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Vol. 12 No. 3 - March 3, 2012


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Contents

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Snow, Feb. 3-4

Photos by David Futey

Below: From Feb. 2-4, the Tri-Lakes area received 16-24" of snow. Palmer Lake children used a hill by Estemere and snow to make jump, creating their own sled riding challenge.

Below: With pine trees draped in snow providing a picturesque winter scene, Mark Fritts, Nick Lenski, Dani Kerr and Abbie Crain put on their snowshoes and hiked the trail leading to the Palmer Lake reservoirs.

Below: A front loader was required to remove the nearly 2-feet of snow that fell and was mounded on the streets of downtown Monument.

Below: Many cars in the Tri-Lakes area, like this one in Palmer Lake, found themselves buried by the snow fall and the work of a snow plow.

Below: The snow formed almost perfect snowballs on the pine trees along the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trail.

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A Perspective on Our Community: Nutrients, wastewater, and why you should care

Below: Jim Kendrick points out that Monument Creek is too shallow and too narrow to generate the $88 million in new fishing and boating revenue that the state has claimed would be a direct benefit of requiring removal of more nutrients from wastewater treatment facility effluent in the Fountain Creek watershed of the Arkansas River basin. The photo also shows the sandy bottom of Monument Creek next to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, which inhibits growth of the macroinvertebrates used to measure stream health, and the lack of algae, the primary target of the proposed new nutrient regulations. Photo by Bill Burks, Tri-Lakes facility manager.

By Susan Hindman

Starting on March 12, and scheduled to last for at least three days, Colorado’s Water Quality Control Commission will hold hearings on regulations it hopes to pass that are intended to further clean up the treated wastewater discharged into streams and rivers from wastewater treatment facilities across the state.

On the surface, this sounds like a good thing. The problem is that the regulations would target all facilities uniformly, even if their "effluent" is already clean—and in many cases, it is. And if they are approved, hold on to your wallet: The cost to comply is going to be staggering, and everyone in the Tri-Lakes area who is a customer of a wastewater district will pay.

The prospects of complying with the proposed Regulations 31 and 85—which would impose numeric restrictions on various compounds of phosphorus and nitrogen in effluent—has infuriated and frightened many wastewater districts’ staffs, boards, and constituents across the state. State officials point to their science and the need to satisfy the EPA; experts that districts hired found that science flawed. The fight has finally caught the attention of state legislators.

Efforts to delay, stop, or modify the regulations have intensified over the past year, spawning the formation of coalitions of districts intent on protecting their constituents from the jaw-dropping dollars this will cost them. These coalitions have hired numerous experts on ecosystems—environmental lawyers, statisticians, stream and reservoir biologists, laboratory chemists, and civil engineering firms—who have worked nonstop to dissect the hundreds of megabytes of data, verbiage, and scientific literature presented in a multitude of stakeholder meetings.

Even a month before the hearings, the outcome was still a moving target. When all this started, all 319 wastewater treatment plants across the state were affected by both regulations. Over the course of a year of nonstop meetings and rebuttals, the number of plants affected has dropped. Even as this article was being written, stakeholder meetings altered the course of events. In the most recent versions of Regulations 31 and 85 published by the Water Quality Control Division on Feb. 17, the number of plants affected by Regulation 85 was unexpectedly reduced from 109 to 44. The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility in Monument is still affected, but the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility is suddenly exempt. The EPA, however, disagrees with limiting the number of plants affected by the regulation.

All treatment plants may yet be affected by Regulation 31; that will be decided at the March meeting. This would include Upper Monument and the other local treatment plant, operated by the Academy Water and Sanitation District, which is also exempt from Regulation 85.

Across the state, the initial cost estimates for complying with the new regulations on Colorado’s wastewater treatment plants range from $2.4 billion to $25 billion. With only about $40 million to $50 million per year available for loans and grants—and a current backlog of $3 billion in needed wastewater projects across the state, according to the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority—no significant funding will be available for the mandate that will be created by the new regulations.

So the costs for complying will, according to the Water Quality Control Division, be passed on directly to customers by increasing user fees or property taxes, because the long-term costs are so high that some districts might need a mill levy, or an increase in current mill levy, to pay for them.

On a local level, what would that translate to? Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund says to finance Regulation 31 alone, his district’s 1,060 customers could see increases of $100 a month in service fees for expanded wastewater treatment. And what will it buy?

"There will be no significant improvement to the water quality along Monument Creek as a result of these regulations," says Wicklund. "No one with the EPA or the state has shown that any of the wastewater facilities along Monument Creek is responsible for a nutrient problem, so why are we having to treat nitrogen to these expensive, unattainable levels?"

What’s driving the regulations?

Phosphates, nitrates, and nitrites are necessary for life in an aquatic ecosystem. When there are too many nutrients in the water, they can become harmful by causing excess algae and chlorophyll-a, which reduces the amount of dissolved oxygen, alters the pH, and makes water cloudy and smell bad. Excess algae have been found in a few of the reservoirs that provide water to the Denver metropolitan area. The overarching problem is that algae are a major cause of the oxygen-depleted "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico at the mouth of the Mississippi River, and that’s what is driving the EPA, says Wicklund.

Around 90 percent of the nutrients that make it to Colorado’s streams and rivers comes from farming, ranching, wildlife, natural vegetation, and natural geologic influence; about 10 percent comes from wastewater treatment facilities. "The EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment have no legal authority over the former, only the latter," he says. "The cost to comply with these regulations will only mitigate 10 percent of the source."

Regulation 31 establishes statewide interim standard numeric limits for total phosphorus and total nitrogen in effluent discharged into warm or cold waters, starting in 2022. Interim Control Regulation 85, a 10-year regulation, mandates the installation of new nutrient removal technology over the next 10 years.

The proposed numeric nutrient limits are the state’s response to the EPA’s Clean Water Act of 1972, which says that state waters shall be "free from harm." The act does not deal with nutrients specifically; it only requires that states adopt water quality standards to protect "designated uses" such as recreation that have been identified for all bodies of water. The EPA has expressed a "preference" for numeric criteria for streams rather than site-specific effluent limits.

The agency has not provided specific limits to Colorado, but still expects the state to come up with its own numbers that "protect the uses" of each stream segment and lake or reservoir. EPA regulations state these numbers must be scientifically defensible and take into account local conditions. "And, to make it more confusing," says Jim Kendrick, of Monument Sanitation District, "the limits in Regulation 31 are only interim requirements that are a first step toward making state waters look as if there were no people eating or taking vitamins in Colorado. The long-term nitrogen limits proposed in Reg 31 are unattainable."

"The one-size-fits-all standards proposed by Reg 31," he continued, "have the long-term goal of making every stream, creek, and reservoir swimmable and fishable. In the end, people will still not be able to fish or kayak in Monument Creek. It’s an inch deep and a yard wide in Monument. And oh, by the way, Monument Creek’s ecosystem is in excellent condition as shown in a 2011 study by the state’s top ecological consulting firm that was paid for by the local wastewater districts that own the Tri-Lakes facility."

Still, the state’s response has been to propose nutrient limits that would apply uniformly throughout Colorado. But because aquatic ecosystems are so complex and varied throughout the eight different geographical regions in Colorado, the effect of these nutrients on concentrations of chlorophyll-a and densities of algae in state waters varies widely, says Kendrick. He has worked extensively with the Colorado Nutrient Coalition (CNC), which represents 71 special wastewater districts across the state and is the largest group opposing the proposed regulations.

In addition, says Wicklund, streams and rivers naturally take care of dispersing some of the nutrients. "The nutrients from the Tri-Lakes facility’s effluent are virtually undetectable, due to the amount consumed by the aquatic life in Monument Creek by the time it reaches the Air Force Academy. These nutrients certainly do not contribute to the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico," he says. "There are only a couple of places in the state that have that problem, and it’s not Monument Creek."

A coordinated response

Kendrick has taken the lead in coordinating a strong Tri-Lakes region response to the concerns, worked to gain funding for the experts and lawyers needed to interpret data, driven to Denver several times a month for meetings at all levels of the process, and juggled volumes of emails. Wicklund has also taken a lead role in composing letters and making statements at those meetings. He and Kendrick formed the Colorado Rural Communities Coalition with Jim Heckman, district manager of Fountain Sanitation District. This coalition has 13 member districts, including all of the Tri-Lakes area wastewater districts, and it sent several letters opposing the regulations to Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Water Quality Control Division.

The CNC vigorously disputes the science and reasons behind the effluent limits that the state chose for its regulations. It claims that "healthy ecological conditions" already exist in most Colorado waters with the current nitrogen concentrations; that the EPA has approved nutrient programs in other states that have no component for removal of total nitrogen from wastewater facility effluent; that removing phosphorus only would be less costly and possibly solve the algae problem at far less expense; and that based on case-specific information provided by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority’s cost-benefit study of these two proposed regulations, "the benefits of total nitrogen reduction have been grossly overestimated and the costs have been grossly underreported."

Furthermore, says the CNC, the technology does not even exist to treat wastewater facility effluent down to those interim total nitrogen limits listed in Regulation 31. "The long-term total nitrogen limits that the EPA is already demanding are even more unattainable," says Kendrick. "Every Colorado wastewater treatment facility would have to request a discharger-specific variance for years to come for every three-year river basin hearing cycle. This will require millions of dollars in consultant fees for experts in environmental law, science, statistics, and engineering design and construction because of the proposed state Regulation 31. The Arkansas River and Fountain Creek can never be cleaned up to those impossible limits."

The CNC argues that the proposed regulations go against Hickenlooper’s Executive Order 5 that directs state agencies to ensure that state funding is available to cover the costs of mandates when there is no federal law or regulation that requires their imposition. The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments saw the urgency in the issue and sent a letter to the governor urging him to block the state proposed regulations several weeks ago.

In January, Rep. Marsha Looper (R) and Sen. Keith King (R) introduced House Bill 12-1161 that would establish a state scientific advisory board to perform a scientific peer review of the proposed total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll-a limits for state waters in Regulation 31, as well as the mandates on other related water quality parameters. As of this writing, the bill was still going through the committee process.

Looking at the effects locally

While no final costs will be known until after the division’s Water Quality Control Commission makes its decision in March, all three local facilities risk being affected.

  • The Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility has three owner districts. Monument Sanitation District has about 1,000 houses and about 60 commercial/industrial taps. Palmer Lake Sanitation District has about 1,000 houses and about 50 commercial/industrial taps. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District has about 3,500 houses and about 15 commercial taps. Because of its upstream location, the facility is the first of the three treatment facilities to empty its effluent into Monument Creek, just above Baptist Road. The "very preliminary" engineering estimate to comply with Regulation 85 is $7 million to $11 million; no estimates have been attempted for Regulation 31 compliance.
  • The Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility also has three owner districts: Donala Water and Sanitation District serves 2,550 houses and 56 commercial taps. Triview Metropolitan District serves 1,100 houses and 36 commercial taps. Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, the other owner district, has no houses yet. There are no estimates available yet for bringing this treatment facility into compliance with Regulation 85. It is next in line to release into the creek, just below Baptist Road.
  • Academy Water and Sanitation District serves 300 houses, with no commercial or industrial customers, and has two small wastewater treatment lagoons. Its effluent empties into Smith Creek, which flows into Monument Creek near the north gate of the Air Force Academy. Because of its small size, Academy gets a pass on Regulation 31, but not 85. The very preliminary engineering estimates for options to bring the district into compliance for Regulation 85 are all over $3 million.

Kendrick, Wicklund, and hundreds of facility operators, board members, and their consultants will travel to the Water Quality Control Commission hearings in March. Some will be among the speakers scheduled to present pros, cons, and alternatives to the nine commissioners. If Regulation 85 passes, its impact will be immediate. If Regulation 31 passes, it will be 10 years before its final full impact will be felt (long after leaving the public view). If neither regulation passes, the state warns that the EPA will step in and mandate its own, more stringent numbers; environment groups, which believe wastewater facilities are the main source of the problem, have promised to sue.

People who work in the wastewater treatment business are not opposed to clean water; they monitor the numbers every day to make sure the effluent they release into Monument Creek stays clean.

Says Kendrick, "The wastewater treatment facility operators and staffs of the Tri-Lakes region wastewater special districts are hands-on stewards of the environment who take pride in the work they do to ensure that their plants work as efficiently and effectively as they can."

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

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Majority in survey support proposed D-38 bus fee

By Harriet Halbig

On Feb. 16, two members of the committee to investigate bus transportation fees reported to the Board of Education that a majority of survey respondents favored the proposed fees. Georgina Gittins, a Bear Creek parent, and Tom Pulford, a Bear Creek teacher, represented the committee.

Gittins said that committee members had met with parent-teacher organizations at all schools and with such community groups as the Kiwanis and the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club to get input.

Gittins stated students on free or reduced-cost lunches and those whose Individual Education Plan (IEP) required bus transportation would not be charged a fee for bus use.

The community submitted 416 survey responses. Gittins and Pulford summarized the responses, noting that 56.5 percent favored a transportation fee if it would help to maintain a quality education in the district.

Some common responses on the survey were:

  • Charging a fee per ride rather than a monthly flat fee is fairer.
  • There should be a cap to the fees charged each family.
  • Adding a fee for transportation seems like a tax increase.
  • There should be a discount for families with several children who use the service.

Gittins said that video of the public meetings is available on the district website, or go to www.ustream.tv/channel/lpsd-live.

Gittens listed these among the positive effects of charging a fee:

  • $200,000 raised annually would result in fewer cuts.
  • Only those who use the service would pay the fee.
  • The equipment needed to implement the fee has been funded by a grant received last year.

Among the negative effects are:

  • It would present a financial hardship to those in a weakened position.
  • The burden of cost is on users only.
  • Traffic congestion would increase around schools as more parents drive their children to school.

Representing the district’s administration, Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman and Transportation Manager Robin Mossman said that a decision must be made by March to allow time for implementation in the 2012-13 school year. Mossman suggested that the following should be considered while making the decision:

  • If a fee is implemented, consider offering a discount to those who pay early.
  • Allow flexible payment plans for those who are disadvantaged.
  • Require a small deposit from those who participate because there may be some alterations in routes.
  • Continue to review other bus fees for athletic events and field trips.
  • Consider a cap on fees for families with more than three children using the service.

Members of the board offered a number of comments on the subject.

Board Treasurer Gail Wilson commented that many parents think that fees for athletics and other school activities completely cover the cost of the activity. The board must make them understand that this is not the case. She also said that there is a dichotomy between the idea of free public education and having to pay for transportation to school.

Board member John Mann said he was concerned that some families will be strongly impacted by the added expense in these economic times. He was also concerned that a limited number of families would bear the burden. He requested that the board be given an indication of what $200,000 would buy if it were made available through initiation of a fee.

Board Vice President Mark Pfoff said that it was erroneous to equate the fee with a tax, because families would receive a service in exchange for the fee. He said that the board must remember that this is an open enrollment state and that families who object to the fee may choose to leave the district, which could also impact the budget. Pfoff said he generally does not like fees and views this as a stopgap solution to budget problems. He suggested that the district sponsor a mill levy override (MLO) specifically to support transportation and technology needs.

Board Secretary Robb Pike also commented that he doesn’t favor fees. He expressed concern about the impact on the relationship between students and bus drivers if the drivers are put in the position of having to enforce the fees.

Board President Jeff Ferguson agreed with Wilson that the public must understand that the fee would only cover 9 percent of the cost of transportation. He suggested that the board approach transportation as it does food service. The food service portion of the district is self-sustaining. He requested that Superintendent John Borman and Wangeman return to the March meeting with a list of possible benefits to the district resulting from an additional $200,000 per year from the fee.

All members of the board expressed appreciation for the work of the committee and the information it provided.

For further background on this subject, please see the article on the District Accountability Advisory Committee in the February OCN.

2012-13 technology overview

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton told the board that the purpose of technology is to support staff and students in the pursuit of education. She said that funding has been limited in the past several years and that students, especially on the secondary level, need increased access to technology for post-secondary and workforce readiness.

Technology in the district falls into three categories:

  • Systems, or the hardware of the system
  • Applications, or the implementation of the hardware and the handling of data
  • Classroom technology

Benton said district employees must be trained in new systems and prepare for a future in which students will be able to bring their own devices to school.

To do this, elementary wireless capacity must be increased and technicians must be trained to support multiple devices in the school environment.

Benton reported that representatives of Apple computer would visit the district the following week to discuss the use of "i textbooks."

Other items

The board passed a resolution authorizing financial counselor David Bell and Wangeman to prepare documents to refinance part of the district’s 2006 general obligation bonds to allow for savings to taxpayers. Wangeman told the board that, due to refinancing of other bonds late last year, legal fees will be minimal. Bell said that he must apply for ratings for the bonds before the refinancing and that this application would be completed in the next few weeks.

Wangeman gave a first report on the 2012-13 budget, saying that enrollment indications are positive. Health insurance costs for employees are expected to rise by 8 percent. District-paid disability insurance will be discontinued. The Nutrition Services Department continues to do well, but the number of meals sold is decreasing. All revenues from food service remain in that department.

Wangeman gave an overview of requests from the board’s reserves for 2012-13. The district may draw $350,000 from the county’s cash in lieu of land fund once more. She requested that there be a reserve of $94,000 for emergency repairs, $100,000 for a new bus, $170,000 for telephone technology, and $320,000 for maintenance of such things as fences, drainage, and boilers.

She requested that money saved during this year on energy and elimination of four bus routes be added into the reserve fund for next year and asked for permission to spend $40,000 on locks at Lewis-Palmer Middle School to allow the school to be put on lockdown if necessary. The board approved the request.

The board passed a resolution requesting exclusive chartering authority. Local school districts must annually certify to the state that they wish to retain this authority.

The board discussed possible generators of revenue for the district. Mann commented that the board cannot rely on the state to pass on any federal funding granted to the state. He said that, over the past four years, the board has cut any extra items from its budget, putting a burden on high school teachers and cutting programs. He said that the district needs to offer an MLO this fall to enable the community to support the system.

Ferguson agreed and asked members of the board what information they would require to make the decision to request an MLO. He said that while the board has no control over the emotional turmoil caused by a presidential election, it is under the board’s control to decide how to present the situation to the voters. He said that the board should determine the wording of the ballot initiative and what previously eliminated programs would be restored to the district if it succeeds.

Pike said that the board needs to decide who would run the campaign for the MLO and how many votes are required for its passage. A plan and manpower and financial resources are needed, as well as a plan to respond to negative responses to the campaign. He said the board should be specific about the use of funds resulting from passage of the MLO.

Pfoff expressed concern about the political atmosphere and wondered whether it would be possible to have a separate, mail-in initiative to concentrate the public’s attention on the schools.

Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Sandi Brandl introduced teachers Tony Ramunno and Julie Smith, who offered a presentation on the school’s Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) curriculum, focusing on the engineering aspect. Several students demonstrated projects for the Advanced Mathematical Decision Making class and other engineering classes based in Project Lead the Way, a curriculum for grades 9 through 12.

Ramunno said that a grant paid the cost of software upgrades for the district’s computers and training for the teachers and that funding for the program is sufficient at this time. The software is leased. However, the failure of a major piece of equipment, such as a plotter or a 3D printer, would cause hardship.

Smith said that representatives of Project Lead the Way would visit the school in the near future to determine whether it earned certification allowing students to claim college credit for some of the classes.

Host students and exchange students participating in the Polish Youth Leadership Exchange Team were introduced, along with one exchange teacher. Lewis-Palmer students who spent part of last summer in Poland developed a community service program during their stay. This is the second year of the exchange.

The board approved a list of routine matters such as minutes of past meetings, approval of closures due to weather, retirements and appointments of staff, policy revisions, and requests for leaves of absence.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education 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 on March 15.

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

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D-38 responds to questions about bus fee proposal

By Harriet Halbig

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 held a public meeting Feb. 7 to discuss the option of charging a fee for bus transportation beginning in the fall. The fee would be charged on a per-ride basis or as a flat monthly fee.

Students who qualify for free/reduced lunch and students whose Individual Education Plan (IEP) requires bus transportation would be exempt from the fee.

The fee would be implemented through the use of a card called a zpass, which would double as an identification card and a way to pay for school lunches. The pass would be swiped upon boarding the bus regardless of whether a fee is paid as a way of determining who is on a bus at any given time in case of a breakdown and to monitor use of the service.

Further background information can be found in the article on the District Accountability Advisory Committee in the February issue of OCN.

Following are some of the concerns expressed at the meeting and the responses by Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman and Transportation Manager Robin Mossman.

  • Will other kids on a bus or other parents be able to determine which students are riding for free due to their free/reduced lunch status? No. All cards will look the same. Free/reduced lunch status is administered by the food service department. It would notify the Transportation Department as to which students should have the fee waived. Information on forms filled out by parents is confidential.
  • Is the administration considering purchase of different or smaller buses to save money? The district now owns large (70 passenger) and small (14 passenger) buses. Four routes were cut last year in a cost saving measure. As the population of the district increases, it would be unwise to invest in various-size buses. Some nearby districts have saved money by implementing target stops, where up to 30 students would board at once rather than a few at a time. This is not being considered here at this time.
  • The fee will only cover about 9 percent of the cost of transportation. Why not charge a higher fee? The district’s fees are comparable to those charged in adjoining districts.
  • What are the plans for dealing with additional traffic if the fee is implemented? The district is aware that more parents may opt to drive their children to school if the fee is implemented. The school resource officer, police, principals, and Mossman would confer on changes in traffic patterns at each campus. Some options are to have teachers park at a more remote location or to have two traffic lanes rather than one for drop-off.
  • The fees for schools have gotten out of hand for a family with four children using the buses. Is the free lunch designation based solely on family income or does it take into consideration the size of the family? The designation is based on the family income divided by the number in the household.
  • What if a student loses a card? The bus driver will make a note of the student’s name and allow a few days for the card to be found. A nominal replacement cost will be charged. The other option is to make it possible to keep the cards on the bus.
  • Are provisions made for those who do not qualify for free/reduced lunch but who cannot pay the additional fee? These families may ask their school principal to waive the fee.
  • Has the district tried other ways to save on transportation costs? When Palmer Ridge High School opened and when the two middle schools were combined, no additional routes were added. Instead, students were trans-loaded part way through their ride. In addition, four routes were eliminated last year by extending the walking boundaries. When teams from both high schools are to attend an athletic event, they share a bus.
  • Will students who lost bus service due to cuts have it restored? No, the fee still will not pay the entire cost of transportation.
  • If parents opt out of the fee at the beginning of the year, may they begin later? Yes. By setting up an account with a deposit of $25 on the student’s zpass.
  • Would a child be refused a ride due to lack of a pass? In the morning, the student would be allowed to ride. The driver would make a note of his or her name. In the afternoon, the student would be asked to call parents for a ride home.
  • Would implementation of the fee make routes take longer? Unlikely, as only a few students board at each stop.
  • $200,000 seems a small amount of benefit. Why not raise taxes? The two issues are not really linked. The hope is that people without students in the system will see that the district is doing all it can to conserve resources and then be more liable to favor a tax increase.

To view the entire meeting, please go to www.ustream.tv/channel/lpsd-live.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Feb. 7: Committee hears improvement plans for three schools

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer School District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) continued its review of improvement plans for district schools at its Feb. 7 meeting.

Principal Lis Richard of Monument Charter Academy said that she was pleased to present her school’s information to the committee. It was the first time in four years that she had been invited to participate. She credited Superintendent John Borman’s involvement with the district for improving relations between the charter and other schools.

Richard said the academy exceeded its achievement goals during 2010-11 by 12 percent. Overall, the academy exceeded state expectations in reading, math, writing, and science.

Regarding academic growth, the academy found that among minority students and those who needed to catch up, the rating for the academy was "approaching" expectations. She said that a number of students who entered the academy at the middle school or mid-elementary level required some time to adjust to the new curriculum. The proposed solution to the problem is to monitor individual student progress. When necessary, teachers will provide intervention and support. Middle school teachers will increase instructional time for transfer students.

Academic growth gaps were rated "meets" expectations among these same two subgroups. The school has experienced a surge in growth over the past few years, introducing many students in the midst of their education and requiring them to quickly adjust to a new curriculum.

Richard also answered questions about her school from the committee.

Principal Julie Jadomski of Palmer Lake Elementary School reported on her school’s plan. The school exceeded federal and state expectations in reading, math, writing, and science. The school met 29 of the 30 targets for Annual Yearly Progress during the 2010-11 year.

The overall rating for growth in reading is "exceeds" expectations: the rating for math and writing is "meets."

In terms of growth gaps, the primary weakness is in math among free/reduced lunch eligible students, minorities, and students with disabilities. The current math curriculum supplies insufficient repetition. The school will implement the Standout Math program to offer daily math instruction through oral, visual, and kinesthetic lessons. Program materials were purchased with local resources.

Growth in writing is also rated as "approaching" expectations among the disabled. It was determined that the problem was inconsistent terminology in teaching writing. The school will use the Write Tools strategy, implemented by teachers and interventionists.

Principal Gary Gabel of Palmer Ridge High School also presented his school’s plan. The school meets expectations for overall academic achievement and exceeds state and federal standards for post-secondary readiness. The dropout rate at Palmer Ridge is 0.5 percent compared to the state average of 3.9 percent.

Adequate yearly progress is being met in reading, but not in math, primarily attributed to lack of instruction in statistics. The school will address this through curriculum mapping with regard to new state standards

Students with disabilities are not meeting performance indicators in reading and math. Gabel said that high interest, lower-level reading materials are difficult to find and that students with disabilities have difficulty keeping up. Required re-teaching is often not repeated often enough.

Growth gaps in reading and math exist for students with disabilities. Direct instruction of reading fundamentals for students with disabilities began this year.

Improvement strategies are designed to stress direct reading instruction across the curriculum and enroll students in SRS (specific reading skills) for direct instruction in comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary. There will also be a new Language class incorporating grammar and usage, listening and reading comprehension, speaking, writing, word recognition, spelling, and vocabulary.

In another discussion, committee member Karen Shuman suggested that DAAC find a way to distribute information regarding the depth of cuts in the budget over the past four years. She said that, based on response to the proposal of transportation fees, many members of the school community seem unaware of the breadth of cuts.

**********

The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held on March14 in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbi@ocn,.com.

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Special Education Advisory Council, Feb. 8: Kidpower director describes safety programs

By Harriet Halbig

Jan Isaacs-Henry, executive director of Kidpower Colorado, spoke to the Special Education Advisory Council (SEAC) on Feb. 8 about child safety programs offered by her organization.

Kidpower is a private, nonprofit organization with programs in 11 states and 12 other countries. The goal of the organization is to help kids build awareness, confidence, and personal power through the use of experiential instruction. Children ages 3 to 18 are eligible to participate in the classes along with their parents. Students who undergo the training experience a reduction of risk for abuse, assault, and abduction, Isaacs-Henry said.

An additional aspect of the training is to open lines of communication between children and trusted adults in order to report inappropriate contact or to seek help.

The Colorado Springs Kidpower organization was founded 17 years ago and has collaborated with 10 school districts and other agencies such as Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Special Kids to teach the concept of "people safety" rather than "stranger danger."

Isaacs-Henry said that the organization has recently updated its programs to better serve special-needs children, who are more likely to be abused because of their trusting nature. This was begun at the request of parents who felt that the program was familiar with the essential lessons to be taught and because the program is not based on fear tactics. Practice in the form of role-playing is also a major aspect of the training. The organization received grants in Widefield and School District 20 to develop the new curriculum for special-needs students.

Classes are separated by gender and divided into three age groups: 3 to 6 years, grades 1-5, and grades 6-12. Special classes are offered following a major event in a community.

Isaacs-Henry said that special-needs children are vulnerable because they have difficulty in recognizing a stranger, setting boundaries, and responding to coercion. Special-needs classes are often smaller than general education groups and sometimes involve a risk assessment before the class is held.

She said students learn to be aware of their surroundings, take charge of a situation, avoid unwanted touching, respond to bullying, be safe with technology, and deal with emotional coercion such as intimidation and bribery. Students and parents are encouraged to make a safety plan, learn when it is appropriate to interrupt parents when help is needed, and to acknowledge that sometimes the best response is to leave a situation.

Parents are provided with written, illustrated materials and are encouraged to reinforce the lessons learned in the home environment.

Classes are requested by the principal of the school in which they are held. Prairie Winds Elementary had scheduled a class for early February that was postponed due to weather.

For further information on the program, go to www.coloradosprings@kidpower.org or call 720-520-1311.

**********

The Special Education Advisory Council meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the District 38 Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be held on March14.

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

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Panelists present perspectives on "fracking"

Below: Panelists for the WMMI discussion on hydraulic fracturing are, from left, Andrew Casper of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Scott Harvey of the Green Cities Coalition, Pam Zubeck of the Colorado Springs Independent, and Barry Noreen of the Colorado Springs Gazette. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On Feb. 23, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) hosted a panel discussion on the process of hydraulic fracturing, sometimes referred to as "fracking," which is used in oil and gas exploration. Hydraulic fracturing is a process developed in the late 1940s in which a well is drilled and used to pump a specially blended liquid under high pressure below ground to create fractures and fissures in underground shale and other formations.

The objective of hydraulic fracturing is to release oil and natural gas trapped within the formation. The liquid contains mostly water and sand but also contains a "recipe" of different chemicals, including allowable concentrations of benzene, toluene, xylenes, and ethylbenzene. The chemicals used and their concentration vary per well or location to achieve optimal extraction.

Fracking has been met with criticism and opposition in some areas of the United States, including along the Front Range. The process has been proposed for use on Mount Herman in Monument, at the Banning-Lewis Ranch in Colorado Springs, and other locations.

The panelists for this topic included Andrew Casper, regulatory counsel with the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, Scott Harvey of the Green Cities Coalition, Pam Zubeck, senior reporter at the Colorado Springs Independent, and Barry Noreen, columnist with the Colorado Springs Gazette. Each panelist offered a differing perspective on fracking.

Casper provided an overview of fracking occurring in Colorado. In his presentation he noted that there are more than 46,000 oil and gas wells in Colorado. Weld County has the most with more than 17,000. The Niobrara Shale Formation in northeastern Colorado is undergoing exploration and is considered a liquids-rich formation. Wells tapping into this formation and other locations in the state are mostly reaching depths of 6,000 to 7,000 feet. In contrast, underground water resources are typically at 1,000 feet or above.

Casper also described well construction, including the surface and well casings, provided a listing of the numerous regulations regarding the process, and water use (less than 0.1 percent of state water use) based on information from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC).

Harvey offered counterpoints and concerns regarding the hydraulic fracturing regulations. He noted that Rule 205A does not require disclosure of "trade secret" chemicals in the fluids or for vendor, supplier, or operator responsibility for the accuracy of information supplied to the COGCC. Harvey provided a list of best practices, such as requiring geological exploration prior to drilling to identify existing fractures, requiring public disclosure of the route of underground drilling, requiring preexisting water quality tests to be mandatory to file a claim or loss from oil/gas extraction, and requiring public disclosure of all chemicals used in the process.

He also described pollution concerns, from gases being emitted from the wells, to the related 1,000 truck trips per well, to how the "produced water" is used on above-ground surfaces.

During their presentations, Zubeck and Noreen provided information on resources available regarding the fracking process and perspectives on the topic. Zubeck encouraged audience members to research this process to gain a greater understanding of it. She also pointed out how low fines for violations are in the hundreds of thousands to million-dollar range, for an industry achieving billion-dollar profits. Noreen asked why drilling is allowed on public lands, "owned by you and me." A question-and-answer session between the panelists and audience followed the presentations.

Information on hydraulic fracturing and the panelists is available at Frac Focus (www.fracfocus.org), the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (www.cogcc.state.co.us), the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (www.coga.org), the Green Cities Coalition (www.greencitiescoalition.net), the Colorado Springs Independent (www.csindy.com) and the Colorado Springs Gazette (www.gazette.com).

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

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

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Big R store rezoning approved

By Jim Kendrick

El Paso County has approved a rezone for the proposed Big R store to be built on the northeast corner of the intersection of Struthers Road and Spanish Bit Drive, about a mile south of the Baptist Road King Soopers shopping center. The county Planning Commission unanimously approved the rezone of the Big R 10-acre lot from R-4 residential to CC commercial, with four conditions listed below, on Feb. 8 after an hour-long hearing.

The Board of County Commissioners approved the rezone as a consent item on Feb. 28 with no discussion. However, no platting or subdivision of the lot was requested or approved.

The new Big R store will be built on the north half of the irregularly shaped lot. No access will be allowed to the Big R lot from Struthers Road, a major four-lane I-25 frontage collector. Access to the store’s lot will be from Spanish Bit Drive. The south half of the parcel will be split into two 2.5 acre lots with the driveway to the Big R lot extending from Spanish Bit Drive north between them. Big R will pay for paving of Spanish Bit Drive between Struthers Road and the access point. When the remaining two southern lots are developed, the rest of Spanish Bit along the parcel’s southern frontage will be paved.

During negotiations with the county’s Development Services Department and additional voluntary discussions with Monument’s Development Services Department, the owners of the Big R store agreed to upgrade the company’s standard architectural design with higher-end materials, convert to four-sided architecture, and use higher-end screening and fencing materials to better buffer the store from adjacent and nearby Chaparral Hills residential lots.

A tall landscaping berm will surround the Big R lot on the east and north sides. A 6-foot solid stucco and masonry screening fence will then be built on top of the berm. Further screening will be provided by trees and shrubs that when grown, will make it difficult for Chaparral Hills residents to see the Big R store.

The Planning Commission imposed the following conditions on Feb. 8:

  1. The property owner(s) of the existing parcel or any subsequent subdivision thereof shall be responsible for any off-site southbound left-turn lanes on Struthers Road at Spanish Bit Drive that is proportional to the traffic generated, including but not limited to cost recovery pursuant to Section 8.7.2 of the Land Development Code as amended.
  2. Applicant shall pave Spanish Bit Drive from Struthers Road to his entrance with the construction of the proposed Big R; paving to the east property line may be deferred until additional development occurs on the current parcel or any subsequent subdivision thereof outside of what is under review for PPR 12-1 as submitted 1/5/2012.
  3. The property and any subsequent development are subject to fees from the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority and in the event of subdivision, the Countywide Transportation Impact Fee (TIS) program. (This condition has been included because the TIS has implied that these fees should be reduced. No such commitment has been made, nor can it be made, by staff. These issues will be determined during any subdivision phase of development.
  4. The applicant should provide landscaping, lighting, and architectural control guidelines applicable for the undeveloped portion of the zone district as depicted on county file PPR-12-1.

The Board of County Commissioners unanimously adopted these four recommended conditions by consent.

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Feb. 10: Big R requests reduced road use fees

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 10, representatives of Big R Stores in Colorado asked the board of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) to consider creating a new road use fee category for its store that might more accurately reflect a lower traffic count than the lowest-intensity commercial classification currently being used by BRRTA for assessment of new commercial construction.

Big R plans to build a new store in the county on the northeast corner of the intersection of Struthers Road and Spanish Bit Drive, about a mile south of the Baptist Road King Soopers shopping center.

Monument Mayor Travis Easton was absent from the meeting.

Election of officers for 2012

The board elected the following members as officers:

  • President—Monument Trustee Jeff Kaiser
  • Vice President—County Commissioner Darryl Glenn (Dist. 1)
  • Secretary/Treasurer—Monument Mayor Travis Easton
  • Secretary/Treasurer—County Commissioner Dennis Hisey (Dist. 4)
  • Secretary/Treasurer—County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams

Big R request

Karl Nyquist of Big R made the formal request to create a new classification for BRRTA road use fees. He was assisted in the presentation by Steve Hammers of Hammers Construction, the firm that will build the new Big R store.

Nyquist stated that the current classification for Big R would be "Specialty Retail," which specifies an average of 44.32 vehicle trips per day per thousand square feet of building space. Nyquist said that the actual traffic counts to the other El Paso County Big R stores in Falcon and Widefield average 18.7 trips per day per thousand square feet. This would result in a net road use fee of $1.17 per square foot compared to the existing BRRTA rate of $2.78 per square foot, reducing the Big R BRRTA road use fee from $92,000 to $42,000.

Nyquist also noted that the county Planning Commission had approved the Big R rezoning request on Feb. 8 to change the current obsolete R-4 residential zoning to the county’s recently created CC commercial zoning. The Big R store will use the north half of the 10-acre lot with an access from Spanish Bit Drive along the center boundaries of the southern 2.5-acre lots with frontages on Spanish Bit Drive.

After a discussion that lasted over an hour, Williams suggested that Big R pay the standard specialty retail fee and come back to BRRTA with its actual traffic figures after a year of operation and ask for creation of a new category and a refund for the difference, similar to the process that was previously approved for the Fairfield Inn hotel in the Monument Ridge shopping center.

County update

County Engineer Andre Brackin briefed the board on a county Transportation Department contract for preliminary planning and engineering studies on widening Baptist Road to four lanes on the west side of I-25 and evaluating the size and type of bridge that might be built over the railroad tracks that cross Baptist Road by the east side of Monument Creek. The study should be completed by September.

Brackin said that although the widening and the bridge are approved Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority projects, they are underfunded by about $11 million because they lack 50 percent developer participation in paying for them and BRRTA has no funds to pay for the initial engineering design. BRRTA paid for the engineering design for the widening of Baptist Road on the east side of I-25.

Some highway money may be freed up because it now appears that Marksheffel Road may not have to be built with four lanes all the way from Fountain to Black Forest Road by Research Parkway. Marksheffel Road may also be rerouted to connect to Mesa Ridge Parkway, which would mean even less construction.

Some of the money budgeted for road improvements for Banning-Lewis Ranch may also not be needed now. Traffic studies based on current information must be performed before any reprioritization of funds can be completed, possibly making some funds available for the remaining approved BRRTA west Baptist Road improvements. There are no other funding sources available at this time.

Financial items

The board approved the draft December financial report and the following payments:

  • $5,489 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for accounting
  • $3,248 to Clifton Gunderson LLP for district management
  • $1,023 to Grimshaw and Harring PC for legal services
  • $52 to Grimshaw and Harring PC regarding final approval of all BRRTA highway construction and documentation by the state

BRRTA accountant Carrie Bartow of Clifton-Gunderson noted that the promised first check for $2 million from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) had been received and transferred to the trustee to help reduce the semiannual bond interest payments that are due to bondholders on June 1. Some of BRRTA’s bonds have been paid off by using the "extraordinary bond redemption" option with unscheduled CDOT repayments. Because of these $2 million in extraordinary redemptions, future semiannual interest payments will drop about $74,000 each.

The next reimbursement check from CDOT has not been scheduled yet. Williams explained how CDOT disperses amounts of unused Senate Bill 1 transportation fund money that are too small to complete a fully approved project. These small amounts are distributed to those districts that are still owed money for paying in advance for approved projects with their own resources. There is no specific plan or schedule for this dispersal process, so it is not listed in a BRRTA budget.

Bartow noted that collection of sales taxes from all the businesses within the BRRTA boundary continues to be a problem.

CDOT formally accepted the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion project as complete, including all construction and documentation, in a letter to BRRTA dated Oct. 11, 2011. Liability insurance expenses have dropped to very low levels now that BRRTA is no longer building roads.

The meeting adjourned at 3 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on May 11 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Highway 105 corridor plans reviewed

Below: Woodmoor Improvement Association President Jim Hale discusses plans for the corridor with planner Maureen Paz de Araujo. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The El Paso County Transportation Division held an open house on Feb. 28 to show residents its progress on improvements for the Highway 105 corridor from Jackson Creek Parkway to Highway 83. This portion of the highway was recently transferred from state to county oversight.

The county officials sent invitations to over 600 individuals whose property abuts the road, and also invited members of homeowners associations in the area to view the preliminary plans resulting from public input at a previous meeting in August 2011 (see article in the August 2011 OCN for details on this meeting). About 60 people attended the Feb. 28 event.

County engineers and consultants from HDR Engineering exhibited several display boards with possible solutions to current problems, including congestion at intersections and lack of visibility. They showed the current traffic load and the projected load in 2040.

Three intersections are of particular concern: Furrow Road, Roller Coaster Road, and Fairplay Road. In each case, two options were proposed. One would be installation of a traffic signal and the other would be increased lanes to keep turning traffic out of the right-of-way.

The Furrow intersection and the Roller Coaster Road intersection were also depicted with a roundabout configuration that would allow traffic to continue to flow while regulating its speed.

Proposed grade changes between Fairplay and Furrow would help visibility.

A number of local citizens requested the addition of bike and pedestrian lanes along the highway. The most likely solution to this request would be the addition of extra wide, paved shoulders.

Senior Transportation Planner Maureen Paz de Araujo of HDR Engineering said that the next step in the process is to look at comments received at this open house and assign priorities to parts of the project. She said that the plans must be completed and prioritized before a funding source could be identified. De Araujo also said that the county will meet with local homeowners associations and other groups for additional input.

One obstacle to the planning process is the lack of current information on ownership of the required right-of-way. Many of the plats from neighboring subdivisions are decades old and have not been digitized. Planners must determine ownership of these easements before cost estimates can be made.

The next open house will be held in early summer. Individuals wishing to add their input may go to the program website at www.105corridor.com.

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

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Commissioner Glenn cites split over oil, gas exploration

Photos by Candice Hitt.

Below: El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn speaking at the State of the Chamber breakfast.

Below: Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Terri Hayes.

By Candice Hitt

El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn addressed oil and gas exploration and other economic issues at the fifth annual Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce State of the Chamber breakfast Feb. 10.

Glenn said there is some debate about how to handle the issue of oil and gas exploration, saying some individuals want fracking to be stopped and others argue there should be no regulations, because drilling boosts the economy and provides jobs.

Glenn said, "To attract businesses we need to be proactive with oil and gas exploration and we have a responsibility as a statutory county to follow the state law, and we only have as much authority as given to us by the Legislature."

The county wants to have job creation, but at the same time address issues that affect water quality and transportation, he said.

Glenn also touched on the upcoming election, unemployment, and the recent redistricting.

Military outlook

Glenn, having served 21 years in the military, noted his concern over the proposed military cuts and how they will affect the local economy. The military is facing $450 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, with an additional $500 billion if sequestration occurs. Peterson and Schriever Air Force Bases, the Air Force Academy, and Fort Carson are substantial contributors to the local economy, he said.

Chamber celebrates 35 years

Established in 1977, the Chamber is celebrating 35 years in the Tri-Lakes area. Executive Directory Terri Hayes thanked partners and supporters and discussed the Chamber’s goals for 2012. "Currently there are 260 members and we would like to see 300 to 350 members by the end of 2012," Hayes said.

Other goals include taking care of members by helping them get involved and grow their businesses and continuing to have an open-door policy to address ideas or concerns of members, Hayes said.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Feb.9: Board election set for May 8

By Candice Hitt

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) Board of Directors announced Feb. 9 that the election of four directors to the board has been scheduled for May 8. Two directors will be elected to four-year terms and two will serve two-year terms. Voting will be done by mail ballot.

President Barrie Town was excused from the meeting.

Nutrient regulations discussed

District Manager Jessie Shaffer discussed some of the current wastewater nutrient regulations with the board. He said, "The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is slowly imposing stricter nutrient requirements to the state to be in accordance with the Clean Water Act."

The EPA is targeting phosphorous and nitrogen and setting limits on the levels present in wastewater. The district plans on achieving the required levels by adding chemicals to the wastewater. Currently the level set for nitrogen is 10 parts per million (ppm), which is already being met by the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment facility that serves Woodmoor as well as the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts.

The level for phosphorous is 1 ppm, which can be achieved by adding chemicals, Shaffer said. Measures are also being taken to collect facility and Monument Creek stream data to help determine an appropriate long-term nutrients treatment limit.

Operations report

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said Well 12 had been pulled from the ground and the pump and motor are being analyzed to determine the cause of its unsatisfactory performance. No other construction activities were reported.

It was also noted that board members who toured the JV Ranch on Jan. 24 said it was a good tour.

**********

The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. March 8 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, Feb. 7: Plans for hiring a district manager moving forward

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 7, the Triview Metropolitan District board agreed to work with Monument Town Manager Cathy Green to hire a new Triview district manager. The position has been vacant for several months.

Director Steve Remington stated that the board was ready to move forward with hiring a new district manager from Green’s list of candidates. Remington and Board President Bob Eskridge agreed to work with Green on selecting a manager by March 31. Remington said he was assuming the board would deal with hiring district employees before hiring the district manager. It was decided that Remington and Eskridge would also work with Green in hiring employees.

Green said she had old Triview staff job descriptions and salary surveys of all El Paso County special districts to help determine how to set up a new Triview staff. Remington suggested a breakfast meeting later in the month for making these decisions.

Financial reports

The board unanimously approved the November sales tax and financial reports. The board also unanimously approved two payments of checks over $5,000:

  • $92,252 to Donala Water and Sanitation District for Triview’s fourth-quarter expenses of the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • $16,062 to engineering consultant firm Merrick & Co. for additional expenses for additional modeling and adding needed additional mapping information to the district’s GIS system data for the design of the Promontory Pointe water pressure booster pump system.

Triview Operations Supervisor Steve Sheffield noted that he had worked with Scott Jardine of Merrick in investigating the affected manholes of the booster system project.

Sheffield discussed a meeting he had with the staff of Classic Homes on Triview’s ability to provide water with adequate pressure for the new homes under construction in Classic’s Promontory Pointe development. He and Monument Water Superintendent Tom Thanish assured Classic that would be plenty of water for the coming summer. Sheffield said that in the worst-case scenario, there could be a problem, but if all systems operate normally, there will be no problems.

Director Robert Fisher said that the water model to be provided by Merrick will answer all the board’s concerns. Sheffield said he felt that a new well would have to be completed before the summer of 2013. A new well could be completed in four to six months. Monument Water Superintendent Tom Tharnish said that Triview’s B water treatment plant could handle the water from a new well.

Sheffield reported that the new stripes had not yet been installed at the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. Eskridge described the recent frustrations he has experienced at this intersection because the traffic lights did not detect the presence of his car.

Sheffield said water production in January was about 15 percent less than in 2011.

The board went into executive session at 5:35 p.m. for discussion of employee contracts, intergovernmental agreements, and discussion of possible water settlements.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on March 13 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 16: Cost-of-service analysis shows 2011 loss of almost $900,000

Below: Donala Chief Water Operator Mark Parker (left) receives Colorado Rural Water Association’s Operator of the Year Award at the Association’s Annual Convention, Feb. 15. Photo provided by the Donala district.

By John Heiser

At the Feb. 16 monthly meeting of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, Dana Duthie, district general manager, distributed copies of an analysis of the district’s cost of providing water and sewer service during 2011. Some highlights:

  • Total district income minus costs for 2011 equaled a net loss of $896,054. Duthie said that figure from 1998 through 2010 averaged a surplus of $33,335 per year. He noted that significant yearly losses can be expected until the rates the district’s customers pay more closely match its greatly increased operation and maintenance costs. He estimated it will take four or five years of rate increases to achieve that.
  • Total treated water was 318.8 million gallons, which was 4.3 percent more than in 2010. The associated cost was $9.97 per 1,000 gallons, which was 31.7 percent more than in 2010. The increase was largely attributed to the costs associated with importing renewable water through Colorado Springs Utilities.
  • Total raw water delivered to the golf course was 12.2 million gallons, which was 27.2 percent more than in 2010. The associated cost was $5.72 per 1,000 gallons, which was 14.9 percent more than in 2010.
  • Total reuse and Jake’s Lake augmentation water production was 29.9 million gallons, which was 12.8 percent less than in 2010. The associated cost was $5.72 per 1,000 gallons, which was 14.9 percent more than in 2010.
  • Total wastewater influent to the treatment plant was 147.6 million gallons, which was 5.8 percent less than in 2010. The associated treatment costs were $5.71 per 1,000 gallons, which was up 14.7 percent from 2010.
  • Donala’s customers used an estimated 54 percent of their water for irrigation or other outside uses, about the same as 2010.

Other matters

  • Mark Parker, Donala’s chief water operator, has been honored as the Colorado Rural Water Association’s (CRWA) Operator of the Year. The award was presented at the CRWA Annual Convention Feb. 15. Parker is responsible for the smooth operation of Donala’s 15 wells, two water treatment plants, and the distribution system. The district noted that one example of Parker’s dedication and professionalism was the way he operates the system to reduce the use of electricity during periods of peak demand on Mountain View Electric (MVEA). By being a power partner with MVEA, Donala has saved an average of $60,000 per year in electricity costs.
  • Susan McLean, the district’s conservation/landscape manager, has prepared a landscape brochure to be mailed to district customers in March. The district is encouraging residents to install xeriscaping to reduce irrigation water use.
  • During the three months from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31, the district’s $3.19 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.33 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 0.05 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 8.3 months. Davidson also separately manages $6.3 million in proceeds from the bond sale to be used to fund the infrastructure improvements needed to handle renewable water and $596,618 in a debt service reserve fund associated with the bond sale.
  • Duthie reported that the district is nearly ready to solicit bids for the first part of the infrastructure upgrades needed to transport larger amounts of renewable water from the southern part of the district to the northern parts. The initial work will install larger pumps at the Latrobe and Jessie facilities. That will be followed by installation of a new pipeline from the Jessie facilities up Baptist Road and upgrades to other pipelines in the district. The work is to be completed by the end of 2013.
  • Duthie reported that the City of Aurora has expressed interest in a water exchange arrangement involving water from the district’s Willow Creek Ranch near Leadville. Duthie noted that the benefit to the district would be about a 10 percent increase in the amount of water available for use by the district, but the arrangement would increase the complexity of the required periodic reports.
  • The wastewater treatment plant now has four operational blowers, but some have developed oil leaks. Rubber collars are to be installed to address the oil leaks.
  • Duthie reported on the Feb. 16 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. He noted that funding the transit loss model continues to be a focus of attention. Donala’s share of the cost for the model is $16,358 per year. Duthie said there is currently no benefit to the district because it does not have a customer for its share of the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant. Note: The transit loss model measures and records the amount of non-native Fountain Creek watershed stream flows owned by several municipalities and water districts. The amount of this water added to native stream flows by external sources, such as effluent from wastewater treatment facilities, can be exchanged or reused. The model calculates how much of the added water is lost.
  • Duthie announced a wounded warrior charity event March 8 called "Twelve Hours of Donala." The staff and board will exercise on the district’s three exercise machines from 6 am to 6 pm. Supporters can pledge an amount per mile achieved or make a fixed donation. Donala customers who donate at least $0.25 per mile or $30 will be entered into a drawing to win a free March water/sewer bill. For information or to make a pledge or donation, call the district office at 488-3603 or email jackies@donalawater.com. The winner of the drawing will be announced before the March bills are mailed.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting March 15 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of each month.

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

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 6: New police officer sworn in

Below: Monument’s newest police officer Ryan Schott with his wife Tracy and Tracy’s parents, Chari and Michael Leleck, in the foyer of Monument Town Hall after his swearing in by Lt. Steve Burk Feb. 6. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Police Department’s newest officer, Ryan Schott, was sworn in by Lt. Steve Burk at the Board of Trustees meeting Feb. 6. Schott’s wife, Tracy, and her parents, Michael and Chari Leleck, attended the ceremony.

Trustee Stan Gingrich was absent from the meeting.

In other matters, the board approved:

  • A resolution endorsing an updated Town of Monument Comprehensive Plan amendment for the I-25 Corridor Land Use Plan.
  • A resolution for GASB 54.
  • An ordinance addressing graffiti and graffiti abatement.
  • An ordinance adopting new regulations for pavement design and construction.

I-25 corridor plan endorsed

The Monument Planning Commission, which is responsible for the Town of Monument Comprehensive Plan, formally adopted the I-25 Gateway Corridor Plan amendment on Jan. 11. Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, asked the board to formally endorse the already approved corridor plan since the board had asked the staff to draft a plan that would preserve and enhance the corridor’s scenic qualities within Monument’s town boundaries, from County Line Road south to the northern boundary of the Air Force Academy.

A town I-25 corridor committee met on a regular basis from March 2010 to September 2011 to provide the staff with recommendations. The members were:

  • Mayor Pro Tem Rafael Dominguez
  • Trustee Rick Squires
  • Planning Commissioners Kathy Spence and Jim Fitzpatrick
  • Local architect Rick Barnes

Kassawara noted that he had asked the county Development Services Department and the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) to adopt the same standards for the county’s portion of the corridor between County Line Road and Highway 105 on the east side of I-25. However, the BOCC unanimously changed the zoning for nearly all county commercial properties over the past two years at the request of the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce’s "Barriers to Business" group of entrepreneurs to relax existing restrictions and promote commercial development. Nonetheless, Kassawara stated that the town’s corridor plan would help property values.

There was a lengthy discussion about:

  • Technical details of the town and county zoning plans.
  • Town, Triview Metropolitan District, and Lewis-Palmer School District 38 property taxes.
  • Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority road use fees.

Kassawara noted that none of the county commercial lots within the town’s proposed corridor lie within the boundary of the Woodmoor Improvement Association, so none of its covenants will apply to these county commercial lots.

Kassawara said Big R "was more than happy" to comply with the town’s corridors plan design guidelines for the new store the company will build on its new county lot on the northeast corner of the intersection of Struthers Road and Spanish Bit Drive, about a mile south of the King Soopers shopping center. Big R agreed to enhance the building’s architecture and screening to match the new town standards to be "good neighbors" to the adjacent Chaparral Hills residential lots.

Trustee Gail Drumm said that the restrictions in town commercial zoning regulations, such as "parking lot beautification," drove Big R away from building within town boundaries, causing a loss of sales tax revenue. Town Manager Cathy Green said that Big R had looked at locating at the former Foxworth Galbraith hardware store property, but shied away due to a dispute between the owners of the hardware store property and the owners of the adjacent vacant property to the east. Mayor Travis Easton stated that there were opposing views expressed by commercial developers at the BOCC hearing on relaxing county commercial zoning requirements.

The resolution of endorsement for the town’s I-25 corridor plan amendment was approved by a 5-1 vote, with Trustee Gail Drumm opposed.

Accounting standard approved

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented a resolution for the board to approve adoption of the General Accounting Standards Board (GASB) Statement No. 54, Fund Balance Reporting and Governmental Fund Type Definitions, for future audits. The GASB website summarizes Statement 54:

"The objective of this statement is to enhance the usefulness of fund balance information by providing clearer fund balance classifications that can be more consistently applied and by clarifying the existing governmental fund type definitions. This statement establishes fund balance classifications that comprise a hierarchy based primarily on the extent to which a government is bound to observe constraints imposed upon the use of the resources reported in governmental funds."

For more information see www.gasb.org/st/summary/gstsm54.html

The Journal of Accountancy states the following about the problem that GASB 54 addresses:

"Fund balance is an important measure that represents the difference between a fund’s assets and liabilities. The overall objective of fund balance reporting is to isolate that portion of fund balance that is unavailable to support the following period’s budget.

"Because governmental funds’ measurement focus is the flow of financial resources, the balance sheet primarily reports assets and liabilities that represent net spendable and available resources for these funds. In many ways, fund balance represents working capital, which can either be used as a liquidity reserve or for spending in future years.

"Many state and local governments are experiencing revenue shortfalls and are facing difficult decisions in balancing their budgets. One option some governments have is to use a portion of fund balance to offset revenue declines and balance the current-year budget. However, not all amounts reported as part of fund balance are available to be used in a future budget."

For more information see www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2009/Nov/20091713.htm.

Smith said she had always followed the policies formalized in GASB 54 and would continue to do so. The board unanimously approved Smith’s resolution.

Graffiti abatement ordinance approved

Burk stated, "Graffiti is not a major problem in town, and it’s nice to have a tool in the box to attend to it when it happens" to quickly move forward to abate it. He added wording to amend the proposed ordinance that addressed the department’s concerns, defining "reasonable measures in a reasonable amount of time" and "reasonable hours" for police officers to take action for documenting graffiti on private property. Town Attorney Gary Shupp concurred on Burk’s proposed amendment and proposed wording concerning the failure to abate graffiti.

Green said getting rid of graffiti in less than 24 hours is "so important," otherwise "it’s a free-for-all." She added that if property owners could not afford to abate the graffiti, the town’s Public Works Department would provide assistance.

After a lengthy technical discussion of a variety of potential scenarios, the ordinance was approved by a 5-1 vote. Trustee Jeff Kaiser was opposed due to concerns that victims might be punished by a change in policy by future town code enforcement officers.

Pavement ordinance approved

Kassawara noted that the town’s asphalt pavement design code was "very archaic" and needed the addition of "standards by reference" to make updating by the staff simpler. The sidewalk standard width will be increased from four feet to five feet. There was a lengthy discussion of the technical aspects of the advantages of porous asphalt pavement, including how its enhanced drainage allows for minimizing or, in some cases, eliminating the need for stormwater detention, particularly in icing weather. The Housing and Building Association had no comments on the proposal.

The pavement ordinance was unanimously approved.

The board also unanimously approved an annual renewal of the liquor license for Chili’s Grill & Bar in the Monument Marketplace on Jackson Creek Parkway.

Financial reports

The board approved four payments over $5,000:

  • $126,762 to Triview Metro District for November sales tax ($115,379), December motor vehicle tax ($5,271) and Regional Building sales tax ($113)
  • $5,231 to Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments for 2012 annual dues
  • $22,316 to CIRSA Insurance for first-quarter workers’ compensation insurance
  • $14,167 to CIRSA Insurance for first-quarter liability insurance

Smith briefed the board on her November and December financial reports and her October and November sales tax reports. They were unanimously accepted. She also noted that the town audit for 2011 will be conducted in May and that the December financial report would be updated as 2011 town billing and payments are concluded.

Staff reports and updates

Shupp reported that the Brody vs. Monument case regarding the location of sidewalks and curbs on the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Third and Front Streets is the oldest case on Judge Price’s court docket. Robert Brody has been in Florida with health-related issues and the court has set a deadline of March for the case to move forward or be dismissed.

Kassawara, Green, and Easton all stated that the town and county development services staffs have a better working relationship because of increased interactions.

Acting Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said that water pumping issues continue with Triview, and snow removal went well.

Burk noted that the next Rape Aggression Defense class offered by the Police Department would begin on Feb. 9. This is a 12-hour class that has proven to be very popular and effective. He also discussed some recent burglaries in Jackson Creek resulting from access to unlocked cars with garage door openers. He recommended removing personal property, including garage door openers, from cars that are parked outdoors.

Green discussed Second Street angled parking. She noted that the Historic Monument Merchants Association is "100 percent against" elimination of angled parking, there is no record of traffic accidents resulting from people backing out of these spaces, and that in the past the town has actually considered adding angled parking on the north side of the street.

Trustee Tommie Plank said that angled parking is used by customers of the Chapala Building as well as Shani’s Café and association members want angled parking retained when Second Street is upgraded.

Dominguez said that business owners are not concerned about public safety. Plank replied that it would be foolish for business owners to neglect public safety and that there has not been a problem in the 19 years she has operated her bookstore. Shupp concurred that angled parking has not been a public safety issue and there should not be any town liability.

Green said that the sidewalks on Second Street need to be widened, which would require a conversion to parallel parking.

Green noted that town recycling bins have filled up so quickly that they will have to be emptied more often to prevent overflowing. She recommended removing the dumpsters on Jackson Creek Parkway due to dumping of mattresses. Installing larger dumpsters at the Conoco filling station would be very expensive.

Green said that the Triview board was happy with the town’s proposed intergovernmental agreements for providing services to Triview at a direct cost for payroll. Triview will be hiring its own employees and a district manager.

The meeting adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

************

Note: The Feb. 20 meeting was cancelled.

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 5 at Town Hall, 645 Second St. Meetings are normally held the first and third Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council combined workshop and regular meeting, Feb. 9: Three business licenses approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 9, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved three new business licenses. Mayor John Cressman welcomed back Trustee Nikki McDonald from her brief absence for her second hip replacement surgery.

Water Trustee Max Stafford was absent from the meeting.

Margaret McCord applied for a new business license for McCord Property Services, a retail landscape company to be located in the Tri-Lakes Service Center at 780 Highway 105. They will sell annuals, perennials, some shrubs, and typical garden supplies.

Melinda Barnhart and Shellie Costain applied for a new license for The Urban Cottage, a resale shop for furniture and home décor to be located in the West End Center at 755 Highway 105.

Jason Sawerbrey applied for a new license for the U-Haul, Games, and Cards Store to be located at 790 Highway 105 Suite C. Sawerbrey said he and his wife are expanding their existing U-Haul/games business in Fountain by opening a second store in this new location. They will have retail sales of board, card, miniature, and table-top games for all ages and hold tournaments for these activities. They will add U-Haul rentals as a side business with "about four trucks and four trailers at the most."

Committee reports

Cressman reported that the town is running well after recently reducing the size of the staff due to revenue constraints. He said he appreciated how hard "you guys are all working." Town Hall rental has been increased to $50 per hour.

Park Trustee Gary Coleman said several parks projects would start in the spring with warmer weather and that the town is pursuing grant money to help fund these.

Economic Development Trustee Mike Maddox listed a number of successful events at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. For more information, see www.TriLakesArts.org.

Police Trustee McDonald discussed the detailed police activity report. Four traffic summonses were issued and three DUI arrests were made by the Palmer Lake Police Department in January.

Cressman reported that the town’s new water treatment plant is operational, the contractors have completed their work, and 3.39 million gallons of potable water were produced in January. He also reported a variety of routine winter repair activities in the roads report.

Fire Trustee Rich Kuester reported 35 calls for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department in January. Firefighter David Carr was appointed to the D Shift lieutenant position. The first department awards night dinner was a success.

The town’s accountant, Linda Ousnamer of Pencil Pusher Inc., gave an overview of town finances. Most departments were under budget, while the Police Department had spent 10.4 percent of their budget compared to the planned 8.3 percent. The auditors will present the 2011 audit to the council in June.

Town Clerk Tara Berreth expressed concern about the possible effects of heavy semi and dump trucks for gas and oil fracking operations near Mount Herman on town residential streets like Rock Ridge Road and Suncrest Road.

During public comment, Tri-Lakes Views representative Betty Konarski asked for a donation of $250 from the town for her group’s program of installing pedestals on pads for outdoor art displays as well as benches and walkways. She said Town of Palmer Lake and Town of Monument donations are critical for becoming more eligible for grants that will help make "the Tri-Lakes region a special place to visit." The board unanimously approved the requested donation.

The meeting adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 8 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Feb. 22: Station 2 grand opening March 24; public invited

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 22, Chief Vinny Burns announced at the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting that the district would hold a grand opening at 11 a.m. on March 24 for its new Station 2 and dedication of the building in honor of the late Chief Jeff Edwards, who was so instrumental in getting this station built. The new station is located at 15505 Highway 83, which is on the northeast corner of the Stagecoach Road intersection.

The public is invited, and carpooling to this event is encouraged. Additional information on parking for the dedication and grand opening will be available on the Wescott home page at www.wescottfire.org later this month.

Chief’s report

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings reported 138 calls in January, up from 109 in January 2011. He reminded the board that it has not been a full year since Wescott implemented its "closest response" policy and started responding to calls in Jackson Creek for Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire Protection District, which has increased the amount of emergency service Wescott now provides.

Ridings passed around "job-well-done" cards from several families thanking the district for its help during serious medical emergency responses that involved transport to local hospitals.

Burns stated that he had offered to store the Pikes Peak Firefighter Association’s REHAB vehicles that provide food and refreshment throughout the region during structure fires and similar kinds of incidents. The REHAB vehicles had been stored in a Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District garage that will be torn down. The vehicles will now be stored in Wescott Station 3 on Sun Hills Drive. Wescott will receive reimbursement from REHAB for half of the utilities used by the building.

Station 3 will continue to be available for the current groups of scout, homeowners associations, Red Cross, and other organizations’ meetings that use the station’s "community room." The REHAB organization will also hold its monthly training meeting at Station 3.

Designated election official appointed

The board unanimously approved a resolution for appointment and authorization of designated elected official Cheryl Marshall for the May district election. Marshall is the district’s administrative assistant.

Construction update

Final construction for Station 2 is being wrapped up without difficulty. When the Certificate of Occupancy is issued, the Wismer family will deed over the 5-acre lot to the district. The county Planning Commission gave final approval for the rezoning and subdivision of the Station 2 lot on Feb. 8.

There is about $35,000 of non-construction contract work remaining to be completed that will be paid from the station’s contingency fund. Burns noted that the original estimate for building the new station was $3.3 million. The actual cost, due in part to the land donation by David and Mary Wismer as well as careful management throughout the design-build process, has kept the total building construction cost within the revised $2 million budget.

Ridings stated that the new assistant chief’s Ford pickup truck was to be shipped on Feb. 23. It should be delivered by mid-March after repainting and installation of radios, lights, and other special equipment.

The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on March 21 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Feb. 22: Family thankful for saving home

Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Shift "A" members thanked by the Cash family for saving their home from major damage are, from left, firefighter Steve Monroe, driver engineer Keegan Black, driver engineer Chris Riggs, paramedic Steve Peters, driver engineer "B" Moberg, Lt. Max Mabrey, (not visible in the rear, paramedic Patrick Daugherty,) Lt. Tracey Stapley, paramedic Erin Lamb-Smith, firefighter Kristina Topp, and Battalion Chief Mike Dooley.

Below: From left, Linda Cash, son Milo, and Shawn Cash came to the February board meeting to express thanks to Shift "A".

By Bernard L. Minetti

Shawn and Linda Cash and their son, Milo, attended the Feb. 22 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District to thank the district for protecting their home during a recent fire. The Cash family said Shift "A" used outstanding firefighting techniques and effort that saved their home from major damage. The fire had started in their garage and was spreading toward the house. Through the efforts of these firefighters, damage was minimized.

District Treasurer John Hildebrandt stated that the district had received $149 in property tax revenue in January and that major revenue would be received at the end of February. The district had received $22,858 or 9.17 percent of the budgeted specific ownership tax revenue for the year. Ambulance revenues received were $50,994 or 9.27 percent of the annual budgeted amount.

Hildebrandt noted that administrative expenses were slightly over budget due to payment of liability insurance and maintenance contracts. He also advised the board that there were three paydays in January instead of the normal two. Expenses for January were at 11.45 percent of the annual budgeted amount, or 3.12 percent over budget for the month.

A resolution to deal with unpaid ambulance bills was introduced for consideration. It was noted in the resolution that bankruptcy, Medicare, Medicaid, and the Colorado Indigent Care Program were the primary causes of the nonpayments. The resolution allows for the monthly write-off of these nonpayments. It will be voted on at the March meeting.

District Fire Chief Robert Denboske reported on the annual statistics for fire rescue. He reported that total responses numbered 2,013 in 2008, 2,075 in 2009, 2,051 in 2010, and 1,840 in 2011. A total of 887 calls were for medical needs in 2011.

Denboske said that total personnel training hours conducted by the district totaled 4,258.9 in 2011. Fire/All Hazard Specific training hours amounted to 2,745. EMS specific hours totaled 1,246.3 and physical fitness hours totaled 267.4.

Denboske also said Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman had resigned his position to take a post with another fire district. A replacement had not yet been assigned. In 2011, the fire marshal conducted 30 commercial plan reviews of various types and 28 new home plan reviews. The marshal conducted 423 commercial fire inspections in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 141 in Palmer Lake, and nine in the Donald Wescott district. Public education events totaled 36 and consisted of car seat checks, station/truck tours, and community events.

A new uniform policy was introduced that included changes to uniform benefits that were considered to be more economical and more practical for inclusion in the district. These changes will be reviewed and voted upon at the March meeting.

The meeting was then closed for executive session to determine board positions on matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategy for negotiations, and instructing negotiators.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 28, 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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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Feb. 22: Board sets priorities, presents award

Below: Former Director of Forestry Carolyn Streit-Carey is awarded the 2011 Vincent Elorie Award for Outstanding Citizenship by board President Jim Hale. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The newly formed Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Board of Directors met to discuss priorities for the year on Feb. 22.

President Jim Hale listed his priorities as follows:

  • Complete approval process for the revised covenants.
  • Complete and approve the revised Design Standards Manual.
  • Create a strategic plan for the community with the help of a consultant, including updating the association’s reserve policy.
  • Increase communication between homeowners and the association through the use of social networking technology.

Hale said he attended the recent meeting regarding the Doewood Gate and said that work in that area should be completed by June. Some landscaping work will be done to make the area look more natural, and parts of two lots will be returned to their original owners in Woodmoor and Doewood Estates.

Hale presented the Vincent Elorie Award for Outstanding Citizenship to Carolyn Streit-Carey, former director of forestry and longtime member of the Forestry Committee. She was active in planning annual Firewise community days and training forestry monitors. She previously served on the Architectural Control Committee.

Homeowners association Manager Matt Beseau reported that training of new members of the board is underway. He also reported that 800 signatures are still needed for approval of the covenants. Where email addresses are known, monthly messages were being sent to those who had not voted.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association is on track for the first month of the new year.

Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that there is provision in the 2012 budget for the purchase of a new patrol vehicle. He said the WIA uses the state’s bid process for purchase of vehicles, thereby saving about $6,000 off the MSRP. The board passed a motion authorizing Nielsen to seek a new vehicle, with expenditure not to exceed $28,000, and to sell a used vehicle.

Beseau, reporting for Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis, said that there were seven projects during January, including a deck, fences, reroofing, and a satellite dish. He said that the committee would submit its draft of the new design manual to the board before its next meeting.

Hale said that he would like to call a special meeting of the board to review the manual and that he would like the membership to have access to it on the association website before its approval.

Forestry Director Eric Gross reported that he has been meeting with former Director Jim Woodman on activities and responsibilities of the committee. There have been no lot evaluations during the winter season.

Woodman will remain chairman of the Firewise Committee and will head the planning process for the Firewise Community Day.

Gross said that, due to the increase in the cost of water in the community, there may be more widespread die-off of trees as homeowners economize.

Director of Common Areas W. Lee Murray reported that the association continues to make improvements to the barn, such as:

  • A new rack for storing tables has been built into the meeting room so it is no longer necessary to bring them up and down the stairs for events.
  • A leak in the ceiling has been repaired for the second time at no additional cost.
  • Some of the siding is cracked and possibly allowing water to leak between the interior and exterior walls of the barn. This will be investigated after snow season.

The board briefly discussed concerns about snow removal in the community. Gross said that members have contacted him about safety issues such as ice on major roads well after snow has fallen.

Gross said that only two Woodmoor roads—Furrow and Higby Roads—are considered to be first priorities. Snow plowing is the responsibility of the county, not the WIA, so the county should be contacted about problems. Perhaps if enough people call it will improve the service, he said.

Nielsen said that he and Public Safety Director Paul Lambert met with the county Department of Transportation in 2003 to try to change priorities. Salt and sand are limited to steep grades and curves.

**********

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, in Monument. The next meeting will be held on March 22.

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

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

February was wet and cold around the region as several snowfalls, including heavy snow at the beginning of the month, led to near record snow totals for the month. Temperatures were well below normal, with no real warming.

After a warm and dry January, winter made a return appearance during the first week of February with record-setting snowfall across the region and chilly temperatures. You wouldn’t have expected it after the first day of the month, when temperatures reached the mid-40s under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies that day. Clouds continued to increase, however, through the afternoon and evening, and by the morning of the 2nd it was cloudy. This was associated with a strong area of lift (low pressure from the surface through about 20,000 feet) moving into the region from the Intermountain West then over the Four Corners and into northern New Mexico.

As this low pressure continued to slowly move into the region, the air pressure over the Front Range and Eastern Plains of Colorado began to fall. This opened the door for moisture from the Gulf of Mexico to enter the region (remember: air flows from high to low, just like water). At the same time, cold air was moving into the state from the north. All these factors led to a record-setting snowfall for much of the region for this time of the year.

Light snow and flurries began to fall off and on over the Palmer Divide during the daylight hours on the 2nd, then began to pick up in intensity overnight. Snow continued to fall, heavily at times, on the 3rd and winds began to kick up as well. Heavy snow and wind continued off and on through early on the 4th when the storm finally began to clear out of the region.

When the snow finally ended, most of us had received 15 to 20 inches of new snow, eclipsing our normal monthly average in one storm. Some areas, especially in southern Elbert and northeastern El Paso counties, picked up closer to 30 inches of snow, while several foothill communities in Douglas, Jefferson, Boulder, and Gilpin counties received 40 to 50 inches.

Snow amounts this high are not uncommon for us in March and April, but very rare in early February, normally one of our driest times of the year. As would be expected with such a strong storm, temperatures were cold, not reaching above freezing from the afternoon of the 2nd through the rest of the weekend.

Wintry conditions continued during the week of the 6th around the region. Temperatures remained below average as the abundant snowpack from the previous weekend’s snowstorm helped keep temperatures down. Several weak disturbances also affected the area, mainly bringing snow to the mountains and light accumulations for us. Highs continued to hold below freezing on the 6th and 7th, keeping a streak going that started on the afternoon of the 2nd. A couple of inches of new snowfall accumulated over the two days as well.

A brief break from the cold took over on the 8th, with highs reaching the low 40s that afternoon. Cooler air moved back in over the next couple of days, with a few flurries and highs in the 30s. A quick push of Arctic air made an appearance starting late on the 10th and holding steady through the morning of the 12th. Temperatures struggled to reach the mid-teens on the 11th, with plenty of fog, low clouds, and flurries giving all the exposed surfaces a layer of rime ice. This air mass was pushed out of the region on the 12th and temperatures quickly rebounded to the low and mid-40s that afternoon.

Unsettled conditions with below-normal temperatures stuck around during the week of the 12th. High temperatures bounced between the low 30s and low 40s during the week as several quick-moving systems affected the region. Low clouds and fog started off the morning of the 12th, as a shallow Arctic air mass hung on for a few hours before being pushed out of the region later that morning. Temperatures jumped into the low 40s that afternoon. Cooler air worked back in the next morning, with brief snow and graupel showers that afternoon.

Clear skies greeted us for the 14th and temperatures warmed back into the low 40s. Low clouds and fog, along with cooler temperatures, again returned for the 15th, then quiet and clear conditions returned for the 16th and 17th. But again this was short-lived, as another quick moving system dropped a dusting of snow during the early morning hours of the 18th, with quiet weather again returning for the 19th. It was quite a roller coaster of a ride weather-wise during the week, and we can expect more of the same as we continue to head closer to spring.

Two shots of snow pushed monthly totals to near record levels during the last week of the month. The first brought a couple of inches to the region during the early morning hours of the 20th, with brief heavy snow and blowing snow making for an icy morning commute. Temperatures stayed below freezing that day as well. Sunshine and mild conditions quickly returned over the next few days, and high temperatures reached the low 50s for the first time in the month on the afternoon of the 22nd.

Winds were also gusty at times, which will continue to be a more common occurrence as we head into spring. Wind gusts over 80 mph were recorded on the west side of I-25 around the Air Force Academy during the morning hours of the 22nd. This windy, mild, and dry weather also helped to melt the substantial snowpack around the area, but it was short-lived as a quick-moving but powerful storm system roared through the area around 3 a.m. on the 23rd. Snow fell heavily for several hours that morning and continued off and on through the early evening.

Winds were also strong, causing significant blowing and drifting.

Many areas picked up another 4 to 8 inches of new snow, pushing some monthly totals in the area above the 30-inch mark, a pretty rare occurrence for what is normally one of our driest months of the year. Temperatures were cold that day as well, with the high temperature reached at midnight and daytime temperatures struggling to reach the mid-20s. Clear skies that evening and through the next morning combined with the fresh snowpack to allow temperatures to quickly plummet.

Morning lows on the 24th reached below zero in the normal cold spots around the region. But, as is often the case this time of the year, the cold air was quickly replaced by mild conditions as the stronger sun angle is now much more efficient at melting snow and warming the air. Temperatures reached into the low 50s the very next afternoon and, as winds again picked up, much of the snow melted over the last few days of the month.

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and a blizzard the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30 to 50 inches of snow that shut down the region. However, snow that does fall begins to quickly melt this time of the year, providing beneficial moisture for our plants and limited inconvenience for us.

February 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 36.2° (-3.1°) 100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 12.3° (-0.9) 100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 51° on the 22nd
Lowest Temperature -2° on the 24th
Monthly Precipitation 1.84" (+1.03" 66% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.10" min 0.02"
Monthly Snowfall 29.8" (+16.5", 65% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 85.4" (+15.0", 18% above normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 14.87" (+2.13", 15% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1206 (+120)
Cooling Degree Days 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

Our Community News welcomes letters to the editor on topics of general interest. The OCN editorial board has established a policy that we do not knowingly print letters that have appeared in substantially the same form elsewhere. Please identify your submission as a letter to the editor and include your full name, home address, and day and evening phone numbers. A limit of 300 words is recommended. Letters may be edited for length, grammar, and accuracy. Send your letter to editor@ocn.me or mail to Our Community News, P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742. In response to problems receiving e-mail, if you send your letter by e-mail, we will send an e-mail acknowledgement. If you do not receive an acknowledgement, please call Susan Hindman at 481-8511 to confirm that we have received your letter.

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

Zero Tolerance robs students of education

While shopping at Monument Marketplace the other day, I separately conversed with two former students. Although they were different in almost every way, both had either been suspended or expelled from school after making bad, nonviolent, "kid" choices. Both were currently struggling to complete high school and, at age 19, had about half the number of credit hours required to graduate. They were also both victims of the Zero Tolerance Policy: an approach to discipline that we now know produces the opposite outcome from what was originally designed.

Zero Tolerance allows administrators to hide behind the community’s worst fears in order to avoid the difficult and complex investigations and analyses of behaviors and choices made by children and adolescents. The research is overwhelming that the goals of Zero Tolerance have little to do with changing the behavior of students who make the mistakes. It is about getting the "bad seeds" out so the rest can achieve. There are no major studies that show Zero Tolerance works to improve the achievement of those punished or those remaining in the classroom.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has been the unfortunate recipient of negative attention by the press, including a front page Denver Post article regarding Zero Tolerance. It was clear that the Post reporters had done their homework. How Zero Tolerance is administered is a district choice, and this is certainly not just a D-38 issue. Research is clear. Suspensions and, especially, expulsion of students is the single factor that puts these students at risk for not graduating from high school.

Our district has made national news and has been accused of making poor administrative decisions based on knee-jerk reactions that undermine our students’ education. Don’t our students and parents deserve more from our school decision makers?

Stephen Boyd

District 38 must retain more students

In the spring of 2011, D-38 Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman invited me to participate in a study group. We examined why students who live in the D-38 community enroll in school districts outside their parents’ residence. We briefed our findings to the D-38 school board. Bottom line: Parents "choose" other schools districts because they provide a better fit for their families.

The historical data revealed that since 2006, D-38 students have elected to "choice out" of our district of academic distinction into another district, mostly D-20, in alarming numbers. Today, those numbers show some improvement. The Oct. 1, 2011, enrollment data is now available on the Colorado Department of Education’s website. For D-38, this year’s net result of students who "choice in" compared to students who "choice out" is minus 293, down from a high last year of minus 344. Improvement yes, but the numbers are still on the negative side.

How are other school districts faring? Cheyenne Mountain D-12—most similar to D-38 in size, demographics, budget, programs, and performance—is a plus 1,045. (D-12 does not provide bus service.)

We must get on the plus side of this equation. The new contract with Monument Academy, a premier Colorado charter school, and D-38’s new homeschool program are finally steps in the right direction. We applaud these efforts and more for families to support their neighborhood schools.

Direction 38!, a grassroots organization, supports "school choice" and regards parents as the authority in their children’s education. We raised awareness of these and other options at our 2011 "Get Educated" summer series. If you missed last year’s forums, please plan to attend the June, July, and August 2012 events. Student assessment, school choice, school reform and innovation, STEM, and much more will be covered. Check out Direction 38!’s website, www.lpd38.org.

Ana Konduris
President, Direction 38!

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Creative children’s classics

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Children’s picture books are a delight to read, while the creative illustrations give a glimpse into the world of art and imagination. Some of the best new volumes and longtime classics are listed below.

I Want My Hat Back
By Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press) $15.99

A bear has lost his hat. What if he never sees it again? Wait! He has seen his hat. As the bear wanders through the forest asking all the animals about his hat, youngsters will delight in helping to solve the mystery.

Harold and the Purple Crayon
By Crockett Johnson (HarperCollins) $16.99

One evening, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. But there wasn’t any moon. Fortunately, he had his purple crayon, so he drew a moon. He needed something to walk on, so he drew a path…. And thus begins one of the most imaginative adventures in all of children’s books. This beloved story has intrigued children for generations, as page-by-page reveals the dramatic and clever adventures of Harold and his purple crayon.

If You Give a Dog a Donut
By Laura Numeroff (Harper Collins) $16.99

If you give a dog a donut, he’ll ask for some apple juice to go with it. He’ll drink up all the juice, and before you can say "Woof," Dog is off on an adventure. In the irresistible "If You Give …" tradition, one thing leads to another until you delightfully end up back at the beginning.

Otto the Book Bear
By Katie Cleminson (Hyperion Books) $16.99

Otto lives in a book and is happiest when children are reading his story. But Otto has a secret: When no one is looking, he comes to life! Otto loves to walk out of his pages and has a wonderful time exploring the house—until one day when his book is taken away, and he is left behind. Young children will be enchanted as the delightful illustrations allow them to follow Otto in his search for a new home.

Be Quiet, Mike!
By Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick Press) $14.99

Here is the story of a monkey named Mike, who’s been drumming nonstop ever since he was a tyke. He wants to be loud, but he’s told to be quiet. He wants a drum set, but he just can’t buy it. Yet Mike finds a way, and the delightful illustrations will find their way into the reader’s heart.

All Kinds of Kisses
By Nancy Tafuri (Little, Brown & Co.) $16.99

All around the farm, animal families snuggle up with their little ones, offering them warmth and love. Following a mama bird on her journey back to the nest, Tafuri uses beautiful, inviting illustrations to share how different creatures show their love and affection in a heartfelt homage to all the wonderful kinds of kisses in the world.

Llama, Llama Red Pajama
By Anna Dewdney (Viking) $16.99

A bedtime story, a goodnight kiss, and Mama Llama turns off the light. But is everything all right? No! At least Baby Llama doesn’t think so, and soon his whimpers and hollers bring Mama back. Warm, fuzzy, and very funny, this classic is sure to bring smiles of recognition to children and parents.

Tops & Bottoms
By Janet Stevens (Harcourt Books) $17

Bear has lots of land, but he’s lazy. When Hare suggests that if Bear donates land, he will do the labor, and they will split the crop in half, Bear agrees. All he has to do is choose the half he wants—tops or bottoms. Sleepy Bear takes tops but finds once the harvest is in that clever Hare has tricked him.

Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
By Richard Scarry (Random House) $14.99

Illustrated in Scarry’s signature style, this book tells the humorous story of the Pig family’s trip to the beach and the hundreds of vehicles they pass along the way. Children will love poring over the pages—and wondering where Goldbug will turn up next.

Reading with children can be joyful, or just plain fun. Meanwhile, happy memories that pass from generation to generation are created along the way.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Migration and the chimney swift

Click here or on the painting to zoom in.

Below: Painting of Chimney Swifts by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawingto zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

While it may not feel like spring to us humans, birds recognize it! When daylight hours increase and the weather begins to warm, birds recognize the signs of spring and they start to move. Many species that winter in the lower latitudes have already begun their long and arduous annual migration north.

Migration routes

The four major migration routes include the Atlantic, Mississippi, Central, and Pacific flyways. Within the major flyways are many corridors. Some birds fly the same route their ancestors followed while others, like the waxwings, are nomadic, but they all need sources of food and water.

The Tri-lakes area is situated along the Front Range corridor of the Central flyway. In a good year, 400 or more bird species might migrate along this corridor. Will you see them in your yard? Possibly yes and maybe no. Some species, like finches, sparrows, grosbeaks, and humming birds, are drawn to feeders, and while they’re flighty during migration, they will interface with humans. Other birds, like the tanager, avoid contact with humans and rarely take seeds from a feeder.

Why do birds migrate?

The two primary reasons birds migrate are for food and to reproduce. As seasons change, so does the food supply. Summer in the northern latitudes provides birds with a rich supply of insects and other sources of protein necessary for reproduction. Flowering plants provide nectar, fruit, and seeds that birds need to build stores of energy, or fat, in preparation for fall migration.

One example is the broad-tailed hummingbird, which begins to arrive on the Divide in late March when there are few if any flowers. It survives on insects that provide the protein it needs to mate and reproduce. Later in the summer when flowers are readily available, it stays busy eating nectar to build up fat reserves in preparation for its long migration, which includes a non-stop flight over portions of the Gulf of Mexico.

Finding migrating birds

Wind, rain, snow, and ice can ground flocks of birds, and I’m always on the lookout for those birds that otherwise wouldn’t stop here. To find these birds, it helps to understand when they migrate and their preferred habitat.

Night-time fliers

For reasons unknown, a long list of birds migrate at night including wood warblers, sparrows, swifts, buntings, nightjars, and owls. It is thought that flocks of smaller songbirds prefer the cool still night air and use the daytime hours to rest and feed. But other birds like snow geese that migrate during the day also will fly at night if the conditions are right. In the 1950s, German ornithologists Franz and Eleanor Sauer determined that birds use the stars to navigate but they also use visual landmarks like coasts, mountains, and rivers.

On clear spring (and fall) nights, I bundle up and go outside to listen for birds on the fly. If there is a bright moon, I’ll set up my viewing scope, but truthfully I’m guided by sound. When weather turns bad, I may go to one of the lakes or the Santa Fe Trail to look for birds that were forced to land. But if I’m lucky, they’ll land in my yard.

Daytime fliers

High fliers and heavier birds like hawks, geese, and cranes utilize thermal air currents to migrate during the day. Rising air currents allow big birds to glide, saving energy because they don’t have to flap their wings as often. If flying in the direction of the wind, birds fly high in the sky. If, on the other hand, they are flying into a headwind, they fly at low altitudes, sometimes just above the surface.

Birds such as the swallow and the swift feed on insects while flying during the day, but they also fly at night. Swallows generally fly low over the water, dipping and turning to grab an insect. Swifts tend to fly high and out of sight. I only see them on a foggy day or when there is an inversion.

Chimney swift

In March, the swift begins it long journey from the Amazon Basin of Peru to North America. It flies night and day, resting only occasionally during periods of inclement weather. It arrives here sometime between late March and mid-April.

Description

The chimney swift is an obscure, small, sooty gray bird that resembles a swallow. It has a stumpy cigar-shaped body, stiff sharp wings, and a short bristly tail. Swifts have tiny legs and are unable to perch or stand upright like other songbirds. They use their tail bristles and sharp claws to climb up and cling to surfaces.

Swifts feed solely on insects while flying. They are tireless fliers, have abundant energy, and rarely land. On cloudy days when insects remain near the ground, swifts will dip down and glide over a pond to feed among the twittering swallows.

Nesting

The chimney swift begins to build a nest in late May. Nests resemble a hammock built of dried twigs that the swift snaps off a tree as it flies to the nest. Male and female work together to build a strong saucer-shaped nest using their glutinous saliva to "cement" the twigs together and adhere the nest to a vertical surface. Pre-settlement nests were located inside of a hollowed-out tree, but today most nests are found on the inside wall of a chimney.

The female lays up to five eggs. Both parents incubate the eggs for three weeks. The chicks hatch pink and naked, but even before their pin feathers poke through their flesh, the chicks are climbing the walls of the chimney. Within a month the chick will fledge the nest, join a flock, and begin to prepare for their long flight back to Peru.

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

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Art Matters: Art for March: We’re taking it personally

By Janet Sellers

All over the world, not to mention locally, the artisan handmade trend is absolutely booming. The consumerism glut is upon us, and people are taking back their personal need for originality and personal exchange.

Most all of us have been increasingly using our electronic tools to connect to the outside world, getting instant information, instant facts, instant images, instant anything to hear or observe as a spectator. Yet, in the big news for small places, CNN and other news agencies report people are looking for more and more creative endeavors to do themselves, because they wish to experience handmade arts firsthand—and locally—and the handmade arts industry is responding with endless options. We are certainly taking back our person-hood in the form of the human touch in art and things we wish to have with us.

Even the impersonal electronic online venues offer a big reception for the handmade experience. Etsy, an online community of artisans for handmade arts and crafts and vintage items, reported $69.8 million of goods were sold by its community in December 2011, 12.9 percent more than November’s $61.8 million (2010 sales for the entire year were $70 million). More than just a business opportunity online, Etsy, along with brick-and-mortar handmade artisan venues, looks to change the way our economy works. Their focus is on person-to-person, original exchanges.

Along with our usual plethora of sunny days here in our area, we must admit it’s been a season of very cold weather in our town lately. Does art warm up our lives? I like to think art and artists do. The human touch warms the soul in a cold climate, be it social or weather-related.

It restores us knowing that somebody put the pencil to the paper, the brushstrokes on the canvas, or that someone put a visual thought in photography for us to see and enjoy. That may be why art, art venues, and especially public art are having such a big comeback in our lives.

With the original works of art here in our town, the first-hand experience is right there for us to see with our eyes, or we can pick it up, hold it, we can feel it with our own hands or at least get an eye-to-eye impression of the genuine article.

Here in our neck of the woods—and hills—we have some pretty nice opportunities to take in such handmade, personal imagery up close and, of course, to purchase and take it home as well. Go ahead, take a look for yourself and see!

March local art shows and a call for artists

Monument Branch Library: 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive Monument. Palmer Divide Quilters will have its annual quilt exhibition at the library, this year marking their 11th year for the library show location. The show goes up March 3 and will be on view through March 30. It’s a visual treat for the entire month, with art quilts on every wall and even hanging from the rafters.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts: 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Visions of Light juried photo exhibit opening reception Saturday, March 3, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Features 90 images by 39 photographers. Runs through March 24.

The mission of the 2012 Visions of Light exhibition is to challenge photographers to go beyond producing a technically correct photographic image and demonstrate their use and/or control of light to help define the subject. The light can be natural, manmade, or a combination that enhances the impact, drama, emotion, composition, and/or message of the image.

Tri-Lakes Views call for artists: The annual ArtSites, a public art showcase in the Tri-Lakes area public outdoor art exhibit showcasing sculpture, is inviting artists to participate for the 2012 season. The exhibition offers sculpture on pedestals that have been installed around the community and in the newly established Monument Sculpture Park at Big Red, School District 38’s administration building.

The exhibit is on display for one year and is featured in the annual ARTSites map which is distributed to restaurants, hotels, and shops throughout the area. Artists receive a $300 stipend for each piece accepted by the jury. Entries must be received by March 10 and must include digital images of the entries along with title, material, size and value of each piece and name, address, phone and e-mail of the artist. For details visit www.trilakesviews.org.

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

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Snapshots of Our Community

February Exhibits at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

Photos by Janet Sellers.

Below: Photography artist "B". Davis and TCLA Gallery Chair Marianne Gunter view Davis’ exhibition at the reception for his show, which filled the main gallery of the art center for the month of February. Davis’ works included over sized specialty prints digitally enhanced to his unique color palette. Using the traditional color photography basis, Davis’ work works with effective yet non traditional colors that juxtapose the usual with the unusual colors in imagery.

Below: Cathy Rapp, photographer, stands with her recent February exhibit of traditional photography in the Lucy Owens Gallery of the Tri Lake Center for the Arts.

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PLAG show and sale, Feb. 3

Photo by David Futey.

Below: Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) held an art and show sale in the West End Center. PLAG members Lorry Frederick, left, and Margarete Seagraves are shown with some of the works for sale: fiber art, jewelry, photography, paintings, and glasswork. Besides the sale, PLAG members offered demonstrations on painting techniques and glass works. A portion of the sale proceeds went to PLAG’s District 38 art scholarship fund. David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

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Cops for Kids fundraiser for Parker Ebaugh, Feb. 11

Photos by Krystle Fildes.

Below: Otis Shaw and Michael Barclay played as one of three live bands for the event.

Below: Denver Broncos cheerleader Tristan Dear poses for a picture with her adoring fan, Kaelyn Gerlach of Palmer Lake.

Below: From left to right, Marie and Bob Schubert, Parker’s grandparents, and Angie Morris, Parker’s aunt, smile for a family photo.

By Krystle Fildes

For the second year in a row, the Monument Cops for Kids organization held a fundraiser for Parker Ebaugh, a 2-year-old boy who was born with aniridia, a rare condition in which the iris is missing from an eye. It has caused total blindness for Parker in one eye and glaucoma in the other.

Tri-Lakes residents gathered Feb. 11 at Pinz Bowling Center in Palmer Lake for the 12-hour event. All proceeds were given to Parker’s parents, Lucas and Natalie Ebaugh, to help cover his medical costs and travel expenses for trips to specialists around the country.

From 1 p.m. to 1 a.m., guests enjoyed live music from three local bands, silent and live auctions, and free autographs from Denver Broncos cheerleaders Tristan and Christina. Don Rose from the local Lions Club performed free eye scans for children 3 to 6 years old.

Mary Russelavage, utility billing manager for the Town of Monument, has coordinated the two fundraisers.

"Mary works endlessly to put this event together," said Parker’s grandmother, Marie Schubert, who arrived at the event with Bob Schubert, Parker’s grandfather, and Angie Morris, Parker’s aunt. Also attending was Parker’s great-grandmother.

"We are really touched at the outpouring of love for Parker and his family," Morris said. "He is an amazing kid!"

Krystle Fildes can be contacted at krystlefildes@ocn.me.

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February and March library events: Blues Blast hits the right note; events added for spring break

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: From left, Ronnie Shollust, Bob Pellegrino, and Jodie Woodward of the Colorado Blues Society kicked off the Winter Blues Blast with a free harmonica class.

Below: Ella Mortensen plays with the band.

By Harriet Halbig

The Monument library’s Winter Blues Blast on Feb. 11 was accompanied by a blast of winter weather. Those who attended had a great time learning harmonica from the Colorado Blues Society and enjoying other activities and refreshments, all sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library.

Homeschool book reports

Homeschool students of all ages are invited to bring a favorite book they have read this month and a prepared book report to share with the group. We’ll begin with preschoolers and progress upward. This is a great chance to practice speaking in front of a group. Props, visual aids, and costumes are welcome

March’s Family Fun program, Rustle Up a Good Tale with Denise Gard!, features Gard’s performing dog, Sienna. Jack is back in this Western version of Jack and the Beanstalk, and the giant is one ornery cow thief. Join Gard and Sienna as they rustle up a good tale or two and play the harmonica Saturday, March 10, at 1:30 p.m.

The Book-Eaters Book Club for teens grades 7 and up will discuss The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins on Wednesday, March 14, from 4 until 5:30 p.m. Do you think you’re an expert? Try your hand at Hunger Games Jeopardy and you have a chance to win tickets to the movie, premiering on March 23. Snacks provided.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Thursday, March 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. This is a refresher course for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the four-hour course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited and registration is required.

The Monumental Readers will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 16, to discuss The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

Join us on Friday, March 16, from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. for more Fabulous Friday Fun, exploring the Dewey Decimal System through activities and games. There are snacks and rewards for finding answers, and every participant earns a free book. Suggested for upper elementary and middle school students.

The LEGO Club will meet on March 17 from 10:30 until noon. We’ll provide the LEGOs and you bring the creativity. Be sure to bring your camera to record your creation—all pieces used to make projects remain the property of the Pikes Peak Library District.

Spring break programs

Join us on Tuesday, March 27, at 10:30 p.m. for Katherine Dines and Hunk Ta Bunk Ta Music. Bring the family to see this award-winning children’s songwriter. Dines packs every performance with movement, sing-alongs, zany props, story songs, and more. Everyone is part of the show.

Neil McIntyre and the Littleague are back to celebrate what it really means to be a kid with Hip Hop for All. This is hip hop that focuses on kids—who they are and what they enjoy, but even Mom and Dad will be groovin’ to the beats. Join us on Thursday, March 29, at 2 p.m.

Come to the library on Friday, March 30, at 2 p.m. as Science Matters takes an African Safari. Join us on the magic carpet as we use our imagination to sweep through the plains of Africa. Our magic genie will show us how elephants brush their teeth and take a drink from an oasis. We’ll explore a scary bed of nails and escape a fiery explosion. You will be helping throughout the journey (and learning scientific principles)—no passport required.

The Palmer Divide Quiltmakers will share their artistic skill through color and fabric on the walls and in the display case.

Palmer Lake library events

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun program for March is Cookies for the Birds on Saturday, March 17, beginning at 10:30 a.m. Come for stories about birds and make a cookie birdfeeder to take home. This program is for all ages.

Join us for Paws to Read and read to a dog for increased fluency. Read with Misty, the tiny sheltie, on Thursday, March 8, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. Read with Kirby, our golden retriever friend, on Saturday, March 25, from 11 until noon. Read a story and select a prize!

The Palmer Lake Library Knitting Group meets on Thursdays from 10 until noon. Knitters of all levels are welcome to bring a project and enjoy the fellowship of the group. Call 488-2587 for more information.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on April 6 to discuss Room by Emma Donoghue. New members are welcome and no registration is required.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Feb. 16: 1918 Springs gang shootout recalled

Below: The inscription reads: "Car used by Dale Jones, Kansas City Blackie, and Margie Dean in their fight with officers in Colorado Springs on Sept. 13, 1918." Photo provided by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

Below: Dwight Haverkorn, lecturer and retired Colorado Springs police officer, presented a brief history of the criminal element that he researched in and around the Colorado Springs region. He is also compiling a history of the Colorado Springs Police Department. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Palmer Lake historian and Society member Sally Green talks about the history of Civil War letters written by Charles Morrison during his stint in the Navy. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

Retired Colorado Springs police officer Dwight Haverkorn gave a presentation on the history of the criminal element in the Colorado Springs area to about 80 attendees at the Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting Feb. 16. He focused on activities of the Frank Lewis-Dale Jones gang in 1918.

Haverkorn has done historical research on regional homicides and is compiling a history of the Colorado Springs Police Department.

He said that on Friday, Sept. 13, 1918, Joseph F. Miller, Indiana regional superintendent of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was continuing his search for a gang of bank robbers that had moved from Kansas City to Denver. He had located the gang at a house in Denver. Miller saw gang members leave the house and drive off in a Buick touring car.

As they drove through Morrison, other gang members driving a Marmon (a classic car built by Howard Marmon) accompanied them. About a mile from Castle Rock, the Buick had a flat tire, and it was then that Frank Lewis, the gang leader, realized that Miller was following them. Dale Jones, another gang member, and his group left the Buick and entered the Marmon, and then headed south. The Buick, with Miller in pursuit, returned to Denver. Miller notified the Denver police and then continued the pursuit to the south.

In Colorado Springs, gang members exchanged shots with local police officers who had received fliers from the Kansas City police and were able to recognize the criminals. This happened in the vicinity of Colorado and Nevada Avenues. With the police in pursuit, the gang made its escape.

Lewis was eventually captured and returned to Kansas authorities. Jones was eventually shot to death in California where his crime spree had begun. Two deputies spotted Jones and his wife in a filling station. A gun battle ensued and Jones and his wife, Margie, were shot to death.

Haverkorn noted that information is still surfacing regarding this gang.

Historian and Society member Sally Green discussed Civil War letters and a photo of Charles Morrison, a U.S. Navy sailor. She said Morrison, who wrote the letters, was in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Brooklyn. He died on Oct. 5, 1864, but his letters are available to this day. The letters, which were left to Green by her parents, date from February 1862 through January 1864.

The letters are clear and legible and will be read by students at several sites in the coming weeks, Green said. She said her intent is to share the contents of the letters with historians, students of history, and the general public. The letters are being donated to the Marine Corps University Library in Quantico, Va. Dates, times, and places for the readings will be published.

Society President Al Walter noted that the Society would again sponsor the annual Chautauqua. He said that this year, it would be on a smaller scale—two days rather than three. It is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 3 and Saturday, Aug. 4.

It was also noted that Gary Coleman had been elected to the Society board.

*********

The Palmer Lake Historical Society will meet at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month, March 15, at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Membership is not required to attend. The March meeting will feature a presentation on "Colorado Railroad Ice Houses." Presenter Bill Reich will focus on the local Doyle Ice House history and lore.

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

    March 7: Meatballs over noodles & salad
    March 14
    : Chicken Marsala, garlic mashed potatoes & salad
    March 21
    : Tuna on a croissant, Avocado & chips
    March 28
    : Raspberry Chipotle Chicken, roasted potatoes & salad

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

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

Free income tax assistance through April 16

Free income tax filing assistance and e-filing is offered by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Tax-Aide program. Trained AARP volunteers will be available every Monday and Thursday, through April 16, 1-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument, to answer questions and to assist filers in completing their federal and state income tax returns. Please note that March 16 tax assistance will only be available 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Volunteers will assist taxpayers in preparing their Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Filers are asked to bring proof of Social Security numbers for themselves and for any dependents they are claiming. Filers should also bring their W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc., to complete their 2011 return, plus a copy of last year’s (2010) tax return. For additional locations, visit www.aarp.org/VMISLocator/searchTaxAideLocations.do. For more information, or to make an appointment (recommended), call Jim Taylor, 488-1317.

Sheriff’s Office announces Citizens’ Academy, apply by March 5

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office is accepting applications for the seven-week Citizens’ Academy that will be held Tuesday evenings, 6 to 10 p.m., March 27-May 8. The academy will offer participants a broad overview and unique insight into the various functions of the Sheriff’s Office. Participants will go on a ride-along with deputies to observe the variety of calls handled by the Sheriff’s Office and take a tour of the detention facilities to experience the challenges facing detention staff. Detectives will take them through the process of criminal investigation, and participants will also learn about use of force, vice and narcotics operations, and emergency services. The Citizens’ Academy is a pre-requisite for the Sheriff’s Citizen Patrol (SCP) volunteer program. There is no charge to attend the Citizens’ Academy, but seating is limited to the first 40 completed applications received. Applications must be submitted by March 5, 5 p.m., and are available from the Sheriff’s Office website at http://shr.elpasoco.com/ or from Cathryn Richards, 520-7216.

Senior Mondays at WMMI

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

ARTSites 2012, apply by March 10

Tri-Lakes Views invites artists to participate in ARTSites, a public outdoor art exhibit showcasing sculpture on pedestals installed around the community and in the newly established Monument Sculpture Park at Big Red. The exhibit will be on display for one year and will be featured in the annual ARTSites map distributed to restaurants, hotels, and shops throughout the area. Artists receive a $300 stipend for each piece accepted by the jury. Entries must be received by March 10. Visit www.trilakesviews.org for details on how to enter. For more information, email bkonarski@earthlink.net.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club 2012 Grant Applications, due March 15

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

Tri-Lakes Community Blood Drive, Mar. 20

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive March 20, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. No appointment is needed, just walk in. Donated blood goes to local Penrose-St. Francis Hospitals. For more information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x103.

You Got Talent Auditions, apply by Mar. 24

Do you have talent? Tri-Lakes, Colorado Springs, and Larkspur area youths and young adults ages 6-24 can compete for prizes and awards. Music, comedy, dance, whatever––send your video auditions by March 24 (the deadline has been extended). Video auditions may be cell phone quality. Get details and download the entry form at www.familynation.net or call 465-2001.

Volunteers needed for the El Paso County Forestry and Weed advisory committee

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as an at-large representative and a District 1 representative on the Forestry and Weed Advisory Commission. District 1 includes the Tri-Lakes area. The Forestry and Weed Advisory Commission develops and reviews action plans for the integrated management of state mandated weeds. It also serves to educate the public by speaking to groups and owner associations and displaying educational materials at community events. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. Applications for the open positions are due by Mar. 26.

Low-cost seedling trees from Colorado State Forest Service, order by March 31

The Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) Woodland Park District is now taking seedling tree orders for landowners in Teller, El Paso, and Park counties. The CSFS Trees for Conservation program enables Colorado farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners to obtain seedling trees for conservation purposes at a nominal cost. The program’s aim is to encourage landowners to plant trees and shrubs to establish windbreaks and living snow fences; reduce erosion; protect homes, cropland, livestock and highways; and enhance wild life habitat. To participate in the program, landowners must have at least two acres of land and must agree to not use the trees solely for ornamental or landscaping purposes. The deadline for ordering seedlings is March 31. For more information or to obtain an order form, go to http://csfs/colostate.edu/districts/woodlandparkdist.htm or call (719) 687-2921.

Citizens’ Police Academy, April 3

The Monument Police Department is now accepting applications for the Citizens’ Police Academy. This no-cost 8-week program will be held Tuesday evenings, 7-10 p.m., at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Rd., April 3-May 22. It is open to all who live or work in the Tri-Lakes area. Participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, use of force, computer forensics, internal affairs, community policing, tactical considerations, and much more. They will also have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons. For more information or to download an application, visit www.monumentpd.org and click on the Community Services button. Or you can stop by the Monument Police Department and pick up an application. For more information, call the Monument Police Department, 481-3253, or email Officer Jon Hudson at jhudson@townofmonument.net.

Stuart Little auditions, workshop and production

Spotlight Community Theatre Fifth Annual Summer Musical Theatre Workshop and Production, E.B. White’s Children’s Classic Stuart Little. Auditions and casting are scheduled for May 30-31. The workshop, rehearsals, and performances will be in June. Minimum age is 10. Every workshop participant will be cast in the production! Register now as spaces are limited. For more information, call 488-0775 or visit www.SpotlightCommunityTheatre.com.

Volunteer drivers needed for seniors transportation service

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

Black Forest Animal Sanctuary needs volunteers

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

Tri-Lakes Cares Thrift Shop open Mon.-Sat.

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

Tri-Lakes HAP Thrift Store open Mon.-Sat.

The store is located at 790 Highway 105 D in Palmer Lake. Hours are Mon.- Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Weekly specials, books, antiques, and more! The thrift store is a project of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership to raise funds and resources for Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen Program activities, provide volunteer opportunities for Tri-Lakes residents, and offer affordable merchandise (no clothing) to all Tri-Lakes residents. For more information, to donate items, or to volunteer, call 488-3495.

Help on the way for heating bills

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

Have fun at Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center

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

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