if three miles of in-stream flow can be achieved, the water could be considered a surface water source. He later added that the specific length of in-stream flow required is a function of the soil and streambed makeup.

At the July 21 meeting, Sams reported on three Monument Creek options that would pipe the effluent north and discharge it into various tributaries that drain into Monument Creek. Option 1 would discharge into Teachout Creek. Option 2 would discharge into an unnamed tributary that crosses under Old Denver Highway south of R Rock Yard. Option 3 would discharge through a portion of the Willow Springs Ranch development (see BOCC article).

Sams noted that the Triview district has rights for four wells in the Monument Creek alluvium. He added that those wells have not been constructed and permits have not been issued for them; however, all the Monument Creek options being studied by the DEWSS team could impact those potential wells to some degree.

Sams described an additional option using storage in the Bristlecone and Pinion reservoirs, which are within the Forest Lakes district. He noted that the costs associated with the purchase or use of the reservoirs would substantially increase the capital costs for that option to at least $12 million.

The estimated costs for the nine options (in order by added cost per 1,000 gallons, with the latest options highlighted in gray shading with boldface type):

Option Capital Annual Added
  Costs Costs Cost per
  (Millions) (Millions) 1,000 gal.
Jake's Lake $7.04 $0.63 $8.15
Monument Creek 2 $6.67 $0.67 $8.27
Monument Creek 1 $6.93 $0.67 $8.40
Monument Creek 3 $7.62 $0.67 $8.73
Bristlecone $12.00+ $0.68 $8.99
GGC partial $12.34 $0.66 $9.58
Smith Creek $11.06 $0.66 $10.37
GGC entire $16.77 $0.69 $14.41
Brown Ranch/JC $19.07 $0.76 $15.02

Duthie previously said that these substantial costs would be in addition to the voter-approved expenditures for infrastructure improvements to accommodate renewable water. He noted that the district cannot afford most of the options. He added the district is likely to wait five or six years before doing anything further on this topic.

Takeda said there is widespread interest in direct potable reuse (DPR) where the effluent is highly treated at the wastewater plant and then mixed into the potable water system. This approach reduces the piping costs required for Indirect Potable Reuse systems such as those being considered by the DEWSS project but increases treatment costs. He added that California is looking to develop DPR standards by about 2014.

Duthie noted that a district-wide community meeting is planned for early September to discuss potential cost, rate, and tax increases and the outcome of the DEWSS project.

Connection to CSU being constructed

Duthie reported that the construction has started on the project to connect the district’s infrastructure to Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) pipes in the vicinity of Northgate Road. Duthie said the work should be completed within approximately 60 days.

The service agreement with CSU calls for a minimum of 100 acre-feet of Colorado Springs water to be supplied to the district in 2011. The district will be required to draw a minimum of 200 acre-feet per year in subsequent years. The maximum amount that can be drawn per year is 1,000 acre-feet.

The initial rate is $11.12 per 1,000 gallons, plus a system use fee of $354,807. The district has also paid $296,902 for a CSU pump at Northgate Road. The total cost for the 100 acre-feet to be drawn during 2011 will be $717,319, or about $22 per 1,000 gallons. If the district obtains rights to the water from Willow Creek Ranch, the net cost for CSU transportation of the water is projected to decline to about $10.36 per 1,000 gallons.

The highest rate the district currently charges any of its customers is about $11 per 1,000 gallons, and some customers pay as little as $3.40 per 1,000 gallons. The average rate is about $5.75 per 1,000 gallons.

Water court case still awaits judge’s decision

Duthie reported that there has been no decision rendered yet in the water court case on the 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.

The district is hoping to obtain rights to about 280 acre-feet of water per year, which would cover about 20 percent of Donala’s current demand. If that is the final figure approved by water court Judge Dennis Maes then, under the terms of the ranch purchase agreement, the district will be obligated to pay Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, an additional fee of about $408,000.

Duthie previously reported that settlement had been achieved with all those opposing the water court case except for the State Engineer’s Office and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB). On March 8 and 9, the case was presented to Maes. Both sides presented closing arguments March 31. Susan Schneider, first assistant attorney general in Colorado’s Natural Resources and Environment Section, represented the CWCB. Jennifer Mele, assistant attorney general in Colorado’s Natural Resources and Environment Section, represented the State Engineer’s Office. Rick Fendel and Kara Godbehere from Petrock & Fendel represented the district. The state had until April 18 to respond to the district’s arguments and then the district had 10 days to respond to the state’s response.

To address the state’s objections regarding non-irrigation season return flows, the board approved a 20-year contract with the Pueblo Board of Water Works for storage of 190 acre-feet per year in Turquoise Reservoir.

It is now up to Maes to make a decision on the matter. Whichever way that decision comes out, it could be appealed to the state Supreme Court.

Aquifer storage and recovery pilot study a success

Over the past few months, the district conducted injection tests of one of its Arapahoe aquifer wells. The purpose of the tests was to determine the practicality of pumping water into the Arapahoe aquifer for recovery later during periods of higher demand.

Duthie distributed copies of a report from Leonard Rice Engineers. Some highlights from the report:

  • During the pilot study, 42.5 acre-feet of water were injected over 41 days, a little better than had been expected. The average injection rate was 250 gallons per minute.
  • The average recharge rate was one acre-foot per day, which is comparable to similar projects conducted by Colorado Springs and Centennial.
  • The study supported the estimate that the district could inject about 1,700 acre-feet per year.
  • Water sources for injection need to be evaluated for feasibility.
  • Backwashing is needed to prevent plugging of the borehole and aquifer. A more intensive investigation of backwashing techniques is needed.
  • A water quality investigation is needed to understand the risk of potential chemical precipitation in the Arapahoe aquifer caused by the injection water.
  • Further investigation is needed to determine the long-term effects of using sulfur dioxide to de-chlorinate the injection water.

Duthie noted that although the district has good records of how much water was injected, it cannot definitively say how much water is stored and can be withdrawn. He said that defining that would require a significant modeling project over several years.

Duthie added that the requirement from the EPA to de-chlorinate the water before it is injected raises questions as to where that should be done and creates potential water quality issues when the recovered water is re-chlorinated.

Other matters

  • Ginnette Ritz was named the employee of the quarter for her efforts filling-in during the district’s recent personnel issues.
  • During the three months from April 1 through June 30, the district’s $3.78 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.41 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.056 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 9.8 months.

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

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on August 16 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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Monument Sanitation District, July 21: Draft 2012 budget reviewed

By Jim Kendrick

On July 21, District Manager Mike Wicklund presented the first draft of the 2012 Monument Sanitation District budget to the board for review. The most significant change was lowering the budgeted tap fee revenue, from $50,000 in 2011 to $10,000 in 2012, to reflect the current slowdown in new construction. He asked the directors to provide written comments or questions to him so that he could make revisions prior to the next board meeting on Aug. 18.

Wicklund also asked board members if he should look into depositing future tap fee revenues in a different kind of approved savings account than the Colotrust account currently being used primarily to preserve capital. The goal is to find an approved alternative that would improve on the extremely low Colotrust rate of interest. The board agreed to his investigation of state-approved alternatives.

All five board members were present.

Capital fund projections discussed

Following a lengthy discussion, the board came to a consensus that it would be in the best interest of the district to postpone the construction of an $81,000 storage garage in the 2011 Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility budget for at least one year, and probably two years, due to low district cash reserves following completion of construction and payment of all invoices for the $2.4 million expansion of the Wakonda Hills collection system. Currently, total district cash reserves are about $200,000 and projected to decline about $50,000 by the end of this year due to an increase in biannual facility sludge removal costs.

Wicklund said the long-term district goal has been to have about $300,000 in cash as the minimum operating reserve. The current reduced amount of cash reserves is a result of making about $400,000 in cash payments over the past 18 months for the Wakonda Hills project.

Total Monument tap fee revenue through July 21 was $9,100, more than $40,000 less than the $50,000 budgeted for tap fee revenue in the 2011 budget. Monument’s one-third share of the cost of the new facility garage is about $27,000. Monument has typically received at least $100,000 in annual tap fee revenue over the past several years, twice the conservative $50,000 of tap fee revenue in the 2011 budget.

Wicklund noted that residential and commercial building in the district is at a near standstill. This year’s tap fee revenue has come primarily from owners of existing Wakonda Hills connecting to the newly installed collection lines because of the complete failure of their septic systems. Most of the Wakonda Hills homeowners now electing to join the district and connect their homes to the new collection lines are financing the payment of their tap fees over 15 years, via 180 equal interest-free monthly payments. Significant long-term tap fee revenue may eventually be available from the Willow Springs development (about 400 homes) and the Zonta developments (about 88 homes), but not soon. Wicklund said he would present a tap fee increase proposal for rebuilding the capital fund to meet long-term district capital requirements at a future meeting.

Wicklund announced that the other two districts that co-own the Tri-Lakes facility, Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, had just offered to jointly lend the Monument district $27,000 for one year so that the planned facility storage garage project could proceed. The Monument directors all agreed that they were very grateful for the loan offer from the Palmer Lake and Woodmoor boards. However, there was also consensus that it remains uncertain whether there would be sufficient Monument tap fee revenue during the 12-month term of this loan to cover loan repayment, much less start increasing the capital fund balance.

Wicklund also briefed the board on preliminary results from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority cost-benefit study being conducted by engineering firm CDM. The approximate contract cost for making the kinds of capital improvements to the Tri-Lakes facility that would be required to meet currently proposed 10-year interim total phosphorus and total nitrogen discharge permit limits is estimated by the draft CDM cost model to be about $22 million. Interest costs for 20-year revenue bonds at the current low rates would approximately double the total cost to about $44 million for only meeting the proposed short-term nutrient permit limit in Regulation 85. The district board would have to levy large increases to current monthly fees to cover these initial loan payments, as well as the added direct costs of operating and maintaining this first set of new equipment.

The next round of additional costs for installing more new capital equipment to meet the much tighter nutrient discharge limits, which the EPA is demanding that the state impose on the Tri-Lakes facility starting in 2022, are currently estimated to be about $28 million for a total construction cost of about $50 million just for meeting total phosphorus and total nitrogen limits. Very recent sampling in Monument Creek, upstream of the Tri-Lakes facility at the Monument Lake dam and downstream of the facility at Baptist Road, by environmental firm GEI Consulting has shown that the nutrient levels currently being discharged to the creek by the Tri-Lakes facility have caused no change in the variety or quantity of each type of aquatic life downstream of the plant. There is no ecosystem degradation being caused by the Tri-Lakes facility’s effluent nutrients.

The construction cost for meeting proposed new copper concentration discharge permit limits for the Tri-Lakes facility has been estimated to be another $30 million. The total long-term construction cost that the EPA is demanding the state impose on the Tri-Lakes facility is about $80 million, not including the interest costs for bonds.

In other matters, there was a very lengthy technical discussion regarding the rent due date and late payment penalty policies in existing contracts for the commercial spaces within the district building being leased to tenants. There was no motion to change the terms of these existing contracts.

Wicklund also noted the Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association had donated $1,000 to the Colorado Nutrient Coalition to help pay for an additional $40,000 in 2011 coalition legal fees for preparation of responses to the state Water Quality Control Division prior to the state Water Quality Control Commission final hearing on revisions to state Regulation 31 and new Regulation 85 nutrient limits, which is currently scheduled for March 12 and March 13.

During the treasurer’s report, Wicklund noted payments of:

  • $4,280 to Access Construction for concrete repairs to the front foundation of the district building
  • $4,655 to American Land Reclamation for new trees and seeding in Wakonda Hills
  • $7,277 to engineering consultant GMS, Inc. for mapping the new collection system infrastructure in Wakonda Hills

Wicklund also noted that the district recently received tap fee payments of $6,500 from the new Spicy Basil Restaurant being constructed in the Safeway shopping center in the past month, which raised the 2011 total to $9,100. He also said that the district may receive a tap fee of about $44,000 from Synthes Inc. for a plant expansion, but the timing of this tap fee payment remains uncertain.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on August 18 in the district conference room at 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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Academy Water and Sanitation District, July 6: Resident complaint leads to start of email list

By Susan Hindman

A resident unhappy about being charged for 13,900 gallons of water on his April bill pleaded his case a second time before the Academy Water and Sanitation District board at the July 6 meeting. The homeowner, who lives on Pleasant View Drive, requested a waiver for the resulting $64 overage charge at the June meeting. He said the usage indicated in his April bill was "unexplainable," and did not match his previous months’ usage.

Over the course of the month, operator Anthony Pastorello investigated the problem, checking the meter documentation and software, and meeting with the resident. Treasurer Walter Reiss checked with the billing office to see if a clerical error had been made and to ask if any other residents had experienced significantly different bills than usual, but neither had occurred.

At the July meeting, the homeowner said that he had been "closely, closely" monitoring water usage during the past month, and he said he was on a path to using 8,785 gallons, significantly less than the amount on his spring bill. He insisted the error was not his.

Board President Richard DuPont and operator Anthony Pastorello explained that because of the way the meter works, if it were broken, it would benefit the homeowner and not the district. "We have those meters for a reading, and there’s a reading there," said Pastorello, "and we have to charge for that usage because it’s based on operational costs." He said that if a toilet continues running, it can use between 2,000 and 3,000 gallons a day.

DuPont said, "No one is challenging your honesty, but by the same token that much water was used. There’s no evidence to prove otherwise." He added that the board does not have the authority to adjust charges; the amount to be charged is set in the district’s bylaws.

The board declined the resident’s request for a waiver. Although his meter did not prove faulty, the homeowner requested that Pastorello order a new meter for his home, which Pastorello agreed to do.

Residents can get meeting minutes by email

The same resident also asked if there was a way to receive meeting minutes so that residents could be promptly informed about major announcements, such as rate increases. The district does not have a website and it costs about $200 to send out separate mailings, so it was suggested that an email list be set up for residents interested in receiving the minutes.

Residents wanting to receive the minutes can call the district’s office at 481-0711 and ask to be added to the email list.

Other news

  • A request for reduced sewer and water tap fees was turned down. Developer Mark Bradley, who has built 18 other homes in the Academy District, requested the reduced fees for a home he is building on Tari Drive.
  • Manhole installation at the top of Deby Place was more extensive than expected. Degraded piping had to be removed, replaced, and rerouted to ensure access for cleaning, Pastorello reported. The manhole had to be extended from 8 feet to 12 feet below the surface to accommodate the re-routing.

Merit increase for operator

The board went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. At the end of the executive session, the board returned to conclude the public meeting. The board announced it wanted to give Pastorello a 5 percent merit increase. The raise was unanimously approved, effective July 1.

**********

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 Sept. 7.

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 3: Plan to protect water will be presented at community meeting

By Susan Hindman

Most residents may be unaware of the work that has been going on for the past year to develop a plan to prevent contamination of the drinking water supplied by the Academy Water and Sanitation District. The district’s water comes from three wells, two of them located only eight feet below the surface, in a field off Spring Valley Drive. It is those shallow wells that are of greatest concern to the Source Water Protection Plan (SWPP) steering committee, which put together a plan that was approved by Academy’s board in June.

The plan identifies threats to the wells from contaminants such as leakage from septic systems and storage tanks, fire, flooding, erosion, land use decisions, pollution from hazardous materials, and other residential and commercial sources.

At the Aug. 3 meeting, Jim Weilbrenner, a board member who is on the steering committee and has done the bulk of the writing for the SWPP, discussed the presentation he plans to give to the public.

His 30-minute presentation is scheduled for Wed., Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. Invitations to the meeting will be mailed to all district residents as well as those who live in the outlying areas north and east of the wells, which are included in the Drinking Water Supply Protection Area.

Weilbrenner also discussed the draft of a contingency plan he is creating for the district that would establish procedures to follow in the event of water contamination or loss of existing sources.

Auditor reports 2010 budget problem

While doing the end-of-year audit for 2010, Terri Rupert of Hanson & Co. noticed that the district had spent $11,638 more than it had budgeted, which is a violation of the Colorado Budget Law for 2010.

"I was rather surprised to notice that the budget had been over-expended," she said. "You guys made money last year. Your revenues were up. You didn’t have any huge expenditures. And so it wasn’t until I lined the outcomes up with the budget that it became obvious we had a little bit of a problem that you need to deal with." That problem was caused by unexpected repair and maintenance costs related to one of the wells.

As a result, an amended 2010 budget will need to be issued, Treasurer Walt Reiss said. That budget will be presented at the September meeting.

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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 Sept. 7.

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

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TLMFPD board meeting, July 27

By Bernard L. Minetti

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Treasurer, John Hildebrandt, stated that this report represented the 50 percent budget point for the year. He noted that the district had received $42,236,588 from property tax revenues. This was 69.35 percent of budgeted revenues. Hildebrandt continued by stating that the specific ownership tax revenue received was $139,484. This represented 50.88 percent of the budgeted revenue for this item. He further stated that the ambulance revenues were $323,004 and that this number represented 65.92 percent of the budgeted ambulance revenue. The impact fee revenue was $17,146 or 28.57 percent of the budgeted amount.

Hildebrandt noted that the administrative expenses remained high due to the payment of liability insurance, the county treasurer’s fee and workers’ comp insurance. He further noted that fuel expenses remain up 15 percent for the fire side and 19 percent for the medical side. Hildebrandt told the Board that overall expenses for the district were 51.67 percent of the budgeted amount or 1.67 percent over budget.

Board President Charlie Pocock then read the eighth article of his ongoing Sprinkler Education program. He read:

    "Residential Fire Sprinkler System or No Fire Sprinkler System - Article Number Eight

    For the past several months we have been discussing the pros and cons of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) requirement to install residential fire sprinkler systems in all new single family and duplex homes. Fire sprinklers are currently required in new apartment complexs, and in homes over 6,000 square feet and in some difficult to reach hillside locations in Colorado Springs. But, they are not currently required for all new homes. Colorado Springs, Unincorporated El Paso County, the Regional Building Department, as well as most Colorado communities that have adopted the new fire code have rejected the new NFPA sprinkler mandate. The reasons for these rejections are numerous and diverse. Some of the reasons include: the uncertainty about initial and long-term costs; uncertainty about long-term inspection and maintenance problems; lack of experienced and licensed installers and inspectors; lack of effective and proven antifreeze systems; objections by the home building industry which believes these costs and unknowns might discourage some home builders or buyers, thus causing them to go elsewhere.

    The Board of Directors of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) will soon have to vote on whether to accept or reject this portion of the new fire code. There is no question that residential fire sprinkler systems can save lives and reduce future fire losses, but at what cost? And is it worth it? This is not a decision we take lightly and we would like your help. To aid us in making this decision we invite you, the residents of the TLMFPD, to voice your opinion and let us know how you feel and why. Call Jennifer at 484-0911 or send her an email at jmartin@tri-lakesfire.com, or you can write to us at TLMFPD: P.O. Box 2668, Monument, Colo. 80132, with your input."

District Fire Chief Robert Denboske then read the January through June 2011 District Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman’s report. During this time period, there were 12 commercial plan reviews, 18 residential plan reviews, and 159 commercial fire inspections. Documented public education events totaled 32 and covered 3 car seat checks, 11 station/truck tours, 12 community events, smoke detector battery changes, and kid community service events. Additionally, there were four FireWise evaluations performed.

In his report, Kauffman noted that the 2009 international fire code amendment review progress had gone well, was tedious work, but was well worth it. He noted that the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD) has a goal to implement their codes on August 1, applicable only to the City of Colorado Springs and unincorporated El Paso County. This, he noted, did not apply to the cities of Fountain, Green Mountain Falls, Manitou Springs, Palmer Lake and Monument. The PPRBD will announce on their website when other cities adopt the new building code.

The Fire Marshal indicated that we have finished the final draft that was sent to District Fire Chief Robert Denboske for review. The goal for code implementation is no more than two months following PPRBD’s implementation of their codes.

Denboske then read the district training report, prepared by District Training Officer Mike Keough, into the record. Total personnel training hours for the District were 249.5. Of that total 124 were fire/all-hazard specific, 70 were EMS Specific, and 55.5 were physical fitness. Denboske noted that this report compared favorably with previous reports.

The Board approved the Report to Governance resulting from the 2010 financial statement audit. All items noted were favorable or in the process of being corrected as noted by District Fire Chief Robert Denboske. One of the favorable items noted in the report was the institution of the "use it or lose it" leave policy. The reviewer commended the District for proactively managing the leave accrual balances.

The Board then adjourned.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, August 24, 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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DWFPD wins chili trophy

Below: Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Scott Ridings (L) and Chief Vinny Burns show off the "Best Overall" trophy Wescott won June 25 in Colorado Springs. at the 8th annual Firefighter Chili Cook-off to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Monument Board of Trustees, July 5: Jim Moore award presented to Wisdom Tea House owners

Below (L to R): On July 5, during the Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Mayor Travis Easton presented the fourth Jim Moore Award for Urban Excellence to Wisdom Tea House owners and Dianne and Tom Wisdom as their architect and contractor, Dan Fraley, looked on. The restaurant is located at 62 2nd St. in downtown Monument (wisdomteahouse.com) adjacent to the winner of the third Jim Moore award, the La Casa Fiesta restaurant. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On July 5, Mayor Travis Easton presented the fourth Jim Moore Award for urban excellence – on behalf of the town, the community, and the Historic Monument Merchants Association – to Tom and Dianne Wisdom for their improvements to the Wisdom Tea House. Town Manager Cathy Green presented a slide show that showed the pictorial history of the building since it was a meat market in 1910. She noted that there were no pictures available from the first 20 years – prior to 1910. The building has also been a floor covering store.

Green showed several photos of the renovation to describe the new design by Dan Fraley, the architect and contractor for the 2007 Wisdom Tea House renovation project.

Green said that Tom Wisdom wanted to create a tea house because some people need a non-church place to go to feel spiritual and have human association. The lighting, flowers, fountains in the patio, and gelato make it a delightful place, particularly after a summer concert in the park.

Diane Wisdom said, "It’s been a journey and a thrill to put this together. It could not have been accomplished without Dan. Dan is the visionary, the architect, the designer, the implementer. So many of the wonderful features that you see here are Dan’s ideas." She also gave "a shout out to Cathy and Woody Woodworth of High Country Home and Garden for their xeriscape design and implementation as well as providing all the beautiful potted flowers each summer.

Fraley described the "Territorial" style which is a combination of Adobe and Greek Architectural design that he considers to be a "true western architecture." He thanked the Wisdoms and the town for their assistance and cooperation during the project.

Trails End developer defaults on required improvements

Ashley Fritz, Secretary/Treasurer of the Trails End homeowners association (HOA), and Carol Kramer, HOA vice president, inquired about what the town would do for the residents now that the developer, Catalano Development Group, had gone bankrupt. She said that she had heard that the town had pulled the surety bond for completing the subdivision’s required landscaping. She asked if the town would make needed warranty asphalt and concrete repairs and if speed limits could be installed. "We feel like the red-headed stepchild of Monument," she said.

Tom Kassawara, Director of Development Services, said he had been in contact with the HOA’s management company for some time. He said, "This is the first time I’ve been successful in getting a bonding company to perform." The town has received $50,000, not "enough to complete everything that is on the punch list from the site plan" plus the other items wanted by the residents. He said he hoped "the HOA might be able to kick in some money as well" to "pool our resources and get as many things done as we can." The safety issues would be the first priority, while aesthetic issues would be secondary. The issues he, the town building inspector, and the public works director were gathering information on include:

  • Locating utilities
  • Drainage
  • Underdrain location and cleanout
  • Pavement – asphalt and concrete
  • Landscaping
  • Irrigation

Fritz expressed concern about Kassawara’s bid package scope of work details regarding Kim Catalano’s failure to install the promised "very elaborate water features all along the Wagon Gap Trail. There is no water there now. You would have to bore under the street to even bring water to that point and water is such a tight commodity in Monument. I’m not sure that the HOA would want to proceed with doing that and have to maintain it. "

Kassawara said he would meet with the HOA to set priorities before going out to bid and get the work done before winter. Kassawara said speed limit signs are not on the site and are not on the punch list. Public Works Director Rich Landreth said the town could post a single speed limit sign at the entrance to Trails End.

Fritz also stated that there is a motorcycle, ATV, and snowmobile noise problem, and a safety hazard due to the dumped dirt at the south end of the adjacent Villages at Monument, as well as an eyesore of dumped trash and furniture. Kassawara replied that only dust and erosion issues caused by the fill dirt can be addressed by the town. Town Manager Cathy Green said the Monument Police Department would look into noise problems and the code enforcement officer could look into the trash and dumping issue.

Kramer noted that there is also a safety issue with a problematic foot-deep hole in the failing asphalt by the neighborhood playground and people driving motorcycles, ATVs, and snowmobiles along the drainage beside the railroad track.

Landreth said that the town could only make temporary fixes to the asphalt until ownership transferred to the town, along with payment of the $50,000 surety bond, at the end of the warranty period.

Green and others, after expressing surprise, said the railroad typically responds to any type of trespassing on its property immediately and vigorously.

Easton thanked Fritz and Kramer for informing the board of these issues at the conclusion of this 22-minute discussion.

The board unanimously approved liquor license renewals for:

  • Cork ‘N’ Bottle, 351 Highway 105
  • Tri-Lakes Liquor, 586 Highway 105

The Board unanimously approved the May Financial reports.

Staff reports

Green said the cost of installing trees, electricity, and water along Second Street from Highway 105 to Beacon Lite Road would cost about $70,000. Long-term water supply planning is shifting to projects closer to the local area, with a focus on re-use. She also discussed the new Tri-Lakes Views art installations and volunteer flower installations around town.

Kassawara discussed the county Planning Commission hearing on Willow Springs. At the request of the applicant, the Commission voted to remove the condition advocated by the town for a fair share contribution towards the extension at Mitchell Avenue to the north end of Forest Lakes Drive. He stated that County Engineer Andre Bracken also endorsed having the Willow Springs developer pay for the extension rather than the taxpayers and this staff statement will be in the July 14 staff report for the Board of County Commissioners’ hearing. Kassawara noted that the Forest Lakes development has a county fair share contribution requirement in place for the Mitchell Avenue extension. The fair share fee issue can also be raised again at the site plan hearings. For more information see the July 28 BOCC hearing article.

The meeting adjourned at 7:38 p.m.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, July 18: Farmers market corrective measures discussed

By Jim Kendrick

On July 18, the town staff asked the Monument Board of Trustees for direction on gaining compliance for the recently approved new town regulations on monitoring the collection of sales tax revenues at local farmers markets. During public comments, downtown business owners Woody Woodworth and Shawn Morris asked about what they believed are unfair town tax enforcement processes regarding the new farmers markets ordinances. There was a lively conversation between these business owners, the trustees, the staff, and Monument Plaza farmers market co-owner Ross Gallegos, who said he was attending the meeting for his partner, Diana Dickson.

The meeting started at 5:30 p.m., an hour earlier than usual. Trustees Stan Gingrich and Rick Squires were absent.

Woodworth, owner of High Country Home and Garden at 243 Washington St., attended the meeting for a special event liquor license hearing for the annual Historic Monument Merchant’s Association (HMMA) Chili Cook-Off event that will be held on Sept. 17 on Front Street, south of Second Street, adjacent to Limbach Park. The license was unanimously approved. Trustee Tommie Plank noted that Woodworth is also the scheduler and master-of-ceremonies for all the summer concerts in Limbach Park.

Shawn Morris, owner of La Casa Fiesta at 230 Front St., attended the meeting for an annual liquor license renewal hearing. The license was unanimously approved.

The board later approved annual liquor license renewals for:

  • Conoco Store/Circle K, at 534 Highway 105
  • Gourmet Far East, Inc., 15910 Jackson Creek Parkway
  • Jackson Creek Chinese Restaurant, 1054 W. Baptist Road

Farmers market tax collections remain controversial

Background: There are two farmers market operations in downtown Monument during the summer. One, owned and operated by Donna Dickson, was originally leasing space on the grounds of the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 (D-38) "Big Red" headquarters building, on the southeast corner of Second and Jefferson Streets, until a few years ago. Her operation then moved to the Monument Plaza shopping center. For more information regarding Dickson’s relocation see:

A second owner and operator had taken over the lease for this D-38 space. However, this second farmers market has moved a block south this summer to the Jefferson Street parking lot for the mothballed Grace Best elementary school.

Woodworth asked a lengthy series of questions of the board, staff, and Gallegos about how sales tax is being handled at the farmers markets to define the differences in treatment being experienced by the town’s "brick and mortar" business owners. He noted first that the new ordinance requires a lot of permit requirements, prohibited sales items, and manager responsibilities including reporting sales to the town on a weekly basis. He asked if this sales reporting is occurring.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that only the owner/operator receives a business license that costs $200 to $600 depending on the number of vendors. The application form requires the manager to collect the names of the vendors and their sales tax numbers to facilitate Town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s cross-checking of sales tax reports with the Colorado Department of Revenue. She stated that the town is not getting any of the required reports from Dickson or Gallegos, while the other owner is in compliance.

Some of Woodworth’s and Morrison’s remarks were:

  • Does Gallegos collect any sales tax?
  • Who has the record of farmers market sales?
  • Do farmers markets report sales to the town? the state?
  • Why doesn’t the town create a low cost pro-rated business license for vendors to make it easier to know their sales tax numbers and easier to track sales vendor tax revenue submissions to the state?
  • I could sell $10,000 of flowers at one of these farmers markets without a license – I’m looking for a level playing field.
  • Most of Monument’s businesses are small businesses.
  • A trustee should not confuse HMMA with individual small "brick and mortar" stores in Monument that have gross sales of only $500 per week and still pay sales tax and commercial property taxes and provide parking.
  • It’s not really a farmers market – it’s really a garage sale in a booth with three-year-old shirts and the old bicycle and the tub of junk, a flea market.

Some of the trustees’ comments were:

  • If part-time tenant vendors of town "brick and mortar" businesses must get town business licenses, why are farmers market vendors exempted.
  • The Colorado statutes require an event organizer of a sales event with three or more vendors to get a multiple event license if the vendors do not get individual business licenses for the event
  • The multi-event organizer is required to collect and remit taxes for all vendors who don’t get a license or have licenses but don’t provide tax revenues to the state.
  • The multi-event organizer must collect and provide the names and addresses of vendors, and business license numbers of the vendors who obtained a license for the event and will remit their sales tax revenue to the state themselves.
  • In all cases vendors are to submit sales taxes, and organizers are to collect business license numbers, addresses, and state vendor numbers.
  • Ninety percent of the 8,000 residents want the market in Monument and it’s our responsibility to cater to them also, not just the HMMA, to bring people into Monument.

Some of Green’s remarks were:

  • The town has not received any money or application paperwork from Dickson or Gallegos this year.
  • There has not been sufficient trustee consensus on whether to deal with this issue or ignore it to allow the staff to comfortably issue a cease and desist order to Dickson for 100 percent noncompliance to the new ordinance.
  • Sales tax numbers are not proprietary information – we have everybody’s tax numbers.
  • Tax revenue reports from the state are proprietary.
  • The board decided that vendors would not need to get a business license for a few hours once a week in the summer.
  • The staff can only get the list of the vendors’ business tax numbers from the owner/operator.
  • Pro-rating is difficult to calculate for owners who only occasionally do work within Monument, like roofing and heating companies.
  • The board decided it was too difficult to calculate the cost of vendor licenses and not fair to the vendors who might only show up a few weekends or only sell food which is not taxable.
  • A decision was made to not assign the town code enforcement officer to attend the farmers markets every Saturday morning.
  • If Monument was a home-rule town it could collect its own taxes and have more control.

Some of Gallegos’s remarks were

  • I collect the sales taxes I am required to but the individual vendors pay their own sales tax as a personal responsibility – an amount about $10 per day.
  • Asking for a list of vendors’ sales tax numbers is unheard of, irregular, and not a request of the state.
  • Four attorneys and tax collectors have never heard of such a thing.
  • It is not worth it to collect this sales tax and some vendors do not even pay a vendor’s fee for bringing in their knitting to sell.
  • The only value a farmers market has its list of vendors.
  • The town wants to take over our business – why should we turn over our only asset to the town?
  • Would you turn your business over to the town?
  • The business license should be cheaper for a mom and pop business and the town would get the tax number from the owner – say $15 for a summer.
  • I have a check for $200 for the business to give to the town tonight.
  • Anyone is welcome to have a booth at our market that would make $10,000 per day.

No decision made

Easton said the board should postpone a decision on what direction to give the staff on the farmers market that is 100 percent out of compliance with the board’s new ordinance until all seven trustees are in attendance.

Green said the board should address the issue now and give Dickson and Gallegos a one-week notice that they will be shut down. "Amend it, rescind it, or enforce it."

Plank said, "I don’t think we wait for two weeks and have two more farmers markets go by without having them come into compliance. I’m sorry. I think that’s wrong."

Shupp told Gallegos that his state sales tax license is not a state multi-event business license.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros said that the Dickson-Gallegos town business license expired on June 30. To renew their town business license under the new ordinance, they must pay $200 and submit a site plan, vendor list, and photos. He asked the board for guidance on issuing a cease and desist order for non-compliance.

Trustee Gail Drumm complained that the downtown businesses are not always open for weekend events. "If we bring the stuff to businesses and they don’t reciprocate that’s not our problem. See, that’s anything we do to bring people downtown …" Woodworth said, "We should all jump on it and open up?" Drumm said, "I would assume that." Woodworth, "Really, how many hours do you work a week, just out of curiosity?" Drumm said, "That’s none of your business." Easton cut off Woodworth’s same reply to Drumm.

Cathy Woodworth reiterated, "This ordinance at the moment is not being enforced. We would like to know why."

Morrison listed all the licenses he has, noting that each license "comes with its own rules" and he is always subject to no-notice inspections. Woodworth said he has multiple licenses and inspections as well.

Gallegos said he would be happy to come into compliance and give the town "this check for $200." However, he left the building without paying the $200 promised twice during the meeting after restating that all the town’s requirements are "highly irregular."

In other matters, the board unanimously approved a payment of $124,402 to Triview for May sales tax ($118,700), June motor vehicle tax ($5,424), and June Regional Building sales tax ($278).

The meeting adjourned at 6:53 p.m.

*********

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 1: Promontory Pointe site plan amendment hearing scheduled

By Jim Kendrick

At the Aug. 1 meeting, the board gave unanimous approval to Treasurer Pamela Smith for a payment of $7,532 to John Hurley Asphalt, LLC for work done on Jackson Creek Parkway to remove and replace a 13-foot by 84-foot section of asphalt by the YMCA. The last agenda item was the Town Manager’s Report that included a discussion of Classic Homes’ new application to amend the Planned Development (PD) site plan for Promontory Pointe at an Aug. 13 Monument Planning Commission hearing and an Aug. 15 board hearing.

Trustee Rafael Dominguez was absent.

Smith also received unanimous approval for her June 2011 Financial Report. General Fund revenues were more than budgeted for June by about 13 percent or $239,000, a $138,000 improvement from May. General Fund expenditures in June were 3 percent less or $52,000 than the amount budgeted, a positive $77,000 upswing from May. However, the General Fund was under budget for June by $290,000, a $71,000 improvement from May. General Fund revenues for the first six months of 2011 exceeded expenses by $409,000.

Cash on hand increased by about $1.618 million during the first half. About $1.335 million is restricted for Town Hall and Monument Lake dam repair debt payments and fund reserve constraints. About $238,169 is unrestricted cash.

Enterprise revenues exceeded expenditures by $46,572 in the first half. Ancillary Funds netted $308,166 in the first half. The first half net for all funds was $763,828.

Net sales tax collection through the end of April is about $20,000 more than the amount budgeted but down $8,900 from the net surplus at the end of March.

Staff reports

Town Manager Cathy Green said that the Farmer’s Market in the Monument Plaza shopping center was coming around to "good intent" compliance with the new Town Code requirements.

She passed out a list of suggested donations to disburse the remainder of the board’s 2011 discretionary budget of about $11,000. After a question and answer session with Lt. Steve Burk, there was consensus to transfer the money targeted as a gift to the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. to a new charitable organization called Cops and Clergy, which gives money from its Ministers’ Relief Fund through the Monument Police Department chaplains for officers to disburse to desperate transients. The money is given to people stuck in town overnight with kids and a broken down car, for example, and in need of cash or a gift card for a meal, gasoline, or a room after regular business hours. Most of the money in the fund is donated by local churches. The board approved the proposed list of donations with this one change by consensus.

Tom Kassawara, director of development services, noted that there would be a shorter than usual turnaround on the paperwork for the Classic Homes application for Promontory Pointe. Classic is doing "due diligence" for gaining investor support for taking over development of this subdivision. He said Classic needs to get relief from the current restriction in the approved PD site plan regarding which specific models of John Laing houses can be built in this development. John Laing Homes, the previous developer, is bankrupt. Classic will also be requesting a reduction of 200 square feet in the "range of square footage" for Promontory Pointe homes to make it easier to sell new homes in the current economic climate.

Kassawara said there will still be a set of building material guidelines in the subdivision improvement agreement that will enable the staff to regulate the "materials and architecture" of the various models of Classic home models proposed for construction. The cost of the homes Classic is proposing will be about $250,000 to $350,000, down from about $400,000 for the John Laing models. There will be no change in the lot size restrictions.

For more information on the complicated and controversial aspects of the numerous Promontory Pointe annexation and PD site plan approval hearings for the Pulte and John Laing annexation and PD site plan hearings that may come up again in these two August hearings, see:

Trustee Jeff Kaiser discussed a list of "some of the comments that I’ve heard." Some of these comments he stated were:

  • "It just seems like the builder comes, gets a compromise, and then will come back a little later, gets a compromise" and keeps coming back "until he gets enough compromises to get everything he originally wanted" because "the builder has time and money on his side."
  • It is an insult to the board that worked very hard and now has to "go and re-compromise again."
  • A $50,000 to $150,000 drop in price is more than a 10 percent drop in size.
  • "There’s a million and one excuses that anyone with money can come up with."
  • "They’ve waited a few years to come back and may wait a few years again to come back again."
  • "Is this something that’s just a formality and the builder gets whatever he wants?"
  • Can they sue the town if the board does not agree?
  • "So if the citizens in the surrounding communities have problems with it, that matters not?"
  • "So basically we have no legal recourse - as long as the builders don’t violate any safety rules, the builder can just get its way no matter what?"

Some of Kassawara’s replies were:

  • Classic is a different builder than the ones who went under.
  • Classic is trying to rescue a distressed property and build something rather than have piles of dirt out there.
  • The major controversies were obstructed views, lot sizes and adjacencies, not house sizes.
  • The adjacent HOA’s and landowners in Kingswood and Jackson Creek have been notified of both August hearings.
  • I’ve told Classic about all the hot button items from the previous hearings.
  • The BOT hearing is on Aug. 15 because of the timing of the closing of the property.
  • If Classic meets our review and approval criteria, it will be hard to turn down the project without a specific code or comprehensive plan issue as the basis for rejection without creating a legal problem.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that the trustees should not discuss this any further. Kaiser should be "real cautious about making statements like that," since he will have to vote on this proposal when it comes before him. If the builder meets all of the town’s rules and regulations and Kaiser were to say, "I don’t care, I’m going to turn it down anyway," then he would have subjected the town to potential legal liability from Classic.

Trustees are not supposed to make what is a quasi-judicial decision until they have heard all the evidence at the hearing.

Mayor Travis Easton reported that the strategy that he, Kassawara, and Dominguez had used in making a combined presentation to the Board of County Commissioners on July 28 regarding the new Willow Springs zoning and conceptual plan proposal had gone very well. (See the BOCC article for more details.)

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held on Aug. 15 at 6:30 p.m. in 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 contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, July 27: Board elects new member and Forestry Director

By Harriet Halbig

The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board of directors elected Jim Woodman as its new director of forestry on July 27. Woodman has served on the forestry committee since 2003 and has previously served as director of forestry. He said that he welcomes the challenge of serving on the board during the remainder of Carolyn Streit-Carey’s term because the final months of the year are the time for budgeting and planning for the future.

Homeowners Association Director Matt Beseau reported that he was contacted by El Paso County regarding a corridor study of Highway 105 between Highway 25 and Highway 83 to examine such issues as capacity, safety, and improvements. Vice President Jim Hale said that the board would designate a representative to attend an event on Aug. 2 at Monument Academy to monitor the discussion.

Beseau said that the association’s audit was completed on July 14. Although results have not yet been received, he feels that they will be positive.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association is 3.3 percent below budget on June 30. Asked about a shortfall in revenue, he said that it results in part from fewer vacation checks on homes. Beseau said that new architectural control fees should help.

Director of Covenants Kirstin Reimann reported that there were 130 violations in June, primarily regarding dead trees and slash, trailers parked for longer than 72 hours, and unapproved fences.

Public Safety Director Paul Lambert reported that Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) received 160 calls during June, many involving alarms and open windows and doors. He also said there were more bear sightings in June, but that the animals should now leave the area with the return of better moisture.

Director of Forestry Jim Woodman reported that the previous Firewise grant of $37,500 has now been depleted, benefitting over 40 homeowners. He said that the committee has applied for another grant for 2012. As in the past, homeowners were reimbursed for half the cost of their improvements with a limit of $1,000 reimbursement. In 2012 the limit will be $1,200. We will know in the spring whether the grant has been approved.

Woodman said that the committee has received many questions about dying trees. He said that most have been weakened by mistletoe and killed by the recent drought. He reported that early August is the peak of mountain pine beetle season when homeowners may see new pitch tubes on trees and beetles flying or crawling. It is hoped that the recent rains will help the trees to resist the beetles.

Common Areas Director W. Lee Murray reported that spraying for noxious weeds has been completed and mowing is halfway completed.

Bids are being sought for picnic tables and benches in the common areas, and for the sealing of cracks in the parking lot and walkways around the barn. Windows in the barn have recently been cleaned.

Secretary Craig Gaydos said that the association still requires the return of many more ballots to pass the changes in the Articles of Covenants. The next newsletter will begin the campaign for votes. The association’s website will also encourage homeowners to respond.

A nominating committee for board elections in January has been formed. Members of the committee are Vice President Hale, Liz Miller, and Nick Oakley. The committee is responsible for validating the eligibility of those running for positions on the board.

**********

The board of directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the association’s barn, located at 1691 Woodmoor Dr., in Monument. The next meeting will be held on Aug. 24.

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

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July Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Much needed moisture finally returned to the region after a prolonged dry spell that started early last fall. Precipitation was a little above normal for the month, with most areas receiving three to four inches of rain. This was the result of an almost daily occurrence of thunderstorms around the region associated with the North American Monsoon pattern. Because thunderstorms occur over a short time and affect relatively small areas, the rainfall totals associated with them were highly variable, but overall, everyone benefited from the moisture during the month. Surprisingly, even with the constant clouds and thunderstorms each afternoon, temperatures were still above normal for the month. We did manage to hit 90 degrees one afternoon, with several other days coming very close. Also, with the high levels of moisture around, conditions felt almost muggy at times, something not felt around here very often.

July started off warm and for the most part dry. Temperatures consistently hit the 80’s and even some low 90’s with only a few afternoon and early evening clouds. We did get one afternoon of organized thunderstorms on the July 2. These contained brief heavy rain and some hail as they rolled through from west to east across the area. From July 1 through July 5 each day started off sunny and quiet, with clouds building during the afternoon. This would turn out to be our only dry period during the month.

The North American Monsoon kicked into full swing by the end of the first week of July, with soaking rains on several afternoons and evenings, helping to alleviate the recent drought and lower fire dangers. Unfortunately, the consistently wet and mild conditions did not arrive in earnest until after the Independence Day celebrations, as the first few days of the month were hot and dry. High levels of moisture began to invade the region by July 6, circulating around the Monsoon high over the Southern Plains. This was the fuel for the ever-present rounds of thunderstorms and heavy rain, which developed each day from July 6 through July 10, and gave us a nice start to our summer wet season.

Monsoonal moisture continued to affect the region during the week of July 11, with thunderstorms developing each afternoon and evening. Because the atmosphere contained higher levels of moisture compared to normal and the thunderstorms were fairly slow moving, many areas received heavy rain. The hardest hit region was just north of us in Elbert County, where some locations picked up over five inches of rain in just a few hours on July 12. Most of us around the area received one to three inches during the week. Temperatures remained warm as well; with highs hitting the 80’s each afternoon, except on July 12. The pattern finally began to slightly shift by the end of the week and into the weekend, as the ridge of high pressure that had been over the southern plains shifted over Kansas and eastern Colorado. This helped push the monsoonal moisture plume off to the west over the mountains. As the drier air moved over, the strong July sunshine allowed temperatures to climb even more, hitting the upper 80’s by the end of the weekend. This isn’t too unusual for this time of the year, as the middle to end of July is normally our warmest time of the year.

Warm and wet weather continued to be the story for the week of July 18, as monsoonal moisture returned to the region. High temperatures remained in the 80’s all week, even reaching 90 degrees on July 23. Each day started off sunny and quiet, with clouds building by late morning and early afternoon. Then thunderstorms and rain, sometimes heavy and with small hail, developed during the early and mid afternoons. These storms generally ended around sunset, with the loss of heating and instability once the sun went down. Overall, a very typical mid to late July weather pattern, with us getting more much-needed moisture. Most of us received one to two inches of rain, which was nice.

The last week of the month was more of the same, with higher than normal levels of moisture bringing daily rounds of thunderstorms and brief heavy rain. The pattern began to slightly shift on the last two days of the month, with most of us getting one of our only dry days of the month, since July 5, on July 31.

A Look Ahead

August is the last true "summer" month for the region. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant mornings that turn into afternoon and early evening thunderstorms. Highs during the month range from the mid 80’s at the beginning of the month to mid 70’s at the end. Temperatures at night get more comfortable as well, often dipping into the 40’s, making for better sleeping weather. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm.

July 2011 Weather Statistics

Average High 83.2° (+0.3°) 100-year return frequency value max 87.6° min 75.3°
Average Low 51.9° (+1.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 56.2° min 46.9°
Highest Temperature 90° on the 23rd
Lowest Temperature 41° on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 3.20" (+0.10" 4% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.03" min 0.98"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 3.20" (+0.10" 4% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 10(-19)
Cooling Degree Days 88 (-3)

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and resident of the Tri-Lakes area. 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. For letter guidelines, click here.

Student Key Clubs Accomplished Much Since Transition

The Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge Key Clubs have accomplished a great deal since their transition from Serteen to Key Club one year ago. Both clubs have participated in various community service programs throughout the Tri-Lakes area such as PTO babysitting for elementary schools, Tri-Lakes Cares food packaging, assisting at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, events at the Western Mining Museum, and assistance at the small dog rescue.

In addition, both Key Clubs sponsored various fundraisers to raise money for the Tyler Biggs family, victory boxes in Iraq, Tri-Lakes Cares, tornado victims in the South, and UNICEF. The biggest fundraiser of the year was the Salvation Army bell ringing, in conjunction with the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, which raised over $35,000.

This year the Key Clubs also made an impact on the district level. The Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge Key Clubs sent four members to the District Key Club Convention in Golden, Colo. in April. At the convention, members voted for new district officers and learned new ways to run the club and make a bigger impact in the community. In addition, the Lewis-Palmer Club applied for the Annual Achievement award. The award is a report on all activity within the club in a year. This was a great opportunity to meet other Key Club members from the tri-state district.

Serteen to Key Club has been a learning experience for its members and the surrounding community. The board has found ways to incorporate new Key Club rules and regulations with old traditions. The club will still continue to do events with many local organizations, such as Tri-Lakes Cares, city of Monument, Western Mining Museum, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, and School District 38. The club is currently looking ahead to a new school year and some major events, such as a chili cook-off, homecoming fundraising, and the Empty Bowl dinner.

Jamie Falvo

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Don’t blame the salaries

Our District 38 teachers are saving our community $2.8 million per year if you compare their salary and our student population to other El Paso County school districts.

According to the Colorado Department of Education pupil membership and classroom teacher data, the average teacher salary in El Paso County (without D-38) is $41,021, with an average pupil to teacher ratio of 15.2 students per classroom.

For comparison purposes, the average El Paso County teacher is paid $2,685 per student.

D-38’s average teacher salary is $44,271, with a pupil to teacher classroom ratio of 20 (large class size is a separate problem) or $2,213 per student, well below the county average. In fact, there appear to be only six other schools in the entire state of Colorado with higher classroom pupil to teacher ratios, with most of those in Adams County.

If our 299 D-38 classroom teachers were paid the average El Paso County compensation of $2,685 per student then they would receive an average salary of $53,673 or a total of $2,811,216 more per year than their current compensation.

Unfortunately, another year of D-38 teacher salary freezes was announced at the June school board meeting. Where has the money gone? At least we can say to our classroom teachers, "Thanks for your contributions and your personal excellence in delivering outstanding education to our community schools, in spite of current circumstances" — 2.8 million worth of thanks, to be exact!

By the way, I am not a teacher, and I receive no salary from D-38 or any other financial benefits that might drive my opinion. I just have appreciation for our teachers as members of our extended family.

Gordon Reichal

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Look closer at what’s been "accomplished"

I commend Eric Marter, Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) junior class president, for his well-written op-ed piece that appeared in the Our Community News July 2 issue and his exercising of his First Amendment rights. This application of his rights and duties as a citizen makes his former civics teacher proud, and he is a fine example of a District 38 high school student getting involved in the politics of our community.

D-38 Board of Education Treasurer Mark Pfoff also wrote a letter in the same issue. He may be too young to remember the Republican warning of the power of the "silent majority" from 1969. The few often have to speak for the many. The numbers presented by these writers are from public documents. Direction 38 supports our community and our schools, and it is our goal to obtain the same quality leadership that we find in the district’s staff and stakeholders.

What has been accomplished under this school board’s purview? A reconfiguration that has yet to be proven sound; a money-wasting search for a superintendent; the opening of PRHS without the funds to operate it, causing the ongoing teacher pay freeze; the payout of previous superintendents without divulging the reason or rationale for such; the extending of superintendent contracts for more than one year; ignoring staff and community surveys; low teacher morale; haphazardly experimenting with policy governance; and ultimately, no long-term plan, fiscal or otherwise.

Mr. Pfoff’s charge that we should only focus on the positive is like our Founding Fathers refusing to write the Declaration of Independence because they listed the grievances (negatives) against King George III. It was that same group of "Negative Nellies" that created our Constitution and provided us with a brand-new form of government of the people, by the people, and for the people who are duty-bound to dissent.

Stephen Boyd

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Last Lazy Days of Summer Reading

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Summer is winding down, and it’s time to take that last family vacation, plan a weekend getaway, or maybe just enjoy an afternoon in the hammock or by the pool. We’ve selected some books that could be ideal companions for those outings.

French Lessons
By Ellen Sussman (Ballantine Books) $15.00

A single day in Paris changes the lives of three Americans as they each set off to explore the city with a French tutor, learning about language, love, and loss as their lives intersect in surprising ways. The three have come to the City of Light for different reasons: Josie, to heal a broken heart; Riley, an expat housewife trying to belong; and Jeremy, husband of a renowned actress, who feels distant from her world. In the intimate, winding streets and grand boulevards of Paris they come to better understand themselves.

Bruno, Chief of Police
By Martin Walker (Vintage Books) $14.95

A policeman in a small village in the South of France, Bruno enjoys the pleasures and slow rhythms of country life. Most of his police work involves helping local farmers to avoid paying E.U. inspectors fines. But then the murder of an elderly North African who fought in the French army changes all that. Bruno must balance his beloved routines with an investigation that opens wounds from the dark years of Nazi occupation, and he soon discovers that even his seemingly perfect corner of the world is not exempt from France’s past.

The Cookbook Collector
By Allegra Goodman (Dial Press) $15.00

Emily and Jessamine Bach are opposites in every way: Emily is a CEO and Jess is an environmental activist. Pragmatic Emily is making a fortune in Silicon Valley; romantic Jess works in an antiquarian bookstore. Emily is rational and driven, while Jess is dreamy and whimsical. Emily’s boyfriend is fantastically successful; Jess’s boyfriends, not so much. This is a delicious novel about appetite, temptation, and holding on to what is real in a virtual world: love that stays.

The Tiger
By John Vaillant (Vintage Books) $15.00

Outside a remote village in Russia’s Far East, a man-eating tiger is on the prowl. A team of trackers is dispatched to hunt down this cunning, injured, starving tiger before it strikes again. As Vaillant re-creates these extraordinary events, he gives us an unforgettable and masterful work of narrative nonfiction that combines a riveting portrait of a stark and mysterious region of the world and its people, with the natural history of nature’s most deadly predator. This is a gripping true story of man pitted against nature’s most fearsome and efficient predator.

Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes
By Elizabeth Bard (Back Bay Books) $13.99

This is the story of a young woman caught up in two passionate affairs—one with her new beau, and the other with French cuisine. On a weekend visit to Paris, Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman—and never went home again. Over the years, she progressed from a kitchen novice intimidated by the French language and Paris’s hectic markets to an adventurous shopper and experimental cook comfortable mixing French, American and other techniques. With its mouthwatering recipes, Bard’s memoir is an irresistible adventure.

Too Rich For A Bride
By Mona Hodgson (Waterbrook Press) $13.99

Ida Sinclair has joined her sisters in the untamed mining town of Cripple Creek for one reason: to work for the infamous but undeniably successful businesswoman Mollie O’Bryan. Ida’s sisters may be interested in making a match for their determined older sister, but Ida only wants to build her career. Shrugging off "suggestions" that young ladies don’t belong in business, Ida learns to play the stock market and is proud of her accomplishments. Fighting for respect in a man’s world, her ambition leaves little room for distractions, such as her two suitors or questions about Mollie’s business practices. Will it take unexpected love—or unexpected danger—for Ida to realize where her priorities lie?

Relish these last lazy days of summer, and don’t forget to pack a paperback to make those outings even more fun. Until next month, happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Wren: Troglodytes

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: A drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Wrens.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

I’ve always considered the wren to be the Napoleon of the bird world, because it’s a small energetic bird with a big attitude. Short in stature and pudgy, it holds its head high and points its tail upward as though it is ready to conquer the world.

Range and Characteristics

Many wren species and subspecies are found across the country. There are four wren species found on the Palmer Divide: house, rock, Brewick’s, and canyon. Most wrens are less than five inches in length but the canyon wren is bigger at about six inches. Males and females look similar and are generally grayish brown on top and buff underneath. Wrens have a subtle stripe at the end of their short, covert wings, an eye ring, an eyebrow, a thin slightly down-turned beak, and pink legs. For me, the feature that distinguishes a wren from other little brown birds is a tail that tilts up and a perky song, which is only heard during mating season.

Nesting

Wrens will nest almost anywhere including nest boxes, old woodpecker holes, flower pots, and other unusual places, like in the pocket of a scarecrow. Wrens often return to the same territory each season. Every spring my husband Randy hikes the Monument Preserve to look for nesting wrens along his favorite trail and every year he finds them in the same box and tree.

Mating

Males arrive a week or two earlier in the seasonal nesting area than the females and in these few days as bachelors they build several nests to show the females when they arrive. Females inspect the nests of several males before choosing a mate. Once a pair bonds it remains monogamous for at least one breeding season. One has to wonder why the male spends so much time building nests. Oddly enough, the pair then abandons the nests built by the male and together they choose a new location where the female then builds a nest.

Friend or Fiend?

Many birders discourage wrens from nesting in their yards because of the fierce tactics these little birds use to defend their territory. A single wren can wreck havoc on other birds by poking holes in eggs, destroying nests, and filling bird boxes with debris. One day I stopped by my friend Ruth Ann Steels’ ranch and found this otherwise sweet diminutive lady in distress. A wren had gone down her line of bluebird boxes and poked a single hole in every egg. She was beside herself. Given that she had at least 20 boxes, it is a safe bet that more than 60 eggs were destroyed. I shared her grief.

Decline in Nesting Birds

Last month I received emails from a number of readers who were concerned that they were not seeing birds nesting on the Divide. Hermann Spielkamp, who maintains bird boxes at his home north of Palmer Lake, was concerned that the cold spring may have discouraged migrating birds from nesting. He also hikes the Monument Preserve and noted a decline there, adding that the prairie falcon was not nesting on top of Monument Rock. He said that in years past he has checked the boxes in the Preserve and found that 20 percent were occupied by bluebirds, 40 percent by tree swallows, and the remainder by chickadees, nuthatches, and wrens. He was concerned because this year while the birds were looking, few had set up nests. He told me that he grew up in Germany where as a youth he banded birds and explored migratory birding trails. He said he wasn’t an expert and asked for my advice.

In my opinion, anyone who keeps nesting records and has banded birds is an expert. Birds are my passion. I enjoy watching them, learning about them, and sharing my enthusiasm. But I’m not an expert, so when I’m asked questions like this I consult Ken Pals.

Ken said that many species of migratory birds arrived two weeks late this spring due to the cold, dry, weird spring weather. He added that bluebirds were already stressed due to the unusually dry conditions in their winter habitat of northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. No doubt that historic drought conditions and wildfires in the winter habitat, as well as weird spring and summer weather have contributed to this year’s lower rates of breeding birds in the Pikes Peak region. Ken suggested that when birds are already stressed from natural conditions, the lack of available food and predators like house cats, further contribute to decline. That’s why readers like Wayne Huckaby who maintain nesting boxes, feeders, and watering stations are especially important for birds this year.

Recovery

I was relieved when Ken said that birds are resilient, and even though the numbers are down this year, as conditions improve most birds will recover. He cited the lark bunting, our state bird. A few years ago when the eastern plains of Colorado experienced a long drought, the lark bunting moved north to nest in Wyoming and Montana. When conditions improved in Colorado, it returned. Ken was confident that birds would return again to nest here and said that records like Spielkamp’s were very important for measuring variations in populations of nesting birds.

Birding Opportunity

Last month I reported that bird-watching was the fastest growing sport. For those who have recently taken up this sport and are looking for ways to improve, I highly recommend Ken Pals birding classes where he discusses some of the more than 400 birds found here and leads field trips to find them. The next class begins Thursday evening, August 18. There are three evening classes and three Saturday morning field trips to great birding locations. If interested email, Ken at mtnpals@q.com or call 499-4471.

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

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Art Matters: So many artful events, so little time!

By Janet Sellers

One of my favorite things about our Tri-Lakes area is that, besides beaucoup creative, friendly people and our lakes, mountains and forests, we can walk or ride a bike just about anyplace in our community from home and get to some place with first rate art enrichment, music or just plain family fun.

I invite visitors and friends from Manitou to Denver here for our Art Hop, and they fall in love with the cool evening breezes while they meet artists, merchants and other "local tourists." Sometimes it’s hard to get them to leave the evening jazz at Retrospect (ooh, the Delta Sonics coming up for August!) or the authors at Covered Treasures Bookstore, to continue to other Art Hop venues. Luckily, the Art Hop is May through September, so it calls them back to Tri-Lakes often.

Some of the merchants that have beautiful, yet non-traditional, spaces for fine art bring in artists for our Art Hop season, including these three next-door neighbors on Washington Street. Here are their offerings for our August 18 Art Hop:

Luna Hair Studio and Spa (267 Washington St.) will showcase two Front Range artists. Lisa Bird is a botanic illustrator and artist with a focus on native plants. A native of Colorado Springs, she is committed to preserving Colorado’s natural flora on paper and in the landscape. Lorry Frederick is a jewelry designer and metal smith. All of her designs are one-of-a-kind and handmade.

Margo‘s on the Alley (253 Washington St.) will showcase Sharon DeWeese, an artist fascinated with color and shape through many mediums reflecting her love of nature, animals, and the human condition.

Crafty Laine (273 Washington St.) showcases Wendy Brightbill, a local mixed media artist. She combines her love of stitching, painting and collages in all of her pieces. In addition, Crafty Laine will be celebrating its one-year anniversary with tasty treats and refreshments.

July and August have brought us weekly, if not daily, art fun this summer. From the daily studio fun at Create a Memory Studio and the monthly Art Hops in historic Monument (third Thursdays all summer, historic Monument, the "art central of town") to the Palmer Lake area’s ongoing art shows and events at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), and to the south/east end of our readership at Southwinds Art Gallery (August 27-28, corner of Baptist and Roller Coaster Rds), we’ve had a summer of art enrichment and we’ve only just begun.

Alas, Create a Memory Studio will close mid-August, so if you have a hankering to get some make-and-take art, head over there pronto! The kilns will have a last firing mid-August, so the clay and glass firings will be done in time to pick them up. They are moving back to Idaho, where Suzanne will continue her joy of sharing art with children and adults. It’s been a nice "stay-cation" and art party place for our community, so we’ll be sad to see them move. Hopefully, there will be a similarly fun art zone with us in the near future, so let’s get out the word!

This summer, art exhibits and sales at TLCA favor the figure as art. Robert Grey had the whole Lucy Owens Gallery to himself and that was a treat for July. And a Colorado Springs artist group, the Modern Bohemian Collective ("ModBo" for short), offered the entire big gallery space filled with mostly figurative works of their many artists.

Artist, mentor and ModBo Gallery owner, Brett Andrus curated the show. This diverse group included recent oil paintings of Lorelei Beckstrom, a co-owner and tour de force of the former Rubbish Gallery. The TLCA film crew created a video presentation of the opening night, which you can view online here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnYY-mOvCas&feature=feedu

Coming up in August is the "I am Woman" group showcase of women artists at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts with the opening reception Sat., Aug., 6 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. The show runs August 2-27. TCLA is located at 304 Hwy 105, Palmer Lake, Colo.

One of the featured artists for the show is Sarah Boardman. Boardman’s recent commission, which is of President Obama, now hangs in the Denver State Capitol Building Rotunda Gallery of Presidents, as of May 2011. It was presented with military honors. Boardman won the commission after a nation-wide call for artists. The portrait was finished at the end of April and dedicated before the 2011 legislative session ended in May.

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

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Sunny Weather and Creative Artists Bring Out Art Hoppers

Photos by David Futey

Below: Alexandra Elliott displays some of her cupcake creations on the back patio of Bella Casa. Elliot is owner of Mya Bella Cupcakes, which has won Best of the Springs for cupcakes two years in a row. Information on her business, which caters for weddings, anniversaries and other special events, is at www.MyaBellaCupcakes.com.

Below: At Covered Treasure Bookstore, authors Eleanor Brown (left) and Sarah Ockler (right) autographed their new publications. Brown recently published The Weird Sisters, a coming of age story about three grown sisters returning home. Ockler recently published Fixing Delilah and Twenty Boy Summer, both are young adult novels about a mother-daughter relationship and how death impacts life, respectively.

Below: Margo Csintyan, owner of Margo’s on the Alley, watches John DeFrancesco paint a miniature canvas in front of the new location for her shop. Margo’s is now located at 253 Washington St. in Monument. Information on Margo’s is at www.margosonthealley.com.

Below: At The Bead Corner, owner Elaine Teevens (center) is shown with jewelry artists (left to right) Gwen Johns, Sarah Jacobs, Kate Gallagher, and Audrey Nix. Jacobs, Gallagher, and Nix are members of Friends, Lifelong learning skills and You (FLY), a vocational program for individuals with developmental disabilities. In a joint venture, The Bead Corner provides jewelry materials while FLY members work with staff to design and make bracelets, necklaces, and other jewelry. A portion of the jewelry sales goes to fund recreational and social programs for FLY members. Information on The Bead Corner is at www.beadcorneronline.com.

Below: Luna Hair Studio & Spa owner Rachel McClintock (left) is shown with artist Janet Sellers. Sellers displayed a variety of works at the studio including three paintings of her daughter Claire Dauwe, including the one seen behind McClintock and Sellers. Information on Luna is at www.lunahairandspa.com.

Below: Dimensional appliqué artist Barbara Broshous (left) holds up one of her creations with Crafty Laine owner Angie McKearin. Dimensional appliqué is a quilting technique where items are created and then sewn into a flat, quilted background. Information on Crafty Laine is at craftylaine.com.

Below: At Retrospect Dry Goods visitors viewed the eclectic artwork of Gary Weston. Information on Retrospect is at www.retrodrygoods.com.

By Dave Futey

After a brief afternoon shower cleared on July 21, the sun and visitors of the July Art Hop appeared on the sidewalks of Monument. Visitors sampled food, a variety of music, and art at 17 locations in the downtown Monument area. The Art Hop is held the third Thursday of each month through September. Information about the Art Hop is at www.monumentarthop.org.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Independence Day Festivities

Barn Dance

Photos by David Futey

Below: On July 2, Dorothy and Si Sibell began Fourth of July activities in the Tri-Lakes Area with their annual Barn Dance. The dance acts as a fundraiser for area charities including Wounded Warrior USA, represented by (far right) Bill Miller, Marian House, the Crawford House, and Tri-Lakes Cares. Wounded Warrior USA, a Colorado non-profit, offers Fort Carson soldiers guided fishing trips to area lakes as part of their rehabilitation and transition from service. For more information visit:

www.woundedwarriorusa.com
www.marionhouse.org
www.cvrc-crawfordhouse.org
www.tri-lakescares.org

Right: Reckless provided the musical entertainment for the Sibell Barn Dance on July 2. The band played a mix of hits that drew dancers onto the straw-covered dance floor.

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Fun Run

Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

Over 620 runners greeted the morning of July 4 for the annual Fun Run; an impressive turnout for an event that began 30 years ago with only 40 runners. The four-mile race takes runners on the Santa Fe Trail from Palmer Lake to Monument. Among the racers was Debby Harkness of Austin, Texas who has participated in all 30 Fun Runs. Harkness is a performer at the Renaissance Festival, which occurs at the same time each year as the race. Dr. David Jones, DDS of Monument and the organizer of the first Fun Run, was also in attendance. The race is sponsored by Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) with proceeds going to the Palmer Lake Elementary Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). PTO President Melissa Mattea said that the "school is very appreciative of the support the race receives." Mattea also said that funds raised from the race typically assist with the purchase of classroom technologies.

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

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Pancake Breakfast

Photo by David Futey

By David Futey

Prior to the start of the Fourth of July Parade, parade-goers had the opportunity to sample a breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and sausages prepared by members of the St. Peters Knights of Columbus (KofC) at St. Peters Church. Tim Walter, a former Grand Knight, coordinated the breakfast and received assistance from 40 volunteers, including servers and cooks. Walter said the KofC, in collaboration with the Monument Hill Kiwanis, provided a free breakfast to over 40 soldiers who participated in the main parade. Proceeds from the breakfast went to Children’s Ark and Tri-Lakes Cares.

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

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Children’s Parade

Photos by David Futey

Below: Children and their parents anxiously wait for the Fourth of July Children’s Parade to begin.

Below: Cub Scout Den 4, Pack 67 leads the way for the Fourth of July Children’s Parade.

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Snapshots of the Parade

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Concerts in the Park conclude in July

Below: June 29: Jody Adams and the String Dudes This is the 11th year for the popular concert series. Photo by David Futey

Below: July 13: Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpin. Photo by David Futey

Below: July 20: Tri-Lakes favorite and Palmer Lake resident Chuck Pyle performed. He was accompanied by Gordon Burt on fiddle. Photo by David Futey

Below: July 27: The U.S. Air Force Academy Band Wild Blue Country members (left to right): Msgt. Stephen Brannen, Tech Sgt. Tim Stombaugh, Tech Sgt Jeff Valentine, and Sr Msgt. Jerome Oddo. Photo by Candice Hitt

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Western-themed whodunit at the TLCA

Photos by David Futey

Below: Cast members of the MapCap Mysteries prepare to engage TLCA audience members with the whodunit case, Murder on the Pony Express.

Below: Bronco Charlie, played by Craig Ketels, and Edna Fry, played by Jamie Case, provide audience members with clues to the murder mystery that is about to unfold.

By David Futey

MapCap Mysteries returned to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) on July 15 with Murder on the Pony Express. The storyline for the evening’s performance centered around a new Pony Express station opening in Soapweed, Colo. and the unsavory characters invited to the event. Guests at each table were setup as teams to guess who committed murder. While trying to solve the mystery audience members were served a western-style dinner by the staff of Pinecrest. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org.

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Native American Festival and Powwow in Palmer Lake

Photos by David Futey

Below: Michael Nicosia, chaplain at the University of Colorado Hospital, played Native American selections on his flute.

Below:  The Black Tongue Dakota drummers set the beat for the powwow dancers.

Below: Dancers of all ages demonstrated various Native American dance styles.

By David Futey

On July 16, the Second Annual Palmer Lake Native American Inter-Tribal Festival and Traditional Powwow was held at Palmer Lake’s Centennial Park. The festival included Native American drummers, dancers, food vendors serving fry bread and Native American tacos, arts and crafts vendors, and information booths from organizations such as the Colorado Hawking Club, the Rocky Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary, and One Nation Walking Together. Elvira Sweetwater organized the powwow,. The festival was sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society, the Colorado Springs Indian Center, and One Nation Walking Together.

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

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July and August Library Events: Summer Reading Ends, make way for the Ice Cream Social

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Young patrons Daniel Smith, Sra Rose Smith, Joshua Smith, and Luke Wetterer rode in the Independence Day Parade.

Below: Cast members receive final instructions at dress rehearsal. In the foreground are narrater Hannah Nuss, Child of Music Jenna Huckstep and Elena Salgado, who played Alex.

Below: African dancers in the Power of Music play at the Summer Reading wrap-up party.

Below: the finale of the play was an impressive sight.

By Harriet Halbig

July was a lively time at the library, beginning with our participation in the Independence Day parade in Monument, accompanied by some young patrons and Friends of the Library.

There were many special programs for toddlers to teens in conjunction with the summer reading program. In the Tri-Lakes area by July 21, almost 1,800 children and almost 800 teens had registered for the program.

A big thank you goes out to our teen volunteers for their tireless help in registering patrons, awarding prizes and helping with program preparation. Their help was invaluable, right through the summer reading party, where they assisted with crafts, food, and various activities.

The summer reading wrap-up party on July 26 was a great gala, with a drum program featuring Bob Hall and members of the Kusogea Nobi Drum Ensemble and an original play, "The Power of Music" by Libby Theune, starring our young patrons. Attendees could meet the Air Force Academy falcon, learn how to operate a fire hose, watch dog agility training, master the hula hoop, get their face or hair painted, and other fun activities. Many thanks to the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library for their help and sponsorship and to the Lewis Palmer school district for allowing us to party at Palmer Ridge High School once again.

As the start of school approaches, the Tri-Lakes Libraries have one more celebration for the community. The annual Ice Cream Social will take place on Sat., Aug. 6 from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall and on the Village Green. Held in cooperation with the annual Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Assembly, the ice cream social offers free ice cream and toppings accompanied by barbershop singing from the Daytime Singers of the America the Beautiful Chorus. In honor of our seniors, families are encouraged to bring their elders. This event is made possible by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library.

Beginning Aug. 1, the schedule at the library will revert to normal with children’s story time on Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m., except on Aug. 16 when we will celebrate Dewey’s birthday at 10:30 a.m.. Toddler Time will continue on Thursday mornings at 10:15 and 10:45 a.m. Thursday afternoon story and craft have come to an end until next summer.

Dewey’s Aug. 16 birthday party at 10:30 a.m. is a big event for admirers of our celebrity fish. There will be fish stories and crafts and an impressive birthday cake to share.

On Aug. 19 the Monumental Readers will discuss "Sarah’s Key" by Tatiana de Rosnay at 10 a.m. All patrons are welcome to attend.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Sat., Aug. 20 from 1-5 p.m. This is a refresher course for drivers age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the 4-hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited, and registration is required.

In August, the walls feature works by local artists with Art Over 50. In the display case, will be Cranes for Japan, origami creations by teen patrons to express support for Japan’s tsunami victims.

Palmer Lake Events

The family fun event at Palmer Lake in August will be the Ice Cream Social on Aug. 6, described above.

To increase confidence and fluency, children are invited to participate in Paws to Read, the chance to read to a calm and friendly dog and receive a prize. Misty, a tiny sheltie, will be at the library on Thurs., Aug. 11 from 4:30 until 5:30 p.m. Kirby, a gentle golden retriever, will be at the library on Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. until noon.

Every Wednesday through Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. until noon, bring your knitting project and enjoy the company of fellow knitters at the Palmer Lake Knitting Group. Beginning on Aug. 25, the group will change their meeting day to Thursdays at the same time. Cheri Monsen, expert knitter, will be there to answer questions. Call 481-2587 for more information.

On Sept. 2 at 9 a.m. the Palmer Lake Book Group will discuss "Work Song" by Ivan Doig. New members are always welcome.

On the walls patrons can view new works from Expressions of Beauty-Shared, photography by Laurisa Rabins.

We hope to see you at the library!

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, July 21

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below (L to R): Peter Blaney, Jim Sawatzki, Richard Cooper, Jim Maguire, and Hans Post. Post presents the catalog, compiled by the Society members, to Jim Maguire. It consists of all the Americana and farming implements collected by Jim Maguire and his wife Donna. Tours can be arranged by calling Maguire at 488-3232.

Below: Retired Army 1st Lt. Robert Keiss, one of the last commissioned officers to serve with the 4th Battery Battalion pack mules at Fort Carson. Keiss presented a historical overview of the pack mules and their stories to the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

By Bernard L. Minetti

The July meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society opened with a presentation by member Hans Post. He stated that circa 2005, some members of the Palmer Lake Historical Society decided to begin cataloging the large collection of agricultural and historical artifacts collected by Jim and Donna Maguire. Between 2005 and 2010, several members worked together to coordinate the project of photographing and describing the artifacts located at the Maguire property at Knollwood and State Road 105 on the east side of Monument.

Post expressed thanks and admiration to all involved in the actual work of preserving this collection on paper and in the hundreds of photographs. He noted that Richard Cooper photographed many items and Aimee Koster placed the information and photos in a museum-type database identifying the items with correct nomenclature. Others involved in the project, besides Post, were local historian Jim Sawatzki, Peter Blaney, and Linda Kirby. Post said that over 1,800 photographs had been taken and captioned and in the end the actual catalogue comprised 600 pages. He presented a copy of the catalogue to Jim Maguire and thanked him for allowing the work to be done.

Post also mentioned that in listening to Maguire’s vivid descriptions about the uses of many of the items, they gained a working knowledge of the implements utilized by the pioneer farmers and others who came west in the early days of settling and exploring the plains.

Maguire noted that anyone, including school classes, interested in touring the items located on his property might call him for an appointment at 719-488-3232.

Retired Army 1st Lt. Robert Keiss then gave a presentation describing the waning days of the Fort Carson mule pack. He was one of the officers assigned to the 4th Battery Battalion Pack during its final days. He described how the Army utilized the mules as pack mules in transporting the boxes of parts needed to set up and utilize the 75 mm Pack Howitzer M1 cannon.

Keiss further described that the unit had its origin in the Civil War times and consisted of 400 pack mules and 26 horses. Each mule, he noted, had its own packsaddle customized for a perfect fit. This allowed each animal to carry up to 400 pounds of equipment without chafing or sores. Much of the training was accomplished at Fort Hale, which was established in 1942 in the Leadville area at 10,000 feet above sea level. The mules packed to and from the camp each year, a one-way distance of 200 miles. This camp provided a high-altitude training environment for weapons, animals, and the soldiers assigned there.

Keiss concluded by noting that helicopters had now replaced the mules. The units known as the Mule Pack Artillery and Quartermaster Pack Units were deactivated in 1956. Most of the mules resided on the Fort Carson reservation for the rest of their lives.

Lynne Manzer then announced that the Chautauqua project, which would occur the weekend of Aug. 5-7 in Palmer Lake, was still in need of additional help. She noted that Chautauqua begins on Friday, Aug. 5, at Pinecrest just east of Palmer Lake at 6 p.m. The evening will include food, singing, storytelling, and square dancing. The next day’s events include hiking local trails, exhibits, seminars, and demonstrations covering topics like beekeeping, jewelry making, creating train exhibits, and flower arranging. The now famous vintage baseball teams will play each other at 11 a.m.

On Sunday, Aug. 7, the day will begin at 8:30 a.m. with a "History Tramp" through Glen Park led by Jim Sawatzki. At 10:30 a.m. there will be a religious service at the Pinecrest Chapel led by Bill Story. These events will be followed by an infantry reenactment, a Native American teaching lodge, a performance from the Colorado City Town Band, and various animal exhibits. The concluding event will be the Ft. Carson Mounted Honor Guard and a cavalry demonstration. Manzer emphasized that they could still use volunteers at all the events. Just present yourself to anyone involved with the Chautauqua as a new volunteer. Your help, she stated, would be invaluable.

The next Palmer Lake Historical Society event will be on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The presentation that evening is entitled, "The Walls Talk: Historic House Museums of Colorado." Doris Baker will discuss highlights of Patricia Werner’s travel guide to 37 of Colorado’s historic house museums. She will describe museum sites such as the Molly Brown house in Denver, the Jack Dempsey Cabin in Manassa, and the Hedlund house in Hugo. Each museum in Werner’s book was an actual dwelling place that is now open to the public. There are descriptions of the history and architecture of each house and the people who lived there, bringing to life their stories and lives. She will also talk about famous Coloradoans such as Baby Doe and Horace Tabor. The program is free and open to the general public.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Stage I Fire Restrictions lifted for unincorporated El Paso County

Effective immediately, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa has lifted the Stage I Fire Restrictions for unincorporated El Paso County that have been in place since June 16. Sheriff Maketa thanks the citizens for their cooperation in helping to keep El Paso County safe during the restriction period, which included the July 4th holiday. He also urges everyone to continue to use caution to avoid the possibility of an out-of-control wildland fire. In spite of the recent precipitation, the fire danger still exists and could increase should the hot and dry conditions return. Fire officials will continue to monitor fuels, weather, and the number of human-caused outside fires to determine when the restrictions may be needed again.

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The 2011 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua, Aug. 6-7

The Palmer Lake Historical Society presents the 2011 Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua Aug. 6-7, in and around Palmer Lake. Dress up in period clothing if you have it and help make history come alive. All activities are free. Look for schedules of events at area businesses and libraries. For more information, visit www.palmerdividehistory.org or call 661-1167.

Aug. 6 Activities

Walks/Hikes from Library/Town Square (Appropriate footwear, sunscreen, and water suggested for walks/hikes.)

    9-10:30 a.m., Nature Walk led by Sally Green
    9-10:30 a.m., Hike (steep, uphill) to Lower Reservoir w/Lucretia Vaile (Cathleen Norman)
    3-4:30 p.m., History Tramp through Palmer Lake led by Jim Sawatzki

Village Green & Town Hall Activities

    11 a.m.-3 p.m., Demonstrations and miniature train exhibit
    1:30-3 p.m., Ice Cream Social & America the Beautiful Chorus
    2-3 p.m., Pinecrest: an Historic Perspective by Rev Mead
    Palmer Lake Gazebo & Field Activities
    11 a.m.-1 p.m., Vintage Baseball Game (www.cvbba.org), hot dogs & Coke for sale by Palmer Lake VFD
    11 a.m.-3 p.m., Third Colorado Cavalry Regiment Encampment, Native American Teaching Lodge, Colorado City Town Band, animal exhibits

Aug. 7 Activities

    8:30-10 a.m., History Tramp thru Glen Park led by Jim Sawatzki (Meet at Library/Town Square, wear appropriate footwear)
    10:30-11:30 a.m., Sunday Service (Pinecrest Chapel, Bill Story presiding)
    11 a.m.-3 p.m., Palmer Lake Gazebo & Field: Third Colorado Cavalry Regiment Encampment, Native American Teaching Lodge, Colorado City Town Band, animal exhibits
    2-2:45 p.m., Ft. Carson Mounted Honor Guard at the Gazebo & Field
    2:45-3 p.m., Closing Ceremonies at the Gazebo

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Upcoming Fall Volunteer Opportunities at Pikes Peak Library District (PPLD)

PPLD offers a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, both short term and long term, for adults and teens. For details, visit ppld.org, click ‘jobs,’ then the ‘volunteers’ tab. For more information, call 531-6333, x1251.

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El Paso County seeks public input through five-minute online survey

El Paso County is in the process of updating its Strategic Plan that includes the vision, mission, values, goals, strategies and objectives of the county to be completed from 2012-2016. To assist with the Strategic Plan update El Paso County is conducting a citizen engagement survey which takes approximately five minutes to complete. It includes questions such as, "Do you feel you’re receiving a good value for your County taxes?" and "How would you rate El Paso County as a place to live?" The survey results will be used to help develop County objectives for the next five years. The survey link is available on the El Paso County website: www.elpasoco.com.

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Library District accepting applications for Board of Trustees Member

Citizens interested in serving on Pikes Peak Library District’s Board of Trustees may now apply for a vacancy on the board. The Pikes Peak Library District Board of Trustees is a seven-member volunteer board responsible for setting library policies, setting the library’s budget, and hiring an executive director to oversee the operation of the library district. The term of office is five years, and will begin Jan. 1, 2012. Board members are appointed jointly by the Colorado Springs City Council and El Paso County Commissioners. Applications are available at PPLD’s website at ppld.org (scroll down under ‘What’s New’) and must be postmarked by noon, Aug. 12. For more information, call PPLD Executive Director Paula Miller, 531-6333, x2010.

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Monument Hill Foundation accepting grant applications, Aug. 15-Oct. 1

The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Its mission is to serve as a resource for the Club in providing financial support to the Tri-Lakes community of northern El Paso County and its youth. Grant recipients have included District 38 special needs children, Tri-Lakes Cares, the Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference, and the Emily Griffith Center, to name just a few. Requests for grants may be made Aug. 15-Oct. 1. To request a grant, visit monumenthillfoundation.org and click ‘Grants’ on the menu on the left. For additional information, e-mail williamkaelin@gmail.com.

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"Get Educated" Summer Series–Public School Education Forum 3–Building Community Relations, Part 2, Aug. 16

All are welcome to this informative event Aug. 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School Cafeteria, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. DIRECTION 38! Citizens for Successful Schools sponsors this summer series on public schools. Discussion will be led by State Rep. Amy Stephens, State Board of Education Rep. Paul Lundeen, and Charter School Institute Executive Director Mark Hyatt. Panel Experts include County Commissioners Peggy Littleton and Darryl Glenn, Monument Mayor Travis Easton, C.S. Chamber of Commerce President David Csintyan, D-38 Superintendent John Borman, D-20 Superintendent Mark Hatchell, D-12 Superintendent Walt Cooper, GOAL Academy Director of Strategic Growth Randy DeHoff, CDE Assistant Commissioner Leanne Emm, D-20 Chief Financial Officer Tom Gregory, and Independence Institute Director of CO Transparency Project Amy Oliver Cooke. For more information, visit www.lpd38.org.

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Volunteer Needed For El Paso County Juvenile Community Review Board

The County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as at-large members on the Juvenile Community Review Board. Applications for the open positions are due by Sep. 6. The El Paso County Juvenile Community Review Board reviews the case files of juveniles and makes decisions regarding residential community placement. At-large members are appointed for 3-year terms and may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. The volunteer application is located at elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, visit elpasoco.com or call 520-6436.

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Slash and Mulch season ends in September

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

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

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Handbell ringers needed

Handbell ringers are needed to play in the Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir. Experienced preferred, adult or high school. If interested, please contact Betty Jenik, 488-3853.

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Attention artists and crafters

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

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