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Vol. 12 No. 5 - May 5, 2012


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Contents

the PDF file. This is a 22.8 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos. 

individual pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

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New Palmer Lake mayor and trustees sworn in

Photos by David Futey

Below: From left, Shana Ball, Bob Grado, Michael Maddox, Town Clerk Tara Berreth, Mayor Nikki McDonald, Town Attorney Larry Gaddis, Bruce Hoover and Jerry Davis are the continuing and new members of the Palmer Lake Town Council. Missing from the photo is Trustee Rich Kuester.

Below: Town Clerk Tara Berreth presents John Cressman with a plaque commemorating his term as mayor of Palmer Lake. Cressman’s term ended April 5.

By David Futey

A new mayor and four new trustees were sworn in at the April 5 meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council.

Trustee Rich Kuester was excused from this meeting.

Trustee applicants approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved applications for trustee positions from Jerry Davis, Bruce Hoover, Bob Grado, and Shana Ball. The council had previously interviewed these candidates:

New council members sworn in

The following appointments and resignations occurred:
  • Nikki McDonald was sworn in as mayor after the council unanimously approved her selection. Mayor John Cressman’s term had expired due to term limits.
  • Shana Ball and Bob Grado were appointed to trustee positions by the council.
  • Trustees Gary Coleman and Max Stafford resigned from the council.
  • Bruce Hoover and Jerry Davis were appointed to trustee positions by the council.
By unanimous decision, the council appointed Kieth Moreland as police chief, Greg Lokken as volunteer fire chief, Larry Gaddis as town attorney, and Tara Berreth as town clerk.

Water Conservation Ordinance

By unanimous decision, the council approved the Water Conservation Ordinance.

Water Trustee Max Stafford said the ordinance is similar to Donala Water and Sanitation District watering restrictions. The ordinance relates only to watering lawns and landscapes. The irrigation season affected by the ordinance is from May 15 to Sept. 30.

Stafford said the town will probably need to operate the water plant and the wells in July to meet demand. Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt asked for a landscape watering ban on Sundays so the tanks can be refilled.

Cressman said, "There is not a code enforcement officer so it will be up to the Palmer Lake Police Department or a neighbor" to notify if someone is violating the ordinance. Cressman concluded that "it will take a community commitment to work." Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said that a violation could result in a misdemeanor penalty if convicted.

Committee reports

In summary of his tenure as mayor, Cressman said he "has enjoyed his term" and "will miss holding this position." He added, "It has been a lot of work, a lot of joy. I appreciate everyone, the trustees and the town staff who help run this town."

Parks and Recreation Trustee Coleman said playground equipment will be installed by the volleyball court near the lake.

Economic Development Trustee Michael Maddox reported:
  • Douglas County Open Space declined the town’s application to use an area as a balloon landing zone due to the possible size of the balloon fair and congestion it could cause.
  • He hosted a summit to discuss Estemere becoming an international art outreach center. Another summit is planned for April and he is seeking individuals to put together a board for the center.
  • He met with Little Log Church Pastor Bill Story about having concerts at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) on Sunday evenings.
  • An Art Walk will occur each second Friday of the month from May through October. Locations will include the TLCA and art galleries in Monument.
Chief Moreland said there were 16 minor violations during the month. He said a mountain lion in the Glen killed a pet and, as a result, the Colorado Division of Wildlife is monitoring the situation. A deer was also killed, possibly by the same lion. Moreland said mountain lions have a 40-square-mile territory. He also reported that two new part-time officers were hired.

Water Trustee Stafford said neither well was used in the past month because of low water use. Four-tenths of an acre-foot per day is being used daily on average. The water plant is now fully online and has been operational for a month. The plant’s electric bill was $2,800, or about half the cost of the electricity to run the wells. He also said the plant should be upgradeable in the future to address changes in water regulations.

Lokken said the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department has responded to 80 calls for the year and 24 for March. He said there is an outdoor burn ban in effect and if residents need to burn something outside, they should contact the department.

Staff reports

Town Clerk Berreth thanked the resigning board members and presented Coleman, Stafford, and Cressman with commemorative plaques.

Town accountant Linda Ousnamer of Pencil Pusher Inc. said that the town has spent 25 percent of the year’s budgeted amount with a quarter of the year completed. She expressed continued concern regarding the police budget and will continue monitoring it. The auditor was scheduled to do a final review in the week of April16. The auditing firm will produce a report of governance, recommendations, and controls that can be made to streamline accounting and operations. The final audit report is expected by the July meeting.

Public input

A citizen said that while hiking, he and others have encountered dogs that have been off-leash, presenting uncomfortable to dangerous situations. Trustee Maddox spoke of similar situations he has witnessed. The citizen was seeking information on how the law is enforced. It was pointed out that the limited staffing of the Police Department makes it difficult to enforce this law while addressing other issues. The department seeks citizen assistance to report situations when unleashed dogs are encountered.

The meeting adjourned at 7:35 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 10 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, April 10: New nutrient treatment equipment could cost $15 million or more

By Jim Kendrick

On April 10, Facility Manager Bill Burks and engineering consultant Steve Tamburini of Tetra Tech Inc. updated the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) on near- and long-term requirements that will be mandated by the state Water Quality Control Commission and their related new costs for removing phosphorus and nitrogen compounds from treated effluent.

The capital cost for treating total phosphorus after 2017 under Control Regulation 85, when the Tri-Lakes discharge permit is scheduled to be renewed, will be up to $1 million. The initial interim capital cost for treating nutrients when Regulation 31 limits go into effect in 2022 will be up to $15 million. However, these improvements to the $6.6 million Tri-Lakes facility will still not meet the currently unattainable interim values for nutrients recently approved by the commission in the Reg. 31 nutrient amendment, so the final capital costs for compliance with Reg. 31 remains unknown.

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

Future nutrient issues briefed

Tamburini also discussed the costs of new permanent testing requirements for nutrients in Monument Creek that will be required starting in 2013. The Tri-Lakes staff will be required to perform sampling tests for nutrients upstream of the plant to determine the background concentration of nutrients in Monument Creek. Sampling tests will also be required in the mixing zone by the facility’s discharge pipe and downstream of the mixing zone to determine the amount of nutrient absorption by the ecosystem. The Tri-Lakes staff has been sampling Monument Creek this way for almost a year already.

All this sampling data will be needed to justify and defend the facility’s future applications for waivers from the unattainable Reg. 31 interim values that received preliminary approval by the commission on March 14. The final versions of these two regulations are scheduled to be approved by the commission on May 14. The EPA may decide to establish even tighter nutrient restrictions, as it did in Florida, if it does not accept these two commission regulations. The EPA will not make a decision on Reg. 85 or Reg. 31 acceptability until after May 14.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Water Quality Control Division regulates all aspects of state water quality in accordance with the Colorado Water Quality Act. The EPA exercises oversight over the division in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act and can establish its own tighter regulations if it determines the state has failed to comply with the Clean Water Act.

Control Regulation 85 is the state Water Quality Control Division’s first response to EPA nutrient demands. It sets new discharge permit limits of 1 part per million (ppm), or 1 milligram per liter, for total phosphorus (TP) and 15 ppm for total inorganic nitrogen (TIN); these limits become effective for all existing facility discharge permits issued after July 1. These Reg. 85 limits will generally be superseded in 2022 by the interim nutrient values for warm water streams specified in the Reg. 31 amendment—0.17 ppm for TP and 2.01 ppm for total nitrogen (TN.)

The EPA has stated that it would prefer that the state immediately approve its warm water nutrient criteria—0.067 ppm for TP and 0.88 ppm for TN—but has not yet made these criteria a federal requirement and mandate on the state.

Note: Neither the state’s nor the EPA’s interim nutrient values can be achieved by any existing technology.

There are different limits and start dates for new wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) in Regulations 85 and 31, but they will not apply to the three existing wastewater treatment facilities in the OCN coverage area:
  • Tri-Lakes WWTF
  • Upper Monument Creek Regional WWTF
  • Academy Water and Sanitation District’s two treatment lagoons
The Reg. 85 nitrogen limit is for total inorganic nitrogen, which is only one component of total nitrogen. The Reg. 85 TIN limit will be easier to meet than the TN limits in the amendment to Reg 31. The actual TIN allowed by the new Reg. 31 TN interim value will be considerably smaller than 2.01 ppm. The interim nutrient values in the Reg. 31 amendment will not generally apply to existing wastewater treatment facilities until 2022, though some exceptions could apply as early as 2017.

Note: The actual chemistry and biological uptake of total phosphorus and total nitrogen in aquatic ecosystems is quite complicated and not well understood—particularly the relationship between total nitrogen and algal growth. This separate controversy was not part of Tamburini’s briefing.

Some of the items Tamburini discussed regarding nutrients and their impacts were:
  • Total phosphorus consists of numerous inorganic and organic (particulate and dissolved) components.
  • Total inorganic nitrogen is composed of ammonia, nitrite, and nitrate.
  • The Tri-Lakes facility has always been very effective and efficient in removing ammonia, a toxic chemical.
  • There are already nitrate and nitrite drinking water standards.
  • Total organic nitrogen is composed of particulate, dissolved, biodegradable, and refractory components.
  • The current standard response variable used by regulators to measure nutrient treatment effectiveness in lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and streams is the amount of chlorophyll-a in algae.
  • Problems caused by excessive nutrients include: low dissolved oxygen, high pH, fish kills, algal toxins, bad tastes and odors, and diminished recreational uses.
  • While disinfection byproduct formation is possible, it is extremely rare.
  • Total phosphorus treatment has been used by itself successfully to control noxious blue-green algae growth.
  • The relationship between total nitrogen and algae impacts is imprecise at best.
  • However, a greater than 10 to 1 ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus appears to be helpful in controlling algae.
Some of the specifics of the new Control Reg. 85 and Reg. 31 that Tamburini said would apply to treatment facilities as of July 1 were:
  • Reg. 85 limits become effective when a facility’s discharge permit is scheduled to be renewed—2017 for the Tri-Lakes facility.
  • The effluent limit in the next Tri-Lakes discharge permit for total phosphorus will be 1 milligram per liter.
  • The Tri-Lakes WWTF must install TP treatment equipment under its next discharge permit, which will be issued after 2016—Tri-Lakes does not currently have a TP discharge permit limit
  • The effluent limit in the next Tri-Lakes discharge permit for total inorganic nitrogen will be 1 milligram per liter—Tri-Lakes effluent averages 5 mg per liter for TIN currently.
  • The chlorophyll-a limit in warm water streams will be 150 milligrams per square meter.
  • The commission can also decide to apply Reg. 31 TN limits as early as 2017 in an individual stream segment, but Tetra Tech does not expect that to apply to the Tri-Lakes WWTF.
Tamburini listed these probable new capital system requirements for the Tri-Lakes facility for total phosphorus treatment under Reg. 31:
  • Chemical addition to coagulate TP.
  • Filtration to separate the coagulants.
  • Tertiary sedimentation may have to be added before the filter system to better separate the TP.
The probable new capital system requirements for the Tri-Lakes facility for TN treatment under Reg. 31 will likely include:
  • A four-stage or five-stage activated sludge process to replace the existing two-stage Tri-Lakes system.
  • Carbon addition after the anoxic stage of treatment.
  • A separate re-aeration basin.
  • Denitrification filters at the current limit of technology.
  • A four-stage system would cost about $10 million to $15 million.
  • The volume of wastewater being treated by the plant due to a longer process time would increase by about 30 percent.
  • These additions would not be required until the first new discharge permit is issued after 2022.
Tamburini reiterated that these proposed systems for additional nitrate removal can reduce TIN concentrations to about 1 ppm. However this new system still cannot remove unbiodegradable dissolved organic nitrogen nor achieve compliance with the state’s proposed 2.01 ppm interim value much less the EPA’s criteria of only 0.88 ppm.

He said that while some reverse osmosis systems can remove unbiodegradable dissolved organic nitrogen to approach the state’s interim value of 2.01 ppm in a sea coast setting, reverse osmosis in utterly impractical for Colorado because of its extremely toxic byproducts and makes about a third of the treated effluent too toxic to safely transport much less recycle or release to a stream or reservoir, "a disastrous consequence for the state of Colorado." He added that the state and EPA are "hoping that new technologies will emerge that can treat to lower numbers."

There was further technical discussion of technical options and how various systems operate. Tamburini speculated on the possible lengths of compliance schedules for various combinations of technologies, but none of this has yet been defined in any division regulations, policies, or guidance documents. There was also a general discussion about whether initial new capital projects that will be constructed under Reg. 85 or Reg. 31 could become obsolete as new tighter restrictions are approved by the commission or the EPA.

In other matters, the JUC approved a recommendation from Bill Burks, the Tri-Lakes facility manager, to delay the start of operations of the previously approved total phosphorus pilot plant until 2013 due to unexpectedly high costs of its chemicals and system operation. The costs would exceed the amount approved and appropriated in the 2012 facility budget. Burks will have to apply for recertification of the pilot plant from the division in 2013 because the previously approved temporary operation permit will expire before the end of 2012.

Burks noted that the plant is operating well and that the ongoing additional sampling is showing good results.

**********

The next JUC meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on May 8 at the Tri-Lakes facility’s conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, April 10: Water system update presented

By Jim Kendrick

On April 10, the Triview Metropolitan District board received an update on the new Promontory Pointe water pressure pump system. The purpose of the pump system is to ensure adequate water pressure for the new homes being built at Baptist Road and Gleneagle Drive in the vacant development, as well as the existing homes farther uphill in northeast Jackson Creek. Triview has only one water tank, in the northeast corner of Promontory Pointe, to create water pressure by gravity.

All members of the board were present.

Before the water pump discussion began, Trustee Steve Remington noted that this was his last board meeting and offered to continue helping the board with refinancing the district’s Colorado Water Resources Power Development Authority loans and the negotiations with Centre Development Co. for Triview to purchase water rights. Centre owns essentially all the water rights for Jackson Creek. Triview leases water from Centre.

Remington chose not to run for re-election to a second four-year term on the board. Board President Bob Eskridge thanked Remington for all he had done during his four years of service, particularly the interest savings that resulted from the refinancing of Triview debt with fixed interest rates.

Pump discussion

Engineer Barney Fix, of Merrick & Co., stated that he had identified three options for locating the booster pump system installation: adjacent to the water tank, adjacent to the 18-inch water pipe by the 50-foot trail along the southwest boundary, and adjacent to the southwest park area by the 50-foot trail. Fix said that the developer, Classic Homes, has proposed "a completely different layout of lots for the north end of Promontory Pointe" to "get rid of a bunch of little cul-de-sacs," but this layout change should not affect where the booster pump system is installed. Classic also provided Merrick with layouts and elevations for Sanctuary Pointe including that development’s water tank.

Note: There has been no discussion of such an extensive amendment to the Promontory Pointe planned development site plan by the Monument Planning Commission or the Board of Trustees.

Fix stated that Merrick would provide the Triview board with costs, pros, and cons for each of the three proposed locations and a recommendation on May 3 so board members can be prepared for the next regular board meeting on May 8. The lead time for obtaining pumps is up to about 10 weeks, which coincides with the schedule’s milestone for 60 percent completion of the design.

This also allows extra time for the board and Triview staff to review the pump requirements.

Director Robert Fisher said, "I don’t like the schedule." Some of his complaints were:
  • We get pretty common results when we try to do something around here and we have to get this sorted out.
  • When this was first discussed, we wanted the pit dug before the snow started last year.
  • I seriously doubt that we’re going to meet budget at this point in time when it drags out this long.
  • It’s disappointing and a continued irritant that we can’t execute projects that meet expectations.
There was consensus for forming a two-person subcommittee of Director Steve Cox and Eskridge to work with Fix between regular board meetings on time-critical items that do not require scheduling of a special board meeting. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith said that the new director who will replace Remington, Tom Harder, is very knowledgeable about water and can also help with these issues. A motion from Director Steve Hurd for formation of this subcommittee was approved.

Staff reports

The board unanimously approved Smith’s March sales tax report and February financial report. The board advised Smith to not use Classic funds in its escrow account for water issues to pay for the booster pump system. There was a general technical discussion on which institutions are safest and offering the best interest for district savings. Smith discussed the extra hours she had to charge to complete the transition of Triview payroll and benefits administration for the five former town employees to Triview.

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

  • $7,398 to Merrick & Co. for booster pump design
  • $$85,985 to Donala Water and Sanitation District for Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility expenses
  • $14,500 to Hoelting & Company Inc. for 2011 audit fieldwork and final reports
Triview water operator Larry Bennett filled in to present the district manager report. He stated that he had received an additional bid from Electrical Excellence for troubleshooting and improving traffic signal control system performance for the signal at Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive.

There was a technical discussion about the standards regarding the number of traffic signals for the number of lanes, the reliability of the existing control systems, and the amount and type of periodic maintenance needed to ensure that vehicles making left turns from Leather Chaps onto Jackson Creek Parkway are sensed. The board asked Bennett to draft a summary on the three bids that have been submitted, including the options in each bid.

There was also a lengthy technical discussion on recent asphalt repairs on Jackson Creek Parkway and chip seal repairs on Lyons Tail Road. There was board consensus to start using a different asphalt contractor in the future.

Water attorney Chris Cummins gave an in-depth presentation on a variety of technical issues regarding the Transit Loss Model that is used for measuring flows in Monument Creek and Fountain Creek for water transfers and effluent sales. He stated that the economic benefits of participation compared to the costs of participation are problematic for districts in the Tri-Lakes region.

The Triview participation cost has dropped from $3,800 to $2,800. There was consensus that Cummins should continue to attend Transit Loss Model meetings for the district and the district should remain a partner for now to remain eligible to track is water flows to the Kansas border. The district can probably recoup this cost through leases of water to other water entities.

A motion to participate in the Transit Loss Model for 2012 was unanimously approved.

Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility received an insurance payment of about $31,000 for the failed blowers at the facility. A motion to apply Triview’s share to help pay off additional principal Triview owes to Donala for the facility SBR expansion was also approved unanimously.

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters and negotiations at 6:12 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held on May 8 at 5 p.m. in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, April 12: Impact of new nutrient regulations discussed

Below:
District Manager Jessie Shaffer, left, presented a plaque honoring Director Jim Wyss’ eight years of dedicated service to the district. Photo by Candice Hitt. On March 14, the Colorado Water Quality Control Commission voted on and approved wastewater nutrient Regulations 31 and 85. The decision was reached despite efforts to eliminate nitrogen removal from regulations that would force expensive treatment efforts on wastewater facilities throughout Colorado. All state wastewater treatment facilities will be required to remove phosphorous under Regulation 31 and nitrogen under Regulation 85 from the effluent, which is the treated water released back into streams.

At its April 12 meeting, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board estimated it would cost the district $10 million to $15 million to meet the new restrictions on those two nutrients.

Operations and construction update

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette gave the operations update, saying well 12 is expected to be up and running May 1. Well 12 was being acid cleaned and the equipment was onsite to complete the cleaning. Well 6 and well 10 are having problems that the district is evaluating. Gillette also stated Lake Woodmoor was doing well and the district expected to use groundwater from the lake beginning in May.

The new Kum & Go gas station on the corner of Knollwood Drive and Highway 105 was working on road access before construction begins, Gillette said. Also, the County Line Road project to widen the road and improve safety was looking at bids and would select the winner soon. The project is to be completed by the end of 2012.

New payment method approved

Board members unanimously approved accepting credit card payments from customers for their water bills. The process will be finalized in three to four months.

The Special Districts Association is doing a two-part cover story about WWSD and has moved the publication date to May/June. District public relations consultant Bill Ray is ghostwriting the story. The articles will be available on the district website: www.woodmoorwater.com.

The WWSD website is still being improved with features such as YouTube videos on how to conserve water and how to plan landscaping.

District Manager Jessie Shaffer presented a plaque bearing a "toilet seat" to Director Jim Wyss for his eight years of dedicated service to the district.

**********

The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. May 10 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 19: May 8 election to fill three openings on five-member board

Photos by John Heiser.

Below: Donala board president William George (left) and director David Powell (center) congratulate Terri Ladouceur on being named the employee of the quarter.

Below: Outgoing board member Dale Schendzielos.

By John Heiser

William George, Kenneth Judd, and Gene Thornton are the candidates for the two open four-year positions on the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors currently occupied by Dale Schendzielos, who is term-limited, and George, who is running for re-election. This was Schendzielos’ last meeting as a board member. See photo on page 11.

Bob Denny, Gar Graham, and Tim Wheeler are the candidates for the one two-year vacancy created when Tim Murphy resigned. Judd was appointed by the board in September to fill the vacancy until the May 8 election.

Statements from the six candidates are on page 12.

To be eligible to vote, a person must have resided in the district for 30 days or more, own taxable real or personal property within the district, or be obligated to pay taxes under a contract to purchase taxable property within the district.

The polling place for the May 8 election is the district office at 15850 Holbein Drive. The polling place will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information, contact Jackie Sipes, Donala’s office manager and designated election official, at 488-3603. Email messages may be sent at www.donalawater.org/contact-us.html.

Donala Extended Water Supply Study nears conclusion

At the April 19 monthly meeting of the board, Dana Duthie, Donala district general manager, distributed draft copies of the Donala Extended Water Supply Study (DEWSS) executive summary to get comments from the board.

Since August 2010, the $220,000 DEWSS project has been examining alternative ways effluent from the wastewater treatment plant could be captured, extensively treated, and mixed in with the district’s water supply. The district is looking to reclaim about 300 acre-feet per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

For more on the DEWSS and its initial results, see www.ocn.me/v11n8.htm#dwsd.

The results of the study will be presented at the May 17 board meeting.

Flaming Gorge update

Duthie reported on the Flaming Gorge Task Force meeting held March 27 in Glenwood Springs.

The task force is examining two proposals to pipe water from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in northwestern Colorado or the Green River in southwestern Wyoming to the Front Range.

One of the proposals is being pursued by the Colorado/Wyoming coalition of water providers led by Frank Jaeger, manager of the Parker Water and Sanitation District.

Donala is participating in the coalition through a project of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). The other participants in that PPRWA project are the Town of Monument, the Triview Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The coalition also counts as participants Douglas County, the Parker district, the South Metro Water Supply Authority, the Town of Castle Rock and the Wyoming cities of Cheyenne and Torrington and Laramie County in Wyoming.

The coalition participants represent about 569,000 customers and have estimated future additional water demand of about 107,000 acre-feet per year.

Under the coalition’s proposal, the water would be piped east along Interstate 80 in Wyoming and then south to the Rueter-Hess Reservoir, a 70,000 acre-foot facility just completed three miles southwest of downtown Parker. A 30-inch pipeline with two pump stations would be constructed to bring the water 32 miles farther south to the Tri-Lakes area.

Completion of the coalition’s feasibility study has been held up as it waits for the federal Bureau of Reclamation to complete a model to estimate the amount of water available in the Colorado River.

The initial feasibility study funding of $20,000 per coalition participant is nearly depleted. Each participant is being asked for an additional $10,000 to complete the study. Duthie recommended that Donala pay its share of the additional funds needed to complete the feasibility study but was skeptical regarding the feasibility of the proposed project.

Other matters

  • In recognition of Schendzielos’ eight years on the board, he was presented a golden fire hydrant with the inscription reading in part, "Thanks for your support and help in putting out our fires."
  • Terri Ladouceur, a maintenance operator who has been with Donala for eight years, was named the employee of the quarter for working in difficult circumstances at the wastewater treatment plant and her performance above and beyond the call of duty.
  • During the three months from Jan. 1 through March 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 0.04 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 6.9 months. Davidson also separately manages $5.6 million in proceeds from the bond sale to be used to fund the infrastructure improvements needed to handle renewable water and $596,553 in a debt service reserve fund associated with the bond sale.
  • Duthie reported that the district will soon be evaluating the first bids for the initial 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 work will include installation of 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 on the April 4 meeting of the PPRWA. He noted that the group appears to be closer to an equitable solution to funding the transit loss model that 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.
Following the public meeting, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel issues and negotiations.

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting May 17 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month; however, no meeting will be held in November 2012, and the December 2012 meeting will be held Dec. 6.

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

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

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Donala election candidate statements

The Donala Water and Sanitation District is holding an election (at the district’s office on Holbein Drive) for board members on May 8. Six candidates are vying for three board positions. Each was asked to respond to the following two questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a Donala board member?
  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The following are the answers we received from the candidates, printed with very little editing.

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Bill George (incumbent; four-year term)

In my 38-year military career, wherever an assignment took me, I endeavored to be a contributing member of that community. In each case, there was a learning curve, allowing me to see what was important to the community and also giving me a focus on how I could better serve its needs. My educational background in business administration, along with my career experience, gives me the ability to better understand the business aspects of water management, which I have applied during the past four years on the Donala board. The district’s offices are across from our home and, prior to running for the board in 2008, I attended board meetings regularly to better understand the details of water management.

The greatest issue facing the district is the acquisition of renewable, and affordable, sources of water. The Denver Basin of aquifers is not an endless supply. The district has satisfied 20 percent of its need with the purchase of Willow Creek Ranch near Leadville and completed the water court process changing the water use from “agricultural” to “municipal” in late 2011. An equally important agreement with Colorado Springs Utilities now allows the district to receive water through a recently completed connection at Northgate Road.

The second issue is equally important. We must make every effort to use these water resources as wisely as possible. The district emphasizes conservation and xeriscaping, and has resources available to help constituents make water-wise decisions that will save money and create attractive neighborhoods.

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Ken Judd (appointed in September to fill a vacancy; four-year term) 

I have lived in the district for 15 years and am a retired U.S. Air Force officer. My last assignment was as Director of Environmental Programs at a large base. After leaving active military duty, I was a major programs manager for an environmental compliance and engineering division at an international consulting firm. I have a master’s degree in Public Administration and Finance and have completed many environmental management courses, including water-related topics. I served as an appointed member of the Donala board for the last six months and previously served on the Citizen’s Advisory Committee. I was a founding member of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations and served on the Gleneagle Civic Association Board of Directors and am still a neighborhood representative to the board. I am semi-retired and have time to devote to the duties of a Director for the Donala district. My wife and I are raising our two granddaughters, so I feel a large responsibility to maintain the quality and affordability of our water systems. Solving difficult problems is my career specialty.

A very significant issue facing us in Donala is to maintain a renewable water source to augment our existing declining underground water supply. After all, developing and maintaining a dependable long-term supply of clean, healthful water is essential to all our lives, and I see this as the greatest responsibility of serving on the Donala Board of Directors.

A second significant issue that is coming up over the horizon is to meet the highly stringent requirements planned by the EPA. Some of the new requirements cannot be met by most small water districts without significant expense, and we must structure our finances to meet this new challenge. I would welcome the chance to continue to serve.

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Gene R. Thornton (four-year term)

Hello fellow Donala Water District Members:

I am Gene R. Thornton, and I ask for your support in the upcoming election for the Donala Board of Directors. Let me tell you why I would be a good servant for you on the board.

I am a Colorado native who has resided in Gleneagle since 1992. I am an attorney who emphasized the natural resources curriculum at the University of Denver. I understand water law. I obtained my Juris Doctor degree from DU in 1985, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University in 1981. After serving as a judicial clerk for the Colorado Court of Appeals, I went into the practice of business litigation with a mid-sized firm in Denver where I became a full partner after just a few years of practice.

I have been active in the Gleneagle community, providing the pro bono legal work to create the Gleneagle Civic Association to take over responsibilities from the Declarant of the Gleneagle covenants. I volunteered for GCA projects such as the annual clean-up/garage sale event and judging the yard pride awards. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.

I was instrumental in a process that has resulted in the land to the immediate south of Doral Way in Gleneagle being re-platted for lower density single family housing, thereby lessening the traffic impact on Gleneagle Drive and eliminating the threat of litigation with a developer.

I think the three main issues facing the Donala board are conservation, cost, and communication. I would bring to the Donala board my knowledge, skills, and experience as a practicing attorney who specializes in business matters. I believe the board would benefit from my input in the areas of litigation management, contract negotiation, and public relations.

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Bob Denny (two-year term)

My background of service as a military veteran, a small business owner, and a financial advisor will make me a good addition to the Donala board. I served 27 years in the Air Force and was in a management position over water resources at two bases, one of them being the Air Force Academy. In the private sector, I owned a successful small business for several years. I experienced the issues of profit and loss, meeting regular payroll, and government regulations. Later, I served as a financial advisor to several members of this community while working at a national investment firm. I’m a firm believer in volunteer service, and have been active in Gleneagle Sertoma (twice past president) and church volunteer activities. My academic background includes a degree from the Air Force Academy and graduate degrees from Tufts and Regis (MBA).

Our greatest issue facing the district is obtaining an adequate water supply for the future. I have lived in the Donala Water District area for 17 years and have seen a complete turnaround in thinking. Once, we thought we had a 300-year supply below the surface, but now, we realize the need to pursue other renewable water sources. Donala is off to a good start with its access to water rights at the Willow Creek Ranch, but we need to continue in this effort. Some of this effort can be done cooperatively with other water districts, and we need to continue to be the leader in this regard. Another major issue is the continuing effort toward conserving the water resources we have. Conservation can take many forms, and we need to continue finding the right balance of price structure, education, waste avoidance, and smart usage.

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Gar Graham (two-year term)

As a previous Air Force medical commander working with a bioenvironmental engineering flight, I am familiar with water quality and other environmental issues. During a 32-year Air Force career, I worked in community health care, commanded clinics and hospitals, and oversaw the Air Force Medical Service’s multibillion-dollar financial plan. While serving at Air Force Space Command, we bought our home in the Donala Water District.

After a final tour at the Pentagon as an Air Force Assistant Surgeon General, I retired as a major general and am currently a Faculty Fellow at Summit Ministries in Manitou Springs, teaching over 1,700 college-age students per year. I also am serving on the Board of the Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S., which represents 7,000 federal health care professionals. I am actively involved and working on El Paso County and Colorado legislative issues. For the last few months I have attended Donala Water and Sanitation District board meetings to learn more about the water supply situation along the Front Range.

Colorado is an amazing area in which to live. As we continue to grow, the challenge of securing a reliable, renewable, and affordable source of water is critical for all of us. The Donala board has done an outstanding job of ensuring that supply, but there are further challenges ahead, including how best to hold down costs, encourage prudent consumption, and continue tapping diverse sources for our water. Added to this is the intrusion of EPA over-regulation of our effluent water—we have plenty to do in the years ahead. I can help with my background in health and environmental issues and hope to join the board this election. Please contact me at g4group@earthlink.net.

I welcome questions and comments.

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Tim Wheeler (two-year term)

As a soil scientist, my work included mapping soils and plant communities. I evaluated soil resources for their capacity to serve as watersheds, support plant communities and agriculture, and earthen structures such as dams and ponds. I also evaluated soils for their usefulness for hiking and other outdoor recreation, urban development, and non-community sewage disposal and for their capacity to store water available for use by irrigated crops. I served as a manager of mapping projects and also provided technical services to a wide range of soil users. My background provided me with a broad perspective as to the many ways our water is used and the importance of using and treating our limited water resources wisely and in a cost-effective manner.

I think the biggest issues facing Donala are the development of an expanded multi-source supply of water and conservation of the water supply to offset limits that will eventually and inevitably arise in the effort to acquire increased amounts of usable water supply. Increasingly stringent sanitation standards are another issue we must carefully plan for, but the more immediate, and therefore presently more critical, issues are the development of additional and affordable water supplies and the wise use of the existing water supply and of supplies acquired in the future.

As a board member, I would continue the work the board has completed to date to identify and seek the additional water supplies we will need. This work will probably include additional partnering with other water entities. I also support the efforts Donala has made so far to encourage its water users to conserve water and will work to further increase our effectiveness in using water wisely while maintaining our property values. You can contact me as follows: e-mail tdwheeler@comcast.net; phone (719) 290-7714.

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Monument Sanitation District, April 19: Strategy for legislative intervention on tighter nutrient regulations discussed

By Jim Kendrick

On April 19, Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund briefed the board on the Colorado House’s approval of the amended HB12-1161 bill sponsored by Rep. Marsha Looper (R-19) and co-sponsored by Sen. Steve King (R-12.) He also discussed plans for gaining support for the bill from the state Senate.

Wicklund noted that the engineering firm Tetra Tech had presented slides at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) meeting on the capital improvements necessary for meeting new total phosphorus limits ($1 million) and partially meeting new total nitrogen limits ($15 million) with available limits of technology equipment. He noted that no technology exists to meet the unattainable new state limits in the nutrient amendment to Regulation 31 nor the even less attainable tighter criteria requested by the EPA.

Tetra Tech also reported that the costs for operating the pilot plant for testing methods to be used for removing total phosphorus had raised to more than $100,000, well beyond the amount budgeted. The JUC unanimously postponed pilot plant operations until 2013. Another temporary operating permit will have to be obtained from the state Water Quality Control Division because the previously approved permit will have expired.

Wicklund also noted that user fees will have to be increased eventually to cover these expenses as well as the new permanent Monument Creek monitoring requirements in the facility’s new discharge permit.

See the related article the April 10 JUC meeting on page 1 for more details.

All members of the board were present.

Legislative action on nutrients reviewed

Wicklund discussed the bill’s original proposed requirement for the state Legislature to create a scientific advisory board to conduct a peer review of the controversial lack of a scientific basis for tighter limits on the nutrients total phosphorus and total nitrogen in the recently approved new state Control Regulation 85 and the new amendment to Regulation 31.

The purpose of the bill is to have the Legislature review the actions of the otherwise unaccountable Water Quality Control Commission because the bill mandates that cities, towns, and special districts that operate many of the 391 wastewater treatment facilities in Colorado spend a minimum of $25 billion for just initial compliance for these two regulations.

The Water Quality Control Commission gave preliminary approval for these two regulations on March 14 at the end of a controversial three-day hearing.

For background on the complex technical issues that led to this hearing, see www.ocn.me/v12n4.htm#cwqcc and www.ocn.me/v12n3.htm#nutrients.

Wicklund noted that the House Agriculture, Livestock, and Natural Resources Committee amended the bill to eliminate the scientific advisory board because it would cost a minimum of $163,000 and there was no support from Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper or the Democratic majority in the Senate for funding this board.

The amended bill, passed to the Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Energy Committee on April 18, called for the Legislature’s Joint Interim Water Resources Review Committee to hold a public meeting on or before Oct. 1 to consider whether the proposed revisions to Regulation 31 and the new Control Regulation 85 for nutrients and chlorophyll-a:

  • Comply with the Governor’s Executive Order D 2011-005 that prohibits unfunded state mandates on local governments, including special wastewater districts.
  • Reflect active stakeholder participation in the content of these new regulations.
  • Consider the results of the cost-benefits study performed by the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority on these proposed nutrient regulations.
  • Are restructured to avoid unnecessary regulation and minimize the fiscal impact to state agencies and local governments.
  • Address basin-specific issues (e.g., South Platte River basin versus Arkansas River basin).
  • Deliver a report on its findings by Nov. 1.
HB12-1161 also requires both houses of the Legislature to approve a bill authorizing the implementation of these two regulations. The regulation "cannot take effect unless and until specifically approved by the general assembly acting by a bill."

The final version of HB12-1161 approved by the House on April 18 by a vote of 36-29 can be found at: www.leg.state.co.us/CLICS/CLICS2012A/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/6F619450AD9CF93287257981007F3AFA?Open&file=1161_ren.pdf

The revised fiscal note for HB12-1161 for this approved bill can be found at: www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2012a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/6F619450AD9CF93287257981007F3AFA?Open&file=HB1161_r2.pdf

Arguments for Senate passage

Wicklund also described what he believed would be the narrow approach that the Colorado Nutrient Coalition and the Colorado Rural Communities Coalition will use to try to persuade the Democratic Senate to support HB12-1161. Wicklund reviewed the following arguments that would be presented at the Senate Agriculture Committee hearing on May 3.

The enormous, long-term costs of nutrient control

The Water Quality Control Commission committed the state to spend billions on nutrient control in the coming decades. The commission adopted two nutrient regulations: the short-term effluent limitation Control Regulation 85 and the long-term interim values in Regulation 31. The short-term costs for Regulation 85 will be approximately $2.5 billion to implement. The "interim values" in Regulation 31 that will be phased in starting in 2022 will cost $25 billion.

Although the regulations delay implementation of nutrient controls for many wastewater treatment facilities, this merely puts off the enormous expenses, it does not eliminate them. Eventually, all dischargers will have to implement costly nutrient controls. Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) operators want to protect state waters from pollution. They protect public health every day by properly treating wastewater.

But implementing expensive treatment technology requires a demonstrated environmental benefit, or it makes no sense and will be counterproductive. Nutrient control is a long-term issue, and these regulations that the Water Quality Control Commission adopted leave numerous significant scientific and economic questions unanswered.

1. How will the state pay for nutrient control in the short term?

  • Lack of a "federal mandate" from the EPA makes the new nutrient regulations subject to Executive Order 5 and the state’s unfunded mandate statute. What will the state’s reimbursement process be for special districts, towns, and cities that lack the resources to finance over $25 billion in new capital construction plus interest?
  • The state Water Quality Control Division said it cannot meet its existing statewide monitoring responsibilities for most regulated parameters. Where will the resources come from to meet those requirements plus the huge added burden of nutrient monitoring?
  • The State Revolving Fund already has an enormous funding backlog of well over $3 billion under existing regulations. How will the fund finance an additional $2.5 billion for Regulation 85, much less an additional $25 billion for Regulation 31 nutrient control? What other sources of funding are available?
2. How will the state address the long-term fiscal and environmental costs?
  • Treating total nitrogen down to the levels required by the "interim values" in Regulation 31 is currently impossible.
  • Only reverse osmosis even gets close to treating nitrogen to the necessary levels, but comes at enormous cost. How will the state pay for it?
  • How will we address the environmental costs of treatment, including enormous energy demands, brine disposal, and the loss of about one-third of the treated wastewater due to its remaining toxicity?
3. How will we address site-specific technical challenges?
  • Statewide monitoring and analysis must begin in less than a year under these new regulations. How will we pay for the development of as yet undetermined site-specific standards before 2022?
  • Site-specific standards and variances will be vital to avoid costly and unnecessary treatment, yet there is no guidance for developing them.
  • How will special districts, towns, and cities address the effects of their individual nutrient treatments on state waters downstream, such as the reservoirs at the borders of the state?
4. How will nutrient controls for stormwater and agriculture work? How will trading work?
  • Regulation 85 does not create any enforceable standards or controls until 2022 for non-localized stormwater discharges and agricultural discharges with nutrients that enter state waters along its shore line rather than through the end of a single discharge pipe for a wastewater treatment facility, which is also called a point source. Where will the funding for voluntary and mandatory nonpoint nutrient control programs for stormwater and agriculture come from?
  • The Regulation 85 statement of basis and purpose states that, unless the division receives additional resources, the review of trades will not occur "expediently," especially for trades involving nonpoint sources. Where will this necessary funding come from to enable sizeable cost reductions?
  • How will trades that implement agricultural controls work, since most agriculture occurs downstream of the major point source discharges?
  • How will trades be affected by the timing of nutrient contributions to the stream?

The case for an independent scientific review

Parties to the rulemaking before the commission presented detailed scientific reviews and testimony from internationally recognized experts who identified major scientific and statistical errors in the division’s approach. Despite this, the Nutrient Coalition counted at least 24 issues that were ignored or inadequately addressed in the hearing process. The commission never addressed concerns about major unsupported scientific and regulatory conclusions underlying proposed nitrogen control in all waters.

POTW operators supported HB1161 for an independent scientific review of the nutrient regulations, to promote a rigorous and fair decision-making process. POTWs are willing to fund scientific peer reviews, and want to see this type of review receive a recognized place in the process. An independent review is necessary to ensure that billions of dollars in state resources are not wasted.

Wastewater monitoring

In other matters, Wicklund reported on the progress made to date by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments workgroup that is setting up a monitoring coalition for Fountain Creek and Pueblo wastewater entities. This new monitoring coalition will be modeled after the South Platte Coalition for Urban River Evaluation. Its tentative purpose is to collect and post a wide variety of data collected by wastewater facilities to determine stream health and nutrient loading from the Tri-Lakes facility down to Pueblo and in the Arkansas River from the Pueblo Reservoir John Martin Reservoir.

Collection of these data will be required by Regulations 85 and 31 starting in 2013 and will be useful for wastewater entities when they file for site-specific variances and exemptions from the unattainable limits called for in these new nutrient regulations in the future.

Wicklund also noted that scheduled collection line cleaning for 2012 had been completed and that the 2011 district audit and the separate final "yellow sheet audit" for the $2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act loan for the Wakonda Hills collection system expansion are scheduled to begin in May.

Wicklund will also begin an investigation into options for creating wetlands within the district in the protected Preble’s mouse habitat downstream of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility that could help further mitigate nutrients in upper Monument Creek.

The district has collected tap fees for two new homes for a total of $18,000. The 2012 budget forecast tap fee revenue of only $10,000. Two other similar new homes will be constructed by the same builder later this year, so tap fee revenue will exceed the budgeted revenue even more.

The meeting adjourned at 8:43 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on May 17 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886 or the web site addresses noted above.

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, May 2: Couple’s exclusion petition approved

By Susan Hindman

After a several-year-long effort to get legally excluded from the Academy Water and Sanitation District, Carole and Ray O’Mara finally got their wish. The board agreed to let the homeowners leave, following negotiations between their respective lawyers.

The O’Maras have both well and septic on their property, and although they have not used the district’s services, they have been paying service fees and bond payments for the past dozen years. The reasons for this are complicated, and the board wrestled with the implications for the district.

After agreeing to specifics regarding the well, the sticking point became money. The district hoped to recoup some of the legal and engineering fees it has incurred during the couple’s exclusion petition process. But Chris Cummins, the O’Maras’ lawyer, disagreed and reminded the board of the "potential legal risk to the district if you don’t take the action that the O’Maras are asking you to take," which would lead to more fees that likely would not be recoverable.

Director Ron Curry responded, "We’ve had enough counsel that I believe if we chose to refuse the exclusion, there’s merit to that. We feel we are giving up quite a bit, too. Future income, part of our customer base.... I would think it would also be to the O’Maras’ advantage to avoid all this litigation.... So if money is the only sticking point, let’s figure out something that works for both parties and be done with it."

The board went into executive session to discuss financial negotiations. Following that, Cummins and Paul Murphy, Academy’s lawyer, discussed options privately. The O’Maras will pay the district $700 to cover some of the costs incurred; the couple has already paid the district $300 for other fees.

Next step, a letter

Engineer Roger Sams of GMS discussed a draft letter to the Donala Water and Sanitation District, which he prepared for the board, which poses questions related to connecting with its wastewater treatment operations. The connection is one of three options the district is looking at as it works to address more stringent state regulations controlling wastewater effluent.

Water main break

While there was nothing new to report on the progress of the district getting a website, Curry noted that it would have been great to have the site up when the water main break occurred on April 7. A leak surfaced at Tari Drive and Sun Hills Drive, which wound up shutting down the entire system for 22 hours. R&R Ditching worked to repair the leak, but because the distribution line was an odd size, it required a specially made tap that had to be delivered.

Incumbents return for another four years

Directors Richard DuPont, Jim Weilbrenner, and Curry were sworn in for new four-year terms. At the March board meeting, Curry, who is the district’s election official, announced he had canceled the election because no new candidates had stepped forward to run.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is June 6.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 16: Comcast agreement amended to match Century Link’s

By Jim Kendrick

On April 16, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved an ordinance making minor changes to the town franchise agreement with Comcast for its cable system to make it identical to the new franchise agreement the board approved for Century Link on March 5. The two franchise agreements now run for 10 years with a flat fee of 3 percent of annual gross revenues from the cable systems and an option to extend the agreements for another five years.

More details on the approval of the CenturyLink agreement are available at www.ocn.me/v12n4.htm#bot0305.

Trustees Rafael Dominguez and Tommie Plank did not attend this meeting. Both are stepping down from the board, along with Gail Drumm. The last meeting for these three will be on May 7, when the new trustees elected on April 3 will be sworn in for four-year terms. The new trustees are Jeff Bornstein, Becki Tooley, and John Howe.

Comcast Internet Essentials program availability

David Sered, Comcast’s director of Governmental Affairs, discussed the new Comcast Internet Essentials program that will be provided in Monument for lower-income families with children who receive free or reduced-price school lunches. Comcast will provide Internet service for $9.95 per month, a low-cost computer for $149.95 plus tax at initial enrollment, and free in-person/online/print training.

In addition to expanding the eligibility criteria, Comcast has:

  • Doubled the speed of the program’s broadband connection to 3 Mbps downstream and 768 Kbps upstream.
  • Arranged with community-based organizations to purchase Internet Essentials to reach more eligible households.
  • Streamlined its approval process to include instant approval of students in schools with high lunch program participation.
  • Expanded online and in-person digital literacy training.
  • Added partnerships to lower the hardware price for eligible households.
See www.internetessentials.com/default.aspx or call 1-855-846-8376 for more information and a welcome package to start this service.

Trustees’ comments

Drumm, who is term limited, commented on some the most memorable of the many votes he had made over the last eight years and then passed out several humorous gifts/awards to Town Manager Cathy Green, department heads, and staff.

Trustee Jeff Kaiser asked Drumm for an update on his Cemetery Master Plan. Drumm stated he would attend a cemetery committee meeting on April 18 at 10 a.m. with the other members: citizens John Howe and Sharron Williams and Public Works Director Tom Tharnish.

Kaiser asked Green if she had finalized the changes in the town’s various intergovernmental agreements with Triview Metropolitan District. Green replied that Triview had hired employees, set up its own separate payroll system, and moved to the leased office space at the rear of Town Hall. She also noted that the town had extended the water operations and streets and landscaping operations IGAs through April 30.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith noted that the Triview board is looking for a district manager as well as a part-time office/bookkeeping assistant to assist utility billing manager/finance assistant Joyce Levad. Levad had been a Triview employee for several years but became a town employee when the town took over Triview operations. Now that Triview is taking over its own operations again, Levad and four town Public Works employees have become Triview employees: Larry Bennett, Glenn Butts, Nick Harris, and Rod Wilson. .

Triview has purchased some Public Works equipment and may rent some of the town’s specialized equipment, such as the town grader during snow season. Smith also discussed the current financial and cash reserve status of Triview, including an annual bond payment increase of about $1 million starting in 2013.

Mayor Travis Easton asked Green about the no-left-turn sign for the northbound lane of the alley by the former town hall building that prevents turns onto westbound Second Street. Green stated that dual no-turn center lines were painted through the alley intersection after the new asphalt overlay was completed, which also prevent this left turn. Green also noted that a plan has been completed to move the continuous dual centerline between Jefferson and Washington a few feet north to allow more room for diagonal parking in the eastbound lane.

Easton noted that the widening of I-25 has been extended north. Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, said that the widening would extend to just north of Highway 105, and he does not expect an additional lane to be constructed between the truck weighing station and County Line Road.

Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. update

Mike Law gave a short presentation on startup progress to date with the Greater Colorado Springs Economic Development Corp. (EDC) and with local businesses. He said the Tri-Lakes EDC would be grateful for any contribution that the board could make to help it get started.

The board unanimously approved two proclamations for Arbor Day, April 27, and Take Pride in Monument Day, May 26. The latter event will take place from 8 a.m. to noon and include community projects, cleanup, and minor home repairs as the successor to the very successful "Big Plant" community event.

The board unanimously approved annual liquor license and tasting permit renewals for Cork ‘N Bottle at 351 Highway 105.

Financial and staff reports

The board unanimously approved a resolution proposed by Smith to authorize a small government exemption that will allow the town treasurer to collect and retain restricted fees collected for vehicle identification number (VIN) certification within the town’s general fund instead of a separate fund. State law requires these funds to be segregated in a separate fund, unless the amounts are small. The amount collected for VIN certification in 2011 was $1,280. This action will reduce accounting and auditing costs.

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

  • $122,600 to Triview Metropolitan District for February sales tax ($115,000), March motor vehicle tax ($7,500), and Regional Building Department sales tax ($100)
  • $5,649 to Hart Intercivic Inc. for printing of mail ballots for the April 3 town election
  • $17,699 to Visual Systems, Inc. dba CygNet Software Inc. to upgrade and reinstate supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software for controlling automated operating systems in town water treatment plants
Drumm asked about the landscaping issue at St. Peter Church. Kassawara explained that the contractor never finished the work so follow-up was required and that landscape guidelines for that part of downtown were out of date and in need of revision. Kassawara also stated that the study regarding water demand was out of date and inaccurate as well. Both guidelines will be revised.

There were 12 new single-family residential land use permits issued in March, with eight of those in Triview. For the year, 21 single-family permits have been issued, and 12 of those are in Triview.

Tharnish stated that the asphalt has been removed from the old police station lot on Washington Street and that re-grading would be completed by the end of the month. The water line for irrigation of the parking lot is installed and the water meter is ready for installation. He also stated that remote radio meter readers are used for all residential customers but some direct manual reading requirements remain in commercial buildings that prevent the transponder signal from being read by a town staffer outside the building or in a nearby vehicle.

Police Chief Jacob Shirk stated that the next Citizen’s Police Academy had started and the class is full. He also discussed the grant the town had received for automated license plate readers and reported that both police officer vacancies have been filled.

Green discussed a potential discretionary board contribution to Tri-Lakes Views for additional pedestals for mounting loaned outdoor art for one-year display. To date Tri-Lakes Views has spent approximately $45,000 and the town has donated $1,000. The board agreed to donate another $1,000.

Plans for Second Street tree planting were also discussed. The meeting adjourned at 7:53 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 7 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, April 25: Transition to operating two stations full time continues

By Jim Kendrick

On April 25, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board reviewed the first data from operating its new Shamrock Station 2 on Highway 83 in concert with the Gleneagle Drive station near Baptist Road. There had not been enough data on simultaneous operations yet to determine any trends. The final invoice from contractor Colarelli Construction had not yet been received, but will not exceed the planned amount. All other aspects of the construction had been completed.

All members of the board were present.

The March financial statement showed that all the major accounts are tracking on schedule and was unanimously approved. The final values for the 2011 budget showed that only 92 percent of the planned expenditures were spent. The 2011 audit was scheduled to begin on May 1.

Chief’s report

There were 136 calls in March, an increase of 7.9 percent from February. There were 126 runs in March last year. Assistant Chief Scott Ridings gave a lengthy technical briefing on new analysis tools that are now available to chart numerous response and staffing statistics.

Ridings and Chief Vinny Burns discussed a structure fire call Wescott had responded to in early April for a relatively new home on Middle Creek Parkway "that was anything but routine." The fire started in a small closed room under the first-floor foyer. The firefighters used correct procedures to determine the strength of the floor before entering the home, and the floor immediately collapsed. Anyone who entered the front door would have fallen directly into the main fire with catastrophic injuries.

They said this demonstrated the vulnerability of new lightweight building materials to a loss of structural integrity much faster than standard 2-by-4 joists used in older buildings. Smoke was already down to the floor when Wescott crews arrived in minimum time, totally obscuring interior visibility. Burns said he would present a more complete debriefing at the May board meeting.

There was a discussion about International Fire Code sprinkler system regulations that Regional Building and the El Paso Board of County Commissioners declined to adopt last month. Wescott will work with other North Group districts to create a basic water-flow supply code for rural structures that do not have sprinkler systems, hydrants, cisterns, or storage ponds maintained by nearby homeowners associations. Fire Marshal Margo Humes will coordinate Wescott’s efforts with county Fire Marshal Brett Lacey.

The board unanimously approved purchase of a large used chipping machine to improve the district’s ability to provide this wildfire mitigation service in wooded communities like Pleasant View Estates.

The meeting adjourned at 8:29 p.m.

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The next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on May 23 in Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: www.wescottfire.org or call 488-8680.

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Summer Safety Fair, June 2

Wescott will hold its annual Summer Safety Fair on Saturday, June 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. For more information, see www.wescottfire.org or call 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, April 25: District audit keeps getting better, auditor says

Below:
Fire Capt. John Vincent has been named fire marshal for the district. The fire marshal, among other things, is responsible for educating the public in fire safety issues, performing fire inspections of buildings, fire safety code enforcement, and liaison with the public in education on fire safety. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

RubinBrown company auditor Julia Stone declared that the district audit "keeps getting better and better each year" during her April 25 presentation to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board. She added that it was a "clean audit."

Stone pointed out several minor items to the board for review. She said that the ambulance revenues should be kept on an accrual basis rather than a cash basis. This would give a truer picture of fund status. The audit was done on a "test basis," meaning that the auditors did not examine every item because the time required to complete the audit would be excessive. She noted that the items that were examined would "give a reasonable basis to form an opinion." She also added that what were originally called "reserve funds" are now called "restricted funds."

Stone said she found that the largest expenditure was for personnel salaries and related costs, which was followed by administration and insurance costs. Depreciation of capital assets was also a large expenditure item.

She said there were no significant changes from last year in assets and liabilities, including capital assets. She added that 3 percent of expenditures must be set aside for the TABOR tax-limitation reserve.

The net assets of the district were just over $2 million, which was a decrease from last year of just over $50,000.

The board accepted the auditor’s report, which is on file at the district administration offices.

Treasurer’s report

The treasurer’s report noted that year-to-date, the district had received 40.70 percent of property tax revenues, which amounted to $1.2 million. Specific ownership tax revenues received were 27.45 percent of the budgeted amount, or $68,442. This was a $24,766 decrease from the same time last year. Ambulance revenues were $128,397, down slightly from the budget projections.

Administrative expenses were up due to payment of liability insurance and maintenance contracts. Gas expense for Station 2 continues to run high along with high water and sewer expenses at Stations 1 and 2.

District Training Officer Mike Keough said total personnel training hours for the first quarter amounted to 480. Of that, 317.5 hours were fire/all hazard specific, 107 hours were EMS specific, and 55.5 hours were for physical fitness.

Director Roger Lance asked Keough about the maintenance of proficiency levels of the fire personnel on the new fire equipment vehicle. Keough said there were no set hours required for proficiency maintenance for any of the platforms. He noted that seasonal qualifications were ongoing and that personnel maintained individual qualifications. Battalion Chief Mike Dooley stated that his shift participated in cross training on the various platforms and equipment last year.

Fire Chief Robert Denboske introduced John Vincent, who is the new district fire marshal. Vincent was a fire captain at Station 3 and celebrated his 11th year with the district this month.

Correction

OCN erroneously reported in last month’s issue that the district was considering an 8.5 mill levy increase. The correct figure is 1.5 mills. This is one possible proposal along with other actions for cost reduction should expenses exceed revenue in the coming years.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 23, 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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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, April 19: Board approves new middle school principal

Below: Seann O’Connor, new Principal of Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Photo provided by D-38.

By Harriet Halbig

At the April 19 meeting of the District 38 Board of Education, Superintendent John Borman announced that Caryn Collette, principal of Lewis-Palmer Middle School, will retire at the end of the school year. He said that there were many candidates for the position, each of whom was interviewed by three separate committees of staff and community members.

Seann O’Connor, current assistant principal of Palmer Ridge High School, was selected to succeed her. He has served in that capacity for the past three years. Previously he was athletics director at Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) and dean of Liberty High School in Academy School District 20.

Board Vice President Mark Pfoff said that he knew O’Connor from attending high school football games and admires his leadership abilities.

Board member John Mann said that he knew O’Connor from the time when Mann taught at Lewis-Palmer High School. He also commended Collette for combining the two middle schools and being award the John Irwin Award for Excellence during the first year.

Board Treasurer Gail Wilson commended O’Connor for the fact that he has worked and planned to further his career in the district. She also praised Collette for her leadership.

The board unanimously passed the resolution to hire O’Connor as principal of Lewis-Palmer Middle School.

Math curriculum purchase approved

Dr. Lori Benton, director of Assessment, Gifted Education, and Technology, reported to the board that the district is in the process of aligning the district math curriculum in keeping with new state standards. This alignment involves horizontal changes so that classes are identical across campuses, and vertical alignment so that material is not repeated from one year to the next.

Benton said that present instructional materials are 8 years old. She proposed the expenditure of $108,609 for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade Everyday Math materials. The cost includes training for teachers and three-dimensional teaching materials.

The cost will be covered by equally dividing the total among the schools and use of excess textbook funding. This does not represent an addition to the budget, but an allocation of funds.

The board passed a resolution to allocate funding for the new math program.

State education funding update for 2012-13

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reported that the School Finance Act has been put on hold. This act included two primary proposals:
  • The Homestead Exemption providing tax breaks for seniors on their property taxes would be reinstated.
  • Per pupil funding would remain the same from this year to next.
BEST project funding (Build Excellent Schools Today grants for capital improvement) will be disbanded. This is the funding that has supported such projects as partial roofing of Lewis-Palmer Middle School and improvements at Palmer Lake Elementary.

Wilson commented that the BEST program was growing too fast to be sustainable and its dissolution will impact rural districts the worst.

Wangeman said that she had reported to the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) about a projected 2012-13 budget for the district (see page 23 of this issue for details). The combination of a reinstated Homestead Exemption and increased per pupil finding is expected to lead to cuts of about $700,000 from next year’s budget instead of the projected $1.3 million. The remaining cuts are to cover increased technology spending, increased spending on the Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA), and increased utility costs.

DAAC had no major concerns about Wangeman’s report, and noted that increased funding to support pre-K to third grade reading and hiring of additional teachers were valid priorities.

Wangeman also reported on the status of a number of reserve funds held by the district.

She said that the Nutrition Services Fund consists of revenue from payment for meals and revenue from the federal government for free and reduced-price lunch students. New federal regulations will require a change in nutritional requirements such as the use of low-fat dairy items, more whole grains and less protein, salt, and calories. There will be a projected increase in food costs of 6 percent to 10 percent. More students are anticipated to qualify for free lunches. The food service department is attempting to hold prices flat.

Priority needs and MLO Feasibility Committee

Borman reported on the results of several discussions involving priority needs for the district. He said that the primary priorities of the district are:
  • A return to moderate class sizes.
  • Continued high achievement by students.
  • Education of the Whole Child.
He said that the district’s budget has been cut to the extent that many teaching positions have been eliminated, many of them crucial to support of reading and math performance, and teachers at the high school level have had their workload significantly increased.

Borman said that to bring the district’s quality of education back to 2002 levels, the priorities are:

  • Strive for a superior teaching staff and provide professional development to maintain the quality.
  • Provide support in reading, writing, and math.
  • Improve the infrastructure for teaching by reinstating an administrative department involving curriculum (this department was combined with several others a few years ago).
Borman said that the cost of catching up to 2002 levels of education would be about $5 million to include repairs to the district’s infrastructure, purchasing several buses, purchase of computers and other technology, increasing professional development, increasing the number of teachers, and tending to the needs of Monument Academy. Even this amount would not provide for pay increases for district staff.

The year 2002 was chosen as a benchmark because it was before the decline in school funding.

Wilson commented that with increased numbers of English Language Learners and Special Education students, the cost of education is greater than it was in 2002.

Mann suggested that the district ask for a $5 million mill levy override (MLO).

Pfoff said that the board must first consider the cost per household of such an issue. Borman said that he had held a meeting of an MLO Feasibility Committee earlier in the week. He offered to go back to the group to determine whether the community is ready to take on an MLO.

Wangeman provided a first reading of prospective fee increases for the coming school year. Most were minimal due to the institution of bus fees in the fall.

Superintendent’s update

Borman reported on activities in the district. Among these is a program in which Kiwanis members read to elementary schoolchildren, LPTV (a video-making class) students raising $1,000 to sponsor their trip to Seattle to show their film on cyber bullying, and the fact that a student from Prairie Winds Elementary has won a prize in an international space art contest. Seventeen students from the middle school qualified for the state level science olympiad. The district’s robotics team won the rookie award at a Denver competition.

He also said that the Lewis-Palmer Elementary School Spring Social on May 1 will offer a good opportunity for intergenerational fellowship as students will perform for and serve refreshments to seniors.

LPHS senior Josh Scott was named Mr. Colorado, the top male basketball player in the state, and Russ McKinstry, LPHS basketball coach, was named 4A coach of the year.

School presentations

Lewis-Palmer Middle School teacher Virginia Monroe spoke of her school’s participation in forensics competitions throughout the state and introduced Jack Icke, who performed a piece by Bill Cosby.

Bear Creek Elementary Principal Peggy Parsley said that her school has benefited greatly from its relationship with Kiwanis Kids—Young Leaders Helping Others. This group of fourth- to sixth-graders has replaced the Student Council at the school and has had a number of projects over the past year:

  • Held fundraisers for the school
  • Created a school newspaper
  • Delivered welcome kits to new students
  • Got a $500 grant for a Book Nook, where donated used books are available to students
The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club also provided grants for improvement of the school’s playground and a poetry contest. A Colorado Springs company donated technology to be used in the Daily 5 program: word work, read to self, listening, writing, and use of smart board and iPads in class. A local carpet dealer provided carpeting for the Book Nook.

Several students read their original poems.

Phyllis Robinette introduced math teacher Teresa Brown of Lewis-Palmer Middle School as this year’s candidate to become a National Board certified teacher. Brown will provide a portfolio and videos for consideration. She is working on the project with her students.

Wilson said that this is the fourth year of Lewis-Palmer School District participation in this program and thanked Robinette for her mentoring of candidates.

The board passed a list of routine items including minutes of previous meetings, requests for leave of absence, lists of teachers and support staff, contracts, insurance, and other items requiring board signature.

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The Lewis-Palmer District 38 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 May 21.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, April 10: Overall academic achievement exceeds requirements

By Harriet Halbig

School District 38 Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton presented a summary of the district’s Unified Improvement Plan to the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) on April 10. The district is required to prepare such a plan each year, as is each individual school. The plan was submitted in January to the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

The district’s overall academic achievement exceeds requirements, as does Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) in reading at the elementary and high school levels. District graduation rates and dropout rates are also rated as exceeding requirements. AYP in math was not met at any level, nor was reading at the middle school level. There will be focus on improving math at all levels and reading at the middle school level.

Benton said that reading intervention had not been available for the past few years and was recently reinstated at the middle school. New reading standards require more depth of thinking than in the past due to the use of historical documents and other original materials.

Benton said the district is doing well in the area of growth and growth gaps. She explained that, beginning with the upcoming academic year, AYP will no longer be an element in evaluating districts.

The district will investigate new materials for use in math at all levels and strive to correct lack of horizontal and vertical alignment in curriculum before the end of 2012.

The district is accredited with distinction because it exceeds state expectations in academic achievements, high graduation rates, low dropout rates, superior ACT scores, and preparation for postsecondary and workforce activities on the part of graduates. The district is among the top three in the state in those areas.

Individuals wishing to compare Lewis-Palmer’s plan with those of other districts may view all state districts on schoolview.org.

Gifted Education Leadership Team

Benton reported that the Gifted Education Leadership Team (GELT) has a new facilitator and has developed a list of goals for the year:
  • Improve communication with parents of gifted students by providing a list of resources and enrichment opportunities via the program website.
  • Prepare the end-of-year report to be submitted to the CDE.
  • Prepare for the audit by state authorities who will come to the district.
  • Review and refine the gifted student identification process.
  • Refine Advanced Learning Plans (ALP) in Alpine software. Each student has such a plan throughout his or her school career.
District 38 has 851 students who are identified as gifted, representing 13.61 percent of the student population. The national average of gifted students in a district is closer to 5 percent.

Goals for improvement in this area are:

  • Increase representation of Latino and other subgroups among the gifted population.
  • Identify gifted individuals in the areas of fine and performing arts, leadership, and creativity.
  • Ensure that programming in each school reflects best practices, acknowledging that pulling students out of class for enrichment deprives them of valuable classroom experiences.
In response to a question, Benton said that gifted high school students receive intensive counseling regarding postsecondary planning and advanced placement coursework.

District budget update

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reported on changes in expectations for the 2012-13 district budget.

As of January of this year, the board expected it would have to cut $1.3 million from the budget for the coming year.

After passage of the School Finance Act on April 4, the state said that per pupil funding for next year would equal that of this year. As a result, cuts would more likely be $700,000 to compensate for such expenses as increased PERA funding (Public Employee Retirement Association—school employees do not contribute to Social Security), increased utility costs, and increased technology spending.

Although the district anticipates an additional 110 to 150 students in the upcoming year, budgeting will be based on an increase of 60. More students mean more state funds, and the extra money will be used to hire 7.2 new teachers primarily at the elementary level, to help decrease class size.

The district picked up 129 new students during the "choice" enrollment period earlier this year. This is compared to an increase of 39 last year. The increase is partially attributed to an active communications plan this year and new employers coming to the area.

In answer to a question, Wangeman said that the technology budget for next year will be $300,000, to include replacement of older equipment, maintenance, and improvement of wireless service to all campuses. This is in anticipation that many students will bring their own laptops and other devices to school in the near future. There is a three-year plan to put all of these assets in place.

Wangeman said the board also would need to discuss the possibility of a salary increase for district employees. In the past few years the district has used bonuses as one-time rewards for employment.

Mill levy override proposal considered

DAAC Chair Steve Braun said that he has been asked to be on Superintendent John Borman’s Mill Levy Override (MLO) Feasibility Committee and asked members of DAAC whether they had comments of pass along. The committee is considering asking for a $2 million MLO to offer intervention in reading and math at the first- through third-grade levels. These grade levels are considered crucial, because it is difficult to catch up later if a student finishes third grade unable to read. Intervention in these areas has been drastically cut over the past three years.

District financial advisor David Bell told Braun that he thought a $2 million MLO could have passed last year if it had been offered.

Several members of the committee commented that they felt this is a bad year to offer an MLO due to the presidential election and lack of time to sufficiently inform the public.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held on May 8 at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Regional quality of life concerns summarized

Below:
Jim Wilson, left, a member of the Non-Profit Council, presents a thank you gift to Pikes Peak United Way Vice President Carrie Cramm. Photo by Candice Hitt.

By Candice Hitt

On April 18, citizens’ concerns about the quality of life in the region were summarized at a meeting on the 2011 Quality of Life Indicators (QLI) for the Pikes Peak Region. The Non-Profit Council sponsored the meeting. Carrie Cramm, vice president of Community Impact for the Pikes Peak United Way, said the QLI report provides a quantitative measure of how well we are doing as a community. She also said the report provides insight about areas of positive growth and development and areas in need of improvement.

The indicators listed in the report reveal areas of concern that citizens have said are significant to the overall quality of life in the community. The decline of the economy that began in 2007 has had a substantial impact on many of the indicators in the 2011 report, Cramm said. This means there are more red flags or warnings that need to be addressed by leaders in the community.

Three recurring themes were highlighted in the report:
  • Jobs and the local economy: Job loss and economic growth have declined. The region has seen a five-year increase in military growth. The area offers high affordability with the cost of living 8 percent below the national average.
  • Social challenges: The Pikes Peak area is seeing a decrease in math skills, an increase in the suicide rate of veterans, and an increase in poverty and homelessness. On the positive side, there is a higher level of adult education and the community is more accepting.
  • Efficient and effective use of our land: there is a lack of density, poor roads, lack of regional transportation, and budget cuts of 81 percent for roads and bridges.

Population growth and wage statistics

The Pikes Peak region, with a current population of about 645,000, has experienced 20 percent growth over the past 10 years, with a 50 percent increase in individuals over age 45. While population growth has increased, there are 6,000 fewer individuals employed in civilian jobs than in the year 2000. Additionally, wages have declined by 5 percent over the past decade.

The QLI study was started by Howard Brooks in 2006 to provide a picture of the community’s health and is the single source of extensive regional data. More than 200 volunteers put the report together. The report is distributed to local offices of the Chamber of Commerce, county commissioners and large employers. For more information on the report: http://PikesPeakQualityofLife.org.

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

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Expert provides update on local economy

Photos by Candice Hitt

Below: Mike Law, president of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp., introduced Fred Crowley.

Below: Guest speaker Fred Crowley discussed the local economy at the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. luncheon held April 26.

By Candice Hitt

The Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. held an annual luncheon April 26 at the Inn at Palmer Divide to provide the most current information on the local economy in Tri-Lakes and El Paso County. Speaker Fred Crowley, Ph.D., senior instructor and economist at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, gave an overview of the local economy and how it has impacted businesses.

Crowley talked about some of the many factors to consider when looking at the overall economy:

  • Global issues such as unrest in Arab nations, earthquakes, and the tsunami in Japan have caused a disruption in the supply chain.
  • Twenty percent of U.S. exports go to Europe, however, the U.S. imports almost 30 percent of its products from other countries, causing job losses in the United States. Crowley said we need to stop imports and produce goods domestically to create jobs.
  • Job growth has been slow, with a 55 percent loss of manufacturing jobs in El Paso County. This has had a large impact on the overall economic outlook.
  • Military employment has been steady and is a good source of revenue for the local economy both in retail and housing.
  • Real estate house listings are 20 percent lower than in 2011.
In summary, Crowley discussed ways the Tri-Lakes area could improve economic conditions for the future. Monument generates 2.5 times the retail sales as El Paso County per person, indicating people within about a 20- to 30-mile radius come to the Monument area to shop. Identifying which businesses to bring to the area will contribute to positive growth.

Also, Crowley said the Tri-Lakes area needs to attract information, data processing, and technology manufacturers to boost the local economy and create jobs in those industries.

The luncheon was sponsored by local businesses such as BL Speer and Associates, Merrill Lynch, and FirstBank. The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce helped to coordinate the event. For information: www.trilakesedc.com.

Candice Hitt can be reached at candicehitt@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, April 25: Chipping Day, cleanup event scheduled

By Harriet Halbig

Woodmoor Improvement Association Forestry Director Eric Gross announced April 25 that this year’s Chipping Day and Firewise Event will be held on Saturday, May 19, from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the fire station on Woodmoor Drive.

Sponsored by Woodmoor’s Forestry Volunteers and the Firewise Committee, this event helps to familiarize local citizens with fire mitigation practices and the association’s membership services. The chipping service is available for a $5 fee per load and is offered to encourage citizens to promptly remove slash and dead trees from their property.

Common Area Director W. Lee Murray reported that Great American Clean Up Day will be on May 12, followed by a free hot dog and hamburger lunch for all those who participate. The event will begin at 9 a.m. and end at noon.

The Common Area Committee also will conduct a pond study, stock ponds with fish, and seek bids for mowing services for the season. Repair work on The Barn continues, with repair of the floor in the meeting area underway and plans for replacement of blinds in the offices on the lower level. Some of the siding on the exterior of The Barn will also be replaced, as will the deck.

Association President Jim Hale appointed Vice President Kirstin Reimann and Secretary Jeff Gerhart to explore ways to use social media to keep members informed about the activities of the association.

Hale also said that he has been receiving emails about the Walters property, located at the south end of Woodmoor, near the high school and townhouses. At one time there was a suggestion to make the area into a wildlife refuge, but there were no written agreements. He asked Association Manager Matt Beseau to do some research into the history of the matter.

In his manager’s report, Beseau said that 735 votes are still needed to finalize the approval of the governing documents for the association. After some discussion, the board approved the expenditure of $1,200 to hire two individuals to visit those homeowners who have not yet approved the documents. It was felt that, after these visits, the few remaining members could be contacted by phone or email.

Beseau stressed that members who have already approved the documents will not be visited, nor will rental properties or those whose owners live outside the area.

Beseau and Hale attended a workshop sponsored by the Community Association Institute on the subject of aging communities. Since Woodmoor was first instituted in the 1960s, the demographics of the area have changed, and they said the workshop was useful for planning purposes.

Covenants Director Darren Rouse reported that slash was the most prominent complaint in the past month along with oversized signage.

Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that the department had purchased a new Jeep that is now being customized for use.

Nielsen also said that there have been no reported bear sightings but that a mountain lion was recently seen in south Woodmoor. Additionally, there was a report of a home break-in at a vacant house whose owners were in the process of moving. He asked that association members notify Woodmoor Public Safety of vacant properties so that they may patrol them.

Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported that her committee approved the new Design Standards Manual the previous evening. Hale said that the board should schedule a special meeting to review the manual.

Stevens-Gountanis also reported that Monument Academy plans to plant pine and aspen trees on the north side of its property to screen it from Woodmoor.

Bill Clark, representing the Briarhaven Homes Association to the east of Woodmoor, requested that Woodmoor join his association in monitoring plans for the widening of Highway 105. He said that his association felt ill-informed about progress in the planning. He said that he plans to attend a meeting of NEPCO, the North El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations, with the same message.

Hale said that he and other members from Woodmoor attended the recent open house at Monument Academy and suggested that the board poll members about their opinions.

**********

The board of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be held on May 23.

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

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April Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

April was our second warm month in a row, as temperatures averaged more than 5 degrees warmer than normal. This came directly on the heels of one of the warmest Marches on record. At least we did manage to get wet and white a few times, unlike in March. Unfortunately, for the month as a whole, we were again below average for rain and snow.

April has started off about how you would expect around here, record highs one day and a blizzard the next. After almost no active weather in March, the first few days of the month have made up for things a little bit. April 1 saw record highs—no fooling—as temperatures soared to the mid- and upper 70s that afternoon. But it sure was short-lived, as a strong front roared through the region. Winds gusted out of the north behind this initial surge of cold air and clouds filled in quickly. A few flurries flew around from that morning through the evening, but no organized areas of moisture were available just yet.

Instead, the bigger shock was the change in temperatures, as we were stuck in the 30s all day, a good 40 degrees colder than 24 hours earlier. At the same time, a powerful storm was setting up over the Four Corners and central New Mexico. It was a prime location for a major spring storm for us. Snow and blowing snow quickly developed during the early morning hours of the 3rd. This made for some treacherous driving conditions that morning, as snow accumulated quickly and was drifted around with the gusty winds. Let’s hope for a few more of these this month, as we could really use the moisture.

After a snowy and wet first few days of April, drier conditions moved in from the 5th through the 9th. With clear to mostly clear skies and seasonal temperatures to start off the period, highs hit the upper 60s and low 70s by the 8th and 9th. A good batch of moisture began to affect the region on the 10th, with morning low clouds and fog. This signified deeper layers of moisture in the region, as south/southeasterly winds advected moisture from the southern plains into the Front Range. By late that afternoon, the stronger April sunshine had sufficiently destabilized the atmosphere to produce our first round of spring time thunderstorms. These were even accompanied by some pea-size hail at times.

Another organized area of moisture moved in later that evening, producing heavy rain and more thunderstorms around midnight. The two episodes totaled a half inch to an inch of much needed moisture. We did dry out the next day on the 13th, but some rumbles of thunder were heard at times. This was a brief dry spell however, as a strong storm system was pushing onshore along the West Coast and heading for Colorado. This time the storm contained some cold air as well as moisture, and, as is common in April, resulted in heavy wet snow for us. Signifying how dynamic this storm was, the event started off with thunder snow and graupel during the mid- to late evening hours of the 14th.

Snow continued to fall heavy that night and into the next morning, with 5 to 10 inches accumulating and blowing around. Cold air aloft stuck around to the 15th. Morning sunshine warmed the atmosphere just enough to destabilize the air mass once again. This led to numerous rounds of heavy snow showers and snow squalls, which dropped quick accumulations of snow that afternoon. Most areas picked up another inch or so and, for the weekend as a whole, another inch of moisture accumulated—just what we need after the dry and warm March. The overall pattern was just about what you’d expect for the middle of April, typically one of our most active weather periods during the year.

Seasonably cool and mainly dry weather moved in for the week of the 16th, with high temperatures hovering in the 50s and 60s. We did have one brief intrusion of cool, moist air on the morning of the 19th, but the areas of low clouds, fog, and flurries quickly moved out by that afternoon. This occurred as a ridge of high pressure began to overtake the region. This area of high pressure allowed dry air and mostly sunny skies to take hold. Temperatures warmed nicely, reaching a good 10 to 20 degrees warmer than normal from the 23rd through the 25th. We even managed to touch 80° F on the afternoon of the 24th, resulting in daily record highs over much of the Front Range.

Moisture began to work back into the region on the 25th, and by the next afternoon, thunderstorms developed. Some of these became strong to severe during the evening and overnight hours from the 26th through the 27th. Several areas received small hail and frequent lightning as the storm rolled through the region. Quiet weather conditions returned to end the month, with temperatures about normal on the 28th, then slowly increasing through the 60s and into the low 70s by the 30th.

A look ahead

May often brings a wide variety of weather conditions to the region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms and hail, and even some snow. May 2007 was a snowy May, with over 20 inches accumulating for the month, although the last couple of years have seen about average with just a few inches.

April 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 62.0° (+5.5°)
Average Low 30.7° (+3.5°)
Highest Temperature 80° on the 24th
Lowest Temperature 25° on the 14th and 17th
Monthly Precipitation 2.83" (-0.50", 15% below normal)
Monthly Snowfall 17.8" (-12.4", 41% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 106.2" (-17.6", 14% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 17.95" (+0.39", 2% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 544 (-146)
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 acknowldegement. 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.

Palmer Lake Community Garden seeks participants

Palmer Lake Community Garden is starting its second year. We are recruiting participants who wish to get involved with a project that will provide benefit to the community and grow over time, just like a garden!

There are several different ways to get involved. You can adopt one of the raised beds that were installed last year and plant your garden. Or participate in the communal garden project that will provide education opportunities for individuals who want to learn from and share in a group activity. There are also opportunities for individuals who are ready to initiate and lead a project.

We are committed to exploring ways that Palmer Lake can be more sustainable and reduce our carbon footprint through gardening, recycling, composting, and education. We have a "pay it forward" initiative. There is "seed money" available for projects with high-impact initiative and that provide maximum benefit for our community. We can help individuals and groups get started on projects that pay it forward to others in the community. We can make Palmer Lake more beautiful and get to know our neighbors, while spending time together and learning from each other.

The Pikes Peak Community Fund underwrites us. If you are interested, please contact Sylvia Amos at Palmer Lake Country Store, 481-8859. Our next general meeting is May 14, 6 p.m., at the gazebo in front of Palmer Lake Town Hall/Fire Station. (In case of bad weather, we will meet at Palmer Lake Country Store.)

Rebecca Angelo Duke

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Regarding "small-minded" leadership at D-38 ...

In the April 7 issue of Our Community News ("D-38 leadership called ‘small-minded’"), Stephen Boyd expressed dissatisfaction with his recent volunteer experience at Palmer Ridge High School. He was required to be escorted to the class he was to be a guest speaker for, and he was observed in the classroom by an administrator.

As a parent in this district, I appreciate the security policies of this school and all of D-38. It has given me a great sense of comfort knowing that visitors are not allowed to roam the halls without question. There is a very good reason these policies are in place, and no one should need to be reminded of that.

In the two years I acted as the volunteer coordinator as well as the BAAC chairperson for PRHS, the procedure for a volunteer included security check-in, issuing of a name tag, followed by contact with the school receptionist for further instruction or escort. There are regular volunteers who are not escorted, and I am one of them. We are required to wear our PRHS identification badges. I can also say that if my badge was not visible, it would be noted by any teacher or administrator—they look for it. Even members of the Board of Education follow these procedures.

As far as being observed in the classroom, why is this problematic? Teachers are observed in the classroom; why not a volunteer?

I applaud Mr. Boyd for his volunteerism. Clearly it’s something I believe in strongly, as do the PRHS administration and the entire district. Volunteerism is embraced and welcomed. However, I do question why someone who does not have children in this district, nor lives and pays taxes in this community, often publicly criticizes and finds fault with D-38. What is the motivation?

Deb Stumpf

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Resident supports Stephens in election

As a longtime resident of Monument and retired Air Force officer, I see the upcoming Republican primary in June as critical to the well-being of our community and our state. Due to redrawn districts, two incumbents are competing for the House District 19 seat. With the future of limited, conservative government in Colorado at stake, I have spent many hours researching the candidates.

Only the GOP-controlled House and leadership of individuals like House Majority Leader Amy Stephens are keeping Colorado’s government in check. My research found that Stephens was proactive in passing a Colorado-controlled, free market health care exchange—preventing the federal government from forcing its system on Coloradans (SB11-200). On the other hand, her opponent voted for Centennial health care (SB08-217), a bill that "may impose a requirement that all Coloradans obtain creditable coverage"—an "Obamacare"-like mandate with penalties assessed through Colorado tax laws. Rep. Stephens sponsored the bill that overturned Colorado’s "dirty dozen" software tax that hurt many high-tech businesses, and she sponsored legislation to kill the "Amazon tax" on Internet sales. Her opponent sponsored a bill that would have increased real estate sales paperwork and added hundreds of dollars to closing costs, a bill quickly killed in the GOP-controlled House.

I served in the military for 20 years because I believe our system of limited, republican government is the only way to ensure the rights and liberty of the American people. But the principle of limited government is at risk, both nationally and in Colorado. My research convinced me that we need to re-elect the proven conservative leader in the upcoming GOP primary—our current Republican House Majority Leader Amy Stephens.

Anne Campbell

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Stephens demonstrates class, determination

I am among a growing number of citizens who are increasingly weary of obnoxious campaign mailings given to distortions and bombastic claims. Amy Stephens’ campaign is refreshingly different. I thank Amy for choosing to conduct her campaign in a positive, mature manner. She does not feel compelled to sully an opponent, undoubtedly because she has an impressive, conservative record to stand on. I admire her for signing and honoring the "Truth in Campaigning Pledge." A lady of uncompromising integrity, Amy Stephens has repeatedly demonstrated her class.

I have been privileged to serve with truly inspiring leaders in both the military and civilian environments. Stephens is that type of inspiring leader. Her "can-do" attitude was very evident in how she dealt with adversity when she first arrived at the Statehouse in 2007. Finding herself and her fellow Republicans hampered in their efforts to impact legislation due to a Democrat majority, she didn’t just resign herself to being a member of the minority party. Instead, Stephens made a courageous and unselfish decision to do the hard work to change things. Amy Stephens took the initiative to plan and lead the fight for conservatives in Colorado, stumping across the state for conservative candidates and winning a Republican majority in the House of Representatives in 2010.

Her initiative, grit, unselfishness, and determination were recognized when her fellow Republicans unanimously voted her their House majority leader. Thanks to the team she helped build, Amy was able to effectively lead the charge to protect Colorado against the destructive agenda of liberals with respect to "Obamacare," civil unions, abortion, the erosion of our Second Amendment rights, and gutting the senior citizens Homestead tax exemption.

HD19 voters, we can’t afford to lose this dedicated, conservative leader. We need to re-elect Amy Stephens.

Gordon Edgin
USAF JAG (retired)

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Business owner backs Stephens

As the owner of the Affordable Flooring Connection for over eight years, I know how important it is to have a representative in state government fighting for our community. I ask all Republicans in the Tri-Lakes area to re-elect Amy Stephens in the June 26 Republican primary, so that she can continue to serve as a conservative advocate for our area.

Amy is a resident of Tri-Lakes, and she knows and understands the needs of our community. As our state House Republican majority leader, she has fought for pro-business legislation and against legislation that would hurt both our businesses and our families. Whenever I have called with a question or comment, I’ve received a return call.

As a small-business owner, health care costs are very important to me. Since the passing of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare" to the rest of us), the bill that was supposed to lower health care costs, my health care premiums have nearly doubled. Now, I’ve got "affordable" in my name and that’s not affordable!

To fight against Obamacare, Amy took bold initiative and sponsored State Bill 200, which pulled our state out of some of the most onerous aspects of Obamacare and gave small businesses like mine more options for health care. Attorney General John Suthers, one of the most principled conservatives in our state government, has endorsed Amy Stephens’ re-election for her leadership in sponsoring this and other efforts to counter Obamacare.

Amy has said the only way to defeat the agenda put forth by Democrats is to elect Republicans to take back and retain the state House and Senate. It took four years, but in 2010 we did win back the House, but the work is not over. I urge fellow Republicans to re-elect Amy Stephens as our representative for House District 19!

Thomas Roddam

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Go west, readers, go west!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

From the Rocky Mountains to Texas, the Wild West has intrigued readers for generations. Following is a sampling of Western books ranging from history to adventure.

Legends Lost
By Charlie Mac (Filter Press) $24.95

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid have miraculously escaped the Bolivian Army and are living quiet lives back in the United States when a journal surfaces that links railroad baron E.H. Harriman to the Lincoln assassination. The journal is traced to Butch and Sundance, and all the power of the Union Pacific Railroad is unleashed. Corporate survival is at risk, and no measure is too extreme to retrieve the journal. The action crisscrosses the country from New York City to Crested Butte, Colo.

Buried by the Roan
By Mark Stevens (Globe-Pequot Press) $14.95

When a hunter’s body is found deep in the Flat Tops Wilderness, there are enough other strange things going on to convince hunting guide Allison Coil that the death was no accident. The future of the way of life in the rugged Colorado mountains is at stake. Allison finds the killer’s trail, but doesn’t avoid being trapped in the simple but wicked device that murdered her client.

The Sisters Brothers
By Patrick DeWitt (Ecco Books) $14.99

Hired guns Eli and Charlie Sisters are after Hermann Warm, but their prey isn’t an easy mark, leading them from Oregon City to Warm’s gold-mining claim outside Sacramento. Eli, who doesn’t share his brother’s appetite for whiskey and killing, begins to question what he does for a living—and whom he does it for.

Doc
By Mary Doria Russell (Ballantine Books) $15

Born to the life of a Southern gentleman, Dr. John Henry Holliday arrives on the Texas frontier hoping that the dry air and sunshine will restore him to health. With few job prospects, Doc Holliday is soon gambling professionally with his partner, Maria Katarina Harony, a high-strung, classically educated Hungarian prostitute. In search of high stakes poker, the couple hits the saloons of Dodge City, where the unlikely friendship of Doc Holliday and a fearless lawman named Wyatt Earp begins.

True Sisters
By Sandra Dallas (St. Martin’s Press) $24.99

In a novel based on true events in 1856, Dallas delivers the story of four women from the British Isles who come together on a harrowing journey while seeking the promise of salvation and prosperity in a new land. The women were part of a ragtag group of weary families who embarked on a 1,300-mile journey on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, pushing their belongings in two-wheeled handcarts. Encouraged by Brigham Young himself to make the treacherous journey to the "promised land," the women endure unimaginable hardships, which test the boundaries of their faith, and learn the true meaning of survival and friendship.

An 1880 Victorian Mansion of the Colorado Rockies: the Estemere Estate at Palmer Lake
By Daniel W. Edwards and Roger W. Ward (Self-published) $35 (color images); $15.95 (black and white images)

The Estemere Estate was built by Dr. William Finley Thompson, the founder of Palmer Lake. After spending four years in England, the oral surgeon returned to the United States to establish a European-style health spa for the treatment of "consumption" (tuberculosis). Eight years into the project, Thompson was bankrupt and fled with his family to New York City. The architectural and social history of this unique 19th-century mansion is chronicled in the book through photographs, document scans, and other source material.

The Mystery in the Rocky Mountains
By Carole Marsh (Gallopade International) $7.99

Children will be enthralled by this mystery set in Colorado from Denver to Durango. It involves one haunted hotel, two slippery slopes, three tattered books, five mountain peaks, and a Titanic discovery.

Peril on Longs Peak (Adventures with the Parkers)
By Mike Graf (Globe-Pequot Press) $12.95

Readers 8 to13 years old are invited to join the Parkers, a family of four, as they hike up 14,259-foot Longs Peak. Will injuries, exhaustion, and dangerous weather take their toll on the family?

The West has a romantic, rough-and-ready history, and both fiction and nonfiction set in this area can be a delight to read.

Until next month, happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Mountain plover

Click here or on the graphics to zoom in.

Below: Drawing of a mountain plover and a prairie dog by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Following last month’s article on the northern goshawk, I heard from readers who had seen a juvenile but thought it was some other bird. One man actually sent several beautiful photos of one he saw on County Line Road. This is exciting because it may be an indication that the northern goshawk is successfully breeding on the Palmer Divide.

Last year I wrote about Joyce Hannigan and the hundreds of hummingbirds that come to her feeders each summer. On April 20, she saw two hummingbird scouts and immediately purchased 50 pounds of sugar to get ready for the hoards of hummers that would soon follow. Now that’s dedication!

This month I’m featuring a bird often referred to as "the prairie ghost." I could be looking directly at a mountain plover but not see it because it stands perfectly still and blends into the landscape. When threatened, most birds will fly off but this bird remains motionless. It typically runs a few steps and then abruptly stops and waits. When it feels the coast is clear, it will move a short distance to the next stop, dipping its head to pick up insects along the way.

Description

The first time I saw a mountain plover (Charadrius montanus), its shape and the way it moved on the ground made me think it might be a common killdeer. Similar to the killdeer, the mountain plover is a medium-size shorebird, about 8 inches tall. The mountain plover is a lighter color than the killdeer and it lacks the dark chest stripe. It has long, pale brownish-yellow legs, a short neck, and short black bill. Its feathers are sandy brown on top and white on its bottom and neck. It has an amber-colored eye, and when breeding, it has a black patch on its crown and a thin black loral (a stripe) that extends from its beak to its eye. Male and female look alike.

Classification

The mountain plover is classified as a shorebird but it avoids water and wet ground. It is one of nine species of birds endemic to the North American grasslands.

Habitat

Despite its name, the mountain plover doesn’t reside on mountain tops or on slopes but rather on the flat tablelands of arid, short-grass prairies that are dominated by dry-land grasses, cacti, yucca, and prairie flowers like Indian paintbrush. It would be rare to find a killdeer in this dry habitat because it is a shorebird that likes to be near water.

Migration and range

In March, the mountain plover migrates from the southwest United States and northern Mexico to the high plateaus that extend from Colorado north to Canada.

Prior to development of the land between Lewis-Palmer High School and Gleneagle, I observed mountain plovers along with prairie dog colonies on land that had been used for grazing cattle for most of the 20th century.

Diet

The mountain plover is an insectivore that eats juicy insects like beetles, grasshoppers, and crickets. It rarely drinks water but gets the moisture it needs from the insects it eats. Its favorite insect is reported to be the beetle, but it will eat any insect including the Miller moth.

It has a symbiotic relationship with the black-tailed prairie dog. When prairie dogs dig tunnels, many burrowing insects come to the surface so a plover doesn’t have to travel far to find a meal. This works in the plover’s favor because unattended nests are more vulnerable to predation from roaming animals like foxes and coyotes. The plover helps to control the insect population that can be problematic in prairie dog colonies. When both species mutually benefit from each other’s natural behavior, it is referred to as a symbiotic relationship.

Nesting

The arid short-grass prairies of Colorado and Montana are prime nesting areas for the mountain plover.

Breeding season is short. It begins in mid-April and ends in July. The plover is selective and scratches out a number of depressions before laying three olive-colored spotted eggs that look like large pebbles. Often the hen will lay her eggs near a pile of rocks or a cow pie to hide and protect them from being crushed.

Only a small percentage of eggs will actually hatch. Predation, wet weather, hail, livestock walking on eggs, and farm equipment running over nests all contribute to egg loss. And if that were not enough, the mountain plover will abandon a nest if the vegetation grows too tall.

If the eggs are lost early in the season, the female may lay two more clutches to increase the pair’s chances of successfully producing chicks. When two clutches are laid, the male sits on one clutch while the female incubates the other.

Chicks hatch in about 28 days and within a few hours of each other. The hen sits on the eggs and keeps the hatchlings close until the last chick is on its feet. Within an hour after the last chick hatches, the hen and chicks leave the nest. The chicks are able to feed themselves shortly after hatching but stay with the adults for a little more than a month. After separating from the adults, the juveniles won’t begin to fly until a few weeks before they begin to migrate in late July. The adult and chicks are constantly moving to avoid predators including golden eagles, falcons, hawks, loggerhead shrikes, coyotes, foxes, and feral cats.

Conservation status

The mountain plover population has declined due to loss of nesting and wintering habitats. It was considered for listing under the Endangered Species Act of 1999, but was withdrawn in 2003. Due to continued habitat loss, it is still listed as a species of concern.

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: Oil and acrylic paintings are both popular choices

By Janet Sellers

Well, I’ve gotten so many questions in the last month about the differences between acrylic painting and oil painting, I thought I would write a very brief note answering those questions about the two and explain a few things. I’ve done work in both mediums for decades, and while I tend to favor using acrylics, I do have reasons why both are so compelling to do the actual artwork and to own as a work of art. With any luck, I can address the questions here for you with dispatch and serve up a short answer.

For hundreds of years, oil painting has dominated the painting scene as the stronger lead for art support/sales and as a very satisfying medium for artists to use. The creamy texture, bright colors, and soft edges it creates make oils attractive to use for many people.

It’s good to understand not just the imagery and visual picture, but also the materials, so you really know what you have with an oil painting. Taking a class in the making or collecting of paintings can offer a wealth of information and enjoyment of them. With artists using proper knowledge of technique in its application, works done in oils have lasted hundreds of years.

The really tricky problem, though, is if the colors are not applied properly (thin layers only, white at the end as it dries slowest, etc.), or in the right order or with the right added materials—called mediums—the painting can crack and fall off the canvas or panel in months or years, and will need repairs or be beyond repair. Oil paintings must dry for a year before they can be safely varnished, since that is how long a traditional oil painting needs to be fully dry and accept varnish.

Acrylics, introduced around mid-century last, use traditional artist pigments in a polymer medium instead of an organic oil medium (which is a monomer) and have the advantage of being immediately stable, are dry and workable in hours, not weeks, and create an extremely durable work of art with or without expert understanding of the painting process oils require. Acrylic paintings can be finished with their own clear varnish, and can be wiped clean with a cloth and water, while oils must be professionally cleaned or you could ruin the surface.

That said, both materials can offer a superb work of art given the artist’s skill and the specific artwork itself. The real worth is in the spirit of the thing. We like what we like, and there is the telling moment. To collect well, all we need is to like and enjoy the work, and that just takes some money, being alive and saying, "Hmmm, I like that one." Works done in oils, as with acrylics, can be finely detailed or broadly brush-stroked, laid on with a palette knife or even in other inventive ways, such as credit cards as an art tool to put on the paint.

Art news and art fun in town

Our local arts events and places seem to keep growing and growing. We really have an arts district now, with studios, galleries, and events dotting the landscape from Palmer Lake to Baptist Road. Our public art sculptures flow in the same arts path from all three lake areas and centering on the old town part of Monument.

The Art Hop—Hooray for May. The 2012 Art Hop starts this month on the third Thursday and continues a monthly schedule into the fall. Maps and information on participating venues are available around town, and online at www.MonumentArtHop.org. I counted at least 14 venues on the map so far. It will be fun to take a look and see what the Art Hop has planned. I, for one, am very happy to greet this favorite event. We get to see art in unusual places at third Thursday’s Art Hop, and the Friday Art Walk exhibits at the customary art places. How cool is that for us?!

Second Fridays Art Walk—I talked with various galleries about how it went for the first Monument Arts Art Walk in April, and it seems there were dozens of people visiting the various art venues that evening. Since the weather was still kind of chilly and very windy, it was unknown how the inaugural evening would go. As it turned out, it was a happy success even if some of the tents wafted in the wind somewhat. I was inside at the Bead Corner shop for the evening, and it was humming with cheerful people. The Art Walk adds another fun time zone for us to get into the local art scene, all the while enjoying other local attractions as we go.

The Palmer Lake Art Group—The group recently visited the Secret Window art gallery for a meeting and to take in what the gallery has to offer to art groups and events. The gallery has recently expanded beyond the spacious indoor gallery and floral studio. The back courtyard now is a sculpture garden landscaped with lush grass and stone, and has beautiful views of the mountains surrounding the Tri-Lakes area (and yes, those local trains go by in all their glory and add excitement and the familiarity many locals know and love). The year-round venue provides an outdoor seating and reception area and stage, and has a heated all-weather tent for any inclement weather.

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

Palmer Lake, Monument host Easter egg hunts

Photos by David Futey.

Below: One Easter egg hunter is ahead of the rest during the Palmer Lake Easter Egg Hunt on April 7.

Below: After hiding eggs for the Palmer Lake Easter Egg Hunt, (from left) the Easter bunny, played by Suzi Musgrave, poses with Virginia and Alyssa Ditter.

Below: Carter, left, and Gia Vice show the eggs from their hunting efforts after participating in the Palmer Lake Easter Egg Hunt.

Below: In Monument, the Easter bunny greeted Easter egg hunters like Harshini Muthuraman near the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District building.

By David Futey

On April 7, young residents of the Tri-Lakes area had their choice of Easter egg hunts.

In Palmer Lake, the town sponsored an egg hunt on the village green. Inside the Palmer Lake Town Hall, children had their choice of games to play and a popcorn snack. Volunteers from Tri-Lakes Chapel assisted with the festivities.

In Monument, the Historic Monument Merchants Association hosted an egg hunt where participating merchants hid eggs in and around their establishments. The Easter bunny made a special appearance at both hunts.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me

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Littlebird draws on special inspirations in making music

Below:
Leon Joseph Littlebird performs at the TLCA with slideshow imagery as a background. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On April 7, The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts hosted songwriter and performer Leon Joseph Littlebird. A Grand River Ute who grew up in Summit County, Littlebird shared stories about his pioneer family, noting one of his grandfathers was the first postmaster for the Colorado Territory. He recalled Native American culture and inspirations, such as his father who had "wisdom on his face."

Littlebird took those stories and deftly scripted and performed songs that brought his audience with him on a journey. He recalled times playing his flute by the Blue River and Lake Dillon, and from those experiences created songs such as Naa Ohn Kara (Where the Blue Water Meets the Sky).

Information on Littlebird is at http://littlebirdmusic.com/.

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

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Dakota Blonde returns to the TLCA

Below:
Gordon Burt joined Dakota Blonde band members Don Pinella, Mary Huckins, and Tony Raddell as the band returned to the TLCA stage. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On April 21, an old friend returned to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts stage. It had been nearly two years since Dakota Blonde—Don Pinnella, Mary Huckins, and Tony Raddell—had performed at the TLCA, and the occasion brought many friends to the audience and a bit of reminiscing about the history of the band during the performance.

The band members first met each other while teaching music therapy to emotionally troubled children and adolescents. Huckins recalled how, after months of practice, they started playing for change on Pearl Street in Denver. That led to an open mike night at Little Bear in Evergreen and, fast-forwarding to 2013, the band will be celebrating its 10th year with a new CD.

On this evening the band was accompanied by violinist Gordon Burt. The quartet performed new songs, One More Dollar and Follow the Child, fan favorites such as the Ballad of Mary’s Car and Mary’s Waltz, along with covers from Johnny Cash and Cyndi Lauper. Each song seemed to bring out a story from the band’s history that connected to someone in the audience. It is always a great time when old friends get together.

Information about Dakota Blonde is at www.dakotablonde.com/.

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

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Winners named in D-38 Art Show

By David Futey

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) is hosting the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Art Show. Among the first-place winners is Bradlee Ferguson, a first-grader at Palmer Lake Elementary School (PLES) shown above with PLES art teacher Nan Graber. Ferguson’s work is titled Spot the Dog.

Other winners included:

  • Lauren Baker, kindergartner at Palmer Lake Elementary School
  • James Bohannon, first-grader at Prairie Winds Elementary School
  • Ana Castro, first-grader at Monument Academy
  • Sean Tostanoski, freshman at Lewis-Palmer High School
  • Amber Mathers, sophomore at Palmer Ridge High School
  • Nelson Tucker, junior at Lewis-Palmer High School
  • Aaron Wilson, senior at Palmer Ridge High School
An Art Scholarship Awards night for all award winners on May 7 will begin at 7 p.m. at the TLCA.

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

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Antiques show draws many vendors

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Diane Zeiger and Penny LeNeveu were co chairs of the 36th annual antiques show.

Below: Lily Golondzinier, Charlie Ann Hayes and Carol Reed were coordinators of the bake sale at the event.

By Harriet Halbig

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club sponsored its 36th annual Pine Forest Antiques Show at Lewis-Palmer High School on April 28-29.

This year’s show featured 44 antiques vendors, 13 garden vendors, and several raffles in addition to the popular bistro lunches and baked goods sale. Appraisal and repair services were also available on site.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the community through grants to charitable and education institutions. Membership is open to all residents of School District 38. In addition to the antiques show, the club sponsors the annual Wine and Roses event in the fall.

For membership information or grant application forms, please go to tlwc.net.

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

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HAP receives Kiwanis grant

Below:
At the weekly meeting of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club March 31, Kiwanis president Steve Stephenson presented a grant of $750 to the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) Board vice president, Dave Betzler. Stephenson explained that the annual grant was awarded in support of HAP’s new Foot Care Clinic serving the Tri-Lakes community. The Foot Care Clinic is conducted from HAP’s Senior Citizen Center located on Lewis-Palmer High School campus.

Pictured above (L to R): Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) board vice president Dave Betzler, HAP board member Linda Dameron, Monument Hill Kiwanis president, Steve Stephenson, and HAP volunteer Allen Alchian. Photo provided by Tri-Lakes HAP.

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American Legion National Commander visits Tri-Lakes

Below:
National Commander Fang Wong flanked by Tri-Lakes Post 9-11 members Ray Kinder left, Dave Hershberger and Randy Fritz right, and Mike Christensen, District Commander far right. Wong visited the Tri-Lakes area on April 5. The Trii-Lakes Post meets the first Tuesday of each month at the Depot Restaurant, Hwy 105 & Primrose St., in Palmer Lake. New members are welcome.

For information, call 481-8668 or visit www.americanlegiontrilakespost911.com. Photo provide by Post 9-11.

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April and May library events

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Bethany Bonser portrayed the younger sister of Charley Morrison, whose letters were read.

Below: Back row left to right, Lucas Palonen, Drew Williamson, Zach Sardi. Front row: Katelyn Wilder and Kristin Malloy. These Honors American History students read Charley Morrison’s letters.

Below: Katherine Scott Sturdevant. Professor of History at Pikes Peak Community College, spoke of caring for and interpreting historical documents.

By Harriet Halbig

Many thanks to all of the teens who have applied to be summer reading volunteers. Training sessions will be held in May, and the program begins June 1. We all enjoy the energy of the summer reading program with its special performances and prizes. The teen volunteers add extra life to the library.

May’s Family Fun at the Monument Library is Llamas in the Library on Saturday, May 12, at 1:30 p.m. Mike Shealy and Marlice Van Zandt of Touch the Earth Ranch in Black Forest will bring one of their charming llamas into the library. You will be able to turn the wool into felt and see how to spin it into thread.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, May 18, at 10 a.m. to discuss The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver. All patrons are welcome to join this monthly club.

May’s Fabulous Friday Fun will be on Friday, May 18, from 4:14 to 5:15 p.m. This is an exploration of the Dewey decimal system in the form of a scavenger hunt, designed for mid-elementary to middle school students. There are free snacks and each participant gets a book to take home.

The teen Book-Eaters book club and Crafty Teens will not meet in May due to end-of-school obligations.

The Lego Club will meet on May 19 from 10:30 to noon. We’ll provide the Legos and you bring the creativity. Please do not bring your own Legos. Be sure to bring your camera to record your creation, because all pieces used to make projects remain the property of PPLD. Good news! The Lego Club will also meet during the summer months.

On May 19 from 1 to 5 p.m., the library will host the AARP Mature Safe Driving program. A driver refresher course designed for motorists age 50 and older, this course offers the opportunity to save on insurance premiums if attendees present their completion certificate to their insurance agent. The cost of the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited and registration is required. Please call 488-2370 to register.

On the walls of the library during May is Sister & Brother: A Contrast in Art. Siblings Rita and Ric display their figurative watercolors and abstract acrylics.

In the display case is Here Comes the Circus!, a collection of miniature circus items from the collection of Bob Garner.

Palmer Lake library events

Come to the library to read with Misty, the sheltie. Research has proven that reading to a quiet and patient dog can improve fluency among young readers. Misty loves to listen and likes for you to give her a treat. Misty will be at the library from 4:30-5:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 10.

On Friday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m., Palmer Lake Library volunteer Mark Schaible will present a photo journal of his 2011 trip to Mount Everest. Learn how Mark trained for Everest and the fascinating details of his 10-week adventure.

In 1999, Mark was the top-rated Air Force experimental test pilot and in line to fly the Space Shuttle when he was diagnosed with stage 4 Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia. In 2004, Mark received an unrelated-donor bone marrow transplant that saved his life.

Registration is required for this program. Please call 481-2587.

The Palmer Lake Library Knitting Group meets each Thursday from 10 until noon. Bring your project and enjoy the fellowship of other knitters. No registration is required and knitters of all skills are welcome.

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun Program is Llamas in the Library on May 19 at 10:30 a.m. Please see the description of the program above.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on June 1 to discuss The Four Ms. Bradwells, a novel by Meg Waite Clayton. All patrons are welcome to join this group.

On the walls of the library, you are welcome to view Expressions of Beauty – Shared, photography by Laurisa Rabins.

All Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on May 28 for Memorial Day.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, April 19: Early trails laid groundwork for I-25, I-70

Below:
Lee Whiteley, author and historian of local and regional transportation systems, takes a question at the April meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. Whiteley discussed the history of the naming of Pikes Peak by explorers who used the Smoky Hill Trail to come west. Part of that trail forms the route basis for Interstate 70. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

By Bernard L. Minetti

During the April 19 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society, author, TV producer, and lecturer Lee Whiteley presented an overview of the Pikes Peak regional transportation systems and their origins and evolvement.

Whiteley explained that the Palmer Divide, also known as the Arkansas-Platte Divide, has historically created challenges and demanded high levels of local expertise to overcome the pitfalls of transporting people and goods through the area. This transportation corridor is bordered on the west by the Rocky Mountain ranges and on the east by the plains of what once was Kansas Territory, originally known as the Great American Desert.

Whiteley noted that some of the explorers of the 1800s came west on the Smoky Hill Trail. From this vantage point, some of them observed Pikes Peak and he recalled how the naming of this mountain then evolved. Zebulon Pike in 1806 was perhaps the first white man to observe this mountain, which he named "Highest Peak."

Stephen Long came in 1820 and the peak was then named "Long’s Peak." Subsequently, the peak was named "James Peak" after a botanist who participated in the Long expedition. Eventually the name evolved into Pike’s Peak (later Pikes Peak) as the regional inhabitants gradually used that name more and more and it evolved into permanency. I-70 now generally follows some of the same route as the Smoky Hill Trail.

Whiteley detailed the transformation of the many trails in the region and their evolution into some of our major highways of today. He explained how "Trapper’s Trail" began around 1830—how it started in Pueblo’s Arkansas River and meandered to the forts north of Denver and eventually terminated in Fort Laramie. It was a major commerce and transportation system of the region at the time. Essentially, this trail was the original general foundation of the present day I-25 route. He noted that Colorado Highway 83 was originally a planned route for I-25 but that U.S. Highway 85, known in the early and mid-1900s as "The Ribbon of Death," evolved into the basis for I-25 as route engineering evolved.

He noted that the famed Cherokee Trail, also known as the "Trail of Tears," was a major east-west trail that the California gold rush pioneers used to travel west and bypass the Rocky Mountain range to the northwest of the Denver area. It was called "Trail of Tears" because of the forced relocation of many American Indian tribes as a result of the Indian Removal Act of 1830. It was estimated that 4,000 of the 15,000 relocated Cherokee died of disease, exposure, and starvation during that relocation.

Whiteley is a fourth-generation Coloradan and now resides with his wife, Jane, in Centennial. He became interested in studying the history of the regional transportation evolution when he became aware of a wagon trail that passed through his great-grandparents’ homestead southeast of Castle Rock. This led to his first book, The Cherokee Trail: Bent’s Old Fort to Fort Bridger. He subsequently wrote, The Yellowstone Highway, The Lincoln Highway in Colorado, and The Playground Trail: The National Park-to-Park Highway. Whiteley and his wife are associate producers of the PBS documentary, The National Park-to-Park Highway.

Benefit concert scheduled

Society President Al Walter announced that a Brulé concert, a Native American experience of sight, sound and soul, would be presented at Palmer Ridge High School Auditorium (19255 Monument Hill Road, Monument) on May 25. Performance is at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Tickets can be purchased online at www.onenationwt.org or by calling One Nation Walking Together at 719-329-0251 or Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce at 719-481-3282. This concert will benefit two nonprofit organizations: One Nation Walking Together and the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

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The Palmer Lake Historical Society normally meets on the third Thursday of the month. The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. May 17 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Membership is not required to attend.

The May presentation is "Early Life on the Palmer Divide." Don Ellis provides glimpses into the farming, logging, ranching, and living during the early days of the area’s development and inhabitation.

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 - May Menu

    May 2—BBQ pork sandwich, potato salad & pickle
    May 9
    —Tuna on a croissant, potato chips & avocado
    May 16
    —Pork roast, roasted potatoes & million dollar salad
    May 23
    —Beef brisket, garlic mashed potatoes & salad
    May 30
    ––Penne pasta w/spaghetti sauce & Caesar salad
Rolls and butter are served with each meal except sandwiches. Dessert is also provided.

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

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Slash-Mulch season begins May 5

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here! Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps) will be accepted May 5 to Sept. 12. Mulch will be available May 19. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., beginning May 19. The loader fee is $4 per bucket, approximately 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County, co-sponsored by the Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners. The program’s purpose is to teach forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information visit bfslash.org or call Ruth Ann Steele 495-3107, Carolyn Brown, 495-3127, Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878.

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A Taste of Tri-Lakes Cares, May 7

Come enjoy the creations by local chefs given specific food items from the TLC pantry, similar to the TV show Chopped. Cost: $10 per person plus one donated item from the following list: powdered laundry detergent, toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, feminine products, deodorant, and child diapers (size 3-6). Children 10 and under free with paid adult. For more information, call 481-4864.

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Willow Springs Ranch steering committee forming, reply by May 7

Commissioner Darryl Glenn will chair the Willow Springs Ranch steering committee that will develop a purchasing/fundraising strategy for consideration by the Park Advisory Board and the Board of County Commissioners. The committee will probably meet twice a month on a weeknight in the Monument area through the remainder of 2012. If you are interested in serving on the steering committee, email timwolken@elpasoco.com by May 7. For more information, Call Tim Wolken, 520-6981 or email timwolken@elpasoco.com.

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Forest View Acres Water District election, May 8

The Forest View Acres Water District will conduct a mail ballot election May 8. If you are designated as an "active" elector in the El Paso County records, you will receive a ballot by mail. Ballots will be mailed April 16-20. "Inactive" electors will not receive a ballot automatically, but can request a ballot from the Designated Election Official (DEO), Sue Blair, (303) 381-4960, (303) 381-4961, or email sblair@crsofcolorado.com. A ballot drop-off location is being provided on Election Day only (May 8) at the Town of Monument, 645 Beacon Lite Road, Monument, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. In order for your ballot to be counted you must sign the affidavit provided on the return envelope, and it must be received at the offices of the DEO no later than 7 p.m. on May 8. You are required to place postage on the ballot return envelope.

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Volunteers needed for Community Services Block Grant Advisory Board, apply by May 18

The newly created Community Services Block Grant program serves low-income communities and makes recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners. Applications are due by May 18. Further information and volunteer applications are available at the website, www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link at the top of the page. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Mail-in primary election, June 26

The election process is not over in Colorado. The next step for voters is to participate in the June 26 Primary Election. Last year legislation was passed to change Colorado’s Primary Election from August to June. This will be the first June Primary Election under the new law. Also, another first for El Paso County is that this Primary Election will be conducted as an all mail ballot election. Unlike past primaries that were polling place elections, voters will have to cast their ballot by mailing it or by dropping it off at one of the designated drop-off locations.

The County Clerk and Recorder’s Election Department will notify all voters who are unaffiliated that they must declare an affiliation in order to receive a mail ballot for the June 26 Primary Election. Voter Information Cards (VIC) will be mailed mid-May. Voters who currently are affiliated with a political party and wish to change parties have until May 25 to change their affiliation to another political party. To verify your voter record and check your affiliation, visit www.GoVoteColorado.com. Voters can change their affiliation at www.GoVoteColorado.com or by completing a Voter Registration form and returning it to the El Paso County Election Department, PO Box 2007, Colorado Springs, CO 80901. Voter Registration forms are available on the Clerk and Recorder’s web page, http://car.elpasoco.com/elections, or at any of the Clerk and Recorder’s offices. For information contact Alissa Vander Veen at 351-9626 or AlissaVanderVeen@elpasoco.com.

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Stuart Little auditions, workshop, production

Spotlight Community Theatre’s Fifth Annual Summer Musical Theatre workshop and production will be 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.

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Hooked on Palmer Lake Kids’ Fishing Derby, June 2

This community event is sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, El Paso County Parks, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. A limited number of free poles are available. If you received free gear in the past or have your own, please bring it. Recommended bait, if you can bring it, includes salmon eggs and worms. Lots of free stuff will be given away. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult, no exceptions. No child will be denied admission for lack of ability to pay. Tickets are $3 in advance and can be purchased at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce (481-3282), or $4 at the lake. For more information, call 481-3282.

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Calling all drivers: It’s Soap Box Derby time, June 10

Calling all young drivers, ages 7 through 17, for the greatest amateur racing event in the world. This year’s Pikes Pike Soap Box Derby race is June 10. The mission of the derby is to educate its young contestants and inspire fair and honest competition. Mentors are available to help with vehicle design and construction. This year’s derby is proudly sponsored by several local and national businesses and by Kiwanis and Sertoma clubs. Registration deadline for the regional Pikes Peak Soap Box Derby race is May 12. For more information, visit the derby’s website, ppsbd.com, or contact Glenn Scott, director, at 488-8808 or derbyguy@comcast.net.

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Tri-Lakes Cruisers 10th Anniversary Car Show, June 10

The annual car show, a benefit for Tri-Lakes Cares, will be held June 10 in Historic Downtown Monument, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Free participant breakfast, show T-shirts, trophies, door prizes, great DJ music, Air Force Academy falcon display, food, vendors, police and fire department displays. For more information, visit www.tlcruisers.org.

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Griffith Golf Tournament, June 25

Bring your friends, family, or business associates to the Golf Club at Bear Dance in Larkspur, June 25. Shotgun start is at 8 a.m. Play a challenging course, enjoy great food, and have a chance to win prizes while you help the Griffith Center change the life of a child. For more information, contact Jamie Sachtjen, jamie.sachtjen@griffithcenters.org or 719-327-2031, or visit www.griffithcenters.org.

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Get volunteer help for your non-profit

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

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Local host families needed for foreign teens

Foreign high school students are scheduled to arrive soon for academic year "homestay" programs, and Pacific Intercultural Exchange (PIE) needs a few more local host families. The students are all 15 to 18 years old, are English-speaking, have their own spending money, carry accident and health insurance, and are eager to share their cultural experiences with their new American families. To learn more about student exchange or arrange for a meeting with a community representative, call PIE, toll-free, at 1-866-546-1402. The agency also has travel/study program opportunities available for American high school students as well as possibilities for community volunteers to assist and work with area host families, students and schools.

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Master Gardeners help desk summer hours

Colorado Master Gardeners volunteers are ready to assist you with your lawn and gardening questions Monday-Thursday during the following hours: Monday, 9 a.m.–noon and 1-4 p.m.; Tuesday, 1-4 p.m.; Wednesday, 9 a.m.-noon and 1-4 p.m.; and Thursday, 9 a.m.-noon. If the new hours don’t match your schedule, you can call and leave a message any time at 520-7684, or email your questions to CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.

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Commissioners meeting opens renovated auditorium

The Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) held its first regularly scheduled meeting in more than 20 years in the Centennial Hall Auditorium (200 S. Cascade Ave.) on April 3. In recent years the technologically obsolete auditorium hosted fewer public meetings and served as a training room for election workers and county volunteers. But with the recently completed installation of the updated technology required for live streaming of meetings from the auditorium, all regularly scheduled meetings of the BoCC will now be at Centennial Hall. Low-cost covered parking is available in the garage directly behind Centennial Hall on Sahwatch Street, with easy access to the Auditorium. Free parking is available along Sahwatch and metered parking spaces are available on both Cascade and Vermijo Avenues. The BoCC regular meetings are held Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. All meetings can be viewed live online at www.elpasoco.com and are rebroadcast the following evening at 9 p.m. on Comcast Channel 17, the Pikes Peak Library Channel.

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Volunteer drivers needed for seniors transportation service

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

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Attention Tri-Lakes residents with medical conditions

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

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Multiple sclerosis support group

A multiple sclerosis (MS) group is forming for the Tri-Lakes and surrounding areas. If interested, please email Susan, susan@cvscorp.com, or visit http://cvscorp.homeserver.com/ms/.

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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 it 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. It is in immediate need of funding for feed and veterinary care and significant shelter improvements to continue its work. To volunteer, adopt an animal, or make a donation, contact 494-0158, bfasfarm@aol.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.

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Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center has fun programs!

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

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Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free!

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

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Senior Safety Program

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

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County prescription discount program could save you money

El Paso County’s prescription discount program saved 10,000 residents $250,000 in discounted medicines over 18 months at no additional taxpayer cost. People using the card saved an average of 23 percent. There are no eligibility requirements and no strings attached to receive the discounts. You can pick up a free Prescription Discount Card at most county government locations or you can download your own personalized prescription discount card on the county website (bottom of the front page) at www.elpasoco.com/. Any county resident without prescription coverage can use this program. Even if you have insurance for prescription medications, the discount card might save you money on prescription medications your existing plan does not cover. For more information, visit www.elpasoco.com/ or call 520-6337 (MEDS).

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Check out energy savings at local libraries

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

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