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Vol. 12 No. 1 - January 7, 2012


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Yule Log tradition Dec. 11 marks the spirit of Christmas

Photos by David Futey.

Below: At the annual Yule Log Hunt in Palmer Lake Dec. 11, the finder of the log, Andrew Leidenberger, is pulled on the Yule Log. Yule Log hunters take turns pulling the log with riders from the Glen to the Town Hall.

Below: Bagpiper Sam Swancutt entertained Yule Loggers prior to the event and led the march down to the Glen for the hunt.

Below: Yule Log hunters make their way from the Palmer Lake Town Hall to the Glen.

Below: Yule Log hunters scatter once the trumpet sounds to announce the beginning of the hunt.

Below: Yule Log hunters pull the log, with riders on it, from the Glen back to Town Hall.

Below: Kurt Voelker assists 10-year-old Andrew Leidenberger in cutting the 2011 Yule Log that Leidenberger found in the Glen. Part of the 2011 Yule Log is burned with the 2010 Yule Log and the remainder is saved to be burned with the 2012 Yule Log.

Below: A portion of the 2011 Yule Log is brought into the Town Hall and burned with the remainder of the 2010 Yule Log in the Town Hall fireplace. This process provides a legacy back to the first Yule Log burned in 1933.

By David Futey

On Dec. 11, the Tri-Lakes community celebrated the 78th anniversary of the Yule Log Ceremony. The ceremony started in 1933 and has occurred every year except for the World War II years. The log is hidden somewhere in the Glen at least a week before the hunt. It is identified by a red ribbon and a specific notch cut.

The "hunters," most wearing capes, assemble at the Palmer Lake Town Hall and make their way to the Glen. Once in position and given the parameters as to where the log was hidden, a trumpet sounds the beginning of the hunt. To add a bit of difficulty, "imposter" logs are sometimes placed to throw the hunters off the track.

The finder of the 2011 Yule Log was 10-year-old Palmer Lake resident Andrew Leidenberger. His technique was to follow tracks that he discovered in the snow. He found the log buried in snow, having to rub off the snow to find the ribbon. Once ropes were attached to the log, Leidenberger and others were given a ride on the log all the way from the Glen to the Town Hall.

At the Town Hall, the Yule Log is cut in half, with one half burned with the remainder of the 2010 Yule Log in the Town Hall fireplace. The remaining half is saved to be burned with half of the 2012 Yule Log. After the burning of the log begins, all the hunters enjoy a glass of wassail to celebrate the holiday season and as an expression of goodwill to the Pikes Peak region.

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

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Town Hall meeting Nov. 12 and NEPCO meeting Nov. 19: Local County Commissioner Glenn meets with residents

Below: County Commissioner Darryl Glenn at the NEPCO meeting Nov. 19. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn made presentations and discussed issues with residents at a Town Hall meeting at the Woodmoor Improvement Association Barn on Nov. 12 and at the Nov. 19 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO). Glenn is the commissioner for District 1, which includes all of the Tri-Lakes area, the U.S. Air Force Academy, and Black Forest. At the Town Hall meeting Nov. 12, Glenn was assisted by County Engineer Andre Brackin.

Some highlights of the presentations by Glenn and Brackin and responses to questions:

Capital improvement projects—roads and stormwater control

  • County capital improvement projects completed in 2011 included Timberview Filing 2 subdivision acceptance in which the county had to call upon a letter of credit posted by the developer to complete the required drainage improvements.
  • Another project completed in 2011 was installation of a guardrail on the north side of Highway 105 near the Monument Academy Charter School.
  • The ongoing project to implement safety improvements to Hodgen Road between Highway 83 and Black Forest Road is being funded with $13.1 million from the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA).
  • Planning is underway for safety and drainage improvements estimated to cost $1.85 million at the intersection of Black Forest Road and Burgess Road. So far, $800,000 from county road and bridge funds has been designated for utility relocation and right-of-way acquisition.
  • Planning is also underway for safety and drainage improvements on County Line Road from Thunder Road to Black Forest Road and on Black Forest Road from County Line Road to Walker Road. The project is estimated to cost $6.5 million. So far, $800,000 from county road and bridge funds has been designated for utility relocation and right-of-way acquisition.
  • Safety and drainage improvements are also being planned on County Line Road from I-25 east to Furrow Road, including addition of shoulders, improvements to the road alignment, and addition of turn lanes at Furrow and County Line Road. The estimated cost is $7 million to $7.5 million.
  • Improvements to Baptist Road are being planned for the section from I-25 west to Mitchell Road. A study estimated to cost $181,000 is proposed to evaluate potential capacity improvements to the corridor and a grade-separated crossing of the railroad tracks west of Mitchell Road. The project is estimated to cost as much as $11 million.
  • A $300,000 study will examine capacity and safety issues on State Highway 105 from I-25 east to State Highway 83. Information on the project is posted at www.105corridor.com. The county is seeking residents’ comments, which can be entered at the website.
  • Pedestrian safety improvements on Gleneagle Drive from Jesse Drive to Wuthering Heights Drive are being studied. The study is being paid for with $95,000 in federal funds and $24,000 from the county road and bridge fund.
  • Safety and drainage improvements on Beacon Lite Road from County Line Road to Highway 105 are being studied. Initial estimates are that it would cost $5 million to $6 million to pave unpaved portions of the road and improve the road alignments and the intersection at County Line Road. Brackin noted that over 800 vehicles per day are using Beacon Lite Road. He estimated that trucks make up 10 percent to 12 percent of that traffic. Brackin added that the county is also looking at needed improvements at the Beacon Lite Road intersection with Highway 105.
  • With regard to vacating Doewood Drive from Ridgeview Circle to Chisholm Trail, Brackin said the county is planning to meet with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and adjacent property owners to complete the details. Brackin said the property will be deeded to the adjacent property owners, but a utility easement must remain and turnaround spots are needed for emergency vehicles.
  • The shoulder and ditch line have been repaired on Struthers Road between Gleneagle Drive and North Gate Road. Brackin noted that the developer did not implement a storm drain system in the area, so regular reconstruction of the shoulder is required. He added that the proper solution would be to construct curbs, gutters, and a storm drain system.
  • In response to a question about the potential installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 83 and Highway 105/Walker Road, which is on the bus route to Kilmer Elementary School, Brackin said the Colorado Department of Transportation obtains traffic counts there every few months and so far the volume of traffic does not warrant installation of a traffic signal.
  • In response to a question as to whether Spanish Bit in Chaparral Hills will be paved, Brackin said that although paving would improve the road and reduce maintenance costs, the decision is based on the amount of traffic it carries and the results of a public process to assess the opinion of the surrounding community. Glenn noted that there is community interest in the topic and there are concerns that paving could result in an increase in cut-through traffic.
  • Brackin noted that those with questions or comments about roads should call the county Transportation Department at (719) 520-6460.
  • A $36 million project to widen a 4.5-mile stretch of I-25 from Woodmen Road to Interquest is scheduled to begin in the spring. The funding consists of $31 million from state transportation funds and $5 million from the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

Oil and gas exploration

  • Glenn noted that El Paso County is a statutory county, so its powers to regulate oil and gas exploration are generally limited to above-ground operations. The regulations can focus on transportation impacts, visual concerns, surface water quality issues, and fugitive dust.
  • Although temporary special use permits are being considered for exploration, production permits are on hold pending development and approval of appropriate regulations, which could come in the first quarter of 2012. Glenn said that there will be opportunities for citizens to be heard before regulations are adopted by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC).

Military economy

  • Glenn, who served 21 years in the military, noted that he is concerned about the effect on readiness of proposed cuts in military spending.
  • Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases, Fort Carson, and the Air Force Academy contribute substantially to the local economy.
  • The military is facing $450 billion in cuts over the next 10 years with an additional $500 billion if sequestration occurs.

County budget

  • Projected 2012 county revenues are $235.7 million. Of that, $149 million is legally restricted or otherwise not within the discretion of the BOCC. That leaves just 36 percent ($86.7 million) in discretionary revenue.
  • The discretionary funds are allocated approximately as follows: 61 percent for public safety, 13 percent for other elected officials such as the Assessor’s Office and the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, 9 percent for administrative support, 9 percent for information technology, 5 percent for utilities, 3 percent for Health Department support, and 1 percent for parks.
  • From 2006 to 2012, while the county’s population increased from 581,418 to 640,281, a 10.1 percent increase, the county’s discretionary funds dropped from $104 million to $87.2 million, a decrease of 16.1 percent.
  • From 2006 to 2012, the average revenue per citizen for county services dropped from $179 to $135, a 24.6 percent decrease.
  • From 2006 to 2009, the county achieved a $28.4 million savings in administrative costs, a 27.5 percent decrease. Over the same period, the assessor, clerk and recorder, treasurer, public safety, public trustee, county attorney, and Health Department saved an additional $9.6 million, and an additional $7.2 million was saved by exercising other budgeting options for a total savings of $45.2 million or 21.9 percent.
  • Glenn said that the county’s operating budgets are at the levels they were in 1996.
  • In 2009, the county stopped using one-time funding to cover ongoing operational needs. Glenn described that as "operational sustainability."
  • In 2010, the county’s bond rating was improved to Aa2.
  • County employees are paid on average 34 percent less than those in other Front Range counties and cities. From 2006 to 2012, the average workload for county employees increased 20 percent. The county has a 22 percent personnel turnover rate whereas, on average, employers have a 5 percent turnover rate. Training new hires costs an additional 49 percent of a position’s first-year salary.
  • A budget shortfall is projected for 2012 due to declining property tax revenue resulting from the current real estate market. Ten percent of the county’s revenue comes from property taxes.
  • Facing declining revenues and an estimated $385 million backlog in infrastructure maintenance, the county is working on a critical capital needs master plan. There are $48.5 million in critical needs. Addressing those needs requires coordination with Colorado Springs.

Glenn encouraged residents to contact him to discuss their concerns.

**********

Additional information on Commissioner Glenn and links to his presentation and other materials are posted at http://bcc.elpasoco.com/Pages/District1DarrylGlenn.aspx. On www.elpasoco.com, clicking on the "roads" link near the top of the page will display the status of current county road projects.

NEPCO’s mission is to promote communication and interaction among the homeowners associations (HOA) and residential areas of northern El Paso County in order to exchange ideas on topics of common interest and to develop collective responses to the county on issues affecting the quality of life of NEPCO member associations.

The next NEPCO meeting will be held Jan. 14, 10 a.m.-noon, at the Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. A speaker from the sheriff’s office will describe the Neighborhood Watch program and a second speaker will discuss HOA insurance. All are welcome to this meeting of local homeowners associations.

For more information on NEPCO, visit www.nepco.org or call Bob Swedenburg at 481-2723.

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

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Water court approves Donala’s use of ranch water

By John Heiser

At the Nov. 29 monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, district general manager, reported that on Nov. 15, Water Court Judge Dennis Maes signed a decree approving the district’s application to make municipal use of 280 acre-feet per year of stream flows formerly used to irrigate the Willow Creek Ranch. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Duthie estimated the district’s total costs to purchase the water rights would come to about $23,000 per acre-foot.

The judge’s action came following the district’s agreement Oct. 14 with the Colorado State Engineer’s Office and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the sole remaining objectors to the district’s request.

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

The 280 acre-feet of water per year granted under the decree will cover about 20 percent of Donala’s current demand. To comply with the terms of the ranch purchase agreement, the district paid Ronald Strich, the former owner of the ranch, an additional fee of $374,815. It also deeded back to Strich 60 acres of the ranch.

The Willow Creek Ranch water flows to the Arkansas River and will then be conveyed north through Colorado Springs Utilities’ (CSU) system and through the connection between the Donala district’s water infrastructure and CSU’s distribution pipe in the vicinity of Northgate Road. That connection with CSU was completed Oct. 18 at a cost of about $700,000. Water is currently flowing through the connection for the district’s use at about 150 gallons per minute.

The net cost for CSU transportation of the Willow Creek Ranch water is expected to be about $10.36 per 1,000 gallons.

In 2010, the average rate paid in the district was about $5.60 per 1,000 gallons.

Water rate increases of up to 60 percent approved

The board unanimously approved the following water rate and fee increases. Duthie noted that they would result in a 15 percent to 40 percent increase in the water bills for most users, and a 50 percent to 60 percent increase for high-volume users:

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

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

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

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

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

The cost for construction water used inside the district was increased to $6.50 per 1,000 gallons (up from $5 per 1,000 gallons, a 30 percent increase). The cost for construction water used outside the district was increased to $13 per 1,000 gallons (up from $10 per 1,000 gallons, a 30 percent increase).

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

The board unanimously approved unchanged property tax mill levies of 16.296 mills for those customers receiving water and sewer service and 8.148 mills for those customers who receive only water service. A possible property tax mill levy increase is being considered for 2013.

Budget approved

The board unanimously approved the 2012 budget. Some highlights:

  • Total projected revenue for 2012 is $16.758 million. Some of the larger amounts are $7 million from bond sales for infrastructure improvements for handling renewable water, $2.313 million from water sales, $1.132 million from property taxes, and $893,000 from sewer service. The budget projects a 25 percent increase in water sales revenue due to the proposed increase in rates and fees.
  • 2012 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $6.072 million. Some of the larger amounts are $1.084 million for repayment of loans, $650,000 for salaries, $613,566 for wastewater plant operating expenses, $400,000 for repairs and maintenance, and $335,000 for utilities.
  • 2012 capital project expenses are estimated at $7.5 million, including $7 million for infrastructure improvements to handle renewable water.
  • The projected ending total fund balance for 2012 is $9.446 million.

Infrastructure work covered by the bond issue is scheduled to be put out for bid in December, with the work to start in January and be completed in 2013.

Other matters

  • The district’s bonds to pay for infrastructure improvements were sold through the Colorado Water and Power Authority with a closing date of Dec. 15. Standard and Poor’s rated the district’s bonds AA-. Joe Drew of Drew Financial said that is a very good rating for the district. S&P noted that the rating would have been higher except for the potential cost increases associated with delivery of water through CSU.
  • Susan McLean, the district’s conservation/landscape manager, has provided conservation designs to 18 customers.
  • The Donala Extended Water Supply Study (DEWSS) final report will include information on direct potable reuse (DPR). In DPR, the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant would be sent to the water treatment plant and receive additional treatment before being mixed into the potable water system. The report will conclude that DPR remains a potential option but faces regulatory hurdles. Roger Sams of GMS, principal engineer developing the report, said the technology will doubtless change over the next 10 years. Due to the costs associated with water reclamation, implementation of any of the options presented in the report will likely be postponed for five or six years.
  • During the three months from Aug. 1 through Oct. 30, the district’s $3.774 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.39 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.05 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 9.1 months.
  • Excelsior Blower is analyzing the three failed blowers at the wastewater treatment plant to try to determine the cause of the failures. Excelsior is selling the wastewater plant a rebuilt blower from parts of the three failed blowers for $4,500. New blowers cost about $18,900 each and rebuilt units cost about $15,400 each. The wastewater plant will then have four blowers. Duthie said the plant is designed to use two blowers but can, if necessary, operate on a single blower.
  • The inclusion into the district of the Big R store site at Spanish Bit and Struthers Road has been completed. Duthie noted that the 10-acre parcel will be split into four lots with the Big R store on the northwest corner. Duthie said he was told work on the store could start as early as January.
  • The district’s water conservation plan was submitted to the state for approval as required by the district’s service agreement with CSU.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting Jan. 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of each month; however, no meeting will be held in November 2012, and the December 2012 meeting will be held Dec. 6.

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

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 8: District prepares public relations campaign

By Candice Hitt

At the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District’s (WWSD) December board meeting, members discussed the launch of the public relations campaign that will begin in early 2012. Bill Ray, the district’s public relations consultant, proposed ideas on how to communicate with customers to keep them informed and up-to-date on the district’s long-range vision of renewable water and how the recent JV Ranch purchase fits into that vision.

Memorandum of understanding issued

A memorandum of understanding between WWSD and Monument Academy (MA) has been approved. MA wants to temporarily place two portable classroom modular units on the eastern portion of its property within the boundaries of a right-of-way where a sanitary sewer main is located. The district has approved the request with the understanding that placement of the modular units is temporary and will not require any permanent building infrastructure or excavation that would interfere with the sewer pipeline.

In addition, it is understood that the modular units will not require any water or sanitary sewer services that require connection to the existing building infrastructure or district water and sewer infrastructure.

Operations report

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette gave the operations report, saying well 7 would be serviced because of elevated iron levels.

Gillette updated the board on the proposed Kum & Go gas station on the southwest corner of Knollwood Boulevard and Highway 105. Also, Village Center Filing 3 in Monument has submitted plans to the district to build 75 single-family homes.

**********

The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 12 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, Dec. 13: 2012 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 13, the Triview Metropolitan District board unanimously approved Town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s resolutions for its 2012 budget, appropriation, and certification of the district’s property tax mill levy at 35 mills. Smith noted that the total net increase for all district funds in the 2012 budget is $2.547 million compared to $2.684 million in the 2011 budget.

There were no comments from the public during the open portions of these separate hearings.

Treasurer Steve Remington’s absence was excused.

Administration agreement approved

The Triview board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) to formalize the provision of administrative services by Town of Monument staff that has taken place for several years with no prior written agreement. The three-month IGA expires on March 31.

Triview and the town have two other IGAs in place for the town staff to provide operations and maintenance services—one for Triview’s water system and one for streets and landscaping. The water IGA also expires on March 31. The separate IGA for streets and landscaping expires at the end of 2012.

Monument Town Manager Cathy Green noted that the Monument Board of Trustees meeting for Dec. 19 had been cancelled, so town consideration of a resolution for this administrative IGA would have to be deferred until the next Monument board meeting on Jan. 3. She said she would attend the January and February Triview board meetings to discuss continuing these IGAs if Triview does not replace them with third-party commercial contracts.

Note: The Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the administration IGA on Jan. 3.

Financial reports

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented the October financial and sales tax reports. October general fund revenues exceeded the budgeted amount by 20 percent or $692,000. October general fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 38 percent or $1 million, an improvement of $224,000 over September. The net general fund balance exceeded the budgeted amount by $1.721 million. However, the second half $1 million bond payment was due by the end of November.

The enterprise fund exceeded the budgeted amount by 97 percent or $1.5 million in October, due mostly to fees collected for every unit of the new Vistas apartment project. October enterprise fund expenditures were over budget by 11 percent or $116,000, an improvement of $2,000 over September. The net enterprise fund balance was $1.4 million larger than the amount budgeted.

Net sales tax revenue exceeded the amount budgeted through October by 1.5 percent or $15,501. Total sales tax revenue was up 2.4 percent or $31,036 more than last year.

The board accepted the October financial and sales tax reports. Triview Attorney Gary Shupp had been informed by Remington that he had not yet reviewed the requests for proposals from auditing firms that the board had solicited. Shupp also told the board that Remington said Triview should extend the agreement with the current district auditor on a temporary basis until he can find time to review the audit firms’ proposals that were submitted to the district as requested.

Operations report

Triview Operations Supervisor Steve Sheffield introduced town water operator Larry Bennett to the board. Sheffield distributed copies of three bids he had received concerning striping the roadway for left turn lanes from Leather Chaps to Jackson Creek Parkway at the main entrance to the Monument Marketplace. He also distributed copies of the state’s water testing compliance results, the staff’s water pressure test readings from the Homestead subdivision, and Triview’s monthly invoice for its share of Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility operational expenses. Radionuclide testing for Triview was conducted on Dec. 1 and the results should be available in January.

Booster pump system update

Engineer Barney Fix of Merrick & Co. gave his first scheduled "check point" briefing in the modified booster pump schedule to determine if the model is set up correctly and correctly modeling pressure at each affected point in Jackson Creek for residential taps. The other aspect of field testing the model is whether it accurately predicts water pressure drops at various points in the Homestead development in Jackson Creek. Merrick conducted five fire flow tests and performed two of five comparisons of the model with field test readings.

However the Geographic Information System maps and model of the district provided to Merrick by Triview engineering consultant Nolte Associates only included about half of the existing installed water distribution system. Fix asked for a change order for another $15,000 to accurately complete the maps and model necessary to make the decision that was to be presented at this meeting.

Fix stated, "We’re almost starting from scratch" and that Merrick was hired to site the booster pump station, not create the maps and model. He noted that there is a line item of $6,400 in the Merrick contract for "miscellaneous," which could be used to only model the pressure relief valves for site selection of the booster system solely for Promontory Pointe and the higher elevations on the eastern side of Jackson Creek.

After a half hour of very technical debate among the four directors present on a variety of options, the board decided to spend the additional $15,000 Fix originally suggested to fix the unusable system model to allow Merrick to be able to produce all the deliverables called for in its second contract with the district. A special board meeting was scheduled for Dec. 19 for a follow-up progress report from Fix on the revised schedule of this amended Merrick contract. Another progress meeting was also added for Jan. 25.

The board discussed administrative matters such as who would prepare minutes for the Dec. 8 meeting now that Triview has no district manager and no other employees. A motion to hold all regular meetings in 2012 on the second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. in Town Hall passed unanimously, as did a motion to release the results of an unspecified cost study that was used for unspecified executive session negotiations discussions.

The meeting went into executive session at 6:24 p.m. to discuss negotiations.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Jan. 10 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, Dec. 13: Cost-sharing procedures approved for 2012

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 13, Facility Manager Bill Burks updated the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) on various aspects of in-stream testing for nutrients in Monument Creek and changes in metals testing for the new discharge permit for 2012 through 2016.

The three districts that own the facility also finalized their cost-sharing agreement for 2012 for continued participation and leadership in the Colorado Nutrients Coalition, Colorado Rural Communities Coalition, and Colorado Wastewater Utilities Council, as well as various water quality meetings conducted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in Denver and Colorado Springs.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: Dale Smith from Palmer Lake, Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Jim Whitelaw from Woodmoor. Typically, several other district board members and the district managers also attend JUC meetings.

Facility manager’s report

Burks reported that the plant was operating very efficiently, easily meeting all the expiring discharge permit’s limits. He described all the expensive new tests that his staff will have to perform, particularly for various metals under the new discharge permit for 2012 to 2016. Most of these metals in the new permit are found in standard multivitamin tablets. Testing for nickel was dropped in the new permit.

After a lengthy discussion, the JUC directed Burks to continue performing monthly tests indefinitely for nutrients in Monument Creek above and below the plant, as well as in the mixing zone by the facility’s discharge pipe. All this data will be needed to defend the facility’s resistance to unreasonable effluent limits for all the various compounds that comprise the total phosphorus and total nitrogen discharge limits.

Burks’ staff will also continue to test for copper in all three districts’ influent wastewater. The copper limits for treated effluent in the new discharge permit were changed to 9.7 parts per billion (ppb) on average and 15 ppb for a single test result, which will be very difficult to achieve during dry winter periods.

The expiring permit had a temporary modification that allowed the copper limits to be 24.8 ppb on average and 36.4 ppb for a single test. This temporary modification will be extended for three years for the new discharge permit. The effects on copper removal after the proposed addition of chemical phosphorus treatment to the Tri-Lakes plant are unknown and will be analyzed once the state Water Quality Control Division issues a permit for a temporary pilot plant being designed by engineering consultant Tetra Tech.

The documentation for the facility’s new discharge permit is temporarily available at www.cdphe.state.co.us/wq/PermitsUnit/ISSUANCEpage.html.

Financial report

Burks noted a one-time capital expense for a new e coli testing machine just purchased from Idexx Laboratories Inc. for $4,766. This machine was set up in the facility conference room with a test sample to show the JUC how the facility staff will comply with this new testing requirement in the new five-year discharge permit that took effect on Jan. 1. Fecal coliform testing was dropped from the facility’s new discharge permit.

The JUC unanimously accepted the November financial report.

The JUC unanimously approved a motion for Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor to share the expense of Monument’s representation by Jim Kendrick on facility water quality issues to the Colorado Wastewater Utility Council, Colorado Water Quality Control Commission, Water Quality Control Division, Water Quality Forum and its various work groups, Colorado Nutrient Coalition, and Colorado Rural Communities Coalition. Monument will submit an invoice for Kendrick’s time and expenses to Burks, who will then invoice the three owner districts each month for their one-third share of the cost. Burks will then reimburse Monument. The amount approved by the JUC for supporting Kendrick’s representation in 2012 is $15,000.

Burks distributed copies of the final 2012 budget that was approved on Nov. 8. The JUC unanimously ratified the changes approved on Nov. 8 that are now included in the final budget that was forwarded to the state.

District manager reports

Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that he had received several auto-dialer alarms generated by the control system that operates the two new Wakonda Hills lift stations.. Pump 2 of lift station 1 was not turning on, but the backup pump was operating normally. Wicklund said the pumps are still under warranty from T. Lowell Construction, and there is a spare pump in the Monument district office.

Wicklund asked the Woodmoor and Palmer Lake districts to contribute another $500 each, along with Monument, so that the Colorado Rural Communities Coalition attorney John Hall can continue to help state Rep. Marsha Looper write legislation that suspends the Water Quality Control Division’s proposal to implement very expensive interim total nitrogen limits at the March 12 Water Quality Control Commission hearing. Total nitrogen treatment is required by the proposed state interim control Regulations 85 and amendments to the state’s permanent Regulation 31.

Kendrick stated that all three owner districts previously donated $500 each to the Colorado Rural Communities Coalition in October to have Hall write a letter for Looper to send to Water Quality Control Division Director Steve Gunderson. That October letter requested data that might support the division’s claim that expensive treatment of total phosphorus and total nitrogen are needed. Looper’s request remains unanswered.

Hall also wrote a coalition letter to Gov. John Hickenlooper that asked him to intercede with the state Health Department to have the Water Quality Control Division remove the total nitrogen requirements from the proposed Regulation 85 and Regulation 31 to comply with his Executive Order 5, which prohibits state agencies from implementing unfunded mandates on local Colorado governments, including special districts. The coalition’s Dec. 28 letter to Hickenlooper was signed by 38 small districts and towns throughout the state.

The letter to Hickenlooper states that the total cost statewide for implementing total phosphorus and total nitrogen limits as required by the proposed interim 10-year control regulation 85 is about $2.5 billion. About 85 percent of this cost is for proposed total nitrogen treatment, even though there is no scientific evidence that this treatment is needed or will result in any measurable improvement on Colorado water quality.

Hall’s letter asks Hickenlooper to allow state wastewater treatment facilities to conduct a 10-year study to see if algae problems in Colorado respond to total phosphorus treatment, as the EPA has allowed in other states, at only 15 percent of this $2.5 billion first, before determining whether to add a total nitrogen restriction statewide.

No costs are available for the additional treatment that will be required when even tighter restrictions are to be implemented by the proposed Regulation 31 in 2022, because the specific nutrient limits in that regulation have not yet been determined. Kendrick said the so-called "placeholder limits" in the proposed Regulation 31 that may be implemented by default are less than what is technically achievable even if every state wastewater treatment facility were to implement state-of-the-art "limits of technology" equipment with no regard to the huge, unaffordable cost this would require.

Even with the drastically tighter nutrient limits listed in the proposed Regulation 31, Dr. Chris Urbina, head of the state Health Department, has recently issued press statements that the state must move forward in implementing both nutrient regulations in March without any of the revisions asked for by the two wastewater coalitions. Urbina said he fears that the EPA will take away water quality regulation of Colorado state waters from his department if these regulations are not approved as proposed.

The EPA has expressed its disapproval of the nutrient Regulations 85 and 31 over the past several years of stakeholder meetings. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has testified in congressional hearings that EPA regulations and policy ignore cost as an evaluation criterion during their reviews of state water quality standards. EPA Region 8 executives have reiterated this policy in criticizing proposed Colorado wastewater facility discharge permit limits for nutrients during this period as well.

The Colorado Nutrient Coalition and Colorado Rural Communities Coalition were formed to advocate what they call a common sense scientific cost-benefit analysis process, as required by EPA’s own regulations, to develop a rational, rather than emotional, basis for state water quality rulemaking.

Wicklund also asked the other districts to contribute up to $4,000 each in January, along with Monument, to the 70-member Colorado Nutrient Coalition to support its $200,000 effort to prevent total nitrogen implementation. The effort involves expert consultant analysis of the division’s water quality statistics and the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority ecosystem cost-benefit study, plus the consultants’ in-person testimony at the March 12 commission hearing.

The 55-page draft prehearing statement on these matters was not issued until a few days after the Water Quality Control Commission rejected the coalition’s request on Nov. 14 to drop the total nitrogen requirements in both regulations and delay the hearing so that the database could be independently analyzed by these experts.

Kendrick added that the problem was compounded on Saturday, Dec. 10, when the final copy of the prehearing statement was issued and had suddenly and without warning expanded to 613 pages. The Colorado Nutrient Coalition again demanded a delay of the 9 a.m. March 12 commission hearing so that facility operators might be able to analyze this surprisingly massive statement with the help of expensive consultants. This coalition request was summarily rejected by the commission.

Palmer Lake and Woodmoor reported that no operational problems occurred in November.

The meeting adjourned at 11:52 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 11 at the Tri-Lakes facility’s conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Dec. 15: 2012 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 15, the Monument Sanitation District board unanimously approved the district’s 2012 budget, appropriation, and mill levy (0 mills). No mill levy approval was required because the district has no debt. No rate increases were included in the new budget, nor were there any in 2011.

The absence of Director Kristi Schutz was excused.

Tap fee revenues for the year to date were $53,802, more than the $50,000 in the 2011 budget, despite the nationwide decline in new construction. The 2011 end-of-year fund balance was estimated to be $236,825, well above the $141,167 in the budget.

The board unanimously approved letters of engagement for the consultants who perform the district’s accounting, auditing, and engineering. Also approved were renewals of the existing agreements for building maintenance and cleaning.

The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

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The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 19 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Nov. 21: TABOR exemption renewal election approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 21, the Monument Board of Trustees approved an ordinance for submitting a ballot issue to the voters to permit the town to collect, retain, and spend the full amount of town revenues for the next four years, through the end of 2015. The wording of the ballot question remains the same as that approved by Monument voters in the past.

The town has never had excess revenues that governmental entities must return to taxpayers under the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR). But Monument voters have approved an exemption to the measure four times.

This exemption process is often called "de-Brucing" after Doug Bruce, the author of the TABOR amendment to the Colorado Constitution.

Trustees Gail Drumm and Rick Squires were absent from the meeting.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros noted that the approved ballot question is identical to the previous one approved by the voters in 2008, the longest period allowed for "de-Brucing" under current state law. That TABOR exemption ended on Dec. 31. As before, the potential uses for any exempt revenues will be restricted to parks and recreation or senior services. "De-Brucing" has been continuously approved by Monument voters every four years since 1996.

There was no public comment on this ordinance during the open portion of the hearing.

Mail ballot election resolutions approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the April 3, 2012, regular municipal election to be conducted by mail ballot. The board also approved a separate resolution authorizing Town Clerk Scott Meszaros to appoint, train, and pay four election judges. The judges will be on duty for those who wish to vote in person at Town Hall on April 3, rather than submit a mail ballot. Meszaros said that conducting a polling place election would be an increased expense because mail ballots still must be created and mailed to those on the permanent list.

The election will cost about $10,000. Meszaros explained that the TABOR question will require mailing an additional notice to "registered households" at an additional expense of about $2,500 over the previous town election in 2010. The direct cost of the mail ballots is about $7,500 of that total.

2012 meeting schedule approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution setting its meeting schedule for 2012. The proposed schedule continues the regular meeting schedule of the first and third Monday of the month. There are four holidays which fall on a Monday in 2012, so the dates for those meetings are delayed until the next day:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 3
  • Tuesday, Jan. 17
  • Tuesday, Feb. 21
  • Tuesday, Sept. 4

The board also unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for Borriello Brothers NY Pizza at 15910 Jackson Creek Parkway.

Financial reports and updates

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented the September sales tax report. Net sales tax revenue was more than the amount budgeted through September by 1.1 percent or $13,721, an increase of about $23,000 from August.

The board unanimously approved three payments of $5,000 or more:

  • $121,924 to Triview Metropolitan District for September sales tax ($115,142), October motor vehicle tax ($6,700), and Pikes Peak Regional Building Department sales tax ($82).
  • $5,400 to the Pikes Peak Regional Communications Network of the City of Colorado Springs for the annual 2011 radio communications service fee for support of 27 town police radios.
  • $28,000 to Sieck Contracting for miscellaneous site work performed in the Trails End Subdivision.
  • Smith solicited final 2012 budget input from the trustees. Some of the items she discussed were:
  • The latest revision of the "2012 Preliminary Budget Assumptions" sheet.
  • Details regarding purchase of the new police car ($30,200) and a public works backhoe ($120,000) by a capital lease rather than a single-payment outright cash purchase.
  • A 6 percent increase for 2012 employee health insurance.
  • A proposed $36,000 bonus package for 45 employees because there will be no cost of living increase again. The board consensus was to move forward with the bonus.
  • The property tax mill levy must be submitted to the state prior to Dec. 15.
  • The final 2012 budget must be submitted by Dec. 31.

Staff reports and updates

Tom Kassawara, director of the Development Services Department, briefed the board on the Board of County Commissioners’ initiative to minimize restrictions in county commercial zones. However, the town staff would like the vacant county commercial property adjacent to the east side of I-25 on Monument Hill to have a zoning overlay with the same restrictions as those of the town’s commercial section on the west side of the I-25 corridor. Kassawara added that he had met with District 1 County Commissioner Darryl Glenn to discuss this issue.

Jacob Shirk, chief of police, discussed the Church Safety program that his department recently held. He said this was the fourth year of the program and it continues to grow and include new participants. He went into further details on the program.At 7:47 p.m., the board went into executive session to receive legal advice regarding the vacant property on the southeast corner of Third and Front Streets. The meeting was immediately adjourned at 8:15 p.m. at the conclusion of the executive session with no further action taken.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 5: 2012 budget and mill levy approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 5, all members of the Monument Board of Trustees were present to unanimously approve the 2012 budget, 2012 appropriation, and 2012 mill levy. The town’s property tax mill levy will remain unchanged at 6.289 mills. Four planning commissioners were unanimously reappointed for two years. Annoying traffic signal timing for left turns at several town road intersections with county roads near I-25 was also a subject of concern during the hearing on the new Kum & Go convenience store and public comments.

Budget highlights

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith explained that the maximum amount of town property tax revenue allowed in 2012 by the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) amendment to the state constitution is $769,245. However, due to the decline in the town’s total assessed property value during the 2011 county-wide assessment, the town’s mill levy would have to be increased from the current level of 6.289 mills to 7.467 mills to produce this amount of revenue. But this mill levy increase is not allowed by TABOR without prior voter approval.

The existing mill levy of 6.289 mills will only generate $648,749 in 2012, a decrease of $64,238 from total 2011 property tax revenues. Smith said this was the first annual total property tax revenue decline in her six years as treasurer. The board unanimously approved a resolution to renew the 6.289 mill levy for 2012.

There was an hour of very technical discussion about the final version of the 2012 budget. Ordinances for the budget and the corresponding appropriation for total funding for each of the various town funds were both unanimously approved.

There were no public comments during the open portion of the three public hearings for these budget items.

Four planning commissioners reappointed

The board unanimously approved the reappointment of four Monument planning commissioners for new two-year terms that run through the end of 2013:

  • President Ed Delaney
  • Vice President Kathy Spence
  • Jim Fitzpatrick
  • Dave Gwisdalla

Delaney suggested a joint session of the Planning Commission and the board after the board election in May.

Public comments

Monument resident and former Trustee Tim Miller noted that the timing of traffic signals on Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway cause long wait times "that seem like months" for vehicles making left turns when there is no through traffic coming from the opposite direction. He asked the town to have the county change the short green left turn light from eastbound Baptist Road to northbound Jackson Creek Parkway changed to a flashing red.

Trustee Tommie Plank suggested that a flashing yellow would be better. Flashing yellow left turn lights have recently been installed on the Highway 105 traffic signals. Miller replied that a flashing red would be safer because it would force people to stop to look for oncoming traffic before starting their left turn. Miller also noted that signs for left-turn-only lanes on these roads can be confusing if the green signal light for that lane is not a left turn arrow, just a regular green light.

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, stated that he would contact El Paso County Engineer Andre Bracken regarding the traffic signal issue because Baptist Road is a county road.

Miller stated that abandoned stormwater pipes/culverts that are located in the "mouse habitat" retention pond area east of the Home Depot are "concrete litter or construction litter" that should be removed. Mayor Travis Easton said that there are only certain times of the year that town staff can enter that mouse habitat.

Monument Town Manager Catherine Green replied that she would present Miller’s concerns to the Triview Metropolitan District board at its next regular meeting on Dec. 13. She stated that she recalled that former Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth had investigated a similar complaint about the pipes and found out that Triview had originally placed the pipes where they are still located. Special equipment would have to be used to remove the culverts.

Miller also noted the faulty chip seal repair of asphalt performed in his Jackson Creek neighborhood a few months ago by Triview. Cracks have already developed.

Kum & Go site plan approved

The board unanimously approved a preliminary/final planned development (PD) site plan for a new Kum & Go convenience store on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. The discussion of the site plan was very similar to the discussion by the Planning Commission on Nov. 16. For more details of this site plan, see the Nov. 16 Planning Commission article on page 14 of the Dec. 3, 2011, edition of OCN available online at www.ocn.me/v11n12.htm#monpc.

Kassawara noted that he had recently received several updates from the county Transportation Department after he had informed them of Knollwood Drive traffic concerns expressed at the Nov. 16 Planning Commission hearing. Several commissioners and Kum & Go representatives noted how hard it is to make a left turn during rush hour onto westbound Highway 105 due to the very short green light for Knollwood Drive, a town road. No more than three cars can typically turn left onto Highway 105 during the morning peak between red lights that last about two minutes.

Highway 105 is a county road adjacent to the Kum & Go lot, but is a state road immediately to the west due to the adjacent I-25 Exit 161 interchange for downtown Monument. The county owns the Knollwood Drive signal, but the timing of the Knollwood traffic signal for these left turns is controlled by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to maximize the flow of Highway 105 traffic.

Kassawara said he was still waiting for a reply from CDOT on his request that it allow the county to lengthen the green light for Knollwood Drive. He added that traffic engineering studies still show that the Knollwood Drive signal’s existing timing will still meet the minimum "Level D standards" for level of service for this intersection after the Kum & Go store is opened for business.

Kassawara also noted that the county had issued final written approval and a permit to the town for the requested direct access to the Kum & Go property from the right lane of eastbound Highway 105, prior to the Knollwood intersection, which will reduce southbound traffic on Knollwood. A final agreement with the town staff on the details of the design of this access from Highway 105 is pending. The remaining issues that are conditions of approval for the PD site plan that must be met by Kum & Go were:

  • Written permission and a drainage easement must be obtained from the adjacent property owner, Integrity Bank, for construction and use of a detention pond on the southwest corner of Integrity’s property.
  • The size of the awning over the Red Box DVD machine that will be installed in front of the store must be increased to cover customers during inclement weather, and must be strong enough to withstand frequent high winds.
  • The size and location of the sign for the business must be finalized and acceptable to the town staff.
  • A site plan improvement agreement must be executed prior to issuance of any construction permits for the store.

Dave Lemons of Kum & Go gave an overview of the company’s marketing analysis, growth, and demographic statistics for Monument and the rest of the Front Range, and corporate operational and sustainability policies—there are no franchisees. He also addressed the Knollwood traffic issues and said the awning over the Red Box video dispensing machine would conform to town staff specifications.

Engineer Josh Erramouspe of Olsson Associates explained the technical aspects of traffic flow, fuel deliveries, and takeout food service. He noted that most store traffic would be pass-by traffic that would continue east on Highway 105 and not add significant left turn traffic from Knollwood.

There were no public comments during the open portion of the public hearing.

Exempt human signs ordinance barely approved

The proposed new ordinance to regulate advertising signs carried by people at entrances to businesses or shopping centers was controversial. The Planning Commission had to hold two hearings on the matter—on Oct. 12 and Nov. 9—before revising the proposed ordinance language and approving this version by a 4-1 vote. For more details on this ordinance see the Nov. 16 Planning Commission article on page 14 of the Dec. 3, 2011, edition of OCN available online at www.ocn.me/v11n11.htm#monpc.

Some of the points Kassawara made were:

  • "This is a very minor issue."
  • "Human signs" are signs carried by people.
  • The code enforcement officer was having "all sorts of issues on how to interpret the sign code as written."
  • The commission voted 4-1 for the language that allows a person with a sign to be at every entrance to a shopping center for a business.
  • The staff recommended allowing only one human sign per business property regardless of the number of entrances to the business property.
  • The staff recommended allowing a business to have only one human sign per shopping center at a time regardless of the number of shopping center entrances because more than one human sign is "clutter."

Green noted that the town had no ordinance regarding people only wearing costumes or carrying signs that are not billboards.

Trustee Gail Drumm said allowing only one human sign for a business in a shopping center was "way too restrictive," that "businesses have a right to advertise the way they want to," and the staff was "trying to make a problem out of a situation that is not really a big problem."

Plank said that allowing more than one human sign at a shopping center entrance at one time was "crazy" and "very distracting to drivers." Kassawara replied that the town cannot allow one business or group of businesses to prevent another business from having a human sign at a particular shopping center entrance.

There was no public comment during the open portion of the hearing.

There was no discussion about volunteer organizations being allowed by the proposed human sign ordinance to have an unlimited number of volunteer human signs at each entrance to a shopping center for any fundraiser—for example, a fundraiser car wash for a girls high school volleyball team or a boys high school hockey team.

After 15 minutes of trustee questions about how many signs could be in place at each of Monument Marketplace’s five entrances under both proposed sets of language, Plank said, "I’d like to know what Sgt. Burk has to say about this." Monument Police Lt. Steve Burk replied, "I don’t think the Police Department would have an issue with it as long as they stayed off the roadway and didn’t create a traffic hazard."

Drumm immediately offered a motion to approve the Planning Commission’s proposed language that would allow each business in a shopping center to have a human sign at each entrance of the shopping center. The motion was seconded by Jeff Kaiser. Mayor Travis Easton voted last, voting yes to break the 3-3 tie among the other trustees. Trustees Rafael Dominguez, Stan Gingrich, and Tommie Plank voted no.

New regional building code approved

The board approved an ordinance for formal adoption of the 2011 building code of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD.) This update is intended to replace the 2005 PPRBD code. Only the technical regulations are proposed to be changed. All administrative requirements will remain the same.

During the open part of the public hearing, Miller noted that the new carbon monoxide detector requirement for all "sleeping units" with bedrooms and natural gas appliances or furnaces is driven by state statute as well as the 2009 International Building Code. Battery-powered detection units or units that plug into wall outlets will meet this new requirement.

The vote for approval of the regional building code was 6-1 with Kaiser opposed. Kaiser did not state his reason for voting no. The other government entities that are members of the PPRBD were all expected to approve the 2011 regional building code revision by the end of the year.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved a resolution acknowledging the amendments to the town’s 2012 457B deferred compensation plan proposed by The Variable Annuity Life Insurance Co., which manages this town employee retirement program. Green said the specific plan amendment instructions on money transfer procedures and the new requirement for formal board acknowledgment of the plan amendments are directives from the federal government.

The board unanimously approved an ordinance for a Monument Zoning District and Town Boundary Map that will be signed by the Planning Commission chair and the mayor to strengthen its legal status if there is ever any question in the future about zoning district boundaries, property lines, or rights-of-way. There was no public comment on the map during the open portion of the hearing.

The board unanimously approved Smith’s October financial report.

At 9:02 p.m., the board went into executive session to receive legal advice regarding pending litigation. The meeting was immediately adjourned at 9:15 p.m. at the conclusion of the executive session with no further action taken.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Dec. 8: 2012 budget, water rate increase approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 8, the Palmer Lake Town Council approved ordinances for the town’s 2012 budget and appropriation. The council also approved a resolution for a 7 percent basic water rate increase and three new business licenses.

Town CPA Linda Ousnamer said she did not have the November financial report and would distribute the report to the trustees by email on Dec. 9. She stated that town revenue through the end of November was at only 72.69 percent of the total budget for 2011 rather than the planned 91.66 percent, 19 percent under budget. The town was 23.5 percent over budget for spending through the end of November.

"We have a little belt tightening to do for this next month," Ousnamer said. Two full-time police officers and two other full-time staff members have been laid off due to this budget problem.

Ousnamer also stated that there are reserves available to cover the difference. The auditor will be in town in mid-January to conduct the 2011 audit.

Trustee Nikki McDonald praised Tara Berreth and Bob Radosevich for taking over budget issues over the past year without accounting training.

2012 budget

Mayor John Cressman and Ousnamer praised the staff for adjusting the 2012 budget for the new fiscal realities facing Palmer Lake so that a balanced, conservative, viable budget could be presented. About $164,000 was cut overall in the final budget draft. A resolution for an increase in monthly water fees beginning on Jan. 1 was unanimously approved before the 2012 budget hearing.

The minimum water use fee will increase from $33.57 to $35.92. The capital improvement fee for water will increase from $3.05 to $3.59. The water loan fee will remain at $11.51. This will produce a 7 percent water bill increase of $2.35 in the minimum water bill, from $48.13 to $51.02, and raise about $33,000 in 2012 to cover the increased electrical and testing costs for the new water treatment plant.

Water testing will increase a great deal in 2012 to verify that the new water treatment plant is functioning properly. This will add some short-term operational costs, before long-term savings can be realized.

There was no public comment before the water rate increase resolution was approved. There was also no public comment before ordinances for the 2012 budget and 2012 appropriation were unanimously approved.

New business licenses approved

The council unanimously approved new business licenses applied for by:

  • Bill Ellison for Tri-Lakes Towing, 707 County Line Rd.
  • Nathan Arnett for Spark Tech, 27 Gillia St.
  • Roberta Bruner for Tranquil Mind Clinical Hypnotherapy, 835 Highway 105

Ellison noted that he also owns the Tri-Lakes Collision body shop, would keep the two businesses separate, and will acquire Monument Towing. The actual location for the towing business has not been determined yet.

Arnett said he would be establishing an in-home service business for personal computers, working out of his own home.

Bruner said she is a certified clinical hypnotherapist and will open an office by the Pinz bowling alley.

Committee reports

Cressman reported:

  • Two full-time police officers were laid off.
  • The town Police Department seems to be doing better but is still out of money. "Their budget is gone."
  • The new equipment installation in the town water plant is going quite well, with the new computer controls doing what Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt wanted them to do for the plant.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Gary Coleman reported:

  • The Thanksgiving chili supper and hay ride were very successful in raising a record amount of funds for Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.
  • Coleman’s annual Christmas model train show at the Depot Restaurant would also be raising funds for the Fire Department, thanks to Depot owner Alica Gatti. (See photo)
  • The Starlight Dance at Historic Pinecrest on Dec. 9 would raise money for the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee. (See photo)

Economic Development Trustee Michael Maddox reported on the various concerts that would be held at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in the coming months and a potential balloon festival in the green space along County Line Road that may turn into an annual event.

Police Trustee Nikki McDonald reported on the 180 calls for November.

Water Trustee Max Stafford reported on just over 4 million gallons of water production in November and the various water meetings he would be attending through the end of January.

Fire Trustee Richard Kuester reported on a medical call that came in while the department was conducting the annual Christmas Palmer Lake star lighting ceremony.

Cressman gave the roads report, detailing all the staff’s activities in November. He also noted that the town would receive a $5,000 fee refund from the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

During public comment, resident Jean Hartley discussed a learn-to-paint, hair salon, and tai chi "gentle exercise" business she would like to open in south Palmer Lake in mid-February. Town Attorney Larry Gaddis stated that she would have to file her liquor license application before a 500-foot neighborhood survey radius around her business license could be set. He also noted that her fingerprint check for her new liquor license will take the most time to be approved.

The meeting adjourned at 7:24 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting will be on Jan. 12 at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall. Regular council meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us or call 481-2953.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Dec. 7: 2012 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 7, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board approved resolutions for the district’s 2012 budget, appropriations, and mill levy certification, which will remain at 7 mills. Director Joyce Hartung opened the meeting with comments that compared the nation’s patriotic response to Pearl Harbor 70 years ago with the 9-11 terrorist attack 10 years ago.

All five members of the board were present.

The 2012 budget was modified to reflect another $10,000 decrease recently reported to the district by the county tax assessor, for a total reduction of about $197,000 to $1.649 million in expected property tax revenue for 2012. Overall, total operating revenues dropped from $2.018 million in 2011 to $1,871 million in 2012.

Two separate resolutions were approved to budget and appropriate $1,871 million for total district operating expenditures in 2012.

Chief’s report

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings reported that there were 132 runs in November, up from 119 the previous November.

District Fire Marshal Margo Humes reported that she found 377 violations in 23 businesses, of which 319 have been corrected. She also said that the recent training she had received was very thorough and helpful for performing her duties.

Burns noted that cold weather had held up construction of Station 3 at Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road. The utilities installation, sprinkler system tests, and finish work will take place after the stucco is installed, once the cold weather breaks.

A brief recess was called to allow Chief Vinny Burns to lead the directors on a tour of the "brand new Ambulance 582" that American Medical Response (AMR) had just put in service at Station 1 on Gleneagle Drive. Burns noted that AMR paramedic Robert Good took the lead in selecting its construction specifications as well as coordinating with the factory on the ambulance’s final design, equipment installation, and paint scheme, which precisely matches Wescott’s other apparatus. Burns called the partnership and working relationship Wescott has with AMR "incredible."

The board also approved its 2012 board meeting schedule with all meetings occurring at 7 p.m. in Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive, on the fourth Wednesday of the month except for meetings on March 21, due to spring break, and Dec. 5, due to the state’s mill levy approval deadline of Dec. 15. The district’s two volunteer pension board meetings will be held on April 25 and Aug. 22.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:22 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 25, as noted above, in Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Dec. 7: District approves 2012 budget

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board unanimously approved the 2012 budget on Dec. 7. The adopted operating revenue totaled $4,349,967. Operating fund expenses totaled $3,922,779, with equipment lease payments excluded from the total. Lease payments totaling $281,097 had been transferred to and expended from impact fees, leaving an impact fee balance of $169,174.

Treasurer John Hildebrandt reported that November represented 91.66 percent of the budget year. Year-to-date budgeted property tax revenue received was $3,217,829, or 99.7 percent of the budgeted amount. Specific ownership taxes received totaled $260,772, or 95.1 percent of the budgeted amount.

He said that ambulance revenues totaled $553,368, or 112.93 percent of the budgeted amount. Revenue from impact fees year-to-date was $158,038, or 263.51 percent of the year-to-date budgeted total. The district collected $128,260 in September from the Blevins apartment complex.

In summarizing the expense category, Hildebrandt noted that all expense categories were under budget, year-to-date, except insurance, which was 3.31 percent over the budgeted amount, medical expenses, which were 22.91 percent over budget, and vehicle expenses, which were 6.81 percent more than expected. Overall expenses for the year were at 90.16 percent, or 1.5 percent under budget.

The board then unanimously approved the mill levy for 2012 at 8.5 mills.

Appropriations approved

Denboske introduced a resolution to appropriate sums of money to the various funds and spending agencies. From the General Fund appropriations, current operating expenses totaled $4,041,716, which includes amendment 1 reserves, no capital outlay, and debt service of $281,097 for a total of $4,322,813. The resolution stated that the reserve funds are also appropriated to cover operations and capital expenses of the district in the event of revenue shortfalls. The resolution received unanimous approval from the board.

Denboske also introduced the budget message summary, noting that the 2012 budget will support the funding for: response to fire calls, medical emergencies, medical transports, search and rescue services, Hazmat response, and public education in fire prevention, first aid and CPR. The property tax revenues reflect a voter approved 8.5-mill levy.

Vectra Bank fund balances included $595,187 for savings, $276,339 for checking, and $390,097for impact fees. The First National Bank savings account had a total of $311,273. Total cash balances amounted to $1,572,896. The monthly expense average over 11 months amounted to $340,616. The monthly income for specific ownership fees was $23,745, and for ambulance revenue the amount was $49,992, for a total of $73,737. With reserve funds in the bank (not including impact fees), the district had about 3.9 months of operating capital as of the end of November 2011.

The major acquisition was the purchase of new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus units to equip the response vehicles and to provide a mask for each employee at a total cost of $125,484. The board unanimously approved the budget message summary.

The schedule for the 2012 board meetings was approved by the board. All meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. at 166 Second St. in Monument. Meeting dates are: Jan. 25, Feb. 22, March 28, April 25, May 23, June 27, July 25, Aug. 22, Sept. 26, Oct. 24, Nov. 14, and Dec. 5.

District Training Officer Mike Keough read the training summary into the record. He reported that fire personnel had accumulated 358 total training hours in November. Of that total, 168.5 were Fire/All Hazard Specific, 177.5 were EMS Specific and 12 were Physical Fitness related.

Branches obstruct firefighters

Board members discussed damage to a piece of firefighting equipment due to contact with branches that obstructed a right of way. The district might consider recovering damages from property owners who allow tree branches to obstruct emergency vehicle passage and cause damage to the vehicles. Specifications for distances, heights, to prevent vehicle damage may be obtained from the district administration office at 719-484-0911.

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The next Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 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 Office Manager Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education, Dec. 15: Board hears update of homeschool enrichment program

Below: Kilmer Elementary School second-graders who performed were, left to right, Justin Squibb, Gary Cameron, Gerardo Ochoa, DJ Huff, Kaytlin Church, Aspen Barber, Jocelyn Heer, Lexi Hunt, JJ LaBandt, Paige Bolander, Seth Jimenez, Luke Ferrante, Logan Miles, Sam Sutton, Ryan Smith, (name withheld), and Mason Huckstep. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Mayor’s 100 honorees are, from left, Yegor Svetlakov, Jessica Hedgpeth, Madeline Bisland, and Morgan Luce. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education discussed several important initiatives, including the homeschool enrichment program, at its Dec. 15 meeting.

Director of Assessment, Technology and Gifted Education Lori Benton and Prairie Winds Elementary School Principal Aileen Finnegan gave a presentation on the progress toward a homeschool enrichment academy beginning in fall 2012.

Benton reported that they have been working with Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman, Superintendent John Borman, and Community Schools Director Maria Capp to determine the feasibility of such a project.

Many steps have been taken toward this end:

  • Parents have been surveyed and home school organizations have been contacted.
  • Grace Best has been chosen as the location for the academy.
  • Subjects included will be art, music, physical fitness, and creative writing. In addition, there will be experiential learning through classroom simulations and problem-solving exercises.
  • The program will be offered to children in grades K-6 from any district, 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. one day a week beginning after Labor Day.
  • The focus of the program will be to honor the choice to homeschool while offering enrichment and teamwork.
  • Information meetings will begin Jan. 18.
  • A brochure has been prepared.

Board member Gail Wilson urged that the program be capitalized appropriately and that enrollment targets should be determined. Borman said that no hiring of teachers will be done until a predetermined number of registrations are received. All teachers will be licensed.

Reporting procedures involving student welfare

Board member Mark Pfoff took the lead in investigating methods of reporting incidents involving student welfare and said that there are well-defined legal procedures and mandatory reporters of suspected abuse.

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster and the district’s School Resource Officer are pivotal. Foster said all licensed and classified staff of the district are mandatory reporters and are required to contact the Department of Human Services in most cases. All members of the faculty are trained in recognizing signs of trouble.

The district conducts no investigations, but brings in a third party. The School Resource Officer provides advice on the process.

A core value of the district is to provide a safe environment for the students. Foster said that the Safe2Tell system, allowing students to anonymously report suspicious activity, has been a valuable resource.

All staff and volunteers undergo a background check, and the district receives daily updates from authorities regarding any legal involvement by staff members.

Transportation fees

Transportation Department Manager Robin Mossman presented information on the possibility of instituting fees for bus transportation to offset the possible $1.2 million to $1.5 million in cuts in the district’s 2012-2013 budget.

Mossman reported that 40 districts in the state are considering the idea and all districts adjacent to District 38 have begun to charge a fee or plan to charge one next year.

After consulting with officials in other districts, Mossman learned that ridership initially declines by 15 to 25 percent, but most return after a few months. Many methods used by other districts to consolidate bus stops are impractical in a district that encompasses a large area, such as District 38.

The Colorado Department of Education requires that a district hold at least one public meeting before instituting such a program.

Mossman suggested that a committee including members of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), the school resource officer, a member of the Board of Education, parents, and students should be formed to discuss and study the matter.

Mossman further reported that other districts suggest that District 38 predetermine the collection process for the fee and consider the additional cost to administer the program. The district also must expect increased traffic around schools and increased expectations on the part of parents if they are paying for the service.

The suggested fee is 50 cents per ride, collected through the use of a swipe card. Parents would place a predetermined deposit onto the card at the beginning of the year.

Wilson urged that the district let the public know that doing a study on the proposal does not mean it will be approved.

Board President Jeff Ferguson said that if a fee were charged for bus transportation to and from school, it should also be charged for bus transportation to sports and other activities.

The board asked that the study begin.

Open enrollment and marketing report

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair gave a presentation on the district’s marketing plan, including print and television advertising. For details on the report, please see the article on the DAAC meeting below.

Special education update

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury gave a report on developments in her department. For details on her report, please see the article on the Special Education Advisory Committee meeting.

Adopt D-38 update

Georgina Gittins, Adopt38 chairperson, reported that the program has raised $23,000 since its inception a year ago.

All eight schools in the district are now involved, offering parents and the community the opportunity to adopt a classroom, a grade, a school, or the entire district for predetermined donations. Names of the donors are posted in the schools that benefit from the donations. The program is publicized through school newsletters, meetings, and word-of-mouth.

Gittins said that people like the fact that donations are tax-deductible and may now be made online by credit card.

Superintendent evaluation

Ferguson said that the board is continuing to refine the evaluation process for the superintendent of schools. The board has quarterly meetings with the superintendent to discuss goals and progress.

Ferguson said that he wants to approve the process at the board’s January meeting after ensuring that it is consistent with Borman’s contract.

State law requires that a portion of the evaluation is made available to the public.

State budget update

Wangeman reported that the district has been notified that it will lose $90,000 from this year’s budget and that projections for next year involve cuts of $1.2 million to $1.5 million, including the additional funds needed to support the Public Employees Retirement Association and retirement.

Wilson commented that a judge’s ruling on the Lobato vs. the state of Colorado case that funding for education is unacceptable will probably have no effect until after appeals.

Pfoff commented that the fact that a judge made such a ruling should aid the cause of increased funding.

Superintendent’s update

Borman reported that the district has been named to the AP Honor Roll recognizing expanded offerings in advanced placement classes and an increase in the number of students participating. He praised the teachers of these classes.

D-38 is the only district in the state to receive this honor for two years in a row, and one of only two in the state to receive it this year.

Borman said that the district recently underwent an audit of its emergency and crisis management plans and was told that it has an excellent overall plan. D-38 is the smallest district in the state to attempt such a plan.

Presentations and recognitions

Gail Ostergren’s second-grade students from Kilmer Elementary presented a musical program and a reading before the board and proud parents.

Four district students were selected as Mayor’s 100 Teens for 2011-12. This honor recognizes those who are committed to serving others, have overcome adversity or unique obstacles in life to achieve significant goals, and are role models for their peers. Those honored are Morgan Luce, junior at Palmer Ridge; Madeline Bisland, junior at Lewis-Palmer High School; Jessica Hedgpeth, junior at Lewis-Palmer High School, and Yegor Svetlakov, a senior at Lewis-Palmer High School.

The students were congratulated by the board and received a card of congratulations.

Lewis-Palmer Middle School Principal Caryn Collette introduced LPTV students Hannah Filer, Cori Holden and Madi Stone, who showed a video they produced about their school.

Collette introduced teacher Bill Kissell and recognized him for his contributions to the district since 2000. He is in the U.S. Navy and will be deploying to Afghanistan in the spring. Collette presented him with a token from the district while she and the board thanked him for his service.

The board approved a consent agenda of routine items such as minutes of previous meetings, approval of late start or school closures, retirements, lists of substitutes, and other matters.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Jan.19.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Dec. 13: Prairie Winds Elementary principal gives update on school

By Harriet Halbig

Prairie Winds Elementary School Principal Aileen Finnegan provided a school status report to the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) on Dec. 13.

Finnegan said Prairie Winds has 364 students and has received the John Irwin Award of Excellence for two years in a row. The award is presented to schools rated in the top 8 percent for achievement in the state.

Finnegan reported that growth in the school’s population is above projections. There are two sections of each grade except for first grade. Gifted-talented students comprise 13 per cent of the student body and special-education students comprise 10 percent. The preschool is at capacity.

Prairie Winds offers a center-based program for children on the autism spectrum.

Many enrichment programs are available, including Spanish, math clubs, science enrichment, forensics, sports and choir, Finnegan said. The sixth grade has an area to itself within the building.

The school has emphasized improvement in writing for the past four years. Next year, emphasis will shift to reading, she said. The goal is for all students to demonstrate a proficiency of 90 percent or higher in all core categories. To achieve this, the school is introducing new interventions in reading, especially for the disabled.

Finnegan said the school features a responsive classroom model in which social aspects of the school are as important as academic aspects, and students feel safe, recognized and known by their peers and the staff through the use of daily morning meetings.

District marketing program

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair spoke to the committee about the district’s marketing efforts. She said that the program is based on three major goals:

  • Communicate information about the district and its achievements.
  • Strengthen relationships with various target audiences (parents, residents without children, homeschoolers, etc.).
  • Establish a brand identification as a small district with great achievement.

Adair said that the district sends weekly feature articles to various area media and offers news to those in the district through the district’s website, Facebook, and Twitter.

The district spends $22,000 annually on print advertising and has created two 30-second television ads that will be broadcast during the open enrollment period of December through February. The district also is mentioned in military and corporate relocation guides, the Tri-Lakes phone book, Pikes Peak Parent magazine, and CS Kids.

The district reaches out to the community through key communicators: the Chamber of Commerce, Welcome Wagon, Tri-Lakes Pastors, the Senior Alliance, homeschoolers and new employers to the area. Representatives also attend military education fairs and the Pikes Peak Education Fair sponsored by The Gazette.

A number of publications are available on request, including information packets and a guide to the district. Production of a short video about each school is underway.

Legislative update

Board of Education Liaison Gail Wilson reported that she had attended the Colorado Association of School Boards meeting the previous weekend. Gov. John Hickenlooper said that it appeared that $89 million would need to be cut from K-12 education in the 2012-13 budget. He said that since the electorate had not supported Proposition 103 on the November ballot, raising taxes to support education was not being considered.

Wilson said that the new commissioner on the state Board of Education said that if we wish to continue to see high performance among our schools, we must stress children’s issues rather than adult issues in all of our decisions. This is the approach taken by the District 38 board. The Board of Education should be viewed as a community communication channel and must be up-to-date on activities of the state board, she said.

School Improvement Plan template

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education, and Technology Lori Benton explained a new template for use by the Colorado Department of Education to track performance of schools. The use of this template rates the performance of a school as it exceeds, meets, or approaches standards, or needs improvement.

The use of the template also enables principals to clearly describe measures used to improve achievement where necessary.

Interested persons may view district or individual school reports at schoolview.org.

Committee for Political Achievement update

Committee for Political Achievement (CPA) Chair Cori Tanner reported that a judge had ruled the previous week in the case of Lobato vs. the State of Colorado, a lawsuit filed in 2005, saying that present school funding rates are not in compliance with the state constitution in that they do not establish and maintain a thorough and uniform system of public schools.

Despite this action, it is unlikely that anything will change soon because the case is expected to go to the state Supreme Court.

DAAC Chair Steve Braun closed the meeting by saying that he seeks a new chairperson for next year and encouraged those interested in the position to send him an email.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Special Education Advisory Committee, Dec. 14: District receives awards but budget remains biggest challenge

By Harriet Halbig

The District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) received a report on the state of the district from Superintendent John Borman at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Borman reported that the district has continued to receive many awards, including Accreditation with Distinction (one of 18 districts in the state) and a place in the Advanced Placement Honor Roll for expanding Advanced Placement offerings and increasing the number of students participating in such classes. District 38 is one of two districts in the state to be so recognized.

He said that the state budget remains the biggest challenge for the district. Gov. John Hickenlooper recently said that the K-12 budget for 2012-13 may need to be cut by an additional $89 million. Borman said that this would require cuts of $1.2 million to $1.5 million in District 38.

Borman stressed that the public must be made aware that the district cannot maintain its performance level indefinitely with continued cuts. In addition, he is concerned about the fact that the district has limited its maintenance of capital assets to protect classrooms from the effect of cuts. The district has not purchased any buses for three years and the condition of many parking lots is deteriorating. Investment in technology has also declined.

Borman said that he would like to restore some of the reading and math interventions that were cut a few years ago. At the same time those cuts were made, the at-risk population in the district was growing.

The district is planning to increase its marketing efforts to maintain and increase enrollment. In addition, a homeschool enrichment program is being prepared to begin in fall 2012.

Special education status report

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury reported that for the first time since 2006, District 38 now meets requirements in all categories regarding appropriateness of assessments, timely reporting, and accurate reporting of progress. These were the result of a visit of a team from the Continuous Improvement Monitoring Process in early December.

Fleury said that the team said that the main section of the district’s IEPs (individual education plans) was the best in the state and the Colorado Department of Education was impressed after hearing of the team’s observations.

Fleury was selected to be part of a new initiative, Special Education Reinvented, that will look at the qualifications of special-education teachers. Colorado is the only state to undertake such a program, which involves several nationally known authorities in the field.

Nutrition program

SEAC Chair Suzanne Faber gave a presentation on nutrition and its influences on attention span and general health. Faber is a teacher in the field of nutrition, health, and wellness.

She said that authorities now believe that today’s children will suffer from more chronic degenerative diseases due to poor eating habits than from alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes combined.

She stressed that children should not consume processed foods, but eat a balanced diet of fruits and vegetables and low-fat protein. Children should ideally choose water as their drink of choice and avoid soft drinks and flavored or colored beverages.

Faber said children do not require a low-fat diet, but parents should ensure that the fats they consume are healthy ones, such as those from avocadoes, almonds, flax, and fatty fish such as salmon.

Fried and greasy foods and white foods such as pasta, rice and white bread should be avoided, as should artificial sweetener because it can increase cravings for carbohydrates.

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The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee will be at 6:30 p.m. on Jan.18 in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Dec. 21: Board finalizes plans for annual meeting, reorganization

By Harriet Halbig

The Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors discussed plans for its annual meeting and election to finish the 2011 year.

Vice President Jim Hale said that four candidates declared for the three open positions on the board. The terms of President Chuck Maher, Secretary Craig Gaydos, and Director of Forestry Jim Woodman expire in January 2012. The annual meeting of the association will be held at Lewis-Palmer Middle School on Monday, Jan. 30. If schools are closed due to weather, the meeting will be held in the Barn.

The reorganization meeting will be held on Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in the Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive.

Hale reported that the ballots and other documents are ready to print and will be mailed shortly after the first of the year.

Open garage doors are an issue

Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that November was a busy month for his crew, with many vacation checks done during the absence of residents during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. In addition, WPS received 115 service calls, many of them involving open garage doors, especially in the Woodmoor Park area of the community.

The president of the Woodmoor Park Homeowners Association has asked that WPS enter the garage and close the door if the owner cannot be reached, but Nielsen said that could be seen as trespassing and he declined to be responsible for possible entry into the house through the garage. He expressed concern that open garage doors during very cold weather could lead to frozen pipes, which could damage more than one property.

Maher suggested that the Woodmoor Park board should pass a resolution to allow entry by WPS.

WIA office manager Matt Beseau reported that dues statements had been mailed the previous week and that many have been returned.

He also reported that Century Link (formerly Qwest) had contacted him about laying underground cable near the Wild Duck Pond common area. Hale and Maher said that the company must appear before the board with maps and plans before approval. Woodman was concerned that Century Link would not leave the area in the condition in which it found it.

More bids sought for recordkeeping

Beseau said that he continues to seek bids for the scanning and maintenance of association records. The initial bid was for an $8,000 startup cost and $700 annually thereafter. He said that the new system should be sufficient for about 30 years of records.

Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported that her committee had received a letter complaining of the lighting around the modular units on the north side of Monument Academy. The principal of the school has agreed to plant trees in the spring to screen Woodmoor residents from the lights.

Stevens-Gountanis also reported that her committee is rewriting the architectural control manual and hopes to complete it before the annual meeting.

She has also agreed to serve on the Board of Directors of NEPCO, an organization of homeowners associations in northern El Paso County.

Maher said that he thought the board had previously passed a resolution restricting board members from serving on the board of any other related organization and asked Beseau to research the resolution.

Common Area Director W. Lee Murray reported that the roof of the Barn leaked after a snow on Dec. 10, damaging the wood floors beneath it. The roof is repaired and he is seeking bids on replacing warped boards in the floor.

Secretary Craig Gaydos reported that members have been submitting votes on the governing documents in response to information in the latest newsletter. Beseau said that office staff asks members if they have voted as they enter the office. Maher asked that Beseau ensure that members who are selling their property vote before completing the transaction.

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The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be held on Jan. 25.

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

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December Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

December was a "sandwich" month, where quiet and dry conditions were book ended with snow and cold. Temperatures for the month averaged well below normal, as abundant snow pack and plenty of clear nights allowed temperatures to stay on the cold side even when the sun was shining. The two periods of snowy weather also produced above-normal precipitation for the month, a nice way to end an otherwise dry year.

After nearly an entire month of dry weather in November, the pattern changed dramatically during the first week of December. This opened the door for several surges of cold air to overtake the region during the first few days of the month. Each surge of cold air brought with it light snowfall and brief gusty winds.

Temperatures failed to reach above freezing on the 1st, with light snow and blowing snow most of the day. Most of us picked up 2 to 4 inches from this first event. Sunny skies returned for most of the 2nd as we saw a brief break before the next surge of cold air arrived. Temperatures were even colder with this next surge, as highs barely reach 20 degrees F on the 3rd and 4th, with another 3 to 6 inches of snow falling.

Low temperatures came close to zero on the morning of the 4th, but this felt warm compared to the next few mornings. The final surge of Arctic air, the coldest yet, moved in late on the 4th and continued to reinforce itself over the area. Another 3 to 5 inches of snow accumulated with this last surge of cold air. Temperatures continued to tumble during the 5th, not even reaching the teens for highs and dropping to well below zero by midnight. By the morning of the 6th, many of the colder (i.e., low-lying spots) around the region were minus15 to minus 20 F.

Much like November, after a flurry of activity to start the month, the next couple of weeks saw quiet and dry conditions. This doesn’t mean it was warm, but we didn’t see any storms come through from the 6th through the 18th. The clear skies, cold air mass, and fresh snow led to some very cold air on the 6th, as highs only reached into the 20s that afternoon. Temperatures did finally break above the freezing mark the next afternoon, although only briefly.

This broke a streak of about 4½ days of below-freezing temperatures that started just before 4 p.m. on the 2nd. That’s a fairly long streak for us, because we normally see changing air masses affecting the region every few days, which allows temperatures to bounce around quite a bit, but not this time. Temperatures cooled back down the next couple of days, again staying below freezing from the afternoon of the 7th through the afternoon of the 10th.

Highs managed to reach into the low to mid-40s on a couple of afternoons from the 11th through the 14th before another dry cold front dropped highs back to the low 30s on the 15th. Above average temperatures made an appearance for the first time in the month on the 17th and 18th, as highs reached into the low and mid-50s. This was associated with southwesterly flow ahead of a storm system moving out of the desert Southwest.

Winter returned with a vengeance during the third week of the month after two weeks of dry weather, as a series of storm systems brought much needed snow and plenty of cold air just in time for Christmas. The first storm was a standard upslope event as high pressure built in behind a cold front that moved through just after midnight on the 19th. This combined with moisture moving over the region from the south as low pressure moved out of the desert Southwest and through New Mexico into Kansas.

Most of us received 3 to 5 inches of new snow with this system on the 19th to early on the 20th. High temperatures were reached just after midnight, hitting the low 30s. The largest amount of snow fell in Southern Colorado and the Southeast Plains from the Arkansas River down through New Mexico and southern Kansas, where blizzard conditions piled up over 20 inches of snow and resulted in some loss of life. There was only a brief break before the next storm rolled through from the late afternoon of the 21st through the 22nd. This storm combined with an Arctic air mass to produce widespread heavy snow across most of Colorado. Most of us picked up a nice 10 to 16 inches of new snow, making this our first double-digit snowfall from a single storm since April 23-24, 2010—quite a long drought between big snowfalls for us.

The snow and cold held temperatures below normal for the period, with highs barely reaching the low 20s on the 22nd and mid-20s on the 23rd. Temperatures also started off well below zero, with the fresh snow, clear skies, and longest nights of the year. Temperatures moderated slowly through the Christmas weekend, reaching into the mid-30s on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, still slightly below normal. And with the abundant snow on the ground, the Colorado blue skies made for a spectacular Christmas weekend.

The year ended with moderating temperatures and at times gusty winds. High temperatures warmed from the low 40s on the 26th to the low 50s on the 30th. Gusty winds also accompanied the mild air from the 29th through the 31st, with the windiest conditions on the 29th as a strong Pacific cold front raced through Colorado. Winds gusted as high as 80 mph over the eastern plains of Colorado, with gusts over 120 mph in the mountains above the treeline. Unfortunately, when cold fronts come across Colorado from the west, all the moisture is left in the mountains, so we stayed dry with this system.

A look ahead

January sees the coldest average temperatures of the year, but precipitation is on the low side, with amounts generally less than an inch. The month experiences numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The last few Januarys have generally been warmer than normal, with near normal precipitation and snow. January 2006 received more snow than normal, and last year it was about average.

December 2011 Weather Statistics

    Average High 35.5° (-2.6°) 100-year return frequency value max 50.5° min 32.6°
    Average Low 9.3° (-3.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 22.4° min 5.4°
    Highest Temperature 55° on the 18th
    Lowest Temperature -17° on the 6th
    Monthly Precipitation 1.27" (+0.21" 17% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.82" min 0.00"
    Monthly Snowfall 29.4" (+10.8", 37% above normal)
    Season to Date Snow 52.1" (+8.8", 17% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
    Season to Date Precip. 12.90" (+1.66", 13% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
    Heating Degree Days 1321 (+92)
    Cooling Degree Days 0

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

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Letters to Our Community

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

Tri-Lakes thanked for kettle donations

The generosity of the Tri-Lakes community set a new record, with $40,724 in funds collected by the Monument Hill Kiwanis 2011 Salvation Army Red Kettle campaign at Safeway, King Soopers, and Walmart. Monument Hill Kiwanis and the Salvation Army thank all of you for your donations. One hundred percent of the monies contributed to the kettles will be given to the Salvation Army in El Paso County.

The 30 days of bell ringing were provided by Monument Hill Kiwanis club members, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Kiwanis Key Clubs, Builders Clubs, and local Cub and Boy Scout troops.

Again, thank you!

Mike Wicklund
Chairman, Monument Hill Kiwanis Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

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Thank you to a Good Samaritan

Most people were buying presents over the holidays; my best present was the presence of a Good Samaritan.

I was making holiday home visits to pets on Thursday, Dec. 22, as the storm wrapped up. Because driveways had a foot on snow on them, I tried to park in front of homes till I could shovel space on the driveway to park. However, when I pulled off the street in front of a home up in the Red Rocks Ranch area, I did not realize it was a ditch—full of snow, of course. My car and I just slid and sank deep down.

I was so scared and cold, and it was almost dark. AAA did not reply to my call, so I knocked on a couple doors at homes. No one answered.

Finally, about to break down in tears, I waved down a gentleman in a truck. His name was Jerry (I think), and he truly was a gift on a cold starry night! He was able to hook up a cable and pull me right out. I was so very very grateful. I think he lives in the area of Spruce Road and Sandstone in Red Rocks Ranch.

Please, if anyone knows him, tell him and his family how appreciative I am. And so were all the other pooches and kitties that were waiting for me!

Dayna Carnival
Owner, Carnival Cat & Canine Care

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Awards tell real story in D-38

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! As we get back into our everyday routines, I would like to thank our teachers and staff. District 38 is in the middle of another great school year thanks to them. All of the numerous awards and recognition we have received are because of their dedicated work.

Here are just a few:

  • "Accredited with Distinction": the highest ranking awarded by the Colorado Department of Education. Only 18 school districts out of 178 achieved this ranking! This is our third year in a row.
  • All of our CSAP scores were in the top six in the state. Most were first, second, or third!
  • Lewis-Palmer is the only district in the state to be honored by the College Board with a placement on its Advanced Placement (AP) Achievement List two years in a row! This award is given to the top 2 percent of school districts in the country.
  • Five of D-38’s schools received the John Irwin Schools of Excellence Award demonstrating high academic achievement and growth.

These awards are not given by special interest groups/websites with agendas; they are awarded by state and national organizations based on performance. So, with all of these awards, why are the same few people still trying to discredit our school district by continuing to spread less than accurate information? Maybe it’s not about performance but rather personalities? Every time we receive another award or recognition, they write another letter trying to discredit or minimize it. Why do they get upset when we succeed? What is their real agenda? It’s not student achievement that’s for sure!

I usually just ignore their rhetoric, but it is important our community knows how great our school district is doing because of our dedicated teachers and staff.

Mark Pfoff
Parent and D-38 board member

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District 38 lacks necessary leadership

Over the last decade, Colorado schools have been judged by CSAP scores published by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). Per the Denver Post, 112 of the 181 school districts are accredited or accredited with distinction. What does this really mean to consumers of education?

Coloradoschoolgrades.com is a coalition of 18 organizations that has developed a system to grade schools that includes CSAP scores, student academic growth, career readiness, and three-year trends. Individual schools are rated A through F and are ranked based on the methodology described on its website.

Cheyenne Mountain D-12, Academy D-20, and Lewis Palmer D-38 are all accredited with distinction according to CDE. Of the 364 high schools, the Colorado School Grades’ website ranks the Classical Academy (in D-20) at the top, Cheyenne Mountain (D-12) at 15th, Pine Creek (D-20) at 28th, Lewis-Palmer (D-38) at 43rd, and Palmer Ridge (D-38) at 117th.

What factors may be contributing to D-38 high schools’ much lower rankings? Lewis-Palmer School District has hardworking, competent teachers, but lacks the leadership necessary to create the atmosphere required to improve school morale and reduce high staff turnover. Our current board has stated that the recent election confirms its commitment to business as usual.

In an increasingly competitive market for students and teachers, will the Colorado School Grades’ report mean that the D-38 administration will continue to rest on its laurels, or will this serve as a wake-up call for a thorough reassessment of policy and practice? There must be more to the story than just CSAP scores and district accreditation.

Stephen Boyd

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D-38 criticism challenged

This short letter is in response to another negative commentary about Lewis-Palmer School District 38, comparing the size of Cheyenne Mountain’s central administration to Lewis-Palmer’s ("Size of D-38 administration questioned," OCN Letters to Our Community, Dec. 3, 2011). Although the administration building houses support personnel that support the entire district, there are only five administrators. The names and positions are viewable on the district website (www.lewispalmer.org).

Yes, the voters have spoken and they have reelected the incumbents. The district continues to excel despite major budgetary cuts. A focus on the positive accomplishments of the students and the district would be a welcome change.

Marie Revak

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Center’s sale of sign explained

I am writing to address questions that have arisen from the community regarding the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts’ decision to sell the Kaiser Frazer sign.

The Board of Directors and the executive director have been working tirelessly to rebrand the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Doing so would enhance the chances of the TLCA continuing to serve Tri-Lakes families long into the future. Every opportunity for elevating the exhibitions, concerts, events, and classes, and the upgrading of the building itself, has been carefully considered.

Because of our efforts, we have successfully attracted countless first-time visitors to the TLCA. Many visitors did not recognize our facility as an arts center, because of the Kaiser Frazer sign. The sign was a source of some confusion. It was also in serious need of expensive maintenance, and we simply did not have the funds for such. There are some structural problems with the building regarding the stucco and the blockware, and the weight of the sign was not helping this situation.

When a Denver collector of automotive signs happened to drive by the TLCA, he immediately contacted us about purchasing the sign. The Board of Directors considered his offer and then decided to shop the sign to other prospective buyers. The sign was advertised for sale, and contact was made with various U.S. collectors. The Denver collector was the only one who had the funds for the purchase, removal, and transportation of the sign.

The board unanimously authorized the sale of the sign to the Denver buyer. First and foremost, the release of the sign reinforced the board’s vision to rebrand the TLCA, thereby making it more attractive to prospective arts patrons, granting agencies, philanthropists, and acclaimed regional and national artists. While the TLCA received some needed income from the sale, that was never the primary concern, even though contributions have declined in recent years in correlation with the collapse of the economy.

The TLCA is proud of its Palmer Lake heritage, and the board will continue every effort to ensure the long-term success of the center, fully acknowledging its intrinsic value to the community. Each and every board member would like to wholeheartedly thank the Tri-Lakes citizenry for their understanding and ongoing support.

Merrill Austin
President, TLCA Board of Directors

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Freedom of speech exercised

I wrote a letter that was printed in the Dec. 3 issue of Our Community News ("Alcohol, not marijuana, is the gateway drug") about marijuana and alcohol. It was written in response to the shutting down of the medical marijuana shop on Highway 105.

I was recently warned by people in the community who read my letter to OCN that it is unacceptable and that I should keep such things to myself. I have to ask what is going on in this world when a person cannot be who he or she is without being sternly warned to watch his or her step.

Freedom of speech is under attack in the world today. I say to the people that are trying to shut me up "good luck," because as long as I have a voice, I will exercise my freedom of speech. I also say if you want to live in a cult, go live in one, but this is a community that has variety of people and opinions.

People have the right to disagree, but not the right to stop people from exercising their freedom of speech.

John D. Wedgewood

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Marijuana’s harmful health effects are well-documented

I am writing in regard to John Wedgewood’s Dec. 3, 2011, letter ("Alcohol, not marijuana, is the gateway drug," Our Community News) in which he states, "Marijuana does zero percent damage to the human body." He urges readers to "please do the research. Marijuana is not harmful."

I did the research, and Mr. Wedgewood’s opinion is not supported by current scientific evidence. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s report "Marijuana Abuse," in the September 2010 NIH Publication No. 10-3859, reported the following health effects of marijuana: It impairs short-term memory; impairs attention, judgment, and other cognitive functions; impairs coordination and balance; increases heart rate; can cause psychotic episodes; impairs memory and learning skills; and causes sleep impairment. And chronic use increases risk of chronic cough and bronchitis.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2011 marijuana fact sheet states that marijuana smoke deposits four times more tar in the lungs and contains 60 percent more cancer-causing substances than tobacco; and that marijuana raises the risk of injury or death from car crashes and other accidents.

Mr. Wedgewood writes, "People, you need to be better educated." As the above research indicates, scientists have clearly demonstrated marijuana’s deleterious health effects. Perhaps, Mr. Wedgewood, you should heed your own warning and educate yourself!

Shawn O’Toole
Seventh-grade science teacher, The Classical Academy

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Taking care of yourself

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Happy New Year! Now that you’ve spent the holiday season taking care of family and friends, maybe it’s time to take care of yourself. The following books could help you improve your body and spirit, relax, or just enjoy a good laugh.

A Profound Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life
By the Dalai Lama (Random House Inc.) $23

For the first time for general readers, the Dalai Lama presents a comprehensive overview of the most important teachings of Buddhism. While he offers a full presentation of his key philosophical points for contemplation, he also offers important wisdom for those committed to bringing about change in the world through developing their own spiritual capabilities, whether they are Buddhists or not.

What Color Is Your Parachute?
By Richard N. Bolles (Random House Inc.) $18.99

For 40 years job-hunters and career-changers have been turning to this popular book, confident that each new annual edition will give them the most up-to-date information about the job market and how to find meaningful work—even in the midst of challenging economic times such as these. Bolles describes the five strategies most needed to survive, and explains how to incorporate social media tools into your job search. With an emphasis on finding your passion and identifying your best transferable skills, the book gives you the tools, exercises, and motivation you need to find hope and fulfill your purpose in life.

Yes, You Can’t! The Power of Negative Thinking
By Tina McMaster (Peter Pauper Press Inc.) $9.95

Let’s face it, not everyone is destined for greatness, and no amount of positive thinking will put the stars within your reach. You may think you can, only to find you thought wrong. But that’s OK. Facing the dark cloud that is your future may help you see the silver lining. This flipbook is designed for your desk, cube, or anywhere.

Prime Time: Love, Health, Sex, Fitness, Friendship, Spirit
By Jane Fonda (Random House) $27

Highlighting new research and stories from her own life and from the lives of others, Fonda explores how the critical years from 45 to 50, and especially from 60 and beyond, can be times when we truly become the energetic, loving, fulfilled people we were meant to be. The book invites you to consider how to live a more insightful, healthy, and fully integrated life, a life lived more profoundly in touch with yourself, your body, mind, and spirit, and your talents, friends, and community.

Nearing Home: Life, Faith, and Finishing Well
By Billy Graham (Thomas Nelson) $19.99

Scripture is filled with examples of men and women whom God used late in life, often with great impact—Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elizabeth, and Anna, to name a few. They were ordinary men and women who discovered that the latter years of life can be some of the most rewarding and fulfilling. "For them, growing older wasn’t something to be denied or dreaded," says Graham, "it was to be embraced as part of God’s plan for their lives." He also shares how he has learned to deal with grief, uncertainty, and loss by focusing on the promises found in the Bible.

Colorado’s Hot Springs
By Deborah Frazier (Pruett) $16.95

If you just feel like relaxing after the hectic holidays, why not try one of nature’s own "hot tubs"—idyllic geologic wonders people have treasured and enjoyed for centuries? Whether seeking a soak in a remote mountain wilderness, or in a spa at a small-town resort, warm water devotees will find everything they need in this book to enjoy the natural embrace of Colorado’s hot springs.

I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections
By Nora Ephron (Vintage Books) $14

To begin 2012 with a good laugh, Ephron’s new book is "pure joy." She takes a hilarious look at the past, the present, and the future, bemoaning the vicissitudes of modern life and recalling with her signature clarity and wisdom everything she hasn’t (yet) forgotten.

Start the New Year right by relaxing, taking stock of where you are in life and where you’d like to be, enjoying a good book, or just pampering yourself.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Steller’s jay

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in.

Below: Drawing of a Steller’s Jay by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

In January, bird watching on the Palmer Divide becomes more limited. If I can’t get out to look for birds, I enjoy watching them in our back yard. One bird that doesn’t migrate and comes to our house almost every day is the Steller’s jay. Many readers have told me it is their favorite bird, and this is understandable because it is truly a character. Like other corvids it is bold, intelligent, inquisitive, and noisy. I like the way it gracefully swoops down from the canopy and effortlessly glides to a landing.

Habitat and description

This bird often sits quietly in a tree watching its surroundings. It is a bit of a comedian and can imitate sounds such as a car or a cat. There are 17 subspecies of Steller’s jays that reside in evergreen forests throughout the Rocky Mountain region, but I can’t tell the difference without a guide. They subsist on pine nuts, other nuts, seeds, and insects, but like other jays, they’ll eat eggs and young birds.

It is a large songbird with a charcoal-crested head, small white stripes above its eyebrows, and a bright blue body. At one time it didn’t share habitat with blue jays but as areas develop, both species are often seen together.

Attracting the Steller’s jay

The first requirement for attracting a Steller’s jay is to reside in their habitat, and in our area that means in the ponderosa pines. It isn’t necessary to set out feed but it helps. Early each morning my husband sets out a handful of peanuts and whistles. I don’t think his whistling is really necessary because within a few seconds, a Steller’s jay will be on our deck picking up a nut. It is picky about which nut and will shake several peanuts before flying off with one. Several Steller’s jays take turns coming to the deck and when the last nut is gone, we are scolded! Only a few of the nuts are actually eaten. Most are hidden in caches, a trait jays use to store food for future use.

Feeding jays

During the winter we set out black sunflower seeds and suet blocks for many birds. The Steller’s jay is sometimes attracted to these sources, but generally it prefers peanuts. I still remember seeing my first Steller’s jay as a teen while traveling with my aunt to see several Western national parks. Neither of us had been west and this trip was our big adventure. Along the way we stopped at picnic areas, and one day this odd-looking blue bird with a crested black head landed on our table as we were eating lunch. It was not shy about asking for handouts and we complied with his demands, which was inappropriate because we were in Yellowstone.

National parks prohibit the feeding of wild birds and animals because their goal is to maintain the natural ecosystem. When people feed wild animals it changes the dynamics, and some species may thrive at the expense of others. Also, many animals become reliant on handouts in the summer months and then aren’t prepared to fend for themselves in harsh winter conditions when people aren’t around.

Backyard feeding isn’t the same as feeding birds picnic table scraps in a national park. Because homes have been built in the Steller’s jays habitat, the environment has already been altered. Fortunately, this isn’t a problem because Steller’s jays are gregarious and do well alongside humans. If we didn’t feed these jays, they wouldn’t have a problem finding other food. They do enjoy the peanuts Randy sets out, and when we return from a vacation they follow him around the yard till he complies with their demand for more peanuts.

Nesting

April is the beginning of nesting season, and Randy always notices the absence of Steller’s jays for several weeks. His peanuts remain on the deck and we don’t hear their loud calls. This may indicate that they are nesting near our house because the pair becomes reclusive and quiet, especially near their nest. Steller’s jays form lifelong pair bonds and work together to build a nest of sticks, pine needles, grasses, and moss. The nest is generally located in the crotch of a big branch near the middle of a tall pine tree.

The female lays two to six eggs and incubates them until they hatch in about three weeks. The chicks are born featherless and helpless. Both parents tend to the chicks until they fledge in another three weeks. The fledglings stay close to the parents until the end of summer. The parents teach fledglings how to fly and forage, and other survival skills. Juveniles leave the parents in the fall to form new territories not far from where they were hatched. Steller’s jays move within a region to locate food but generally like to stay close to their home base.

The Great Backyard Bird Count

Friday, Feb. 17 is the beginning of The Great Backyard Bird Count, a four-day annual event that engages birdwatchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where birds are across the nation. Anyone can participate, and it takes as little as 15 minutes a day. For more information, Google it or go to www.audubon.com. We always look forward to the count and have been surprised by some of the birds we’ve found in our back yard.

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: In 2012, let’s create for ourselves

By Janet Sellers

Happy New Year to you! Is January your month of letdown or a month of new beginnings? I have to admit that unless I plan something good for myself, it’s a letdown month. From promises of fitness to writing that novel to painting a picture, we all give at least a thought to something good we’d like to start up.With the auspicious first day of the year beginning as a holiday, why not?

Lots of creative classes are available right here in our area. We have drawing and painting classes, writing classes, sewing classes, beading classes, and ceramics, too. Photography, movies, sculpture, and the like are also right here in town. For a blissful month of Sundays or Tuesdays, or whatever day of the week, you can pop in to the class of your choice and immerse yourself in creative pursuits. Some of the local places also offer one-day workshops or art parties and teas, too.

No time to go out, you say? Do you have 10 little minutes in a day to support a fresh outlook, perhaps with some pro help? For me, 10 minutes at art feels like I just opened a window of fresh air, and I don’t notice time at all once I get that pencil or brush going. Ten minutes sounds really short in time, but remember in school when recess was just 10 minutes and we played games and ran around like it was an hour of play? I do. We jumped rope, drew with chalk, and who knows what else, and then came back to the work of school refreshed and ready again for schoolwork.

Frankly, we still need recess and recreation to feel our best every day. Would you do it on your own now if left to your own devices? Likely not if you aren’t doing it already! The cool thing about signing up for a creative class like art or photography or ceramics is that everything is prepped just for you and all you have to do is show up.

In an art class that you physically go out to, somebody has prepared and organized the creativity plan for you, the space to do it, and you can take part in a pursuit with immediate results. No doorbells, phones, or pesky interruptions to block your success. You go, you learn, you make things, and since you’ve planned on it, it really happens.

Online classes are a bit different, but not too much. Honestly, a locally taught online class is optimal if you are just starting out doing a distance-learning skills class.

For one thing, you will get to know the instructor, warm up to the activity and learn about local events that you can attend. As a class, it also gets you to actually do the work and practice independently. It is truly a method to start good habits. Just because you aren’t physically there doesn’t mean the teacher spends less time on your education, because all of the usual instructional strategies still apply.

Online music and other tele-classes that I’ve taken in the past on various subjects (and currently teach in my own field of art as well) use both learning strategies: The class is scheduled for real-time presentation, but also taped. You can review as much as you like, and use review time for additional practice. There’s something about being in a live tele-seminar that has some energy to it, much more so than just a shelf book or video.

To get you moving into your creative 2012 art selves, here are local venues that told me they frequently offer or have ongoing classes:

In Monument

Bella Art and Frame (painting; 183 Washington at Second Street), The Bead Corner (beading, jewelry, mixed media; 251 Front St.), Crafty Laine, (sewing, mixed media; 273 Washington St.), and Heritage Art Studio (18725 Monument Hill Rd.).

In Palmer Lake

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (ceramics, drawing, painting, etc.; 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake)

Online

For local classes to take online, I found mixed-media art classes and fiber arts at www.TextileEvolution.com with Liz Kettle (also offers classes at a studio site); classes in various media with guest artists and staff at the Monument School of Fine Arts (also at a local studio site).

No resolutions, no excuses! Just get going with our local art teachers and get your art habit in motion this month. Best investment you can make to re-create yourself this year!

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

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Snapshots of Our Community

Small Town Christmas, Dec. 3

Photos by David Futey

Below: At Covered Treasures Bookstore, author Barbara Tyner entertained visitors with stories of Badger, her border collie. Tyner has written children’s books that describe life on her farm through the eyes of Badger. Tyner co-authors the books with daughter Laura Johnston.

Below: Santa (Nick Primavera) and Ms. Claus (Claudia Whitney) greeted children at La Casa Fiesta. Santa’s helpers, at rear, were Lewis-Palmer High School students Katherine Schweizer, left, and Cameron Ferrarini. Bear Creek Elementary students Ava, left, and Sophia Zallar make Christmas wishes.

By David Futey

On a very wintry Dec. 3, the Historic Monument Merchants Association sponsored the Small Town Christmas. Businesses in the downtown Monument area offered arts and crafts demonstrations, refreshments and treats, and holiday specials. There was also an opportunity to visit with Santa.

David Futey can be contacted at dfutey@ocn.me

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More than 200 attend St. Peter bazaar, Dec. 3

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: From left, Publicity Chair Katie Morse and daughters Charlotte and Emmie were in charge of the raffle for a morning shift.

Below: Marcelline Cerato offered quilt-related items for sale.

By Harriet Halbig

St. Peter Catholic School hosted its first boutique and bazaar during the Small Town Christmas celebration Dec. 3. Sixty-one vendors participated, filling the gym and a hallway. More than 200 people attended.

Raffle prizes included many imaginative themed gift baskets including bath and beauty products, LEGOs, family fun night supplies, coffee and teas, and various gift cards. Proceeds from the raffle will support the purchase of a scanning system for the school’s library.

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North Pole Craft Fair benefits Tri-Lakes Cares, Dec. 3-4

Photos by Candice Hitt.

Below: North Pole Craft Fair attendees.

Below:  (L to R) Palmer Ridge Key Club student volunteers Ellen Bonneau, left, and Teagen Sullivan take nonperishable donations.

Below: (L to R) Palmer Ridge Key Club student volunteers Doug Jacob and Ashley Hazelwood and take donations for the Gift Tree to benefit local nonprofits.

By Candice Hitt

More than 40 vendors from all over Colorado participated in the sixth annual North Pole Arts and Craft Fair at Grace Best School on Dec. 3 and 4, sponsored by the Monument Hill Kiwanis. Admission was nonperishable canned and dry items to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares.

The vendors provided a variety of crafts and edible goodies for purchase at their booths. The craft show has been a good source for raising money for local charities. Usually 300 to 400 people attend the event, and the number continues to grow each year.

Students from the Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High School Key Clubs volunteered help taking nonperishable goods and $5 donations for the Gift Tree to benefit local nonprofits. Santa visited both days.

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

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The Gift of Christmas concert, Dec. 9-11

By Candice Hitt

The Tri-Lakes Music Association presented its 10th annual free Christmas concert series, The Gift of Christmas, on Dec. 9-11 at Palmer Ridge High School. Proceeds from the event go to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares and scholarships for two District 38 high school seniors involved in music.

During the nine concert series, more than $33,000 had been raised to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares and $1,000 for Lewis-Palmer senior scholarships.

Over 200 community members were involved in The Gift of Christmas concert production. The Tri-Lakes Music Association was formed in 1998 by a group of musicians in the Tri-Lakes communities. The founders of this group were Robert W. G. Manning and Bruce Eldridge.

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

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Singer and photographer combine for artistic evening

Below: (L to R): Chuck Pyle and John Fielder. Photos by David Futey

By David Futey

On Dec. 10, landscape photographer John Fielder and "Zen Cowboy" Chuck Pyle brought a captivating visual and musical performance to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) stage. Fielder’s stunning photographs provided the visual experience while Pyle’s songs added the soundtrack.

In the presentation, Pyle and Fielder express their deep appreciation for Colorado and for preserving its natural beauty. Fielder described his project, 20 Years of Great Outdoors Colorado and Our County Open Spaces, with some of the project’s photos previewed at this TLCA performance.

The focus of the project is to inform the public on how a portion of state lottery proceeds designated through the Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) Trust Fund is used to preserve and protect Colorado’s open spaces. Information on GOCO is at www.goco.org.

Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org.

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

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Starlight Dance, Dec. 9

Above: The Starlight Dance was held Dec. 9 at Historic Pinecrest. Food was provided by the MoZaic Restaurant. Live music was by Trademark Infringement. The proceeds from the event benefited the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee. Photo by Jess Smith.

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A holiday hayride in Gleneagle

By David Futey

On Dec. 10, the Gleneagle community was invited to the Gleneagle Golf Course for a festive holiday evening. Guests were able to take a hayride around the Gleneagle Golf Course to enjoy the lighting displays on homes adjacent to the course. During their journey, riders sang holiday songs and were greeted by homeowners. Upon their return, they could visit with Santa, have hot chocolate and cookies, and converse with others from the community.

Susan Kennedy with the Gleneagle Community Advisory Committee (GCAC), said this third annual event was a "good opportunity for the community to come together and share in the holiday spirit" and "what better way to do that than with a hayride."

The GCAC, the Gleneagle Golf Course, Gleneagle Sertoma, and Gleneagle Women’s Club sponsored the event.

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

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Polar Express comes to town

Below: Woodmoor residents Ken and Judy Keller brought their family visiting from out of town to see the Polar Express and other train displays set up by Palmer Lake Trustee Gary Coleman and his son Travis. The Colemans set up the train displays to add enjoyment to the holiday season and as a fundraiser for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Photo by David Futey.

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Toys collected for Santa-on-Patrol

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Monument Police Department Explorer Scout and Palmer Ridge High School student Jesse Martin helps to load the many toys and games donated by Tri-Lakes area residents.

Below: Santa helper Tri-Lakes EMT and firefighter Stephen Monroe loads bicycles into one of the Santa-on-Patrol distribution trucks.

Below: On the day before the 2011 Santa-on-Patrol toy distribution, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District Fire Marshal Curtis L. Kauffman, left, Office Manager Jennifer Martin and Fire Chief Robert Denboske help to sort the mountain of donated toys.

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Santa-on-Patrol delivers gifts to youngsters, Dec. 17

Below: Connor, left, and Kaelyn Santiago display their pleasure with the toys Santa is giving them. Helper Angela Dougan, holds some of their gifts. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard Minetti

On Saturday, Dec. 17, several hundred Monument and Palmer Lake children received gifts from Santa-on-Patrol.

At the first stop on Beacon Lite Road, 50 to 60 youngsters were waiting as the Santa entourage entered an apartment complex just south of the Monument Town Hall. Children raced to greet Santa and received gifts provided by Tri-Lakes residents and collected at schools, fire houses, and police units.

Santa, played by Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk, has been in the holiday "patrol" business since 1993 and continues each year to fulfill the needs of deserving youngsters. Prior to departing the Monument Town Hall, Shirk "deputized" about 70 Santa’s assistants.

Santa presented the gifts with the help of the Monument police officers, the Monument Police Explorer Scouts, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District firefighters and EMTs, along with police and firefighters from Palmer Lake.

Hundreds of toys and games along with six bicycles were provided for distribution. The toys were also distributed in a local trailer park and at a distribution point in Palmer Lake.

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December and January Library Events

Below: Author Lisa Bergren met with members of the teen book group, Book Eaters, to discuss the process of writing and chat about her young-adult books. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Kori Nelson enjoyed creating handcrafted ornaments during the Craft Teens event in early December. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

In spite of a few days of snowy weather, the Monument Library was a busy and festive place during December.

Young patrons could polish their stilt-walking and plate-spinning skills with the Salida Circus, while patrons of all ages enjoyed the soothing harp music provided by teen musicians from a local harp school one Saturday afternoon. Teens enjoyed a discussion with local author Lisa Bergren and learned to fold Ninja stars and make ornaments during their craft class.

Start off a new year with a new skill: bread baking! Baking bread from scratch is easier than people think. Learn how to make two kinds of yeast breads: honey oatmeal and a no-knead bread using ingredients you have in your kitchen. Beginners are welcome, and there will be samples to taste. The program will take place on Sunday, Jan. 8, at 2 p.m.

The teen book club, Book-Eaters, will discuss School’s Out – Forever, the second book in James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series. The club is for teens in grades 7 and up and will meet on Wednesday, Jan. 11, from 4 until 5:30 p.m.

Teens ages 12 and up are invited to learn kumihimo, the Japanese art of braiding, on Friday, Jan. 13, from 4 until 5:30 p.m. Make a bracelet or key chain to take home. Space is limited. Please register online or with a librarian. Snacks provided.

Monument’s Family Fun event for January is A Traveling Sea—a hands-on experience with unusual sea animals in a traveling touch tank. Learn about adaptations, movement, and body shapes and what we can do (even in land-locked Colorado) to help protect these creatures. Make a spiky sea urchin to take home. The program begins at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 14.

The Monumental Readers book club will discuss No Place Like Home by Barbara Samuel on Friday, Jan. 20, at 10 a.m. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly club.

LEGO enthusiasts of all ages are welcome to join the LEGO Club. We’ll provide LEGOs and you bring the creativity. Please do not bring your own LEGOs (although donations are gladly accepted). Be sure to bring your camera to record your creation—all pieces used to make projects remain the property of the Pikes Peak Library District. The fun begins on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10:30 a.m.

Also on the 21st, the AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered from 1 to 5 p.m. This program is a refresher course designed for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the four-hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for non-members. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Save the date. Please see next month’s article for information on the Monument Library’s annual winter festival, Winter Blues Blast, to take place on Feb. 11.

During January, the artwork on the walls of the library will be provided by Palmer Ridge High School art students. In the display case will be part of the collection of Daisy Quackers’ many handmade hats.

Palmer Lake library events

Do you have a favorite stuffed animal that would like to sleep over at the library? If so, bring it to the Stuffed Animal Sleepover for a wildly good time. Children will make a special nametag when they drop off their friends—and then the fun begins. Your library staff will send a picture or two of their antics to you via email. Drop-off is on Friday, Jan 13, from 4:30 to 5 p.m. Pick-up of the tired revelers will be Saturday, Jan. 14, from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. Registration is required at 481-2587.

Meet some of the friendliest chickens ever during Chickens in the Library. Hear chicken stories and make a gadget that sounds like a chicken. Laura Foye brings her favorite birds for you to pet and will entertain and inform you about these interesting animals. The program takes place on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10:30 a.m.

Young readers are invited to read with our Paws to Read dogs. Read with Misty, the tiny Sheltie, on Thursday, Jan. 12, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.

Read with Kirby, our golden retriever friend, on Saturday, Jan. 28, from 11 a.m. until noon. Read to a dog and select a prize.

The Palmer Lake Library Knitting group meets each Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon. Knitters of all skill levels are welcome. Bring your own project and stay as long as your schedule allows. No registration is required. Call 481-2587 for further information.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on Feb. 3 to discuss The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. New members are welcome and no registration is required.

Laurisa Rabin’s photography can be viewed on the library’s walls.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
January Menu

Jan. 11 Pulled BBQ pork sandwich, coleslaw, & chips
Jan. 18
Ham, scalloped potatoes, salad, & rolls
Jan. 25
Meatballs over noodles, salad, & rolls

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

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

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

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

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Bring used CDs to the library to help support All Pikes Peak Reads

Donate used CDs until Feb. 13 in collection boxes at all Pikes Peak Library District locations. Independent Records will donate $1 to the library for each donated CD to help support All Pikes Peak Reads in 2012. CDs must be in good condition, including all original lyric sheets and/or art. All Pikes Peak Reads is a community-wide effort to improve literacy and foster dialogue across social, cultural, and generational lines. The program includes free community events, author visits, children’s programs, theater presentations, school curriculum guides, art exhibits, and much more. The Monument Branch Library is located at 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Palmer Lake Branch Library is at 66 Lower Glenway.

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Novel Destinations adult reading program, Jan. 9-Mar. 5

Pikes Peak Library District’s annual adult reading program kicks off Jan. 9 and ends Mar. 5 and is open to anyone age 18 and older with a PPLD library card. Read any four books and receive prizes. Books on CD, audiocassette, audiobook players, eBooks, and eAudiobooks count, too! To register, bring your library card to any PPLD library and sign up at the information desk, or sign up online at ppld.org beginning Jan. 9. After you read your first four books, visit your nearest library to pick up your first prize. Read four more books before March 5 and visit the library again for your second prize and to be entered for the grand prize drawing of a new Kindle eReader! For more information, call 531-6333.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club 2012 Grant Applications available Jan. 15

Continuing its 35-year tradition of support to the Tri-Lakes community through charitable and educational endeavors, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will once again consider grant requests for special programs and projects from 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools that significantly serve the Tri-Lakes area defined by School District 38. Applications and instructions for the 2012 grant awards will be available on the TLWC website (tlwc.net) from Jan. 15 through Mar. 15. Completed applications (which must include certain required documentation) must be postmarked no later than Mar. 15. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be considered. Awards will be announced to grant recipients in late May. For more information, e-mail Nancy Brown, Grant Committee Chair, at Brownnw@comcast.net.

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Monument Hill Kiwanis Club names Bonnie Jo Biggs 2011 Kiwanian of the Year

Below: From left, Bonnie Jo BIggs receives Kiwanian of the Year award from Monument Hill Kiwanis Club President Steve Stephensen. Photo provided by Monument Hill Kiwanis.

The Kiwanian of the Year award recognizes a club member who has demonstrated outstanding service to the Club and our Tri-Lakes community. This year’s recipient, Bonnie Jo Biggs, has been actively involved in numerous club projects. To name just a few of Bonnie’s many involvements within the community, she has been an active member and served on the board of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, she chaired the Fourth of July Street Fair for five years, and she has been has been a longtime volunteer at Tri-Lakes Cares. As a longtime member of the Tri-Lakes Woman’s Club, she co-chaired both the Antiques and Garden Show and Wine and Roses fundraisers. For more information about Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, visit monumenthillkiwanis.org.

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Haunted House gives back

Haunted Mines is a Colorado-based nonprofit organization that is committed to helping its community as much as it is dedicated to frightening its guests during the Halloween season. During the 2011 Halloween season, 13,000 guests poured in to the Haunted Mines for a bit of horrifying entertainment. With this amount of community support, Haunted Mines was able to donate $100,250 to four local charities and organizations: Western Museum of Mining and Industry, Wescott Fire Department, Arson & Rescue Dog Program, and Tri-Lakes Cares. For more information, visit www.hauntedmines.org.

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Tri-Lakes Cares Thrift Shop

Hangers—Your Thrift Shop is open Tue.-Sat., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., at its new location, 245 Jefferson St., Monument, right next door to Tri-Lakes Cares. Shop for gently used clothing, books, and household items. Proceeds from Hangers will be used to promote the ongoing mission of Tri-Lakes Cares, a community-based nonprofit. For more information, call 488-2300 or visit the Tri-Lakes Cares website, www.trilakescares.org.

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Black Forest Animal Sanctuary needs volunteers

Black Forest Animal Sanctuary was founded in the late 1990s as the Charlotte & Arthur Romero Wildlife Sanctuary, an all-volunteer and not-for-profit 501c3 that helps all animals. The sanctuary is getting dozens of calls and emails every day begging for them to take in unwanted, neglected, and abused horses and other livestock animals, dogs, and cats from the Front Range area. Their goal is to rescue, rehabilitate, and retrain horses and find them permanent loving homes. They are in immediate need of funding for feed and veterinary care and significant shelter improvements to continue their work. To volunteer, adopt an animal, or make a donation, contact 494-0158, bfasfarm@aol.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.

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Therapeutic Riding Center needs volunteers, open house Jan. 14

Boots and Saddles Therapeutic Riding Center offers equine-assisted activities to children and adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Volunteers are needed for sidewalkers to assist the riders during class, as well as for horse handlers, office help, fundraising, and general ranch maintenance. Find out more at the open house scheduled for Jan. 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteer training will take place Jan. 21, 9 a.m. to noon. Boots and Saddles is located at By the Weghe Farms, 7103 S. Highway 83, Franktown. For more information, call 303-688-1388.

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Multiple sclerosis support group

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

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Help on the way for heating bills

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

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Library patrons can now download eBooks to their Kindles

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

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Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!

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

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Tri-Lakes HAP Thrift Store in Palmer Lake

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

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Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free!

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

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District offers a free senior safety program to all Tri-Lakes seniors. The program includes smoke detector evaluations, home safety assessments, vial of life, and fire prevention. For more information, call 484-0911 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Check out energy savings at local libraries

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

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Sheriff’s Office offers YouTube channel

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office now uses its own YouTube channel to share information on recent events and provide information on numerous office resources. The YouTube channel can be accessed from the front page of the Sheriff’s Office website, http://shr.elpasoco.com, or directly at www.youtube.com/EPCSheriff.

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