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Vol 12 No. 10 - October 6, 2012


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Contents

This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.

the PDF file. This is a 19.6 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

individual pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

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Labor Day Parade, Street Fair honor first responders

By David Futey

On Sept. 3, the Tri-Lakes community held a Labor Day Parade and Street Fair in Monument to honor area First Responders and other emergency services personnel who responded to the Waldo Canyon Fire. The parade, children’s activities, and street fair were coordinated by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee, and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The parade included firefighters from area departments, Wildland Fire responders, and students from local schools.

The day opened with a pancake breakfast at St. Peter Church sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Mark Yoder, public relations coordinator for the Knights, said the church and the organization were "pleased to serve the community and celebrate the efforts of the First Responders. All First Responders in the parade received a free breakfast.

Proceeds from the breakfast went to Tri-Lakes Cares, a scholarship fund for St. Peter students, and other local charities. Over 500 people were served a breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and sausage throughout the morning.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Sept. 20: Water rates expected to increase annually for at least a decade

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 20, District Manager Dana Duthie presented a briefing to the Donala Water and Sanitation District board on 10-year projections for costs and revenues. Donala’s water rates increased an average of 45 percent in 2012. The cost of producing and delivering water has risen 70 percent in the past year due in part to the cost of having Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) deliver Donala’s renewable water to the district’s Northgate road water connection with CSU.

Duthie proposed a series of additional rate increases over the next 10 years starting with an annual increase of about 25 percent in 2013 and dropping to an average annual increase of 10 percent in 2019 through 2022. There would be a 5 percent annual rate increase for the Gleneagle golf course through 2018, then the annual increase would drop to 3 percent thereafter. Sanitary sewer fees would increase annually by $1 (4 percent) per month for three years starting in 2013 to cover currently required upgrades, the first increase since 1999.

In accordance with the ballot question approved by Donala voters in 2010, Duthie also proposed an increase in the district mill levy of 5 mills, up to 21.296 mills––an average increase of $2.92 per month for a single-family home owners and $2.29 per month for a multifamily home. Revenues from the Donala property tax will continue to be used first to pay off district debt (currently $1.084 million per year) and thereafter be used to help pay operations and maintenance (O&M) costs until water revenues "break even" with costs.

Director Ken Judd was absent from the meeting.

Cost and revenue projections

Some of the conservative cost assumptions Duthie used in his spreadsheets were:

  • 2011 total water consumption was assumed to be the baseline for a "normal" year, which makes 2012 a "dry" year in comparison, necessitating higher than average water purchases from Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to help moderate Donala groundwater production demands and help sustain Donala well production and prompt well recovery. CSU rates for about 400 acre-feet of supplementary water each year will increase 10 percent per year, from $993,000 in 2012 to $2.59 million in 2022. An acre-foot of water is about 325,851 gallons.
  • The separate CSU annual system use fee is based on the maximum forecast Donala consumption in the service agreement, to cover its costs for system operation at this peak rate, currently $481,000 per year through the end of 2015, then rising 10 percent per year, for Southern Delivery System payments, to a fixed annual fee of $709,000 for 2019 through 2022.
  • Pueblo Board of Water Works lease rates for 250 acre-feet of supplementary water each year will increase 3 percent or less per year from $97,000 in 2012 to $130,000 in 2022.
  • Estimated annual storage costs for 499 acre-feet of Donala water in the Pueblo Reservoir are based on the current advertised Bureau of Reclamation storage cost of $58 per acre-foot of stored water per year, plus an additional $50,000 over the next two years.
  • Other operations and maintenance costs, including administration costs (legal, salaries, engineering, insurance, etc.), will rise about 4 percent per year.
  • The items listed under "Other Capitol Projects" (future new wells and distribution lines) do not include those projects previously funded by revenue bonds and are being separately paid for with property tax revenue.
  • Total costs will rise from $5.3 million in 2012 to $8.566 million in in 2022.

These average water rate increases will be in force for the entire years:

  • 2013—25 percent
  • 2014—20 percent
  • 2015 through 2017—15 percent
  • 2018—12 percent
  • 2019 through 2022—10 percent

Some of the other conservative revenue assumptions Duthie used were:

  • Rates for the Gleneagle golf course will increase at 5 percent per year until 2018, then increase at 3 percent per year.
  • Sewer rates will start to increase $1 per month each year through 2015 to pay for new total phosphorus, arsenic, and other required treatment upgrade costs at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.
  • Specific ownership tax revenues from auto sales will not change.
  • Tap fees and development fees are based on construction of six homes per year until Paradise Villas is completed in 2018. No revenue is included for any future development on Brown Ranch or any commercial development.
  • Miscellaneous revenue will not change.

The following types of potential costs were not included in the estimate:

  • An unplanned re-drilling of a well would cost about $500,000, which is more than the $400,000 projected to be spent each year for planned capital projects from 2013 through 2022.
  • An unplanned replacement of asbestos cement water distribution pipes––the total cost for replacing all of this kind of pipe would be roughly $1 million to $2 million, but would likely be a multi-year project if required as preventive maintenance.
  • Future wastewater treatment plant upgrades for treating total phosphorus, total nitrogen, arsenic, and other currently unspecified water quality issues.

The following potential sources of revenue were not planned for nor included in the estimate:

  • Sale of the Willow Creek Ranch: $1.3 million
  • Revenue from Academy Water and Sanitation District for wastewater treatment services by the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility: $1.1 million
  • Annual sewer fee revenue from the Academy district: $126,000 per year
  • Revenue from Triview Metropolitan District for repaying Donala’s loan for part of Triview’s cost share for expansion of Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility: $820,000
  • Additional tap fees from the future Brown Ranch (up to $1.3 million) or new commercial development.

Duthie also noted that the estimate does not account for swings in revenue and treatment costs for dry or wet years that are significantly different than 2011, such as dry 2012.

The district’s fee revenue shortfall drops from $1.75 million in 2012 to $283,000 in 2016, then excess fee revenue rises from $60,000 in 2017 to $1.485 million in 2022. Property tax revenue rises from $1.13 million in 2012 to $1.48 million in 2022 in this estimate, while bond debt payments remain fixed at $1.084 million.

Duthie noted that the proposed graduated rate increases would be more tolerable than a single 70 percent rate increase for 2012 to cover the high cost of water purchased from CSU and Pueblo. The shortfalls in revenue will continue to be paid for out of cash reserves currently invested with Davidson Fixed Income Management. He also noted that the topic was advertised in the district newsletter, but no citizens were present at this board meeting.

Duthie said that the cost increases will negatively affect Donala’s customers, but the district cannot bury its head in the sand like other area water districts and towns. He said that Woodmen Hills, Cherokee, and Parker residents have not wanted to hear about the actual costs of water, and Cherokee and Parker had board recalls. Duthie noted his proposals will result in rates below CSU’s without giving water away as, he said, others in the area have done. However, Donala’s existing wells cannot keep up with district demand without supplementation, and the rates must increase to pay for the district’s renewable water and CSU’s and Pueblo’s supplementary water.

The specific monthly residential water fee increases proposed for 2013 were:

  • Minimum fee for 1,000 gallons—no increase from $25 for single-family homes and $18 for multifamily.
  • 1,001 to 10,000 gallons—$4.50 per thousand gallons, up from $3.90, 15 percent
  • 10,001 to 20,000 gallons—$7.50 per thousand gallons, up from $5.90, 27 percent
  • 20,001 to 30,000 gallons—$10.00 per thousand gallons, up from $7.35, 36 percent
  • 30,001 to 40,000 gallons—$15.00 per thousand gallons, up from $10.25, 46 percent
  • 40,001 to 50,000 gallons—$20.00 per thousand gallons, up from $15.35, 30 percent
  • Above 50,000 gallons—$25.00 per thousand gallons, up from $16.50, 52 percent

The specific monthly townhouse irrigation fee increases proposed for 2013 were:

  • Same as the new residential rates up to 40,000 gallons
  • Above 40,000 gallons—$13.75 per thousand gallons, up from $11.00, 25 percent ($1.50 per thousand gallons reduction for cutting demand by 25 percent)

More information is available in the Donala district newsletters for September and October, and the one that will be distributed for November.

The 2013 budget hearing will be held at the district conference room, 15850 Holbein Drive, at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 6.

Financial report

Duthie said, "We’re doing pretty good." He noted that by the first week in October, Donala will have sold more water than in all of 2011, a record high, which is good for revenue generation "but not so good for our wells." He reported that Triview had provided Donala the revenue from eight new tap fees, $1,500 each, which is being used to pay off Donala’s loan of about $1 million for paying part of Triview’s share of expansion of the Upper Monument Creek facility.

Duthie displayed several well depth charts for the past year that showed how water in the various operational wells drops rapidly after an extended period of high demand operation. The length of time each well requires to "refill" itself to its normal maximum standing water depth is increasing. So is the amount of additional time it takes beyond that to be able to sustain high rate pumping again.

Donala operators now have to use more care and planning to ensure there is a sufficient depth of water in each well to operate efficiently in a sustained manner. This is the primary reason that so much supplementary water is being used from Willow Creek Ranch, CSU, and the Pueblo Bureau of Water Works during irrigation season. This water is much more expensive than the cost of producing the groundwater that is no longer sufficient for peak summer demands.

In other matters, Duthie noted that Donala’s new water conservation plan that was updated in August 2011 had finally been formally approved by the Colorado Water Conservation Board on Aug. 24, 2012.

The meeting went into executive session at 3:35 p.m. to discuss negotiation strategies and personnel matters.

No actions were taken by the board after it came out of executive session.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Oct. 18 at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. 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. Information: 488-3603.

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

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD special meeting, Sept. 4: Ballot wording approved

By Bernard L. Minetti

The wording of the upcoming ballot measure calling for a 3-mill tax increase was the subject of a special meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District on Sept. 4. Voters will decide the issue on Nov. 6. There was also considerable discussion about the 2013 budget and the possible actions that would be required should the 35 percent property tax increase fail.

This reporter asked the board if it would rule out former board President Charlie Pocock’s recommendation of a 5 percent pay increase for district employees and a $6,000 annual pay raise for the office manager, if the tax increase passes. Although there was a quorum present, acting board President Bill Ingram indicated that the two absent members—Bruce Fritsche and Barbara Kelly—might think differently from the board members present (regarding pay raises).

While the board discussed various actions it "might" have to take should the board’s proposed property tax increase fail, no decisions were made, nor did the board target possible future cost reductions. The board also discussed the "probable" closing of Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive if Tri-Lakes taxpayers do not vote to impose the requested tax hike on themselves.

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack gave a thorough explanation of the budgetary future of the district funding and his suppositions regarding the passing or failing of the tax increase. If the measure fails, he said, certain employee benefits might be reduced or removed, or might not be no longer free to the employees. He also spoke about possibly shifting funds in the budget.

No proposals on how the new tax revenues would be designated for future uses should the measure pass were presented, and no votes were taken on a course of action, including actions that Jack suggested.

Jack is also the designated election officer for the tax increase proposal, and he submitted the following ballot wording that was passed unanimously by the board:

    "Shall Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District taxes be increased $1,034,208 annually, or by such amount as may be raised by the imposition of an ad valorem property tax rate of 3.00 mills, being an increase from 8.50 mills to 11.50 mills, to be certified in 2012 and collected in 2013. And continuing each year thereafter as otherwise allowed by law, which increase shall be for funding the general fund of the district to provide proper fire protection, emergency response, and safety for the residents, property owners and businesses of the district including:

    "Offsetting decreases in tax revenue resulting from lower assessed values of property within the district, maintaining current staffing levels, maintaining fire protection and EMS vehicles and equipment, maintaining stations, real property, facilities or equipment as necessary to ensure the safety of the community;

    "Shall the proceeds of such taxes and any investment income thereon be collected and spent by the district as a voter [sic] voter-approved revenue change in 2013, and in each year thereafter without regard to any spending, revenue-raising, or other limitations contained within Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution, or Section 29-1-301, Colorado Revised Statutes, and without limiting in any year the amount of other revenues that may be collected and spent by the district?"

The ballot wording indicates that the reason for the tax increase measure is the reduction in property tax revenues for the district. There is no mention of rescinding this increase when property tax values return to pre-recession levels.

The board went into executive session. Ingram affirmed that there would be no further business following the executive session portion of the meeting.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD special meeting, Sept. 11: Plans defined in case tax increase fails

By Bernard L. Minetti

A resolution authorizing a plan of action should voters turn down the November mill levy increase ballot measure was passed at the Sept. 11 special meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board. The board also discussed hiring a new fire chief and introduced four candidates vying for a vacant seat on the board.

There was considerable discussion of the what-ifs related to the mill levy—which proposes to raise property taxes by 35 percent, from 8.5 mills to 11.5 mills—if it should fail. If it does, Resolution 12-005 defines proposed actions, including:

  • Eliminating three operational line staff positions, reducing the operational staff to 33 (saves $154,000)
  • Closing Woodmoor Station 3 and redistributing the remaining staff to Stations 1 and 2 (saves $34,000)
  • Identifying additional cost-saving measures and further reduce service and staffing

Franz Hankins, president of Local 4319 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, asked that the union be allowed to examine the resolution and make a statement before the Sept. 26 regular board meeting. At that meeting, both 12-005 and another resolution, 12-004 (which would establish an annual spending plan and future mill levy reduction plan should the measure pass) will be formally voted on. A revised Resolution 12-005 will be discussed at that meeting.

The ballot measure was proposed as a way to make up for lowered income from property tax revenue due to decreased property values. That would make the measure a temporary bridge to make up for lost revenue. But so far, there’s been no discussion about a termination date for the increase, making it appear to be a permanent tax increase.

Still no fire chief

There was considerable discussion about the cost of hiring a fire chief and the ability to do so if the mill levy proposal fails. Board members said the budget may need to be rearranged to free up the funds, although nothing was discussed about cost reductions for other needs. They did say that other options to cut spending could make room for the salary for a new chief.

It was also mentioned that the personnel policy manual deems it appropriate that in-house promotion to chief be given consideration. Board members discussed the urgent need for leadership in this position as well as the possibility of advertising nationally for the position. Director Roger Lance stated that he is aware of several national recruitment avenues that could be utilized. Continued discussion on the hiring of a fire chief was tabled until the results of the upcoming election are known.

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack told the board that the three battalion chiefs had met with a psychologist who would like to look at the district’s testing process, not just for this hire, but also across the full spectrum of district positions.

Timing for SAFER grant might not work

Board President Bill Ingram said the district is under consideration for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) federal grant, which would provide full pay and benefits for six entry-level fire personnel for two years; after that, the district would have to take over paying for those six new hires. There was some discussion as to whether accepting the grant would be worthwhile since district expenses are now so high that keeping the new hires beyond the two-year period could not be ensured.

Ingram said that the district is looking at laying off two or three people if the mill levy fails, and SAFER grant rules prevent layoffs during the grant period. However, the grant request could be submitted again next year.

Candidates for board position introduced

Ingram introduced the four candidates who had applied for appointment to the vacant board seat originally held by Charlie Pocock, who resigned last month. They are: Allan Bassett, who is also running for El Paso County commissioner; Jacob Shirk, Monument police chief; Darryl Beckmann, retired deputy commissioner with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; and Bill Normile, a member of the El Paso County Emergency Services board.

Ingram briefly discussed the use of and possible purchase of a safe to store documents in the district administration office.

Troop 514 from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided refreshments for the firefighters and other attendees at the meeting. The board and attendees expressed their thanks.

The board went into executive session "for determining positions relative to negotiation." Ingram indicated that it did not appear that any votes would be taken following the executive session.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD regular meeting, Sept. 26: Shirk appointed to FPD board

By Bernard L. Minetti

On Sept. 26, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board The board reviewed the five applications for appointment to the existing vacant district board position. The applicants were Allan Bassett, Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk, Darryl Beckmann, retired deputy commissioner with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, El Paso County Emergency Services Board member Bill Normile, and former Tri-Lakes FPD board member and president Oscar Gillespie. With little discussion, the board voted 3-2 to place Shirk on the board to fill the vacancy.

Resolutions lay out board action for passage or failure of tax increase

The board wrote into the record actions the district would take following either passage or failure of its Nov. 6 tax increase ballot measure. Resolutions 12-004 and 12-005 both were approved. The actions specified by year, in resolution 12-004 are:

    "Section 1. The Board of Directors hereby adopts and approves the following five-year spending plan, should the November 6, 2012, ballot measure pass. This plan is in addition to current District revenue and the current operational budget spending plan:

    "2013—The district shall retain three current line staff positions for a total operational force of thirty-six personnel, maintain 24/7 operations at three fire stations, restore critical portions of the operating budget to the 2007-2008 levels, to include: restoring two unfilled Firefighter-Paramedic positions, restoring portions of Firefighter Training and Education, restoring portions of Station Repair and Maintenance, restoring Fire and EMS Vehicle Repair and Maintenance, restoring Fire and EMS Equipment purchasing, restoring Radio and Communication purchasing and hiring a Fire Chief. The cost to restore the aforementioned items is $416,105. The remaining $583,895 shall be used to restore the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) fund to approximately 50% of its 2009 level.

    "2014—The district shall continue to restore critical portions of the operating budget to the 2007-2008 levels, to include: restoring portions of Firefighter Training and Education, restoring Firefighter Personal Protective Equipment and Uniforms, restoring portions of Station Repair and Maintenance, restoring Fire and EMS Vehicle Repair and Maintenance, restoring Fire and EMS Equipment purchasing, restoring Radio and Communication purchasing. The cost to restore the aforementioned items is $300,000. The remaining $700,000 shall be used to fully restore the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) fund to and to fully restore the Impact Fee fund.

    "2015—The District shall appropriate funding to the operating budget to retain the six SAFER employees or hire six operational employees and consider a Cost of Living Adjustment to meet inflation for current employees at a cost of $400,000. The remaining $600,000 shall be used to establish an emergency reserve account ($100,000), pay off two of the four current lease purchases early ($458,549) and increase the CIP by $41,406.

    "2016—The District shall appropriate funding to the operating budget to maintain staffing levels at a cost of $400,000. The remaining $600,000 shall be used to pay off one of the remaining two lease purchases early.

    "2017—The District shall appropriate funding to the operating budget to maintain staffing levels at a cost of $400,000. The remaining $600,000 shall be used to pay off the final lease purchase early.

    "2018—The district shall appropriate funding to the operating budget to maintain staffing levels at a cost of $400,000. The District shall consider reducing the mill levy to the level necessary to maintain safe, effective and appropriate fire, rescue and emergency medical service response for the residents and firefighters of the district. The District reserves the right to certify the mill levy at any level below 11.5 mills on a yearly basis."

The actions specified by year in Resolution 12-005 are:

    "Section 1. The Board of Directors hereby adopts and approves the following cost reduction spending plan, should the November 6, 2012 ballot measure not pass:

    "2013—The district shall eliminate three operational line staff positions from the operational force, reducing operational staff from 36 to 33 personnel. This generates a cost savings of $154,000. With the reduction of line staff the district will re-distribute the remaining Woodmoor Station #3 staff to Stations #1 & 2. This will allow for the closure of Woodmoor Station #3 which creates a cost savings of $34,000. The total cost savings from the aforementioned items is $188,000.

    "The projected Beginning Fund Balance (BFB) for 2013 is $427,188. District expenses average $450,000 for January each year and $350,000 for February. Property tax revenue distributions from the county start to arrive in late February. Essentially, the District needs to maintain a Beginning Fund Balance of $600,000 to cover operational expenses for the first two months of the year. When the projected 2013 BFB is added to the cost savings listed above the District BFB would be $615,188.

    "This would allow the District to operate at a diminished staffing and service level for the year 2013. To operate beyond 2013 the District would have to identify additional cost saving measures and further reduce service and staffing."

Financial report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt said that through August, the district had received $2.9 million or 97.83 percent of the expected property tax revenues. It had received $183,008 or 73.39 percent of the expected budgeted revenues from the specific ownership tax. Ambulance revenues were $348,045 or 63.28 percent of the expected revenue for this line item. He noted that this amount was 3.38 percent under expected revenue through August.

Hildebrandt said administrative expenses for August were up slightly coincident with the payment of the liability insurance premiums and the payment of maintenance contracts. He summarized by noting that overall expenses were 0.38 percent higher than the year-to-date budgetary expectations.

Battalion Chief Bryan Jack notified the board that the Federal Emergency Management Administration has allowed the district to wait until the tax increase results are known before making a decision on whether to accept the federal SAFER grant with its stipulations or to reject it. This grant would fund the hire of six fire personnel for two years. A determination must be made on whether funds will be available to continue the employment of these six employees or they must be terminated at the cessation of the two-year federal funding.

Lt. Ryan Graham, treasurer of the International Association of Firefighters Local 4319, announced its members had voted unanimously to support the passage of the mill levy increase. He said union members would show their support by displaying signs and going door-to-door, besides spending their funds. He encouraged others to join them in publicizing support for the tax increase. The board thanked the union for its assistance.

Battalion Chief Mike Dooley received a letter commending him from Maj. Matthew R. Basler at the U.S. Air Force Academy. It thanked Dooley and firefighters Tracey Stapley, Will Vogl, and Ryan Rockx for the wonderful time his son had during his experience with the "Fire Station Adventure," which was a prize he had won at a silent auction at St. Peter Church. He thanked them for the ride on the fire truck that his son enjoyed and for his son’s experience in actually getting to spray water from one of the hoses.

A special meeting of the board was called for Monday, Oct. 8, to discuss budgetary subjects. It will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument.

The district office manager noted that the Mom’s Club of Colorado Springs, Monument North, had supplied an enormous amount of refreshments for the fire personnel present at the board meeting that evening.

The board went into executive session for "determining positions relative to negotiations."

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct 24, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Sept. 18: Audit shows "clean" 2011 budget

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 18, auditor Tom Sistare of Hoelting & Co. briefed the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board on his "clean" budget opinion contained in the district’s 2011 audit. The board unanimously accepted the 2011 audit and unanimously approved minor amendments to the 2011 and 2012 budget recommended by Sistare.

Director Greg Gent was absent from the meeting. The board excused the absence of Director Joyce Hartung.

Sistare suggested a few minor format changes to the district’s 2011 budget regarding the initial general fund balance and the reallocated source of revenue for some expenditures for construction of the new Shamrock Station 2 on Highway 83 from capital reserve funds. Sistare suggested corresponding amendments to display how funds from a few line items from capital reserves and designated funds were reallocated to the 2011 beginning fund balance and then spent in line items for station construction.

There was no public comment during the audit hearing. The board unanimously accepted the 2011 audit as presented.

The board also discussed a resolution to make the corresponding line item changes in the 2011 budget that Sistare had recommended in the 2011 audit. There was no public comment on these changes during the public budget hearing. There was also no public comment during the separate public hearing to amend the format of the 2012 budget to match the changes recommended by Sistare for the 2011 budget and the change in the beginning balance for 2012.

The 2011 audit, amended 2011 budget, and amended 2012 budget were forwarded to the state after this board meeting.

Sistare and the board praised all the members of the staff for individually managing the resources allocated directly to them under Wescott’s decentralized financial management policy during and after the new station construction and acquisition of new apparatus. Praise was also given for the oversight and sound management provided by the line item managers to stay within their operating budgets throughout the Station 2 building process, which prevented any need to draw on capital reserves to pay for day-to day-operations.

2013 draft budget presented

Burns and Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall proposed a balanced 2013 budget that includes no plans for Wescott to ask its constituents for a mill levy increase. The operations and administration portions of the budget are very similar to those in the 2012 budget and well within estimated property tax revenues that are expected to increase about $14,000 in 2013. The most significant change is a small increase in the amounts allocated for apparatus maintenance and repair and for fuel costs.

Marshall also noted that she had planned to create a separate budget and database for the district’s volunteer pension fund. Sistare endorsed her recommendation as did the board.

Financial statements

Marshall stated that about 74 percent of the 2012 budget had been spent through the end of August. However, about $33,000 in salaries for wildland deployments had not been reimbursed yet, nor had most of the reimbursements for use of Wescott vehicles at wildland fires been made. At the current expenditure rate of about $100,000 per month, total expenses are expected to continue to remain well below the total amount budgeted through the end of this year. The district has ample operating reserves that will last through the first few months of 2013 until the first property tax revenues are forwarded by the state.

Chief’s report

Burns reported that the district had collected about $13,000 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during its annual "Fill the Boot" fundraising campaign during the Labor Day weekend.

A new training class of five volunteers was started on Sept. 15. The five volunteers were selected from 20 applicants.

The district had just completed a two-week wildfire deployment to North Dakota.

Burns advised the board that Assistant Chief Scott Ridings had coordinated a two-hour tour for District 1 County Commissioner Darryl Glenn to see Wescott’s facilities and the hazards and types of homes in the district’s service area.

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings reported 146 calls in August, which was up 5.8 percent from 2011.

Fire marshal’s report

Fire Marshal Margo Humes gave a briefing on how the $12,000 state grant awarded to the Pleasant View homeowners by the Colorado State Forest Service for wildfire mitigation had been dispersed. The district helps with distributing the grant money on a 50-50 match basis to Pleasant View homeowners. Eight grants have been approved by Wescott and presented to homeowners to help them mitigate their yards. Two of these grants were for the maximum amount allowed, $1,000. Humes added that $5,533 remained to be awarded by April.

Humes briefed the board on fire inspections she had conducted at various businesses and the numerous presentations she had given regarding wildfire mitigation to civic and homeowners associations as well as church groups.

Humes noted that the most recent version of a proposed residential sprinkler system building code amendment for new construction had been presented by the northern county fire districts to the county district attorney and the Housing and Building Association. After the association’s counterproposal is received, the fire marshals will submit both proposals to their respective district boards for a final vote on which proposal each district will submit to the Board of County Commissioners for a vote. The sprinkler code would be administered by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

Ridings recommended the acquisition and installation of a new station alerting system for both fire stations at a cost of $20,000 from the $273,000 in the reserve fund for building construction and improvements. Board President Scott Campbell asked the staff to present a prioritized list of remaining purchases for the year at the Oct. 15 board meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Sept. 5: Old agreement reviewed

By Susan Hindman

A couple’s interest in purchasing a 17.4-acre property on Spring Valley Drive where two of the district’s wells are located was the main topic of discussion at the Sept. 5 meeting of the Academy Water and Sanitation District board. The property is currently owned by Tari McCollom, and various agreements are in place that allow operation of two of the district’s three wells and ensure the district’s access to them through the property.

Director Ron Curry recused himself from the discussion because he works for the real estate firm that is representing the potential buyers.

The district has had wells on the property for almost two decades, but the original wells were abandoned and two new ones drilled in 2003. While McCollom signed agreements related to the change, discussions were never completed when it came time to pinpoint the legal description, according to Paul Murphy, the district’s attorney, so the county doesn’t have that documentation.

The potential buyers, who hope to build a home on the property, asked the board questions about those agreements and about utilities and any underground obstacles.

The board went into executive session to discuss the 2003 agreement with McCollom. Afterward, board President Richard DuPont said the district’s engineer needed to be contacted about getting a final completed survey with a legal description, and the board voted to authorize Murphy to continue the process of preparing the related documents.

New meeting date and time

The board voted to change its meeting dates to later in the month, to better time the meetings to the availability of the monthly financial statements. The meeting time will also change to one hour earlier. A few weeks after this September meeting, the location was also changed. So starting in October, board meetings will be held the third Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. in the Wescott fire station at 15415 Gleneagle Drive.

The board wanted the district’s residents to know that anyone wanting a tour of the treatment plant can call the district at 481-0711 and schedule one.

Aug. 1 meeting

Several things are worth noting from the August meeting, which was not written up in the September issue of OCN. One item relates to the preliminary engineering report that details how the district will address new, more stringent state regulations regarding ammonia discharge from the wastewater treatment plant.

Engineer Roger Sams of GMS previously presented three options, and at this meeting he broke down the monthly household costs of each option (the numbers are for wastewater service only):

  1. Build a new treatment plant: $487,681 would be required annually, which breaks down to $89.32 per month per household. Total estimated project cost: $3.5 million
  2. Build a connection line to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) collection system at Northgate Road for treatment at CSU’s Las Vegas wastewater treatment plant: $734,186 annually or $157.34 per month per household. Total estimated cost: $4.6 million (plus the continued operation of an internal collection system)
  3. Connect to the Donala Water and Sanitation District collection system for treatment at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility: $552,359 annually or $107.15 per month per household. Total estimated project cost: $3.5 million (plus the continued operation of an internal collections system)

To pay for construction of the required infrastructure, the district could be facing a mill levy increase of 60 to 65 mills, Sams said.

At the moment, meeting ammonia standards is the district’s immediate problem. But the state recently approved a new nutrient amendment to Regulation 31, which sets strict standards for the amount of total phosphorus and total nitrogen in the effluent for 2022, so the district will have to address those new standards as well over the next decade. Academy’s lagoon treatment system is small enough to be exempt from having to comply with the interim nutrient treatment limits for total phosphorus and total nitrogen in the new Control Regulation 85, which apply only to the 44 largest capacity wastewater treatment plants in Colorado.

Exclusion petition matter completed: In May, the board approved a petition by Carole and Ray O’Mara to be excluded from the district. The O’Maras’ property had a state-approved well, but because of agreements in place before they moved to the area, their property has been considered part of the district and therefore subject to the mill levy charged on their property taxes. The mill levy, which is scheduled to expire in 2014, pays for the cost of building the district’s water treatment plant.

At the August board meeting, the couple requested that the board sign quit claim deeds that granted the district and the O’Maras certain water rights. Those deeds were approved, and the board instructed Murphy to file the petition with the District Court.

Amending the budget requires special meeting: Treasurer Walt Reiss said the budgets for 2011 and 2012 had to be amended and resubmitted to the state. The amendments were needed because spending in the repairs and maintenance line items exceeded the amounts originally appropriated. A special meeting was held Aug. 21 to discuss and then approve the amended budgets, which have been forwarded to the state.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board now meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at the Wescott fire station at 15415 Gleneagle Drive. The next meeting is Oct. 17.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, Sept. 11: Outsourcing of financial reporting proposed

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 11, the Triview Metropolitan District board considered a proposal to outsource financial reporting to reduce the workload on the district’s limited number of administrative personnel.

In the past, Triview had four staff members working in the district office building on Washington Street. Then Monument town staff took over administration of the district on a contract basis for a few years, but that agreement ended earlier this year. There was only one administrative staff member for seven months until District Manager Valerie Remington was hired.

Director Bob Eskridge did not attend the meeting.

Outsourcing of financials

Remington met with the consultant firm Community Resource Services of Colorado LLC of Greenwood Village to provide financial and accounting services. The price for the basic service contract is $1,900 per month or $22,800 annually for audit preparation and coordination with the auditor, budget preparation and adoption process, and a five-year financial plan. Attendance at meetings and any type of comparative analysis of data are not included. The first 20 hours of initial set-up of compatible software for the district, which should be sufficient, is free. The district will own the data. Paycom of Denver would still perform the outsourced payroll services for Triview in coordination with CRS.

Remington will provide board members with some sample CRS standard report formats for their review prior to the October board meeting.

Financial report

Triview Treasurer Pamela Smith noted that there were three disbursements checks over $5,000:

  • $12,839 to Merrick & Co. for engineering work on the new Promontory Pointe water pressure booster pump system
  • $5,635 to A Green Image for lawn fertilizer and weed control along Leather Chaps Drive open space and all Jackson Creek parks
  • $7066 to Felt, Monson, & Culichia LLC for August legal services regarding water matters

The board unanimously approved these three disbursements.

The July financial report summary noted that general fund revenues were up $793,000 or 19.2 percent higher than budgeted through the end of July, but this net was down $155,000 from the end of June. General fund expenditures were less than the amount budgeted by $195,000 or 5.5 percent for this period. The net increase in the general fund for this year was $988,000.

Water enterprise funds were $388,000 higher than the amount budgeted through the end of July due to higher than expected water billings caused by the drought, an increase of $29,000 from the June total. Enterprise fund expenditures were $92,000 or 4 percent less than the amount budgeted. The net increase in the enterprise fund for this year was $480,000.

The net cash reserve through July for all funds was $2.09 million.

The financials were unanimously accepted as presented.

Operations report

Operations Manager Nick Harris reported the following completed items:

  • All irrigation repairs throughout the district.
  • Water treatment plant A at 460 Oxbow Drive has been repainted.
  • All planned cleaning and inspection of scheduled district wastewater collection lines.
  • Successful results for all state compliance testing for disinfection byproducts and nitrates.

Harris also reported these updates:

  • August water production was 37.6 million gallons, up 21.5 percent from 2011.
  • Annual concrete curb and gutter repairs, installation of the new fence around water treatment plant A, replacement of dead trees in parks and open space, with refurbished irrigation, and repair of the underdrain system outlet for the Oxbow Drive and Talus Road neighborhood have all been started.
  • Bids have been requested for scheduled asphalt repairs within the district.
  • Costs are being researched for repair of a filter flow meter at the B water treatment plant, for using the Laramie-Fox Hills 1 well for production of drinking water, and for a study of the Triview roads that have been chip-sealed.

Harris offered three options to the board for repainting 10 crosswalks for Leather Chaps Drive intersections at Larimer Creek Drive, Creekside Drive, and Kitchener Way:

  • Crosswalk bars parallel to the street for $3,750
  • Crosswalk bars parallel to the street and removal of existing 6-inch perpendicular lines for $5,650
  • Restriping the existing 6-inch perpendicular lines, $500

After a lengthy discussion, the board approved the first option for $3,750. Director Steve Hurd asked Harris for an update on other crosswalk requirements in the rest of the district at the next board meeting.

Manager’s report

Remington reported that she has made progress on getting approval for a new wetlands 404 permit for Jackson Creek permit from the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. She also reported that new cell phone tower antenna arrays would be installed on the northeast corner of the former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store property on the northeast corner of the I-25 Baptist Road exit.

Remington said the staff is collecting water use data back to 2000 with the engineering assistance of Lytle Water Solutions LLC. Two pressure relief valves will have to be recalibrated to re-regulate water pressure in areas with low water pressure in the high elevation portion of Jackson Creek water distribution system, according to the Merrick engineering firm. The Promontory Pointe booster pump system will consist of three pumps providing 200 gallons per minute. Once the design is finalized, Merrick will put the booster pump system installation out to bid. Merrick will hold a public meeting at Bear Creek Elementary School to inform Jackson Creek residents about the new system. The date for the meeting has not been set.

Construction should take about six weeks. The new system should ensure the ability to take second-floor shower during peak water demand periods throughout the district. Residents may have to adjust their sprinkler systems with the impending increase of water pressure in affected areas.

Remington and Harris have completed all the documentation required by the Colorado Special Districts Property and Liability Pool to ensure that all the required coverages for employees and equipment are in place. Remington has completed her new employee courses on liability. She asked the board members to take an online one-hour training course as well to help lower the insurance rates as much as possible, 5 percent.

Harris and Remington will research what is required for Triview to qualify for a discount on sanitary sewer infrastructure maintenance warranty insurance. The total maximum rate discount available on the $19,000 bill is 27.5 percent, which would be effective for 2013. The board appointed Remington as the authorized district representative to the insurance pool so that she could submit the insurance application by the end of the month.

Water lease approved

The board unanimously approved a water lease agreement between Triview and the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association for up to 100 acre-feet of Triview’s excess effluent wastewater that is discharged to Monument Creek at the rate of $100 per acre-foot.

The board also discussed a resolution for an amendment to the March 25, 2008, order of inclusion of Sanctuary Pointe into the district to clarify rights and obligations of the district and the owners, Pulpit Rock Investments and Baptist Road Investments, which is owned by Classic Homes. The board approved having its water attorney Chris Cummins forward the revised resolution to Pulpit Rock and Baptist Road for a formal review at the Oct. 9 board meeting.

The board went into executive session at 7:16 p.m. to receive legal advice on specific questions from the district’s attorneys. Board Chairman Robert Fisher stated that no decisions would be made after the executive session.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 9 in Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, Sept. 11: Pilot plant could be delayed to save costs

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 11, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) discussed the possibility of delaying operations of its total phosphorus removal pilot plant for a second year.

The meeting began with a minute of silence in remembrance of the victims and first responders who died or were injured on 9-11-2001.

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:

  • President Jim Whitelaw, Woodmoor
  • Vice President Dale Smith, Palmer Lake
  • Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Robinove, Monument

Typically, several other district board members, including the JUC alternate representatives and district managers from each of the three owner districts also attend JUC meetings to ensure continuity of facility operations and in-depth knowledge on the district boards.

Further delay of
phosphorus pilot plant suggested

Facility Manager Bill Burks said that in the second draft of the facility’s 2013 budget, he had added a separate line item for the total phosphorus removal pilot plant that will be operated three months. That will finalize the design requirements for the full-scale removal plant that will be required for the next discharge permit.

Burks then suggested postponing operations of the total phosphorus removal pilot plant for a second year to save about $50,000 in construction and operating costs, including chemicals, because there is no technical uncertainty regarding the design of the plant. He said this $50,000 could then be reallocated to having engineering firm Tetra Tech perform a long-term capital improvement plan in 2013. The total draft budget amount of $932,271 remained unchanged.

The purpose of the engineering design study is to start to resolve long-term uncertainties regarding other permit issues such as the biotic ligand model for determining an appropriate copper standard for the upper segment of Monument and a more detailed aquatic life characterization for this sandy-bottom stream segment. The Tri-Lakes plant will have difficulty meeting the current copper limits in the facility’s discharge permit after the copper temporary modification expires.

The current naturally occurring multimetric index scores for aquatic life in Monument Creek just above the Tri-Lakes effluent discharge pipe are only about half of the minimum score required by Regulation 31.17, hence unobtainable. This will require a perpetual discharger specific variance for the Tri-Lakes facility and, as of now, paying consultants to prove once again every three years that the stream segment will never meet the state minimum aquatic life standard.

Woodmoor District Manager Jessie Shaffer noted that the total phosphorus removal upgrade would not be required for another five years on the next facility discharge permit, and there would be an accelerated compliance schedule that would allow a little more time for design and construction. It is likely that the actual permit requirement may be changed by then due to changes in plant or effluent characteristics.

Shaffer said he too preferred investing in master planning in the short term to determine options and costs regarding efficiency upgrade alternatives, additional blowers for increased aeration, sludge drying beds, land requirements for plant expansion, and emerging new nitrogen treatment processes and technologies.

The JUC asked Burks to specify, at the Oct. 9 meeting, the actual costs for a Tetra Tech master plan study as an alternative to completing the total phosphorus pilot plant project in 2013. The JUC representatives will also report back to Burks on a final decision regarding whether their districts want to proceed with the proposed new $87,000 storage building in 2013. The new building has been deferred the past two years because of the unexpectedly high costs for the Monument Sanitation District to participate in the stakeholder process for creation of the new Control Regulation 85 and Regulation 31.17 and the high cost of the district’s Wakonda Hills collection system construction.

Burks noted that the final two payments to Liquid Waste Management Inc. for 2012 sludge removal, $32,072 and $32,418, had been made. The actual amount of sludge removed was 346 dry tons versus the planned amount of 350 dry tons. The total cost for the year was $126,709, which was $116 under budget.

In the plant manager’s report, Burks noted that there had been one slightly elevated E. coli measurement due to some failed ultraviolet lamps that led briefly to less disinfection than expected. All other aspects of plant operation were normal.

More Water Quality Forum groups formed

Jim Kendrick, Operations, Monument Sanitation District, gave a brief overview of the new stakeholder work group meetings that have been formed to resolve issues in publishing new policy and guidance documents for implementation of Control Regulation 85 limits by June 30, 2013, and statewide nutrient monitoring by March.

The number of Water Quality Forum work groups has jumped from six to 13 because of the regulatory workload created by these new regulations. Fees for wastewater service throughout the state will have to rise immediately and dramatically to cover the costs of the additional workload, equipment design and construction, operations, and maintenance to remove more nutrients from wastewater as well as to remove more metals and organic compounds.

The new interim limits for nutrients in Regulation 31.17 are technologically and economically unattainable, Kendrick said. The EPA’s demands on nitrogen and metals removal are even more restrictive. The EPA’s new demands for arsenic removal are also technologically and economically unattainable, he said.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

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The next JUC meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 9 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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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Sept. 13: Wildfire water protection defenses pursued

By Candice Hitt

At the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board meeting Sept. 13, District Manager Jessie Shaffer stated the district has been working to identify wildfire defensible zones to target in Woodmoor that would protect the water supply in the event of a wildfire. Board member Tommy Schwab volunteered to assist in working with other local agencies such as the Woodmoor Improvement Association to identify these critical areas.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has asked district if it would like to participate in the county’s pre-mitigation plan. The board decided the district would participate in workgroup sessions and later make a final decision on adopting the plan.

Operations and construction update

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said Well 17 is having check valve problems. The well is operating, but needs to be pulled again to recheck the valves. The well is under warranty. Gillette said the district stopped the use of lake water in the middle of August. He has been working on a testing protocol for taste and odor concerns that were reported by customers. The exchange has been shut off from Monument Creek due to low flows to see if this would make a difference in the taste and odor issue.

Shaffer said the first draft of the district’s Long Range Plan was received from engineering consultant firm Tetra Tech and changes will be submitted by the staff. Then a second draft will be submitted by Tetra Tech to the board with a tentative final document expected at the October board meeting.

Shaffer reported that the new Kum-N-Go gas station on the southwest corner or Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive has broken ground and purchased a two-inch commercial tap from the district.

JV Ranch update

Shaffer reported the Conoco-Phillips oil/gas well site located on the district’s JV Ranch is scheduled for cleanup. Conoco-Phillips is the operator of the well site and will pay for the cleanup.

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

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Sept. 20: 2013 fee increase options considered

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 20, the Monument Sanitation District board reviewed an updated draft 2013 budget that included three different monthly fees as options.

The "no increase" option of keeping the monthly fee at $25 in 2013 would cause the end-of-year balance to drop from $285,970 for 2012 to $143,353 in 2013 and cause an operating deficit of $40,372. A fee increase of $3 per month would eliminate an operating deficit but result in the ending balance for 2013 dropping to $187,522. A fee increase of $5 per month would result in the ending balance for 2013 dropping to $217,030. An ending balance of $300,000 is the minimum necessary to have enough cash reserves for an emergency contingency such as the repairs and containment needed to prevent or minimize hazardous materials impacts from pollutants during a wastewater spill event. The district is debt free and does not collect property tax.

The district has not had a fund balance of $300,000 for the past three years due to the high cost of expanding the Wakonda Hills collection system. Much higher cost increases are expected for the district in the following years as other non-nutrient restrictions for metals and organic compounds are imposed.

The absence of Director Kristi Schutz from the meeting was excused.

At the start of the meeting, District Manager Mike Wicklund advised the board that neither of the district’s attorneys, Larry Gaddis or Jim Kin, would be able to attend the meeting and provide legal advice regarding negotiations during the scheduled executive session.

Later, the board went into executive session at 7:37 p.m. to discuss negotiating positions and came out of executive session at 9:02 p.m. Chairman Ed Delaney stated that the board had given Wicklund direction on which negotiation issues require information from Gaddis and Kin.

Treasurer’s report

Wicklund noted that the district had received $13,800 for two tap fees after the last board meeting on Aug. 16. The total amount of tap fees received to date in 2012 was $42,800, well above the budgeted amount of $10,000.

Monument’s share of the final payments for sludge removal during August at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility was about $16,000. The total cost to Monument for sludge removal was about $33,000.

The board unanimously accepted the treasurer’s report.

Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee update

The district will face an 18 percent increase in operating costs at its wastewater at the Tri-Lakes facility in 2013, plus new regulatory costs for monitoring nutrients, metals, arsenic, and numerous organic compounds in Monument Creek. These new costs result from the tighter requirements in the state Health Department’s new Control Regulation 85 approved by the Water Quality Control Commission in June regarding total phosphorus and total nitrogen removal.

Wicklund advised the board that facility Operator Bill Burks recommended at the Sept. 11 meeting that the facility’s Joint Use Committee postpone the planned construction and three months of operation of a total phosphorus removal pilot plant in 2013. This had already been postponed from 2012 to 2013 because the estimated cost for chemicals had jumped to $25,000 for the pilot plant in one of the facility’s two currently operational aeration basins.

Wicklund noted that Burks and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Manager Jessie Shaffer had recommended that the JUC use the $50,000 budgeted for the pilot plant instead for a facility master plan study by engineering consultant firm Tetra Tech for the next 10 years when the new nutrient Regulation 31.17 takes effect. Director Chuck Robinove said the three owner wastewater districts––Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor—also need to conduct their own master plans. See the JUC article on page 13.

Wicklund noted that Monument already has a long-range plan, though it is time to update it again. Each of the three districts already owns a large enough share of the Tri-Lakes facility’s rated treatment capacity of 4.2 million gallons per day to cover their long-term capacity needs when all internal new construction has been completed.

Wicklund noted that the state has proposed a new arsenic limit of 2 micrograms per liter (or 2 parts per billion) for state waters. The EPA has rejected this proposal and is asking for a limit of 0.020 micrograms per liter (or 20 parts per trillion) which is 100 times lower than the proposed state limit. Neither limit is technologically feasible, much less economically feasible, he said. These new limits, if approved, would require every wastewater treatment plant to permanently collect and report costly data in order to just apply for a discharger specific variance every three years to the Water Quality Control Commission, another source of skyrocketing fees required by the state and EPA.

Robinove stated that Monument has already included its $27,000 share in the 2013 budget for construction of a new $81,000 storage garage. (After this meeting, OCN learned that both the Palmer Lake and Woodmoor boards also approved going forward with building the new storage building in 2013.)

The meeting was adjourned at 9:42 p.m.

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

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

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education, Sept. 20: Board approves budget changes, hears status reports

By Harriet Halbig

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reported to the board Sept. 20 that payment for items ordered before June 30 and received after July 1 will be covered with encumbered funds from the 2011-12 school year.

Wangeman also reported that funds were moved into salaries to cover the hiring of additional teachers for class size needs. These funds were set aside for this use in the 2012-13 budget.

In addition, there was a $188,000 carryover for capital projects, of which $30,000 was used to repair a water main break near the administration building.

The homeschool academy’s enrollment has exceeded projections. An additional teacher and a paraprofessional were hired. Due to an increase in students in the special education program, an additional special educator and a paraprofessional were hired and added into the budget. These expenses totaled approximately $85,250 and were taken from the $109,000 overage of revenues less expenditures in the 2012-2013 budget.

The board voted to approve these changes in the budget.

Superintendent’s report

Superintendent John Borman reported that the district has hired 41 new teachers for the 2012-13 school year. Many of these are teachers with several years of experience in this and other districts. He has visited with each new teacher individually.

Borman said he has visited many of the schools in the first weeks of the year. All Back to School Nights have been held and he attended several of them.

The 2012-13 budget was based on the assumption that the student population would grow by 60 over last year. The official count is taken on Oct. 1. It appears that the district will meet that goal and possibly exceed it when factoring in the 51 students enrolled in the new homeschool academy. Although these students do not attend full time, partial funding will be received for their enrollment.

Borman said that he has formed a middle school advisory group consisting of seven seventh-graders and eight eighth-graders.

The bus fee system is going smoothly, with many of those who originally opting out returning to ridership, he said.

A major initiative in the new school year is the continuation of curriculum mapping.

Staffing update

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster reported that at the end of the 2011-12 school year there were six non-renewed contracts and renewal of 11 of 15 one-year contracts. During that year, five teachers left the district to teach elsewhere and 21 came into the district from elsewhere.

Foster said that interviews were held with each departing employee.

There was a brief discussion of the desire to bring in teachers with fewer years of experience so that the Lewis-Palmer traditions could be passed along. Borman said that many great, new teachers were cut during the 2009-10 school year when the budget was cut drastically.

Foster commented that the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) statistics reporting that the district had 42 percent turnover among teachers is misleading, because many of these individuals stayed in the district but began work in a different category. The statistics are a concern because they are often consulted by those moving into the area.

Board President Jeff Ferguson asked why teachers move to other districts. Foster said that D-38’s salaries are 3 percent to 7 percent lower than neighboring districts. Many of these districts have now instituted salary freezes, which may level the pay scales.

Jobs have been created in before- and after-school programs and the homeschool academy.

District Accountability Advisory Committee charge

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton introduced Chris Amenson, new chair of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), to the board. Amenson presented the charge of the committee to the board in a first reading. The board will vote on the charge during its October meeting.

Primary responsibilities of the committee are the review of each school’s School Improvement Plan and monitoring of the special education and gifted education programs.

The primary change in the charge is the deletion of a subcommittee on early childhood education. The Committee for Political Achievement will continue its activities during this election year.

Amenson asked in what way the committee could serve the board in monitoring district budget matters, a charge required by state law. Ferguson commented that the board will discuss the issue and perhaps the committee could help inform the community regarding the possible mill levy override (MLO) ballot measure. See DAAC article on page 16.

Communication plan update

Communications Manager Robin Adair said that the district is assigning ambassadors to go into the community and acquaint citizens with achievement, activities, and needs of the district. There is currently a list of 450 individuals who could serve in this capacity.

Borman commented that the goal is to connect with the community in such a way that, if an MLO is proposed, the voters can make an informed decision. He has already received feedback from local organizations and individuals.

Adair said that she will provide a Frequently Asked Questions sheet to all individuals who serve as ambassadors.

Work continues on the 500-word statement of values and goals for the district.

There will be a breakfast for realtors on Oct. 5. Lewis-Palmer will be one of five districts making presentations to that group.

Middle School presentation

Lewis-Palmer Middle School Principal Seann O’Connor introduced the board to the school’s Where Everybody Belongs (WEB) program.

Teacher Theresa Brown explained that the program combines orientation and transition for those coming into the middle school environment from several elementary campuses.

Incoming seventh-graders are often apprehensive about their new environment, finding their lockers and moving throughout the building during the day.

Training for the WEB participants begins in the spring for the following school year. Ninety eighth-graders serve as WEB leaders, mentoring the incoming class, guiding tours, and answering questions and concerns.

Several students demonstrated WEB activities with the board and said that they valued the experience as an exercise in leadership and a way to make them more confident as they make their own transition into high school.

Consent agenda

The board approved a list of such routine items as agendas and minutes of past meetings, appointments and resignations of staff, list of substitute staff for 2012-13, contracts, monthly budget summary, and other items.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 18.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Sept. 11: New chair and liaison welcomed; priorities set

By Harriet Halbig

The District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) for Lewis-Palmer School District began its new school year by welcoming a new chair and a new Board of Education liaison.

Chris Amenson will serve as the chair and John Magerko will replace Gail Wilson as the board liaison for the group. Wilson left the area earlier this year.

Superintendent’s report

Superintendent John Borman reported that he felt that the 2011-12 school year was a challenge and a success for him personally as well as for the district at large. He needed to transition from being a high school principal to being a representative for the entire district. He visited all schools several times to become familiar with all age groups.

Borman said that last year offered a welcome sense of stability after many years of frequent turnover in the position of superintendent. In addition, the re-election of all incumbents in last year’s board election indicated public support for the actions of the administration.

A priority of Borman’s is to continue to emphasize that the school district is an integral part of the community. He has reached out to many community groups in an effort to let them know what is going on in the district and how it is coping with significantly reduced funding while maintaining high achievement.

During the spring, Borman formed a community advisory group with representatives from several groups. He wished to determine how the school district is perceived by the public. This group became a feasibility committee to determine the likelihood of success of a ballot measure for a mill levy override in 2012 or 2013. The committee created a timeline to inform the community about the district’s actions and needs leading up to a ballot measure in November 2013. Progress on this timeline will be monitored on a monthly basis.

The district made great strides in curriculum mapping during the past year, Borman said. Mapping allows teachers at all levels to be familiar with what is being taught at all locations. In this way, duplication can be avoided.

Borman said that he and Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton will look at trends based on scores of tests administered in the spring and continue to try to offer all available options to all students. Increased attention will be given to growth and growth gaps while maintaining high achievement.

In response to the newly passed Senate Bill 191 regarding teacher assessment, Borman said that half of a teacher’s assessment will be based on student achievement. With this in mind, the district will determine how it can help teachers to help students achieve.

Finance continues to be a major concern, he said. Last year was the first in six years that the district did not decline in enrollment. The 2012-13 budget was based on enrollment increases of 60 students. At this time, enrollment had increased by 45. The official student count was scheduled for Oct. 1. The Homeschool Academy, founded with a goal of 20 students, now has an enrollment of 50. This is a positive sign that the academy is filling a need in the community.

The administration of bus fees is going smoothly, Borman said. People were well informed ahead of time, avoiding the resistance expected. Many of those who initially resisted the fee have now returned to using buses.

Committee administration

Amenson presented the proposed charge for the committee, which must be approved by the Board of Education each year. See the board article on page 15.

The committee is responsible for the monitoring of School Improvement Plans, assisting the Board of Education in community education, acting as a liaison with Monument Academy, and maintaining a Committee for Political Achievement.

Bob Linza, representative of Monument Academy, said that the academy is very pleased with its present relationship with the district. School officials were pleased to be invited to meetings and to have visits from the superintendent and members of the board.

As in the past, DAAC will hold its meetings at various locations throughout the year.

Committee for Political Achievement

Chair Cori Tanner reported that the purpose of the Committee for Political Achievement (CPA) is to talk with the community and legislators about school funding and education.

In this election year, the committee will get the word out to students who are eligible to register to vote and familiarize the community with ballot measures such as the amendment to regulate campaign funding, the initiative to raise taxes to fund the Sheriff’s Office, and term limits for county officials.

Tanner stressed that the CPA’s function is to inform the public, not to tell them how to vote. Both sides of each issue must be presented.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 9 at Kilmer Elementary School, 4285 Walker Road in Monument.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 4: Police Officer Jacob sworn in

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 4, Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk swore in new Reserve Police Officer Steven "Jake" Jacob. His wife Linda pinned on Officer Jacob’s new badge. Shirk noted that Jacob will be an unpaid volunteer officer and had paid his own way through a police academy to become eligible to serve Monument’s citizens.

Trustees Rick Squires and Becki Tooley were absent.

Trustees’ comments

Mayor Travis Easton and Town Manager Cathy Green noted that a new option on the town’s website now allows residents to pay their town water bill online. The website for this service is www.paymentservicenetwork.com/login.asp.

Public comments

Dave Vanness of the Tri-Lakes Community Foundation asked the board to consider a donation in the 2013 town budget to help his organization provide a "T-59" transportation program for 10 to 20 citizens age 59 and under who need rides to local or Veterans Administration medical services or social services. The Tri-Lakes Cares organization is coordinating foundation rides for the "T-59" program at 719-481-4864. Seniors 60 and over can obtain rides through a separate service, Mountain Transit, coordinated by an agency on aging.

Volunteers and computer hardware/software donations are also being sought. The foundation is also helping with the Master Sgt. William Crawford Medal of Honor Memorial project in Palmer Lake.

Vanness stated that the foundation is now an entirely separate 501(c)(3) organization, primarily financed by private donations, and no longer affiliated with the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

Two site plans extended one year

The board approved one-year extensions of site plans for the Monument Rock Business Park and Raf’s Village.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said the time limit extension for the planned development site plan for the still vacant portion of the Monument Rock Business Park would allow developer SDK1 LLC to get financing and resubmit the project to obtain future administrative approval for Phase 2 not later than Sept. 4, 2013.

No work has been done yet on either of the vacant lots to the east of the only building constructed to date on the Monument Rock property. These lots have remained unimproved since the site plan was approved in 2004. The property is located on the northeast corner of the intersection of Synthes Avenue and Mitchell Avenue, in the Synthes industrial park.

For more information on the controversy regarding the original site plan and long-term non-compliance by SDK1 owners with the conditions of approval specified by the board in 2004, see:

The time limit for the Raf’s Village traditional zone site plan was also unanimously extended one year by the board. Kassawara stated this extension would permit more time for the developer, Expeditionary Solutions LLC, for:

  • Design and development.
  • Seeking financing for the project.
  • Resubmitting their project proposal with the changes deemed necessary for a complete site plan.
  • Obtaining administrative approval from the town staff by Sept. 4, 2013.

The Raf’s Village property is located at 174 N. Washington St.

Liquor license transfer approved

The board unanimously approved a request from Chen and Zang Inc., doing business as Sakura Sushi and Asian Cuisine, for a temporary liquor license at 562 W. Highway 105 in the Safeway shopping center. Also requested was a liquor license transfer from the previous occupant, Spicy Basil restaurant. The regular hearing for the transfer of license was scheduled for the regular Oct. 1 board meeting.

Financial reports

The board unanimously approved one disbursement over $5,000: $15,213 to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2012 annual dues ($2,950) and revised operation and maintenance costs for the gauging stations of the Transit Loss Model ($12,263.) The Transit Loss Model measures and records flows throughout the Monument/Fountain Creek watershed to document evaporation rates, water rights compliance, and water rights lease transactions.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said the town’s net sales tax revenues through June, after deducting Triview Metropolitan District’s share, were $99,000 (8.0 percent) more than in 2011.

General fund revenues in July were $367,000 (9.8 percent) more than budgeted, while expenditures were $13,000 (0.9 percent) less than budgeted. Water fund revenues in July were $99,000 (8.7 percent) more than budgeted, while expenditures were $241,000 (15.5 percent) less than budgeted. Net town water revenue was $313,000 for July.

However, the town did not receive $135,000 from Triview Metropolitan District to pay for town water employees now that Triview once again is running its own water treatment program after the cancellation of the intergovernmental agreements that had the town staff operating Triview’s district public works functions under contract. The five town employees that became Triview employees earlier this year are no longer being paid from this $135,000.

Green advised the board that it should expect requests in 2013 and 2014 for "very large match amounts" for Colorado Department of Transportation grants. Smith added that the staff would also be proposing large expenditures for purchases of renewable water rights.

Green and Smith also noted that the staff had received only one general pay increase in the past three years, for 1 percent. Total revenues are expected to be stable. Green will schedule a 2013 budget preparation workshop.

The board unanimously approved the financial reports.

The meeting adjourned at 7:27 p.m.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Sept. 17: Water rate increase options proposed

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 17, Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented his first draft of options for the Monument Board of Trustees to analyze and comment on increases in town water rates. The town has been selling drinking water at a substantial loss. The amount of current water fee revenue does not cover the town’s cost for water treatment, distribution, administration, and maintenance, which has drained the water enterprise fund’s cash reserve to near zero.

Trustee Stan Gingrich was absent from the meeting.

Water rate increase options

Tharnish noted that the "Town of Monument Water Department has had a history of insufficient funding." His research showed that the current water rate structure has been in place since 1998, "if not many years prior to 1998." He proposed three options for a tiered water use rate structure to make the Water Department self-sufficient, with each considering the effects on low- and high-use customers. The stated goal was a water rate structure that would sustain the department up to 10 years as operational costs continue to rise due to increased regulation.

Tharnish noted that he had made comparisons of water rates in nearby towns and water districts. In each option the monthly base service fee for the various sizes of water taps and the base use rate for the first 6,000 gallons of water used remains unchanged.

Monthly service fees are set by a town ordinance, based on tap size, from $8.80 for a three-fourths-inch tap to $35.70 for a 6-inch tap. No change is being proposed in the monthly service charge.

The current water use fee structure is:

  • 0 to 6,000 gallons — $4.99 per 1000 gallons (331 accounts, 36 percent)
  • 6,001 to 10,000 gallons — $4.99 per 1,000 gallons (133 accounts, 14.5 percent)
  • 10,001 to 20,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons (280 accounts, 30.4 percent)
  • 20,001 to 30,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons (109 accounts, 11.8 percent)
  • 30,001 to 40,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons (260 accounts, 2.8 percent)
  • 40,001 to 50,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons (12 accounts, 1.3 percent)
  • Above 50,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons (29 accounts, 3.2 percent)

Proposal 1

  • 0 to 6,000 gallons — $4.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 6,001 to 10,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 10,001 to 20,000 gallons — $6.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 20,001 to 30,000 gallons — $7.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 30,001 to 40,000 gallons — $8.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 40,001 to 50,000 gallons — $9.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • Above 50,000 gallons — $10.99 per 1,000 gallons

Proposal 2

  • 0 to 6,000 gallons — $4.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 6,001 to 10,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 10,001 to 20,000 gallons — $6.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 20,001 to 40,000 gallons — $7.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 40,001 to 60,000 gallons — $8.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • Above 60,000 gallons — $9.99 per 1,000 gallons

Proposal 3

  • 0 to 6,000 gallons — $4.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 6,001 to 20,000 gallons — $5.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 20,001 to 40,000 gallons — $6.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • 40,001 to 60,000 gallons — $7.99 per 1,000 gallons
  • Above 60,000 gallons — $8.99 per 1,000 gallons

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said the average for annual water fund losses has been about $200,000 for the past five years. They have been covered by the shrinking remaining fund balances rolled over from year to year. Tharnish added that Proposal 1 would raise an average additional $160,000 to $200,000 per year. The other proposals would raise less additional water revenue.

Tharnish stated that use varies a great deal from year to year as well as seasonally. Winter use drops to below 6,000 gallons per month for about 80 percent of the water accounts. The majority of the increase in the summer goes to irrigation, with about 12 homes using 50,000 gallons per month. The other large users are car washes, industrial plants, and apartment buildings.

Green said the town would be the last local entity to go to a tiered structure, which typically results in lower use and less than originally projected additional revenues.

Board members said they would review the three options and have more questions at the next board meeting.

Trustees’ comments

Easton thanked Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara for his success in obtaining matching grants from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) for transportation safety and Town Manager Cathy Green for her work with downtown businesses regarding cancellation of the July the Fourth celebration. He noted that the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. would like to know what new local businesses the town would like to see in Monument.

Roadway maintenance agreement approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution for the annual renewal of an intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Monument and El Paso County concerning the exchange of snow removal and ice control on roadway segments owned by each entity. Tharnish stated that the town and county have agreed, as a simple matter of efficiency, to plow the other entity’s sections of roadway that their plows have to drive over to get to their own roadways.

The amount of roadway each entity plows for the other entity is roughly equal. Monument plows the county’s portions of Mitchell Avenue, Monument Lake Road, and Second Street. The county plows the town’s portions of Beacon Lite Road and Mount Herman Road.

The agreement was approved by the Board of County Commissioners on Sept. 25 as noted at http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agendas/2012AgendaResults/12-09-25.pdf.

King Soopers liquor license renewed

The board unanimously approved the renewal of an annual liquor license for the King Soopers store at 1077 W. Baptist Road.

Financial reports

The board unanimously approved three disbursements over $5,000:

  • $135,617 to the Triview Metropolitan District for July sales tax ($129,879), August motor vehicle tax ($5,584), and August Regional Building sales tax ($154)
  • $22,316 to the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk-Sharing Agency (CIRSA) for the town’s fourth-quarter workers’ compensation insurance
  • $14,167 to CIRSA for the town’s fourth-quarter liability insurance

Smith said the town’s net sales tax revenue through July was $138,000 (11.3 percent) more than budgeted, a $30,000 increase from June.

General fund revenues through August were $294,000 (7.8 percent) more than budgeted, while expenditures were $217,000 (5.8 percent) less than budgeted. Net revenue in August was $510,000.

Water fund revenues through August were $118,000 (10.4 percent) more than budgeted, while expenditures were $93,000 (6.7 percent) less than budgeted. Net town water revenue was $210,000 for August.

Total cash available in the water fund dropped by $37,000 due the annual Monument Dam Loan payment ($168,092) and the annual Town Hall lease-purchase payment (365,598.)

The board deferred approval of the financial reports to have time to review the information along with the water rate increase proposals.

Staff reports

Kassawara reported that the town had received CDOT grants totaling $895,000 for a four-year project to upgrade sidewalks, drainage, curbs, and gutters downtown and a traffic circle at the intersection of Second Street and Beacon Lite Road to be built in 2016-17. The grants are issued for a six-year cycle. The town match requirement is 20 percent per year, which will be about $50,000 each year from the Storm Water Impact Fund for five years.

Kassawara praised Bob Torres, the engineering consultant who prepared the complicated proposal documentation. Design work will begin in January for the first phase of construction.

Tharnish noted that the town’s two new water operators have passed all requirements and testing and are now "certified water professionals." A new irrigation system has been installed in Lavalett Park. Foundation work has begun for a new Public Works salt/sand shed at the Jefferson Street yard. Water consumption exceeded 17 million gallons four months in a row, a new record. Installation of the irrigation system was completed for the new trees that line Second Street between Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road.

Police Chief Jake Shirk stated that 41 burglaries had occurred at two town storage unit businesses. Detective Steve Lontz, working with members of the Colorado Springs Police Department, obtained evidence that led to two arrests, and some property was recovered. The investigation of the town burglaries has concluded. Further investigation of other burglaries by the arrested individuals continues.

Shirk thanked the Colorado Mounted Rangers (www.coloradoranger.org) for its support of Monument Police Department during the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Labor Day unity parade and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Street Fair.

Green reported that two bids of about $13,000 to $16,000 had been received for having a contractor temporarily install about 150 "warm" white LED Christmas lights on each of the 43 new 12-foot pine trees being installed on Second Street––or 17 strands per tree. Leases can run from one year to five years, with annual renewal options.

Direct purchase of lights by the town would cost $25,000 to $35,000. Extension cords, timers, and replacements would also have to be purchased, and a second bucket truck would be needed to have staff install the lights. Installation of the lights by the staff to avoid contractor costs would take at least two weeks.

Neither option was included in the 2012 budget.

Green said she wanted to have the lights installed before the annual Small Town Christmas event, after the conclusion of Daylight Saving Time. After a lengthy discussion of various alternative options from the basic proposals received, the board asked Green to provide specific written proposals at the Oct. 1 board meeting.

Public comments

Eric Marter and Brianna McCuen of the Palmer Ridge High School Student Council said they will participate at board meetings as nonvoting members over the next two semesters––Marker in the fall and McCuen in the spring.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 1: 2012 budget restatement approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 1, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved a restatement of the 2012 budget that accounts for real-world financial changes that have occurred during the first nine months of this year. The board also approved an amended appropriation that corresponds to the changes in funding in the budget restatement. There was no public comment on the budget or appropriation changes during the public hearings on each document.

Treasurer Pamela Smith listed 46 changes in a two-page summary sheet that increases spending for 2012 by about $600,000, resulting from additional revenues and expenditure savings to date.

A separate line item will be established to segregate the funds required for a TABOR reserve.

Trustee Rick Squires was absent from the meeting. Eric Marter of the Palmer Ridge High School Student Council is participating in board meetings as a nonvoting member during the fall semester.

Trustees’ comments

Mayor Travis Easton confirmed that the consensus of the board continues to be not taking any positions to endorse or oppose any initiatives on the November ballot.

Public comments

Former Mayor Pro-tem Rafael Dominguez, a director of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp., had a half-hour conversation with board members about what the EDC had accomplished in the past year and to solicit direction from the town on what targeted industries his group should pursue. His organization has met with the Palmer Lake Town Council and will meet with the Historic Monument Merchants Association and the Woodmoor Improvement Association.

The EDC website will be reorganized and feature a complete list of commercial properties and undeveloped land that may be available after contacting all the property owners to determine if they have a desire to sell. Specialty and surgical clinics and small-scale manufacturing are being targeted for local development. Trustees offered comments and asked questions about specific issues such as the higher than average cost of doing business within the town’s boundaries.

David Metzler of the Health Advocacy Partnership also spoke to the board about his organizations goals, objectives, and current and future services the members hope to meet unfulfilled needs for regional health and for seniors.

Temporary uses code amendment approved

The board unanimously approved an amendment to update the zoning regulations on mobile vendors, mobile food carts, and parking lot kiosk businesses. For details, see the Sept. 12 Planning Commission article on page 22.

Water rate increase options discussed again

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish responded to numerous board questions on the water rate increase options he had presented on Sept. 17. Tharnish said he would provide an updated Master Water Supply Plan to the board. For details, see the Sept. 17 board meeting article on page 19.

Other matters

The board approved by consensus a proposal to buy each trustee an iPad to greatly reduce the amount of paper used for hard copies of board documents. The computer system installed in the board room has proven to be unusable for meetings of the board and Planning Commission, and the iPads will provide a lower cost alternative for electronic documentation needed as reference material during board meetings. The cost for the transition will be about $4,000, which is expected to be recovered in paper and staff time savings in less than one year.

The board unanimously accepted the sales tax and financial reports that Smith had presented at the Sept. 17 board meeting. For details, see the Sept. 17 board meeting article on page 19.

The board unanimously approved the transfer of the liquor license formerly held by Spicy Basil Restaurant at 562 W. Highway 105 to Chen and Zhang Inc., the owners of the new Sakura Sushi and Asian Cuisine restaurant that is operating at this location now. A condition of approval for the transfer was a "clear fingerprint check" from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. The bureau currently has a nine-week backlog on fingerprint checks.

Staff reports

Green reported that the staff had received a third bid for having a contractor temporarily install Christmas lights on each of the 43 new 12-foot pine trees being installed on Second Street. Two bids of about $13,000 to $16,000 had been received. The third bid was about $6,000 for installing about 50 lights per tree instead of 150 lights or 17 strands per tree included in the first two bids. The board consensus was to have the third contractor install lights on one tree as a demonstration before making a final lease decision.

The meeting went into executive session at 8:57 p.m. for consultations with the town’s attorney, Gary Shupp, on specific legal questions.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 15 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Monument Planning Commission, Sept. 12: Temporary uses code updated

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 12, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved an amendment to the Town Code site development and use standards. The amendment creates definitions and standards for three temporary uses: mobile vendors, mobile food carts, and kiosks within existing parking areas. It clarifies language on temporary uses to provide standards regarding public safety, allowable locations, which items are permitted to be sold, and signage.

The amendment restricts mobile vendors from staying in one residential location for longer than 15 minutes. Operators of mobile food carts must obtain an El Paso County Health Department permit as a prerequisite for obtaining a town temporary use permit. Restrictions were also added to prevent the sale by mobile vendors of alcoholic beverages, sexually-oriented materials, and fireworks.

The meeting adjourned at 7 p.m.

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The Oct. 10 Planning Commission meeting has been cancelled. The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Brookmoor Estates special homeowners meeting, Sept. 9: Gate, wall issues draw concern in Brookmoor

By Bernard L. Minetti

Residents of Brookmoor Estates were notified of two code violations filed by El Paso County Code Enforcement, first through an email from a resident who asked to remain unnamed and then officially at a special meeting Sept. 9 of the development’s homeowners association (HOA). The meeting was called by the homeowners as a result of the email.

The first violation concerned the HOA board’s arbitrary change of use of the rear emergency community access gate at the east end of the development to normal entry and departure through the use of an automated gate feature. The county objected to this change of use because it did not conform to the use specified in the approved planned unit development (PUD) site plan.

The county’s objection occurred after adjacent homeowners on the east side of the gateway filed complaints. West of the rear automated gate, within Brookmoor Estates, the roadway is called Symphony Heights. East of the gate, the roadway is known as South Park Drive.

The east end of Symphony Heights had been a dead end at the original emergency-access-only gate. With the installation of the automatic gate between the adjacent dead-end cul-de-sacs, the connection of Symphony Heights to South Park Drive changed these two dead-end roads into a through road. Neither the east end of Symphony Heights nor the west end of South Park Drive was ever intended by the county to become a thoroughfare—nor does either roadway conform to county requirements for a local residential through road.

Commissioner Darryl Glenn directed the code enforcement officers to examine the situation as a result of a discussion with the HOA. The HOA had said a safety issue at the front gate was one reason to open the emergency gate to general use.

The second violation concerned the construction of a wall on the north side of the community without amendment of the PUD site plan. The wall extends east and west of the main entry/exit gate that accesses the community. The county said that the wall, by its position and construction, blocks a large part of the "sight visibility" of exiting vehicles. It also limits vehicles on Lake Woodmoor Drive from having a clear view of vehicles exiting from Brookmoor Estates. According to the Notice of Violation, the wall was built in 2005.

Code Enforcement Officer Gayle Jackson stated that Michael Brennan was the Brookmoor developer who built the wall. Brennan currently sits on the Brookmoor HOA board, and he owns several lots in Brookmoor Estates through Mountain Desert Investments.

In a letter addressed to the board, and copied to all residents with email access, a resident estimated that correction of the wall violation could cost an estimated $20,000 to $30,000, apparently to be paid for by the HOA.

HOA Board President Jeff Zeikus told homeowners at the meeting, "Mike (Brennan) has agreed, just for the record, that the front gate issue is his issue as a developer and Mike has every intention of taking care of that issue, financially, whatever it needs to rectify that situation."

During the discussion that followed, Zeikus examined some of the alternate solutions to be considered to mitigate the extreme danger caused by the wall in restricting sight visibility. He also suggested reviewing all other development items concerning Brookmoor Estates for compliance, to forestall any future violations.

One solution offered was to move the wall. Other possible corrections were discussed that would not involve moving the wall. One suggestion was to place a traffic signal at the intersection. However, it was noted that the traffic count was not high enough to warrant the installation of a signal. Another suggestion was to install three-way stop signs at the intersection. The residents agreed on that option, and one resident volunteered to collect names on a petition requesting the stop signs, which would be presented to the county.

However, the number of vehicles exiting Brookmoor Estates at that intersection is minimal in comparison to the higher traffic volume on Lake Woodmoor Drive. In addition, no consideration was given to winter driving: Since Lake Woodmoor Drive is on an incline, coming to a sudden stop on ice and snow could be extremely hazardous.

Brennan mentioned that a traffic engineer had done some studies that were to be presented to the county. No official release of those documents had been made at this time. Zeikus stated that he believed that approximately 28 feet of the wall would have to be removed or moved to restore adequate sight lines to meet code requirements. Most of that modification, he stated, would be on the property of Ricardo Gomez.

Prior to the wall installation, a wood rail fence had served as the original property boundary. Zeikus stated that the wall was within the allowable 6-foot height and did not require county permission for construction.

Around two years ago, a convex mirror was installed to assist drivers on the far edge of Lake Woodmoor Drive at the intersection with Moveen Heights, in order to view oncoming traffic from the west. This would indicate that there was some knowledge by the HOA that a dangerous condition existed. As a resident, I can state from daily use that the mirror is confusing and probably more of a danger than if it were not there.

The situation is not resolved yet. The HOA is waiting for direction from the county after a traffic survey is submitted.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Sept. 26: Fire district presents information on ballot measure

By Harriet Halbig

Battalion Chief Greg Lovato of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and Franz Hankins of the firefighters association spoke to the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board Sept. 26 about the November ballot measure to increase funding for the district.

Lovato explained that the district encompasses 64 square miles with a population of approximately 24,000, of which over 9,000 reside in Woodmoor. The Woodmoor Fire Department merged with the Tri-Lakes department in 2005. The district provides fire protection by nationally certified firefighters and advanced life support and ambulance services, having been awarded the 2011 EMS service of the year by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The district also offers residential fire mitigation inspections, commercial fire inspections, a fire prevention program contacting all elementary school students, and a senior safety program.

The district is funded primarily by property taxes. Assessed property values in the district have remained flat or declined since 2008.

Lovato said that the department has been maintaining services over the last three years by using its capital reserves. Maintenance of fire stations and vehicles has been cut back, as have administrative costs. The district wishes to maintain its current staff of 36 and three stations.

Lovato said that, as a public servant, he may inform the public of the possible results of passage or failure of Ballot Initiative 5C, but may not influence their votes.

Franz Hankins of the firefighters association said that the district will have yard signs available to all who are willing to display them, and he or another representative would be available to speak.

WIA Board President Jim Hale said that the WIA’s attorney advised him that the association is legally entitled to express an opinion. Upon hearing that failure to pass the initiative would result in closing the Woodmoor Fire Station, he said that the safety of Woodmoor is at stake due to the longer response times that would result. This in turn could affect insurance costs for Woodmoor residents.

The board passed a resolution to support the passage of Ballot Initiative 5C and to assist the district in informing the public.

Firewise report

Jim Woodman, chair of the association’s Firewise Committee, reported that his committee wishes to take advantage of the community’s heightened awareness of fire danger following the Waldo Canyon Fire and encourage homeowners to be educated in what they can do to protect themselves and prepare for an emergency. He expressed concern that people’s interest will wane now that we are getting some rain and during the winter months. The goal is to motivate them when spring arrives and they are able to do fire mitigation in their neighborhoods.

In past years, homeowners were encouraged to reduce fuels in their yards through the offer of grant funds to help with the expense. The Waldo Canyon Fire added a sense of urgency to these efforts.

Woodman explained two initiatives to the board. The first of these, Fire Adapted Communities, focuses on fire-resistant building materials. The second, Ready, Set, Go, is an initiative by the Colorado Fire Marshal’s Association and the Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association.

Woodman said that WIA could join Ready, Set, Go at no cost and be able to use the organization’s printed materials and other resources. He said that this would be much less expensive than trying to generate the materials.

Woodman said that the Forestry Committee’s budget proposal for 2013 would include funding for informational publications and reproduction of the DVD of the fire marshal’s program the previous month. He pointed out that information on wise use of materials could also be used by the Architectural Control Committee.

The board passed a resolution for WIA to join Ready, Set, Go.

President’s report

Hale thanked the Firewise Committee for its efforts.

He said that the Woodmoor Public Safety garage has been completed and that, as a result of having to replace a gas line ruptured during the construction, it was necessary to dig up the area along the front of the Barn. That area of the property is now being re-landscaped, removing flammable junipers, putting in new sidewalks, and adding a seating area.

The board approved a motion to spend up to $24,700 for improvements to the Barn, including repairs to the deck, roofing, siding, and lighting. This amount includes a contingency in the event that mold or other problems surface. The board confirmed that any work will be approved by the Architectural Control Committee and utilize "firewise" principles.

In other reports, homeowners association Manager Matt Beseau said that the association is still lacking 684 signatures for the approval of the declaration of covenants. He said that door-to-door solicitation and phone calls have not been effective, but that the staff continues to ask all homeowners who come into the office whether they have indicated their approval. Two staff positions remain vacant.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that association expenses are 9.9 percent below budget for the year.

Forestry Director Eric Gross reported on the increased number of lot evaluations conducted by his committee members for both forest health and fire mitigation. He said that the number of slash piles resulting from mitigation has decreased, but they remain a hazard.

Homeowner Lisa Hatfield presented the board with information about training for Community Emergency Response Teams, which is offered free of charge for groups of 15 or more individuals. This training is offered by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office. Hale said that the idea sounded promising.

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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 in the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be held on Oct. 24.

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

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September Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Rain fell with abundance during September, but most of it accumulated over two days, with mainly dry conditions for the majority of the month. Precipitation from those two events allowed us to receive higher than normal amounts for the month, but with all the sunshine in between temperatures averaged slightly warmer than normal. We didn’t receive our first widespread freeze of the season yet, so we are about two weeks behind normal on that. However, temperatures fell to the low to mid-30s on several mornings.

September started off mild across the region, with scattered showers and thunderstorms each afternoon and evening. High temperatures reached into the 80s each afternoon from the 1st through the 4th, about 5 to 10° warmer than normal for this time of the year. And with abundant clouds around during the overnight hours, temperatures stayed mild at night as well, only dipping into the 50s. The showers and thunderstorms that developed each afternoon and evening around the region were pretty hit and miss, with the heavier rain, up to a half inch, occurring on the east side of the Palmer Divide where a little more moisture was available to work with.

Quiet and mild weather held steady over the region during the first full week of the month. Highs continued at above average levels, with 80s on the 4th, upper 70s on the 5th, and 80s again on the 6th. Finally, some relief showed up in the form of a cold front that moved through just after midnight on the 7th. This brought sharp cooling and plenty of clouds. Scattered rain showers developed that afternoon as well, as highs struggled to reach upper 60s. Clear skies returned quickly the next day, bringing a nice feel of fall to the region over the weekend, with seasonal temperatures each afternoon. The longer nights, clear skies, and cooler air mass allowed temperatures to drop into the 30s and low 40s across the region.

The second week of September started off sunny and mild, with highs staying at above normal levels on the 10th and 11th. However, much needed moisture visited the region as a strong low pressure system moved out of the desert Southwest through the Four Corners region starting late on the 11th. This storm followed a perfect path for bringing moisture to us, with low pressure developing to our southwest. This provided upslope wind flows to the region, drew moisture into the area, and combined with the dynamics (lift) of the storm to produce steady rain over the region. Wednesday the 12th was wet, with an inch of rain accumulating over the region. For the most part the rain fell steady throughout the day, perfect for a nice deep soaking.

The cold front that came through kept temperatures on the chilly side, with highs holding the low 40s most of the day, making for a raw, wet afternoon and reminding us that winter weather isn’t too far away. Morning lows reached into the low and mid-30s on the morning of the 14th, just missing our first freeze of the season. The storm moved out of the region the next day, with temperatures below normal under mostly sunny skies. A steady climb in temperatures continued through the weekend, with highs reaching above normal levels in the 80s by Sunday.

It was another dry week around the region, with only a trace of precipitation on the 17th. Temperatures generally were above normal. We started the week warm with upper 70s to low 80s on the 16th. However, a cold front moved through just before midnight and we struggled to reach the low 60s on the 17th. Temperatures rebounded to the 70s for the rest of the week, with a couple of cool nights when low temperatures touched the low and mid-30s. West/northwest winds brought smoke from the fires in the Pacific Northwest over the area.

Another strong area of low pressure moved through the region starting on the 24th and brought more much-needed moisture to the area. Rain, heavy at times, affected the region starting on the afternoon of the 25th, initially accompanied by frequent lightning and pea-size hail. These storms continued through the evening, with several areas around the region accumulating over an inch of rain.

The weather pattern remained unsettled the next few days as this area of low pressure continued to slowly move through. Each afternoon produced scattered showers and thunderstorms. Behind this departing storm, conditions quieted down quickly, with mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies common. Temperatures stayed right around normal to a little above during the last weekend of the month, with 60s to low 70s.

A look ahead

October can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region with winter conditions often experienced. In fact, for three of the last five years, weather around Halloween has been cold and snowy. Remember the 6 to 15 inches of snow that fell during 2004 from Halloween night through Nov. 1. Snow can be heavy during any part of October, as when over 20 inches of snow fell Oct. 9-10 in 2005 and over 24 inches fell in less than 24 hours on Oct. 26, 2006. Just last year, nearly 10 inches fell on Oct. 8, so get those snow shovels ready. Of course, the weather can also be very dry and mild, so enjoy those days when you can.

September 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 74.3° (+3.5) 100-year return frequency value max 77.5° min 63.5°
Average Low 40.8° (+0.9) 100-year return frequency value max 46.7° min 36.1°
Monthly Precipitation 2.65" (+0.93") 100-year return frequency value max 4.34" min 0.40"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0" (-0.8")
Highest Temperature 88° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature 33° on the 14th and 18th
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (-0.5") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 9.80" (-1.52") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 235 (-37)
Cooling Degree Days 11 (+8)

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

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Letters to Our Community

Let’s wait for the rest of the TCAP analysis

This letter is in response to Gordon Reichal’s letter suggesting that Lewis-Palmer School District 38 patrons should worry about the Colorado 2012 TCAP assessment results ("Younger D-38 students’ test results worth worrying about," OCN, Sept. 1, 2012). Mr. Reichal points to 1.1- to 2.9-point decreases in the percentage of students scoring "proficient" or "advanced" as the reason to worry.

Comparing 2012 TCAP scores to 2011 CSAP scores is indeed like comparing apples to oranges. Not only are we comparing two different groups of students, we are comparing their achievement on different tests. Although the TCAP looked a lot like the CSAP, the TCAP represents a shift in the content being tested as the state of Colorado transitions to the new standards that are aligned with the Common Core Content Standards.

I’d like to suggest that we wait for the Colorado Department of Education to finish its analysis of the TCAP and publish the annual District and School Performance Reports in December. These performance reports provide performance and growth data on the district as a whole, each school, and important subgroups. (D-38’s 2011 report is at https://cedar2.cde.state.co.us/documents/DPF2011/1080%20-%201%20Year.pdf.)

The District and School Performance Reports also provide percentile rankings, making it easier to understand the performance of the district’s students as compared to others in Colorado. For example, in 2011, elementary school students performed at the 96th percentile in reading, 91st percentile in math, 97th percentile in writing, and 90th percentile in science. Middle school students were at the 93rd percentile in reading, the 97th percentile in math, 95th percentile in writing, and 92nd percentile in science. Finally, high school students scored at the 82nd percentile in reading, 91st percentile in math and writing, and 92nd percentile in math. Excellent CSAP and ACT scores along with low dropout rates contributed to D-38 being "Accredited with Distinction."

If 2012 results are similar, there will be little reason to worry.

Marie Revak

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Hot off the presses: fantastic fall books

By the staff at Covered Treasures

The staff at Covered Treasures just attended the annual Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers’ Association Trade Show. We had the opportunity to preview some new releases for this fall, and we’d like to share a few enticing titles with you.

Love Anthony
By Lisa Genova (Gallery) $26

Through Anthony, a boy with autism, Genova provides a unique view of unconditional love. His mother, Olivia, and neighbor, Beth, live on the island of Nantucket, where they meet on the shore and later discover how different yet troubled in similar ways their family lives are. Ultimately, the voice and thoughts of Anthony will slowly compel each of the women to make a positive change. Genova’s first books, Still Alice and Left Neglected, were very popular with our book clubs.

Yellow Birds
By Kevin Powers (Little Brown and Co.) $24.99

At 17, Powers served as an Army machine-gunner in Iraq. Drawing upon those experiences, he has written a remarkable first novel. The Yellow Birds is the story of a soldier’s coming of age, a harrowing tale about the friendship of two young men trying to stay alive on the battlefield in Iraq, and a philosophical parable about the loss of innocence. Glimpses of ordinary life alternate with scenes of horror as Powers shows that those who risk their lives in service of their country "in an unknown corner of the world" are not numbers, but unforgettable individuals forever linked to their comrades in life and in death.

The Art Forger
By Barbara Shapiro (Algonquin Books) $23.95

In 1990, 13 works of art worth over $500 million were stolen from a museum in Boston. It remains the largest unsolved art heist in history, and Claire Roth, a struggling young artist, discovers that there’s more to this crime than meets the eye. Claire makes her living reproducing works of art for an online retailer. Desperate to improve her situation, she is lured into a bargain with a powerful gallery owner. She is to forge a painting—one of the Degas masterpieces stolen from the museum—in exchange for a one-woman show at the gallery. But when the long-missing painting is delivered to her studio, she begins to suspect that the masterpiece may itself be a forgery. Claire’s search for the truth leads her into a labyrinth of deceit where secrets hidden since the late-19th century may be the only evidence that can now save her life.

Fire Season: Field Notes From a Wilderness Lookout
By Philip Connors (Harper Collins) $14.99

For a decade Philip Connors spent nearly half of each year in a 7-by-7-foot fire lookout tower, 10,000 feet above sea level, keeping watch over one of the most fire-prone forests in America. Fire Season is his remarkable reflection on work, untamed fire, our place in the wild, and the charms of solitude. Written with narrative vivacity and startling beauty, the book is filled with heartfelt reflections on Connors’ literary forebears who also served as "freaks on the peaks"—among them Edward Abbey, Jack Kerouac, and Norman Maclean.

Sutton
By J.R. Moehringer (Hyperion) $27.99

Willie Sutton’s life was stranger than fiction, so it seems only appropriate that Moehringer uses the novel form to describe the fascinating existence of the bank robber who became a folk hero. As Sutton travels about New York with two reporters after his release from prison, the reader is treated to a story almost beyond belief while being transported into another era.

The Quilt Walk
By Sandra Dallas (Sleeping Bear Press) $15.95

Award-winning author Sandra Dallas has crafted an absorbing story for her first middle-grade book. Ten-year-old Emmy Blue narrates the story of her family’s trek from their home outside Quincy, Ill., to Golden, Colo., in 1864. She had already learned a great deal about Colorado in school—that it was a wild place, with gunslingers and Indians, outlaws, and prospectors. After saying goodbye to her relatives and friends, it was "Ho for Colorado!"

As the fall nights grow longer, and the October days chillier, curling up with a good book becomes very tempting. Treat yourself to one of the many new fall selections.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Forster’s tern: Sterna forsteri

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in.

Below: Drawing of Forster's Terns by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

As fall breezes bring a chill to the Palmer Divide, summer songbirds that nested here over the summer have headed south. Many birds are gone but there are still opportunities to see late-migrating species, including the Forster’s Tern, which is sometimes called Foster’s Tern.

Migration

Unlike many species of tern that fly internationally, the Forster’s tern migrates exclusively in North America from its breeding range as far north as Manitoba, Canada, to its winter home on both coasts of Central America. Small flocks of Forster’s terns have been known to nest in Colorado’s wetlands, but the majority makes brief stops here during spring and fall migration.

In the fall, the best time to look for this bird is from mid-September through October before or after a major weather front blows in, which often grounds migrating birds for a few days.

Description

Terns look like a small gull. They are both members of the Lardae family of birds, which includes terns, gulls, and skimmers. Though they maybe cousins, have similar coloring, and are often found together, terns have a more delicate appearance and behave much differently than gulls. A tern’s body is streamlined, its beak is long and pointed, wings are narrow and tapered, and posture more horizontal than the upright posture of most gulls.

The Forster’s tern is a medium-size tern, about 14 inches long with a 30-inch wingspan. Both sexes look alike. Its coloration varies depending on seasonality and age. Basically, it is bright white on its undersides and all around its neck. Upper back, wings, and tail are pale gray from the shoulders down to the tip of its tail. One distinctive characteristic is the Forster’s forked tail.

In the spring, a breeding bird has a black cap, bright orange legs, and a red beak that is black at the tip. In fall the Forster’s tern’s black cap is reduced to a comma-shaped black mask over its eyes and those vivid orange legs and red beak have dulled and appear grayish.

Habitat and diet

Though delicate in appearance, the Forster’s tern is a hardy bird that dives for small fish. It is a social bird that congregates in small flocks and nests in marshes. In summer it is primarily found in freshwater environments, while in winter it is more commonly found near saltwater. The Forster’s tern is different from other terns in that it dives directly into the upper surface of the water, often from a nearby perch. Many other species of tern hover over the water looking for fish and fly just above the surface with open beaks skimming for fish but never dive below the surface.

The Forster’s tern has adapted to human activities, including agriculture and fishing. It is often seen flying above crops eating insects, behind fishing boats diving for discarded small fish, or plunging in fishery ponds for fry.

It is not uncommon to see terns pestering another bird, like an osprey, that has a catch in its beak or talons. If the bird drops its catch, a tern quickly swoops down to steal it. Unlike its cousins, a tern will only eat freshly caught food and avoids carrion and the garbage gulls consume.

Courtship and nesting

I’ve seen photographs of elaborate courtship displays depicting pairs performing gracefully in the air. I’ve observed courting males bringing fish to their prospective mates. It’s almost comical how the female expects the male to return in a timely manner with more fish. If he’s not quick enough, she scolds him rather harshly and she may look for a different male.

The Forster’s tern is reported to be colonial nester, which means it nests in groups. While this may be true, I’ve only observed single nests. Kayaks allow birders to get closer to birds, but when I got too close to a loosely constructed floating nest in a marsh in northern Minnesota, the pair began vocalizing and flying toward me in an effort to move me away from their nest.

The female lays three to four brownish eggs and incubates them for about three weeks while the male brings food to the nest. Chicks are hatched with open eyes and downy feathers and rely on their parents to feed them for about a month.

Where did it get that name?

The Forster’s tern was named in honor Johann Reinhold Forster, an early 18th-century German Lutheran pastor and naturalist who made significant contributions to early ornithology. I enjoy reading journals of people like Forster who endured incredibly harsh conditions to pursue their quest for knowledge. Fosrter and his son Georg were the scientists on the second Pacific voyage of James Cook that set sail in 1772 and returned three years later.

During this expedition, the Forsters kept detailed journals and preserved specimens of the birds they found. Forster later published his findings in a publication Observations Made During a Voyage round the World. Apparently it didn’t make the best-sellers list because Johann fell into bankruptcy after using all his earnings to publish it.

Though not a money maker, this book was so well regarded that Forster was later appointed professor of natural history and director of the botanic garden at Halle University, which at that time was one of only a few institutions to study the natural sciences.

Today, many universities conduct research and offer degrees in ornithology and other natural sciences. Fortunately, improved technology no longer requires scientists to kill birds in order to study them. Binoculars and scopes allow close observation from a safe distance. High speed cameras with long lenses capture birds in many different poses and environments, allowing us a glimpse into their world. Small tracking devices can be safely attached to birds to allow scientists to track the movement and the life spans of birds. These are only a few of the innovations that have advanced our knowledge of birds, but as scientists learn more, they realize how much more there is to discover about these amazing little creatures.

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: Art and beating the winter blues

By Janet Sellers

October brings us our beautiful fall colors every year. While the brilliant colors are a direct result of the diminishing sunlight of our days, that lack of light also can have a severe effect on our children and adults in terms of mood and physical comfort related to missing their sunshine exposure. I found some vital information on how making art with our hands can benefit us greatly regarding mood. I always knew making art helps people be happy, and now I can share with you why it does.

It is commonly thought that art making helps us to express feelings and thereby diminish pent up frustrations and relieve depression. But this may not be why making things is such a boon to our health. It is linked more strongly to using our hands to make something satisfying and that those manual creations have a powerful effect on our brain/body/mind connections.

Beyond self-expression and emotional repair, making things with our hands such as art is an activity that we return to in our lives and have been doing so since the dawn of history. Starting in early childhood, the proto aesthetic operations—making things for reward, pleasure, and meaning— evolve for more than psychological needs, although that is a primary driving force in creating fundamental cultural aesthetic forms.

This connection, reports psychologist and neuroscientist Kelly Lambert, proposes that "The accumbens-striatal-cortical network—a system in the brain that connects movement, emotion, and thinking— is linked to the inability to concentrate (a symptom associated with depression)." There are other parts of the brain that are involved, too, according to Lambert’s research. Those areas account for slow responses (accumbens), perceived loss of pleasure (striatum), and negative feelings (limbic system). These areas form what Lambert defines as the effort-driven rewards circuit.

Such research indicates that using our hands to create things and manually elaborate on ideas and the like has more than a psychological or emotional release in terms of human quality of life. While the term "human quality of life" may not be a conversational topic for us, it is an unspoken driving force of advertising and sales, which affect us day and night in our lives, but at the whim of commerce.

We can take back our quality of life by taking art into our own hands, literally. Making some art in local classes and visiting the local arts venues where we can see, feel, and appreciate with our own senses offers us that primary source for human satisfaction and improved mood, and thereby improves our daily quality of life. What a simple, elegant solution to beating the winter blues!

Here are some interesting local arts venues to get you going, too!

New director at Southwinds

Southwinds Fine Art Gallery has a new director, fine artist Leo Huff. Huff was born in Arizona in 1947, and when his family moved a dozen years later to Pasadena, Calif., he studied art at the Pacific Asia Museum as a youth. This early exposure to Asian artworks gave him a lifelong interest in these intricately delicate art forms.

After retiring from a career as a probation officer serving youths in California, he returned to the arts and worked in a new, detail-oriented medium of Scratchboard, creating unique three-dimensional etchings. His work, Geodesic Dome Community hangs in the White House. Architecture, geometric design, and wildlife are among his favorite subjects.

Second Fridays returns

The Second Fridays Art Walk and Studio Tour returns on Oct. 12 from 4 to 8 p.m. at Bella Art and Frame. The opening reception for artist John DeFrancesco’s new show will coincide with the monthly art event. Gallery owners Maggie Williamson and Ethan Ahlstrom are also planning a kids and adults art and treat mini-fest for the town’s Safe Trick or Treat event 4 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Call for artists

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts has a call for member artists for its annual member show. This is a great time to get involved. If you’re not a member already, I think you could even join the center pronto and have some artwork up for the holiday sales art season. The intake for artwork is Nov. 4, and the show runs Nov. 6 to Dec. 8. The opening reception will be Nov. 9, 5 to 8 p.m. Details are online at www.trilakesarts.org.

From Baptist Road to Palmer Lake, our Tri-Lakes area has a lot of art to share that you can take home and enjoy. Our numerous Tri-Lakes art galleries, artists’ studios, and merchants have a wide variety of art and objets d’art for your enjoyment every day, so do drop in and see what they have for you this season! Most local places have a map of the Monument area that includes the arts venues, and you can also search for "art in Monument, Colorado" on a computer.

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

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Snapshots of Our Community

Click here to view the on-line version. Snapshots of Our Community starts on page 26.

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Secrets of Black Forest giants

By Bernard L. Minetti

At a meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society on Sept. 20, Terry Stokka, naturalist, historian and pine tree lover from Black Forest, provided a semi-scientific overview of the lodgepole pine trees and the giant ponderosa pines indigenous to that area.

Stokka explained that the trees require sunlight, water, soil, and time to evolve to great size and beauty. He noted that Black Forest has an abundance of sunshine but a dearth of water. The temperatures are relatively cool. An environmental venue of this makeup is fundamentally good for the health and sustenance of these two types of pine trees.

Stokka said that from the bark inward, several areas provide the growth and life of a tree. After the bark, there is the cambium, which provides the tree with nutrients to sustain it and to grow. The next inward section is called the xylem, which is composed of the sapwood that transports water up the tree through many minute pipes. The central section of the tree is called the heartwood. The sapwood is lighter in color than the heartwood. Resins, oils, and minerals, which are deposited in the wood as the tree grows, cause the heartwood’s darker color.

In determining the age of a tree, he noted that in the cross section of the trunk are rings, each of which represents a year of life. Some are larger than others, indicating the amount of water and food that the tree was able to derive to sustain itself. Larger rings indicate good years and the thinner rings indicate sparser growth years where food supplies were wanting.

Stokka noted that there were many enemies to trees. Some are lightning, drought, man, sparse soil. Worst of all are the ever-present beetles that thrive on healthy trees. When a beetle finds a tree that is an excellent food source, it emits pheromones. Pheromones are naturally occurring odorless substances that the beetle excretes externally, conveying an airborne signal that tells other beetles that this tree is very nutritious and is providing lots of food.

The beetles are harmful to the trees because they carry blue stain fungus. The fungus spores germinate and produce mycelium, a sticky substance that is deposited in the sapwood as a beetle bores into the tree. This fungus eventually blocks the nutrient-conducting columns of trees, starving them of nutrients and eventually causing the tree to die of starvation.

Stokka said that in the late 1800s the Black Forest section of the Palmer Divide had been denuded of all pine growth because the wood was used for construction in Denver. All the trees now standing in Black Forest are "new growth."

**********

The next meeting will be on Thursday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The public is invited to attend. The title of the presentation is "Railroads of the Pikes Peak Region." Mel McFarland will provide a look at the different railroads that served our area.

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

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September and October library events: All Pikes Peak Reads the focus of many programs

By Harriet Halbig

This year’s All Pikes Peak Reads program kicked off at the What If? Festival on Sept. 15. Since then, there have been a number of programs at the Monument Library on the theme of "Survival Against All Odds."

The first of these was the meeting of the Monumental Readers as they discussed The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley, followed by a screening of the PBS video Surviving Disaster, based on the book. Several of those attending had been personally affected by disaster, as during the Berry fire on Mount Herman in 1988 or the evacuation due to an acid spill on the railroad tracks a few years ago. Seeing these case studies helped them to understand their reactions and prepare for future emergencies.

The following day, Kathryn Russell of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office spoke on the subject of surviving disaster and provided a number of publications about formulating a personal plan for disaster—what to pack, what to have on hand if you are unable to get out for several days, and how to notify family of your whereabouts in the case of evacuation and other issues.

Adult programs

On Thursday, Oct. 4, from 3 to 5 p.m., join author Linda Weaver Clarke and learn how to turn your family history into a collection of legends. By bringing your ancestors to life, your children will get to know them in a new way.

On Friday, Oct. 5, from 9 until noon, join certified fund-raising executive RoMa Johnson as she explores various concerns for nonprofit organizations. Among these are visitors and volunteers, boards and bosses, reporting of results and accountability, and tools and teamwork. Please contact the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce at 481-3282 to register for this informative seminar.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, Oct. 19, at 10 a.m. to discuss Room by Emma Donoghue. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.

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

On Sunday, Oct. 21, at 2 p.m. join Deborah Worthey, local entrepreneur and creative craft genius, for Cozy Fall Creations—Pinterest in Person. Fill your head with new and exciting ideas for the season. Registration is encouraged at 488-2370.

Teen programs

Teens and adults are invited to learn how to craft the perfect college essay by attending a program with Robert Cronk, author of the popular book, Concise Advice: Jump-starting Your College Admission Essay. The program will be from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 11.

Crafty Teens will meet on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 3:30 to 5 p.m., to make survival bracelets. These bracelets relate to the All Pikes Peak Reads theme of survival because they could be put to use as fishing lines, tourniquets, a snare, or a number of other things. Enjoy a snack while you make your bracelet. Register online or call 488-2370.

Children’s programs

October’s Family Fun program is Survivors from Mill Dog Rescue. Meet some furry friends and learn about this organization and the dogs it cares for. Enjoy a cuddle with the dogs and make a craft. Saturday, Oct. 13, at 1:30.

On Monday, Oct. 14, from 4:30 to 6, enjoy Cool Science Legos Robots. Come build your own robot using Legos Mindstorms and program it to perform tasks and to move on a playing field! Presented by the Center for STEM Education at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs as part of the weeklong Cool Science Festival Oct. 13-21. For students grades 3 to 6; registration is required online or at 488-2370.

The Lego Club will meet from 10:30 to noon on Saturday, Oct. 20. We’ll provide the Legos and you bring the creativity. Be sure to bring your camera, because all pieces used remain the property of the Pikes Peak Library District.

Join us for Fabulous Friday Fun on Friday, Oct. 26, at 4 p.m. This program is suggested for middle elementary students and middle school students.

Tuesday, Oct. 30, is Pumpkin Day at the library. Come at 10:30 a.m. to hear pumpkin stories and decorate your own real pumpkin to take home.

Intergenerational programs

Teens and adults are invited to BookEaters on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 4 to 5:30 to discuss The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley and view the PBS film based on the book. Why do some people survive disaster while others don’t?

The Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library will host an intergenerational tea on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Palmer Lake Town Hall from 2 to 3:30 p.m. All are welcome from ages 5 to 99. Wear your Sunday best and bring your own, unique tea cup. There will be treats and activities that all can enjoy. Space is limited! Register online or call 481-2370.

Save the date in November

Join Monument’s own international bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m.

Anderson has written over 120 books for series such as Star Wars, Dune, and Batman. He will talk of his lifelong goal to become a writer and the development of his career.

On the walls during October will be photographs by David Vessey. In the display case will be empty pottery bowls to highlight the Empty Bowl Dinner to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares.

Palmer Lake Library events

Research has shown that young readers can improve their fluency by reading to a quiet and patient dog. Read with Misty the sheltie on Thursday, Oct. 11, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Read with Kirby, our golden retriever friend, on Saturday, Oct. 27, from 11 a.m. until noon. Read to a dog and select a prize.

The Palmer Lake Knitting Group meets each Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon. Bring your project and share fellowship with knitters who are happy to assist you as you improve your knitting skills. Call 481-2587 for more information.

Come hear Not So Scary Stories on Friday, Oct. 26, at 3:30. Celebrate Halloween with fun and lots of laughs with stories and activities. This activity is for all ages.

In a dark, dark room lit only by candlelight, stories and special effects will send chills and shivers up your spine with tongue-in-cheek tales. Stories in the Dark is a fright night intended for brave souls age 8 and up at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, Friday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.

The Palmer Lake Book Group welcomes new members to its monthly book club. Meetings are held at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection.

View photographs by Laurisa Rabins on the walls of the library during October.

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
October Menu

Oct. 10––Bratwurst, sauerkraut, potato salad, pickle
Oct. 17
––Brisket, garlic mashed potatoes, salad
Oct. 24
––Chicken Marsala over noodles, salad
Oct. 31
––Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad

Rolls and butter are served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert is also provided. An activity of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership. Meals are provided by Pinecrest Catering, Palmer Lake; Nikki McDonald, executive chef, 481-3307.

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Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction, Oct. 10

Monument Hill Kiwanis presents the 2012 Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction Oct. 10, 5-7:30 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. Enjoy a home-cooked dinner plus a handmade bowl donated by local artists. Bid on silent auction items provided by area businesses and enter a drawing for an Amazon Kindle Fire. Come and enjoy a fun evening; fill your bowl and fill a community need. Proceeds go to Tri-Lakes Cares, a 501(c) (3) organization that helps those in need in our community. Cost: $20, which includes one child under 12 free, checks payable to Monument Hill Kiwanis. Tickets are available at the door and in area stores: In Monument: High Country HomeBrew, Covered Treasures Bookstore, Rosie’s Diner, Hangers, Serrano’s. In Palmer Lake: Rock House; in Jackson Creek: Tri-Lakes Printing. For more information call Mark Zeiger, 488-5934.

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Wine, Roses and More, Oct. 27

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will present Wine, Roses and More, its fall fundraising event, Oct. 27, 6-9 p.m., at the Pinery, 12375 Black Forest Rd. The evening features celebrity wine servers, fine wine tasting, Serrano’s coffee bar, great local chefs, a raffle and silent auction, and more. Proceeds benefit the Tri-Lakes community. Tickets are $65 and may be purchased online, from a TLWC member, at Serrano’s Coffee, at The Wine Seller, or at the door. For more information or tickets, visit tlwc.net.

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Singers and musicians needed for Christmas production

Tri-Lakes Music Association seeks singers, orchestra musicians, and anyone who would like to help in any way. Be a part of this exciting Tri-Lakes Christmas tradition. Performances will be at Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., Dec. 21, at 7 p.m., and Dec. 22, at 2 and 7 p.m. All proceeds from the show go to Tri-Lakes Cares and two $500 college scholarships. For information, contact Bob Manning, 232-4114, or email rwgmanning@comcast.net.

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Handbell ringers needed

The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir is looking for some new ringers to begin in the fall, preferably experienced ringers or people who can read music, high school age through adult. If you are interested, please contact Betty Jenik, 488-3953, or email ljenik@comcast.net.

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Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) scholarships, apply by Jan. 15

Graduating high school seniors might be eligible for one of the fourteen $1,000 scholarships offered by MVEA. Requirements and applications are available at an MVEA office, high school counselors’ offices, or online at www.mvea.coop. Info: 719-494-2670.

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Sample ballot for general election available online

A sample ballot for the 2012 General Election in November is now available on the El Paso County Clerk & Recorder’s website. The sample ballot includes all elected office races, as well as all questions and issues from the state and local jurisdictions. An actual ballot will have only the races, ballot issues, and questions that the voter is eligible to vote on. The Clerk’s Office provides a sample ballot to give voters the opportunity to become familiar with the candidates, questions, and issues prior to receiving their mail-in ballot, early voting, or going to the poll place on Election Day. To view the sample ballot and/or request a mail-in ballot, go to http://car.elpasoco.com/election then scroll down and click on "2012 Election Information."

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Tri-Lakes Music Association presents check to Waldo Canyon Firefighters Fund

The Tri-Lakes Music Association (TLMA) donated $4,678—part of the proceeds from its rescheduled Fourth of July concert—to the Waldo Canyon Firefighters Fund. Another portion of the proceeds from that concert went to the Flying W Wranglers, whose Flying W Ranch was devastated by the Waldo Canyon Fire. TLMA, a 501(c)(3) formed in 1998, is composed not only of professional musicians, but also of community members who want to give back to our community through their talents. So far TLMA has performed 12 musical concerts and has donated more than $30,000 to Tri-Lakes Cares as well as two annual $500 scholarships for outstanding District 38 graduates who exemplified what TLMA represents. TLMA is currently developing its annual Christmas concert. For more information, visit www.trilakesmusic.org or contact Bob Manning, 232-4114 or rwgmanning@comcast.net.

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October is Wildfire Awareness Month

The El Paso Board of Commissioners designated October as Wildfire Awareness Month. El Paso, Clear Creek, Jefferson, Larimer, Boulder, and Douglas counties are all participating in a joint effort to emphasize the need for residents to remove trash and brush on their properties and create space around their homes to defend them from wildfires. Residents who live in the wildland urban interface of El Paso County should take the following measures to help protect their homes and communities:

  • Create and maintain a defensible space around their home and outbuildings
  • Use ignition-resistant building materials
  • Review their insurance policies to make sure their homes are fully insured
  • Reduce the density of trees and height of grasses on their property
  • Support the creation of community fuel breaks and landscape-scale forest restoration
  • Become aware of the role that healthy forests play in reducing the negative impact of wildfire and protecting our water resources, recreation opportunities, air quality, and mountain backdrop.

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New service offered for BOCC records

Access to resolutions approved by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is now available through the county website at www.elpasoco.com. The board acts on governance matters through a resolution process at the weekly BOCC meetings. The minutes of the meetings are recorded and posted on the county website. Anyone visiting the site can choose the date of the meeting, read the minutes, and click the link of the resolution in which they are interested. The link opens the recorded resolution document. BOCC meeting minutes on the web are for the years 2012 and archived years 2005-11. The meeting information is located on the county website at http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agenda.asp. Also included is the audio record of BOCC meetings for those who wish to hear the proceedings and discussion of the topics. This new service will assist people who wish to research resolutions brought before the commissioners in past years. The departmental staff may be contacted for assistance at 520-6430.

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Reverse 911

With the heightened concern for fire danger along the Front Range, many people want to sign up their home or cell phone for reverse emergency notification. The El Paso-Teller E-911 Authority Emergency Notification System is used to notify residents of any potential emergencies in their neighborhood. To sign up, go to https://elptc911.onthealert.com.

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Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District seeks board members

Do you love your local library? Would you like to help preserve and promote the Pikes Peak Library District? The Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District is looking for new Board of Directors members. To apply, go to www.friendsppld.org and click on the Board of Directors application. For more information, call 531-6333, x1008.

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Important information for 17-year-olds who want to vote

Teens who will be 18 on or before Election Day are encouraged to register in advance of this year’s elections to be eligible to vote. They must be registered 29 days prior to the election even if they will not be 18 until Election Day, Nov. 6. Colorado law allows for pre-registration for individuals who are 17 years old a year prior to the election in which they want to cast a ballot. Here are two ways to register to vote:

  • Online at www.GoVoteColorado.com
  • In person at any of the four Clerk and Recorder’s Office locations: North Branch—Union Town Center, 8830 N. Union Blvd. (Research Pkwy. and Union Blvd.)

More information can be found at http://car.elpasoco.com/election. For additional information, contact Alissa Vander Veen, 351-9626, or email alissavanderveen@elpasoco.com.

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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 email Susan, susan@cvscorp.com, or visit http://cvscorp.homeserver.com/ms/.

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Get volunteer help for your nonprofit

Due to popular demand, the Lewis-Palmer School District is adding a list of volunteer opportunities to its Youth Activities Directory online. Many students are required to participate in community projects for credit and others are just looking for ways to serve. If your nonprofit has a need for volunteers for a one-time project or an ongoing effort and can use volunteers under age 18, obtain a directory listing form at http://library.constantcontact.com/download/get/file/1101174229838-940/YAS+directory+form.pdf. Nonprofits may list their volunteer needs in the directory free of charge. For more information, contact Robin Adair, P.O. Box 40, Monument, CO 80132; call 785-4223 or email radair@lewispalmer.org.

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Volunteer drivers needed for seniors transportation service

Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. It is the only transportation service in the Tri-Lakes area to take seniors to medical appointments, the grocery store or pharmacy, the bank, legal appointments, senior lunches, shopping, and to the many activities offered through the senior center and our community. The program is in need of additional volunteer drivers. Volunteers are provided with an orientation after criminal and driving records have been screened. Mileage is reimbursed if volunteers use their own vehicle. The program operates Monday-Thursday and is flexible; volunteers can be involved as much as they choose to be. For more information or to request brochures, email browneyesmlk@hotmail.com or call Mary Ketels, 481-2470, or Faye Brenneman, 481-2527, or leave a message with the dispatcher, 488-0076.

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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.; 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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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 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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