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Vol. 12 No. 12 - December 1, 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 18.7 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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Palmer Lake Town Council, Nov. 8: Higher water rates proposed

By Lisa Hatfield

On Nov. 8, in a combined Palmer Lake Town Council and Liquor Licensing Authority and Medical Marijuana Authority meeting, the Town Council discussed raising water rates for 2013. Officials said the rate increases are needed to address capital expenses, such as the repair of aging water lines and infrastructure, and operating expense increases in processing the water.

Trustees Shana Ball and Michael Maddox were excused from the meeting.

New water rates discussed

Town Clerk Tara Berreth said the town needs a water rate hike starting in January. "The water lines are old and we need to repair them," Berreth explained. "Right now we are just putting a band-aid on the problem. We need to get capital." The town is allowed to review water rates twice a year, but it has not done so since January 2011. About "$186,000 would be generated to start fixing lines," if the proposed new water rate structure is adopted, Berreth said.

The proposed plan is to increase water rates in three tiers, with the largest jump for residential customers who are the most egregious water users. Customers in Tier I using 0-15,000 gallons a month would see rates increase by 10 cents to $3.53 per 1,000 gallons; rates for customers in Tier II using 15,000-20,000 gallons a month would increase by 17 cents to $5.77 per 1,000 gallons, Berreth explained. The highest increase in rates would hit customers in Tier III using more than 20,000 gallons of water a month, increasing to $7 per 1,000 gallons.

"The goal is to penalize people who are watering their yard and filling their swimming pools" during a drought, Berreth said. "Those are the kinds of people we want to penalize, and we will get this money (for capital improvements) from them." However, Berreth said, "It might backfire; (the high-end users) might (start to) conserve water, and then we don’t get any money.… It’s a catch-22. We need the revenue to do the lines, but we want them to conserve water, too.

Berreth said the town is allowed to ask for up to a 9 percent increase in base rates, but it is planning to ask for only a 3 percent increase, from $51.02 to $52.21, or an increase of $1.19 per residential customer. This base rate revenue will be used to pay for increases in overhead expenses, including testing cost increases, electricity bill tripling, and overall cost of water "just going up in general," Berreth said.

Trustee Jerry Davis asked if people in Tier I, with the lowest water use, could be exempted from a rate increase. Berreth said, "The ordinance states that if you raise the base, you have to raise the capital improvement by 10 percent, so you could (leave Tier I the same) … it’s not going to make a huge impact."

An audience member who did not identify himself asked, "What if you just increase the base by 9 percent?" instead of changing the rate structure. Berreth said that won’t help, because it’s the profit from water sales, not the base rate, "that will go into capital improvement." Two audience members asked if rates would go down again once the capital improvements are done, and Berreth agreed that this would be a possibility, but the "loan payment (on the filter plant) is there for 25 years."

Further discussion and action on the plan are expected at the next Town Council meeting on Dec. 6.

Club volunteers to repair trail

The council unanimously approved Colorado Mountain Club’s (CMC) proposal to improve the Ice Cave Creek Trail above the reservoir, and "work will begin by June 2013 at the earliest," said Tom Mowle, Project Leader. CMC will get advice from trail architect Paul Mead on how to reroute the first one-third mile of this trail, which is eroded and dangerous. The new section of trail would be built to bypass the steep slopes, and the current steep portion would be blocked with plantings and rock placement to deter hikers and bikers from using it. The resulting new trail "will be safer and easier to maintain in the future," he said.

Christmas Home Decorating Contest

Palmer Lake residents can decorate their homes for a chance to win prize money donated by the Palmer Lake Restaurant Association, group representative Jeff Hulsmann said. Judges will announce the winners of the Christmas Home Decorating Contest the weekend before Christmas. See www.PalmerLakeDining.com for information.

New vision sought for parks

Hulsmann, also a Parks Committee member, said that the parks master plan made about six years ago needs updating.

"Some things are not going to work. We can’t do a swimming beach … but there are things we could do to improve the lakeside park," said Jeannine Engel, Parks Committee member. Bill Fisher, committee co-chair, added, "We need a parking lot to make (the west side of the lake more) accessible. … It’s not just for visitors … it’s also for those of us who live here." Trustee Davis suggested creating a list of community service opportunities, and Berreth said the town is looking for grants. Engel reiterated the need for a new town Parks and Recreation trustee.

Community emergency classes suggested

Resident Dave Bresnahan described free Community Emergency Response Training run by the El Paso County Sheriff that provides community members with "basic knowledge on how to take care of themselves" before first responders arrive and how to " be an asset when the professionals show up. … It can save huge amounts of time and lives." Mayor Nikki McDonald said she will have information put on the town website and see how much interest there is in this training.

Trustees tour Fire Department

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) hosted a walk-through of their facility for trustees. The PLVFD displayed the First Responders Award given to them Nov. 7 by the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. The volunteer firefighters advised the trustees that they appreciate volunteers who donate time and materials to improve the fire station.

Two new liquor license applications discussed

The council unanimously approved co-owner Julie Wetzel’s request for a transfer of ownership and liquor license from the previous business operating in this location and approved a new business license for Dale Street LLC, doing business as The Parked Pierogi, 292 S. Highway 105. The other owners are Nicole Schoenfeld and Chris Williamson. They will serve breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays only, but in the future they hope to serve lunch and have a food truck.

The council unanimously approved a new business license and designated the "neighborhood" for the boundary for a new liquor license survey for La Rosa Mexican restaurant as all homes and businesses in the "1,100 feet radius from the former B&E building." The B&E restaurant liquor license had run out, so a new application was required, according to Town Attorney Larry Gaddis.

La Rosa’s owner Marina La Riva requested that the council meet again on Nov. 28, exactly 30 days after the liquor license application, just to hear testimony from the "neighborhood," instead of waiting to do so at the regular town meeting, so that the business can operate with the liquor license sooner.

New business license approved

The council unanimously approved the new business license for Faith Ferguson’s Vogue Hair Studio, an in-home business in the basement of her house behind the West End Center, with a separate entrance from the rest of her home.

Committee reports

Mayor McDonald described plans for the Chili Dinner and Star Lighting Festival held on Nov. 24.

Trustee Davis presented the Parks and Recreation report. Recent town staff work included removing trash at EPC Park, raking and clearing limbs around the library, adding crack sealant to the tennis courts, and installing Christmas lights at the Gazebo.

Police Trustee Bob Grado noted 45 high-risk incidents and a total of 162 calls for October. He said Palmer Lake officer Adam Lundy "responded to a burglary in progress on Oct. 30 with the Sheriff’s Office," and two suspects were arrested. The sheriff "recovered a bunch of items and solved a whole rash of burglaries."

The Water Committee report given by McDonald said the town averaged "145,000 gallons per day of water use, with a single-day high of 245,000 gallons" in October.

Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster said there were 31 fire calls, for a total of 329 this year. Volunteer firefighters have worked 25,154 hours so far this year. "Those guys just give their hearts over there," Kuehster said. Work included Walk the Kids to School day, medical standbys for Landsharks Running Club, annual Open House, Fire Prevention Day at PLES, and the Flight for Life appreciation barbecue at Penrose/St. Francis. On Halloween, the volunteer firefighters gave out candy and did safety patrols.

Roads Trustee Davis said the staff had graded roads in the Glen, smoothed speed bump areas on the school bus routes, and continues to repair potholes. The staff has begun training some part-time workers for snow removal, prepped equipment for winter use, and ordered 50 tons of anti-skid material. They have painted new stripes, installed new flexible delineators, and added lane designations at some intersections, and mounted a new "Snow Alert" sign on County Line Road.

The vacant road supervisor position on town staff has not been filled. Davis said, "There is no one patrolling right now about potholes and road conditions. … Let us know if you notice anything." He said hiring contractors "on demand" instead of hiring a full-time employee might save money for the town.

Davis said residents should call the town office to ask staff to dispatch a contactor to fix potholes or bad road conditions they notice.

Town Accountant Linda Ousnamer stated, "Overall, we are looking okay … a hair over budget," especially for Roads and the Police Department. She said, "The Police Department is out of money and using general funds to finish out 2012." She commended the departments for working hard with such a tight budget this year.

Ousnamer stated that the draft 2013 budget would be different, saying, "each department has to stand on its own as far as the budget goes (based on income we have allocated to them based on 2012’s expenditures) … so they won’t be borrowing from general fund." Trustee Grado reminded the trustees that the Police Department has been "on a starvation diet all year long"… and its "newest vehicle has 140,000 miles on it." Berreth said, "We increased your budget (for 2013) … but there is not money to replace vehicles, just fix them." Ousnamer added that the Water Department has to stand on its own as an enterprise fund and can’t share money with any other departments.

There is money in the emergency reserves fund, Ousnamer said, but the town wants to save this for emergencies only and is able to carry it forward to 2013 due to a TABOR exemption. "We do not want to spend these reserves at all."

"We have gotten in more revenue this year than we had budgeted" in the first nine months of 2012, Ousnamer said. "A good share of that amount is the projected water rate increase that’s in the budget." This extra water money will not be available for other purposes.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m., and the council entered an executive session for discussion of personnel matters.

**********

The next regular meeting and workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

**********

Postscript: At the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority and Medical Marijuana Authority, Nov. 28, a new liquor license was approved for the La Rosa Restaurant at 25 Highway 105, the site of the former B&E Filling Station Restaurant.

Lisa Hatfield can be reached at lisahatfield@ocn.me.

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Police chief’s contract not renewed

On Nov. 14, Palmer Lake Police Department Chief Kieth Moreland emailed a press release concerning his departure as chief. Some of the comments in his press release were:

  • My contract will not be renewed and I will no longer be chief after 12/06/12—three years and three days after my appointment.
  • There is simply not enough money to pay my salary and benefits.
  • Commissioner Grado assured me that this nonrenewal of my contract was budgetary and in no way related to job performance.
  • I know we’re performing at a better level than when I first arrived. I know, too, that I did not make this happen … you did. You all have brought better skills to our workplace, and/or raised your skill levels to meet the challenges of policing this small town in the 21st century. I thank you for the positive work you’ve done here for any part of the last three years.
  • The fire chief was already let go, last week. There is no talk of appointing another chief of police. The intent, as I understand it, is to appoint a civilian public safety director, who will oversee both the police and fire departments, yet not do any police work, respond to medical calls or fight fires—they will strictly make decisions, create schedules, and oversee budgets.
  • In the end, it’s been a great three years … there’s not one minute of regret, from me, for having spent time here.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Nov. 14: Director presents his fire chief criteria

By Bernard L. Minetti

Director Roger Lance submitted a document Nov. 14 to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board that provided the job description, qualifications, and the vacancy announcement for the new fire chief that he alone authored. It was not requested by the board. He said the board had to "finally get off the dime" and start working toward hiring a new chief.

Treasurer John Hildebrandt asked how this differed from the recently updated Aug. 23 version of the fire chief’s job description. Lance said, "No this is, this is something I put together.…" The document "is what I think we’re looking for … just for your review and thoughts."

Director Jacob Shirk asked Lance if the criteria came from the district Personnel Manual. Lance said, "I read it, but no, I did not compare it to that.…"

Hildebrandt asked Lance if this was just for informational purposes at this time. Lance answered, "Right. It’s a draft thing … I think the Personnel Manual is gonna need some significant changes.…"

Hildebrandt said that he felt that the hiring of a fire chief is so important that he would have to go to the battalion chiefs for input for the qualifications and certifications that the chief should have. Shirk asked the battalion chiefs if they had seen Lance’s version of the qualifications. Battalion Chief Greg Lovato said he had not. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said that he had seen it. Shirk said he would certainly be interested to hear all the battalion chiefs’ input.

At a previous board meeting, Lance had indicated that he was against limiting the first look for a new chief to local talent within the district. There is no assurance that local candidates would be given the first opportunity to be considered.

This reporter asked Lance whether the qualifications were subjective or objective as to their application to candidates. Lance indicated that the vetting process was in the hands of the oral board and that he solicited input on what the makeup of the board should be. He said the oral board should contain "two board members, the three battalion chiefs, the acting chief, an administrative person, the police chief, he’s already here, and I’d like to have our two community leaders…." He said that body would "narrow it down to a small group of candidates that are highly qualified and can meet the requirements, again it’s subjective … its not this, this and this."

"The hiring committee (oral board) will have to review total capability in what we’re looking for in a chief and those candidates I would say, at least three, will come before the board, and the only voting members would be the board," Lance said. "I don’t think we should ask our (battalion chiefs) to vote on the guy they’re gonna work for."

Shirk said, "So what you’re saying is that the other board would take all the candidates and narrow that down to a group of three that would then come before the board." Lance said, "Right, and then the board would have some things that we would agree upon prior to the interview and would be a whole board interview and then the whole board would, as a group, select the one candidate as a chief. That’s just me speaking and again, I’m open."

Lance said the public should be informed "as much as possible" about the selection process. "As far as the questions, I mean how we’re gonna do the interview, we do that as a personnel thing within an executive (secret) session," he said.

Jack informed the board that the Personnel Manual lays out the entire process for recruitment, interviews, and all the procedures associated with the hiring process. He noted that it was geared more toward firefighters, but there is a pretty substantial process and the board might capitalize on that.

Lovato suggested the standards of the qualification process laid out by Lance possibly were too high. He suggested talking to fire chiefs who might provide a standard for a community such as the Tri-Lakes area.

Lance said three chiefs had told him his qualification process was "a good start." Shirk said he wanted to see the battalion chiefs spend some time on Lance’s proposal.

Several months ago, Lance had indicated at a board meeting that he would prefer to have an outsider come in to the district.

Director Rod Wilson suggested that ordinary citizens might be considered as a part of the oral board. Lance vehemently opposed that concept, saying, "I was trying to keep it at a level, at a high level without getting it down into the weakest.…" Lance did not complete that sentence. Lance said that the two citizen board members he had proposed would not vote (as oral board members) but was quickly corrected by Shirk, who stated that these citizens would have a vote in the selection of the three final candidates that will go before the district board.

Financial report

Hildebrandt reported that the district had received $2.9 million or 98.52 percent of the budgeted 2012 property tax revenue through October, which was ahead of the budget schedule. The district had received $230,947 in specific ownership tax revenue, or 92.62 percent of the budget schedule. Ambulance revenues were at $407,551 or 74.10 percent of the budget schedule. No mention was made of last month’s in-arrears Medicare payments and whether they were still unpaid.

Hildebrandt said two expenditure items were over budget on an annual basis. The salary and uniforms line items were over budget 1.12 percent and 1.87 percent, respectively. Overall, the expense side of the annual budget was at 82.23 percent or 1.10 percent under budget. Lease payments were all paid on time.

He then formally notified the board that the mill levy increase proposal (5C) had been approved in the election. Asked whether the administrative budget would remain on target, he replied that with the pending legal fees, it would not. He did state that the overall budget would be in line with expectations.

In response to another question, Hildebrandt said the district has a residual left in the reserve budget that could be used to finance the search for a new chief. He asked if there would be costs for the search before the end of the year. Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said there would be an advertising expense but he felt that it would not be that significant. Hildebrandt said, "we may or may not have to make an amendment to the budget in December." The treasurer’s report was then unanimously accepted.

Board Secretary Rod Wilson, speaking for board Vice President Bill Ingram, who was out of town, acknowledged the passage of mill levy 5C and thanked the citizens for its passage. He also thanked the staff for the effort that they exhibited, and the union for its assistance in the work required to "pull this forward." He also thanked the press for its role in "explaining to the people what we needed."

Wilson said no district funds were expended in the effort to pass 5C. A union member said that the union had allocated $10,000 and had spent $6,000 of that in the effort to pass 5C.

Tactical rescue teams

Shirk talked about the integration of police and firefighters in tactical rescue teams and asked board members about the status of this concept. He noted that the Monument Police Department (Shirk is the Monument police chief) had a program that had stirred some interest from the city of Aurora because of its excellence and effectiveness. He then encouraged the board to "look at that." He continued, "We do have a thousand dollar line item in the new budget to cover some expenses" to have three Tri-Lakes firefighters participate initially.

Shirk asked the board to examine the possibility of compensating those individuals who are already involved in rescue teams on a voluntary basis. Several directors suggested allowing the incoming chief to pursue that question. Hildebrandt indicated that he didn’t know that that program had "gone away." Jack said, "It was suspended by the previous administration." He added that he was unaware of the "rationale" behind that action. Lovato expressed his concern that the program not be abandoned.

Jack advised board members that they had accepted the SAFER grant, which would allow the district to hire six additional firefighters who would be financed by the federal government for two years. He noted that this does not include costs of the firing process. However, full coverage of base hours, insurance, and pensions will be provided. The district is responsible for testing, supplying personal protective equipment, and medical and physical exams.

2013 budget

Jack then reviewed the 2013 budget for the second hearing. The budget will be finalized at the Dec. 5 board meeting. He noted that two dental plans had been examined and one was dropped. The vision plan was dropped in its entirety as being too expensive for the benefits received.

Jack said the SAFER grant would be reimbursed to the district on a quarterly basis. He added that the first year’s expense that would be compensated by the federal government would be based on six employees at pay grade 1 and the second year would be calculated on pay grade 2.

Jack stated that district Resolution 12-004 mandated that the six employees covered by the two-year SAFER grant were to be retained and compensated in the following years through the mill levy increase just approved. The resolution could be changed and or amended at any time by vote of the board. Hildebrandt added that about $300,000 of the mill levy was allocated for the third year of the mill levy funds to compensate those employees.

Jack indicated that with the passage of 5C, the repair and maintenance expenses for the medical equipment utilized on the ambulances were added back into the prospective budget. He added that no funds had been set aside for capital medical expenditures that were expected to be necessary in 2014. This would include cardiac monitor replacement.

Jack noted that the proposed budget for the fire chief’s salary had been adjusted to reflect a pay range of $80,000 to $95,000. He also added that there is a significant increase for training expenses. These amounted to a budget increase from $7,000 to $22,500 for firefighter training and from $7,000 to $22,000 for medical training. One of the noteworthy utility increases was the water expense for fire Station 3, which rose from $3,500 to $7,000 due to Woodmoor Water’s increase in water fees. Vehicle repair and maintenance expenses increased from $40,000 to $55,000. One of the major considerations was that engine 3 was now out of warranty and requires cylinder work.

Resolution 12-006 was introduced and read into the record. This resolution essentially rescinds part of a previous resolution that requires the district to conform to International Fire Code (IFC) 2009 and its local amendments and reverts to conformance with IFC 2003. This resolution does not affect the Town of Monument. It also requires that the district fire chief submit a revised version of IFC 2009 with amendments for approval by the board. The reason for this action is that the El Paso County Commissioners have not approved the original action of the district as indicated in the previous resolution. No copy of this document was provided to the press.

The board also approved the 2013 fee schedule for services provided by the district through the fire marshal’s office.

The board also approved the 2013 meeting schedule. The meetings are all at 6:30 p.m. in the Tri-Lakes Monument Administrative Complex at 166 Second St., Monument. The dates are as follows: Jan. 23, Feb. 27, March 27, April 24, May 22, June 26, July 24, Aug. 28, Sept. 25, Oct. 23, Nov. 13, and Dec. 4, 2013.

The board entered an executive session "to determine positions relative to negotiations."

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 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 can be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Nov. 13: 2013 pension budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 13, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board held two meetings—the semiannual pension board meeting, then the regular November board meeting. The 2013 pension budget was approved at the pension board meeting.

Directors Harland Baker and Joyce Hartung were absent for both meetings. The pension board also has two volunteer firefighters as directors. Lt. Bryan Ackerman was present. Lt. Tim Hampton was excused. Chief Vinny Burns’ absence for the regular board meeting was excused.

Pension board meeting

On July 11, the pension board approved increasing the monthly pension amounts for retirees in accordance with the Plan B published in the district’s Actuarial Study of 2011. Ackerman stated that the district sent a letter to the Fire and Police Pension Association on Aug. 27, requesting action to be taken to increase the monthly pension amounts for beneficiaries. To date, no action has been taken by the association. The association advised the district that it never received the letter. However, the association will now disburse the increased benefit retroactively for Wescott’s volunteer retirees. Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall noted that the financial report shows the disbursement of the full amount to all beneficiaries as now agreed to by the association.

The 2013 pension budget was unanimously approved. The board reaffirmed there would be no district contributions to the pension fund during the 2013 budget cycle. As noted in the April 25 pension board meeting, the district donated substantial amounts to the fund annually in previous years to maximize the amount of then-available state matching funds to ensure the actuarial soundness of the fund for several years, and no 2011 or 2012 donation was required based on actuarial studies. The third-quarter financial statements were unanimously accepted and showed an ending fund balance of $889,177, a net increase of about $50,000 for the quarter.

Former volunteer firefighter and district board member Dennis Feltz filed an application for retiree benefits in November, after meeting his age requirements for volunteer pension benefits, and is now receiving this benefit. The revised spreadsheet now reflects Feltz in the retiree section. The spreadsheet also has been updated to show the district’s new volunteer firefighters that have less than five years of service.

The pension board meeting adjourned at 6:47 p.m. and the regular meeting began at 7:02 p.m.

Regular board meeting

The board unanimously approved holding the public hearing for the 2013 district budget at 7 p.m. Dec. 4 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive, for the purpose of adopting the final budget. Any interested elector of the district may file comments and/or objections at any time prior to the adoption of the budget by the board. The proposed budget can be viewed at the district’s website at www.wescottfire.org or a hard copy is available for review at Station 1.

Financial report

Some of the items Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall reported regarding the October financial statements were:

  • Almost 88 percent of the budget had been expended to date, which was "right on track with $233,000 remaining in the budget."
  • About 22 percent of the reserved/designated funds have been expended.
  • The income line currently shows no amounts pending from El Paso County, because she had not yet received the October property and motor vehicle statements . An updated financial statement will be mailed to board members once information is received from the county.
  • The miscellaneous income currently shows $115,000 attributed to payments from the AMR ambulance agreement and federal reimbursements to date for the district’s wildland fire deployments.
  • Wescott has received reimbursement from the Whitewater Baldy wildland fire, netting a profit of about $41,000, and is still awaiting reimbursement for five other deployments.
  • Property insurance payments for 2013 will be paid on a quarterly basis, beginning in October 2012, since the policy renews every September to ensure an accurate amount in the next annual budget.
  • The station repair budget line item reflects a partial district payment of $5,000 for the Station 3 roof replacement. However, the district’s insurance policy will now cover the entire cost of $12,000.

The October financial statements were unanimously accepted as presented.

Chief’s report

Some of the items Assistant Chief Scott Ridings noted in the chief’s report were:

  • There were 182 runs in October (two fire, 118 EMS, six Hazmat, five service, 37 good intent, 13 false alarms, 0 severe weather, and one special incident) for a 61 percent increase from the previous year. The total for this year was 1,612 calls, up from 1,286 in 2011––a 25 percent increase.
  • Engine 513 sustained no damage during a traffic accident during a light snow day with ice. No injuries were sustained by district personnel. No injuries were sustained by the other vehicle’s driver, but that vehicle sustained very minor damage.
  • Wescott, along with several other fire districts in the region, will work with El Paso County to develop a Pre-Disaster All Hazards Mitigation Plan. A final plan will be delivered to the Wescott board at the end of next year for approval. By adopting this plan, the district would be eligible for qualifying for various federal grants.
  • The district received a "Thank You" framed photo from John and Judy Kewley, who lost their home in the Waldo Canyon Fire.
  • Beginning in January 2013, the district will adopt a 48/96 work schedule for a one-year trial period. Falcon and Black Forest Fire Protection Districts have already implemented this new schedule. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District is slated to adopt this new schedule in 2013 as well.
  • A new hire list was being developed to fill a recent vacancy in career staff because a firefighter recently resigned. The staff expected to fill the vacancy by the end of the November.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:21 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Dec. 4 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Nov. 15: Monthly fee to rise to $30

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 15, the Monument Sanitation District board unanimously approved a monthly use fee increase of $5, from $25 to $30. The use fee increase will take effect April 1, 2013, and be payable starting May 1, 2013. This will produce about $39,000 through Dec. 31, 2013, for the district’s enterprise fund.

The current 2013 draft district budget presented at this meeting estimated a total ending balance for 2012 of about $288,000. However, the total ending balance for 2013 would be only about $266,000, a decrease of $22,000, despite the approved 20 percent fee increase.

District Manager Mike Wicklund asked the board to approve the fee increase at this meeting so he could finalize the revenue line in the final district 2013 budget he will prepare for the public budget hearing at 7 p.m. on Dec. 20 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Information on the 2013 budget hearing can be obtained at the district office, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. or at 481-4886.

The absence of board President Ed Delaney was excused. Board Secretary Kristi Schutz chaired this meeting.

Details of use fee increase

Residential customers pay a flat monthly use fee. This fee will increase from $25 to $30 on April 1. Commercial customers will pay the same increased monthly use fee of $30 for the first 5,000 gallons of water used, starting on April 1. This monthly use fee is paid in arrears and due on the first day of the following month. The commercial rate charged by the district for each additional 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons used will also rise on April 1, 2013, from $4.50 to $4.85 per 1,000 gallons.

The April 1 starting date of the fee increase allows the district time to precisely determine the increased amount to be charged to each of the district’s commercial wastewater customers after each of the individual total metered water use amounts for 2012 have been formally confirmed to the district by the Town of Monument. The total additional amount owed to the district in addition to the monthly use fee for a calendar year is then calculated based on the amount of town water used in excess of 5,000 gallons each month during that year. The total amount owed the district for the year is then divided into 12 equal monthly payments and is paid in arrears.

Fee increase needed to pay for tighter state regulations

Wicklund stated that this $5 fee increase is required to pay for new state Monument Creek monitoring requirements that begin March 1 and preparations for tighter limits on total phosphates in Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility effluent contained in the new state Control Regulation 85.

Facility engineering consultant Tetra Tech will conduct a $55,000 10-year master plan study in early 2013 to determine the most efficient and effective way to meet the new regulatory requirements in Regulation 85 as well as the tighter requirements in the new state Regulation 31.17. After the master plan study is completed, a new storage building, part of the new capital construction needed to meet these new regulatory requirements, will be built in the fall, with a capital cost of $85,296. Monument’s one-third share of each of the costs for these two new 2013 projects will be $19,306 and $28,099 respectively.

However, the EPA has still not approved the new language in either of these new state regulations. The EPA has proposed even tighter and costlier restrictions on nutrients, metals, and other naturally occurring elements like selenium. Furthermore, Wicklund stated in this meeting that the monthly use fee will need to be increased again to at least $35 to meet the nutrient requirements of Regulation 31.17 within a few years.

In late 2011, Monument had to ask the other two Tri-Lakes facility co-owners, Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, to delay the storage building construction from the 2012 budget to the 2013 budget because Monument could not afford its share of the cost in 2012 due to insufficient revenues. The facility is owned in equal shares by each of these three districts and each district pays a third of all capital costs. Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks had already obtained design specifications and building plans from a contractor in mid-2011 before the Monument board asked Wicklund to ask the Tri-Lakes Facility’s Joint Use Committee (JUC) for this construction delay.

During 2013 budget reviews by the JUC, Woodmoor asked the other two owner districts to approve the Tetra Tech master plan study to ensure that construction of the facility is necessary in 2013 and that the current storage building specifications will still meet the long-term requirements for storing the new chemicals required to remove phosphorus, spare blowers for the aeration basins, and other new capital equipment.

The JUC and the three district boards have now unanimously approved funding for this Tetra Tech study. The master plan will be completed by this summer, allowing time for the Tri-Lakes storage building to be built in the fall of 2013. (See the related Joint Use Committee article on page 12 for more information.)

Wicklund noted to the Monument board that during the Nov. 13 JUC meeting, Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette had asked the JUC to have the cost of the Tetra Tech $55,000 master plan study in the 2013 budget split by thirds rather than have the cost shares determined by the formula used for other kinds of operating expenses, which is based on each district’s monthly influent flow and BOD concentrations (wastewater strength.)

The JUC unanimously approved this request on Nov. 13 after it was supported by the other district managers as a fairer way to divide this operational cost for a study on future capital costs. Wicklund also noted that a long-range planning document cannot be depreciated.

Treasurer’s report

Two tap fees were received since the last board meeting for a total of $10,800. The total tap fee revenue for the year was up to $59,900. The district’s 2012 budget conservatively forecast only $10,000 in tap fee revenue due to the current building recession.

The Monument board unanimously approved the 2013 Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility budget, which had been previously approved by the JUC on Nov. 13.

Other matters

Wicklund noted that he had negotiated an exchange price of $776 each to have Keen Pump Co. provide centrifugal pumps to replace each of the district’s positive displacement pumps that Keen had provided for the Wakonda Hills lift stations. The rubber stators in the positive displacement pumps have been failing after a little over a year, causing a lot of pumping alarms for Wicklund during evenings and weekends. It is expected that Keen’s replacement centrifugal pumps will be more durable.

The annual meeting of the JUC will be held at 6 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Villa in Palmer Lake. This will be a public meeting for the JUC as well as public meetings for the Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor boards. All four meeting notices will be posted regarding this public meeting.

A resolution certifying nine liens against properties within the district for nonpayment of use fees was unanimously approved and was filed with the county assessor on Nov. 16.

The meeting adjourned at 8:27 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Dec. 20 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. During this meeting there will be a public hearing on the 2013 budget and the 2013 appropriation. There will be no mill levy hearing at the Dec. 20 meeting because Monument Sanitation District has no debt. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

Jim Kendrick can be reached jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Nov. 8: Increases in wastewater rate, tap fees proposed

By Candice Hitt

Board President Barrie Town announced at the Nov. 8 Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board meeting that the public hearing on the 2013 budget would run from Nov. 8 to Nov.13.

District Manager Jessie Shaffer recommended a 71 cent per month increase in wastewater charge for customers in the 2013 budget. This fee is a flat rate paid by all customers and would result in a flat monthly fee of $26.04 per customer, which is a 2.8 percent increase. Shaffer also proposed an increase of $615 in tap fees, which is a 3 percent increase. The board will review the recommendations and make a decision at the December board meeting.

Fire hydrant inspection performed

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said the district completed the annual fire hydrant preventive maintenance program, which is on a three-year testing cycle. More than 500 hydrants in Woodmoor were inspected by employee Eric Grass and board member Tommy Schwab. Thirteen hydrants were in need of repair, and six of those must be replaced because parts are unavailable for repairs.

Regional water solution discussed

Need for statewide water plan stressed

Guest speaker Dave Miller, owner of Natural Energy Resources Co., discussed the need for a professional statewide water plan. Currently, the state does not participate in a statewide or regional water solution plan. Miller stated that creating efficient water delivery requires replacing ground water with renewable water, which would eliminate the high-cost solutions being considered by water districts. Miller stated the concept is to increase reliability of everyone’s water rights where water is stored and then pumped to where it is needed.

Operations and construction update

Gillette said that Well 6, which is an older well, failed and has been pulled out of the ground. The well needs cleaning and Gillette discussed with board members using the New Well 310 product to clean the well. New Well 310 is a phosphorous cleaner that helps prevent iron and bacteria buildup by coating the well casings and should increase water quality. The process is labor intensive and therefore will cost the district $30,000. The board unanimously approved the cleaning project.

Gillette said Well 5 had an electrical failure and needs an upgrade. The cost is $15,000 to replace the electrical system, which would be covered under the 2012 budget and would not affect the bottom line. The board unanimously approved replacing the electrical equipment.

Shaffer said the first draft of the district’s Long Range Plan (LRP) was received and changes were submitted to the board for review. Shaffer stated the goal is to adopt the final LRP at the December board meeting.

The board reviewed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and WWSD. The purpose of the MOU is to clarify certain issues and mutually agree to perform certain tasks for a period of time in regard to fire hydrant maintenance, testing, and operations. WWSD will issue the memorandum to the fire protection district for review.

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The next regular board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. Dec. 14 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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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, Nov. 13: 2013 budget with 10-year master plan study approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 13, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) unanimously approved the 2013 facility budget that includes both a 10-year master plan study and a new storage facility even as each of its owner districts struggle to finance new monitoring and regulatory requirements imposed by the state and the EPA.

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. Woodmoor director James Taylor filled in for Whitelaw, who was absent. Smith chaired the meeting.

2013 budget approved

During a public hearing that was advertised and posted as required, the 2013 budget and the corresponding 2013 appropriation were unanimously approved. The main new expenses for 2013 were:

  • $55,000 for a 10-year master plan study by engineering consultant Tetra Tech to determine the best capital investment and engineering design options for meeting new tighter nutrient, heavy metals, and arsenic restrictions by 2022 when new state Regulation 31 restrictions become effective.
  • A $4,000 increase in insurance costs to cover the total replacement cost ($9 million) of all facility buildings, vehicles, and equipment, as verified in an October insurance inspection, in the event of a disaster such as the Waldo Canyon Fire.
  • $85,296 for construction of a new storage building to house chemicals for total phosphorus removal and potential spare blowers and other heavy equipment that may be needed for facility expansion.
  • An additional $18,000 to cover new environmental legal expenses regarding temporary modifications and discharger-specific variances for the facility’s discharge permit.
  • An additional $11,500 to cover new engineering consultant requirements for these same items.
  • An additional $15,000 for chemical monitoring of Monument Creek starting in March to comply with new Regulation 85 nutrient sampling requirements.

Total facility expenditures to meet new state and EPA requirements have risen from $635,844 in 2011 to $791,158 (estimated) in 2012 and $948,785 (budgeted) in 2013. In addition to the capital investment for the new storage building, the three owner districts will have to pay for a pilot treatment plant to determine the optimal design for the capital construction of phosphorus removal equipment soon after 2013.

The annual cost of chemicals for this phosphorus removal is an additional $200,000 per year. The capital costs for the new phosphorus removal equipment, piping, and possible sludge lagoon expansion will be determined during the master plan study next year.

The cost of the master plan study will be divided in thirds as an operational ownership cost. The cost of the new storage facility will be divided in thirds as a capital ownership cost. The total projected costs for the three owner districts in the 2013 budget were:

  • Monument—$223,317
  • Palmer Lake—$187,361
  • Woodmoor —$538,107

There was no public comment during either the hearing on the 2013 budget or the 2013 appropriation, and both were unanimously approved and forwarded to the state.

Financial reports

Facility Manager Bill Burks gave a brief overview of the October financial reports. They were accepted without comment as presented.

Plant manager’s report

In the plant manager’s report, Burks noted that there had been another slightly elevated E. coli measurement due to a dead magpie in the effluent pipe. All other aspects of plant operation were normal.

Burks said he had received official notification from the state Health Department of the Regulation 85 requirement to begin nutrient monitoring above and below the facility’s effluent discharge to Monument Creek.

The Fountain/Monument Creek monitoring group sponsored by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is working toward a joint coordinated monitoring plan for all wastewater facilities that discharge to Monument Creek or Fountain Creek to ensure there is a sufficient database of wastewater facility discharge data and non-point source data taken on the same day and in the same manner. This will help ensure that all members of the monitoring group can apply for discharger-specific variances in the manner specified in the new Regulations 85 and 31.

The JUC scheduled the annual meeting of the JUC and the three district boards at 6 p.m. on Dec. 6 at the Villa restaurant on Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. The facility and each of the owner districts have posted this public meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

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

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, Nov. 13: Former district manager threatens suit

By Jim Kendrick

During public comments at the Nov. 13 Triview Metropolitan District board meeting, former District Manager Larry Bishop stated that while he was a district employee, he participated in Triview’s 457 retirement plan and has been unable to have his 457 money rolled into his IRA account since retiring in June.

Secretary/Treasurer Bob Eskridge was absent from the meeting.

Public comments

Some of the items Bishop noted were:

  • He had worked for Triview as an employee several years ago and participated in Triview’s 457 plan.
  • He first applied to Triview on July 7 to have his 457 account rolled over to his IRA account, talking to both Monument Town Manager Cathy Green and Triview Billing Manager Joyce Levad.
  • He was told the 457 plan administrator was still former Triview board member Kathy Walters.
  • He phoned Walters and asked her if she would sign the transfer form, but she was reluctant to do so since she had "not had anything to do with Triview Metro since 1995."
  • Since Walters is still the plan administrator and is unwilling to sign his documents, he asked, "What am I supposed to do?"
  • The IRS requires prompt action on distribution in a timely manner.
  • He said trying to receive his money since July is not a timely manner. "It’s costing me money. It’s costing me hardship and it’s costing my wife hardship."
  • He asked how soon this could be resolved.

Some of the responses from board President Robert Fisher were:

  • "The plan administrator has not changed."
  • "We are working through some administrative and logistic questions on getting that modified."
  • "I do not have a timeframe for you, Larry. We are working on it. It was brought to our attention in October."

Bishop replied to Fisher, "All right, then you leave no choice. Then I have to file suit in court and I will file suit, sir, against you personally, against Ms. Remington (District Manager Valerie Remington) personally, and against this district. Thank you."

Note: Kathy Walters actually stepped down from the board on May 27, 2004. See www.ocn.me/v4n6.htm#triview for details.

Second public hearing on 2013 budget

Fisher asked for comments on the 2013 Triview preliminary budget. Seeing none, he closed the public hearing. The 2013 preliminary budget is available for inspection by the public at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Any interested elector of the Triview Metropolitan District may inspect and file any objections at any time prior to the final adoption by the board in a public hearing during the Dec. 11 regular board meeting at 5 p.m. in Town Hall. For further information: contact Remington at 884-8048 or vremington@townofmonument.net.

Booster pump report

Engineer Barney Fix of engineering firm Merrick & Co. stated that final design of the booster pump station was underway with three skid-mounted pumps that will each provide up to 200 gallons per minute to the 8-inch distribution line that feeds the affected lots. The pump manufacturer has recommended installation of pneumatic tank to ensure a smooth flow. The building housing the pumps will be about 10 feet by 18 feet.

He displayed a map of the Promontory Pointe development that showed a blue line that represented the outer boundary for the residential lots that will be provided the specified minimum water pressure required for fire flows by the Triview water tank, which is located on the northeast corner of the Promontory Pointe parcel.

The new booster pump system is designed to provide 70 psi to homes, but is not designed to have the additional pumping capacity to support fire flows from fire hydrants. Fix initially proposed two additional pumps to ensure fire flows, but the board voted to eliminate these two pumps from the preliminary design to save costs as the total price of the booster pump system kept escalating during concept development.

Fix said that once he received a Promontory Pointe site plan and plat, he scheduled a meeting with Monument Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara to go over the preliminary design. After that meeting, Fix said he had learned on Nov. 12 that the pump house would have to go through a planning hearing before the Monument Planning Commission for a replat and a rezone from planned residential development to utilities. Fix said that unplanned requirement would create a three- or four-month delay. Fix will schedule another meeting with Kassawara to determine what needs to be done for this hearing process, such as a "locates and extents" package prepared by Merrick.

Fisher said that Triview did not go through this kind of hearing process for the building that protects well A8. Triview attorney Gary Shupp, who is also Monument’s town attorney, said he did not know what process Triview went through for well A8. Shupp said he assumed that a similar process would apply to getting town approval for Triview’s booster pump station. He said he would review Colorado Title 32 to learn which special district rules may apply and if the "locates and extents package" is actually required.

Fix asked Fisher how he should proceed. Fisher directed Remington to ask Kassawara about using the same process used in the A-8 well approval. A motion to authorize Remington to present the final booster pump design package, replat, and rezone documentation to Kassawara once it has been determined if a Planning Commission hearing is required was unanimously approved.

Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes––the developer for Promontory Pointe, asked for more explanation of the blue line. Fix said the blue line shows which lots can and cannot receive enough water pressure to have fire flows from the pressure provided by the existing Triview water tank. A minimum water pressure of 20 psi from the water tank is necessary for the adjacent fire hydrants to function. Fix said Merrick’s final booster pump station design does not include the booster pumps Fix initially proposed and the Triview board rejected.

Loidolt said, "I’m trying to figure out why we don’t have a fire flow pump. We have a water infrastructure agreement." Cox replied, "We’re looking at addressing that with different means, building a second tank. The cost almost tripled to get the fire flow pump in there."

Loidolt said, "That isn’t what the consultant told me at the meeting—$80,000 for a pump, $20,000 for a generator, plus a little bit bigger building—call it $120,000. Our water infrastructure agreement is pretty clear that we both agreed to. We would fund the extra money it took to get the pump to get the pressure up and you guys would provide sufficient water pressure. We’re getting left out. I don’t understand why."

Fisher said, "The primary intent of the pump station was to maintain pressure in the existing areas and to serve the south end of the development." Loidolt said, "No, it’s the whole project if you read the infrastructure agreement. It does not say the south end of the project." Fisher stated, "I said if you go back to the discussions around the scope and costs of that project, that was all discussed in these board meetings."

Loidolt replied, "I wasn’t made aware of it and we’re the landowner and think that we’re one of the stakeholders and should be at least be aware of what’s going on and be notified of something going on that’s outside of what our agreement was. Because it doesn’t work on a lot of fronts. Not only does it stop our development but it’s fiscally irresponsible of you guys to stop that project. Look at the tap fees … that it generates and you’re going to stop it over $120,000?" Fisher replied, "In those discussions, it was not $120,000."

Fix stated that the booster pump project would now cost $300,000 with the fire flow pumps and $170,000 without them. Loidolt replied that Classic was providing roughly $300,000 in the water infrastructure agreement. Fisher said, "I will remind everyone that we were originally told this was a $100,000 project."

Loidolt stated, "The water infrastructure agreement says a $300,000 pump, the one that we both agreed to, and we’re roughly at that number. And we’re going to generate $260,000 in additional tap fees, we waived our free 10 taps––that’s $50,000––and we also agreed to pay extra money up front, where we could have paid $5,000 a tap, we paid the full tap fee, aside from what we had to pay the Walters, another $50,000 to $60,000. We’re going to donate basically to this little project about $350,000 but we’re not being addressed. Our project’s being shut down. I don’t understand."

Fisher said, "We’ve had a lot of discussion about this. We can have further discussions with you individually. This is where we are at right now." Loidolt replied, "I’ve tried to have those discussions since we had a meeting and I haven’t been able to get in contact with anybody that can give me answers. We really don’t have time to wait. I’m getting ready to release the next phase and that’s affected by the pressure pump. We have an agreement. It’s good for you guys. It’s good for us."

He added, "I don’t understand why it didn’t get addressed. And no one told us it wasn’t being addressed until I was told I would have to go to a public meeting to hear about it. And this is when I found out about the blue line."

Fisher said, "This is where we’re at. I’m not going to change everybody’s direction tonight. We can continue this conversation if you’d like, offline." Loidolt sighed. "If someone would answer my phone calls, that would be great. We’ll have it offline, if you’ll call me back. But this doesn’t work for us. This is not what we agreed to." Fisher replied, "You got your input."

Consent agenda

The Nov. 13 meeting agenda had a new standard item called "Approval of Consent Agenda." A consent agenda usually includes routine non-controversial items that do not require discussion by the board before they are approved.

The subheadings for the consent agenda at this meeting were:

  1. Prior meeting minutes: This was for the Oct. 9 regular meeting.
  2. Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility designation of Operation Committee Representative: District Manager Valerie Remington was formally appointed in writing to attend these quarterly meetings at the facility.
  3. Signatory for bank accounts: No information was provided in the meeting packet.
  4. Operation report—completed items: Some of the items noted in this report were:
    • Triview is about to take over maintenance responsibility for Promontory Pointe phase 1.
    • Well A-1 has been pulled, the failed motor has been sent to the manufacturer for inspection, 10 sticks of well piping have to be replaced ($8,516), the armor jacket on the power wire is badly corroded and has to be replaced ($11,154), and the well casing needed cleaning ($8,516).
    • The difference between the amounts of water produced versus water billed is higher than desired: a leak survey, well meter calibration, and residential meter calibration are the planned solutions.
    • Asphalt repairs were to be completed by Nov. 9.
    • Preparation of the engineering report on the recent chip seal failures was underway.
  5. Manager report—completed items: In addition to the various meetings Remington had with various consultants, she noted that a community meeting was held on Oct. 11 at Bear Creek Elementary School regarding the water pressure booster pump system to be installed in Promontory Pointe.
  6. Permission to share information for auditor: A letter from Fisher to former Triview auditor Tom Sistare of Hoelting & Co. Inc. authorizing him to provide access to new auditor Stockman Kast Ryan & Co. LLP, specifically all the Hoelting paperwork associated Triview’s 2011 audit.
  7. ACH agreement with Peoples Bank: No information was provided in the meeting packet.
  8. Promontory Pointe Final PD Site Plan Information: This document from Classic Consulting Engineering & Surveyors was a project narrative for Major Amendment 2 to the Promontory Pointe final planned development site plan. A replat is also proposed. Classic Homes is proposing to change 82 existing platted lots east of Gleneagle Drive into 75 lots. No changes are proposed to the lots west of Gleneagle Drive or the platted alignment to Gleneagle Drive. The application to Monument board President Robert Fisher asked Vice President Tom Harder and Directors Steven Cox and Steven Hurd if they had any items they wanted to take off of the consent agenda. When there was no reply, Fisher asked for a motion to approve the consent agenda, and it was unanimously approved.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Dec. 11 in 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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Monument Board of Trustees, Nov. 5: Christmas tree light rental approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 5, the Monument Board of Trustees approved funding for Christmas tree lighting along Second Street by consensus. The board also unanimously approved the appointment of Monument resident Melissa Wood as an alternate planning commissioner, in accordance with commission bylaws. Woods can be a voting member anytime one of the commissioners is absent. She stated that she was interested in keeping businesses downtown as well as bringing in new businesses to help the town grow.

The vacant seat created by the resignation of Trustee Rick Squires had not yet been filled for this meeting.

Trustee comments

Trustee Jeff Kaiser thanked Treasurer Pamela Smith "for all the extra help and guidance you’ve given. You take a little extra time to explain things and your budget has done so well. I just wanted to thank you personally."

Public comments

John Dominowski, owner of the shopping center on Front Street, asked the board to use money from the annual fund financed by town business license fees to pay for Christmas lights on the trees just installed on Second Street between Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. He presented a letter to the board signed by about 13 downtown business owners requesting that the trees be lit this season.

Green said there was enough money left in the 2012 budget to pay the lowest bid to lease Christmas lights for this season. Smith said $9,800 remained in this Community Development Fund that could be used toward this request.

The board unanimously agreed by consensus to finance the Christmas tree lighting as requested by Dominowski.

County resident Lee Ackerman of 910 N. Washington St. complained again about the unsightliness of the adjacent town property to the south at 840 N. Washington St., which is owned by XKE Contractors Inc. She said her 22-acre horse farm has a county zoning of RR-5, rural residential and five acres or larger, while the XKE lot has a town zoning of planned heavy industrial development (PHID).

Background: Ackerman and her husband Dennis Ackerman, who have owned their property for 25 years, had complained to the Board of Trustees about the XKE property on Aug. 1, 2005. Some of the concerns they expressed at that meeting were:

  • The property had dropped $150,000 in value since XKE owner Todd Smith turned his property into "an industrial wasteland."
  • Horses were still kept where the long-vacant land had recently been graded.
  • The 60- to 150-year-old pine trees forming a visual screen within the 10-foot buffer zone next to her property line had been allowed to die.
  • Excavation just inside the buffer zone had cut into the roots of the buffering trees, killing several other pine trees and four patches of scrub oak elsewhere on the property, and other healthy trees on the property had also been taken down.
  • The trees that died and were planted specifically for buffering within the 10-foot-wide buffer for an industrial lot should be replaced on a two-for-one basis in accordance with town regulations.
  • Smith had destroyed some "greenway" in the center of the XKE parcel.

For more information, see www.ocn.me/v5n8.htm#bot718

Some of the statements made by Lee Ackerman at this Nov. 5 board meeting were:

  • The XKE property is covered with junk and debris.
  • The town zoning changed to PHID before Todd Smith took ownership of the XKE property.
  • She has spoken to town staff several times since her 2005 public comments.
  • There are no appropriate boundaries between the two properties.
  • The town has legal language about offensive public nuisances that could be applied to get XKE to abate/clean up its property.
  • The acre of 200-year-old trees that was a satisfactory visual buffer next to her property has been cut down.
  • In the section on additional requirements of industrial use, the town’s industrial zoning code now states that a 50-foot buffer is required.
  • The board could declare the XKE property a nuisance to get him to abate it.
  • "If you don’t want to erect an 8-foot fence on his side, erect it on mine."
  • Even if Smith has said he’s going to clean it up, he’s never going to clean it up.
  • It sounds like Smith has no legitimate or legal site plan.
  • "Can I have a legal answer from the town attorney on whether he has a legally zoned business, or do I need to get an attorney?"

Town Manager Cathy Green stated that when the XKE property was annexed, the site plan that was adopted by the Board of Trustees was a "very bad site plan" with only a 10-foot buffer with "10 little stars for trees," and it was never recorded with the county.

She said she had town Engineering Inspector Greg Maggard go to the County Assessor’s Office to determine if the site plan in the town file was the legitimate site plan for creating the industrial zoning when the property was annexed. The site plan in the file for the previous landowner, before Smith, had never been recorded. Green said Smith would likely be opposed to record a current plat with current code requirements. "I assume the law would say you have to go with what was in the file and what was approved at that time by the Board of Trustees."

XKE is now an RV storage business with non-conforming uses that were approved at the time of annexation. Green said, "It’s a heavy industrial site with a lot of scrappy-looking stuff." Smith’s house on this industrial site was a grandfathered non-conforming use.

Green then discussed the town’s code enforcement history with Smith considering the Ackermans’ original public comments noted above. Green said she and two town code enforcement officers had gotten Smith to remove trash around his house, but not the trash further up the hill next to the Ackerman property boundary. She stated that the trash next to the Ackerman property is "almost small" compared to all the stuff Ackerman has to look at on the whole property, which she said is a bad situation.

Green said, "We just don’t have the law behind us to get anyone out there to do anything about it." She added, "I’m not ever sure what we would do to abate it, because what he’s doing on that property is unsightly to a neighbor but he’s doing it legally."

Town Attorney Gary Shupp advised the board that there is not much the board can do, even though the town would never allow this kind of district to exist now. The town cannot retroactively require screening now.

"Abating a nuisance is a term of art" that courts have defined in a lot of case law, and this case does not meet the legal definition, Shupp said. The town has no obligation to build a fence on the Ackerman property and "that has all kinds of interesting ramifications also." Shupp said he would research the town file and provide a legal opinion to the board. He also said the Ackermans could obtain legal counsel at any time of their choosing.

David Betzler of Health Advocacy Partnership thanked the board for its $1,600 contribution and asked that the board pose for a picture to memorialize the town’s contribution to the partnership’s seniors program.

Firearms ordinance amendment not approved

Shupp proposed amendments to the Monument Municipal Code to align it with state statutes and other municipal ordinances as well as add language clarifying that:

  • A peace officer certified by the peace officer standards and training board shall have the authority to carry firearms at all times, concealed or otherwise, subject to the written firearms policy created by the agency employing the peace officer.
  • All other peace officers shall have the authority to carry firearms, concealed or otherwise, while engaged in the performance of their duties or as otherwise authorized by the written policy the agency employing the officer.

There were no public comments during this hearing. A motion to approve these amendments adding an exception allowing a police officer to carry a concealed weapon as allowed under Colorado law failed by a vote of 2-2-1, with Trustees Jeff Bornstein and Kaiser opposed. Bornstein and Kaiser did not explain why they voted no. Trustee Becki Tooley abstained. Tooley said, "I’m going to abstain because I’m a little unsure."

Marijuana ordinance amendment approved

Shupp proposed an amendment to the Monument Town Code regarding marijuana possession by increasing the town limit from one ounce to two ounces to conform to the state’s two-ounce limit. Chief Jacob Shirk said that state law prohibits the town from arresting someone for possession of two ounces or less of marijuana because it is a petty offense, but the Town Code called for an arrest if the amount was more than one ounce, which caused him to have great concerns about liability for a false arrest.

There was no public comment on this ordinance. The ordinance was unanimously approved. The Town Code now states: "It is unlawful to possess two ounces or less of marijuana: and upon conviction thereof, or plea of guilty or not contest thereto, punishment shall not be by imprisonment, but shall be a fine of not more than ($100)."

The board also unanimously approved a resolution authorizing a change in signature authority with Wells Fargo Bank. The affected trustees signed the new signature documents.

The board approved a new liquor license for the new Kum and Go store at 17970 Knollwood Drive. There was no public comment during this new license hearing. The board also approved an annual liquor license renewal for the Circle K store at 1190 W. Baptist Road.

Financial reports

The board approved three disbursements over $5,000:

  • $100,000 to Peoples National Bank to purchase an annual certificate of deposit for reserves
  • $92,143 to Timberline Landscaping Inc. for Second Street landscaping.
  • $5,400 to Pikes Peak Regional Communications Network for police radio mandatory user fees (27 radios at $200 each)

Smith noted that credit card payments for water bills have been accepted since Sept. 1. In September there were 200 credit card transactions for $17,000, 21 percent of the accounts billed. In October there were 318 transactions for $28,000, 33 percent of the accounts billed. There has been very little marketing. Her goal is to have at least 50 percent of the transactions take place by automatic billing. The credit card transaction fee is 0.8 percent.

Mayor Travis Easton and Trustees Bornstein and Kaiser asked Smith to report back to the board about the ways that her staff can shift their time to other duties with the time saved by credit card payments. Smith said she would determine the savings in time spent by staff on deposits and postings.

Smith presented the September financial statements. General fund revenues through September were more than the amount budgeted by $277,000, or 7.4 percent. General fund expenditures through September were less than the amount budgeted by $217,000, or 7.2 percent. General fund net revenue exceeded the amount budgeted by $574,000. Water fund revenues through September were more than the amount budgeted by $150,000, or 13.2 percent. Water fund expenditures through September were less than the amount budgeted by $129,000, or 9.3 percent. Water fund net revenue exceeded the amount budgeted through September by $279,000. The net gain for all town funds through September was $818,409.

Staff reports

Green advised the board that the town’s water broker, Gary Barber, had resigned from his position of president of the Two Rivers Water Co. Barber had previously been the president of the Pikes Peak Rural Water Authority and was the first executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District. He continues to be the chair the Arkansas Basin Roundtable. The town had agreed to have Barber work on future renewable water supply options from Two Rivers in September.

Green also reviewed a meeting of the El Paso County Commissioners with various municipalities to discuss ways to regionalize public services. The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments is holding meetings with municipalities to discuss issues regarding senior services, transportation planning, air and water quality programs, military impact planning, and the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority.

Shirk reported at length on the use of the town’s fleet of police vehicles (four sedans and two SUVs), and how he manages them to support the department’s goal of "Well Trained, Well Equipped, Well Prepared, Competitive Pay" during 24-hour operational coverage year-round. He requested that the board replace at least one if not two of the oldest vehicles in 2013.

The board went into executive session at 8:05 p.m. The meeting adjourned at 9:30 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Nov. 9: Dominguez selected for reappointment as trustee

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 9, the Monument Board of Trustees held a special meeting to fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of Trustee Rick Squires. The board interviewed Monument resident Darcy Tidd and former Trustee Rafael Dominguez for the position. Town Attorney Gary Shupp counted the six trustee votes cast in a secret ballot and stated that Dominguez had been chosen by a vote of 4-2. The board members thanked Tidd for applying and being interviewed for the vacancy.

Dominguez was originally appointed to the Monument Planning Commission to fill a vacancy created by a resignation and was sworn in on Aug. 20, 2007. He ran uncontested in the April 2008 election for the Board of Trustees and served a full four-year term. He chose not to run for a second term in April 2012. This appointment will last until the next election in April 2014.

After Shupp announced the result of the vote, the board recessed to prepare for a 2013 budget workshop, which Dominguez attended.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

Dominguez was subsequently sworn in at the Nov. 19. board meeting. See the article below.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Nov. 19: Santa on Patrol donations requested for Dec. 15 event

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 19, Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk announced that the annual Santa on Patrol event will take place Dec. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At the Monument Board of Trustees meeting, he asked the community to contribute unwrapped toys and/or $25 gift cards for food purchases for Christmas dinners. Items can be dropped off at the Police Department office on the right side of the entrance to Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District at 18650 Highway 105, or D-38 schools.

Reporter Lisa Collacutt said the Tri-Lakes Tribune is conducting a food drive and food or cash donations can be dropped off at Tri-Lakes Cares at 235 N. Jefferson St. between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. She added that there is a need for toiletries and staples.

In other matters, the board approved an ordinance that allows the town clerk to conduct a review of liquor license renewal applications and transfer of ownership applications, eliminating the need for a public hearing unless it is determined that there is just cause for board review. Two options for increased water fees to restore the town water enterprise’s sustainability were also presented by the staff for board review and comment.

Mayor Travis Easton was absent from the meeting. Mayor Pro Tempore Jeff Kaiser chaired the meeting in Easton’s absence. Members of Boy Scout Troop 9 who attended this meeting for merit badge qualifications led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman swore in Rafael Dominguez as a trustee. His appointment to fill a vacant seat will run through April 2014.

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for NY Boys LLC, doing business as Borriello Brothers NY Pizza in Monument Marketplace at 15910 Jackson Creek Parkway. This is the kind of renewal that will no longer be required due to the unanimous passage of the ordinance noted above.

Draft water rate increase presented

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented the latest draft of water rate increases to get final questions from the trustees. Once the questions are answered, the board is expected to schedule a town hall meeting at the D-38 "Big Red" administration building on Jefferson Street to present the proposal to the public and seek public comments.

The rate increase is needed to allow the water enterprise to become self-sustaining again, as required by state statute, to keep the water treatment plant and distribution system in good condition, and to prevent the water enterprise from going into debt. Tharnish said the last town water rate increase occurred before 1998.

The town’s water enterprise has been losing money for years and the cash reserve in the water fund is almost gone.

The current monthly water rate structure for all town water accounts is:

  • 0 to 10,000 gallons: $4.99 per thousand gallons for the first 10,000 gallons
  • Over 10,000 gallons: $5.99 per thousand gallons over 10,000 gallons

Tharnish presented two tiered options—a "combined" rate structure for both residential and commercial or separate rates for residential and commercial.

Option 1: The proposed option for combined/equal monthly water rate structure for both residential and commercial accounts with the average number of accounts in each category was:

  • 0 to 6,000 gallons: $4.99 per thousand gallons for the first 6,000 gallons (334 accounts)
  • 6,001 to 12,000 gallons: $5.99 per thousand gallons over 6,000 gallons (192 accounts)
  • 12,001 to 24,000 gallons: $6.99 per thousand gallons over 12,000 gallons (268 accounts)
  • Over 24,000 gallons: $7.99 per thousand gallons over 12,000 gallons (117 accounts)

Option 2: The proposed separate monthly water rate structure for residential customers was:

  • 0 to 6,000 gallons: $4.99 per thousand gallons for the first 6,000 gallons
  • 6,001 to 20,000 gallons: $5.99 per thousand gallons over 6,000 gallons
  • 20,001 to 40,000 gallons: $6.99 per thousand gallons over 20,000 gallons
  • 40,001 to 60,000 gallons: $7.99 per thousand gallons over 40,000 gallons
  • Over 60,000 gallons: $8.99 per thousand gallons over 60,000 gallons

The proposed separate monthly water rates for commercial customers were:

  • 0 to 20,000 gallons: $5.99 per thousand gallons for the first 20,000 gallons
  • 20,001 to 50,000 gallons: $6.99 per thousand gallons over 20,000 gallons
  • 50,001 to 250,000 gallons: $7.99 per thousand gallons over 50,000 gallons
  • Over 250,000 gallons: $8.99 per thousand gallons over 250,000 gallons

As a comparison, Donala Water and Sanitation District has proposed the following water rates for 2013 for single-family houses (SFH) and commercial and multifamily houses (MFH) and are higher than the increased rates in the town’s proposal:

  • Minimum fee for 1,000 gallons—no increase from $25 for SFH/commercial and $18 for MFH
  • 1,001 to 10,000 gallons—$4.50 per thousand gallons, up from $3.90, a 15 percent increase
  • 10,001 to 20,000 gallons—$7.50 per thousand gallons, up from $5.90, 27 percent
  • 20,001 to 30,000 gallons—$10 per thousand gallons, up from $7.35, 36 percent
  • 30,001 to 40,000 gallons—$15 per thousand gallons, up from $10.25, 46 percent
  • 40,001 to 50,000 gallons—$20 per thousand gallons, up from $15.35, 30 percent
  • Above 50,000 gallons—$25 per thousand gallons, up from $16.50, 52 percent

Tharnish also presented several tables of expected costs for various categories and types of customers in summer and winter to show the impacts of the fee increases. A large customer was defined as using over 100,000 gallons per month, and a medium customer was defined as over 50,000 gallons per month. The largest customer’s average bill in the peak use months of July and August would increase from $3,374 for 565,000 gallons to $4,472 under the proposed combined rate or $4,759 under the proposed separate commercial rate.

Tharnish said he thought the rate increases would probably be high enough to keep the water enterprise from losing money for up to three years, and then rates would have to be raised again. The proposals assume that sticker shock will force heavy users to curtail their consumption. If there is no reduction in water use due to the higher increases for the higher use tiers, these proposed increases will not be enough to sustain the water enterprise.

Tharnish stated that he had to make the Public Works Department pay for itself, and the proposed increases assume there will be no capital improvements in the next three years. Several proposed state and EPA regulatory changes will likely force rate increases in the near term as well.

Town Manager Cathy Green said this proposal would be presented to the Monument Economic Development Corp. She proposed scheduling the town meeting for the second week in January.

Financial reports

The board approved three disbursements over $5,000:

  • $127,996 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of September sales tax ($120,659), October motor vehicle tax ($7,222), and October Regional Building Department sales tax ($116)
  • $20,095 to U.S. Department of Agriculture for the second-half payment for the 1997 loan to the water enterprise fund
  • $6,675 to Capmark Finance for the annual payment for general obligation water bond debt service

Treasurer Pamela Smith reported that the town had received $137,000 in sales tax revenue through September, or 12.6 percent more than the amount in the restated 2012 budget.

Smith presented the October financial statements. General fund revenues through October were more than the amount budgeted by $153,000, or 4 percent. General fund expenditures through October were less than the amount budgeted by $129,000, or 3.4 percent. General fund net revenue exceeded the amount budgeted by $282,000. Water fund revenues through October were more than the amount budgeted by $132,000, or 11.8 percent. Water fund expenditures through October were less than the amount budgeted by $41,000, or 3.3 percent. Water fund net revenue exceeded the amount budgeted through October by $174,000. The net gain for all town funds through October was $601,390.

The financial reports were unanimously accepted as presented.

There was a general discussion of various line item changes made to the latest draft of the 2013 budget. The final 2013 budget will be presented at the budget hearing scheduled during the Dec. 3 board meeting.

Staff reports

Some of the items Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported were:

  • He met with Dominguez to discuss initial staff comments on the Raf’s Village commercial project proposed to be developed on Washington Street.
  • He met with Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Homes, to discuss the procedures for deannexing Loidolt’s five-acre lot in Sanctuary Pointe to allow him to construct his personal residence using an existing well from another Sanctuary Pointe lot that would not be de-annexed and a septic system. (See the Triview article on page 14 for other details.)
  • A total of 77 residential land use permits had been issued through October; 62 of these are in Triview.
  • The Willow Springs Steering Committee has recommended that the county make an offer to purchase the Willow Springs Ranch property from the bank that foreclosed this property.
  • The town issued a notice of violation to XKE Properties, 840 N. Washington St., for missing landscaping on its west property line buffer.
  • The town finalized the contract with Swingle Landscaping to install the Second Street Christmas tree lights.
  • Tree and electrical/irrigation system installation on Second Street has been completed.
  • Verbal approval was obtained from the Colorado Department of Transportation to have the Baptist Road exit on I-25 (Exit 158) recognized as being in Monument––signs will be added that say "Monument – Next Two Exits."
  • The initial site plan and replat were reviewed for a 57-room senior living facility on the vacant lot on the west side of Beacon Lite Road just south of the Second Street intersection.
  • The minor site plan amendment for the Kum and Go gas station on the corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive was approved.
  • Site improvements for the new Jiffy Lube in the Monument Marketplace received final approval.

Some of the items Chief Shirk noted were:

  • The department’s participation in having police officers wait on tables at the "Tip a Cop" event at the Texas Roadhouse in Jackson Creek produced $680 in tips that were donated to Special Olympics.
  • Officer Bob Steine arrested an individual wanted for national felony parole violations who was in possession of narcotics and numerous electronic items.
  • Detective Steve Lontz was investigating two allegations of sexual assault on children and one sexual assault allegation.
  • The department assisted the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office in the arrest of two burglary suspects linked to numerous burglaries in the unincorporated county.
  • An extensive audit is underway on evidence stored by the police to determine what can be returned to owners, used by the town, or sold at auction ($4,300 raised to date.)
  • A study of using electronic technology to replace paper documents in the municipal court is underway.

Trustees’ comments

Kaiser asked if the staff had sent a letter to the Ackermans regarding their requests at the Nov. 5 board meeting (see the BOT article on page 17 for details.) Green said Town Attorney Gary Shupp had prepared a letter to the Ackermans the previous week and she would send it to them on Nov. 20. She said the code enforcement issues had been addressed and XKE owner Todd Smith had finished the cleanup of his property.

Trustee Jeff Bornstein noted that he had met individually with Police Chief Shirk and Smith to learn more about the budget process and said the meetings were very productive for him.

Public comments

Former Trustee Tommie Plank, owner of the Covered Treasures Book Store, reported that the Historic Monument Merchants Association would be expanding Small Town Christmas to three weekends starting on Nov. 24, with the theme "Shop Small." There are lots of activities for all to enjoy at these events. For more information see the calendar starting on page 32 for details.

Plank also thanked the board for installing the Christmas lights on the new trees on Second Street, which will help draw shoppers to the downtown area.

The meeting adjourned at 8:09 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Robbery suspect sought

On Nov. 27 at about 10 p.m, a man entered the Walgreens store at 265 Highway 105, approached a cash register, and, while holding a handgun, demanded that the clerk behind the register give him the money from the register. Once he received the money, the man left the store. No one was hurt during the incident.

The suspect is a white male, approximately 6’ tall, 160-185 lbs, mid-twenties, with sandy brown hair, and acne on his forehead. He was wearing blue jeans, a black hoodie with the hood pulled up and the word Colorado printed in yellow on the front. He had a black backpack and a red bandana covering his face.

If you have any information about this incident, please call the Monument Police Department at (719) 481-3253.

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Monument Planning Commission, Nov. 14: Parking, public notice code amendments approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 14, Monument Senior Planner Patricia Parish and Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara presented code amendments to the Planning Commission regarding parking in the general business district (the downtown B zone) and public notice requirements. They were unanimously approved.

The absences of Chair Ed Delaney and Vice Chair Kathy Spence were excused. Commissioner John Dick served as acting chair.

Parking amendment approved

Some of the significant code changes to parking in the general business district were:

  • Adds a provision for the maximum number of parking stalls allowed to limit impervious surface drainage issues.
  • Fixes discrepancy in parking stall length––standardizes stall length at 18 feet.
  • The minimum two-way circulation access shall not be less than 24 feet in width.
  • Adds a new prohibition on parking large trucks in residential neighborhoods within the public right-of-way or roadway (unless temporarily conducting business) or for living or housekeeping purposes.
  • Updates standards for Americans with Disability Act accessible parking spaces and aisles—now consistent with www.access-board.gov––to reduce the current excessive town requirement.
  • Adds wording for new section on motorcycle and low-speed vehicle parking stall standards.
  • Adds parking lot landscaping as well as landscape island standards––one island per 10 parking stalls.
  • Updates off-street parking space requirements for each land use.

The table in the code at the end of the parking chapter has been edited to reflect industry standard calculations for required off-street parking depending on the use.

All these changes were unanimously approved.

Public notice amendment approved

Some of the changes discussed regarding public notice requirements for major and minor planned development site plan hearings and minor amendments to these site plans were:

  • The proposed language makes it clear the town’s Development Services Department will publish public notices and the required timelines for public notices.
  • Public notices will now be mailed to property owners within 500 or 1,000 feet of the property lines for a development application, as determined by the town planner.
  • Posting of a sign, or signs if more than one is required, on the property for a public hearing will be done by the applicant 15 days prior to a public hearing.
  • An affidavit will be required by Development Services from the applicant, notifying the town of the sign posting(s) along with photographs of the sign(s) in place on the property.
  • New requirements, meeting procedures, and other details are proposed for projects deemed to be controversial or of significant public interest.
  • A paragraph on email notifications and collection of emailed public comments by the applicant was also proposed.
  • Cross-references to the above were added to the code on final planned development site plans, major site plan amendments, and minor site plan amendments.

Commissioner Glenda Smith asked if there were any code changes regarding diagonal parking.

Kassawara said no changes would be made on Front Street. He also noted that downtown business owners have asked for as many diagonal parking on Second Street and Front Street as possible. Signs will be erected to direct motorists to the new town parking lot on Washington Street.

All these changes were unanimously approved. These changes will go to the Board of Trustees next for final approval.

For more information on the town code see

The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 12, at 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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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, Nov. 15: Board signs agreement with Kiwanis; changes high school social studies curriculum

By Harriet Halbig

At the Nov. 15 District 38 Board of Education meeting, Monument Hill Kiwanis Club President Russ Broshous, Kiwanis Service Leadership Program Director Max Williams, and Al Brown, K-Kids Club advisor at Palmer Lake Elementary School, presented a partnership in service agreement between the district and the club.

Broshous said that the board and officers of the Kiwanis Club change annually and there was a concern that the relationship between the two entities could vary as a result. By signing this agreement, the two parties confirm that they will cooperate in bettering the community and serving its youths.

Some of the provisions of the agreement are that Kiwanis will continue to offer its K-Kids and Key Club activities in the schools and the school district will make available its facilities for such events as the Empty Bowl Dinner and the North Pole Craft Fair.

Board President Jeff Ferguson thanked the club for its support of the schools.

Changes in high school social studies curriculum

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton reported to the board on changes in the high school social studies curriculum. She said that new academic standards beginning in the 2013-14 school year will add assessment of social studies to its testing.

High school students will be required to study civics, economics, history, and geography. Benton recommended that the present civics, world history, and honors world history classes be archived. In their place will be civics and economics 1 and 2, honors civics and economics, world history, world geography, and advanced geography.

In place of electives, sophomores will be required to take world history and world geography.

Benton said that she has been discussing these changes with teachers since last year.

Due to the expense of geography textbooks and the frequency of changes in the field, the district is exploring online resources for this subject, she said.

Refinancing of general obligation bonds

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman and financial consultant David Bell explained the potential refinancing of some of the remaining 2006 general obligation bonds that were used to purchase land and build Palmer Ridge High School.

Due to new lower interest rates, refunding and refinancing these bonds could save taxpayers about $900,000, they said. This action would not affect the amount of funds in the general fund but would lower mill levies.

The board voted to have Wangeman and Bell proceed with the refinance.

Wangeman informed the board about a proposed assisted living facility to be located directly east of Grace Best. The building would include 16 units for double occupancy and cover 3.7 acres.

If built, the facility would be required to widen some streets and make improvements to drainage across a corner of district property.

Wangeman said that most residents of the facility would probably not own cars and that such a facility would be a good neighbor to the district.

Superintendent John Borman reported on the Oct. 1 student count. Although it is not yet finalized, it appears that the district has met its budgeted goal and will most likely attain an additional 10 full-time equivalent students due to the larger than expected enrollment in the Home School Academy.

Mill levy override plan

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported on progress in the Mill Levy Override Communications plan. Meetings with school and community groups have been held and training of internal staff has begun so that the district’s message will be consistent.

Adair stressed the importance of board member attendance at district athletic and other events. Ferguson requested that she inform the board of any help she may need.

Adair said that materials for distribution will be developed beginning in January. The board will receive training on the use of the materials and will be provided with a supply of brochures to distribute as appropriate.

Also in January, she will begin to monitor the choice enrollment process.

Wangeman reported on the district’s Dashboard budget monitor, saying that 449 students are now on free or reduced-price lunches, partially due to the new transportation fees. She said that spending on utilities remains within budget, due to the mild weather, but water spending is over budget.

Superintendent’s update

Borman reported on a number of Veterans Day activities in his update. Among these is the continued Veteran’s History Project at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, where students are paired with veterans whom they interview. The students produce videos of the interviews, which are sent to the Library of Congress.

He congratulated the Palmer Ridge boys’ soccer team and the Lewis-Palmer girls’ volleyball team for reaching the state finals and commented on the high quality of the high school musicals offered in November.

Borman reported that the district has been placed on the Advanced Placement Honor Roll for the third year in a row. This honor is awarded to districts with college-level Advanced Placement programs that simultaneously expand class offerings while maintaining high achievement levels. In 2012, 74 percent of those taking the exams scored high enough to earn college credit.

This award placed Lewis-Palmer School district in the top 3 percent of school districts nationwide. It is the only Colorado school district to earn the distinction three years in a row and the only district in El Paso County on the list.

The award is administered by the College Board.

Borman also reported that David Neumann, CEO of Neumann Systems Group, has donated a set of iPads to the second-grade class at Bear Creek Elementary.

Palmer Lake Elementary School Principal Julie Jadomski introduced sixth-grade teacher Jennifer Coopman and several of her students who are involved with green architecture and energy and environment studies. They demonstrated architectural drafting projects involving building houses from shipping containers.

This course is part of the Gateway to Technology Program. This is the first year in which sixth-graders have been offered a class in engineering. The course materials were funded by the school’s PTO and a grant from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

The board approved a list of routine items such as minutes of previous meetings, personnel matters, and finance and operations matters.

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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 at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Dec. 20.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Nov. 13: Palmer Ridge High School overview

By Harriet Halbig

At the Nov. 13 meeting of the School District 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, Palmer Ridge High School Principal Gary Gabel guided a tour of his school before presenting information about the school’s School Improvement Plan.

Gabel was selected as principal in 2007, before the school had been completed. He was instrumental in its planning and design and the hiring of its staff.

Due to a failed mill levy override, Gabel said, the school was quite austere at the time of opening. Many parents and other volunteers participated in making the school a more welcoming place by painting murals and installing display cases to show the students’ achievements.

One unusual feature of the high school is the neighborhood system. Rather than having each teacher remain in his or her own classroom all day and keeping all records there, each of the two academic levels houses four neighborhoods. Each of these units has a large common office for teachers of various disciplines. All files are kept in this room, and students and parents may come there for conferences in an enclosed meeting room. A break room and kitchen are provided for faculty.

Gabel said this system enables teachers of various subjects to interact. It is also sometimes useful for a teacher of one subject to discuss a student with another instructor.

The school’s college center is adjacent to the library. This space is provided for students to research colleges and scholarships. Representatives of colleges come to this area to interact with students. The center is staffed entirely by parent volunteers.

The student population of Palmer Ridge is 1,088.All incoming freshmen receive instruction in study skills and organization.

The school offers concurrent enrollment in advanced placement (AP) classes. In this way, Gabel said, students may receive high school and college credit for the same course material.

The school library is rated as one of nine in the state that is a highly effective school library.

In the 2011-12 school year, the school exceeded the median requirement for adequate growth and is in the 92nd percentile for achievement in math.

Gabel said Palmer Ridge students on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) exceeded goals in reading achievement but did not reach the goals for achievement in math.

Interventions are offered for students in reading through an intermediate English class that offers direct individual instruction.

Gabel said Palmer Ridge students are given readiness tests to determine the appropriate math class for them. Students are not denied the ability to enroll in a more difficult class, but the readiness test can help them to determine their abilities. In some cases, parents commit themselves to monitoring and helping students so that they may take more rigorous classes.

Students with significant growth gaps can use Pearsonsuccess.net to receive additional instruction in math. Gabel said that it is sometimes challenging to catch up with gaps once a student reaches high school.

Student achievement on the ACT test for 2011-12 tied the district’s all-time best, with one student achieving a perfect score. The school is second in the state for ACT scores (The Classical Academy is in first place).

The school offers ACT prep classes to juniors and seniors during the time when underclassmen are taking TCAP tests.

Palmer Ridge offers AP classes in 15 subjects, including languages and fine arts. It received an award for the largest number of students taking the AP exams and succeeding. Teachers of these courses receive training during the summer so that their curriculum meets College Board standards.

The class of 2012 received $9.3 million in scholarship offers. Also, musicians, vocalists, actors, and athletes from Palmer Ridge distinguished themselves in many ways, Gabel said.

The Student Council has been so successful in its fundraising efforts that it now offers grants to other clubs and activities, Gabel said.

Board of Education liaison report

Board of Education Liaison John Magerko reported that he is acting as the district’s liaison with the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB).

CASB passed a resolution to advocate for connectivity within districts but left implementation of the resolution to individual boards. With connectivity, students from several schools may attend a class remotely.

Magerko said a common concern of CASB is that the state Legislature has passed a number of unfunded mandates over the past 10 years.

Magerko also said that he has been reaching out to other boards in the Colorado Springs area, notably that of Cheyenne Mountain District 12, because it is similar in size to District 38. He has attended a board meeting in District 12.

Responding to a question about budgeting, Magerko said that the board will receive its auditor report in the following week and is reviewing last year’s budget.

The board is also continuing to plan for a mill levy override proposal on the 2014 ballot. The board will prepare two budgets for the 2013-14 year, one considering the passage of the ballot issue and one considering its defeat.

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton said 15 of 16 initiatives for mill levy overrides in the state were successful.

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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 at Bear Creek Elementary School, 1530 Creekside Drive, Monument, on Dec. 11.

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

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Special Education Advisory Committee, Nov. 14: Superintendent describes district’s achievements, challenges

By Harriet Halbig

Lewis-Palmer School District Superintendent John Borman addressed the Special Education Advisory Committee on Nov. 14 to inform them of his background and the status of various programs in the district.

Borman said that he began his career in education as a high school English teacher and has since served in the positions of athletic director, assistant principal, and principal before being selected as superintendent at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.

Before coming to this area, Borman was a principal at Greeley Central High School and there was first responsible for the school’s special education program. The Greeley community has a large community of English Language Learners, and this presented a challenge that many general education teachers felt unable to meet.

He said that he believes that training of general education teachers is essential before they are comfortable accepting those on Individual Education Plans (IEPs) or those with language challenges into the general classroom.

Borman said he is proud of the public education school system because it is willing to accept all students and offer them what they need to reach their potential.

District’s distinctions

The Lewis-Palmer School District was accredited with distinction for the 2011-12 school year, the second year in a row. To achieve this honor, a district must achieve in the top 10 percent of the state. This was achieved despite over $10 million in cuts over the past four years.

In addition, the district is on the College Board’s Advanced Placement Honor Roll for the third year in a row, the only district in the state to have this distinction.

The district’s performance framework is dictated by the Colorado Department of Education. The framework assesses achievement, growth, academic growth gaps, and postsecondary education and workforce readiness.

Growth gaps are broken down into groups of 15 or more students, and disabled students compose a large portion of those in this area. This enables the district to analyze challenges among students and to provide extra help as necessary.

Borman explained the source of many of the budget challenges of the past few years. In the 1980s the Gallagher Amendment put a cap on property tax rates, which compose 60 percent of school funding, and as a result the state had to provide a larger share of school funding. The Taxpayers Bill of Rights in the 1990s then limited the state’s contribution. This year, district employees were granted a raise for the first time in five years.

As a consequence of shrinking funding, class sizes grew and interventions such as reading and math coaches were cut.

Borman said that it is critical for the district to inform community members about such changes in the system’s ability to meet the needs of disabled students and the contribution that a successful mill levy override could make to the district.

When asked about inclusiveness of IEP students in the general education classroom, Borman said that general education teachers are often not sufficiently trained to be confident with this option. He said the skills needed to make them confident are skills needed by all good teachers, however. One aspect of the district that has suffered from the significant cuts is professional development. The district no longer has a full-time professional development director.

There was a brief discussion of the COALT, the Colorado Alternative Test for those who are unable to take the TCAP exam. It was explained that parents can obtain information about this test and what sorts of accommodations (such as extra time) can be made for students with disabilities. Standards for the test can be found on the Colorado Department of Education website.

Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay offered information about an upcoming conference about inclusion. The conference will be held on Feb. 7-8, 2013, in Denver, and early registration must be received by Dec. 4. For further information, go to conference@peakparent.org.

**********

The Special Education Advisory Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on Dec.12.

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Nov. 9: 2012 budget amended; 2013 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Nov. 9, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) unanimously approved an amendment to the 2012 budget for a $3 million reimbursement by the state as well as the 2013 budget and 2013 appropriation as presented by staff. Andre Brackin, the El Paso County engineer, gave a briefing on current plans for widening Baptist Road on the west side of I-25 and building a bridge over the railroad tracks.

The BRRTA board consists of three elected county representatives and two elected Monument representatives. All the current members of BRRTA were present:

  • Monument Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Kaiser, president
  • County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, vice president
  • Monument Mayor Travis Easton, secretary/treasurer
  • County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, alternate secretary/treasurer
  • County Commissioner Dennis Hisey, alternate secretary/treasurer

Williams was absent.

2012 budget amended

BRRTA accountant Carrie Bartow of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP said the 2012 budget was amended solely to show a $3 million payment from the Colorado Department of Transportation. There were no public or board member comments. The amendment was unanimously approved.

2013 budget and appropriation approved

Bartow presented the 2013 budget and appropriation resolutions and documents. Some of the things she noted were:

  • The general fund has about $250,000 for construction that could be used for making improvements to the west end of Baptist Road.
  • Road use fees were set at $45,000.
  • Total general fund expenditures will rise from $119,000 in 2012 to $383,000 in 2013.
  • Sales tax revenues will rise from $1.1 million to $1.125 million due to new stores opening.
  • Total expenditures for debt service will be $1.32 million.
  • Reserve funds will still have to be used to pay part of the annual interest owed on the revenue bonds in 2013 due to still insufficient BRRTA sales tax revenues.
  • The estimated 2012 debt service fund ending balance is $2.6 million.
  • The budgeted 2013 debt service fund ending balance is $2.4 million.

Note: All the risk, should BRRTA sales tax revenues remain insufficient for paying bond debt interest and service fees, will be borne by the owners who purchased the privately held BRRTA revenue bonds (totaling $21.5 million) when they were issued.

There were no public comments, and the 2013 BRRTA budget and 2013 BRRTA appropriation resolutions and supporting documents were unanimously approved.

2011 audit ratified

The board had previously approved the audit with recommended changes. The board unanimously approved the final copy of the 2011 audit.

Financial items

The board unanimously ratified/approved the following BRRTA payments:

  • $5,728 to T. Charles Wilson Insurance for property and errors and omissions insurance
  • $10,857 to CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for district management ($3,789), accounting ($3,244), and sales tax administration ($3,824)
  • $409 to Grimshaw & Harring P.C. for legal services
  • $2,482 to Spencer, Fane, & Grimshaw LLP for legal services

Note: Grimshaw & Harring, P.C. merged with Spencer Fane Britt and Browne LLP to form Spencer Fane & Grimshaw LLP.

Some of the figures BRRTA Bartow noted in her Sept. 30 financial report regarding the government funds balance sheet were:

  • General fund balance: $933,688
  • Debt service fund balance: $3 million
  • Capital projects fund balance: $77,851
  • Total assets: $4 million

Some of the general fund figures for "actual year-to-date/annual budget" were:

  • Road use fees: $84,409/$45,000
  • Interest income: $238/$1,450
  • Total expenditures: $74,379/$373,800

Some of the debt fund figures are significantly different from the amounts in 2012 budget due to an unbudgeted initial repayment of $3 million by the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to the capital projects fund. Upon receipt of the CDOT payment, BRRTA transferred this amount to the debt service fund and paid off $3 million in principal for some of the privately held BRRTA road bonds ahead of schedule to save interest.

Some of the debt service fund figures for "actual to date vs. annual budget" were:

  • Sales tax revenue: $749,059/$1 million
  • Interest income: $2,298/$2,500
  • Unbudgeted state reimbursement: $3 million/$0
  • Total expenditures: $3.5 million/$1.4 million
  • Fund balance: $ 3 million/$2.4 million

The report was unanimously accepted as presented.

Manager’s items

The board unanimously approved the 2013 administrative matters resolution. BRRTA meetings will continue to be held on the second Friday of the second month of each quarter: Feb. 8, May 10, Aug. 9, and Nov. 14.

The board unanimously accepted an engagement letter for professional services in 2013 from CliftonLarsonAllen LLP. There were no fee changes for 2013.

West Baptist Road presentation

County Engineer Brackin and Steve Murray of engineering firm Felsburg, Holt, & Ullevig briefed the board on planned improvements to West Baptist Road.

Some of the discussion items Brackin noted were:

  • The county began planning, surveying, and laying out improvements for Baptist Road in 1994.
  • BRRTA began paying for planning and engineering design in about 2002.
  • The Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) was created in 2004 and provided funding for improvements to Baptist Road east of I-25 and Struthers Road south of Baptist Road.
  • After CDOT built the I-25 Monument Exit 161 at Highway 105, BRRTA decided to finance the expansion of the Baptist Road Exit 161 interchange with a 20-year temporary one-cent sales tax.
  • CDOT provided an access agreement to BRRTA to improve Exit 158 before the state had funds to pay for it.
  • PPRTA simultaneously financed the county’s expansion of Struthers Road to the south.
  • Now the county is ready to widen Baptist Road to the west of Exit 158 and build a bridge over the railroad tracks; both are PPRTA "A" list projects.

Some of the discussion items Murray noted were:

  • Several construction alignment alternatives were analyzed.
  • The key concerns were impacts to adjacent property owners, constructability, and environmental considerations (protected Preble’s mouse habitat and wetlands)
  • The alignment selected is to the north of the existing two-lane road and two-lane bridge to take advantage of building the new road on the "hogback ridge" to the north to shorten the span of the bridge, saving money and time.
  • This alignment allows the existing road and bridge to remain open.
  • The railroad will help to get rid of the existing at-grade crossing, but only if the county does not require or ask for a financial contribution to the bridge.
  • The new road will also be north of the intersection of Baptist Road and Hay Creek Road, which can also remain open.
  • The bridge will have two lanes.
  • There will be a dedicated right-turn lane from northbound Hay Creek to eastbound Baptist.
  • Baptist Road will widen to five lanes on the east side of the Hay Creek intersection: two through lanes in each direction and a dedicated left-turn lane from westbound Baptist to southbound Hay Creek.
  • There will be four lanes east of the Old Denver Highway intersection with Baptist Road to provide a westbound through lane and dedicated westbound right-turn and left-turn lanes.
  • There will be three lanes, with dedicated left-turn lanes on eastbound Baptist Road for northbound Old Denver Highway and southbound Old Denver Highway for eastbound Baptist Road.
  • There will be a dedicated right-turn lane for northbound Woodcarver Road to eastbound Baptist Road.
  • A roundabout is being considered for Hay Creek Road to save money by not having to build left-turn lanes.
  • A roundabout is also being considered at the Old Denver Highway intersection for the same reason.
  • These roundabouts would have wide aprons with large enough radiuses for comfortable use by 18-wheel trucks, reducing the waiting time for all vehicles compared to more typical intersections.
  • No decision has been made on roundabouts.
  • No decision has been made about pedestrian or cycling traffic on the Santa Fe Trail that would cross Baptist Road all day without a traffic signal as traffic grows when the Forest Lakes development begins construction.
  • The current traffic count is about 5,000 trips per day over the railroad tracks.
  • A two-lane bridge provides sufficient capacity at buildout for both Forest Lakes and the south half of Willow Springs.

Murray said the next steps are to:

  • Coordinate with the railroad and public utilities commission
  • Obtain environmental clearances
  • Finish preliminary design in May 2013
  • Finish final design in September 2013
  • Finalize the bid in November 2013
  • Identify a source of needed supplementary funding
  • Complete in November 2014

Brackin said the total conceptual design project cost is about $7.5 million. The available PPRTA funding is $4.16 million. Other identified funding sources to date are BRRTA participation ($250,000) and an Energy Impact Assistance Grant of up to $1 million.

However, the proposed county traffic impact fee could also raise funds but would require the developers of Forest Lakes and Willow Springs to pay an additional amount to the county over and above the BRRTA traffic impact fee already owed by Schuck Corp. for the same improvements to West Baptist Road.

Brackin said Forest Lakes will likely be charged a combination fee to both the larger county impact fee and the BRRTA road use fee, with the total amount not to exceed the larger county fee. He noted that BRRTA could stop charging road use fees for developers on the west side of I-25 to avoid the double taxation issue created by the new county traffic impact fee. Both fees are essentially platting fees.

BRRTA District Manager Denise Denslow of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP noted that the county traffic impact fee is dedicated in a different way than the BRRTA road use fee. The BRRTA sales tax is dedicated solely to paying off the Exit 158 construction bonds and will never be available for widening Baptist Road. Road use fees pay for the consultants who run the district as well, about $100,000 per year. There is currently no other source of funds for district operations.

Brackin said if the project were delayed, all the public meeting processes already completed would have to be done again, at a cost of about $100,000.

After considerable further discussion, there was no further resolution to the dual impact fee issue proposed.

The meeting adjourned at 4:22 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 8 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the second month of the quarter. Information: 884-8017 or Kathy Suazo at 1-303-793-1403.

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

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November Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Record dry weather continued to plague the region during November. Only two days of measureable precipitation occurred during the month, and the amounts were very light. For the month, less than .05 inch of moisture accumulated. This makes November 2012 one of the driest since the late 1800s. This dry trend affected the entire state, especially the Front Range and Eastern Plains.

At the official National Weather Service recording station at the Colorado Springs Airport, November 2012 will go down as the ninth driest since 1895 with .02 inch recorded. At the Pueblo National Weather Service Office, November 2012 ties as the driest since records began in 1888, with only a trace recorded for the month. Combine this dry November with record or near record dry months in March, June, and August and this calendar year is on track to be one of the driest on record as well. More on that in next month’s summary.

Not surprisingly, with all the dry weather and sunny skies, temperatures for the month were above average, not at record levels, but generally 2-4°F warmer than normal for the month.

High temperatures reached to above-normal levels each afternoon from the 1st through the 4th. No precipitation fell, with sunshine mixed with high and midlevel clouds at times. Dry and mild weather continued for most of the week of Nov. 5 around the region. No precipitation fell from the 5th through the 9th as mostly sunny skies were the rule. High temperatures reached to above-normal levels each afternoon, ranging from the upper 50’ to the mid-60s, about 5-10° warmer than normal for this time of the year.

Unsettled and colder weather finally began to affect the area by the morning of the 10th, as a strong area of low pressure moved through the desert Southwest and combined with some cold air from Canada. Unfortunately, this storm system split as it approached Colorado, and the one with most of the energy and moisture headed a little too far north. Temperatures cooled to below-normal levels, with some light rain showers Saturday morning turning to some light snow.

Most of us received only a dusting of snow with this storm, because the majority of the moisture affected the mountains and areas just to our north. The cold air was definitely a change from the previous week, however, as highs struggled to reach the low 30s on the 11th after starting off in the low teens.

More dry and mild conditions with no precipitation recorded during the entire week of the 12th. November is normally one of our driest months of the year, but even this is way too dry. Temperatures weren’t excessively warm, with highs in the 40s on the 12th and 13th, then low 50s on the 14th. A brief cooling occurred on the 15th, then it was mild to end the week and through the weekend with mid-50s temperatures. In addition, skies were sunny with bouts of high and midlevel clouds at times.

Also unusual in November, winds have been very well behaved because the storm track has been shoved to our north by persistent high pressure over the West. This has meant no high wind events for the region. So although it’s been excessively dry, the weather has otherwise been very calm and quiet.

The month ended the same way it began: mild and dry. We had a brief intrusion of cold air during the morning of the 26th, but again most of the moisture stayed to our north. Instead, we were left with low clouds, fog, rime ice, and a few flurries. High temperatures stayed at below-normal levels that afternoon, only reaching into the 30s. This shot of cold air moved out quickly, with dry and mild weather returning for the remainder of the month. Temperatures quickly rebounded back to above-normal levels, with 50s common from the 27th through the 30th.

November 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 52.3° (+3.8°) 100-year return frequency value max 55.5° min 38.5°
Average Low 24.0° (+3.8°) 100-year return frequency value max 27.5° min 14.1°
Monthly Precipitation 0.01" (-0.73") 100-year return frequency value max 3.80" min 0.16"
Monthly Snowfall 0.2" (-10.6")
Highest Temperature 68° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature 10° on the 12th
Season to Date Snow 7.3" (-16.8") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 7.27" (-2.76") (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 767 (-63)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

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

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Letters to Our Community

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

Thanks from Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

On behalf of the 235 members of the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, we thank you, the Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs communities, for your support of our fall fundraising event, Wine and Roses and More held Oct. 27 at the Pinery.

A successful event such as this takes the support of many, many people who believe in the mission of the sponsoring organization. This was certainly the situation for our Wine and Roses event. Special appreciation goes to the many businesses and individuals who contributed auction items or cash, the restaurants and food vendors, the celebrity servers, the Wine Cellar for securing the wine purveyors, and especially those of you who attended and our members who saw that every detail was perfectly executed.

In 2012 the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club awarded $44,000 in grants to qualified Tri-Lakes area nonprofits, public service organizations, public schools, and Waldo Canyon Fire Relief. Your support of our club events assists us in supporting community organizations who can do just a little more because of these grants. Thank you, again.

Donna Wagner and Mary Mills, co-presidents
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Great gifts for grownups

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Looking for the perfect gift for a friend or a family member? Why not consider a book? There are a number of exciting new offerings to choose from on a variety of topics.

Winter of the World: Book Two of the Century Trilogy
By Ken Follett (Dutton) $36

Follett’s second novel in this historical epic picks up right where the first book left off. Its five interrelated families—American, German, Russian, English, and Welsh—enter a time of enormous social, political, and economic turmoil, beginning with the rise of the Third Reich, through the Spanish Civil War and the great dramas of World War II, to the explosions of the American and Soviet atomic bombs and the beginning of the long Cold War. For anyone who enjoyed Fall of Giants, this brilliantly researched, fast-moving sequel is sure to be a treat.

Flight Behavior
By Barbara Kingsolver (Harper Collins) $28.99

In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel’s inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are carried beyond familiar territory, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction. Taking on one of the most contentious subjects of our time—climate change—Flight Behavior dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.

The Round House
By Louise Erdrich (Harper Collins) $26.99

In the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked, and the life of her family is changed forever. Illuminating the harsh realities of contemporary life in a community where Ojibwe and white live uneasily together, this brilliant and entertaining novel is a masterpiece of literary fiction. Erdrich embraces tragedy, the comic, the spirit world, and a tale of injustice that is, unfortunately, an authentic reflection of what happens in our own world today.

God: A Story of Revelation
Deepak Chopra (Harper One) $25.99

In a unique blend of storytelling and teaching, Chopra explores the evolution of God by capturing the lives of 10 historical prophets, saints, mystics, and martyrs who are touched by a divine power. Our belief—and therefore the way we think of God—transforms with each passing century. In this new novel, Chopra brings to life the defining moments of our most influential sages, ultimately revealing universal lessons about the true nature of God.

Malice of Fortune
By Michael Ennis (Doubleday) $26.95

In this vivid Renaissance thriller, Niccolo Machiavelli and Leonardo Da Vinci come together to unmask an enigmatic serial killer as we learn the secret history behind one of the most controversial works in the Western Canon, The Prince. Ennis brilliantly weaves together his expert knowledge of Renaissance history and art with extraordinary details about the people who lived in this dark time to create an atmospheric and endlessly entertaining novel.

The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill-Defender of the Realm, 1940-1965
By William Manchester and Paul Reid (Little Brown & Co.) $40

Twenty years in the making, this impressive work chronicles how Churchill organized his nation’s military response and defense, compelled FDR into supporting America’s beleaguered cousins, and personified the "never surrender" ethos that helped the Allies win the war. Manchester and Reid present a revelatory and unparalleled portrait of this brilliant, flawed, and dynamic leader.

The Dog Stars
By Peter Heller (Knopf) $24.95

Hig, a pilot, survived the flu that killed everyone he knew and lives in the hangar of a small abandoned airport with his dog, his only neighbor a gun-toting misanthrope. When a random transmission somehow beams through his radio, the voice ignites a hope deep inside him that a better life—something like his old life—exists beyond the airport. But what he encounters and what he must face—in the people he meets, and in himself—is both better and worse than anything he could have hoped for. The Dog Stars is both savagely funny and achingly sad, a breathtaking story about what it means to be human. Heller lives in Denver, and the Colorado setting of The Dog Stars makes it all the more interesting for us Coloradans.

Long after the wrappings and tinsel are cleared away, an engrossing book can provide comfy company on those cold, snowy January days.

Until next year, 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: Brown creeper: Certhia americana

Click here to view the painting by Elizabeth Hacker of a Brown Creeper

By Elizabeth Hacker

December is always a crazy month for us. I enjoy all the parties, activities, and spending time in many of our local retail shops, but finding time to relax and enjoy the season can be challenging. That is why I schedule time for daily walks and go on at least one long hike. I bring my binoculars so I can watch the variety of wildlife I see along the way. Seeing a fox, a deer, or even a pair of silly magpies conversing is sure to revive my holiday spirit.

One bird that has become a favorite of mine is the brown creeper. It gets its name from the way it moves around a tree. The name "creeper" is rather a creepy and possibly inappropriate name for this remarkable but indistinguishable bird.

Description

The brown creeper is small woodland songbirds with an affinity for big trees. The feathers on its back are a mottled dark brown and thus easily blend into the bark of a tree, making detection difficult unless it is moving. Its breast and belly are white fading to tan.

Its rump is a reddish brown and its tail is long and stiff. It uses its tail to brace itself against the tree, similar to the way a woodpecker uses its tail. Unlike the often noisy and showy woodpecker, these inconspicuous, quiet little birds are easily overlooked.

Habitat

The brown creeper is found in mature forests. It prefers to nest in hardwood forests, so it would be uncommon to see one here in the spring or summer. During winter months it forages in coniferous forests, so a good time to look for them is December through March.

Brown creepers spend most of their time spiraling up the trunk or around a major limb of a mature tree. They move around and up a tree, often passing downward-moving nuthatches along the way. Once they reach the top, they fly to the bottom of the next tree to begin again. Generally only one bird will spiral up a tree at a time. Reportedly the brown creeper travels in flocks alongside nuthatches and chickadees, but the times I’ve spotted this bird it’s always been by itself.

Diet

This little bird might be easily overlooked, but it plays a major role in keeping forests healthy as it consumes insects, spiders and their eggs, larva, and pupae hidden deep within layers of tree bark. It uses its slender, downward-curved bill to glean harmful insects wedged into the bark. If insects aren’t kept in check, as they multiply and feed on a tree, which weakens the structure of the tree. When a tree becomes weak it is defenseless to fight off disease, which will kill a tree and can ultimately eliminate a forest.

By digging deep into the bark of a tree, the brown creeper removes many insects that damage a tree and thereby contributes to the overall health of the forests. Trees consume carbon and produce much of the oxygen in the air we breathe, so in a way, the busy little brown creeper is working to improve the overall health of our environment.

Brown creepers prefer insects but occasionally will go to a feeder to eat seed and suet.

When looking for birds that don’t often frequent feeders, I often look for opportunities to join a field trip sponsored by the Aiken Audubon Society or the Wild Bird Store. With all the excitement of the holidays, it’s often difficult to take the time to join a field trip. When relaxing on a free evening, I start to plan or think about things I’d like to do the following year. Here are a few opportunities that sounded interesting.

Raptor field trip: Raptors are fascinating birds. To observe winter raptors and learn more about them, join the Aiken Audubon Society on Jan. 19. Aiken Audubon is sponsoring a one-day field trip to eastern El Paso County to look for winter raptors. They always provide a number of experienced guides, and I’ve found Audubon field trips very enjoyable and I always learn something new. For more information, go to www.aikenaudubon.org.

Volunteer as a citizen, scientist, or naturalist. Have you ever wanted to be involved with research that leads to bird conservation? Are you passionate about getting more youths and adults outdoors? If so, the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory is looking for people who live along the Front Range to join the citizen science and volunteer naturist programs. For more information, check out www.RMBO.org. RMBO is an organization that offers many interesting programs and activities.

Become a HawkWatcher. RMBO is also looking for volunteers to collect data on raptor migration at its HawkWatch site near Morrison. Contact Jeff Birek at 970-482-1707 ext. 25 or email him at jeff.birek@rmbo.org.

Join the bald eagle watch. RMBO also is looking for volunteers to monitor and collect data on bald eagles’ nesting behavior and productivity at nests along the Front Range. Training typically takes place in January, with monitoring starting in February. Contact Kacie Miller at 303-659-4348 ext. 16 or kacie.miller@rmbo.org.

Become a volunteer naturalist. RMBO is also looking for volunteers to lead interactive in-class programs, field trips, and outreach events along the Front Range.

These are exciting opportunities for people who want to be outdoors. The good news is that for all the aforementioned opportunities, knowledge and experience in ornithology is not necessary.

As 2012 comes to a close, I’d like to wish all my readers a very happy holiday season and thank all the advertisers and volunteers whose contributions bring Our Community News to Tri-Lakes residents.

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: Make warm memories every week this December

By Janet Sellers

I’d like to introduce you to the Artist’s Way for the holiday season. Creatives have been accessing this secret toolkit forever, and it continues as favorite unseen power in their creative treasures repertoire.

What is the Artist’s Way, exactly? Besides a best-selling book by Julia Cameron, it’s really a way of looking at your life, caring for yourself, and doing wonderful, small things for yourself each week. You have a date with yourself each week to do something you like—it could be expensive, but more likely can be fulfilling and little or no cost at all, yet tremendously rewarding.

How to do that here in our town? Easy. Our December weekends are going to be a lot of fun for all ages, with weekly events planned. Most events will be from 10 to 2 p.m.

First week’s events

Saturday, Dec. 1, in Historic Monument, the merchants will put on Traditional Small Town Christmas. Bring your camera and your kids. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at Secret Window Gallery (located at Third and Front streets), with all sorts of traditional old-timey Christmas activities throughout the Historic Monument quarter. I always look forward to seeing the live reindeer and miniature donkeys and hearing the carolers, and I hope to get in a hayride, too.

Who’s on first? The ongoing Second Friday Art Nite actually will be on the first Friday, Dec. 7, hosted by Bella Art and Frame. You can meet and greet its December featured artist, Diane Schroeder, at this traditional artist reception complete with refreshments.

Second week

The next day, Dec. 8, will feature the glamorous Cinderella’s Carriage at the Secret Window Gallery (47 Third St., corner of Third and First Streets in Monument). (See the photo on page 1). Anyone can be Cinderella and Prince Charming for the day! Carriage driver Lencho Griego and his beautiful white horse, Big Ben, will be there to take you and your kids for a ride around town in style. Photo ops with the family are free, so bring your camera. It’s a small fee to take the ride in the dreamy carriage. I can hardly wait—I’ve never ridden in a royal horse-drawn carriage, or any carriage for that matter.

Secret Window Floral and Art Gallery owners Anthony and Rhoda Archuleta had this day especially in mind when they invited their friend Lencho and his Cinderella carriage to celebrate the season on Historic Monument’s new Kids Shopping Day. Historic Monument merchants will have specially priced merchandise displays for kids to buy at "kid prices." It promises to be a stress-free zone for parents as well, with available refreshments while the kids shop. So after your magical Cinderella Carriage ride, enjoy your fresh-air walks around to the shops.

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) will have its Annual Member Artists Show and sale through Dec. 8. The annual Resident Studio Artists Exhibit starts up just a few days later on

Dec. 11 and continues through Jan. 5, with the opening reception Dec. 14. Resident artists debi Story Maddox, Kathryn Hart, and Mattie O. will show their paintings. For this exhibit, debi has created a new series called The Future of Trees. John Haines, Carolanne Ryan, Mia Cassar, and Dusty Severn will unveil their pottery designs. TLCA is at 305 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.

Third week

Even in the midst of hectic holiday entertaining, there is a wonderful way to treat yourself to some art enrichment each week. Visit the Wisdom Tea House for the Susan Fowler painting exhibit Living Experiences through Dec. 29. Holiday Afternoon Tea continues through the first week of January.

You could also drop by TLCA for its serene shopping scene and stroll the gallery and gift shop. The TCLA resident studio artists will have the gallery filled with their artworks, and the gift shop is loaded with unique, artful gifts.

Fourth and fifth weeks

After a long hard week of holiday parties and too much fun, create a change of scene with an art gallery stroll. Your out-of-town guests can enjoy a nice brisk walk with you around our town, and that will definitely invigorate each of you and recharge your batteries. The cheerful holiday decorations will still be up, and the nice thing about strolling our arts venues here is that they are fun for everybody. Every arts venue in our area is near easygoing, dressed-up walking areas, and if that’s not enough, there’s a kid’s playground on each end of the Historic Monument art quarter and lots of eateries for lunch, tea time, or dinner.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter, sculptor, and freelance writer. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colorado. 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 28.

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November and December library events: Enjoy harp music and meet Santa at the library

By Harriet Halbig

The engaging presentation by local author Kevin Anderson was well attended in November.

The AfterMath tutoring program that began in November has also been well received and will continue into December. See the information below.

Children’s programs for December

Family Fun for December will be Colossal Cookies and Santa. Come to the library on Saturday, Dec. 8, from 11 until 3 to enjoy some traditional family activities. Enjoy combining cookies with icing and sprinkles during that time, and greet Santa and one of his elves from 1:30 to 3. They will hear wish list requests, pose for pictures, and distribute candy canes. The holiday goodies are provided by our wonderful Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library.

The Legos Club will meet from 10:30 to noon on Saturday, Dec. 15. Bring your creativity and a camera, because all parts used remain the property of the library.

Teen programs

December’s Crafty Teens for ages 12 and up will be Ornamental Flair on Wednesday, Dec. 5, from 3:30 to 5. Enjoy snacks while you create crafts with holiday flair. Registration is required at 488-2370.

Book-eaters is a club for teens grades 7 and up. Come have a snack with your friends and discuss Stravaganza: City of Flowers by Mary Hoffman. No registration is required. You have a chance to win a book, too!

Adult programs

All regularly scheduled adult programs will continue during December, including Senior Synergy on Wednesdays from 10 until noon and the Socrates Café on Tuesdays from 1 to 3.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, Dec. 21, from 10 to noon to discuss David Baldacci’s The Christmas Train and share favorite books. No registration is required and new members are welcome.

Programs for all ages

On Saturday, Dec. 1, enjoy the soothing sounds of Holiday Harps, a group of local harpists who will provide beautiful seasonal music from 2 to 3:30.

AfterMath free math tutoring for all ages will continue each Monday evening from 4 to 8 p.m. Students of all ages are welcome to sit down with our volunteer math tutors in two-hour shifts. No appointments necessary. The program continues through Dec. 17.

On the walls during December will be charcoal drawings by Susan Cottle Leonard. In the display case will be ornaments from the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club.

Palmer Lake Library events

December’s Family Fun at the Palmer Lake Library is Colossal Cookies. All are invited on Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10:30 to noon to decorate cookies with icing, sprinkles, and good wishes. Decorate and take with you!

The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection.

The Palmer Lake Library Knitting Group meets each Thursday from 10 until noon. Bring your own project and enjoy the fellowship of knitters of all skill levels. No registration is required. Call 481-2587 for further information.

Enjoy the nature photography of local artist Claudia Godec on the walls of the library. In the children’s area will be a selection of art by the students of Palmer Lake Elementary School.

All Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Dec. 24 and 25. Libraries will close at 4 p.m. on Dec. 31 and remained closed on Jan. 1.

Are you looking for gift ideas for a booklover? Support the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library by purchasing a durable red canvas book bag with the Friends logo or a book lover’s desk calendar. These memorable gifts are $8 each or three for $20 and available at the Monument and Palmer Lake libraries.

Happy holidays!

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

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Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Nov. 8: Uranium workers as victims of the Cold War

By David Futey

On Nov. 8, Ron Elmlinger presented a lecture on Uranium Mining, Health and Help at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry. Elmlinger is vice president of Professional Case Management and a member of the advisory council for Cold War Patriots, an advocacy organization that assists workers exposed to uranium. He provided background on the uranium mining boom and the related weapons industry in the United States, the health impacts of uranium on miners and other workers during that time, and present-day assistance available to them as a result of their exposure.

Elmlinger said uranium was first discovered in Colorado in 1898. Nazis developed nuclear fission in 1939, and the U.S. subsequently developed nuclear bombs through the Manhattan Project. Mining of uranium escalated after World War II. As a result, the U.S. has produced over 70,000 warheads, with 5,113 currently in some form of deployment, he said. There are over 4,000 uranium mines throughout the U.S., with the majority in the four-corner states.

Exposure to ionizing radiation and radon gas caused a variety of worker health problems. These include lung cancer, heart disease, renal (kidney) disease, and ovarian cancer. The federal government responded with the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program (EEOICP), which became law in 2001. The EEOICP was enacted to assist Department of Energy and related subcontractor workers and their eligible survivors to receive compensation and medical benefits.

Information on Cold War Patriots is at www.coldwarpatriots.org. Information on the EEOICP is www.id.doe.gov/eeoicpa.htm. Information on WMMI is at www.wmmi.org.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Nov. 15: Early weapons in the Colorado Territory

By Bernard L. Minetti

Speaking to about 70 gun aficionados and Palmer Lake Historical Society members on Nov. 15, Jerry Wlodarek, Johnny Mulligan, Kenneth James and Dave Heide talked about 50 early rifles, muskets, and pistols that they displayed for the audience.

Wlodarek discussed the differences between caplock and flintlock ignition systems on early weapons. Flintlocks were more prevalent in the Colorado Territory. This ignition system produced flint-on-steel sparks to ignite priming powder to fire the gun.

Wlodarek said the flintlock ignition system has a higher firing failure rate than the caplock because of the flintlock’s susceptibility to moisture problems. The caplock mechanism, the successor to the flintlock mechanism, used a percussion cap struck by a hammer to set off the main charge, rather than using a piece of flint to strike steel.

The type D gun, made in 1720, was the earliest weapon that they had brought with them to this presentation, Wlodarek said. These weapons had elegant and eye-pleasing lines and were known as "trade guns." The French and the British both traded these French-made weapons for pelts in the 1700s.

Wlodarek noted that the rifles would be labeled by the place where they were made. For instance, many of the rifles came from Pennsylvania, specifically from Allentown and Bethlehem.

All early weapons that came west were utilized either for self-protection or for hunting game. As the explorers, trappers, and mountain men moved westward into the Rockies, their survival depended on the reliability and accuracy of their weaponry. Both Wlodarek and Mulligan work to restore these weapons from disrepair and neglect into fine functioning weapons.

The presenters are known as "restoration specialists" for Douglas County. They work to restore buildings, forges, and early items that have been neglected.

**********

The next meeting of the Historical Society will be on Thursday, Jan. 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Members and the public are invited to attend. This will be the Annual Potluck Dinner and Membership Meeting. Bring a dessert or side dish. No charge.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
December Menu

    Dec. 5–Spaghetti & meat sauce, Caesar salad, garlic bread.
    Dec. 12
    –Chicken Dijon over rice & salad.
    Dec. 19
    –Roast pork, roasted potatoes, applesauce.
    Dec. 26
    –No lunch, Merry Christmas!

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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LEAP—Help for heating bills

The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs now through April 30. Application packets will automatically be mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at the address where they were living at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the most current program application requirements.

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The U.S. Postal Service 2012 Holiday Mail-by Dates

The U.S. Postal Service suggests the following mail-by dates for domestic mail to ensure packages, cards, and letters arrive before Christmas. Priority Mail International Dec. 3, Express Mail International Dec. 11, parcel post Dec. 15, ship to military Dec. 17, most international shipping Dec. 19, first-class mail Dec. 20, priority mail Dec. 21, express mail Dec. 22.

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Coat drive at Wescott Fire Department through Dec. 10

Donate your extra coats to Coats for Colorado Springs and El Paso County. You may drop off new or clean gently used coats at the Donald Wescott Fire Department, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., through Dec. 10. Coats will be distributed to those in need through the support of Partners in Housing and the Salvation Army. For more information, contact Fire Marshal Margo Humes, 488-8680, or e-mail mhumes@wescottfire.org.

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Santa on Patrol toy drive, ends Dec. 14

Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department will deliver toys to children in the Tri-Lakes area Dec. 15, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and they need the community’s support. Please drop off new, unwrapped toys or gift cards by Dec. 14 to fire stations 1, 2, and 3, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department Administration Building (166 Second St., Monument), Palmer Lake Police Department, or any D-38 elementary school. Any family in need or with questions may call Jennifer, 484-0911.

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Volunteers needed for County Fair and Events Complex Advisory Board, apply by Dec. 14

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as associate members on the Fair and Events Complex Advisory Board. Applications are due by Dec. 14. The Fair and Events Complex Advisory Board assists with the development, management, programming, and operation and maintenance of the Fair and Events Complex in Calhan. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information call 520-6436.

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Colorado Gardener Certificate Training; apply by Dec. 15

Colorado State University (CSU) Extension is accepting applications for the Colorado Gardener Certificate training course. Classes will be taught by CSU Extension educators. These classes are the same classes that Colorado Master Gardener volunteers attend. Parks department, school district and golf course maintenance personnel as well as landscape professionals and interested homeowners will benefit from this training. Graduates may display the certificate in a place of business and use it in business marketing. Classes will be held Wednesdays, 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Jan. 16 through March 7 at the El Paso County CSU Extension office, located at 305 S. Union, Colorado Springs, CO 80910. The cost is $625, which includes cost of tuition, manual and training materials. Applications are due by Dec. 15. For an application or information visit www.cmg.colostate.edu/ or call Julie, 520-7690.

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Seniors in need

Seniors who need some assistance with small household tasks can get free help from students at Palmer Ridge High School. This will be an ongoing program through May of 2013. Jennifer at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District will coordinate with the high school. Contact Jennifer at 484-0911 or email jmartin@tri-lakesfire.com.

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Mountain View Electric Association scholarships, apply by Jan. 15

Graduating high school seniors might be eligible for one of the 14 $1,000 scholarships offered by the Mountain View Electric Association (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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County launches online forum to spur ideas about Parks Master Plan

Local parks are better when residents have a voice in their planning and development. This is why El Paso County has launched PlanUpdate-ElPasoCountyParks.com, an online forum allowing residents to suggest ideas for parks, share perspectives, and provide recommendations on topics relevant to the Parks Master Plan any time, from any computer. All posted comments and ideas will be reviewed by the planning team to develop an understanding of the public perception of existing services and to create a future vision for El Paso County parks. Questions currently being posed to citizens on the site include: What are the most utilized and favorite programs and park activities? What should the county’s priorities be for parks, trails, and open space for the next 5-10 years? Visit www.planupdate-elpasocountyparks.com to share your ideas about the Park Master Plan, and to stay up to date with the different phases of the project.

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Clear snow and ice around mailboxes for letter carriers

Letter carriers are instructed to not deliver to mailboxes and locations that are too hazardous or difficult to access. Support your letter carrier in providing safe and timely delivery of your mail. Following snowstorms and bad weather conditions, please clear a safe path to your mailbox or business.

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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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Attention Tri-Lakes residents with medical conditions

If you have a medical condition or a physical disability, please contact Jennifer at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 484-0911, to register for emergency assistance if evacuation is required.

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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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