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Vol. 12 No. 9 - September 1, 2012


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Contents

the PDF file. This is a 20.2 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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911 Rescue 4 visits Tri-Lakes

Photo by Stacey Paxson

By Stacey Paxson

New York Fire Department Rescue 4, damaged during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was housed for a few days at the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.

Rescue 4 is now a rolling memorial touring the western U.S. Rescue 4 is one of two rescue vehicles that serve as mobile memorials to the nine men from this crew who lost their lives when the South Tower collapsed. The door from Rescue 3 was salvaged and replaced a damaged door on Rescue 4. On the Rescue 3 door are the names of the five men from Rescue 3 who died in the pursuit of helping save others.

Rescue 4 will be on display Sept. 3 for the Monument Celebration Festival and Parade until 12:30 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. Parking will be available at the Pinz Bowling Alley.

For more information on the Remembrance Rescue Project, visit www.remembrance.com. For more information on all the apparatus that will be on display at Station 1 on Labor Day, call (719) 484-0911.

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A Perspective on Our Community: Controversy surrounds fire protection district board’s recent actions

By Jim Kendrick

In the past several months, there has been a great deal of controversy regarding actions by the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board and its former President Charlie Pocock. A chronological summary:

On May 8, the Tri-Lakes board held a special meeting during which Pocock stated that the district needed to initiate an investigation of "numerous allegations of misconduct" and to "approve estimated cost and not-to-exceed cost for third-party management review, which may include investigation, analysis, and recommendations" regarding the allegations.

Pocock explained that the investigation would "include" the board, the fire chief, and the battalion chiefs. Pocock did not say who had made the allegations or whom the allegations were against. He said there was a list of things that the district would like to know from the investigators and that anyone "will have an equal opportunity to refute or support the allegations, and any misconduct will be corrected according to their recommendations." Pocock added, "We estimate that there are probably 15 people who would testify or give interviews."

The board approved an expenditure of $10,000 to have the Mountain States Employers Council conduct the secret investigation and prepare a secret report for the board.

On May 9, the district issued a press release—dated April 25—announcing that the board had voted at its regular meeting April 25 to put a 3 mill tax levy increase––from 8.5 mills to 11.5 mills––on the November ballot. On April 25, the board had also agreed to begin the process of forming a fire authority with Donald Wescott Fire Protection District; this was not included in the press release.

At the May 25 regular Tri-Lakes board meeting, Si Sibell, former Monument mayor and former Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District Board president, called the investigation a "witch hunt." Sibell had been Pocock’s partner in merging the Woodmoor/Monument district with the Tri-Lakes district.

Pocock stated on May 25 that he met with several senior members of the paid staff on a Saturday morning because they had complaints against several members of the staff. On May 8, the board decided that the complaints were so severe that an independent contractor was required to address the complaints. The Mountain States investigation report was to be completed for the board by the week after Labor Day. Pocock said he would not discuss any portion of the investigation or personnel matters. Director Barbara Kelly withdrew her resignation while the investigation was in process.

The board increased the funding authorized for the investigation to $12,000 even though Pocock said something had to be done to alleviate what he anticipated would be a shortfall in funds and offered no proposals to reduce other costs prior to the proposed tax increase.

Treasurer John Hildebrandt discussed the current Tri-Lakes policy of paying 100 percent of employee medical benefits. No other regional fire district pays 100 percent of medical benefits. He asked, "Can we afford to pay for 100 percent of everything?"

At the June 4 special Tri-Lakes board meeting called by Pocock, Chief Robert Denboske was placed on administrative leave. Denboske had not been named previously as a target of the Mountain States investigation. No other paid staff members were placed on administrative leave, despite Pocock’s allusion May 25 to widespread complaints against several staff members. No reasons were given for this action. The Mountain States secret investigation report was discussed in executive session, and Pocock said no details of the report would ever be released to the public or the press when other directors complained that Denboske would have no recourse. Pocock added that "if anyone challenges this investigation, have them file a suit."

When directed to make copies of the report for the board members, Office Manager Jennifer Martin expressed concern about her liability in having access to these documents since they involved privacy issues and she was not bonded or covered by any liability insurance to protect her in sensitive matters.

At the June 12 special Tri-Lakes board meeting, attended by about 20 citizens, Director Bill Ingram noted 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. 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 taking any further action. But the rest of the board rejected this course of action.

The board passed a motion 5-2, with Directors Ingram and Rod Wilson opposed, to fire Denboske, effective immediately, "based upon the confidential assessment report by the Mountain States Employers Council," calling it a "disciplinary termination."

Following the meeting, a few residents expressed concern about the action. Larry Slaymaker asked Pocock, "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." He also told Slaymaker and the others, "Get your attorney, and Mountain States Employees Council is the people you should sue."

At the July 5 Tri-Lakes board meeting, Pocock said an effort was underway to recall five of the seven district board members in response to Denboske’s firing. He said the recall was being led by Denboske, Sibell, and his wife, Dorothy Sibell. Pocock added, "I think what we really ought to do is drain the swamp and recall everybody, so with your concurrence, I will file a recall petition on Bill (Ingram) and Rod (Wilson) and we’ll just find some good candidates and see if we can come up with a whole new board."

Pocock also said, "We must not do anything that would detract from our ballot initiative for an increased mill levy of 3 mills." The approximate annual tax increase for a $400,000 home, using Pocock’s approximation of $2 a month per $100,000 assessed market value, would be $96.

Pocock stated, "We must never suggest that the recent unpleasantness with Chief Denboske was in any way predicated on our relationship with Donald Wescott (Fire Protection District) or Palmer Lake (Volunteer Fire Department). We should continue working on mutual assistance with Donald Westcott and Palmer Lake and continue working on defining our similarities or correcting any differences with them, but nothing more."

At this July 5 meeting, Pocock also announced that the district had received a letter from the district’s insurance agent, Jeffrey Cunningham of VFIS, stating that board members should not be interfering with on-scene activities during exigent situations because it can endanger the chain of command and increase the probability of injury or accident to paid staff.

Cunningham requested that board members and other untrained citizens be restrained from any involvement with emergency and other dangerous operations. He said the state would not provide any workers compensation coverage if employees are injured while being where they are not supposed to be. Board members and/or other civilians who have involved themselves in an emergency setting are inferring that they do not have confidence in their highly trained district employees, he said.

Cunningham summarized his complaint by noting that these board members or other civilians have the potential for causing a hostile or unsafe work environment for everyone. He added that the officer in charge is the only one on the scene who may issue orders and directions to the paid staff.

At the July 25 Tri-Lakes regular board meeting, Ingram read the following from a letter from Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters to the Tri-Lakes board: "Although we are very pleased with the board’s decisions, we question the rationale and motives of Mr. Bill Ingram and Mr. Rod Wilson. They in conjunction with a very minor faction of the community seem to be working hard to continue to create animosity and disharmony within the District. Their actions and accusations present a negative image of our department, officers, firefighters and staff. We respectfully demand that this public disdain of our department stop immediately." There was no definitive explanation of the term "actions and accusations."

Hildebrandt said, "I’m not a union person. I think that some of the public sector unions have ruined this country." He also said that he did not like being threatened by an outside source and that he thought Wilson and Ingram were doing what they thought was best for the district.

At the July 25 meeting, Ingram asked that the board discussion of the email that Pocock sent to four board members before the July 5 meeting be added to the July 5 minutes. Pocock denied sending any emails to the four board members prior to the July 5 meeting requesting them to support the recall all seven board members.

OCN has a recording of the entire July 5 public meeting, including Pocock’s July 5 statements about his email and his preference that all seven Tri-Lakes directors should be recalled. On July 5, Pocock said, "… I sent out an email to … let’s see, that went to Rog, Barbara, John, and Bruce and said well, it’s kinda up to you … you guys vote.…"

After Pocock denied that both his emailed and verbal requests had ever occurred and that there was board consensus, including consensus from Ingram and Wilson on July 5, to have the board recall Ingram and Wilson, Ingram dropped the matter on July 25. The July 5 Tri-Lakes minutes still do not mention Pocock’s emailed request prior to this meeting, his added verbal request during the July 25 meeting, and the board’s consensus to have the board recall Ingram and Wilson.

On Aug. 6, the Sibells withdrew their recall petition against Hildebrandt. By mid-August, Pocock was reportedly the only one who remained as the focus of the recall procedure.

Pocock’s letter of resignation from the Tri-Lakes board was read at the Aug. 22 board meeting.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Aug. 22: Pocock resigns, cites health reasons

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below (L to R): Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Director Rod Wilson and board President Pro-Tempore Bill Ingram at the August rboard meeting.

Below (top to bottom): Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk and Allen Bassett have expressed interest in being appointed to fill the board vacancy left by the resignation of President Charlie Pocock.

By Bernard L. Minetti

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board Vice President Bill Ingram acted as board president pro-tempore in the absence of Charlie Pocock at district’s board meeting Aug. 22. Ingram opened the meeting by reading Pocock’s letter of resignation as president.

Pocock wrote, "Two years ago I had major surgery to repair a very large abdominal aortic aneurysm. Last Monday (I) had a CT scan as part of my annual progress evaluation and on Thursday my surgeon called to say that my progress was not satisfactory and that additional surgery will be necessary. This is a real blow and I do not feel I cannot give it my full attention without resigning my position on the Board of Directors."

Following the reading of the letter, the board agreed that Pocock should retain his badge in his retirement.

Pocock was recently the center of attention in the investigation and subsequent dismissal of district Fire Chief Robert Denboske. This action led to the initiation of a recall movement of all the board members who voted for the dismissal. For details, see the Perspective piece on the left.

Shirk and Bassett seek appointment

Ingram read a letter from Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk announcing his intent for consideration of appointment to the board vacancy left by Pocock. Ingram then introduced Allan Bassett, another citizen interested in the filling the board vacancy, and requested that he also submit a letter of intent for filling the position.

Treasurer’s report

Treasurer John Hildebrandt said that through July, the district had received $2.8 million or 95.67 percent of the annual budgeted property tax income. Specific ownership tax income was at 63.68 percent of the expected income. Overall revenues amounted to 58.33 percent of the expected amount for the year. While this was below the 2011 level, it was above the budgeted expectation for 2012.

Ambulance revenues were at $296,662 or 53.94 percent of expected budgeted revenue. Hildebrandt noted that the deficiency had improved slightly over the previous month’s deficit. Overall expenses were 1.53 percent under budget for the year to date.

The board discussed the proposed wording of Resolution 12-003, which described the mill levy tax increase ballot measure. It was decided to have a special workshop meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 4 at the district administration office to set the title for the ballot issue and approve a resolution for submitting the ballot issue in the Nov. 6 general election.

The directors and Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, who is acting fire chief, discussed options such as letting personnel go and closing a fire station if the tax increase proposal fails. They considered publicizing that failure of the proposal could lead to increased response times.

Nothing was mentioned about the adoption or reconsideration of the previously discussed 5 percent across-the-board pay increase for district employees or the $500 monthly pay increase for the office manager mentioned by Pocock at a previous meeting.

There was a short discussion concerning the Intergovernmental Agreement with the county to cover the expenses of the district’s portion costs to place the tax increase proposal on the ballot. It was noted that the cost to the district would be $25,000. Jack said part of that money could come from the firefighters residency program. Board members said they would determine other sources later.

Hiring a fire chief and filling the board vacancy

Jack explained some of the process of hiring a district fire chief and suggested that a workshop be scheduled to discuss that topic.

The following day the district announced that a special meeting would be held Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the district office building to discuss the fire chief hiring process and filling the board member vacancy. Also released were the requirements for becoming a candidate for the board vacancy. The candidate "must be an ‘eligible elector’ of the district, which is defined as a registered voter of Colorado and either: a resident of the district for not less than 30 days, or the owner (or the spouse of the owner) of taxable real or personal property situated in the district."

It continued: "Qualified candidates should submit a letter of interest to the district. Letters of interest will be accepted until Sept. 10 at 4:30 p.m. Please deliver letters of interest to Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Administrative building located at 166 Second St. or mail to P.O. Box 2668, Monument, CO 80132."

Fire mitigation efforts

It was noted that there was a quantum increase in the requests by the public for the district’s fire mitigation survey of properties. The survey helps property owners to determine if their homes would be considered for saving should a forest fire event occur. Fire Marshal Vincent recommended that everyone have a mitigation survey done at no charge by the fire personnel of the district. Jack stated that the district does not have the authority to require that all properties have mitigation surveys. He said homeowners associations could require them. Vincent is available for presentations to groups or individuals.

Battalion Chief Greg Lovato said Home Depot and R Rockyard are providing a landscape makeover for Fire Station 1. King Soopers provided donuts for volunteers and Fire Rehab provided drinking water.

Lovato also mentioned the Labor Day parade that starts at 10 a.m. and proceeds down Second Street from Mitchell to Beacon Lite Road. He said Vectra Bank and First National Bank are sponsoring this event.

Acting Chief Jack said he was working on the 2013 budget in two forms—one assuming passage of the tax increase and the other assuming it fails.

Training Officer Mike Keough provided a new training report that describes training events rather than the number of training hours recorded. July events included training for a shift at the Air Force Academy burn tower and conducting a live burn. Three district employees participated for certification. Three fire employees will attend free flammable liquid firefighting training in September in Denver, sponsored by Suncor.

The district has scheduled two department-wide training events for the wildfire program in September.

During wildfire deployment to Nebraska, firefighter Rudi Gillette completed all of the wildfire field training requirements and will take the last required classes in October to complete qualification at the engine boss level.

The board called an executive session to discuss positions relative to negotiations and personnel matters. Ingram said no further public business would occur following the executive session.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 26, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Aug. 21: Wescott board looks inward after joint operation talks end

By Jim Kendrick

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board discussed the 2011, 2012, and 2013 budgets and the monthly run report at its Aug. 21 meeting.

Director Joyce Hartung’s absence was excused. Director Harland Baker was also absent. The meeting started at 7:26 p.m. when a quorum of three directors was achieved.

Now that Donald Wescott has broken off talks with the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District regarding joint operations and the Wescott firefighters have stated that they will set up their own union local, board meetings are much shorter. The Wescott firefighters are withdrawing from the Tri-Lakes fire district’s International Association of Fire Fighters Union Local 4319.

Wescott’s discussions with Tri-Lakes ceased following the turmoil of Tri-Lakes Chief Rob Denboske’s actions being investigated by an outside agency, Denboske being fired by the Tri-Lakes board after its directors read a secret report that was not released to the public despite the Colorado Open Records Act, and board President Charlie Pocock resigning after a recall petition was initiated against him by Si and Dorothy Sibell. Their recall petition against Tri-Lakes Treasurer John Hildebrandt was withdrawn at the request of Denboske.

2012 budget adjusted

The conclusion of the construction of the Shamrock Ranch Station 2 at Highway 83 and Stagecoach Road has greatly simplified financial reporting. However, Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall and Chief Vinny Burns noted that the district’s auditor, Tom Sistare of accounting firm Hoelting and Co., suggested that the district list the amounts of some portions of its cash reserves for capital projects in different budget lines for the general fund, resulting in a slight increase to the district’s initial general fund balance for the start of 2012.

The board unanimously accepted Sistare’s recommendations. Marshall and Burns will draft an amended budget for board approval at a budget restatement hearing during the next regular board meeting on Sept. 18. They will also present the first draft of the 2013 district budget that reflects these changes at that meeting. Burns said the county’s projections for 2013 tax revenues show little if any change.

The district’s annual loan payment of $131,876 for new apparatus was made in July. This large payment caused total expenditures through July to amount to 63 percent of the total budgeted for the year. Implementing new station alerting software for Stations 1 and 2 will cost about $14,000.

A water leak in the district’s sprinkler system resulted in the water budget amounting to 75 percent for the year through July. Unused funds will be transferred to the water line to cover the extra expense.

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings noted that there were 197 runs in July, an increase of 14.5 percent from the 172 runs last July. Total runs for the first seven months were up 21.4 percent, largely due to Wescott responding to dispatch calls in Jackson Creek for Tri-Lakes this year as part of the first steps in forming a fire authority between Wescott and Tri-Lakes.

The location of Station 1 on Gleneagle Drive by Baptist Road allows Wescott apparatus to arrive more rapidly for most Jackson Creek calls than apparatus from any of the three Tri-Lakes fire stations. For serious medical emergencies, Wescott’s advanced life support American Medical Response ambulance can initiate transport to a hospital faster than Tri-Lakes’ ambulance can. Wescott is also responding now to dispatches on I-25, which is also outside of the Wescott service area.

The Wescott board and staff say they remain committed to providing the best service possible to everyone in the region even though Tri-Lakes has not reimbursed Wescott for responding to Tri-Lakes’ Jackson Creek dispatches. Wescott taxpayers are paying for all the additional operational costs and maintenance for Wescott apparatus resulting from the higher run rate this year. This amounts to a subsidy to Tri-Lakes now that formation of a fire authority is no longer being considered by either district due to the controversy of Tri-Lakes Chief Rob Denboske being fired, Tri-Lakes board members complaining about Wescott firefighter union member interference, and the resignation of Tri-Lakes board President Charlie Pocock.

Fire marshal training in the community has been completed for the year. The staff will re-evaluate how to best use volunteers to staff both Stations 1 and 2 now that there is a sufficient amount of data on calls and wildfires to analyze. Burns noted that the small pumper was deployed for two weeks to wildfires in California.

Wescott will conduct its annual "Fill the Boot" fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association "Jerry’s Kids" campaign on Labor Day Weekend.

The meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

Jim Kendrick can be contacted at jimkendrick@ocn.me

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 9: Woodmoor residents urged to mitigate fire danger

By Candice Hitt

On Aug. 9, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board discussed details of an Emergency Preparedness Plan in the event of a wildfire in the area. Mike Dooley, battalion chief of the adjacent Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Station 3, said a specific plan for Woodmoor isn’t necessary and a plan for the entire district would be overwhelming. Dooley promoted protecting the water supply to fight fires. As a result, the district will focus efforts on working with the Fire Department to identify key sites that could supply water in the event of a wildfire and protecting those sites.

Board members also discussed the need to mitigate district properties to improve wildfire prevention. Board President Barrie Town stated the district supports mitigation on all district properties because prevention takes a community effort.

Operations and construction update

District Manager Jessie Shaffer gave the operations update, saying Well 12 is back in the ground and working. Well 17 is not starting and the pumping equipment failed on Well 6. Shaffer proposed adding the cost of repairing both wells to the budget during the mid-year review.

The new roof on the district building and the HVAC projects are complete. The district is still running surface water, and customers have complained of a funny taste and odor. The district is working with the engineering firm Tetra Tech to collect some data on the lake and fix the problem. The district’s Long Range Planning draft will be submitted to the board for review in September.

Manager’s report

Shaffer said the JV Ranch engineering report has been filed with the water court. Objectors have until the end of September to submit concerns and negotiate agreements.

**********

The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Sept. 13 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

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

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Tri-Lakes Joint Use Committee, Aug. 14: Higher projected operating costs confirmed

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 14, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) got the specifics of the higher costs it had been expecting for this summer to complete the sludge removal that was interrupted by freezing weather last fall.

Other, more distressing news concerned much higher operating costs next year that have now been formally documented in the proposed 2013 budget. Neither set of numbers was a complete surprise, though the 16.4 percent increase in the annual budget did elicit a few "That’s a really big increase" comments during this meeting.

All members of the JUC were present at the meeting.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by the Monument Sanitation District, the Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: President Jim Whitelaw, Woodmoor; Vice President Dale Smith, Palmer Lake; and Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Robinove, Monument.

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

Financial reports

Burks noted some of the large bills he had paid in July:

  • $11,504 to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for the new five-year Tri-Lakes facility discharge permit fee.
  • $18,371, $21,182, and $22,324 to Liquid Waste Management for removing, dewatering, and hauling away treated solid waste from the facility sludge lagoon.

Burks noted that Liquid Waste Management had been providing weekly invoices, which he had paid promptly. There was consensus that if Liquid Waste Management finished sludge removal before the Sept. 11 meeting, Burks will get checks from each of the three districts for their share of the remaining cost to pay the invoice before that meeting.

Wirenut, an electrical consultant, had to be hired to replace a solenoid valve on the facility’s dredge that was digging the sludge out of the sludge lagoon for Liquid Waste Management. The cost was $1,122. Fortunately, the repair only took three hours.

Ten wastewater entities are participating in the start-up of a Fountain/Monument Creek watershed monitoring group. Each municipality or special district is contributing $1,500 toward the legal and administrative work being performed by engineering firm Brown and Caldwell to create this monitoring group, which is currently being organized by the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments.

Brown and Caldwell will also develop a monitoring plan for sample collection, initiate administration of the program, and conduct quality assurance and quality control for all the test results for the stream samples collected and measured by the member municipalities and special districts.

Brown and Caldwell’s start-up work will cost the monitoring group members a total of $15,000.

To help the monitoring group get started, Monument wrote a check for the full $1,500 Tri-Lakes share a few months ago. Burks stated that Woodmoor and Palmer Lake had agreed to pay back Monument $500.

The cash flow to Brown and Caldwell for the start-up process is being handled by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Big increases in 2013 budget

Some of the line items Burks discussed regarding the proposed 2013 facility budget were:

  • The total budget increases from $801,114 in 2012 to $932,561, a 16.4 percent increase.
  • The postponed construction of the new storage garage will cost $85,296.
  • There will be no cost increase for the 2012 audit.
  • There will be no increase in the Liquid Waste Management rate for sludge hauling.
  • Building a containment structure for the chemicals needed for new nutrient treatments can be delayed until 2014.
  • Equipment costs for the total phosphorus pilot plant will be $10,000.
  • Lining the south Woodmoor metering vault with plastic to prevent further corrosion will cost $3,875.
  • Legal fees jump from $9,000 in 2012 to $27,000 due to new water quality standards regulatory issues for nutrients, arsenic, copper concentrations, and the biotic ligand model for evaluating aquatic life in Monument Creek.
  • The one-time engineering consultant cost for the total phosphorus pilot plant will be $24,000.
  • The one-time chemical supply cost for the total phosphorus pilot plant will be $25,000.
  • Laboratory supplies for all the new in-stream monitoring requirements increases the cost from $6,800 to $11,000.
  • Special/chemical monitoring costs increase from $54,000 to $69,000.
  • Consultant costs for in-stream aquatic life testing will increase by $15,000.
  • A new separate note will be added to the budget to list all the total pilot plant study costs throughout the budget in various line items.
  • All total phosphorus pilot plant study costs will be capital costs and divided by thirds.
  • The cost for participating in the Monument/Fountain Creek monitoring group will be $9,000.
  • Monument’s cost: $232,563
  • Palmer Lake’s cost: $192,669
  • Woodmoor’s cost: $507,039.

Tad Foster, Tri-Lakes’ environmental attorney, has advised the JUC that the total capital cost for upgrading all of Colorado’s 391 wastewater facilities for unfunded state-mandated nutrient treatment equipment to comply with only the short-term requirements in Control Regulation 85 and interim values in Regulation 31 will far exceed their total borrowing capacity and quite clearly bankrupt the state’s wastewater treatment industry.

Burks added that engineering consultant Tetra Tech had advised him that a land use study has to be performed for future expansion needed to house the new nutrient treatment equipment for removing total phosphorus and total nitrogen. The Tetra Tech study will cost $25,000. Burks said he told the firm the study would have to be deferred until 2014.

The financial reports and the accounts payable lists for each of the three owner districts were unanimously accepted as presented.

District managers’ reports

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund said there were no significant items to report for July. Palmer Lake District Manager Duane Hanson reported that the district is a third of the way through its annual collection line cleaning and videoing. Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette reported that most of the district’s line cleaning and videoing has been completed. A small amount of re-lining of some collection lines was to begin in mid-August.

Facility manager’s report

Burks reported that the plant was operating very efficiently. "Everything’s running very well," he said. The quarterly whole effluent toxicity tests showed zero toxicity. The plant is operating at 27 percent of its flow capacity and 44 percent of its waste treating capacity. Total sludge removed to date this year was 240 tons of 350 tons scheduled.

A new alternate nitrate testing procedure will be used for analyzing the higher state blind testing sample concentrations that are being sent to the facility for quality assurance testing. The staff will continue to use the more accurate low concentration procedures that are more appropriate for the routine testing of the facility’s effluent samples. The plant’s effluent has much lower nitrate concentrations than the state blind samples.

Burks said the Monument/Fountain Creek monitoring group was currently analyzing and prioritizing the sampling points on these streams from Palmer Lake to John Martin Reservoir on the Arkansas River below Pueblo.

Regulations report

Jim Kendrick, Operations, Monument Sanitation District, reported that the state Water Quality Control Division has just begun to implement unprecedented hybrid water quality standards for arsenic following an Aug. 13 Water Quality Control Commission hearing. This sudden unexpected shift in policy came about following the turnover of three of the nine commissioners.

This new hybrid standard sets both a human health drinking water limit and a separate limit based on the level of toxins absorbed into consumable fish flesh for each stream segment throughout the state. The Littleton/Englewood and Boulder wastewater treatment facilities protested both of the new hybrid arsenic limits as both technologically and economically unattainable and unsustainable and were given temporary short-term discharger specific variances.

The now-approved human health limit for arsenic, 20 parts per trillion, is far lower than can be achieved by any known or forecast treatment technology, which means that every facility in the state will have to petition for a waiver on all its future discharge. The fish limit portion of the arsenic hybrid limit is 2 parts per billion. The best technological treatment available at this time can only reduce arsenic to 3 parts per billion.

Kendrick noted that this sudden change to hybrid limits makes it even more important to expand the breadth of stream monitoring to include testing of the other creeks that flow into Monument Creek near the Tri-Lakes facility. Testing must provide enough data to determine which contributions to instream pollutant levels are from "non-point" sources. Non-point sources are those other than wastewater facilities or a specific manufacturing plant and include agriculture and stormwater runoff, mine tailings, and naturally occurring erosion from undeveloped land. Pollutant levels from these other sources are compared to those from treated wastewater.

A relevant example of a non-point source is the widespread erosion that occurs during storms in undeveloped areas surrounding the tributaries of the Arkansas River surrounding Pueblo, where there is a much higher average concentration of selenium in the soil.

The state Health Department has no authority or control over agricultural non-point sources like farms and ranches or their nutrient and E. coli contributions to state waters. Monument Creek is on the state’s 303 (d) list of impaired stream segments for E. coli pollution that comes primarily from non-point sources. However, the EPA and the Water Quality Control Commission have placed tight controls on wastewater treatment plants that are not causing the problem, because they are the only entities that they can regulate.

The new, much lower nutrient discharge permit limits in Control Regulation 85 and Regulation 31 prohibit any wastewater facility from even applying for any discharger specific variances unless the facility can prove that it is not contributing significantly to high concentrations of pollutants in a stream segment and that they are naturally occurring or coming from other non-point sources. A wastewater facility will have to prove it is innocent of causing any water quality impairments of any stream segment within 50 miles of its treatment plant discharge pipe from now on.

Few, if any, wastewater facilities have monitoring programs in place to gather such exculpatory evidence except the members of the South Platte Coalition for Urban River Evaluation, the coalition that the Monument/Fountain Creek monitoring group plans to emulate.

The state and EPA are now arguing that the new human health hybrid standards are a federal mandate that would exempt the new state regulatory requirements from being classified as state unfunded mandates. That would absolve the state from having to provide financing for all the statewide wastewater treatment capital improvements that must be made to comply with Control Regulation 85 and Regulation 31.

Kendrick reported that the Water Quality Control Commission also decided on Aug. 13 that it would no longer control statewide engineering design criteria through its Policy 96-1. The Water Quality Control Division successfully petitioned to take control of these criteria internally though a new Division Policy 1. In recent years the division has been very slow to provide review, comment, and approval of the design proposals that have to be submitted before a wastewater facility can be modified or expanded.

For more information on this issue, see:

The meeting adjourned at 11:40 a.m.

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

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Aug. 16: Draft 2013 budget shows cost increases

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 16, District Manager Mike Wicklund presented his draft 2013 budget to the Monument Sanitation District board. It included significant cost increases for the district’s share of burgeoning nutrient treatment costs in the proposed 2013 Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility budget. The total Tri-Lakes facility budget increases from $801,114 in 2012 to $932,561, a 16.4 percent increase. Because most of the increase is a capital cost for treating total phosphorus, Monument will pay a third of the increase of about $131,000.

Wicklund said he would present budget options for increasing the district’s current monthly residential fee of $25 per month by $5, $7, and $10 to cover the rapid growth in operating costs that the district faces in both 2013 and 2014 due to the imposition of much tighter state Health Department restrictions on the plant for treating total phosphorus, total nitrogen, arsenic, and heavy metals.

For more information on these long-feared Tri-Lakes facility operating cost increases, see the Aug. 14 JUC article on page 7.

The board also unanimously approved the district’s accountant, Ray Russell of Haynie & Co., to be the 2013 budget officer.

There was a brief discussion of the grinder pumps being used in the two Wakonda Hills lift stations. The stators and the two machine steel parts in pumps that grind up the solids in the raw wastewater delivered to the lift stations from a small portion of the homes in Wakonda Hills are not lasting as long as expected, only about 18 months. Wicklund said he would start having these parts replaced, or the pumps rebuilt if necessary, on an annual basis.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:02 p.m.

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

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, Aug. 14: District manager settlement agreement approved again

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 14, Triview’s attorney Gary Shupp said the Triview Metropolitan District board would be approving a settlement agreement with a former district manager a second time because the agreement had not received any specific public notice that it would be an agenda item on July 31. The former district manager’s independent contract with Triview was terminated by the board on Nov. 15.

Director Tom Harder was absent, due to being out of town on vacation.

Settlement re-approved

The June 14, 2012, settlement agreement with the former district manager and a separate motion to ratify the June 14 settlement document were first approved by the board during the brief special board meeting held on July 31. However, neither of these two settlement-related agenda items was listed on the published agenda for the July 31 meeting. There was no motion by any board member to amend the agenda during that July 31 meeting with regard to adding either of these actions before the board unanimously approved the agenda as published. There was no motion to approve the expenditure listed as the amount of the settlement on July 31.

On Aug. 14 the board approved the same motions it had previously approved on July 31 regarding the former contract district manager. The Aug. 14 agenda item for these two motions was listed as "Approval of June 14, 2012 Agreement and Approval of Expenditure of Funds Associated with Agreement and Ratification of Prior Actions."

The board unanimously approved a resolution designating new District Manager Valerie Remington as Triview’s official records custodian in accordance with the Colorado open records act. The board also approved a resolution that specifies the district’s Colorado open records act request policy.

Financial reports

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

  • $33,075 to National Meter & Automation Inc. for 294 new water meters
  • $6,366 to the Colorado Special Districts Property and Liability Pool for 2012 workers’ compensation insurance
  • $9,052 to Felt, Monson, & Culichia LLC for June and July legal fees

Smith said that June sales tax revenues were $19,976 higher than the amount budgeted for the month in the 2012 budget.

The June financial report summary noted that 98 percent of Triview’s expected 2012 property taxes have been received. June general fund revenues were $948,000 or 23 percent higher than budgeted and $472,000 higher than those in May. The first half interest-only bond payment of $1 million for Triview debt was paid in May. When principal payments have to start being made to Well Fargo Bank for the district’s $47.3 million bond debt, these semi-annual payments will be much higher. No unusual payments were made in June. The board unanimously accepted the financial reports as presented.

Petition approved

The board unanimously approved a motion from Joe Loidolt, president of Classic Companies Inc., to use a well and septic system for a home he wants to build on an individual lot in Sanctuary Pointe until Triview provides water and sanitary sewer services to the area where he will be building. Loidolt will pay the applicable tap fees when Triview services become available. The board unanimously approved a motion to have Remington execute the proposed inclusion agreement for this temporary use once all the other parties have approved it as written and all parties would be available for signing.

Second Merrick change order approved

The board unanimously approved the second change order for the design of the Promontory Pointe water pressure booster pump system. The new change order was proposed by engineering firm Merrick & Co. and will cost $47,000 for additional design work and additional supervision of the contractor selected to perform the construction supervision contract. It includes an increase of $32,000 for additional design work and an additional $15,000 in time and materials for supervision of the construction contractor during the construction of the Promontory Pointe booster pump system. The original Merrick design contract cost was $38,800. The first change order cost was $15,000 for supervision of the construction phase. The total cost has risen from $38,800 to $100,800.

The new booster pump system will ensure there is adequate water pressure for homes in Promontory Pointe and northeast Jackson Creek by boosting the pressure currently created by gravity throughout the distribution below the Promontory Pointe water tank. The total time in the contract for construction of the booster pump station is 25 weeks.

Operations report

Water production in July was a record high of 36.5 million gallons, 14.3 percent higher than last year. The landscaping project on Kitchener Way between Bridle Ridge Drive and Chesapeake Avenue has been completed.

The board approved a plan for a minor upgrade of the landscaping, building appearance, and fencing around water treatment plant A at 460 Oxbow Drive. The cost for the upgrade will not exceed $3,500. A wooden screening fence will be built by the staff, the building will repainted, plantings will be replaced, the broken concrete in the sidewalk would be repaired and a concrete driveway between Oxbow Drive and the front fence would be built.

Board President Robert Fisher rejected Triview Operations Supervisor Nick Harris’s recommendation to construct a concrete driveway that would support 18-wheel tractor trailers all the way through the water treatment plant lot from Oxbow Drive to Kitchener Way to simplify maneuvering by these large vehicles. Fisher said no improvements would be made inside the fence at this time, until he has a chance to discuss his views on what the interior hardscape should look like with Harris.

The board tabled Harris’s proposal to purchase of $5,000 of 1.5-inch decorative rock to replace mulch throughout the district. The cost of the rocks was $25.90 per ton.

The board approved a proposal from I&C Design to rebuild the district’s broken primary supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer that controls the district’s water treatment plants for a not to exceed amount of $2,500, including a full image backup and incremental backup capability. The backup SCADA computer is currently operating the system.

The board approved a $27,732 contract with PSF Co. LLC of Colorado Springs for performance of priority curb and gutter repairs to 25 locations within Jackson Creek. Proposed repairs at 27 other locations were deferred until next year. The deferred items are not expected to become safety problems during the delay.

Triview’s water attorney, Chris Cummins of Felt, Monson& Culichia, recommended that the board approve a water lease agreement to sell the district’s excess wastewater effluent to the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association and authorize Remington to execute this agreement as written at a price of $100 per acre-foot for the remainder of 2012. The lease would have a clause for five one-year renewals with sale terms to be negotiable each year. An acre-foot is 325,581 gallons. The district currently has an average of about 20 acre-feet of effluent to sell each month. The agreement was unanimously approved.

Cummins also distributed a working draft of a resolution to amend Triview’s order of inclusion concerning the Sanctuary Pointe property. This parcel was previously called the Baptist Camp. Sanctuary Pointe is adjacent to the east side of Promontory Pointe on the north side of Baptist Road, which was formerly called Baptist Camp Road. He said the water infrastructure agreement that Triview has signed with Classic Homes as part of the replat of Promontory Pointe included a requirement that Triview amend the Sanctuary Pointe order of inclusion document to take out the provisions regarding reimbursable cost for water infrastructure. This change by Triview is in return for Classic agreeing to charge homebuyers an additional $1,000 at closing for a new home through new wording in the revised Promontory Pointe agreement as part of the replat, then pass these $1,000 fees on to the district to help pay for the Promontory booster pump system. The words to be removed from the Sanctuary Pointe requirement are "duplicative" to the new words in the Promontory Pointe documents.

Remington asked the board for guidance on how to communicate to board members regarding draft meeting agendas. Fisher said he would talk to Remington "off-line" about how he wanted to communicate with her. Remington then stated that she would conduct all communications between Triview board meetings regarding district operatons and drafting agendas only with Fisher, by email.

Public comments

Monument Town Treasurer Pamela Smith has been serving as Triview Metropolitan District’s treasurer for about three years. When the intergovernmental agreement that called for the town to provide management and water operator services to Triview was cancelled this spring, Smith continued to act as treasurer as an independent contractor, performing her customary services under the company name Smithfield Consulting Services.

On Aug. 14, Smith tendered copies of a letter of resignation that gave 60 days of notice, effective Sept. 1. Her letter stated that she would continue to act as Triview’s independent contract treasurer through Oct. 31 and would present her normal financial reports at the September and October board meetings. Her letter also offered to have her help facilitate the transition of a new Triview treasurer, if requested, on an hourly basis at her current independent contract rate of pay. She thanked the board for the opportunity to serve Triview’s residents.

Resident Lynn Myers thanked the board "for the lovely work that’s been done on the greenbelt at Kitchener (Way) and Bridle Ridge (Drive)." Myers said she also wanted to acknowledge the hard work by three Triview employees: Operations Supervisor Nick Harris and Water Operators Larry Bennett and Glenn Butts who "have been very attentive to make sure what is planted will grow."

Her husband Dale Myers also thanked the board members and asked about fertilizing of the older landscaping along Kitchener Way by Leather Chaps Drive, and the older deciduous trees that have already died. Fisher replied, "We’re working on a multi-year landscaping plan to address needs across the district." The staff will see how the new seed type and soil preparation works out and if it is a good basis for future work in other parts of the neighborhood, a longer term process. The dead trees "will also be addressed."

Resident Linda Aldridge also thanked the board members for the greenbelt upgrade.

Resident Mike Quinn asked if a full-time manager had been hired so residents could have a district point of contact who could answer their questions other than Fisher only during public comment at a board meeting. Fisher replied that Valerie Remington had been hired as district manager. Remington gave Quinn copies of her new business cards.

The meeting went into executive session at 6:20 to receive legal advice from Cummins regarding pending and threatened litigation. Director Steve Cox said he wanted to talk to Fisher during the executive session about an email Fisher had sent Cox. Neither Cox nor Fisher said what the issue was or why such a discussion was eligible to be discussed in executive session.

Fisher stated that no decisions would be made or votes taken by the board in the open session following the executive session.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Sept. 11 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 16: Investments on track while water demand soars

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 16, the Donala Water and Sanitation District board was given an investment report by Donala’s account manager, Scott Prickett, the managing director of Davidson Fixed Income Management. Joe Drew of Drew Investments also attended the meeting in case the board might want supplementary investment advice.

Prickett said Davidson has been serving as an investment advisor to Donala’s investments for over seven years to get a higher secure yield than the district could get from ColoTrust while maintaining safety of principal, liquidity, and optimized yield. He reported that Davidson’s yield was 0.36 percent for May through July, compared to 0.04 percent for ColoTrust Prime and 0.18 percent from a one-year Treasury bond. Two-year Treasury bonds had risen to 0.29 percent on Aug. 16. Prickett manages about $6.8 billion for mostly government clients.

Prickett then gave a detailed technical summary of what Davidson’s investment summit committee believes are the trends of the Federal Reserve System, interest rates, the European financial situation, employment, and housing. He also gave an analysis of the holdings in the various pages in the Davidson quarterly report. He said he would stick to fixed-income investments with a maximum of three-year terms to minimize the potential for losses if interest rates increase. Most Donala investments have only a one-year maturity to remain a safe source of emergency cash if the district needs to call the bonds early.

Drew discussed some topics that were on the agenda at the annual Colorado Water Congress summer conference and how difficult and time-consuming it still is to coordinate and complete significant water projects in Colorado and the surrounding states, such as the Flaming Gorge project. He noted that over half of the people living in Colorado have been here less than 15 years and most of those don’t seem to understand that the state is a desert east of the continental divide.

Monthly financial report

District Manager Dana Duthie reported that the district had already collected over 75 percent of the revenues budgeted for the year in only seven months. The downside of this figure is that Donala has had to produce a lot more water than planned. He said he would use these figures to prepare his memo of recommendation for setting the rates and taxes for the 2013 budget for the board’s review at its Sept. 20 meeting. Donala’s total water revenues have increased 46 percent over the past year, with water rates increasing about 10 percent each of the past five years. . The cost of producing and delivering water has gone up 70 percent in the past year due in part to the cost of having Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) deliver Donala’s renewable water to the district’s Northgate Road water connection with CSU.

Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility budget figures for 2013 will also be available by Sept. 20 to the other two owner districts––Triview Metropolitan District and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District––to help them prepare their own 2013 district budgets.

Conservation update

There was a lengthy board discussion of how well the current six brackets for monthly usage, which range from $3.90 per thousand gallons (under 10,000 gallons) to $16.50 per thousand gallons (over 50,000 gallons), are working to control very high water consumption by some Donala constituents. Water usage in July by Donala’s customers was 53 million gallons, up from 48 million gallons in July 2011. Gleneagle golf course usage was also up, from 7.8 million gallons last July to 8.3 million gallons this summer.

Duthie also noted that 128 residential customers used more than 40,000 gallons. The highest use during July by a single family was 91,200 gallons, up from the maximum June billing of 86,184 gallons. The district has issued over 128 first-warning letters for violations of the mandatory irrigation restrictions, and one fine was charged in July.

Susan McLean, the district’s conservation/landscape manager, has been steadily working on landscape plans for customers to reduce irrigation. She has completed 33, has six scheduled for August and seven in September. Several other customers have taken advantage of her free visits and rough drawings to proceed on their own.

Duthie said there was no way to predict the record high water demands and water sales revenue that have occurred this year. He noted that it is illogical for homeowners to plant vast areas of non-native Kentucky bluegrass in a high plains desert region. Duthie also discussed how fixed operating costs that the district must pay for, regardless of the highly variable amount of actual monthly water production, are apportioned to district customers.

The drought has limited the amount of water that Donala has been able to use from its Willow Creek Ranch—only 180 to 200 acre-feet of its total allocation of 280 acre-feet of renewable surface water. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Duthie also reviewed local management issues for the ranch, including water flow measurement repairs and various legal and environmental issues that have been brought up by neighboring ranch owners and regulatory agencies.

Duthie noted that Donala’s participation in the Transit Loss Model remains expensive—$13,000 per year. The model is used, in part, in the Fountain Creek watershed to measure the amount of water rights that water owners use for their own needs or sell to others. The model is showing a 48 percent evaporative loss between Donala’s renewable water assets and the locations of water users who might want to buy Donala’s unused instream water.

The high evaporative loss during this drought season and the recently increased requirement to measure and report flows on a daily, rather than a monthly, basis are greatly reducing the economic benefit of downstream water sales at the current rate of about $100 per acre-foot. However, Donala is still moving forward with a lease contract with the Arkansas Groundwater Users Association that will yield $35,000.

Monument Creek standards

Duthie briefed the board on the progress of establishing a Monument/Fountain Creek watershed monitoring group. He also noted the emergence of a new very restrictive arsenic limit for drinking water plants and and a separate new "hybrid" arsenic limit for wastewater treatment plants. Arsenic is a prevalent element that naturally leaches from the soil in many parts of Colorado, particularly in deep wells, and it is sometimes present in backwash water from these wells.

The new proposed hybrid limit on wastewater plants includes a human contact standard of 0.02 micrograms per liter (20 parts per trillion) plus a separate instream limit of 2 micrograms per liter to limit the amount of arsenic ingested by fish and retained in their fish flesh, which may be subsequently consumed by humans.

Director Bill Nance asked, "How do we monitor how much fish our customers eat?" Duthie said this would be a "worst-case standard."

Duthie noted a person would have to drink 100 gallons of water treated to the new arsenic standard every day for 100 days (10,000 gallons) before showing any ill effects such as skin lesions, circulatory problems, or cancer. Either component of the proposed hybrid standard could be applied by the state Water Quality Control Division to municipal or special district water/wastewater utilities.

Technology only exists for treating already very clean drinking water. No technology or chemical process has been proposed for removing arsenic in wastewater that contains many components that prevent arsenic removal and are not present in significant amounts in even the raw water that enters a drinking water treatment plant.

Wastewater discharge permit standards for arsenic and heavy metals like copper are from 100 to 1,000 times more restrictive than the corresponding drinking water limits for human consumption.

Duthie noted that all districts will have to spend a great deal of money in the short term for consultants for preliminary studies on how to start responding to the new nutrient and arsenic limits. Donala’s engineer, Roger Sams of GMS Inc., was preparing a comment letter objecting to these new costs and requirements for Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes to sign and send to the Water Quality Control Commission by Aug. 27.

Duthie added that the district would have to have environmental attorney Tad Foster represent Donala and help form a new statewide coalition as he did in helping form the Colorado Nutrient Coalition.

Note: For more information on the new watershed monitoring group, the new "water plus fish" hybrid standards for arsenic, the lack of technology to remove arsenic from wastewater, and the very high cost for arsenic treatment, see the JUC article on page 7.

Triview tour

Duthie said the new Triview district manager, Valerie Remington, would help him arrange a joint meeting of the Donala and Triview boards at the Upper Monument wastewater facility for a tour of the plant. He noted that Remington has already toured the Upper Monument plant, though several Triview board members have never toured it.

Infrastructure upgrades

Some of the items Duthie noted regarding the infrastructure upgrades needed to transport larger amounts of renewable water from the southern part of the district to the northern parts were:

  • Global Underground Corp. was scheduled to begin construction Aug. 20 of the Baptist Road pipeline that will help move Donala’s renewable water transported by Colorado Springs Utilities and supplementary water purchased from Utilities from Northgate Road to the water treatment plant in the district’s Holbein Drive office building and then to the adjacent district water tanks.
  • The blowers at the Upper Monument plant are still dropping offline when, under a cost-saving agreement signed with Mountain View Electric, utility power to the plant is shut off during periods of high demand and the plant’s standby generators pick up the electrical load. Sams will arrange a meeting between GMS engineers, the contract electrician that installed the transfer system, and a representative of the standby generator manufacturer to analyze and solve the problem.
  • A separate study is underway for improving the power factor by adding power conditioning equipment for the electricity provided by Mountain View to improve the efficiency of all the district’s electric devices that are used for water production and treatment.
  • The parts needed for the Latrobe and Jessie pump upgrades at the south end of the district for pumping more water uphill to the Holbein treatment plant are still on order.
  • The purchase of a mobile backup generator that can be used for both the Latrobe and Jessie booster stations is being re-bid.

In other matters:

  • Extension of the dewatering sludge press at the Upper Monument facility is still on indefinite hold due to high bids.
  • The well 3A pump was pulled and cleaned and the well casing inspected by TV camera. The pump was to be reinstalled by Aug. 24. Typically inner well casings fail before the outer stainless steel casings.
  • A lightning strike to well 8 in late July damaged a circuit board. Repairs have been completed and well 8 is up and running again.

The board went into executive session at 3:40 to discuss negotiating strategies and personnel.

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The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month; however, no meeting will be held in November 2012, and the December 2012 meeting will be held Dec. 6. Information: 488-3603.

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

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

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Aug. 16: School year begins on positive note

By Harriet Halbig

Members of the Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education were advised Aug. 16 that the district is in a good position as it begins the 2012-13 school year.

Superintendent John Borman reported that the 2012-13 budget was based on 60 more students than on Oct. 1, 2011. The enrollment figure remains fluid over the first few weeks of the school year as officials wait to see whether all students from the previous year return. He said it’s likely that projections will be met or exceeded by Oct. 1, when the official count of students is made.

The Home School Enrichment Academy had an enrollment of 37 at the time of the meeting, easily exceeding the goal of 25. Borman said that he anticipates an increase in enrollment after school starts and homeschool families are able to observe the academy in action. He praised the teachers and others who researched and created the curriculum and promoted the program to homeschool families in the district.

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reported that various elements of the district show a strong standing as the school year begins. Fundraising efforts on the elementary and secondary levels were very successful entering the school year. The My Place Child Care Center, created to break even financially, showed a profit.

The food service department made a modest profit during the past year, and this revenue will be used to replace much worn equipment.

Enrollment at Monument Academy has met its target for 2012-13.

A number of capital projects were completed over the summer, including a new roof for Lewis-Palmer Middle School, a new boiler for Lewis-Palmer High School, carpeting for Palmer Lake Elementary school, and various improvements to parking lots and sidewalks at other locations. In addition, there have been purchases of software and computers.

Wangeman reported that there was one emergency repair to replace a ruptured freshwater main to the administration building. She said that improvement was anticipated, but had been postponed due to budget constraints over the past few years. The repair was postponed because its failure would not impact students. She acknowledged that the repair would have cost less had it been completed before the break.

Wangeman and Borman both stressed that the district is about $3 million behind in expenditures for capital improvements on such things as technology and the replacement of buses, relying primarily on $350,000 per year in cash in lieu of land payments for most improvements. These payments come from developers who are required to set aside land for the construction of new schools within their developments. When new schools are not required, the district receives a cash payment instead. Due to increased development in the past several months, additional funding may soon be available from this source.

Wangeman said that this new development activity may result in increased enrollment in the next year or so.

District 38 and the Waldo Canyon Fire

Borman reported on the district’s response to the fire emergency in late June and early July.

When the part of the district west of the interstate was put on pre-evacuation, all of the records and vehicles belonging to the district were moved across the highway to Bear Creek Elementary. Borman praised the staff for its calm and speedy response to the emergency, especially in that the administrative offices were moved to another building and personnel continued their duties virtually uninterrupted.

When the Red Cross requested a shelter in the district, Lewis-Palmer High School was offered. Borman praised district staff for volunteering their time and effort to maintain the shelter. Local restaurants aided in providing food. Home Depot offered kennels for dogs and RVs were permitted to park in the high school parking lot during the emergency.

Borman reported that the district’s insurance has reimbursed all but the $1,000 deductible. The Red Cross was billed for janitorial services.

He said that he will share this experience with representatives of other school districts.

A lesson learned from the emergency is that there is a need for redundancy in some aspects of the administration. The computer servers are located in the administration building and there are plans to duplicate some records at Palmer Ridge.

Borman said that he was very proud of the community and its response to the emergency.

Assessment update

Dr. Lori Benton, director of the Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Department, reported on test results for the district’s students.

She said that all results are not yet in, but that the district has generally remained stable in reading, writing, math and science, with students who rated proficient or advanced numbering about 18 percent more than the state average.

Benton said she has begun dialog with principals regarding their target areas of concern.

Members of the board requested further information on what additional resources might be needed in the future.

They also asked for comparative figures regarding scores from other area school districts such as District 12, District 20 and Douglas County.

Benton said that the district and each school will have a Unified Improvement Plan by December, well in advance of the April due date.

Bus fee update

Borman reported that the institution of bus fees has gone smoothly, with the expected loss of ridership. It is anticipated that some of the riders will return a month or so into the school year.

Communication plan update

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported that her staff has begun work on the plan to engage the community in advance of seeking a mill levy override in 2014. This work takes several forms:

  • A survey has been distributed to each school seeking the names of influential members of each community.
  • A committee is determining which local groups to approach to develop a closer relationship and local support.
  • There is a preliminary draft of the 500 word statement regarding the need and justification for an override.
  • The superintendent is discussing district values with all staff.
  • The district’s list of key communicators is being updated with a goal of 200 to 400 names of individuals.
  • Borman said that this will be a standing agenda item for future board meetings.

Adair said that her staff has also produced videos for each school website and one for the district website. It is updating various promotional materials for distribution by realtors and the chamber of commerce. Departing students are being contacted to learn why they are leaving the district.

Bus advertising update

Adair reported that the five buses are used outside of the district. Each bears an advertisement for the district. In addition, nine ads have been sold to appear on the remaining buses. Local businesses are responding well to the program and will be contacted again soon after school starts.

The board approved various routine matters including minutes of meetings, resignation and appointment of staff, list of substitute teachers, and other matters.

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The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be Sept. 20.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 6: Expansion plans approved for two businesses

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 6, the Monument Board of Trustees approved two commercial planned development site plan amendments for facility expansions at the Electric Propulsion Laboratories in the Synthes industrial park and Foster’s Storage at the south town boundary on Old Denver Highway. The board also approved special event permits for the "Strength Through Unity" parade and Monument Celebration Festival to be held on Labor Day.

Trustees Jeff Bornstein and Rick Squires were absent.

Electric Propulsion addition approved

Randy Stewart of Wells and West General Contractors Inc. sought approval of Major Amendment 1 to the preliminary/final planned development site plan for Electric Propulsion Laboratories on behalf of owners Graeme and Martha Aston. They plan to add a new 5,000-square-foot building for testing and assembly on the east side of their existing facility at 1040 Synthes Ave., in the Synthes industrial park, a Monument planned industrial development zoning district.

The application also sought approval for a second 5,000-square-foot addition to this new structure to also be constructed in the rear of the existing facility—a 7,350-square-foot testing and assembly building and 2,362-square-foot office. The second addition will be built in the future. The approval period for the second addition is three years. The Astons can reapply for an approval extension at that time if construction has not started.

The application sought approval for expanding the parking lot to the east to accommodate additional staff for the new facilities.

In his overview of the proposed amendment, Tom Kassawara, Monument’s director of Development Services, noted that the second addition will be very similar in design to the existing plant and first addition, so it will be approved by the staff administratively and will not be reviewed or approved by either the Planning Commission or Board of Trustees.

Nine existing ponderosa pine trees will be moved to the east and other new trees added along the eastern boundary of the Electric Propulsion property to act as a visual buffer for the Trails End community. Kassawara stated that neighboring homeowners Brandy Schwindt and Keith Hyatt of Trails End spoke in favor of the Aston application’s proposed visual buffering during the July 11 Planning Commission hearing. The existing stormwater drainage system is sufficient for the two planned additions. Aston’s traffic study shows that the traffic impact for each planned addition will be "negligible" on Mitchell Avenue and Second Street.

Kassawara also noted that the two staff-recommended conditions of approval that the Planning Commission had included in its recommendation to the board regarding the town obtaining a water deed and technical corrections from the Astons had already been resolved and were no longer required. The applicant’s attorney and town water attorney collaborated on executing the water ownership transfer deed, which has been recorded with the county.

There was no public comment during the board hearing.

The board unanimously approved the final PD site plan amendment for the two-stage facility expansion.

Upgrades to Foster’s Storage site plan approved

Scott Foster is the owner of Monument Storage LLC at 16210 Old Denver Highway. Foster is also the developer of the large commercial lot this storage business sits on. The title of the site plan is Foster’s Storage. He proposed Major Amendment 4 to the final planned development site plan for this lot. The amendment adds paved outdoor storage of boats and recreational vehicles for a full build-out of the vacant land at the rear of the lot, behind the eight storage buildings and office building of the Monument Storage business. The previously approved original site plan called for construction of new additional buildings for indoor storage on this vacant rear portion of the property.

This new storage area will include pre-engineered security lights and a fully fenced enclosure. Drainage from the new parking area will be handled by the detention pond at the west end of the site. Foster will provide drip pans for the stored vehicles to prevent pollutants from entering the detention pond and damaging the new asphalt. A traffic study provided by Foster shows that additional trip generation on Old Denver Highway, already a local truck route, will be minimal for each of the two building additions.

The outdoor storage area will not be visible from Monument’s I-25 view corridor, Old Denver Highway, or adjacent residential areas as demonstrated by numerous photos provided in the application. The land at the rear of the lot slopes down to the west, limiting visibility to the north, east, and south. There is an extensive stand of trees that already visually buffers the west end of Foster’s lot.

There was no public comment.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the proposal with no conditions on July 11. The board unanimously approved Amendment 4.

Labor Day parade and street fair approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of Second Street from Mitchell Avenue to Beacon Lite Road from 9 a.m. to noon on Labor Day, Sept. 3, and the issuance of a special event parade permit to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District for conducting the Strength Through Unity Parade. The railroad has agreed to cease operations at the Second Street crossing for an hour to facilitate the parade.

Tri-Lakes Office Manager Jennifer Martin thanked Monument Town Manager Cathy Green, Director of Downtown Development Vicki Mynhier, and Police Lt. Steve Burk for their assistance in helping her coordinate this parade. The 30 confirmed parade vehicles will stage at 9:30 at the former Lake of the Rockies campground site on the east side of Monument Lake. Other participants in the parade Martin noted were Care and Share, the Red Cross, School District 38, the Public Works department, and TV stations.

Martin explained "how I came up with this idea" for the parade. The Tri-Lakes district employees "had been through a lot the past couple months" with "the enormous stress" of the "extremely lengthy" investigation and termination of the former fire chief, Robert Denboske. She said the district is in "a better place," that "all the employees support the termination. We’re very thankful to our board for that. We’re moving forward." Martin also noted the continuing "interpersonal issues" among the members of the district board. "They have to learn to agree to disagree and deal with their personality conflicts."

The purpose of the parade is to support the 40 firefighters of the Tri-Lakes district "that go on all of our calls" to "serve all of you guys," not the board. She noted her pride in their efforts during the Waldo Canyon Fire and all of the relationships the firefighters attempted to form but "weren’t formed because of our previous leader." Since Denboske’s departure these relationship have now been formed with Chief Jake Shirk and the Monument Police Department and the other members of the emergency services group that Tri-Lakes formed, including town officials, Public Works, and District 38 under the motto "Strength Through Unity."

An open house will be held at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105, immediately after the conclusion of the parade until 12:30 p.m. to "have a stationary event to view the vehicles up close." Parking for the open house will be provided by Pinz Bowling Alley.

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of Front Street between First and Third Streets from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Labor Day, Sept. 3, and the issuance of a special event permit for the Monument Celebration Festival to the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. This festival substitutes for the Fourth of July street fair that was cancelled due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. Crossing guards will be provided for pedestrians crossing Second Street after the conclusion of the parade.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution approving the temporary closing of the adjacent alley west of St. Peter Church at 55 N. Jefferson St. and the church parking lot to the north on Aug. 11 for a 100-year anniversary celebration that was postponed from June 18 due to the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Renewable water proposal endorsed by staff

Green introduced water broker Gary Barber, president of the Two Rivers Water Co., who gave a slide presentation titled "A Permanent Water Supply Solution" for the town regarding a portfolio approach for the town to purchase rights to renewable water assets. Green noted that he is the former manager of the Palmer Divide Water Group and Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, as well as chair of the state’s Arkansas River Basin Roundtable. Barber was accompanied by his Two Rivers associate, Kirsty Cameron. Barber noted that he has made a similar presentation to Cherokee Metropolitan District.

Two Rivers has been raising capital, buying farms, and building a portfolio of water assets for 18 months. The six elements of a potable water supply system are water supply rights, storage for delivery, transmission pipelines, potable treatment, storage, and distribution to water taps.

Colorado Springs Utilities’ Southern Delivery System (SDS), which Barber used for one example of a portfolio approach, will store imported reuse water from the Frying-Pan Arkansas, Twin Lakes Tunnel, Blue River, and Homestakes projects in high mountain reservoirs such as the Homestake, Montgomery, Williams, and North and South Slope Reservoirs. The stored water will be pumped through the Otero, Blue River, and Homestake Pipelines.

He also described a Two Rivers mutual ditch company model that would transport excess Two Rivers ditch water made available from the farms it owns by performing rotating farm field fallowing in the lower Arkansas River valley and selling/delivering the water that is temporarily not being used for field irrigation to Two Rivers shareholders.

Barber proposed that the town purchase shares of Two Rivers’ water supply system portfolio. One share would equal one acre-foot of deliverable renewable water on a not-for-profit wholesale basis. Two Rivers can provide financing through Wedbush Securities Inc. in a public-private partnership to convert Monument’s groundwater into a "drought-proof" water reserve and assist with obtaining grant money.

Barber stated that independent water ownership is a prerequisite in the current window of opportunity for participation in SDS now that the long-term economic downturn in the real estate market for Banning-Lewis Ranch has left an unexpected excess of CSU’s transmission capacity open for use by other municipal and special district entities and a drastic shortfall in CSU tap fee revenue.

The three steps for the town to form a working relationship with Two Rivers are:

  • Sign a memorandum of understanding to outline milestones and responsibilities.
  • Sign a water supply contract, with contingencies for both parties, defining terms and conditions of sale and operating expenses.
  • Form an operating mutual company.

The "three tracks for achieving a deal with SDS" are:

  • Amend the SDS 2009 record of decision under the National Environmental Policy Act and sign a carriage contract with CSU for permanent SDS capacity.
  • Make arrangements for regional partner participation in compliance with the existing Pueblo County 1041 permit for potable water delivery and Fountain Creek Watershed for stormwater issues.
  • Make arrangements for use of Pueblo Reservoir with the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District.

Barber also noted that the negotiations could take years and need to start soon through town water rights purchase and ownership while the window of opportunity for SDS participation remains open. He provided copies of a draft memorandum of understanding for the board and staff to review for further discussions about the town owning shares of an entire water delivery system that can reduce the existing pressure on a water system entirely dependent on non-renewable groundwater.

Barber then reviewed his continuing participation with former Monument Mayor Betty Konarski regarding town water rights through the Palmer Divide Water Group, the El Paso County Water Authority, and the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. He also discussed the history of their participation in discussions on behalf of Monument regarding the Fountain Valley Authority pipeline, Reuter-Hess Reservoir, Spruce Mountain Ranch, Flaming Gorge Task Force, and Arkansas Basis Roundtable for the benefit of new board members. He noted that reuse of groundwater to extinction and access to renewable water are vital to reducing pressure on diminishing groundwater supplies, particularly during drought years.

Green asked the board to seriously consider Barber’s proposal, noting that, like previous items Barber has brought to the board, it is complicated and requires study by the trustees. She said the next step would be for the town to provide a letter of interest to Two Rivers, which would not yet include a financial commitment. Barber added that signing the memorandum of understanding would be a "non-binding handshake" or "permission slip" to explore options for the town’s benefit. Barber will provide the trustees a copy of his paper "Colorado Water Rights: No One Ever Said It Was Easy" which he uses to teach realtors about water rights.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp also recommended that the board sign the draft memorandum of understanding as presented so Barber can represent the town in future negotiations.

Financial report

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

  • $168,092 to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the town’s Monument Lake dam loan
  • $365,598 to Wells Fargo Securities for the annual construction lease-purchase payment for Town Hall (payment six of 10)
  • $69,924 to John R. Hurley Asphalt for street repairs to Mount Herman Road and Old Denver Highway
  • $5,158 to I&C Design for field service work to upgrade the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) software for controlling automated operating systems in town water treatment plants

Town fireworks cash donation amount confirmed

During public comments, Gloria McCartan, vice president of the volunteer Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee, read a letter formally requesting the town’s annual 2012 "Budgeted Donation." The amount in the town’s 2012 budget was $5,000.

While the Fourth of July fireworks event was cancelled due to the Waldo Canyon Fire, she noted that the committee still had expenses for the year, observed that Monument’s cash contribution has never been specifically "earmarked for any certain expenses," and thanked the board for considering her request.

Cathy Green replied that the town’s donation was split 50-50 in cash and in-kind overtime payment for off-duty overtime crowd and traffic control services provided to the committee by members of the Monument Police Department. Green said McCarton’s "letter would be used as an invoice" for a payment of $2,500 rather than $5,000 figure in the committee’s letter. McCartan said the committee "understands" that the amount that would be paid would be only $2,500. The board concurred that the town would pay the committee $2,500.

Trustee Becki Tooley noted that a marathon will also be held early on Sept. 3 between Palmer Lake and America the Beautiful Park along the Santa Fe Trail. This marathon will also provide qualification for runners who want to participate in the Boston Marathon. She encouraged residents to form a "cheer tunnel" for the participants between 7 and 7:30 a.m.

Three liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved a special event liquor license for a Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce beer and wine tent during the Monument Celebration Festival on Labor Day. The tent will be located at 171 Front St., in front of Limbach Park, and operated by Pinz Bowling Alley.

The board unanimously approved annual liquor license renewals for:

  • Jackson Creek Chinese Restaurant, 1054 W. Baptist Road
  • Texas Roadhouse, 16916 Jackson Creek Parkway

Town manager’s report

Green noted that the Today in America cable TV show had notified the staff that it was interested in "highlighting Monument in one of their programs" at a town cost of $20,000. Tooley asked Green to find out if the town would own the rights to the video segment for future public relations use in town commercials. Green said the town may explore the possibility of splitting the cost of this segment with the Monument Economic Development Corp. or the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce.

Green noted that she would attend the Sand Creek Summit meeting on Aug. 21 for all of El Paso County to discuss solutions to county stormwater issues.

The board went into executive session at 8:04 p.m. to discuss potential litigation with Town Attorney Gary Shupp. No actions were taken after coming out of executive session. The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 on Tuesday, Sept. 4, due to the Labor Day holiday, 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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Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 20: Mitigation stressed after Waldo Canyon Fire

Below: Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal John Vincent gave a presentation to the Monument Board of Trustees on lessons learned during the Waldo Canyon Fire about fire mitigation. He showed pictures of numerous examples of burnt and excess trees, particularly scrub oaks, and vegetation around homes on wooded lots. Vincent has given this presentation to several homeowners associations in the Tri-Lakes region. You can invite Tri-Lakes firefighters to your home for a wildfire mitigation evaluation by contacting Tri-Lakes Office Manager Jennifer Martin at 484-0911. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal John Vincent gave a presentation on the Waldo Canyon Fire and fire mitigation at the Aug. 20 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees.

The Ice Cream Social scheduled before the regular board meeting was shifted from Limbach Park to the foyer of Town Hall due to cool temperatures and the threat of a thunderstorm. The sun came out briefly after everyone in attendance got a cup of ice cream from Trustee John Howe. Folks stepped out front to enjoy the ideal temperature..

Trustees Stan Gingrich and Rick Squires were absent from the meeting.

Vincent said his presentation had been given to homeowners associations (HOAs) throughout the Tri-Lakes district.

The Waldo Canyon Fire was first detected about noon on Saturday, June 23. Because Vincent lives on the west side of Colorado Springs, he said he was deployed by 12:45 p.m. to the Waldo parking lot, then redeployed to Green Mountain Falls five minutes later to set up a command post and put the incident action plan together for the county. He stayed on duty in Cascade Sunday through Monday night.

After a night’s sleep at home, he went to Cascade on Tuesday morning, where he had spent some of his high school years. He then spent Wednesday on a fire engine at the Air Force Academy through 11 p.m. He returned to his regular 9-to-5 shift on Aug. 2.

The cost statistics he cited for the Waldo Canyon Fire were:

  • Two dead
  • $16.7 million for fire suppression
  • 346 homes lost
  • 32,000 forced evacuations
  • $353 million in claims
  • 4,300 damage claims
  • A continuing cost of $25,000 per day––the fire is still not completely out

Some of the other points he made during his 40-minute presentation were:

  • The Waldo fire was 15 miles south of the Tri-Lakes district in El Paso County.
  • Local people are still saying it can’t happen here.
  • The Waldo fire moved downhill from the top of the ridge to the Flying W Ranch in only four minutes with previously inconceivable swiftness due to 65 mph fire-induced winds.
  • Fire is a naturally occurring element on the border of the prairie that should be occurring every year.
  • Since 1907 the Forest Service has suppressed fires, leading to epidemic pine bark beetle infestations.
  • They were called the Rocky Mountains for a reason.
  • They are not rocky right now because of unhealthy forests.
  • Rules are put in place by firefighters to determine what can be saved and what can’t.
  • The mitigation of evacuated properties performed by firefighters is "not pretty."
  • Only fires less than four feet high can be fought directly without special equipment.
  • Fires from four feet to eight feet high can only be fought with equipment and water.
  • If fires are over eight feet high, human contact is prohibited and firefighters must abandon the scene.
  • In the Tri-Lakes area there is typically plenty of space between houses, but trees are planted to fill the spaces between houses and both are flammable.
  • If the fire gets airborne, firefighters can’t stop it––closely spaced trees will burn a house down, even one with asphalt shingles, by dropping burning embers on it.
  • If the fire stays on the ground, it can be fought by firefighters if there has already been mitigation.
  • There are 12 firefighters on duty at Tri-Lakes.
  • Groups of three are assigned to a truck to protect 20 to 40 homes in a wildfire situation.
  • There are 2,600 homes just in Woodmoor.
  • HOAs need to get all neighbors to work together on mitigation in each subdivision, following the way the Forest Service looks at fire containment.
  • A plot of all fires over the last 100 years shows that fire will be back again and again.
  • Firefighters will not sweep piles of pine needles from your cedar shake roof.
  • Prepping your house with fire retardant gel two to three hours before the fire arrives, when the firefighters are leaving the area, will not matter if your or your neighbor’s house has wooden shakes.
  • If you can’t see your house from the street or cul-de-sac, you have too many trees.
  • Tree crowns should have at least 10 feet of separation to mitigate crown-to-crown ignition
  • Plan for evacuation early, packing the things that cannot be replaced—baby pictures and items from chests in the bedroom and the junk drawer in the kitchen where the check book is kept.
  • Gambel/scrub oak is an invasive species that is not native to Colorado and only appeared within the last 80 years, and it is typically clustered around houses.
  • Scrub oak "burns, burns, burns, like a son-of-a-gun" due to the oil that accumulates internally during a drought, burning with incredible heat.
  • Scrub oak recovers when burnt, unless it’s cut down repeatedly, while adjacent burnt pine trees cannot recover.
  • Gambel oak needs to go away.
  • Pick the trees on your lot that are winners and losers in the struggle for survival—"Drop the losers for firewood."
  • Don’t store firewood under your wooden deck.
  • Nylon screens melt when embers hit them, the embers then collect on plastic window sills, explode the windows, and you have fire in your house—use metal screens.
  • Plan your evacuation routes in more than one direction in case your primary/preferred route is blocked––particularly if you live on the west side of the railroad tracks.
  • The Waldo Canyon trail will not be opened for five to 10 years due to continuously falling burned trees because cutting down the dead trees is unaffordable.
  • Naturally recovering areas look healthier than areas that have been replanted by humans.

Two special event permits approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of Lincoln Street from North Jefferson Street west to the alley west of Washington Street from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Sept. 29 and the issuance of a special event permit for conducting the St. Peter Catholic School Fall Festival.

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the temporary closing of Front Street from Second Street south to the entrance to the Mountain View Medical Group building at 192 Front St. from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 15 and the issuance of a special event permit for conducting the annual Historic Monument Merchants Association Chili Cook-off.

Second Street tree installation contract approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution awarding a contract for $100,000 to Timberline Landscaping Inc. work on the Second Street Streetscape project to install pine trees on both sides of the street from the Beacon Lite Road intersection east to Highway 105.

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, said five contractors attended the pre-bid meeting on July 16. However, only Timberline submitted a bid, for $92,143. Kassawara added a contingency of $7,856., rounding the total contract amount up to $100,000. Because this exceeds the $75,000 in the 2012 budget, an additional $25,000 of unused funding from other budget lines must be reappropriated to this line item in the next 2012 budget restatement. Timberline has performed lots of other work for Public Works over the years.

Kassawara noted that the proposed contract calls for a landscape design allowing the bottom branches of the trees touch each other when they have matured. Vincent advised against this close spacing. He also recommended that the bottom three feet of branches be removed.

Kassawara said he would amend the contract with Timberline again after noting that the spacing between the trees had already been substantially increased to 25 feet for cost containment, due to the landscape engineer underestimating the cost for electrical wiring. He added that the contract needed to be initiated as soon as possible so it can be completed before the end of planting season.

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said staff had already opened a trench across the full width of Second Street and installed the following to further contain the cost overrun for this project:

  • The tree irrigation system water tap connected to the town’s large water main that runs along Second Street.
  • The primary water service line that runs under the asphalt to provide irrigation water to each of the trees on the other side of the road.
  • The water metering pit.
  • The electrical conduit sleeves in the new water pipe trench that also now run under the asphalt and will hold the electrical wiring that will be installed to provide electrical power to the other side of the street to power the other half of the irrigation control system and the other half of the individual outlets for each tree for Christmas season lighting.

The Public Works staff also repaved the trench cut into the Second Street asphalt. The Timberline contract calls for an electrical subcontractor to install the wiring and controls for the irrigation control systems and the Christmas lighting outlets for each tree, at an unexpectedly high cost of $35,000 (including $10,000 for the individual tree outlets), causing the overrun above the $75,000 budget for this project.

Four liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved a special event liquor license from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 29 for the gym area inside the St. Peter Catholic School at 124 First St. during the school’s Fall Festival. Liquor sales services will be provided by employees of the Cork ‘N’ Bottle and Pikes Peak Brewery.

The board unanimously approved a special event liquor license from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sept. 15 for the annual Historic Monument Merchants Association Chili Cook-off on Front Street from Second Street south to the entrance to the Mountain View Medical Group building at 192 Front St. Liquor sales services will be supervised for the association by Shawn Morris, owner of the La Casa Fiesta Restaurant and president of the association, and Vicki Mynhier, Monument’s director of Downtown Development.

The board also unanimously approved annual liquor license renewals for:

  • The Safeway Store at 624 Highway 105
  • The 7-Eleven Store at 283 Highway 105

Financial report

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

  • $140,463 to the Triview Metropolitan District for June sales tax ($133,970), June motor vehicle tax ($140), July motor vehicle tax ($6066), and July Regional Building sales tax ($287)
  • $13,292 to AFD Pavement Marking LLC for restriping town streets following the 2012 programmed asphalt repairs

During the annual "Town Hall" portion of the agenda for public comments or questions of the board, former Trustee Tommie Plank noted that town plants and potted flowers looked wonderful although "it’s been a rough summer" for many businesses and residences that have lots of weeds "knee-high or more. It’s time for a gentle reminder to some of these people that they need to mow."

Town Clerk and former Town Code Enforcement Officer Cynthia Sirochman stated that during the recent fire ban season the town was prohibited by the county and the Tri-Lakes fire marshal from issuing weed citations. Now that the fire ban has been lifted, it takes 30 to 45 days for Laura Hogan to complete the code enforcement warning and citation cycle leading to actual enforcement and abatement. If distressed properties are sold, the 30- to 45-day cycle must be started over with the new owner.

Resident Cheryl Rogers, the owner of Chayann Pet Care and Styling, thanked the town for cleaning up the asphalt pile at the south end of Limbach Park. She asked if there was another location that could be used for storing inert debris cleaned up by the town’s street sweeper. Green replied that the original plan for Limbach Park calls for a dog park in that area. The town is looking at purchasing a machine that would recycle asphalt debris.

Trustee Becki Tooley invited all in attendance to participate in the numerous town activities scheduled for the Labor Day weekend. The meeting adjourned at 7:36.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 on Tuesday, Sept. 4, due to the Labor Day holiday, 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, Aug. 9: Group explores vacating Lucretia Vaile house

By David Futey

Members of the Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) discussed their possible interest in vacating the Lucretia Vaile house at the Aug. 9 meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council. It was previously reported in OCN that PLAG was leaving the house at 118 Hillside Rd., but the PLAG is only exploring the idea within the group and with council at this time.

PLAG representative John DeFrancesco said there has been "some discussion within the group about vacating the location because of the prohibitive cost in maintaining it." He said they cannot use the house in the winter due to mud and ice issues and many of their members are elderly and have difficulty getting into the house due to those issues. Lately, PLAG has been mostly meeting at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts.

If PLAG does vacate the property, it would revert to the town. The group’s exploratory proposal to the council contained these items:

  • PLAG requested it be allowed to use the Town Hall one day each month for meetings without charge. Scheduling of the meeting would be coordinated with the town clerk.
  • The deed stipulates if the property is sold the proceeds would be used to benefit the Palmer Lake community. DeFrancesco said PLAG feels it is a benefit to the community and that it should share in the revenue from the sale. PLAG proposes that one-third of the sale proceeds go to the group.

PLAG President Margarete Seagraves said the group has met in the home since 1968 and has maintained it. PLAG has done some renovations, including doubling the space to accommodate a larger meeting room for their group.

Seagraves said that if the property is sold, the requested funds would go into the group’s scholarship fund. This fund awards graduating School District 38 high school seniors with scholarships toward continuing their art education in college. PLAG awarded $3,000 in 2012.

Seagraves said, "Now that we have two high schools, there is a need to raise more money for the scholarship fund." The group now raises funds for the scholarships through an art and craft show and their annual member show. Seagraves said, "The students and schools really appreciate our efforts."

Mayor Nikki McDonald said, "The property was willed to PLAG, and in the deed the money from a sale of the home must be used to benefit the entire town of Palmer Lake." Water Trustee Michael Maddox commented on the benefits of the scholarship program. He said that Carrie Ann Baade was awarded a PLAG scholarship and is now a professor of art at Florida State University.

DeFrancesco reiterated that PLAG is only investigating vacating at this time. He said a vote "would need to go to the entire membership and receive a three-fourths approval" for PLAG to proceed and "the membership may decide to decline vacating." DeFrancesco said, "We are looking for council’s acceptance of the proposal to go back to the membership" for a vote.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said, "Council cannot do an advisory opinion. The board can indicate a present inclination but it does not bind the board in the future as there is not a specific proposal." Gaddis continued that with board turnover, sentiment regarding the proposal might change. He said there is not a specific proposal until PLAG returns and wishes to proceed with the sale, so the board cannot vote on it.

Roads Trustee Jerry Davis said, "It sounds like a great cause, but I cannot support providing PLAG with the requested percentage of the sale as it is unclear how much of the community PLAG benefits. It appears dedicated to one specific use." Maddox said he thinks "the 33 percent is minimal given the benefits to the students." PLAG would continue the scholarship program if the sale does not proceed or they do not receive the requested funding.

Gaddis told DeFrancesco and Seagraves that "based on the feedback heard from council members, the board has given you an inclination on how they might proceed about the property proceeds to PLAG. However, PLAG would have to present a specific proposal, then the board can vote on it." If PLAG’s proposal is voted on and not approved by council, it wouldn’t have to go forward with the sale.

Santa Fe Ridge lot rezoning approved

By unanimous decision, council approved the following:

  • Vacation and re-plat of amended Santa Fe Ridge Lot 1, requested by Jim Fitzgerald
  • Vacation of road right of way, Santa Fe Ridge Lot 1, requested by Fitzgerald
  • Zone entire plat to planned unit development, requested by Robert Haddock

Haddock is interested in building a world headquarters on the property that is located near General Palmer Drive. Fitzgerald presently owns portions of the vacant property adjacent to where he moved a barn from Ohio to house his business, ColdWater Media, at 300 General Palmer Drive. He has lived here for 17 years. Fitzgerald said he has brought economic development into the town, and this project is another example.

Jerry Hannigan of Hannigan and Associates described the requests to the council. Council members previously visited the area to gain an understanding of the multiple requests. The area has been cleared and has necessary infrastructure. An open space will be created at the new lot. Hannigan said the re-plat would eliminate some inconsistencies in the recorded plat and create the new lot to be transferred to Haddock.

The second plat, called Santa Fe Ridge 2, is a re-plat of the new lot along with a straightway adjacent to the highway. It vacates road right of ways held by the town, making a plat that combines all the holdings.

The building is projected to be 15,000 to 16,000 square feet, and about 80 percent of the space will be dedicated to office space for the headquarters. Research and development will be performed, but no manufacturing will be done on site. One truck delivery per month is expected. The company manufacturers aluminum blocks for attaching products, like solar panels, to metal roofs and has manufacturing facilities outside of Colorado.

Highway 105 will be improved and a deceleration lane will be added for northbound traffic and possibly a left-turn lane for southbound. There will only be one entrance to the property from Highway 105. Other requirements from Colorado Department of Transportation might be forthcoming.

Palmer Lake resident Kurt Stevens asked what research and development will be performed and whether it would include hazardous material. A representative for Haddock said prototypes would be built on site and no hazardous materials would be used.

Trustee Bob Grado asked about the construction and how it will fit into the surroundings. Haddock’s representative said the building will have a high-tech look, metal roof, glass, and natural stone. The intent is to impress clients, who will be coming in for meetings and training.

Trustee Shana Ball said changing the platting will enable the town to work with the owner in regard to the construction. Fitzgerald said there "has been a lot of discussion on aesthetics" and Haddock "has hired the architect that did my barn."

Resident Jeanine Engel asked about the benefit to the town. Hannigan said benefits would include property tax and the "prestige of having a company of this level in the town." The present location of the company is in Haddock’s barn, 300 General Palmer Drive, where 12 are presently employed.

Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp.

Mike Law, president and chairman of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Corp. (TLEDC), said the TLEDC is an all-volunteer board with members living in the Tri-Lakes area. He previously met with the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Town of Monument. Law is reporting on and seeking input on quality of life in the area. He said he is also trying to gain an understanding of the town’s requirements when a company expresses an interest in locating in the area.

Law said the TLEDC is working with Colorado Springs Greater Economic Development Corp. in an effort to attract businesses to the area. He said the TLEDC is not presently involved in trying to attract businesses but in exploring what types of businesses to attract to the area. Law commented that given the surroundings in Palmer Lake, it would "probably not look for manufacturing." Ball said a nursing home and assisted living facility had been previously suggested, along with certain types of manufacturing.

Business license approved

By unanimous decision, council approved the business license for Lynn Roth Imagery. This is an in-home business and will have no storefront.

Committee reports

McDonald, Town Clerk Tara Berreth, and Jeff Hulsmann, coordinator of Awake the Lake committee, met with the Larkspur town manager to understand how their park was developed. McDonald said Larkspur’s park cost $1 million, it received consecutive grants from Great Outdoors Colorado, and the project was done in stages over a number of years. Palmer Lake is interested in developing Centennial Park.

McDonald said she attended the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments meeting. The majority of that meeting concerned the Waldo Canyon Fire and evacuation process. McDonald said that the town "needs to be mindful of people in the Glen," a wooded residential area next to the Pike National Forest, should a similar wildfire situation occur next to Palmer Lake.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Bruce Hoover thanked Maddox and McDonald for reopening the gate to the reservoir trail. Hoover said he hiked it and it is still "postcard pretty."

Hoover received approval from the council to have a Palmer Lake resident volunteer time to clear out scrub oak at Glen Park near Lovers Lane. Hoover will work with Road Supervisor Bob Radosevich to determine public and private land boundaries. Town insurance would cover the volunteer during the effort.

Hoover proposed funding and is getting three estimates to repair fencing at the Glen Park parking area. He also contacted Union Pacific about the upgrade to Centennial Park because there is a question about the easement. A playground is being planned on the previous volleyball court.

Town Information Campaign proposed

Hoover also proposed an Information Campaign for the town, consisting of email, an email newsletter, and an upgrade to the town’s website. He said he would use volunteers for doing the various communications. The council had a lengthy discussion on a variety of topics related to this suggestion. Concerns included what type of information would be sent out, who would determine what information would be sent, how citizens could opt in or opt out of email blasts, and how much time Berreth and Radosevich would be committed to in assisting the volunteers who develop the emails and other information.

The council eventually approved a motion to proceed with the development of an initial, sample email regarding the Taste of Palmer Lake, which would be provided to Berreth and Radosevich for approval and publication. Subsequent emails would be produced by the volunteers and provided to Berreth as town events occur or other pertinent information arises.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, Aug. 10: Road use fee lowered for Big R

By Jim Kendrick

On Aug. 10, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) unanimously approved a road use fee schedule amendment to create a new BRRTA commercial category similar to the industry standard for department stores. This amendment was requested May 25 by Karl Nyquist of C&A Cos., the owners of the new Big R store being built on the northeast corner of Struthers Road and Spanish Bit Drive.

For more information on this Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) commercial category (Code 875), see:

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

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

Big R road use fee schedule lowered

BRRTA District Manager Denise Denslow of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP noted that Nyquist had requested a fee schedule amendment at the Feb. 10 BRRTA meeting. The board unanimously approved a motion to reimburse C & A if the board decided to approve a change in commercial category for new the Big R store.

On May 25, Nyquist made a presentation to the board, noting that the C & A traffic engineer, Jeffrey Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc., had located a code in the ITE trip generation manual that more closely fits the Big R store than any commercial category in the BRRTA fee schedule. LSC’s analysis showed that there would be about 674 trips per day to the new Struthers Road Big R, which best fits the criteria for ITE Code 875 (Department Store.)

Denslow reported that traffic engineer Dave Hatton, of BRRTA’s consultant firm Felsburg Holt & Ullevig Inc., had concurred with LSC and had stated:

    "The ITE Code #875 fits the description of the proposed development very well. The ITE daily trip generation rate is based on six samples, which range from 16.64 to 30.94 trips per 1,000 square feet. Using ITE Code #875 would maintain consistency with the 2008 revision that was based on using a broader range of ITE land uses. Based on using ITE #875 (22.88 trips per 1,000 square feet), 48 percent new trips, and $157 per daily trip, the calculated road use fee would be $1.72 per square foot, or $60,312 for the proposed 35,000 (square-foot) development."

There was no public comment.

Williams said that BRRTA has always tried to adopt consistent policies, approving changes that are based on a consistent approach for categories of businesses rather than individual businesses.

Based on the consistent recommendations of both traffic engineers, the board unanimously approved the Big R request. Hunsaker said he would publish a notice of the fee schedule amendment and it would go into effect 45 days later.

C & A had already paid a road use fee of about $92,000 when it requested being assigned to a new category in February. Big R will receive a refund for the difference.

2013 budget hearing date approved

Denslow asked the board to confirm that it would hold the 2013 BRRTA budget hearing at the next regular meeting. The board unanimously approved setting the 2013 budget hearing date of Nov. 9. Denslow said she would provide copies of the budget to the board members by Oct. 15 and that the hearing is simplified by BRRTA not having to certify a mill levy.

The board unanimously ratified/approved the following BRRTA payments:

  • $4,000 to Biggs Kofford P.C. for the 2011 audit
  • $16,042 to CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for district management ($6,489), accounting ($5,827), and sales tax administration ($3,746)
  • $320 to Felsburg Holt & Ullevig Inc. for a BRRTA traffic engineering study
  • $6,590 to Grimshaw & Harring P.C. for legal services

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker noted that his law firm, Grimshaw & Harring P.C., had just completed a merger with Spencer Fane Britt and Browne LLP and the his firm’s name is now Spencer Fane & Grimshaw LLP. He said BRRTA’s rates will not change in 2013.

Some of the figures BRRTA accountant Carrie Bartow, of CliftonLarsonAllen, noted in her financial report for June 30 on government funds were:

  • General fund total assets: $944,443 including $65,408 transferred from the capital fund and debt service fund for previous payments that were incorrectly made from the general fund
  • General fund accounts payable: $22,951
  • General fund balance: $921,492
  • Debt service fund balance: $ 2,682,485
  • Capital projects fund balance: $ 13,185
  • Total assets: $3,617,162

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

  • Road use fees: $45,000/$45,000
  • Interest income: $156/$1,450
  • Total expenditures: $ 47,084/$373,800

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

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

  • Sales tax revenue: $431,583/$1,050,000
  • Interest income: $321/$2,500
  • Unbudgeted state reimbursement: $3,000,000/$0
  • Total expenditures: $3,487,677/$1,415,000
  • Fund balance: $ 2,682,484/$2 ,373,009

Bartow said that BRRTA sales tax revenues are behind those from last year, primarily due to one large retail store that has "cash register issues." Clifton will ask the state to conduct a sales tax audit for this store. Denslow thanked the Monument Treasurer Pamela Smith and her staff for their assistance in analyzing the source and amount of the BRRTA sales tax underpayment.

Some of the figures from the Baptist Road I-25 interchange construction budget report for June 30 were:

  • Total original construction budget: $15,618,818
  • Construction budget amendment: $644,336
  • Total amended budget: $16,326,154
  • Total actual cost, including other various consultant fees: $18,319,199

CDOT accepted the I-25 Baptist Road interchange as "complete" on Oct. 18, 2011.

The financial report was unanimously approved.

Bartow provided copies of tables that contain a column for the old amortization schedule and annual debt service and principal payments before the early redemption of $3 million of bonds at the end of 2011, a column with a proposal for new reamortized values for the coming years, and a third column that shows the annual savings. This table assumes no further CDOT reimbursements because there is no certainty of further reimbursements. CDOT has agreed to repay $16,326,154 if and when it has unused state transportation funds. If CDOT makes another payment that would allow early redemption of more bonds, a new amortization table with revised debt service payments will be created by BRRTA’s bond agent.

BRRTA originally issued $21.5 million in sales tax revenue bonds to pay for this interchange construction to ensure that it had enough extra money to be able to pay interest in the early years before all the commercial properties within BRRTA and BRRTA sales tax revenues were maximized. The current real estate recession has slowed the growth of BRRTA’s sales tax revenue and they remain below expectations. However, all the risk for late or insufficient interest and principal has been assumed by the private bondholders, whose only source of repayment is the BRRTA sales tax. No local governments are at risk or liable for BRRTA bond payments.

Williams noted a "non-obvious benefit" that has occurred because BRRTA arranged private financing so that the Baptist Road interchange expansion could be built much sooner than the state could have built it. The support piers for the new Baptist Road bridge over I-25 are much farther apart than those for the previous two-lane bridge. This increased separation will now provide the room needed for CDOT to construct a third I-25 lane in both directions from the south gate of the Air Force Academy under the new Baptist Road bridge and on up to the Highway 105 interchange (Exit 161.)

The board unanimously accepted the new amortization schedule for debt service payments.

Kaiser asked if CDOT could be asked to reprogram the left-turn signal timing from westbound Baptist Road to the southbound on-ramp. He said the timing had been changed and was causing significant backups through two traffic lights during the morning rush hour.

Tom Kassawara, Monument’s director of Development Services, said he would contact CDOT’s regional engineer and ask for assistance in recalibrating the left-turn signal timing. Williams told Kassawara to contact him if he needed help getting CDOT to respond to the problems caused during the morning rush hour. Kaiser asked Kassawara to give the regional engineer his contact information.

The meeting adjourned at 3:23 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the second month of the quarter. Information: 884-8017 or Kathy Suazo at 1-303-793-1403.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Aug. 22: Fire prevention remains a major concern

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) continued its discussion of fire mitigation at its August meeting.

Forestry Director Eric Gross reported that almost 300 community residents attended two information meetings on Aug. 1 and 2 at the association’s Barn. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal John Vincent showed photographs of Woodmoor properties to explain actions required to prevent a disaster in Woodmoor similar to that in Mountain Shadows during the Waldo Canyon Fire.

Gross said that his committee and the Firewise Committee have received a large number of requests for lot evaluations and that he has noticed an increased amount of slash in yards as homeowners trim trees and eliminate other fuels. He pointed out that the slash itself is very flammable and encouraged the board to approve a second chipping day this year to help residents dispose of it.

The board approved providing $2,000 to the Forestry Committee to plan a second chipping day and to fund the editing and production of 100 copies of a video of the fire program.

The board declined to fund publication of a news bulletin from the Firewise Committee.

Gross also said that a contractor had been selected to remove dead trees from WIA common areas. The next phase of common area fire mitigation will be the disposal of scrub oak.

Homeowners Association Manager Matt Beseau reported that the association’s architectural administrator has resigned and the search for a replacement had begun. He also reported that he is finalizing bids on a new phone system for the association office.

Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Officer Chad Forquer reported that the new WPS garage is up and only awaits a roof, paint, and electrical wiring.

Doewood Gate removed; connection remains closed

Forquer also reported that the Doewood Gate has been removed and that the area has been regraded to eliminate the roadway adjacent to both sides of the gate. The area where the gate once stood has been vacated by El Paso County, divided into four portions, and is now considered to be the private property of the four nearest homeowners.

While there is no longer a formal physical barrier at the adjoining dead ends of the north and south segments of Doewood Drive, the vacated area will have residential yard landscaping now. Motorists and pedestrians who cross through any of the four yards will be guilty of trespassing. He said that residents of Doewood north of the former gate have been offered the option of changing the street name for that area.

Forquer reminded the community that school has started and that traffic near the schools has increased due to the institution of bus fees.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that the association remains under budget on its expenditures. He also said that the IRS has made no changes in taxes due following an audit earlier this year.

Common Area Director W. Lee Murray reported that mowing had been completed for the season and that bids are being sought for repair of the roof and deck of the Barn.

The board discussed damage caused by a back hoe to the Barn’s gas line during excavation for the WPS garage. The line was determined to be not up to code requirements, and bids are being sought for its replacement.

Beseau reported that the Architectural Control Committee had approved 32 projects during July, including decks, roofing, landscaping, and other projects.

Signatures still needed for governing documents

Beseau said that the WIA hired a resident to go door to door seeking approval of the revised governing documents for the association. The individual visited 64 homes and received 18 approvals. The association decided that this was not a cost-effective way to gain the necessary approvals. An additional 702 signatures are still required.

The board discussed the fact that the association could seek legal help to have the document approved by the court, but that action could cost the association more than $10,000. Oakley suggested that the membership be notified of that fact, because such an expenditure would necessitate a special assessment.

Board President Jim Hale, Architectural Control Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis, and Public Safety Director Paul Lambert were absent and excused. Vice President Kirstin Reimann presided.

**********

The WIA board meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be Sept. 26.

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

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August Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

August was another very dry month around the region, with temperatures that were a little above normal as well. This continues the trend we’ve seen every month this year, as only February had below normal temperatures. Only February and July have received above normal precipitation.

This pattern of drier and warmer than normal weather is expected during a La Nina year. And the La Nina pattern, which is just coming to an end, was one of the strongest on record. Therefore, it’s not too surprising that we had such extreme heat and lack of moisture, especially in March and June. But, of course if La Nina is ending, what is taking its place? Well, the forecast if for a weak El Nino to start up over the next few months, which is good news for Colorado if you like cooler temperatures and higher amounts of precipitation. So get ready for more snow this winter than the last couple.

The first week of August had a variety of weather, although the overall summer trend of warmer than normal and generally dry conditions dominated. The monsoonal moisture that so often affects the region during August was present during the first two days of the month. This produced our typical pattern of morning sunshine, then building cumulus clouds during the late morning and early afternoon, and ending with thunderstorms by mid- to late afternoon and early evening.

Each day produced around 0.10 inch, but as is expected with thunderstorms some of us received more and others a little less. Temperatures were at to slightly above normal both days, reaching into the mid-80s. High temperatures remained in the 80s on the afternoon of the 3rd, but this time no thunderstorms formed, leaving us high and dry. In fact, no more rain fell over the area through the rest of the week. However, we did see the arrival of our first strong cold front of the season. This front moved through just after midnight on the 4th and left us with some low clouds that morning. Highs only reached the low 70s under sunny skies that afternoon. But warm high pressure quickly took control again, with temperatures warming back into the 80s and low 90s on the 5th and 6th.

Temperatures started the second week of August above average, in the mid- and upper 80s from the 7th through 9th, then it cooled slightly over the next few days, holding in the low to mid-80s. Still about 5 degrees warmer than normal. Overnight lows began to cool as well, with most nights dropping into the 40s, providing some nice sleeping weather and signaling a transition in the seasons.

High temperatures fluctuated quite a bit from the 13th through the 19th, ranging from the upper 60s on afternoons when a cool front had come through (13th and 16th) to the mid-80s a few days later. Unfortunately, for most of the period very little rain fell, with little more than a trace a times. In addition, skies were often hazy because of lots of smoke flowing into the region from fires to our west.

As the month came to a close, the pattern of dry and warm weather continued for the most part. However, we were visited by a couple of cold fronts, which brought with them some gusty northerly winds and relief from the heat. A few brief intrusions of monsoonal moisture from the desert Southwest dropped some rain on the region on the 22nd and 23rd. Unfortunately, most of the heavy rain stayed in the high country, while areas around the Tri-Lakes received around 0.10 inch. Temperatures showed quite a variety over the last two weeks of the months, swinging from highs well in the 80s on the 21st, 22nd, 24th, and 26th to the upper 60s and low 70s on the 20th and 23rd.

Days have grown shorter and the nights longer. So if you enjoy the warm, sunny weather of the last few months, be sure to take advantage while you can because the cool weather of autumn will be here before you know it.

A look ahead

September is a transition month for the region, with the last tastes of summer mixed in with our first morning freezes. Leaves begin to change by the end of the month, and three out of the last five Septembers have seen at least a trace of snow. The overall weather pattern is generally one of tranquility, with our chances for thunderstorms dwindling and blizzard conditions not quite ready for prime time. We are often greeted with sunny, pleasant afternoons, with highs from the mid-70s early in the month to the mid-60s later. Our first subfreezing temperatures usually occur during the second or third week, so prepare those tender plants.

August 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 82.8° (+5.2) 100-year return frequency value max 83.9° min 72.9°
Average Low 48.7 ° (-0.4) 100-year return frequency value max 55.2° min 46.8°
Monthly Precipitation 0.33" (-2.80", 90% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.94"
Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
Highest Temperature 90° on the 6th and 29th
Lowest Temperature 41° on the 21st
Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 3.77" (-2.46", 60% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 34 (-34)
Cooling Degree Days 52 (+11)

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

Overgrowth provides haven for bears

Our home is on Winding Meadow Way, and our backyard is connected to the Dirty Woman Creek drainage gulch called "The Meadows" in the Woodmoor Commons area. We have observed a bear and two cubs in our yard on four occasions—May 26, June 13, June 24, and Aug. 21. The adult bear on one of those sightings had a yellow tag attached, which means the Colorado Parks and Wildlife had already had a problem with it in the past.

The adult bear on Aug. 21 made a "bluff" short charge toward me once (just a few feet), then backed off. A state wildlife official said this behavior is normal. Then on Aug. 22, a huge bear with a yellow tag attached (about 100 pounds heavier than the bear on Aug. 21) emerged out of the gulch just as I was walking toward the gulch! This one was alone. He stayed near the edge of our yard, and laid down and scratched himself. After a few minutes, he got up and walked toward our next-door neighbor’s patio.

We called Woodmoor Security, and he came over with his paintball gun, but the bear was gone. He said they had been keeping track of the bear and two cubs plus this large bear all day.

Since our grandchildren frequently play in our backyard, we are naturally concerned about their safety.

Dirty Woman Creek gulch is like a thick jungle for about a 200-yard stretch from our house to St. Mathias Episcopal Church. It is so thick that deer (and cross-country skiers) take detours through our yard to avoid it. We frequently hear coyotes howling in the gulch, and the bears have entered our yard from the gulch and also returned to it.

Woodmoor does a nice job of keeping the other common areas mowed and trimmed, but they totally ignore this area. I believe they need to make it a priority to clear out most of the dense overgrowth, but still leave enough for wildlife.

Jerry Klazura Photo provided by Jerry Klazura

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School District 38’s high staff turnover hurts

We’ve all read about companies that were in a downward spiral and were able to recover with new leadership who did not blame others but rolled up their sleeves and identified and then addressed the problems. This did not come without discomfort and increased transparency. Our District 38 school board and superintendent continue to blame the state for our financial predicament. Because we have a representative form of government, isn’t the district leadership, in essence, blaming the very citizens who vote and pay taxes to support our district?

In any organization, whether public or private, for profit or not for profit, a pattern of increasing staff turnover over a period of years is a primary indicator of an organization in trouble. As of May 2012, D-38 had 736 employees, of whom 327, or 44 percent, are teachers. From the school years 2009-12, a total of 332 employees have exited the district. Thirty-five new teachers have been hired for this school year.

Our turnover rate continues to be higher than those of D-20, D-12, and even D-11! I hope district leadership has not fooled itself into believing that the long-awaited raise for staff (that barely offsets increased insurance costs to employees) will solve the turnover crisis. These turnover statistics, which can be verified on the Colorado Department of Education website, should be alarming to anyone.

Any institution that relies so heavily on the abilities, personality, and professionalism of its staff such as schools do intuitively understands that building relationships with students, parents, coworkers, and community take time. Both parents and students fully acknowledge the importance of the student-teacher relationship to their educational success. High staff turnover interferes with student success.

Stephen Boyd

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Younger D-38 students’ test results worth worrying about

What is all this education TCAP/CSAP testing news, and what does this mean to our kids’ quality of education? This information is from the Colorado Department of Education’s (CDE) website (www.cde.state.co.us/assessment/CoAssess-DataAndResults.asp):

    Q: What is TCAP’s purpose?

    A: TCAP supports transition to Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) during development of the new assessment, scheduled for 2014.

    Q: How is TCAP similar to CSAP?

    A: TCAP will continue to assess those Model Content Standards aligned with Colorado Academic Standards. TCAP continues to assess some Model Content Standards that are not in the Colorado Academic Standards and preserves paper and pencil tests; multiple choice and constructed response questions; question formats; and test blueprint and reporting categories.

So, what does TCAP mean to our kids and their performance assessment? Dr. Lori Benton, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 director of assessment, gifted education and technology, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that determining how well kids are doing is "a complex issue.... What we have (on the TCAP results) is just performance compared to last year’s scores. But that is like comparing apples to oranges until we can dig into the cohort data because you aren’t comparing the same set of students."

I was curious about the Colorado state data Dr. Benton referenced for 2011-12 as TCAP apples to oranges performance. We all like fruit, right? So I went to CDE data and looked. TCAP shows our 10th-graders doing well as they prepare to leave high school. Great job! Unfortunately, grades 3-9 show performance concerns.

At Dr. Benton’s District 38 level, for grades 3-9, her referenced 2011-12 Proficiency and Advanced TCAP test results for 2012 are:

  • Reading averages dropped 1.2 percent
  • Writing averages dropped 2.9 percent
  • Science stable at 70 percent Proficient and Advanced
  • Mathematics averages dropped 1.1 percent

And the District 38 performance year-to-year? You be the judge.

What are the district’s plans to improve? We had this conversation last year! It takes time, planning, more time, and more waiting for apples and oranges to ripen, while our kids struggle, and the educational clock ticks on.

Folks, please check your school’s TCAP scores rather than one personal assessment. It is our kids’ future, and their education time is running out.

Gordon Reichal

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Enticing battle books

By the staff at Covered Treasures

If you’re looking for a good book to capture the interest of your middle reader, why not try one of the "Battle Books"? Selected by librarians and teachers for their literary value and popularity among students, these books are used in the annual "Battle of the Books" competition.

Billy Creekmore
By Tracey Porter (Joanna Cotler Books) $6.99

He is a motherless child, a coal miner, a circus star, a con artist, a seer, a hero, and a survivor. This is the tale of a young boy with mystifying powers and the gift of storytelling. But his life in the Guardian Angels Orphanage is cruel and bleak, and when a stranger comes to claim Billy, he sets off on an extraordinary journey. From the coal mines of West Virginia to the world of a traveling circus, he searches for the secrets of his past, his future, and his own true self. Billy Creekmore is new to the Battle list this year.

Hana’s Suitcase
By Karen Levine (Albert Whitman & Co.) $9.99

Also new to the reading list, Hana’s Suitcase is a true story that takes place on three continents. In March 2000, a suitcase arrived at a children’s Holocaust education center in Tokyo. In white paint on the outside were the words: "Hana Brady" and the German word for "orphan." Questions by children who saw the suitcase on display started the center’s curator on a suspenseful journey, searching for clues across Europe and North America. The mystery of the suitcase takes her back through 70 years, to a young Hana and her family, whose happy family life in a small Czech town was turned upside down by the invasion of the Nazis.

Bridge to Terabithia
By Katherine Paterson (Harper Trophy) $6.99

Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in the fifth grade. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side of the playground and outruns everyone. That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie become inseparable. Together, they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen. Then one morning, a terrible tragedy occurs. (The story line of this excellent book takes a shocking turn, and we recommend that an adult read it at about the same time.)

The Castle in the Attic
By Elizabeth Winthrop (A Yearling Book) $6.99

William has just received the best present of his life, an old, real-looking stone and wooden model of a castle, with a drawbridge, a moat, and a finger-high knight to guard the gates. William is certain there’s something magical about this castle, and sure enough, when he picks up the tiny silver knight, it comes alive in his hand! Suddenly, William is off on a fantastic quest to another land and another time—where a fiery dragon and an evil wizard are waiting to do battle.

The BFG
By Roald Dahl (Puffin Books) $6.99

When Sophie is snatched from her bed by a giant in the middle of the night and whisked away to an enormous cavern in the side of a mountain, she is convinced she will be eaten for breakfast. "I is hungry!" the Giant booms, grinning to show his very large and very white teeth, which sat in his mouth like huge slices of white bread. Lucky for her, he tells her in his own uniquely jumbled way that he is not one of those big mean giants "who like to guzzle and swallomp nice little chiddlers. I is THE BIG FRIENDLY GIANT! I is the BFG." This is a great read aloud book … if the reader can stop laughing long enough to get the words out!

The City of Ember: the first Book of Ember
By Jeanne DuPrau (Random House) $6.99

Citizens of Ember are assigned work at age 12, and Lina desperately wants to be a messenger. Instead, she draws the dreaded job of Pipeworks laborer, which means working in damp tunnels deep underground. Doon draws the job of messenger—and asks Lina to trade! Doon wants to be underground. That’s where the generator is, and Doon has ideas about how to fix it. As long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the endless darkness at bay, but now the lights are beginning to flicker.

Reluctant readers and avid bookworms alike will be glued to these award-winning classics. Whether your child chooses to join the fifth-grade "Battle" team or not, these titles will provide hours of enjoyment. And we recommend that you read some of them yourself. They’re good literature and will open many opportunities for discussion with your young reader.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Eared grebe: Podicepts negricollis

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of Eared Grebes by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

In September, birds have left their nesting areas and are headed south for the winter, closer to the equator where it is warmer. Migration is complex and comprises a broad continuum of seasonal movements ranging from sporadic mass movements over relatively short distances to epic journeys that span a hemisphere.

Many species of birds have strong migration instincts and annually fly the same corridors landing in the same location. Injured sandhill cranes kept in captivity become restless during migration and face the direction they would fly if they were able to. Yet, there is a small population of sandhill crane in Mississippi that does not migrate. How can the same species of bird be so different?

The eared grebe is small water bird that nests in shallow marshes in many areas of Colorado. Every spring it flies here nonstop from its winter home, arriving in early June. In the fall, millions of eared grebes converge on large alkaline lakes including the Great Salt Lake and Mono Lake, where they gorge on brine shrimp in preparation for fall migration. Why these birds converge during fall migration but not in the spring is a question that continues to be studied.

Description

The most abundant grebe in the world, the eared grebe is a common bird that breeds in interior freshwater shallow wetlands of western North America. It is a small diving bird about 12 inches long with a wingspan of less than 2 feet.

During mating season this bird is strikingly beautiful, but in the off season it is dull. The name "eared grebe," is derived from long golden feathers that fan out behind its red eyes during mating season. Male and female look alike. They have long, thin black beaks and dark feathers on their crested head, neck, and back. Their sides are copper and tail feathers are white. Their skin is dark and may show through the white fluffy tail feathers. Their long legs and lobed feet are yellowish green and trail behind their short tail when in flight. The undersides of their wings have white patches.

Behavior

The eared grebes’ legs are located near the back of its body making walking on land difficult. When it isn’t migrating, it spends most of the time in the water. It swims and dives using its long legs, feet, and lobed toes to propel it forward.

It spends as much as 15 percent of the day under water and has numerous physical adaptations that make it an excellent diver. Its body is covered with small dense feathers. To reduce its buoyancy, it can quickly compress these feathers along with its internal air reserves, causing it to sink and allowing it to efficiently capture prey or escape a predator.

Diet

Its primary source of food is small fish, but it also consumes invertebrates, crustaceans, insects, and larvae.

Breeding and nesting

Eared grebes have elaborate courtship displays and are monogamous when nesting. They are colonial nesters and are often found nesting in dense colonies alongside other colonial nesters like the cormorant.

Both parents construct a floating nest made from mud and floating reeds. The nest is located in shallow water and anchored to standing marsh plants. The female lays three to five cream-colored eggs that become stained by minerals in water. Parents alternate between incubating and diving for food.

An amazing communication called "care-soliciting signals" occurs between unhatched chicks and their parents. The embryos’ peeping excites the parents, causing them to add vegetation to the nest, store food, and continually sit on the eggs. The eggs hatch in about 21 days and all eggs hatch the same day.

After the last egg hatches, the chicks leave the nest and ride on their parents’ backs for the first week. The parents feed the chicks digested insects and feathers. After 10 days, each parent takes half the brood and parts ways. Chicks quickly learn to follow their parents and dive for food. In a little more than three weeks, the chicks are on their own.

Migration

Eared grebes take flight en masse by running over the water and flapping their wings to lift off the water. While in flight, this little bird constantly flaps its short wings and rarely stops until it arrives at its destination.

During their southern migration, millions of eared grebes descend on Mono Lake and the Great Salt Lake. They stop for a few weeks to gore on brine shrimp, doubling their weight in preparation for the next leg of their journey. Here they molt and build up a fat reserve to give them the energy necessary for the next leg of their nonstop flight to their winter home in coastal bays along the Gulf and Pacific Coasts.

Plan to double Chatfield Reservoir capacity could endanger birds

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has a plan to double Chatfield’s water storage capacity, which will flood over 500 acres of the park. The eared grebe along with many other water birds, raptors, and song birds nest in habitats that will be eliminated if this plan is approved. To learn more about the plan and environmental impact go to www.chatfieldstudy.org or walk the wetlands with the Denver Audubon Society on Sept. 2. The group will meet at 8 a.m. at the Chatfield Audubon Center located in the park—no reservations are required.

Sept. 6, is the last day to submit comments. Comments on the Corps’ plan may be submitted on its website: www.chatfieldstudy@usace.army.mil.

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: Front Range artists live and in color—and in the movies

Below: On Sept. 14, 7 p.m., Jim Sawatzki will premiere his new feature length film, Rarefied Air at the Tri Lakes Center for the Arts. DVDs of the movie will be available for sale at the premiere.

Below: Emmy Nominee Sawatzki is a local film maker who specializes in documentaries on local history. Photo by Dan Fraley.

Below: Singer songwriter Wendy Woo stands next to a portrait of her by artist Charles Snyder. The work is part of the exhibit The Art of Rock at TLCA. The art exhibit celebrates the vibrant energy of rock music and the performers of the music. Woo held a concert at TCLA August 31. She performs frequently at TCLA, and another upcoming show is soon to be announced. Photo by Janet Sellers.

By Janet Sellers

When I moved here years ago from big city living, I had no idea of the rich culture that preceded me here. I was overwhelmed with the common deep snowfalls, endless cattle fields, dirt roads, and driving over 15 miles just to get groceries. My mainstay for social connections, however, soon became alive and bright due to my shared love of art with others in this area.

Perhaps that is how the visitors, pioneers, and artists of the Pikes Peak region felt when they came here in the late 1800s. They were in love with the vast nature and riches to be made, yet confounded by the cultural isolation that they personally felt, and got right to making the area a cultural tourism destination. Looking back to the voluptuous fine art and cultural beginnings, it is high time this story is told to us today as we take hold of each complex part of our local development and the needed economic expansion. We’re out of water here in Colorado, but not out of ideas.

Back then, they brought in a lot of ideas, people and materials to create the lives of their dreams in this wild, wild West. It hasn’t changed much with the land conflicts, water issues, and fortune building, so it’s good to keep in mind now as we build our lives amid similar issues of water conflicts, development, and the modern-day robber barons of fracking and mining.

Finding out how the people before us got along wasn’t as easy or as close at hand as I would have expected for such an opulent and rich legacy. Fortunately, our own Tri-Lakes fine artist, (Emmy Award nominee and Telly Award winning producer/director) Jim Sawatzki, has put the labor and love into researching the history and presenting a beautiful, albeit complex and astonishingly broad group of fine art characters and innovators.

Sawatzki has just completed Rarefied Air (a longtime term for the healing air that brought thousands here), a film on the art history of our region, complete with writers, painters, sculptors, architects, photographers, and more.

Starting with the earliest known artifacts, Sawatzki has included the prehistoric Native American art, such as the petroglyphs and artifacts of our area’s earliest inhabitants to the elaborate efforts of the late 1800s and early 1900s. The film offers insights throughout those times and on into the Depression era, finishing with the contemporary kinetic metal sculptures of Starr Kempf.

The film promises to be interesting for all audiences and interest levels in art, history, and community, and Sawatzki also told me, "I’m really hoping I can attract teachers of all disciplines and serious art students."

Art events in September

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA):

    Ongoing exhibit: (through Sat., Sept. 22) Rock ‘n Art Exhibition—an art exhibit featuring the art of rock ‘n’ roll as genre. Over 10 artists are exhibiting a wide variety of works, from iconic images of classic rock ‘n’ roll to abstract expressions of rock ‘n’ roll’s energetic colors.

    Rarefied Air—Historic Artists of the Pikes Peak Region. Fri., Sept. 14, 7 p.m. 90-minute feature film. Tickets: TLCA members $5, nonmembers $6;

    Calls to artists: TLCA Members Exhibit. Entries due by Wed., Oct. 31. Exhibit dates: Nov. 6 to Dec. 8. Call 719-481-0475 for forms and details. More information can be found at www.trilakesarts.org.

Second Fridays Art Night, Fri., Sept. 14, 4:30 to 8 p.m., focuses on our local art scene from the Monument "art quarter" to Palmer Lake and the TLCA. It will eventually offer venues throughout the community. You can check it out and get a map at www.MonumentArts.net. Festive outdoor tents and spaces in an outdoorsy art festival style. Second Fridays Art Night is calling for artists. Gear up for the holiday season and talk to your local Monument art venues. They are looking to have more and more artists’ trunk shows for this monthly event. Check out the details at www.MonumentArts.net.

Front Range Open Studios Tour—Sat.-Sun., Sept. 15-16, download a map and plot your art adventures for this artful weekend: www.frontrangeopenstudios.com/map.php. There is such a wide variety of art and artists (they list 14 on the map) that you could just set aside your weekend to see them all.

Last 2012 Art Hop: Thu., Sept. 20, 5 to 8 p.m. The last one of the year. Join the Historic Monument Merchants in downtown Monument for the gala event. Monument merchants open their doors and stay open late to celebrate a unique afternoon/evening of art at their stores to let you meet and greet the artists. Some of the art galleries in town also stay open to support the evening of art.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter and sculptor of public art who works in paint, metal and concrete. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colo. She can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Click here to view the on-line version. Snapshots of Our Community starts on page 29.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Aug. 16: Specialists describe restoring old ranch equipment

Below: Douglas County Historic Restoration Specialists Johnny Mulligan and Jerry Wlodarek described their work at the Prairie Canyon Ranch. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

Below: In particular, they described the restoration and reconstruction of an anvil and forge building at the site (shown on the right). Photo provided by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

Below: The topic for the Sept. 20 Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting will be "Ponderosa Giants—How Old Is That Tree?" Photo provided by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

By Bernard L. Minetti

Johnny Mulligan and Jerry Wlodarek, historic restoration specialists with the Douglas County Open Spaces project, spoke about their work at Prairie Canyon Ranch during a meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society on Aug. 16.

Douglas County purchased the ranch, just south of Castlewood Canyon State Park, when it was still a working cattle ranch. Mulligan is a Native American of the Lakota tribe. Wlodarek is known for his expertise in the making of custom flintlock and cap lock rifles. He has been doing that for 40 years.

Mulligan and Wlodarek both have been qualified building inspectors for Douglas County and have worked on the original homestead at the ranch for many years. Frederick Bartruff and his family originally homesteaded the ranch itself in 1873. The ranch buildings are prime examples of the technology and agricultural techniques used from 1870 to 1930.

Both speakers are known for their restoration techniques. They utilize only materials that were in vogue when the restoration items were first made. Much of their time in restoring a building, for instance, is spent in locating the wood and other items from the time when the building was first constructed.

Both men spoke with pride about the forge and anvil building that they were renovating and restoring on the ranch. The anvil and forge, and the other items necessary to operate a blacksmith site, were available but needed to be collected, renovated, and restored. They provided a series of photographs that illustrated the work as it has progressed.

Tours of the site may be arranged through the Douglas County Open Spaces Commission. Mulligan said both men would provide another presentation, "Pioneer Weapons," to the Historical Society on Nov. 15.

**********

The next meeting will be on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The public is invited to attend. The title of the presentation is, "Ponderosa Giants—How Old Is That Tree?" Terry Stokka will demonstrate that "you can’t judge a tree’s age by its size." He will also describe efforts to determine the age of local area "giant pines."

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

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August and September library events: All Pikes Peak Reads addresses emergency preparedness

Below: Linda Fuqua-Jones of the Palmer Lake Library, Libby Theune of the Monument Library, and Gus Freyer of Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library serve a selection of ice cream to patrons at the annual Ice Cream Social on Aug. 4. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

Many thanks to all who joined us for treats and band music at our Ice Cream Social in early August. Special thanks to the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library for their sponsorship of this delightful event.

The 11th annual All Pikes Peak Reads program will kick off on Sept. 15. The theme of this year’s program is "survival against all odds." Primary titles are The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, The Unthinkable by Amanda Ripley, and teen title Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer.

We are very excited about this program and have planned some programs exclusively for the Monument Library.

On Sept. 21, from 10 to noon, the Monumental Readers will discuss The Unthinkable at the monthly meeting. At noon that day we will serve a light lunch and show the PBS film Surviving Disaster with Ripley. Patrons wishing to join us for lunch and the film are encouraged to register at the library.

On Saturday, Sept. 22, from 2 until 4, we will host emergency planner Kathy Russell from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office speaking on "Are You Ready for the Unthinkable?" Kathy will address emergency preparedness on the household level as well as the community level and will provide information to take home to help you make your own emergency plan.

Teen programs related to All Pikes Peak Reads will be offered in October.

Adult programs

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

Another adult event during September will be Travlin’: Woody Guthrie’s Life and Songs. While most people remember Woody Guthrie’s This Land Is Your Land, Daniel Blegen presents much more about Guthrie’s life and times. Using Guthrie’s own words and songs, Daniel reminds us of the rich history found in the folksongs about the Dust Bowl, the natural wonders of the West, labor unions, patriotism, and the "average Joes" who built a great country. The program will take place on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2 to 3 p.m.

Teen programs

The Crafty Teens program for September will be "Monsters and Aliens—the Seeequel" on Wednesday, Sept. 5, from 3 until 4:30. Join us to make wacky soft creatures and enjoy a snack. Please call the library to register for this fun time.

The teen book club Book-Eaters will discuss City of Masks by Mary Hoffman on Wednesday, Sept. 12, from 4 to 5:30. This group for grades 7 and up enjoys snacks and a lively discussion. There is also a chance to win a book.

Children’s programs

September’s Family Fun program on Sept. 8 at 1:30 will be "Raptor Survival." Real hawks, owls, and vultures (all raptors) encounter many obstacles in their quest to live in the wild. Meet some of these magnificent survivors, hear their stories, and make a small raptor puppet to take home. Presented by the Nature and Raptor Center of Pueblo.

The Lego Club will meet on Saturday the 18th from 10:30 until noon. This club is open to all ages. You bring the creativity and we will supply the Legos. Remember to bring your camera to photograph your creation, because all Legos remain the property of the Pikes Peak Library District.

Join us for Fabulous Friday Fun on Friday, Sept. 21, from 4:15 until 5:15. We explore the Dewey Decimal System through fun activities and games. We always have snacks and rewards for finding answers. Every participant earns a free book! Suggested for upper elementary and middle school students.

On the walls of the library during September is Rocky Mountain Splendor, oil paintings by Nancy Batten. The Daughters of the American Revolution will provide items of historical interest in the display case.

Palmer Lake Library events

New readers are invited to improve their fluency by reading to a Paws to Read dog. Misty, the Sheltie, will be in the library on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 4:30 to 5:30. Read to Misty and select a prize.

Read with Kirby, our golden retriever friend, on Saturday, Sept. 22 from 11 until noon.

The Family Fun program on Saturday, Sept.15 at 10:30 is Raptor Survival. Real hawks, owls and vultures (all are raptors) encounter many obstacles in their quest to survive in the wild. Meet some of these magnificent birds and hear their stories. Make a small raptor puppet to take home. Presented by Nature’s Educators of Aurora.

The Palmer Lake Library Knitting Group meets each Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon. Knitters of all skill levels are welcome. Bring your project and enjoy the company of other knitters. The group includes experienced knitters who are happy to assist you. Call 481-2587 for more information.

The Palmer Lake Book Group will meet at 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 5. New members are welcome and no registration is required at this monthly book club. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection.

Photographs by Claudia Godec will be displayed on the walls during September.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red
September Menu

Sept. 5­––Lemon chicken, rice, and salad
Sept. 12
––Pulled pork sandwich, cole slaw, and chips
Sept. 19
––Chicken Caesar salad and dinner rolls
Sept. 26
––Meatloaf, baked potato casserole, and salad

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

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

Monument Celebration Festival and Parade, Sept. 3

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce has rescheduled its Street Fair for Labor Day, Sept. 3, to take the place of the one cancelled on the Fourth of July due to the Waldo Canyon Fire. Start the day with a pancake breakfast, 7-10 a.m. at St. Peter Catholic Church, 55 Jefferson St. At 10 a.m. watch the parade down Second Street (from Mitchell to Beacon Lite). The theme this year is "Strength through Unity," honoring our Tri-Lakes Emergency Services. After the parade, stroll the street fair down Front Street and visit Limbach Park for live music, a beer and wine garden, and fun for the whole family until 5 p.m. Also following the parade, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., will be an open house at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District 1, 18650 Highway 105. For more details, phone the chamber, 481-3282, visit www.trilakeschamber.com, or email office@trilakeschamber.com.

September is Military Suicide Awareness Month

The Ladies Auxiliary to the Veterans of Foreign Wars has designated September as Military Suicide Awareness Month. Approximately 18 veterans and one active-duty service member commit suicide each day. By working together to help these service members and spread awareness, we can reduce the risks. The Ladies Auxiliary has adopted the blue teardrop as the symbol for Military Suicide Awareness. They ask that you wear a teardrop every day, especially in September. This small symbol is powerful in that it opens conversations regarding its purpose. MSgt. William J. Crawford, Ladies Auxiliary to Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7829, Monument, has jewelry-style blue teardrops that you can receive by making a donation. The funds are used to assist organizations that focus on helping the veterans and military at risk. For more information, contact President Martine Arndt at 487-9225.

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board vacancy; apply by Sept. 10

A vacancy exists on the Board of Directors of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. This vacancy will be filled by appointment, and the appointee will serve until the next regular election. All qualified and interested parties are encouraged to apply. To qualify, applicants must be a registered voter of Colorado and a resident of the district for at least 30 days or own (or be the spouse of the owner) of taxable real or personal property situated in the district. Qualified candidates should submit a letter of interest to the district by Sept. 10, 4:30 p.m., to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Administrative Building, 166 Second St., or mail to P.O. Box 2668, Monument, CO 80132. For more information, call 484-0911.

Black Forest Food Drive, Sept. 7-16

The Black Forest AARP Chapter will sponsor a food drive for the Black Forest Cares Food Pantry Sept. 7-16. The project is the chapter’s 2012 Day of Service project and supports the Drive to End Hunger. The annual Day of Service was created to rekindle the spirit of unity, service, and compassion shared by so many following the attacks of 9/11. Donations of nonperishable food items or cash can be dropped off at one of the following merchant locations: Black Forest Fire & Rescue, Black Forest Jeweler, Colorado Cats, D & D Ranch, Fire House on the Run, Nizhomi Health Center, R & R Coffee & Cafe, Rockin’ B Feed and Supply, Magic Moments Pre-School, Black Forest Pies & Grinders, Paws N Tails Hydrotherapy Pool, and the Black Forest Postal Service and Convenience Store. Persons interested in community service activities may contact the Black Forest Chapter President, Chuck Karlstrum, 749-9227. Chapter membership is $10 per year. All are welcome.

TLWC’S Tradition of Community Support Continues

This year the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) awarded $49,600 to qualified organizations in the Tri-Lakes community. In May, 18 organizations were notified by TLWC that the grant request they submitted in March was approved. By charter, the club can award grants to public service and nonprofit organizations and public schools. Generally, the awards are used for programs or items that would not be obtainable from other resources if it were not for this grant. TLWC is proud to be able to support our community in this way. TLWC is also proud to be supported by this great community. If it were not for the support the club receives for its fundraising events from local businesses, this level of TLWC community support would not be possible. Also, many thousands of hours volunteered by club members round out the formula for this success.

Wine, Roses and More, Oct. 27

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

Handbell ringers needed

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

Reverse 911

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

Friends of the Pikes Peak Library District seeks board members

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

Slash-Mulch season ends this month

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is winding down. 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.

El Paso County Citizens’ College; enroll by Sept. 28

This year’s College will take place on consecutive Saturdays, Oct. 13 and 20, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., or earlier. Citizens’ College provides participants the opportunity to learn about the multifaceted statutory functions and services that the county provides to its residents. County officials, administrators, and affiliated agency leaders serve as instructors. The syllabus will cover a wide range of topics, including County Government 101, Child/Adult Protection and Economic Assistance Programs, Criminal Prosecution and Investigation, Public Health and Safety, Road and Bridge Operations and Maintenance, Land Use and Zoning Regulations, Parks and Recreation Programs, Environmental Services, Property Tax Assessments and Collections, County Budget and Finance, Q&A With County Commissioners and more. This year’s College will incorporate video and other media to help illustrate county government in action and will include "field trips" to the Criminal Justice Center and El Paso County Coroner’s Office so that students can learn firsthand about the county’s public safety and justice operations. For more information and to apply online, visit www.elpasoco.com/citizenscollege. Applications are due by Sept. 28.

Empty Bowls Dinner and Silent Auction, Oct. 10

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

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

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

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

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

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/.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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