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Vol 12 No. 7 - July 7, 2012


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Contents

the PDF file. This is a 22.9 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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Wescott Safety Fair June 2 spreads awareness

Below: Smokey Bear poses with firefighters from the Wescott Fire Department during the department’s Summer Safety Fair, June 2. The theme of the Safety Fair could not have been more timely given the large number of wildfires in Colorado this year. See page xx for photos of the smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire.

Below: (Left) Connie Chavez of El Paso-Teller County E-911 demonstrates how fires can occur in a kitchen to a young visitor at the Smoke House. The Smoke House contained mockups of a kitchen and bedroom. Chavez used steam to simulate smoke and showed children what to do if a fire occurs in their home. She instructed children to "crawl low and go" and have a meeting location outside the home.

Below: The crew of Memorial Star Transport, from left, Amy Middleton, Kristie McClary, and Jeff Sinclair, pose in front of the Flight for Life helicopter. The crew explained the use of the helicopter and showed how victims of accidents are transported.

Below: Wescott volunteer firefighter Bobby Hurd demonstrates how a plaster hook can be used during a fire rescue. Hurd showed visitors a variety of the tools used by firefighters during emergencies.

Photos above by David Futey.

Below: Some of the equipment on display at the Safety Fair, June 2.

Below: Firefighter Luke Jones explains the equipment to some potential future firefighters.

Below: Police dog Axel visited the fair along with his handler Deputy Mark Miller.

Photos above by Kate Wetterer

By David Futey and Kate Wetterer

On June 2, the Wescott Fire Department hosted a Summer Safety Fair that provided visitors with information from the department and vendors on home safety, disaster preparedness, personal health, and wildland fire mitigation. Representatives from El Paso-Teller County E-911, Memorial Star Transport, the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, and the El Paso County K9 Unit provided demonstrations and information.

Interactive exhibits let children experience simulated tornados as well as act out steps to escape house fires. Visitors could check out fire engines and a medical aid helicopter. The firefighters grilled hotdogs and offered soft drinks and chips.

Local representatives from various organizations were also present, including Partners in Hope and Housing, a "homeless self-sufficiency program" intending to help those in dire circumstances get back on their feet. The El Paso County Animal Response Team showed the proper way to handle pets during an emergency.

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me. Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetter@ocn.me.

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Tribal Expo and Indian Market one of few July 4th events held

Below: Although many July 4th events including the Palmer Lake fireworks and Monument Parade and Street Fair were canceled due to the wildfires, the annual Tribal Exposition and Indian Market sponsored by the Secret Window Fine Arts Gallery was held in Historic Downtown Monument. Here Nakotah LaRance ends the elaborate—and athletic—hoop dance with a symbol of the Earth offering the message of protecting and caring for the Earth as home for our healthy lives and for our descendants. The hoop dance begins with various moves with more and more hoops in motion, and along the way, Nakotah draws in the air with complex figures such as the Earth and its creatures, using the Hopi symbolic 5 hoops. Nakotah is just off a tour as the Amerindian Dancer with Cirque de Soleil for the recent show Totem. Photos by Bernard Minetti. Caption by Janet Sellers.

Below: KhaPovi Andrea Harvier (Pueblo of Pojoaque and Santa Clara Pueblo) works on her artwork that includes the sparkling mica clay used with a variety of colored slip clay to make traditional bowls and figures. Harvier is a senior at Northern New Mexico College. KhaPovi is shown here with her mother, who makes pottery and the baskets shown.

Below: Bobby Bale, member of the Taos Pueblo, creates traditional drums from Cottonwood and Aspen logs with elk, cow, and buffalo hides. His watercolor paintings depict Native American symbols within the vast landscapes of the Southwest.

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD special meeting, June 12: Fire Chief Denboske fired; no reason given

By Bernard L. Minetti

At the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board’s special meeting June 12, without noting specific reasons for the action, the board fired Chief Robert Denboske, who had been on administrative leave for the past month (see article on page 2). Director Roger Lance’s motion was made "based upon the confidential assessment report by the Mountain States Employers Council," calling it "disciplinary termination" effective immediately.

Under the supervision of the battalion chiefs, Denboske "will turn in all district property and retrieve all his personal property" by noon June 13, and "final pay and allowances will be paid within 10 days."

Before the firing, during the reading of the minutes, Director Bill Ingram brought up the issue of two unauthorized "disclosures" that had occurred since the process began. He said that these disclosures may have affected Denboske’s privacy since he was twice named during the public portion of the process, which should have been done in executive session. Board President Charlie Pocock admitted that he had made those disclosures, stating, "I was the one who made the disclosures, so please note it in the minutes."

Ingram recommended that the advice of counsel be sought before any further action but the board voted against this amendment to Lance’s motion. About 20 people attended the meeting.

The original motion passed 5-2, with Directors Ingram and Rod Wilson voting against it. In favor were Pocock, John Hildebrandt, Barbara Kelly, Roger Lance, and Bruce Fritsche. Pocock then stated that he had a letter for Denboske and passed it to him.

Shortly thereafter, the board voted to adjourn.

Following the meeting, a few residents expressed concern about the action. In particular, resident Larry Slaymaker addressed Pocock, asking, "Where is a copy of the report of the allegations against Robbie Denboske. Do we get a copy of that?" Pocock replied, "No sir. It’s a confidential report."

During the short discussion with Slaymaker that followed, Pocock concluded with, "Get your attorney, and Mountain States Employees Council is the people you should sue."

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District special meeting, June 4: Fire Chief Denboske placed on administrative leave

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board voted unanimously on June 4 to place Fire Chief Robert Denboske on paid administrative leave. No specific reasons were given. The move was taken at a special meeting called by board President Charlie Pocock and followed an investigation by Mountain States Employers Council into various complaints. The company, hired last month to conduct the investigation, has prepared a 60-page document with its findings that will be mailed to the board. However, Pocock said that he had not seen the results of the investigation.

At a previous board meeting, Pocock had indicated that the board, battalion chiefs, and fire chief were all to be a focus of the investigation following "numerous allegations of misconduct." Only the chief was placed on administrative leave.

This was the first time that Denboske had been specifically named, even though there were no investigation results available to base the implied accusation on. Pocock gave no reason for recommending that he be placed on administrative leave; Denboske will not need to turn in district property. He is currently on personal leave and was present at the meeting.

Pocock cautioned the board that they "must protect these (documents containing the results of the investigation) from the public." He continued, "Also, the district is bound ... to protect the identity of persons giving testimony." When asked if the identity of those testifying will be known, he said, "We will not know when we read this unless we can divine from the summary … who gave that testimony.… We may know that Joe Blow said something or other, but we cannot reveal that person’s name."

Board members discussed the fact that there is no recourse for someone being investigated in this manner. Pocock stated that the report would never be released to the public. He further noted that "the attorney" had said that "if anyone challenges this investigation, have them file a suit."

In discussing the method of distributing the investigative report and how to maintain confidentiality, the board voted that each director would get a copy once the report is received. Initially, they had decided that the office manager, Jennifer Martin, would make seven copies of the report, one for each board member. But Martin expressed concern about her liability in having access to these documents since they involve privacy concerns and she is not bonded or covered by any liability insurance to protect her in sensitive matters. Board members acknowledged her concerns. Pocock said that he would arrange for each member to receive a copy.

During the meeting, it was suggested that because of the privacy issues involved, the board should go into executive session to discuss anything concerning this matter. Nothing was resolved on this concern, and the meeting continued.

Present, but not accounted for

The Department of Local Affairs has no record of more than four members being on the fire district’s board, according to Pocock. He said the information about the board having seven members had apparently not been filed. He said that the bonds of $1,000 for each board member and $5,000 for the treasurer—and liability insurance of $5,000 for each member and $25,000 for the treasurer—would be filed with the Department of Local Affairs, the county clerk and recorder, and the District Court. It apparently had never been done, although the insurance and bonds were in effect, he said.

Email to be archived

The handling of official district email was also discussed. Pocock stated that all official emails should be archived according to the open meetings law. The district would set up an archival email address that would be included in the sending or receiving of any official emails. At present, that system is not in effect. The district office manager would have sole access to these archival emails via password.

Minor incident at Station 1

The firehouse door at Station 1 was accidentally lowered onto an ambulance while it was backing into the station without a backing guide. Pocock said the resulting damage to the door was minor, and there was little to no damage to the vehicle. Nothing was mentioned concerning action to be taken against the driver.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 25, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

The district’s website is www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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

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School District 38 Board of Education, June 21: 2012-13 budget approved, including pay increase

By Kate Wetterer and Harriet Halbig

A 2.2 percent pay raise for certified and classified staff was announced at the June 21 meeting of the District 38 Board of Education. The first pay increase in four years will begin in the fall. The 2012 budget was unanimously approved.

Teachers will also receive bonuses starting at $100 and increasing by another $100 for every year they have been affected by the pay freeze, the highest bonus being $400.

Superintendent John Borman noted that D-38’s teachers and staff play the most "critical role" in the district’s functioning and expressed regret for not being able to provide a more dramatic pay raise. He said that money may be uncertain, and the board does not intend to promise more than can be guaranteed.

The final goal is to adjust pay so D-38 is more competitive with other school districts and employment opportunities in the area, Borman said.

The budget is balanced, prepared within Colorado’s guidelines. It includes a list of unfunded liabilities and is available for public view.

Sixty new students have entered the district thus far, along with 20 more in the new Home School Academy. More students will have to enroll by fall for the district to reach its funding goals, but current enrollment numbers are consistent with the numbers in other years around this time, so the board is optimistic.

D-38 has a remarkably low number of students on "free lunch" programs, and the food services unit has been self-sustaining and helpful. It was noted that funding to K-12 education is likely to continue to deteriorate, which will be taken into account in the future.

Mill levy override plans

Borman explained two theoretical schedules conceived in hopes of securing a mill levy override this November or in November 2013. Both plans involve educating and bonding with the community to better convey the needs of the school district and discourage the spread of false information about D-38 and its monetary state. The goal is to assure informed voters, whether or not they vote in favor of the bill.

Communication is a vital part of Borman’s plans, in order to reach the influential members of society. Special events and presentations may be hosted to foster this communication and relay the district’s messages. The board came to no formal decision, though it was noted that there might not be enough time to guarantee an informed audience come this November, so perhaps deferring the bill would be wise.

Nutritional Services modifications

Katie Dubois, Nutritional Services supervisor, presented the board with an overview of the changes D-38 is making in school lunch and breakfast programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act decrees schools must serve 1 percent or skim milk and 100 percent whole grain products, reduce sodium, and insist students take fruits and vegetables with each full school lunch. Portions are measured by weight, now, which means protein and bread servings decrease in favor of plentiful vegetables, even divided into veggie sub-groups that must all be represented in the lunch room.

Dubois noted that enough food will have to be purchased for everyone to take the full serving of fruit or vegetables required, even if there is no guarantee all the food will be consumed. The board remained unconvinced that 2 ounces of protein for a high school senior will be enough, but agreed that it is prudent to wait for a briefing a few months into the new lunch program to see how it is working. Students may still purchase whatever food they desire a la cart, though Dubois fears it is only a matter of time before the a la cart services become heavily monitored, as well.

Bus advertisement proposition

The board accepted a proposal to fit D-38 buses with advertisements starting this July, as presented by Robin Adair, Community Relations manager. These ads will be of modest size, and there will be no more than three ad pieces per bus. Adair noted that this is an ideal time to introduce bus advertisements to D-38 because advertising sales in the community are picking up and the district has enough buses to generate significant profit if at least most of the ad space manages to sell.

Adair said it has been shown that buses with advertisements are not distracting drivers of other vehicles on the roads. All designs must be approved before being printed on buses. Brilliant Outdoor Media has been chosen to handle sales, building, installation, and the rest. Adair and the board agreed this is a promising opportunity to procure some additional revenue for the district. District 11 and Douglas County have already implemented similar school bus advertisement plans.

Public comments

  • David Cloud voiced uncertainties about the budget figures and requested to know where certain chunks of money go. He was directed to the extensive notes on the budget made public to the community.
  • Tim Nolan, a D-38 football coach, described the ill effects the pay freeze has had on his own family and those staff members in similar situations. He advised the board to "take a risk" and use some of the reserve money to compensate staff and ease their living situations. He also expressed gratitude for the promised 2.2 percent raise.
  • Beth Claycomb, Lewis-Palmer Middle School language arts teacher, and Jaci Schatz, Lewis-Palmer High School PE teacher, presented themselves as co-chairs for the Lewis-Palmer Education Association.

*********

There will be no board meeting in July. The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education normally meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

For more information: (719) 488-4700 or www.lewispalmer.org.

Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetterer@ocn.me. Harriet Halbig can be reached at harriethalbig@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38, Special Board Meeting, July 3: Magerko appointed to school board

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District held a special meeting on July 3 to approve the appointment of John A. Magerko, Jr. to the position of director for District 38.

Magerko is a 25-year resident of the Tri-Lakes area. He has two grown children who attended District 38 schools. He is a senior research engineer at TASC Inc., with degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and has taught and counseled young adults at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs.

In 2006, Magerko was co-chairman of the 2006 district bond campaign.

Magerko will serve out the remainder of Gail Wilson’s term, which will end in November 2013.

Board President Jeff Ferguson said there were three candidates for the position, all of whom were well-qualified.

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, June 6: Board faces tough wastewater decision

By Susan Hindman

The Academy Water and Sanitation District board continues to sift through discouraging numbers as it works to determine how to proceed with its wastewater treatment operations. The current lagoon system is unable to treat the ammonia, nitrogen, and phosphorus in the effluent (the water released into Smith Creek after treatment) to numbers mandated by newer, more stringent state regulations, forcing the board to look at other options.

The main three options are building a new treatment plant, contracting with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) for treatment, or contracting with Donala Water and Sanitation District for treatment. All options cost roughly the same upfront: about $3.5 million, which would pay for construction of infrastructure. Annual operating costs on top of that would vary from $650,000 to $875,000. Any choice made will result in higher property taxes to pay for the bond and an increase in monthly charges for the district’s roughly 300 households.

Engineer Roger Sams gave the board updated numbers from Donala based on its responses to questions posed by Academy’s board. Sams’ next report will go into more "subjective" issues, such as environmental factors (like skirting protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat if laying pipe to connect with CSU), the risk of changes in user charges (with the CSU and Donala options), and the desired level of "control of our destiny" (Academy would not have a vote in CSU or Donala board decisions).

Academy could avoid that and build a new treatment plant, but then the district would bear the ongoing risk and responsibility for discharge permit compliance in the face of more expected regulation changes, Sams said.

Sams also offered "present worth" cost comparisons, measuring the 20-year costs and perpetual costs of all three options if they were each paid for today. Building a new facility would cost the least, at $15 million, while connecting to CSU would be the costliest, at $20 million.

Treasurer Walter Reiss wondered if the district should look into getting annexed by the City of Colorado Springs. He said he knew that residents might not like that option, but might change their minds "when they see the numbers we’re facing." Sams said there are details regarding contiguity with existing city limits before annexation can be considered; he would look at those numbers and report back to the board next month. In addition, he said, because Academy’s population is entirely residential, the tax base might not be attractive to the city. Director Ron Curry liked the idea of annexation and said it would relieve the board of its duties and of the difficulty of finding future board members.

Other board business:

  • Past-due accounts are up to $3,242. Six of the 10 accounts owe more than $300, putting them at risk for water shutoff. What people are doing, Reiss said, is paying a portion of their past-due amount, which gets them off the current past-due list. But then they do not pay the present bill, which puts them on a new past-due list that is less than 60 days old and so not at risk of shutoff.
  • The board voted to approve the final draft of the "Contingency Plan: Source Water Protection Contingency Plan for Providing Alternative Drinking Water Supplies for Academy Water and Sanitation District," a 189-page document that Director Jim Weilbrenner spent the past year preparing. While not mandated by the state, the document helps direct the district as to what to do in case of a water emergency.

**********

The Academy Water and Sanitation District board usually meets at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is Aug. 1.

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

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, June 12: Final nutrient regulations adopted

By Jim Kendrick

On June 12, Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund updated the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) on the final approval of two nutrient regulations by the state Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) of the Colorado Department of Public Health Environment (CDPHE.)

Wicklund also updated the JUC on the final changes in Control Regulation 85 and the nutrient limits added to Regulation 31 and their related new costs for removing phosphorus and nitrogen compounds from treated effluent.

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, Ed Delaney 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.

The JUC unanimously accepted the financial statements for May. Palmer Lake District Manager Duane Hanson asked Facility Manager Bill Burks to determine if the district’s new accountant, Jackie Spegele of Numeric Strategies LLC was using a different method of vehicle depreciation on the balance sheets than the previous accountant Nolan Gookin.

Burks noted that Spegele had provided comments to auditor John Cutler on the final 2011 facility audit. The district managers noted that they had passed Cutler’s draft to their district auditors for review and comment.

District manager reports

Wicklund introduced new Monument board members David Joss and Don Smith. He noted that Monument had received a few tap fees, the district’s monitoring telemetry had been repaired, and that the district was looking at replacing the float sensors in its three lift stations with solid state electronic pressure transducers because the floats were susceptible to becoming tangled in the grease layer on top of the wastewater in the wet well. The high level float would be kept as a backup safety measure for sensing potential overflows in the lift station. Wicklund said that he thought transducer sensors are less susceptible to erroneous readings than ultrasonic sensors, which sense how far the surface of the water is below the top of the wet well.

Note: Transducer sensors sit at the bottom of the wet well and determine the amount of water in the vessel based on the water pressure at the bottom of the well. More pressure means more water. Accumulated floating grease or solids are less dense than water and do not cause significant errors in the amount of water sitting in the wet well.

Ultrasonic sensors sit at the top of the well and measure how far down the surface of the water is. The closer the surface to the top of the well, the more water in the well. Floating grease or solids that accumulate on the surface of the wastewater in the wet well can more readily produce erroneously high readings of how much water is in the tank. Even if all the wastewater is pumped out, the top of the grease layer may falsely indicate to the ultrasonic sensor that there is a considerable amount of remaining wastewater in the bottom of the well.

Other relays and sensors would falsely interpret this floating layer as unremovable water resulting from a faulty pump. A pump malfunction signal would be created by the automatic monitoring system that is sent to the lift station operator via an autodialer system as well as a computer alarm signal that is sent to the operator’s dedicated computer system for automatic system monitoring.

District Manager Duane Hanson reported new tap fees for new houses in the Palmer Lake Sanitation District.

Woodmoor District Manager Jessie Shaffer introduced new Woodmoor board member Tom Schwab, who will be Woodmoor’s designated alternate for Whitelaw. Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that annual sewer line TV inspection and cleaning is being completed using a new inspection and cleaning van just built.

Plant manager’s report

Burks gave a lengthy in-depth orientation report for each of the items on the monthly discharge monitoring report to each of the new district board members in attendance. He also explained all the related policies and procedures for the numerous aspects of recording and interpreting data, particularly the highest interest heavy metals, including mercury, and the nutrients such as total phosphates, total nitrogen, total inorganic nitrogen, and nitrates, nitrites, ammonia, and sulfates. He summarized by noting that the plant is operating very efficiently in all aspects of operation with 99 percent removal of wastes and suspended solids.

Burks said that this year’s sludge hauling will not begin until the last week in June because the farmer that will be applying the sludge as fertilizer to his fields is late cutting his hay. Fortunately, sludge processor Liquid Waste Management still had a flexible schedule for its transportable dewatering equipment and dump trucks that will transport the processed biosolids to the farm.

Burks noted that there would have to be another sludge removal cycle next summer. In the past, sludge removal has typically been performed every other year. However, an early freeze last fall drastically reduced the amount removed in 2011.

Burks said he has consulted his engineer to determine if it may be more cost effective to have the Tri-Lakes staff dry out the sludge with new on-site equipment so that only the transport of the dewatered biosolids to farms would have to be outsourced.

Burks noted that the south Monument metering vault had been successfully relined with a plastic material to stop the concrete erosion that was being caused by hydrogen sulfide gas.

Regulatory report

Jim Kendrick, Operations, Monument Sanitation District, reported that he attended the final Water Quality Control Commission nutrients hearing on June 11 for the new Control Regulation 85 and the nutrient amendments to Regulation 31. Kendrick has represented all the wastewater and stormwater entities in the Tri-Lakes region at numerous meetings in Denver for over three years. He gave an orientation to the new board members on the history of these two new nutrient regulations. He also gave an orientation on legislative actions taken against the new regulations at the request of the state wastewater community due to very low benefits compared to very high costs.

The original final nutrient hearing on these two regulations started on March 12 and was continued on March 14 without a commission decision on either regulation. The commission has held monthly continuation hearings on these two regulations since then. Numerous comments and draft amendments of these two regulations along with their companion Statements of Basis and Purpose have been circulated and debated between the Water Quality Control Division and the 391 wastewater treatment entities in Colorado in the weeks between each of these monthly hearings.

For more information on the most recent negotiations, see:

Some of the changes to the two regulations that occurred in early June before the water commission voted unanimously to approve the last amendments that Wicklund and Kendrick briefed to the JUC were:

Control Regulation 85 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 are set to become effective for all existing facility discharge permits issued after July 1. They will be superseded in El Paso and Pueblo Counties in 2022 by the interim nutrient values for warm water streams specified in the Reg. 31 amendment—0.17 ppm for total phosphorus 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.

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 in Reg. 85 and Reg. 31. They do not apply to the three wastewater treatment facilities in the OCN coverage area:

  • Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility
  • 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 total nitrogen limits in the amendment to Reg. 31. The actual amount of TIN that will 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 if changes are made in the next Arkansas River basin hearings on impaired water classifications.

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.

The meeting adjourned at 12:05 p.m.

**********

The next JUC meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on June 12 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, June 12: Residents take advantage of public comment opportunity

By Jim Kendrick

On June 12, there were more public comments at the start of a Triview Metropolitan District Board meeting than there have been in years.

Noise from treatment plant concerns neighbors

During public comments, Town Manager Cathy Green introduced Jackson Creek homeowner Peter Speiser. She noted that she and Triview Operations Supervisor Nick Harris had met with Speiser and his neighbors the previous day to discuss their concerns about the noise produced by water treatment operating equipment in a Triview building on the west end of Oxbow Drive and a lack of response by the Triview board.

Note: Triview has not had a district manager since the board terminated Triview’s previous district manager at a special board meeting on Nov. 15. Director Robert Fisher has been in charge of operations since Nov. 15. Former Secretary/Treasurer Steve Remington had been in charge of district finances since Nov. 15, but chose not to run for re-election in May. New Director Tom Harder was appointed to fill Remington’s seat on May 8. However, no director had publicly assumed the secretary/treasurer duties before or at the start of the June 12 board meeting.

Green told the board members that Speiser and his neighbors "have been trying to get hold of you and they’ve not received any responses from the board and they are having issues with noise, with landscaping, maintenance—some of those problems." She said, "Considering what they are putting up with now, I think they were overly polite. Speiser said the noise the well pump makes about 18 hours a day is 60 decibels at 25 feet inside Speiser’s lot line.

For more information on Green’s issues, see:

Green added that Monument Trustee Rick Squires "emailed me and asked if I would talk to them because they were not getting a response so .…"

Fisher interjected, "Can I ask a question since you keep throwing that out there, who have you contacted?"

Speiser said, "There were two attempts." The first attempt was with the main Triview phone number with a "question about the noise that comes out of the equipment that is exposed outside" of water treatment plant A. He was told that it would be checked. The second notice was a letter to the board. There was no response to Speiser’s letter by the board, which led to the meeting Squires suggested with Green, Harris, and neighborhood property owners May 11.

Fisher said, "This is the first time this board has heard of this subject." Board President Bob Eskridge interjected that Speiser’s letter was "in my packet, not opened yet so ...." Fisher continued, "It’s not that people have been being ignoring or disregarding customer attacks."

Director Steve Hurd asked Speiser for recommendations on how to better convey feedback from the board.

Fisher told Speiser, "I don’t want people to think that the formal method for communicating with this board is having to come to a meeting for the public comment section of the agenda. I think there is a lot of business that should be conducted outside of this room." He concluded, "This is not the preferred method to do it." Fisher did not acknowledge Eskridge’s comment about having received Speiser’s letter but not opening or responding to it.

Green continued. "I explained to them last night that you guys are going through a transition. You don’t have a district manager so you don’t have all the channels of communication that you normally would and should have." She said she "wanted to help Peter open a channel of communications with you all to start talking about these things."

Fisher said the board would get with Harris to determine what the noise level really is and what the board’s options are. He added that Plant A "was not supposed to be at this location this long." The board would start investigating this subject and would use Speiser as the customers’ primary point of contact. Eskridge concurred that Plant A is a "temporary" plant.

Speiser, nevertheless, asked that Plant A "be cleaned up, made more appropriate for a residential setting, blend it into the neighborhood, add landscaping, add noise control, and address the various safety issues."

Green asked what the formal channel of communication should be for any Monument resident living in Triview who contacts her with an issue.

Eskridge asked Green to refer any such issues to Harris until a district manager is hired. He told Green that the district manager position would be discussed later in the evening during executive session.

No specific timeframe has been publicly announced for hiring a district manager during the past seven months. Valerie Remington, the wife of the former Triview board’s secretary/treasurer who stepped down at the preceding regular Triview meeting on May 8, applied for the district manager position after it was first advertised earlier this year.

Kitchener Way landscaping issue continues

Triview resident Dale Myers asked the board for a situation report on the Kitchener Way greenbelt issue. At the May 8 board meeting, he and his wife Lynn had asked about upgrading the greenbelt after years of neglect and the district’s failure to retain and use the developer’s performance bond for this purpose. (www.ocn.me/v12n6.htm#tmd)

Eskridge replied to Dale Myers that Harris would brief the board later in the evening during his operations report on the Kitchener Way greenbelt area, including damage to power lines to the sprinkler systems. No timeframe was given for completing the upgrade to the Kitchener Way greenbelt.

Chip seal complaints continue

Former Monument Trustee Tim Miller said that rocks from unsatisfactory chip seal work on Lacuna Drive a year ago were still turning up in his yard, and he distributed some of them to the directors. The work was performed by a Triview subcontractor. He described tar on the cement and sidewalks and driveways from the repaving that still gets into his and his neighbors’ homes. He noted that all the cracks in the road have reappeared following this faulty chip seal repair.

Fisher replied, "It’s pretty common knowledge that this board finds that work absolutely unacceptable." He said "most of the key players" who made Triview’s decision to use "that vendor" for this project "are no longer around for various reasons." He added "that vendor" is no longer used as an asphalt vendor by Triview due to the "absolutely ridiculous attempt at chip sealing that road. I don’t think we’re going to chip seal anywhere else in the neighborhood. That doesn’t help your immediate problem. It is on our list."

Hurd told Miller he lives on Talus Road and that he had "a lot of tar that I had to pay a lot of money to get out of my carpet. It’s real easy to track that stuff all over the place."

Fisher added that he did not "think there’s any remedy left" with the vendor. "The opportunity for that is gone." The vendor and the district have swept the rocks several times. "I don’t know if that was a poor execution of a chip seal or if that is a poor road to try and chip seal because of the grade of the road and other factors. So, agree with you wholeheartedly that that needs to be corrected. "

Eskridge concurred saying, "It was a crappy job." He added that he would not ride his bike on the roads that were chip sealed. "When a new district manager is hired, that will help."

Miller said, "It would be neat to see some plan to get it back to a decent looking road." He added, "My neighbors didn’t know you knew about it." He asked how his neighbors could communicate with the board. Hurd said that he thought that the former district manager had told the board that he was communicating with residents who had concerns about the chip sealing.

Miller also noted that the grass in the common area in the cul-de-sac on Lacuna Drive had not been maintained and that the dead trees needed to be replaced.

Wetland permit progress issue raised

Landowner and developer Miles Grant asked the board how the negotiations on the 404 permit for protected Preble’s mouse and wetland habitat on his land were proceeding. Grant owns the vacant commercial lot on the north side of Baptist Road, adjacent to the east side of the King Soopers shopping center.

Fisher replied that 404 permit progress was painfully slow due to the lack of having a district manager to work on the issue for the past seven months. The district’s plan was to have all the property owners with mouse habitat deed that habitat to the district and pay the cost of the transfer and the negotiations by the district.

Grant asked when a meeting of the affected landowners in Triview would be scheduled for arranging this unified mouse/wetland habitat consolidation under Triview’s direct control to obtain permit approval. Grant stated that Triview was holding his escrow money for mouse habitat mitigation without doing anything to warrant the district keeping it.

Fisher said the necessary habitat mitigation work had not been done yet, but when it is performed, Grant’s escrow money would be used to pay for that work. Grant said the work had already been done by Triview’s own habitat consultant. Fisher said there would not be a large amount of time devoted to the 404 permit issue until the district manager position is filled.

Grant also said he would drain the numerous ponds in the 40 acres that he owns within Triview if the district does not hire a district manager in the next few weeks. He said the ponds, which are north of Academy View, are a liability to his company because they do not meet state standards. He asked for closer contact with Fisher to keep abreast of what the district is doing.

Fisher said that the district believes that Grant’s property is still under Triview control under a combined 404 plan, that the ponds have value from a parks and trails standpoint, and that the district would prefer that the ponds are not drained.

Grant gave Fisher his business card and said he would call Fisher soon to follow up.

Update on district low-interest state loans

Steve Remington, a CPA, gave an update on the status of his attempts to refinance Triview’s two state loans for about $7 million from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority that he started before his term of office as board secretary/treasurer expired on May 8. He offered two options.

  1. Compass Bank proposed refinancing at favorable terms as least as good as the authority’s loan terms. He said his negotiations with Compass are proceeding, that the term sheet was probably not the final offer, and that the term sheet should not be signed by the board.
  2. Refinancing via new bank bonding for less than $10 million that could be obtained at interest rates in the low 2 percent range due to certain undefined incentives currently in place. He said he did not know if voter approval is necessary for this undefined "special program" bank bond refinancing. Remington said this would be easy to explain to the voters if it would cost less overall, though there are some upfront loan origination costs for such a refinance.

Remington also noted that moving forward on either would incur unbudgeted additional costs for research and paperwork preparation by Town Treasurer Pamela Smith. Smith works part-time as a private accounting consultant for Triview now that the management intergovernmental agreement between the town and Triview for operation of the district by town staff has been terminated at the town’s request. Under this former agreement, Smith acted as Triview’s staff treasurer on a part-time basis though there were long-term issues regarding lack of compensation by Triview for any of the work performed by the various town staff department heads.

Remington said he would await further guidance from the board before resuming these negotiations for the district.

Financial reports

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

  • $7,547 to engineering firm Merrick & Co. for Promontory Pointe booster pump design work
  • $30,825 to National Meter & Automation Inc. for new water meters
  • $18,258 to Martin Marietta Materials to remove and replace asphalt on Jackson Creek Parkway and Baptist Road

Smith said that April sales tax revenues should be higher than those for March and bring year-to- date revenues back up to the same level as January through April 2011.

The April financial report summary noted that 61 percent of Triview’s property taxes have been received. Smith noted that her report did not include the approximately $1 million interest-only payment for Triview debt for the first half of 2012. When principal payments have to start being made to Wells Fargo Bank for the district’s $47.3 million bond debt, these semi-annual payments will be much higher.

She reminded the board that a quarterly payment of $258,000 was made to the water and power authority in February. The May payment has not been reported yet. Overall total expenses are less than total revenues for all funds to date by about $1.6 million.

The board unanimously accepted Smith’s April financial report as presented.

Sanctuary Pointe well petition

Joe Loidolt and Baptist Road Investments (BRI) LLC petitioned the board to allow Loidolt, Classic Companies Inc. president, to build a house for himself in Classic Home’s Sanctuary Pointe development before Classic begins actual development of that parcel that was previously called "Baptist Camp." Baptist Road Investments currently owns all of the Sanctuary Pointe property, including all the cabins and the conference center that Classic still leases out month-to-month. Classic CEO Douglas Stimple signed the petition for BRI. .

Loidolt said he wants to build a house on the northeast corner of a 3.74-acre lot north of the Kingswood subdivision and adjacent to the existing interior road that extends north from Kingswood Drive.

Loidolt’s petition seeks permission from Triview to use an existing 1992 Dawson aquifer well that is about 110 feet west of Loidolt’s proposed lot as a temporary domestic water supply for his new house until Triview builds a potable water distribution system that can serve his house. This well is currently being used for a cabin on the west side of Loidolt’s proposed lot. The cabin may be converted to a garage or shop building.

The petition proposes that Loidolt would be required to connect a water service line for the new house within nine months of availability to Triview’s water system.

The petition also asks for Triview’s permission for Loidolt to build a temporary septic system for his home. Loidolt would be required to connect to a Triview sanitary sewer collection line once one is installed next to his lot. The petition proposes that Loidolt would be required to connect a sanitary sewer service line for his house within nine months of availability of Triview sanitary sewer service.

Triview water attorney Chris Cummins observed that some special districts do not allow any water wells to be used by homeowners within their service area that are not district wells. Loidolt’s well would have no significant impact on Triview’s future water production. There are also other wells and septic systems for the other houses and conference center on the property.

Cummins noted that the petition did not spell out who would pay for the various costs of the well and septic installations or the transition costs to Triview water and sewer hookup for each of these buildings, so a more detailed agreement would have to be written to respond to this petition. Loidolt agreed that these details would need to be worked out.

Cummins also noted that building a house on this lot would trigger a platting requirement in the approved town of Monument planned development sketch plan. This sketch plan includes a town condition of approval that requires all of Classic’s water rights for the entire Sanctuary Pointe parcel to be deeded over to Triview at the time of platting.

After further technical discussion on several legal aspects of platting and operation and future capping of the existing wells, Eskridge said the board would discuss the proposal with Cummins later in the meeting during executive session for receiving legal advice and let Loidolt know what was decided. There have been no announcements to the public on the results of the executive session deliberations that occurred at the end of this meeting.

Booster pump system options discussed

Curt Thompson of engineering consultant for Merrick & Co. briefed the board on the area that could be served in Promontory Pointe by the existing water tank without the installation of booster pumps and an emergency generator. Based on the modeling and field tests already performed for hydrant flows, Merrick determined that the maximum service elevation would be 7,139 feet.

But if the booster pump system is not installed, Thompson said, there would be water pressure issues in Promontory Pointe similar to those occurring in the northeast corner of Jackson Creek for new houses in higher elevations, routinely 40 pounds per square inch (psi) to 45 psi or less.

A two-pump booster station is needed to sustain minimum standard pressure in that zone. An emergency generator would not be required. Maintaining fire-flow pressures would require the installation of two additional separate fire flow pumps as well.

Eskridge told Thompson that the board would discuss this new information in executive session.

Other matters

Eskridge said that the Donala Water and Sanitation District board had invited the Triview board to attend a joint meeting and to take a tour of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility that Donala co-owns with the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District.

Triview irrigation systems are currently delivering 100 percent of their design flow.

The district’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system dedicated computer has failed. The system is being operated by the backup dedicated SCADA computer. There was a lengthy discussion about how to replace one or both of the dedicated SCADA system computers to best operate the SCADA software from Dell or HP rather than having them custom built by the SCADA system computer contractor. The board members discussed what they thought the individual hardware and software specifications for the computers should be.

Harris said he had interviewed candidates for the hiring of a new water operator and had selected a best candidate. Fisher said that the board would interview the candidates and select the new operator. Eskridge asked Harris to discuss his interview results during the executive session.

Harris said he had received three bids for installing new landscaping, 10 new trees, 150 cubic yards of soil, and a new irrigation system on the west side of the Kitchener Way greenbelt. The cost of a new electrical service for the irrigation system has not been determined yet. No irrigation equipment has ever been installed on the east side of Kitchener Way. Fisher noted that the new electrical service would be a separate Mountain View Electric account with a year-round monthly service fee even when no irrigation is occurring.

Fisher said he wanted further discussion of the cost of this $12,000 greenbelt issue in executive session.

The board went into executive session at 6:32 p.m.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, June 19: Former board member’s wife interviewed for district manager position

By Jim Kendrick

On June 19, the Triview Metropolitan District Board interviewed Valerie Remington for the open district manager position during an executive session. She is the wife of former Triview Secretary/Treasurer Steve Remington who stepped down from office on May 8, having chosen not to run for re-election. He continues to act as a consultant to the board on refinancing the $7 million in loans from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority for part of Triview’s share of the cost Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility capacity expansion.

Triview has not had a district manager since the Nov. 15 special board meeting, when the previous district manager was terminated.

See the article on the June 12 Triview board meeting on Page 10 for other details and links to background information on this long-term vacancy and related governance issues.

The district’s attorney, Gary Shupp, said that he would defer his "update on pending litigation" to the executive session.

At the conclusion of the one-minute open public portion of this meeting, board President Bob Eskridge confirmed that no actions were taken at the conclusion of the June 12 executive session and no announcements, action items, or votes would occur after Valerie Remington’s job interview.

The board went into executive session at 6:32 p.m.

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The next meeting will held at 5 p.m. July 10 in Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, June 14: Taylor nominated for SDA award

By Candice Hitt

At the June 14 meeting of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation board, Director James Taylor was unanimously nominated for the Special District Association (SDA) Distinguished District Board Member Award. Taylor was nominated based on his leadership role in supporting the implementation of the district’s strategic water plan and its vision of acquiring a sustainable water supply for long-term viability in providing water service. He was also recognized because of his unique skills, talents, and dedicated service.

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said the district is now using surface water. This information was sent to customers by email and is posted on the website. Gillette also stated well 6 is offline and is an older Dawson Aquifer well. It has not been scheduled for repairs due to costs and is not a high priority item. The well needs to be cleaned and the district will look at budget numbers before scheduling anything. Gillette also said plans for a new roof and air conditioning unit at the district’s main building are waiting on a final cost and timeline.

Director Taylor said the district is still behind on revenue and expenses but will catch up on revenues with the summer water use fees.

District Manager Jessie Schaffer gave an update on Long Range Planning (LRP), stating it will be completed October 2012.

The 2012 audit was done by John Cutler and Associates. The draft audit report went well overall. It was reported that the district’s books were well maintained. District staff and management were thanked for their prompt provision of requested documents to perform the audit.

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

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

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Monument Sanitation District, June 21: 2011 audit approved; new water treatment funding sought

By Jim Kendrick

On June 21, the Monument Sanitation District board accepted the 2011 audit presented by Mark Gilmore of auditing firm Bauerle & Co. Gilmore discussed the management summary and his report, which included an unqualified, or "clean," opinion of the district’s finances in 2011. He noted that the district has sufficient cash reserves to meet all short-term liabilities. The district continues to tightly control expenses to an amount significantly less than the total expenditures conservatively budgeted year over year.

Gilmore explained several technical aspects of his audit report in depth for the new directors. He emphasized the increased annual capital depreciation due to the new Wakonda Hills collection system paid for in large part by an American Recovery & Reinvestment Act forgivable loan of $2 million and significantly higher treatment expenses that had to be met with recent user fee increases. All actual costs of district operations have remained consistent and under budget year-over-year.

Board President Ed Delaney and Secretary Kristi Schutz were reappointed for the rest of 2012. New Director Don Smith was appointed treasurer to replace Lowell Morgan, who was term limited. Director Chuck Robinove was appointed the primary district member of the Joint Use Committee (JUC) for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, also to replace Morgan. New Director David Joss was appointed the first alternate representative to the JUC and all the other directors were appointed secondary alternates.

Treasurer’s report

District Manager Mike Wicklund noted a payment of $3,640 to I & C Design LLC for repair of the district’s Red Lion telemetry from the Tri-Lakes facility and installation of a new dedicated supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system monitor that is used to track lift station performance. This cost was $1,000 less than originally projected.

The district received another tap fee of $7,500 to bring the total for the year up to $29,000. The amount of tap fee revenue budgeted for 2012 was $10,000. Cash on hand increased to about $291,000, up $11,000 from the previous month. However, the district still needs to continue to increase this reserve to be able to cover the cost of an accidental spill or an unplanned Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility capital equipment failure. The reserve was significantly reduced to pay for two new Wakonda Hills lift stations in 2010 as part of that collection system expansion.

Wicklund said he was preparing a $3 million grant request from the state revolving fund of the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority to help pay for the new nutrient treatment equipment. The equipment will be required by the new Control Regulation 85 and the new nutrient amendment to Regulation 31 to remove total phosphorus and total nitrogen at the Tri-Lakes facility.

If approved, the grant request will be added to the authority’s Intended Use Plan, which has a backlog of over $3 billion already. The authority is currently only able to lend about $80 million per year, but large unspecified cuts have already been announced beginning in the next Colorado fiscal year. The statewide minimum cost of $25 billion to meet the new nutrient requirements remains unsustainable.

Wicklund also advised the board that even though the implementation date for these two regulations has been deferred by Gov. Hickenlooper until June 30, 2013, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility must still immediately expand its monitoring and testing in Monument Creek upstream and downstream of the facility’s discharge pipe for even more chemicals and forms of aquatic life. It also must pay for the installation and operation of a pilot plant for chemical removal of total phosphorus in 2013.

Wicklund stated again, as he has done in district meetings for the past year, that these direct short-term increases in facility operating costs for stream monitoring and the pilot plant will require monthly fee increases of at least $5 to $10.

Nutrient hearing update

Wicklund briefed the board on the final approval of new nutrient restrictions in Control Regulation 85 and Regulation 31 by the Water Quality Control Commission (WQCC) at the June 11 commission meeting. The new regulations now will take effect on Sept. 30, a further three-month delay. Although the EPA’s own regulations call for providing its comments and approval within 90 days regarding all WQCC decisions, this EPA time limit has been largely ignored by the EPA in the past several years. The impact of any potential EPA disapproval remains to be determined.

The commissioners complied with Hickenlooper’s directions in his long-delayed letter on changing the applicability of the new Reg. 85 limits to about 40 percent fewer large capacity wastewater treatment facilities. The commissioners also received a guidance letter from EPA Region 8 administrator James Martin that they used to shape their final arguments in support of the state Water Quality Control Division’s recommendations, even though Martin’s letter never stated that there was a specific federal mandate to create specific stringent nutrient regulations for total phosphorus, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll a.

Hickenlooper’s letter stated that Martin’s letter was a clear statement of a federal mandate to create and enforce nutrient restrictions, which exempts these regulations from Hickenlooper’s own Executive Order 5 that prohibits the state government from imposing unfunded mandates on local governments like wastewater special districts.

These two letters to the WQCC and the commission staff’s advice regarding them are available at: www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/wqcc/Hearings/Rulemaking/31_85nutrients/05142012Actions/WQCCactions.html.

All the rest of the hundreds of official documents that were provided to the WQCC during the nutrients rulemaking process are available at: www.cdphe.state.co.us/op/wqcc/Hearings/Rulemaking/31_85nutrients/Nutrients.html.

Wicklund noted that no one from the cities, towns, and special districts affected by the directions in the Hickenlooper and Martin letters was allowed to present oral testimony during the June 11 hearing, even though this new evidence was allowed to be entered into the record, an unprecedented proscription on the right of state discharge permit holders to testify.

Representatives from EPA Region 8 made no statements at the June 11 hearing regarding the further changes directed by the governor and the numerous additional editing changes made by each of the commissioners to the very complex technical language of these regulations and their lengthier individual supporting documents called Statements of Basis and Purpose, even though they had no such restrictions imposed on them.

Some of the changes made by the commission on June 11 from the Water Quality Control Division’s final Regulation 85 proposal were:

  • The effective date for including the new nutrient discharge limits in Regulation 85 in new discharge permits has been further delayed another year at Hickenlooper’s direction until June 30, 2013.
  • The governor further expanded the division’s most recent proposed expansion of the exclusion in Regulation 85 of all treatment facilities with a maximum rated capacity of 1.0 million gallons per day (mgd) was increased to 2.0 mgd or less. The division’s original proposed exclusion was for facilities with a rated capacity of only 0.5 mgd or less.
  • The total inorganic nitrogen discharge limit for existing treatment facilities was increased from an annual median of 10 milligrams per liter (mg/L) to 15 mg/L.
  • A stream segment can now be kept off of the list of new impaired segments due to nutrient enrichment under Regulation 303(d) if the discharger is complying with Regulation 85 limits.
  • A wastewater treatment facility can use the water quality-based effluent limits for the interim nutrient values in Regulation 31 if they are less restrictive than those for Regulation 85.

Some of the changes made by the commission from the Water Quality Control Division’s final Regulation 31 proposal that were made on June 11 were:

  • The language that allows a wastewater treatment facility to seek less restrictive site-specific nutrient discharge limits was changed to "where evidence demonstrates" from the "expected conditions" that would have been defined by the Water Quality Control Division staff with no requirement to present any evidence used to determine the expected conditions.
  • The language on the applicability of chlorophyll a interim values for rivers and streams was changed to avoid applicability to streams with sandy bottoms.
  • Language was added for a direct use water supply lake or reservoir that is used regularly to provide raw water directly to a water treatment plant.

The first Reg. 31 item above and the new Reg. 85 requirement for all wastewater facilities to monitor instream nutrient levels upstream and downstream of their discharge pipes are the reasons that wastewater facilities in El Paso County and Pueblo County are uniting to form a stream monitoring group at considerable new and continued expense under the auspices of the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments for the Monument and Fountain Creek watersheds.

This new group will monitor nutrient levels and other stream constituents such as heavy metals and E. coli that are not part of the new Reg. 85 requirement, to provide the minimum amount of data necessary under Reg 85. and Reg. 31 for a wastewater facility to be able to apply for a discharger-specific variance based on the Tri-Lakes facilities’ actual impact on Monument Creek.

This new group will operate in a similar manner to the South Platte Coalition for Urban River Evaluation (SPCURE), whose processes and procedures are already accepted by the state Health Department and the EPA. The group will ensure compliance with the new Reg. 85 monitoring requirement and provide members sufficient defensive data gathering to be able to prove to the Water Quality Control Division and the commission during future permit negotiations that the facilities are not the cause of algal blooms or changes in river and stream ecosystems. The division, commission, EPA Region 8, and environmental groups have blamed treatment facilities for these changes for over 10 years with no supporting scientific evidence.

For more information on compliance with the new monitoring processes and procedures, see www.spcure.org.

Unless nutrient levels are monitored at all creek confluences along Monument Creek and Fountain Creek, there will be no way to demonstrate the effect of naturally occurring background nutrients or the actual level of non-point source nutrients entering Monument Creek and Fountain Creek, such as fertilizer runoff from non-point agricultural sources.

Wicklund said the overwhelming predominance of non-point source nutrients over point-source nutrients from wastewater facilities in state waters throughout the U.S. and in Colorado has already been widely and credibly documented by several federal agencies, despite numerous water division claims to the contrary, with no valid scientific evidence, at WQCC hearings over the past decade.

The new monitoring group will reduce the monitoring costs for each of the member wastewater entities by eliminating needless duplicative testing and ensuring that the same standardized procedures and processes are used by all members. Wicklund said the new group will also ensure broad financial strength during future commission hearings and permit negotiations for the site-specific standards, variances, and temporary modifications that will be necessary to avoid crushing debt for state-imposed technologies that have dubious cost-benefit tradeoffs at best, while obtaining the most reasonable permits limits.

For additional background on these costly and complex technical issues, see:

Fee increases remain unavoidable

The direct costs for the subsequent required plant expansion capital and operational costs to treat total nitrogen to attempt to just partially meet the interim values for 2022 in Reg. 31 will require minimum monthly fee increases of $100 to $200, according to engineering consultant Tetra Tech.

Wicklund again advised the board that the district had contributed $1,500 for the Tri-Lakes facility as one of 10 entities that will participate in developing the watershed monitoring program noted above. The monitoring group will be operated and managed by engineering firm Brown and Caldwell, which has administered SPCURE operations for over a decade. Monument will be reimbursed $500 each by the Palmer Lake Sanitation District and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, which also own the Tri-Lakes facility in equal shares.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Aug. 16 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886 or the website addresses noted above.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, June 21: Board adopts public comment policy

By John Heiser

Attorney Gene Thornton, who in the May election lost his bid to become a member of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors, contends that district residents should have an opportunity to be heard before the Donala board makes decisions. While Thornton’s view may be consistent with state law for homeowners associations governed by the Colorado Common Interest Ownership Act, special districts, such as the Donala district, are governed by Article 32, a different part of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Donala’s attorney, James Petrock, in an opinion letter, said, in part, "Members of the public are free to comment in scheduled public hearings, such as budget hearings and annexation approvals. They also have a right to attend open public meetings. In neither case does a member of the public have a First Amendment right to participate in debate or deliberation by elected Board members. The President of the Board, in his discretion, may recognize an audience member who wishes to speak on a matter before the Board, but he is under no obligation to do so. There is no absolute right on the part of the public to speak at any point of their choosing during a formal meeting of elected government officials."

The board unanimously approved a rule that comments from members of the public will be taken at one point during the agenda.

The agenda for the June 21 board meeting had an item titled "Public Comment" at the end of the public portion of the meeting. Thornton had objected to the way that item was added to the agenda, claiming it was done by the board behind closed doors. In his opinion letter, Petrock responded, "The district manager is charged with day to day district operations including the preparation of meeting agendas."

During the public comment portion, Thornton said he felt the issue was one of due process. He said a much better process would be to allow public comments before the board makes important decisions so the board can have the benefit of the views of members of the public. He said the way the public comment policy was adopted was improper and illegal. He characterized Petrock’s letter as "advocacy" rather than pure legal opinion. Thornton said he will look more closely at the applicable law and may file a lawsuit.

Questions about bond issue raised

Also during the public comment portion of the meeting, Scott Peterson, a resident of Colorado Springs who said he is a retired municipal bond underwriter and has been involved in municipal bond issuance since 1975, commented on some aspects of the district’s December 2011 bond issue. The $7.3 million in bonds was issued to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements to handle renewable water.

In particular, Peterson said it was excessive that the bond issue involved five law firms, four in Denver and one in New York, and two financial advisers, one representing Donala and one representing the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA), which backed the bond issue. He noted that the district put up over $750,000 for the cost of issuance and for a reserve fund. He said that for this size bond issue "that is very inefficient."

He also objected to what he characterized as the lack of information in the official bond issue statement regarding the intended use of the funds and how much money the authority made in initial and ongoing fees for sponsoring the bond issue.

Finally, Peterson asked how the Donala district is related to the Gleneagle Water District cited in some historical documents.

Dana Duthie, Donala district general manager, replied that the district was founded in 1972 and has always been known as the Donala Water and Sanitation District, although for a while when the developer owned the whole development it did business as the Gleneagle Water District.

Peterson also noted that he is concerned about the projected cost of water service in Colorado Springs since the city has committed to build the Southern Delivery System and now does not have sufficient growth to cover the costs.

Water consumption remains very high

Duthie reported that water consumption by district customers through May was up 17 million gallons or 19 percent compared to last year. Golf course consumption was up about 9 percent. Many residential customers used more than 30,000 gallons during May and 53 residential customers used more than 50,000 gallons. The highest use during May by a single family was 119,000 gallons, which was related to a leak in their basement.

Mandatory irrigation restrictions apply from May 28 through Sept. 4. Irrigation is allowed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for odd-number addresses. Irrigation is allowed on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for even-number addresses. No irrigation is allowed on Sunday. For additional information, visit www.donalawater.org/water/irrigation-restrictioin.html.

Duthie noted that it is very dry at Willow Creek Ranch. He said run-off is averaging less than one-third of what was seen at the same time last year. Due to the current high volume of water use by district customers, on June 10, the water the district received through its connection to CSU exhausted its yearly lease with the Pueblo Board of Water Works. Duthie said that although the district has about 87 acre-feet of ranch water in storage and is gaining about 35 acre-feet per month, at the current flow rate of 455 gallons per minute, the ranch water will be used up in September. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

Susan McLean, the district’s conservation/landscape manager, is currently working on about a half dozen landscape plans for customers to reduce irrigation.

Duthie said the district is considering establishing an award program for xeriscaping.

Other matters

  • During the three months from March 1 through May 31, the district’s $3.19 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 0.35 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 1.2 years. 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 $596,805 in a debt service reserve fund associated with the bond sale. Those accounts earned 0.19 percent and 0.10 percent, respectively, during the same period.
  • The district had a leak estimated at 4.8 million gallons of water lost from the reuse line that carries effluent from the wastewater treatment plant to the golf course for irrigation. The golf course reported the issue. The leak occurred on Forest Lakes property. Duthie said the failure occurred in a valve buried about 8 feet deep.
  • Duthie reported on a meeting he had with representatives of the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Aurora, Lake County, and Clear Creek Ranch regarding a potential swap of some Willow Creek Ranch land for Forest Service land.
  • The work to upgrade the Latrobe booster pumps is awaiting some parts. This is an 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. Additional work will include installation of a new pipeline from the Jessie facilities up Baptist Road and upgrades to other pipelines in the district. Bids on the Baptist Road pipeline work are scheduled to be opened June 29. All the work is to be completed by the end of 2013.
  • Duthie reported that the next meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) will be held Sept. 5. He noted that only Donala and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District have committed to provide the additional $10,000 needed to continue the Flaming Gorge feasibility study being undertaken by the Colorado Wyoming Coalition. Participation in the feasibility study is being done as a project within the PPRWA.
  • Donala board President Bill George noted that he has talked with Bob Eskridge, president of the Triview Metropolitan District board, and with Richard DuPont, president of the Academy Water and Sanitation District. George said, "It is essential that we work together."
  • Due to board member schedule conflicts, the July 18 board meeting will begin at 2 p.m. instead of 1:30 p.m.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting July 18 at 2 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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Monument Board of Trustees, June 4: Pikes Peak Rodeo presentation piques interest

Below (L to R): Caitlin Kern, Amanda Summers, and Corliss Palmer gave a presentation on the events scheduled for the 72nd annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

At the June 4 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees, Dean Steward, Corliss Palmer, and the Girls of the West—Caitlin Kern and Amanda Summers—gave a presentation on the numerous events scheduled for the 72nd annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. The parade will take place on July 10 at 6:30 p.m. in downtown Colorado Springs. The rodeo events will be held from July 11-14 and will feature bull, bareback, and bronc riding, tie-down roping, barrel racing steer wrestling, wild cow milking, and mutton busting as well as many other events.

For more information see www.coloradospringsrodeo.com.

The annual Street Breakfast was held on June 22. It was prepared and served by Fort Carson volunteers. The proceeds went to local military charities.

Resolutions

The board unanimously approved a resolution for a special-event permit and special event liquor license for the third annual Summer Soul-stice event that was held on June 16 in Limbach Park with a beer tent set up on Front Street, just south of the Second Street intersection.

YMCA Executive Director Heather Steinman described the event and answered trustees’ questions. The event was sponsored by the YMCA this year.

The board also approved an annual liquor license renewal for Tri-Lakes Liquor, 586 Highway 105.

The board unanimously approved town lease-purchase financing through Wells Fargo Bank for:

  • A new Monument Police Department vehicle—$30,549
  • A new Public Works Department backhoe—$86,329
  • A Finance Department financial software upgrade—$39,000

These items were added as options to the town’s existing leasing agreement with Wells Fargo. The total purchase price was $155,880. The interest rate for the four-year agreement was 2.36 percent. The total cost for these three items was $162,368. The first annual payment of $40,592 had already been included in the town’s 2012 budget.

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith and Assistant Public Works Director Ron Rathburn answered numerous technical questions about term length, payment schedule, and depreciation options for the lease-purchase. Smith noted that the town no longer has enough cash reserves to make cash purchases of this size. Rathburn noted the town backhoe’s systems are breaking down and it would be traded in on the new backhoe. Smith stated that the budgeted amount for a replacement backhoe was $120,000. The board unanimously accepted all of Smith’s lease-purchase recommendations.

There was also a discussion about renting town equipment to Triview Metropolitan District. Town Manager Cathy Green said that it "may be more effective for Triview to lease equipment from a truck company." Smith said that the solution to Triview’s capital equipment problems would depend on when the district hires a district manager and how proactive the Triview board will allow the new manager to be with regard to buying capital equipment.

Note: Triview has not had a district manager since mid-November. Unpaid Triview Board Vice President Robert Fisher has been the primary director acting as manager for this special district since then. The town refused to renew its management services intergovernmental agreement that expired at the end of 2011. The town extended the 2011 management agreement for three months so that Triview could continue to use town employees to operate the district. For more information, see www.triviewmetro.com/docs/dist-mgr.pdf.

The board approved two disbursements over $5,000.

The first was a payment of $10,282 to Slavens Electric Inc. for engineering and permit fees and switchgear parts purchases for the future connections for a new generator to be installed for town Well 7. Rathburn noted that the Slavens payment did not include the cost of the generator or any of the other costs for installing it. In the interim, if a backup generator is needed, it will be rented.

The board also approved a payment of $18,360 to John R. Hurley Asphalt Co. for paving the 9,180-square-foot downtown parking lot on Washington Street with a 4-inch asphalt overlay. Smith noted that this expense exceeded the initial budget of $15,000 and that unused funds from the community development fund were transferred to complete the payment.

The Public Works staff removed the asphalt that remained after the Monument Police Department’s modular buildings and trailers were sold or removed for disposal. The staff graded the remaining dirt for Hurley and performed the striping of the new asphalt.

The meeting adjourned at 7:04 p.m. An orientation workshop was held for new trustees after the adjournment.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, June 18: 2011 audit accepted

By Jim Kendrick

On June 18, auditor John Cutler of John Cutler and Associates advised the Monument Board of Trustees that he was giving the town an unqualified, or "clean," opinion in his 2011 audit report. The board unanimously approved a resolution to accept Cutler’s audit report and have him forward it to the state Auditor’s Office.

Trustee Rick Squires did not attend the meeting.

Hogan and Bornstein appointed to planning commission

The board unanimously approved the appointment of Brad Hogan to the Monument Planning Commission to replace Becki Tooley, who resigned to become a four-year member of the Board of Trustees on May 4. Hogan, a Monument native, will complete Tooley’s commission appointment, which runs through the end of 2012.

Jeff Bornstein, who also became a new four-year trustee on May 4, was appointed to replace former Trustee Tommie Plank as a trustee representative on the Monument Board of Adjustment, by a 5-0-1 vote, with Bornstein abstaining. His two-year appointment to the Board of Adjustment runs through July 2014.

Town approves building code amendment

The board unanimously approved an ordinance that approved several amendments to the 2011 Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s building code. The amendments were presented by special project coordinator Bob Croft in accordance with 2004 intergovernmental agreement between the town and the department. The latest set of proposed amendments included:

  • Adoption of the 2011 National Electric Code (NEC)—already adopted by the state.
  • Adoption of Chapter 13 of the 2009 International Mechanical Code —"Fuel Oil Piping and Storage."
  • Amendments to the Flood Plain Code.
  • Amendments to the Fee Schedule to establish a flat fee for reroofs of $135.
  • Disbanding the former Electrical Committee and combining it with the former Mechanic and Plumbing Committee responsibility through creation of a seven-member Mechanic, Electrical, and Plumbing Committee.

For more information, see www.pprbd.org.

St. Peter Church special event permit approved

The board also approved a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of the alley that adjoins 55 N. Jefferson St., 124 First St., and the north parking lot of St. Peter Church from 5 to 9 p.m. on June 29 and the issuance of a special event permit for conducting a private potluck 100th year anniversary celebration for about 300 people.

Three liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved a new hotel and restaurant liquor license for Luis Martin of CMS of Monument LLC for the Carlos Miguel’s Mexican Grill, which will be located at 15910 Jackson Creek Parkway No. 100, the location of the former Fusion Restaurant. Martin stated that he has operated several other restaurants with liquor licenses throughout Colorado and California.

The board unanimously approved a special event liquor license for Courtney Mitchell, special events coordinator for the Pikes Peak Brewing Co. Pikes Peak Brewing will run a beer tent for the benefit of the Starlight Children’s Foundation (www.starlight.org) on the Fourth of July in the parking lot of Bella Art and Frame, on the southwest corner of Second Street and Washington Street. The Starlight Children’s Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that provides entertainment, education and family activities for seriously ill children in the United States and their families.

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for the Spicy Basil restaurant at 562 Highway 105.

Financial reports

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

  • $136,560 to Triview Metropolitan District for April sales tax ($128,091), May motor vehicle tax ($8,339), and May Regional Building Department sales tax ($131)
  • $8,775 to National Meter & Automation Inc. for 78 new replacement water meters
  • $69,924 to John R. Hurley Asphalt LLC for the first 50 percent of an asphalt overlay contract with the town for multiple projects

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith noted a significant increase in the town’s April sales tax earnings that resulted from delayed March submissions to the state by some large stores. This monthly sales tax report is not an officially required document and is prepared solely at the request of the trustees. The board does not take any votes to accept, modify, or reject these monthly informational reports.

This doubling up of March and April sales tax revenue helped produce an increase in general fund revenues over the amount budgeted for May of 10 percent, or about $376,000. General fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 9.2 percent, or about $347,000. Water fund net revenues for May were $240,000, due in part to the drought and higher irrigation rates, an increase of $138,000 from April.

Smith also noted that the town’s 2012 budget will be restated in July to reflect the changes in staff and expenses that have resulted from the town and Triview Metropolitan District cancelling the intergovernmental agreements that had town employees operating the metro district in recent years. Since the district paid for these town staff services and the employees have resigned from the town staff and now work for Triview, the restatement should be neutral in terms of revenues and expenses.

The board unanimously accepted the May financial report.

Staff reports

Some of the items not already noted above that Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported he had taken action on were:

  • New town Senior Planner Patricia Parish started work June 4.
  • Reviewed the first and second resubmittals of revised engineering plans for Phase 2 of Promontory Pointe.
  • Met with traffic engineer Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Inc. to discuss strategies for gaining county approval of a traffic signal at the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection for the west entrance to the King Soopers shopping center.
  • Reviewed and finalized an amended planned development site plan for a Jiffy Lube on Monument Marketplace Filing 14.
  • Sent a letter to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requesting a permit for the removal of abandoned unused drainage pipes in the Jackson Creek wetlands area.
  • Attended the county’s first Willow Springs Steering Committee as the town’s representative to this park planning committee.
  • Participated in development of the landscaping plan for the new town parking lot on Washington Street.
  • Reviewed a number of planning issues that were completed as administrative review on existing planned development site plans without board review and approval.

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish noted that the current drought will force the town to release water into Monument Creek below the dam through a bypass valve assembly at a rate that is higher than the flow into Monument Lake. The town must release this stored lake water to people downstream who own water rights that are more senior than the town’s water rights. This will cause the level of the lake to get lower as the drought continues.

Some of the items Monument Police Department Chief Jacob Shirk reported were:

  • On May 31, the department put out a press release on a report of enticement of a child near the intersection of Mount Herman Road and Mitchell Avenue.
  • On June 3, the department put out a press release on a report of a suspicious male dressed like a police officer in the King Soopers parking lot.
  • New officers Ryan Schott and Andrew Romano have completed their 12-week training program and have been released to solo patrol.
  • Lissette Chappel has been hired to fill the vacant part-time records technician position.
  • Parents are reminded that summer curfew begins at 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and midnight on Friday and Saturday.
  • The skate park closes at dusk while the other town parks close at 11 p.m.

Town Manager Kathy Green reported that the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority had changed its position on where to build a local light-rail facility from downtown Monument to somewhere in Black Forest. She stated that the Colorado Department of Transportation is advocating that passenger stations be adjacent to I-25.

Cemetery report

The agenda stated that former Trustee Gail Drumm (who worked for a funeral home and cemetery in the past) was to present a committee report on the status of the finances and policies for the town’s cemetery. It includes proposals on how to make the cemetery profitable in an era of increasing percentages of cremations by making a substantial investment in the purchase and installation of a columbarium.

However, Drumm was not present as scheduled. Green, Finance Assistant Sherry Jurekovic, and Trustee John Howe presented the report in Drumm’s absence. Howe has been researching information for the committee for two years.

Monument resident volunteer Sharon Williams spent weeks working on the overall aesthetics, plantings, and landscaping of the cemetery. Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman and former Deputy Town Clerk Claudia Whitney have assisted residents inquiring about the cemetery and reviewing and organizing about 100 years of cemetery records.

Some of the facts presented during the discussion of the report were:

  • There are 1,656 grave sites with 309 still vacant.
  • There are also 179 empty grave sites that are deeded for future use.
  • There are 10 to 12 burials per year.
  • The cost of a plot is $800.
  • The current fee for opening and closing a grave site is $350.
  • Average annual cemetery revenue for the past five years is $11,870.
  • Estimated annual average direct costs for the past five years of cemetery operation are $14,090 ($8,366 for labor and $5,724 for equipment).
  • The average annual net loss over the past five years is about $2,220, for a total of $11,102.
  • The purchase price for three representative columbarium installations from Premier Columbaria ranged from $20,000 (240 niches) to $28,000 (312 niches).
  • Expanding the size of the cemetery would cost about $80,000 per acre, with up to 20 vacant acres available on the opposite side of Beacon Lite Road.
  • The current average cost for a funeral is about $10,000.

Green asked the board for guidance on expanding the cemetery acreage and/or making a large investment in a columbarium at this time. Easton said the board does not know at this time if there is a demand for either and that the current annual loss is small enough not to force a decision on either option now. After further trustees’ comments there was consensus to have the staff update the cemetery report at the time of 2013 budget preparation.

Farmers market controversy

During public comments, Ross Gallegos of the Monument Farmers’ Market stated that the market is held on Saturdays in the Monument Plaza Shopping Center from July through October. He said he had some questions and a few statements for the trustees.

There are two farmers’ market operations in downtown Monument during the summer. One, run by Diana Dickson for the past 12 years, was originally leasing space on the grounds of the Lewis-Palmer School District 38 "Big Red" headquarters building, on the southeast corner of Second and Jefferson Streets, until a few years ago. Her operation then moved to Monument Plaza. The other farmers’ market also operates on Saturdays through a lease of the Jefferson Street parking lot for the mothballed Grace Best Elementary School.

For more background information on the board’s lively discussion of the Monument Farmers’ Market on July 18, 2011, see www.ocn.me/v11n8.htm#bot0718.

For more information on the split into two farmers’ markets and Dickson’s market relocation see:

Some of the statements Gallegos made were:

  • He wondered why the annual fee for the market’s business license had increased from $75 to $200 in 2011, then $400 for 2012.
  • He had been treated "very nicely" by staff members but "very shabbily by the town manager, Miss Cathy Green," unlike any other municipality he has dealt with.
  • In the past, Green had told Gallegos that she "hated our market."
  • Green showed him "a brochure from another town and said that’s what she wanted [the market] to look like."
  • Green "offered to take over the market without any compensation and she would let my partner have the privilege of running it."
  • He was appalled that anyone from a town or city would make such a statement.
  • Vendors sign a contract with Dickson that clearly states that the vendors are responsible for all fees and turning in their own sales taxes to the state.
  • Green had said sales tax revenues collected by Dickson were not turned in, which was "slanderous."

Mayor Travis Easton said he would defer to staff for a reply to Gallegos on the fees.

Some of the statements Green made to Gallegos and the board were:

  • She had not spoken with Gallegos for two years.
  • The staff was trying to reunite the two markets after they split apart two years ago.
  • The staff created a new category to prevent all vendors from having to purchase their own $75 license.
  • Trustee Rick Squires proposed a flat $200 business license for each of the two farmers’ markets, which was approved for 2011 and still applies in 2011.
  • There is a special event license listed at $100 that was created on May 2, 2011, but no license fee for the farmers’ market was created at that time.
  • Green noted that sales tax revenues are only reported by the state to the town treasurer .

Smith stated that she had brought up issues with Dickson, not Green, about "the non-collection of sales tax from the farmers’ market," as well issues regarding "the very small amount of sales tax being reported, only being reported once a year, sometimes not at all." Now that the individual vendors collect and turn in their own sales tax, Smith has a way to track each vendor, something that could not be done in the years before the creation of the market’s new rules, including the $200 business license fee.

Note: Sales tax information is tightly restricted information available only to the town treasurer and her staff. The town treasurer works directly for the board, independent of any control by the town manager.

Trustee Jeff Kaiser said to Gallegos that while he had paid $75 for a 2012 business license, there still was a balance of $125 owed the town. Town Clerk Sirochman also verbally confirmed this $200 total business license fee to Gallegos before he left the meeting.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m. An orientation workshop was held for new trustees after the adjournment.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on July 16 in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council, June 14: Police officers converted to individual contract status; fireworks canceled; water crisis developing

By Jim Kendrick

Although the June 14 Palmer Lake Town Council meeting featured livelier than usual public comments on numerous agenda items throughout the public portion of the session, the biggest news occurred at about midnight at the end of a long executive session on personnel matters.

After coming out of executive session, the council approved a motion to convert the staff of the Palmer Lake Police Department, with the exception of Chief Kieth Moreland, to individual IRS Form 1099 contract employee status, starting on July 1 at the rate of $13 per hour—an average cut of $3.75 per hour with no benefits. Moreland’s contract will be reviewed by the board at the end of September.

After the executive session, the board also appointed Mike Keough as chief and Phillip Beckman to the newly created position of assistant chief of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

Note: Due to the high statewide wildfire danger, the council canceled the Palmer Lake fireworks on June 19.

Water crisis announced

During the meeting, Water Trustee Michael Maddox announced that the town’s entire annual quota of surface water in the reservoir had already been used due to much higher than usual summer irrigation flows. Mayor Nikki McDonald said that the watering restrictions may soon turn into a watering ban to prevent overtaxing the town’s groundwater wells as occurred in 2000.

When Maddox noted that the town used 4.1 million gallons of surface water and 2.7 million gallons of well A2 water, several of the other trustees audibly gasped at the extremely high use, about three times winter use. Well D2 is still out of service due to a failed pump, which is scheduled to be repaired soon.

Maddox said there is nothing the town can do to raise the level of water in the lake without jeopardizing drinking water production. Monument Creek has dried up much sooner than in any other recent summer, so the town cannot take any more surface water from the reservoir. Town Clerk Tara Berreth noted that any water put into the lake from the reservoir would have to be immediately replaced by pumping A2 well water directly into Monument Creek for owners of more senior downstream water rights.

McDonald noted that the town has never owned storage rights in the lake and cannot obtain storage rights that would be useful. The lake’s level is determined by the water table. If the water table drops below the bottom of the lake, it will be dry. Any water put into the lake under these conditions will immediately drain out of the bottom.

There many public comments about this water issue, with citizens often disputing these hydrologic and water law facts presented by the board and staff. This is a recurring dialog that occurs at council meetings every time there is a drought and led to the creation and eventual demise of the Awake the Lake citizen group. The board unanimously approved two consent items:

  • Renewal of the annual lease agreement with the Palmer Lake Sports Riders for the town property they use as a motorcycle track on County Line Road.
  • Appointment of Trustee Shana Ball to the Palmer Lake Variance Board

The council unanimously passed a motion to approve several amendments to the 2011 Pikes Peak Regional Building Department’s building code. See the June 18 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 22 for details. Henry Yankowski, director of the Regional Building Department, Bob Croft deputy director, and Keith Curtis, floodplain administrator, gave a lengthy presentation on numerous technical details included in these changes.

The council unanimously approved a new business license for Sarah and Michael Hoard, owners of Cornerstone Multisport at 244 Highway 105, next to the Speed Trap Cafe. They will be open on Saturday and Sunday for now, selling swimming, biking, and running apparel and accessories and providing bicycle mechanical accessories.

The council unanimously approved a new ordinance prohibiting truck traffic (over 25,000 pounds gross weight) on Palmer Lake streets, roads, and alleys that does not have a destination within the town limits. The ordinance does not change the existing truck restrictions on Colorado Highway 105. Mayor McDonald said the ordinance targets trucks used for drilling or fracking that are driven through Palmer Lake residential areas to job sites and damaging local residential streets.

Cayla and Lynn Spear proposed an annexation, zone change, and conditional use for their three parcels that comprise the Affordable Stor-More business in the Pioneer Lookout subdivision at 2810 Roberts Drive, 605 Highway 105, and 2925 Peak View Blvd. The parcels are contiguous with the town limits. The Spears want these county properties to be annexed to make it easier to gain approval for building additional storage units.

Larry Gaddis, the town’s attorney, stated the Spears’ water rights would have to be deeded to the town. Lynn Spear said the water had already been deeded to the Pioneer Lookout water district. The board unanimously approved a motion that the council will approve annexation during the next council meeting on July 12 after Gaddis drafts the annexation ordinance. The town will consider the Spears’ request for a zone change and a conditional use with proper notice after their annexation ordinance is approved.

Committee reports

McDonald stated that Morgan Day had successfully applied for a Colorado Lottery funds grant and obtained contributions for the necessary matching funds for resurfacing the Palmer Lake tennis courts. McDonald read a letter from Day thanking the council and staff for their support of her efforts.

McDonald noted that she had participated in the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments June 13 meeting that gave final approval to the project for widening I-25 to three lanes from the South Gate of the Air Force Academy (Exit 150) to the Monument exit for Highway 105 (Exit 161).

Parks and Recreation Trustee Bruce Hoover stated that a new portable toilet has been installed at the tennis courts to replace the restrooms that were destroyed by vandals. There are no funds to replace these restrooms.

Hoover noted that the sprinkler system is irrigating the Village Green. There are new water-efficient toilets. The new speaker and recording system at Town Hall was paid for with money donated by the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department. The landscaping around Town Hall and the town offices have been cleaned up and replanted by the part-time staff.

Hoover thanked Ron Heard for organizing a public service cleanup around the lake by 65 members of Air Force Academy Cadet Squadron 32. He also thanked the United Congregational Church for paying for breakfast for veterans, families, and other citizens who attended a three-hour Memorial Day breakfast at the Depot Restaurant, which is the home of American Legion Post 911. The cleanup will become an annual tradition.

Hoover met with Rebecca Duke and members of the Palmer Lake Community Group on May 26 and June 10 to discuss their volunteer efforts for Town Hall.

The gate below the town’s south reservoir will be replaced by the end of June.

Police Trustee Bob Grado reported that 27 summons and 34 warnings were issued in May.

Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster reported 29 response calls for the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department and 132 calls for the year. Seven new volunteers are completing their qualifications. An open house was held at the station on June 23.

Kuehster said the department would like to work with the council on a ballot initiative to raise the current Palmer Lake sales tax for the department from the current half-cent to 1 cent.

Fire departments nationwide will have to buy new radios again due to new restrictions on available emergency service bandwidth.

Roads Trustee Jerry Davis gave an update on summer upgrades that have been performed on local streets. Grado asked Davis to have the Roads Department restripe the interior intersections to the south of the intersection of Spring Street and Highway 105 and improve on the signage to increase traffic safety.

Town accountant Linda Ousnamer reported that all departments other than police were operating within the constraints of their revenues and 2012 budgets. Overall the town’s expenditures were 2.35 percent over budget. Ousnamer thanked Grado for meeting with her on the police budget and invited the other trustees to discuss their budgets with her. The 2011 audit should be completed before the July regular council meeting on July 12.

Community planter project tabled

There was a lengthy, and occasionally emotional, discussion about the four blue planters located at the southeast end of the town parking lot, adjacent to the historic jail building. The plan for these planters was for an edible garden—rather than a vegetable garden. The Palmer Lake Community Group planters are being funded by an ingenuity grant. Group director Pam Cooley said the boxes need more than 120 gallons per week to thrive. Palmer Lake landscaper Jeff Clibon, who does a lot of volunteer work for the town, also gave suggestions based on the long-range view of volunteer landscaping projects when the number of volunteers inevitably fades.

The board unanimously approved a motion to table consideration of how to support the planter project until February 2013, due to the expected watering ban.

Former volunteer firefighter Jane Garrabrant discussed the need to promote firewise mitigation projects due to the high fire danger. There was consensus to hold a town open house on water and wildfire issues on June 23.

Palmer Lake resident Kurt Stephens pledged a $2,500 donation after Ron Heard’s presentation on the status of the project to upgrade and expand the Medal of Honor memorial for local resident and recipient Master Sgt. Bill Crawford. For more information on this project, see: www.crawfordmemorial.org.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. July 12 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, June 27: Covenants eased during fire emergency

By Harriet Halbig

At the June 27 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA), President Jim Hale suggested that the Waldo Canyon Fire emergency and resulting evacuations justified a lifting of restrictions on the number of vehicles parked in a driveway and the length of time a trailer or RV could be parked in a driveway. This is because a number of residents have offered housing to friends and family under evacuation.

Due to safety concerns, on-street parking is still not permitted.

Hale also expressed concern about law enforcement coverage during the July 4 holiday. Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) will have two patrols at all times that day and evening. Hale suggested that a board member also patrol in the third WPS vehicle and report any violations by radio to the officers. Each WPS vehicle will carry a fire extinguisher.

Evacuation plan considered

The board briefly discussed the feasibility of an evacuation plan for Woodmoor. Forestry Director Eric Gross said that the local fire marshal considered formulating a plan. WPS Chief Kevin Nielsen said that the Sheriff’s Office would administer any evacuation, but that the Waldo Canyon Fire is federally administered. In the past, the Sheriff’s Office declined to specify an evacuation route since it could not be determined from which direction the threat would come.

Nielsen strongly urged citizens to register to reverse 911 notifications by going to www.elpasoteller911.org. This allows citizens to be notified via cell phone as well as landline.

Hale said that he also wishes to improve communications within the community, especially via email. He appointed Vice President Kirsten Reimann to investigate Facebook and other social media as a further way of informing the membership.

Nielsen said he did not know whether WPS would participate in administering an evacuation. Monument and Palmer Lake police would certainly be involved. Perhaps WPS would aid in directing traffic out of the community, he said.

The Tri-Lakes, Palmer Lake, and Westcott Fire Departments have formed a wildland fire group to discuss wildland fire issues and common response.

Mowing halted because of spark danger

Mowing operations were begun on common properties in Woodmoor, and WIA Manager Matt Beseau said that the fire marshal told him to stop due to danger of sparking from mowing equipment. The board discussed ways in which mowing could safely continue. It was suggested that the mowing contractor could be required to carry fire extinguishing equipment at all times.

Gross also emphasized that homeowners should refrain from using chain saws, weed whackers or other equipment that might spark and start a fire. Although mitigation is encouraged, doing so in these extremely dry conditions is dangerous.

Director of Covenants Darren Rouse reported that the largest number of violations in May were for slash and trash violations. He said that he will write an article for the July newsletter emphasizing the dangers of slash on community properties in these dry conditions.

Nielsen reported that the community is under stage I fire restrictions, and that a first violation would carry a fine of $600 from the Sheriff’s Office plus whatever action the WIA might take. If property damage results from the violation, further court action would follow.

Gross reported that there are an increasing number of lot evaluations as the fire season begins. His committee has evaluated three common areas for dead or damaged trees. The first local mountain pine beetle attack on common property is in the Twin Ponds area. If a dead tree is identified, the property owner (or WIA in the case of common areas) has 30 days to remove it.

Gross said that he will seek bids for the removal of dead branches and brush in common areas.

Beseau reported that the office has purchased an additional laptop computer and that he continues to meet with representatives of Woodmoor Water and Sanitation about the size of the taps into the Barn.

Beseau also reported that 700 signatures are still required to ratify the governing documents. He has identified someone to go door-to-door to seek homeowners’ signatures. This person will have identification as a representative of the WIA and will have information on the changes in the documents. This will be tested for a week to see if it is an effective approach. The individual will have a list of properties that have ratified the documents, and those homes will not be visited.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association is 7.3 percent below budget as of the end of May. The board voted to authorize UMB Bank to convert WIA accounts to virtual banking. Under this system, staff time will be reduced as checks are scanned into a system. Oakley estimated that this would result in significant savings for the association, especially during January when hundreds of dues checks are received and processed. WIA had met with three banks to receive estimates on costs.

Sidewalks planned for part of Highway 105

Nielsen said that he attended a Highway 105 planning meeting the previous week. At this time, the plan is to make Highway 105 a four-lane road with sidewalks from Woodmoor Drive to Lake Woodmoor Drive. From Lake Woodmoor Drive to Highway 105, the road would be widened accordingly, but would not include sidewalks.

The county still has not identified a funding source for the work. Another meeting will be held sometime in the fall.

The board passed a resolution authorizing the use of $31,000 to build a garage for WPS vehicles. Nielsen presented three bids for the work and explained their differences. The structure must comply with Architectural Control Committee regulations.

Common Areas Director W. Lee Murray reported that the Great American Clean Up earlier in June went well. New window blinds had been installed in the offices in the Barn. Treatment for noxious weeds has been completed. He is seeking volunteers to care for the stone signs marking entry to the community.

Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis reported that 51 projects were begun during May, including one new house. Homeowners are reminded to call the WIA office when a project is completed. The committee is seeking new volunteers.

A nominating committee was appointed for the election to be held in January 2013.

**********

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

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

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June Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Record warmth and extremely dry conditions affected the Tri-Lakes region for most of the month. Temperatures average a whopping 7° warmer than normal and precipitation was sparse for most of us. This was the warmest June on record for the Front Range, with records extending back to 1872 in Denver. The hot and dry conditions affected most of Colorado, and of course the unfortunate result for several locations was wildfires. Obviously, until we get some sustained and substantial widespread rain and cooler weather, please be extra cautious outdoors with anything that could potentially ignite a fire.

Warm, breezy, and moist air was prevalent for the first few days of June across the region. Temperatures started in the upper 70s on the first, then were steadily in the 80’s from the 2nd through the 4th, reaching as high as the upper 80s on the 3rd. After quiet mornings with plenty of sunshine, each afternoon saw a buildup of clouds, with thunderstorms and rain showers bringing measureable rain on the 2nd and 3rd.

There was active weather during the first full week of June for some of us, while others missed out on the "fun." Temperatures were right around normal to slightly above each afternoon, with highs reaching the 70s on the 5th, then the low- to mid-80s on the 6th and 7th. High temperatures jumped to well above normal levels on the 8th and 9th, reaching the upper 80s on the 8th and low 90s on the 9th. These were near daily high record temperatures. We generally only see a few days each summer with highs hitting the 90s, so this was definitely a warm time for us.

In addition to the heat, low-level moisture moved into the region overnight on the 5th and stuck around for the 6th and 7th. This, combined with a couple of disturbances moving through the region, helped to spark strong to severe thunderstorms over the region. The first round developed during the afternoon of the 6th. These slow-moving storms first developed over the south side of the Black Forest, then continued to develop over Colorado Springs.

These storms produced large, damaging hail and flooding rain for several hours. Areas hardest hit were generally south of Shoup Road through the southside of Colorado Springs. If you live north of this area, you were able to watch the storms and beautiful mammatus cloud formations but didn’t receive any rain or hail. At the same time this storm complex was wreaking havoc on the region, severe storms were also occurring just to our north. Large hail and several weak tornadoes occurred at about the same time in Douglas and Elbert Counties, coming within about 10 miles of the El Paso County line. Another round of severe thunderstorms developed during the afternoon and early evening of the 7th. This complex developed east of Denver and moved south, affecting eastern El Paso County.

This storm brought at least two tornadoes to Calhan and Ramah as well as numerous reports of large, damaging hail. This stayed just to the east of the region, sparing us a repeat of the day before. A final round of thunderstorms and rain moved through the region during the overnight hours of the 8th as drier air began to work back into the area. This provided the quiet, warm, and dry weather for the following weekend.

Overall, it was another dry and warm week around the region, with the week of the 11th starting off cooler than average, then record highs returning by the end of the week. Cooler air moved in overnight on the 10th and, when combined with clear skies, allowed temperatures to quickly tumble on the morning of the 11th. Low temperatures were in the 30s that morning, with some of the colder spots reaching below freezing. Temperatures that afternoon also stayed below average, with mid-70s for highs under sunny skies.

Temperatures returned to normal and slightly above normal during the middle of the week, and slightly more moisture moved in. This allowed for a couple thunderstorms to pop up on the afternoons of the 13th and 14th. Unfortunately, not much precipitation fell, with less than 0.1 inch for most of us. Slightly cooler air worked in behind this departing wave of energy, and temperatures were again held slightly below normal on the 15th and 16th.

As is typical this time of the year, morning sunshine gave way to afternoon clouds both days, but no measureable precipitation fell. Southwesterly winds quickly moved back in along with a hot air mass out of the desert Southwest over the remainder of the weekend. This allowed temperatures to soar on Father’s Day. Highs jumped into the upper 80s and low 90s that afternoon under sunny skies, making for a beautiful day to be outside. Of course, with all the dry, hot weather this month and most of the spring, fire conditions became extreme.

And just when we didn’t need it, high pressure moved in over the region and held strong for the remainder of the month. This brought with it hot and dry air from the desert Southwest. Temperatures reached record levels on almost every afternoon from the 22nd through the 30th. Most days highs reached into the low and mid-90s, about as warm as it ever gets up here.

Temperatures peaked on the afternoon of the 23rd and 24th, reaching the mid-90s for most of us. Highs hit 105° in Denver and 101° at the Colorado Springs airport, both setting all time record highs for June! To make matters worse, the air was very dry, with most afternoons seeing relative humidity at 15 percent or less. Often this dry, hot air also combined with gusty winds. This is about the worst-case scenario possible for fire concerns.

A look ahead

July can be an active weather month around the region, as the Southwest monsoon season gets going. Afternoon and evening thunderstorms are a common occurrence, and when they are able to tap into higher levels of moisture, flash flooding can result. Hot, stagnant weather can also take hold for a few days at a time, with highs hitting well into the 90’s.

June 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 85.4° (+9.6°) 100-year return frequency value max 82.5° min 66.3°
Average Low 48.8° (+5.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 40.7° min 50.2°
Highest Temperature 96° on the 23rd, 24th
Lowest Temperature 32° on the 11th
Monthly Precipitation 0.24"  (-2.02" 90% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.18"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"  (-0.1" 100% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 107.3" (-22.1" 17% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 19.33" (-1.89" 9% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 48 (-119)
Cooling Degree Days 112 (+95)

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us in the Tri-Lakes region, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact me.

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

Thanks for help in tennis courts project

Dear Town of Palmer Lake,

Thank you—especially to Mayor Cressman, Mayor McDonald, Tara Berreth, and Bob Radosevich—so much for helping me with the tennis courts project. I am so glad that you recognized how important this was to citizens of the town and were able to find lottery funds to finish the project. The courts look great and have been in full use every time I went past them on a recent weekend.

These courts are something that Palmer Lake residents of all ages will be able to enjoy. The town gave overwhelming support to this project, and I really appreciate it. On behalf of all the people of Palmer Lake who helped get this done, thanks again!

Morgan Day

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Teachers’ pay raise lauded

Let’s give credit where credit is due. On June 2, Our Community News published Dr. David Cloud’s letter, "It’s time for a teacher pay raise in D-38." Dr. Cloud outlined, in simple terms, D-38’s current budget situation. He gave the district credit for a balanced budget and a substantive budget surplus. He advised a well-deserved increase in salary and benefits for district employees.

On June 21, the school board announced "an important adjustment to staff compensation since the preliminary budget was presented to the Board in May. Certified and classified staff will each receive a 2.2 percent ongoing raise. This is the first wage increase in four years. Additionally, certified teaching staff will receive a bonus prior to the winter break." (This is an excerpt from the June 21 school board meeting highlights.)

Thank you, Dr. Cloud, for supporting our teachers.

Ana C. Konduris

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A tale of two school finance forums

Last week I attended two forums about mill levy overrides (MLO; tax increases for residential and business properties). The first forum hosted by Direction 38! included three panelists: El Paso County Tax Assessor Mark Lowderman and two others with expertise on the complicated school finance laws. Each presented information, and throughout the two hours the audience was encouraged to ask questions and make comments. The discussion was lively and informative, with opinions expressed across the political spectrum.

Although invited, unfortunately no D-38 Board of Education (BOE) member or administrator was able to attend.

The second forum was held by the D-38 BOE and superintendent. The participants seemed to be speaking from a script regarding an MLO for the school district. The directors lamented about how ignorant the public is about all the great decisions they have made over the past four years. Questions and comments from the audience were not allowed.

There was lengthy talk about educating the voters on the need for increased tax revenues for D-38. Board Vice President (Mark) Pfoff argued this education of the public was unnecessary because the truth will always prevail. He stated that the community gave them a mandate by the 60 percent to 40 percent win over their opponents last November. (It was actually 46 percent, not 60 percent per the The Gazette.) A mandate to do what? He then implied that the citizens who have questioned or criticized the BOE’s leadership are liars.

How does this hostile, accusatory style by an elected official bring our community together to accomplish the mission of providing an excellent education for our students?

Stephen Boyd

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Mysteries, mysteries, and more mysteries

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Do you enjoy an intricate, involved, many-faceted mystery that taxes your brain? Or maybe you prefer a lighter plot with a little humor thrown in. How about a suspenseful page-turner that scares the wits out of you? There are as many different types of mysteries as there are mystery lovers, as you will see in the sampling below.

Swift Justice
By Laura DiSilverio (St. Martin’s Publishing) $24.99

Private investigator Charlotte "Charlie" Swift prefers working alone, but when her silent partner flees the country, his pampered, socialite wife decides to be a not-so-silent partner. Charlie and Gigi make one hilarious odd couple, as they deal with an abandoned baby and a murderer on the loose.

The 13th Tribe
By Robert Liparulo (Thomas Nelson Inc.) $16.99

When the 12 tribes of Israel were punished for worshipping a golden calf, the 13th Tribe received the worst punishment of all—endless life on earth with no chance to see the face of God. This group of immortals has been trying to earn their way into heaven ever since—by killing sinners. While their logic is twisted, their brilliance is undeniable, and the technology they possess is beyond anything mere humans could imagine. How can one man stop their most ambitious attack ever when millions of lives hang in the balance?

The Wind Through the Keyhole
By Stephen King (Simon & Schuster Inc.) $27

In this volume, King returns to the rich landscape of Mid-World, the spectacular territory of the Dark Tower fantasy saga. Roland Deschain tells his friends not just one strange story but two, and casts new light on his own troubled past, involving a murderous shape-shifter and a terrified boy. The book will fascinate fans of the Dark Tower epic, but this novel also stands on its own as an enchanting and haunting journey to Roland’s world and testimony to the power of King’s storytelling magic.

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection
By Alexander McCall Smith (Random House Inc.) $24.95

For a lighter mystery, try the latest episode in the beloved No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. Precious Ramotswe, the kindest and best detective in Botswana, faces a tricky situation when her personal and professional lives become entangled. As wealthy and powerful influences at the orphan farm become allied against her friend, Mma Potokwane, help arrives from an unexpected visitor. The tall stranger from Mma Ramotswe’s dreams turns out to be none other than the estimable Clovis Andersen, author of the No. 1 Ladies’ prized manual, The Principles of Private Detection.

The Coffins of Little Hope
By Timothy Schaffert (Unbridled Books) $14.95

This novel features a multi-generational family in a small Nebraska town that is obsessed with death and missing children. Told through the voice of 83-year-old Essie Myles, the story describes the work of the town’s old "death merchants," those inconspicuous professionals who prepare the bodies, play the organ, and dig the graves. Essie’s job is to write the obituaries for her family’s local newspaper, seeing past the survivors’ grief, breathing life back into their beloveds in heartwarming detail. The tragedy of 11-year-old Lenore, allegedly snatched by her mother’s weird boyfriend, attracted subscribers from around the world, and Essie describes how the "legend of Lenore" saved the town from a quaint decline.

Junkyard Dogs
By Craig Johnson (Penguin Group) $14

When the owners of a multimillion-dollar development of ranchettes in Durant, Wyo., want to get rid of the adjacent junkyard, they come up against the notorious Stewart clan. Sheriff Longmire soon finds himself in the throes of a modern-day range war featuring more than just the usual corpses, including an outlaw whose young wife likes to tie her grandfather-in-law to the back of a 1968 Oldsmobile Toronado. A hilarious and gripping story, this is Johnson’s sixth book in the popular Walt Longmire mystery series.

Whether you are planning a trip to Europe, to the mountains, or to the beach this summer, or simply relaxing on the back deck, a good mystery is a great way to pass the time and enjoy a brief escape from everyday life.

Until next month, happy reading.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Colorado Birding Trail

Below: Northern Harrier is one of many hawk species found at Spruce Mountain. Photo by Emilio D’Alise http://ejdalise.smugmug.com.

Click here or on the photo to zoom in.

Click on the the photo to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Summer is a great time to take off and drive our many highways to visit a park or get together with family and friends. Now that more than 20 states have developed birding trails, we like to plan our vacations to incorporate one or more of them. It can break up the monotony of a long trip and is a way to see interesting sites that we might otherwise unknowingly drive by.

The economy and high gas prices are reasons many people are staying close to home this summer. The good news is that Colorado has developed a birding trail that extends from the tall peaks in western Colorado to the eastern grasslands. Most stops are easily accessible and near a major highway. The websites provides good descriptions for each site with an explanation of what can be found there. Every year we try to visit a section of the Colorado Birding Trail as well as a new birding trail in another state. We have not been disappointed, although the quality of sites varies from state to state.

Of all the birding trails we’ve visited, our favorite remains the Pikes Peak section of the Colorado Birding Trail. It features 27 sites, but because of the Waldo Canyon fire, a few destinations are currently closed. Wildfires have a devastating effect on people and wildlife. Already I am receiving reports of cross-bills and other unusual birds that have been seen in the Monument area due to the Waldo Canyon fire. When a bird is nesting in a fire area, if it is to survive, it must abandon its nest and expand its range, often leaving behind helpless nestlings.

Most of the sites on the Pikes Peak Trail are 5 to 60 miles from Monument and are easy day trips. Many stops are along I-25 from the Air Force Academy on the north end to Chico Basin Ranch on the south. The trail also includes a section from Colorado Springs west along U.S. Highway 24 to Lake George. Many birds that move away from the fire zones may be relocating to other trail sites, so it may be a good time to revisit some of them.

The Pikes Peak region is quintessential Colorado. The altitude ranges from about 5,500 feet to more than 14,000 feet and offers spectacular views and a chance to explore a diverse landscape that is home to more than 400 birds. No other place offers so much variety in such close proximity. The seven types of habitat zones include an upland short grass prairie, three distinct mountainous zones, high meadows, arid scrubland, and the tundra on the upper slopes of Pikes Peak.

Many birds have specific habitat requirements and can only be found in a narrow range. One example is the juniper titmouse that is found at the Aiken Canyon Nature Conservancy, a stop on the Pikes Peak section of the Colorado Birding Trail. Along the trail it is possible to find many more unusual birds, and most of them are listed on the trial’s website.

It was Pikes Peak that inspired a young English professor from Wesley College to write the words of America the Beautiful. Just as Katherine Lee Bates arrived in Colorado Springs after traveling across the country in 1898, many tourists drive here with the intention of going to the top of Pikes Peak. Those who live here know that this region offers much more than a magnificent view. The designated sites along the Pikes Peak Birding Trail provide tourists and residents with a true look at the diversity of landscapes, cultural heritage, plants, birds, and animals of this region.

According to a 2006 study by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 48.7 million people engaged in some form of bird watching, making it the most popular sport or hobby in America. The study estimated that birding is increasing in popularity by 10 percent per year and that in 2006, Americans spent $45 million dollars feeding, observing, and photographing birds.

Birders do not need expensive equipment to enjoy birding, but equipment is available in all price ranges and can be quite pricey. I’m often humbled when I find myself next to a birder with high-end equipment, but it doesn’t matter because while they may get a clearer look, I will find as many birds.

Many birders have money and spend it visiting places where they might find a bird they haven’t seen and can add to their list. Often I meet birders from other states who come here to find a particular bird. Changing climatic conditions may influence a bird’s range so birders watch the weather and other conditions in anticipation of where the birds might be found.

Attracting birders to an area requires little infrastructure, and small towns across America are looking at ways to cash in on its popularity. Every year more states develop birding trails and small communities host birding festivals to attract tourists and the dollars they bring.

It’s not difficult to develop a birding trail because most of the sites already exist and many states provide grants to develop facilities that will enhance the experience, which might include trails, signage, parking, maps, and toilets.

As I previously mentioned, I’ve birded the Pikes Peak Trail but truthfully, I believe there are some equally outstanding places to bird on the Palmer Divide that could be great additions to the Colorado Trail. A few sites that come to mind include the Santa Fe Trail, Mount Herman Preserve, the trail to the Palmer Lake reservoirs, Greenland Mountain Open Space Trail, Castle Rock Canyon State Park, and Spruce Mountain. There are probably many more sites and there may even be enough of them to develop a Palmer Divide segment of the Colorado Birding Trail.

Directions to the Pikes Peak Birding Trail with detailed site maps and descriptions can be found at www.coloradobirdingtrail.com. Birding trails in other states can be located by Googling "birding trails."

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: Putting imagination to materials

Works by CarrieAnn Baade are allegorical narratives inspired by literature and art history, combining visual elements of exotic flora, fauna, and figures. Photos provided by CarrieAnn Baade. Below: Butterfly Lovers.

Below: The Happiest Demon.

Below: Artist CarrieAnn Baade, nee Jones, grew up in Monument and is a 1992 graduate of Lewis-Palmer High School. She was the recipient of the Palmer Lake Art Group Scholarship that year, which assisted her in attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is now an Assistant Professor of Art at the College of Visual Arts, Florida State University. Baade’s works will be featured in a solo exhibition in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Lucy Owens Gallery July 3 through 28.

By Janet Sellers

I first met CarrieAnn Baade in the mid-1990s when she put together an art show at the Estemere Mansion grounds for professional artists, and she thoughtfully included local child artists in the show as well. We still have photos of that special time, when the carriage house and servants’ buildings were transformed into a splendid and festive exhibition complete with a snowy evening for the artists’ reception.

It was standing-room-only for the entire exhibit, and I especially remember a beautiful figurative painting freshly done in oil, exquisitely painted by her in a traditional manner with youthful beauty and exuberance. She told me the painting was still wet to the touch as she carefully hung this work high on the wall in the salon tradition.

Baade will be featured in a solo exhibition in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Lucy Owens Gallery July 3 through 28. Baade relates her process to create her unique imagery: "To begin a composition, I start with scissors, clipping fragments, composing from snippets of several hundred pictures scattered about me on the floor. A prototype collage of layered scraps with cut edges is created that includes an array of photographs and images from art history. Looking at the resulting collage, a painting is then executed in a trompe l’oeil manner showing the multiple layers ...." Baade says that for her this layering suggests a person’s "masks and their hidden secrets."

This retrospective exhibition of works by Baade features prints of her work she has made available to raise money for the Ranger Legacy Fund. The fund was developed by alumni and graduates of the Lewis-Palmer High School class of 1992.

Baade grew up in the Tri-Lakes area and graduated Lewis-Palmer High School in 1992.

The artist currently lives and works in Tallahassee where she is an assistant professor of painting and drawing at Florida State University.

There will be some additional public events connected to the exhibition: An artist lecture, Thursday, July 19, 7 to 8 p.m., will focus on artists’ evolution of ideas and process. Held in conjunction with Baade’s High School Reunion, the reception with the artist and a fundraiser for a 20 x 20 will be on Friday, July 20, 5 to 8 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar and live music will round out the gala event at the TLCA, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake.

July 13: Monument Art Walk

As you know, our local artists, studios and art galleries have a fun night out planned for you every second Friday of the month. July brings us to these mid-summer night dreams on July 13, from 4 to 9 p.m. throughout our Tri Lakes area—right now historic Monument and Palmer Lake —and remember to walk along the Artist’s Alley west of Wisdom Tea House. Sculpture Bliss Studio is there, and if we’re lucky, owner Jodie Bliss may just be heating up those irons for a blacksmithing demo.

July 19: Art Hop in historic Monument

While there is a whole town full of venues for our wonderful Art Hop sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association, I try to spotlight a few each month here to tickle your art bones.

    Wisdom Tea House, 65 Second St.: Mattie O. and Lynn Lee will have a joint exhibition titled "Botanical Extravaganza" now through July 28. The show features botanical works from traditional to contemporary in such varied media as fiber, paper, paint, and scratchboard. The artists will be at the tea house to talk with you about their work at the artist reception coinciding with the evening of the Art Hop, July 19, 5 to 8 p.m.

    Frog on a Limb Primitives, 341 Front St., at Third StreetMeet the "Purveyor of Electro-Acoustic Dulcimization," Bud Ford of Cripple Creek Dulcimers, out on our front porch at this Art Hop. Ford likes to play the Appalachian Dulcimer every way you are not supposed to—but also traditionally, for that mountain music feel. Enjoy refreshments while you listen to great music.

    Margo’s on the Alley, 253 Washington St. Local artist John DeFrancesco will demonstrate his technique for painting miniature oils, some as small as 2 by 3 inches. DeFrancesco’s representational style has a distinctive softness of mood, shapes, edges, and colors. His miniature oil paintings will be available for purchase at special pricing this evening only.

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

Scenes from the Monument Art Hop

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

Below: Authors Barbara O’ Neal, left, and Beth Groundwater signed their latest publications at Covered Treasures Bookstore. O’Neal recently published The Garden of Happy Endings, about a woman returning to Pueblo after a tragedy in her life, seeking solace by preparing meals at a soup kitchen for those in need. Groundwater published the outdoor adventure mystery, Wicked Eddies, about the murder of a fly-fishing competitor that occurs on the Arkansas River.

Below: At The Bead Shop, hand weaver Alice Ridges shows Evan Futey how to operate a loom.

Below: At The Love Shop, Lisa Bergren, author of The River of Time series, is surrounded by fans, from left, Jenna McGann, Anna Schnelbach, Anna Rokke, Diana Araje, and Amanda Sievert.

Below: The Crescendo String Quartet performed a mix of contemporary and classic pieces at Wisdom Tea House.

Below: Bud Ford of The Dulcimer Shop in Manitou Springs plays a mountain Dulcimer outside of Frog on a Limb Primitives. Mike and Jessica Humphreys own the business, which opened in October. Their store specializes in Early American-Colonial-style items, such as fruit syrups, jams, soaps, handmade crafts, and teas. Most items are made in the United States and, in particular, Colorado.

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Anglers try their luck at the Palmer Lake Fishing Derby

Below: Monument resident Jeff Stafford helps 2-year-old son Jake cast his line as older sister Penny looks on. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On June 2, anglers of all ages enjoyed a beautiful Saturday morning as they cast their lines into Palmer Lake at the 2012 Kids’ Fishing Derby. Event Chair Ken Valdez said the derby, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, "encourages family activity in the local community."

"Right after school ends summer begins, families are looking for something to do and the derby provides an opportunity to appreciate your own backyard," he said.

Prizes for the longest fish, ugliest fish, and dirtiest kid were awarded. Volunteers from the Kiwanis K-Club assisted Chamber members with the event. The Colorado Division of Wildlife stocked the lake with trout in April and May and provided fishing poles to any child who needed one.

The derby was also sponsored by Peoples Bank, Farmers Insurance, and El Paso County Parks.

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

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Club shows off cool cars

Photos by Candice Hitt

Below: Luke Hitt tries out the Midget race car.

By Candice Hitt

On June 10, the Tri-Lakes Cruisers car club held its annual benefit car show in downtown Monument. Many residents of the Tri-Lakes area showed up to view specialty cars, hot rods, street rods, lead sleds, antique cars, and cars being restored. The Air Force Academy’s live falcon mascot was on display.

There were 130 entries in the car show, and all participants received a free breakfast. Many awards were given out in a variety of categories. Sponsors of the event included Peoples National Bank, Original Waterless Wash, Monument Motors, JJ Tracks, MedVed Autoplex, Colorado Transmissions, Paul Leueberger-American National Insurance, and Spyder Paint and Collision.

Proceeds from the event go to help Tri-Lakes Cares. More information about Tri-Lakes Cruisers can be found at www.tlcruisers.com.

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

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Concerts in the Park series begins

This is the 11th year of the free concert series, which runs through Aug. 1. The event is sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association. Turnout for the concerts at Limbach Park is usually 600 to 800 people, so bring your own chair or blanket and enjoy food, fun and great music for the whole family. Information on upcoming concerts is at www.monumentmerchants.com/Concerts.htm.

Below: Jody Adams (center) and the String Dudes (Darin Black, left, and Verolen Kersey) performed at Limbach Park, June 6. Photo by Candice Hitt.

Below: On June 13, Colorado Springs blues band Adam & Stilwagen performed. The band consists of, from left, John Stilwagen (keyboard), Dave Deason (percussion), and Big Jim Adam (guitar). In 2011 and through the support of the Colorado Blues Society, the band reached the finals at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Information on the band is at www.adamstilwagen.com. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Ron Wesley, left, accompanies Rick Stahl at the Monument Concert in the Park on June 20. Photo by David Futey.

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33 artists display works at PLAG Fine Arts Show

Below: The 47th Annual Fine Arts Show and Sale was held June 8 at the TLCA. Photo by Kate Wetterer.

Photos below by David Futey.

Below: Members of the Palmer Lake Art Group pose at the TLCA during the opening reception.

Below: In the Lucy Owens Gallery, photographer Brian Davis displayed his "photo art." Davis started in photography and then began to manipulate the images, softening colors and accentuating areas of the photos. His works have been displayed in Parade of Homes and in Denver-area businesses.

Below: Roger Ward, left, and Daniel Edwards autographed books they published. Ward and Edwards co-authored A Victorian Mansion in the Colorado Rockies: The Estemere Estate at Palmer Lake: An Architectural and Social History of a Unique 19th Century Mansion. This book takes a fascinating look at the history behind the Estemere Estate. Edwards also authored Dr. William Finley Thompson: Dental Surgeon and Founder of Palmer Lake. Thompson founded Palmer Lake in the 1880s and sought to develop it as a vacation location.

By David Futey

On June 8, the Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) held the opening reception for its 47th Annual Fine Arts Show and Sale at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). The show demonstrated the breadth of expertise within the group as 33 members displayed works in a variety of mediums including oils and pastels, photography, wearable art, watercolors and mixed media.

PLAG President Margarete Seagraves said, "The show has expanded greatly in numbers and variety since it began in the 1960s." She also expressed appreciation to the community and businesses that support the group.

Proceeds from a silent auction held during the reception went toward the group’s scholarship fund for District 38 high school art students. Seagraves said the group provided $3,000 in scholarships in 2011. She hopes to raise additional funding as PLAG seeks to support students from Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High Schools.

Gayle Higgins’ watercolor work, Silverleaf, was selected as Best of Show by Judge Telise Rodelv. Information on PLAG is at www.palmerlakeartgroup.com. A listing of upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org.

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

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Dotsero at TLCA

Below: Dotsero band members David Watts (guitar), Stephen Watts, keyboardist John Schallar. Photos by David Futey.

By David Futey

On the evening of hot June 9, Dotsero’s own heat melted away the concept of cool jazz on the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) stage inside. This contemporary jazz band from Denver, led by brothers Stephen and David Watts and backed by Charles Peterson (drums), Thomas Jefferson (bass), and John Schallar (keyboards), captivated and entranced the sellout audience with a distinctive and high energy performance.

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

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

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VFW Change of Command

Below: Joseph Carlson, left, relieves Post Commander retired Air Force Lt. Col G. Anthony Wolusky. Wolusky is presented with the Order of Merit for taking the post to national recognition for two years running. Carlson assumes command of VFW Post 7829, which meets the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Sundance Mountain Lodge in Monument. Photo by Bernard Minetti

By Bernard L. Minetti

During the change of command ceremonies at the June 19 meeting of local VFW Post 7829, Joseph Carlson relieved retired Air Force Lt. Col G. Anthony Wolusky and took charge of the post. During the ceremony, Wolusky was presented with the Order of Merit, the highest award ever presented by the local post.

During Wolusky’s tour as commander, the Post qualified for the VFW All American Post award for two successive years. This award is given to the post that has the highest recruitment level in addition to providing various service activities to and for the local veteran community. Wolusky will remain active with the local unit. He is now also the judge advocate for the VFW State of Colorado organization.

Bernard Minetti can be reached at bernardminetti@ocn.me

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Summer Soul-Stice celebration shines

Photos by Kate Wetterer.

Below: Shawna Bonshot and her children added to the vibrant sidewalk chalk path through Monument. 

Below: The Summer Soul-stice hayride rumbles down the streets of Monument.

By Kate Wetterer

The Finally Summer Soul-Stice Celebration returned to Monument on June 16, spicing up the streets with rented sidewalk squares for chalk pictures and bouncy music from the YMCA’s zumba exercise dancing class, transported temporarily to Limbach Park.

The Bead Shop provided supplies for visitors to make free sun catchers, ushering in summer’s brighter days. A bouncy castle was provided, and the Soul Train hayride made its rounds through Monument’s streets, stopping in front of the festivities to collect children and adults. Food was readily available, along with beer tastings at the Soulful Suds beer tent and a Pikes Peak Library District stand offering craft instructions and materials.

Other attractions included a sidewalk sale at the Covered Treasures Bookstore, where used books were given a chance at new homes and fresh minds, and a sale featuring local artists at Bella Art and Frame. Francine Boisclair offered cheerful jewelry for sale, and Che’s Art was featured as well, presenting pieces including wood and stone carvings.

The Finally Summer Soul-Stice is an opportunity for Monument to gather, local businesses opening their doors to visitors and helping the community grow together and enjoy the warm weather.

Kate Wetterer can be contacted at katewetterer@ocn.me.

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Bears in Woodmoor

Photos by Dale Rae.

Below: On June 26, Dale Rae’s Woodmoor home had some unexpected visitors.

Below: a cub climbs a tree. Above: The mother collects her cubs and ambles off.

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Photos of the Waldo Canyon Fire

Below: As seen from 8th Street in Colorado Springs Tuesday, June 26, 4 p.m. Photo by John Heiser.

Below: Plume of smoke as seen from the Tri-Lakes area Tuesday, June 26, 7 p.m. Photo by Susan Hindman. An amazing time-lapse video of the view from South Woodmoor is posted at www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBA7eHY022k&feature=youtu.be.

Below: View from the Western Museum of Mining and Industry Wednesday, June 27, 4 p.m. Photo by David Futey. When OCN went to press, the fire was 90 percent contained with full containment projected by July 7.

Below: Buses evacuated to Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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Flags on Gleneagle Drive

Below: The flags along Gleneagle Drive are a neighborhood tradition started by Terry Galloway in 2000. Terry joined the Gleneagle Sertoma Club in 2003 and suggested the club continue the tradition as a community service. Each year, 16-18 volunteers assemble on the July 3 or 4 and place 400 flags along the 2.5 mile stretch of Gleneagle Drive from Struthers on the south to Baptist Road on the north. Photos and information provided by Gloria Milhoan.

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MVEA elects three directors

Below:  Jim Herron, MVEA Chief Executive Officer, addresses the crowd at the annual MVEA meeting, June 7. Photo by Kate Wetterer.

By Kate Wetterer

Three directors were elected to the Mountain View Electric Association’s (MVEA) board at the annual meeting on June 7. Joseph D. Martin returned to the board to represent District 1, having served since 1988. Milton L. Mathis will represent District 4, and Barry Springer will represent District 6, having edged out Kelly Means.

The election was conducted via mail-in ballot. Meeting attendees were encouraged to vote for one of the District 6 candidates. These ballots were added to the 3,900 that had been mailed in, and all were counted by volunteers as the meeting was conducted.

President’s report

MVEA board President Joe Martin said that:

  • The MVEA is not yet certain about 2013 rates. More might be learned at the Lamplighter meetings in the fall. At the moment, the board is advocating a "wait-and-see" approach.
  • The U.N. named 2012 the International Year of the Co-Op, and Martin provided a brief description of the co-ops MVEA does business with, including the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Inc., and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. He also explained the cooperation principles supported by co-ops—independence, concern, a voluntary approach, emphasis on democracy, and the participatory nature of proceedings.

New EPA rules will be costly

MVEA General Manager Jim Herron discussed MVEA’s reaction to two new EPA rules: the requirement to monitor mercury and "air toxins" and a limit on CO2 emissions. He said the new EPA mercury limit will "limit" the use of coal, impeding the efforts of power plants. Tri-State garners 65 percent of its power from coal. Twenty-four states have already filed legal action against this rule. Tri-State’s stance is that the rules are "unachievable," and, therefore, "unlawful." It joined the legal action in April.

Herron said existing plants will be exempt from the CO2 emissions limit. However, it is thought these rules may help bring about the end of the "age of coal." Herron said the EPA does not realize how important coal is to America’s energy. The EPA home page for this regulation is www.epa.gov/mats/actions.html. Specific emission limits are at: www.epa.gov/mats/pdfs/proposalfactsheet.pdf.

Attendees were urged to get involved with campaigns for ideal energy service and for opposition to unfavorable rules. They were urged to go to the MVEA website at www.mvea.coop and click on "Our Future, Our Energy" for relevant links or go directly to www.ourenergy.coop.

MVEA scholarship awards

$14,000 worth of scholarship money was awarded in $1,000 scholarships by MVEA this year; high school juniors applied for a chance to get their name into a "computer-generated lottery system." Garrett Keenan, a student at Limon High School, was also recognized for an essay contest he won. The prize was an educational trip to Washington, D.C. Margarete Erikson and Paul Costello received mention for winning the chance to attend a camp where students participate in small-scale cooperative businesses, in order to better understand how co-ops function.

For more information on this meeting, see www.mvea.com/annualMeeting.aspx.

Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetterer@ocn.me.

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Community Garden members want to unite gardeners

By Kate Wetterer

Palmer Lake Community Garden Club members recounted their progress at their second meeting June 11. While the group is still finding its footing, plans have been set in motion to unite the town’s gardeners through growing food and to beautify community areas.

None of the garden plots was rented, leaving the space free for community efforts. Each bed has been planted with crops, including a new variety of tiny watermelons. One of the beds has been planted in the "lasagna" style, a method for developing healthy soil that requires less water. This "lasagna"-style bed will be used to educate those interested in utilizing the techniques themselves. The club hopes to "gain momentum" and "grow" together through the coming years—both as an organization and by growing plants.

In a few weeks, bare soil has been replaced by bobbing leaves, delicate and full of life. The raised beds have been described as "communal experiments," nurtured in an effort to teach the community how to make the most of a brief growing period and implement gardening techniques suited to high elevation.

The Community Garden Club is also forming a gardening library at the Palmer Lake Country Store, hoping to include material on a variety of related topics such as organic and companion gardening, permaculture, pest control, and invasive weeds. A binder has been secured to gather articles and notes pertaining to the group’s efforts. These are intended for the use of the community.

A fire truck accidentally ran over one of the club’s hoses, and methods to replace or repair the hose were discussed at the meeting. The club also debated what sort of hoses might be most beneficial to their needs in order to plan future purchases and water plants as efficiently as possible, in terms of members’ time and water conservation.

Walking tours are being planned so club members can explore and learn about other gardens in the area—these excursions are intended to build community as well as provide teaching examples. Gardening enthusiasts in Palmer Lake have wildly different techniques and results to show off, and the tours are expected to be a good way to learn about methods to improve planting.

Other plans discussed at the meeting included possible club representation at Town Hall’s ice cream social on June 17, Fourth of July festivities, and the Chautauqua in August, along with methods to share food grown in the gardens with the community. Ideas are still being debated, but it is certainly a goal of the club that some produce be "given back" to Palmer Lake residents.

Three years ago club members planted around the gazebo by the lake. Now they are planning to add new, "baby" plants to the plots. Some of these plants have already been purchased, but the group is waiting for steady volunteers who will water the "babies" by hand before they put them in the earth.

Much more work must be done to tend the vegetables and herbs in the raised beds, and a suggestion was made that members meet on watering days—Tuesday, Thursday and/or Saturday—to take care of the plants and socialize. By signing up for the community garden email list, Palmer Lake’s citizens can be alerted to plans, meetings and other events.

*********

Meetings are planned for the second Monday of each month. The next scheduled meeting is on July 9. There will be an informal discussion about greenhouse techniques on Monday, July 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. This meeting will take place at the garden, by the gazebo in front of Town Hall. For information: dwoodhockey@comcast.net or 963-3242.

Kate Wetterer can be reached at katewetterer@ocn.me.

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June and July library events: Summer reading program is in full swing

By Harriet Halbig

As of June 22, there were 1,743 Tri-Lakes children enrolled in the Dream Big—Read program and 606 teens enrolled in the Own the Night program.

Thanks go to our many teen volunteers for their cheerful attitude and skills. Their enthusiasm contributes a great deal to the atmosphere and smooth operation of the library during this busy time of year.

The Monumental Readers will meet at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 20, to discuss State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving program will be offered on the afternoon of the 21st from 1 to 5 p.m. This is a refresher driving course for motorists age 50 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discounted premium. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited and registration is required.

Events for teens

July’s Crafty Teens program is Light up the Night. This program is part of the Own the Night theme of the teen summer reading program. Teens 11 and up are invited to join friends for snacks and decorating light switch plates. Registration is required online or at 488-2370.

Join the Pikes Peak Paranormal Society to learn about unexplained, spooky and mysterious local happenings with Ghosthunters. This program, also part of the Own the Night teen summer reading program, is designed for those 12 and up, with adults also welcome. Registration is encouraged. The program will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 26.

Events for children

The Lego club will meet on Saturday the 21st from 10:30 until noon. We 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—all pieces used to make the projects remains property of the Pikes Peak Library District.

Come to a birthday party for our own Dewey the Fish on Tuesday, July 31, at 10:30 a.m. There will be lots of fun, including birthday cake and fishy stories and crafts. Wear your party clothes!

Special summer reading programs will continue in July.

On Tuesday, July 10, at 10:30 a.m. join the Val-deri sisters as they work their way through the wish list of dreams they have always wanted to do. But, the sisters have no clue how to go about achieving their dreams. The results: hilarious!

On Tuesday, July 17, at 10:30 a.m. Dream Big with—Baskets of Bunnies. Have you dreamed of having a rabbit as a pet? Join Laura Foye and her bunnies for this fun program. You will learn some facts about rabbits, pet a sweet, soft (real) bunny, and visit the craft table to make your own rabbit creations.

On Tuesday, July 10, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. is a 7 Up program for school-age children titled What’s Under Your Bed? Something creepy, that’s for sure. We’ll play Mummy Wrap, have a Body Part Treasure Hunt, and make a gooey eyeball craft.

Thursday afternoons on the 5th and 12th at 2 p.m. will feature Stories and Crafts sessions for school-age children in conjunction with the summer reading program.

The big event of the summer reading season is the Monument and Palmer Lake Summer Reading Party. Don’t miss this summer celebration of Dreaming Big and Reading. The Summer Reading Party will take place at the Palmer Lake Village Green and will include animals, music, face-painting, games, treats, and more. Bring your sunscreen and your umbrella to the Palmer Lake Village Green on Friday, July 20, 10:30 to noon.

On the walls during July will be photographs by Kimberly Sharples.

In the display case during July will be a collection of kachina dolls shared by Lucy M., a local patron.

Palmer Lake library events

There will be a special evening program for all ages on Tuesday, July 10, at 7 p.m. The theme is celestial stories of the night sky. Why is the moon dark one night a month? Enjoy hearing the answer to that question and more during the program for all ages. Heather Lyle shares humorous and dramatic tales of the moon and stars. View the night sky and take home a craft. The program will be outside on the Palmer Lake Village Green.

Blast off with Stella the Star Polisher and her friend Luna as they take you on a cosmic journey of fun in Adventures in the Imagination Constellation. This program will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, July 11.

On July 12 at 4:30 p.m. come read to Misty, the tiny sheltie. Research has shown that young readers can improve their fluency by reading to a quiet, patient dog. Read with Misty and select a prize.

Palmer Lake’s Summer Reading Program on Wednesday, July 18, is Basket of Bunnies. Join Laura Foye and her bunnies for this fun program, where bunny petting is definitely allowed.

The Palmer Lake Knitting Group meets each Wednesday from 10 a.m. to noon. Knitters of all levels are welcome. Bring your project and enjoy the company of other knitters.

Kirby, the golden retriever Paws to Read dog, will be on hand Saturday, July 28, from 11 a.m. until noon.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet on Friday, Aug. 3, at 9 a.m. to discuss The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. New members are always welcome.

The event of the year will be the Summer Reading Program Party on July 20 on the Palmer Lake Green from 10:30 to noon. See the Monument Library segment above for details.

Photographs by Laurisa Rabins will be displayed on the walls.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, May 17: Historical Society, families celebrate Father’s Day

Photos and Captions by Bernard Minetti

Below (L to R): Volunteers Georgia Follansbee and Maggie Williamson served ice cream at the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s Father’s Day celebration in Palmer Lake and enjoyed it as much as those receiving it.

Below: The Jessum Buds group entertained the attendees at the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s annual Father’s Day celebration. They played bluegrass and country music.

Below (L to R): Nathan Clark and Luke Clark are served by volunteer Pat McCarthy.

Bernard L. Minetti

The Palmer Lake Historical Society’s annual Father’s Day tradition of free ice cream and pie was attended by many families June 17. The crowd enjoyed the music of the Jessum Bud group, who played bluegrass and country music.

During the festivities, Historical Society board member retired Air Force Lt. Col. Jack Anthony announced that the Palmer Lake Star had passed the first and most important step to being registered as a state and national historical site. A representative from the Colorado State Registry of Historical Places deemed that the site was eligible for the title of "Historical Monument." This placed the star in the eligibility line for further recognition at the state and national level.

Anthony noted that residents Charlie Krueger and Gary Coleman were instrumental in the registry’s decision. Krueger’s father was involved in the construction of the original star and had passed down the facts about the initiation and construction of the star. Coleman provided some of the technical data necessary for the star’s recognition.

Anthony was given the assignment of having the star recognized as a state and national monument by the Historical Society board. He declared that this was perhaps the most important designation for the star, because it opened the door for future designations.

**********

The next meeting will be on July 19 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The public is invited to attend. The title of the presentation is "Eating Houses on the Midland Railroad." Tom Van Wormer will talk about how trainloads of passengers were fed during the brief train stops.

Bernard Minetti may 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
July Menu

July 11— Chicken Dijon, rice pilaf & salad
July 18
— Pork loin, roasted potatoes & applesauce
July 25
— Tuna salad on croissant, chips & avocado

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

This is 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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Stage II fire restrictions are in effect

Stage II fire restrictions have gone into effect for El Paso County. The following activities are prohibited:

    Open burning defined as campfires and warming fires, charcoal grills and outdoor wood-burning stoves, the use of explosives, outdoor welding or use of acetylene or other torch with open flames other than in an area cleared of all flammable materials. Fires contained within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves are permitted.

    The use or sale of fireworks of all kinds.

    Outdoor smoking except within an enclosed vehicle or building.

Violations of Stage II fire restrictions may result in a fine up to $1,000. The Town of Palmer Lake has also issued a ban on fireworks. Disregarding this ban will result in a summons being issued with fines of up to $1,000 and/or one year in jail.

In addition, access to Old Stage Road and Gold Camp Road is now limited to residents only. The closure of these two roads will remain in effect until further notice, according to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

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A message from the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District wishes to thank all citizens and businesses for their support, cooperation, and donations during the Waldo Canyon fire. We are so proud to represent the Tri-Lakes Monument area! Thank you.

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

Teens who will be 18 on or before Election Day are encouraged to register in advance of this year’s elections to be eligible to vote. They must be registered 29 days prior to the election even if they will not be 18 until Election Day. This applies to both the Primary Election on June 26 and the General Election on Nov. 6. Colorado law allows for pre-registration for individuals who are 17 years old a year prior to the election in which they want to cast a ballot. Here are two ways to register to vote:

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

More information about the 2012 Primary and Presidential Elections can be found at http://car.elpasoco.com/election. For additional information, contact Alissa Vander Veen at 719-351-9626 or by email at alissavanderveen@elpasoco.com.

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Volunteers Needed for Forestry & Weed Advisory Commission, apply by July 13

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as an at-large representative, a District 1 representative, and a District 5 representative on the Forestry and Weed Advisory Commission. District 1 includes the northwest portion of the county north of the Air Force Academy, including Monument, Palmer Lake, and Black Forest. District 5 covers most of the city of Colorado Springs. Applications are due by July 13. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information call 520-6436.

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Slash-Mulch season is underway

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here. Slash (tree and shrub debris; no stumps, roots, weeds, grass, lumber trash, etc.) drop-off ends Sept. 9. Mulch pickup ends Sept. 22 or when mulch runs out. 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. The loader fee is $4 per bucket, about 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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Get volunteer help for your nonprofit

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

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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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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.; 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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Free gun-lock kit

The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gunlock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For more information, phone 481-3253.

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