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Vol. 13 No. 1 - January 5, 2013


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Contents

This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.

the PDF file. This is a 15.8 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

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

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HAP receives $4,000 grant from Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) received a $4,000 grant from Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) during the HAP November Board of Directors meeting.

Representing TLWC for the grant presentation at the meeting was Co-president Mary Mills and Grant Committee Chair Sandi Liston. Prior to the presentation, Mills explained that HAP was selected for this grant because of its established record of support for the senior citizens in the local community, and the Women’s Club wanted to ensure continued quality weekly luncheons are available to the seniors.

HAP Board President Ted Rinebarger, in accepting the check, said that HAP was grateful for the positive relationship with the TLWC.

TLWC is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization of more than 200 energetic and dedicated women.

HAP was established in 1996 as a nonprofit organization serving Monument, Palmer Lake, Woodmoor, Gleneagle, and unincorporated areas of north El Paso County. The mission of HAP is to improve the health and well-being of the Tri-Lakes community through community-based services and support.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Dec. 6: 2013 budget, includes pay raises

By Lisa Hatfield

After a year in which the fire chief quit and the police chief was laid off, and nearly all of the full-time police officers were made part-time subcontractors with a pay cut, Palmer Lake’s police and fire employees and town staff will receive a raise as part of the town’s 2013 budget, officials said at the Dec. 6 Palmer Lake Town Council combined meeting and workshop.

Palmer Lake officials continued to wrestle with the complexities of a budget that operates dangerously close to break-even at the meeting, which attracted about 25 local residents. For 2013, "If we spend every dime on the bottom line (including the reserve funds), the state is going to come in, and you’re going to be unincorporated El Paso County, because we will be bankrupt," said Town Clerk Tara Berreth after noting that property tax revenues would drop about $106,000 for 2013.

The town still has 24-hour-a-day police coverage, however, and the Fire Department hopes to hire a new chief in January.

The trustees unanimously approved the budget for the Water Department, which is an enterprise fund. The 2013 water budget includes increases in the base rate and in three tiers for water use. The use rate increases were not included as additional projected revenue in the budget, but customers’ total average payments for water will rise due to the higher rates and continued high water use during the ongoing drought .

The total projected water enterprise fund revenues and expenses for 2013 are both $990,000.

The trustees approved the remainder of the 2013 town budget by a vote of 5-1, with Roads Trustee Jeff Davis opposed. Residents and trustees asked questions about the bottom line and having to vote on this version of the budget that trustees and audience members hadn’t seen until the meeting. The new budget had to include the emergency reserve funds, which made it initially appear to be 40 percent higher than last year’s, but the operating budget is about $90,000 (7 percent) higher than 2012’s. Davis said, "I don’t know enough (about it) to approve it."

The 2013 Palmer Lake town budget summary:

    • $1.38 million - 2012 estimated total general fund revenue*

    • $1.20 million - 2012 estimated total general fund expenses*

    • $1.83 million - 2013 total projected revenues (including emergency reserve funds)

    • $1.83 million - 2013 expenses (the actual operating budget does not include emergency reserves but the operating budget was not a line item in the budget presented)

    • $642,000 - 2012 estimated actual general fund ending balance*

    • $642,000 - 2013 budgeted beginning total general fund balance*

    * Calculated totals - no estimated values were listed, presented, discussed, or approved for these specific line items

Trustees approve water budget and rates for 2013

Town Accountant Linda Ousnamer said, "We broke it into two budgets to be approved, since the water budget is an enterprise fund and has to be separate." It is no longer possible for town departments to borrow from each other’s fund balances as they have in the past.

Resident Christe Ramshur asked about the increase in the 2013 water budget. "Is it because of the water rates increase?" Berreth disagreed, saying they’ve sold more water in 11 months of 2012 than in all of 2011. "This $819,000 revenue projected (about 30 percent higher than 2012) is off the current rate as we have it now…. This (2013 budget) doesn’t reflect the rate increase…. People are not cutting back. They are watering to keep things alive," Berreth said.

Resident Carolyn Bresnahan asked, "But if we’re all encouraging everyone to conserve water … then you’re not going to be able to count on that money." "Right," said Berreth. "It’s the best educated guess we can do."

Higher water base rates and tiered use rates will begin in January, with the extra hoped-for revenue going for improvements to "infrastructure and capital improvement, electricity, chemicals, testing, etc., which is increasing," Berreth said. Base rates will increase 3 percent, from $51.02 per address each month to $52.21. She said, "By ordinance, in May, we will look at this again and see where we’re at (for revenue)…. We’re not trying to get a huge surplus, but we’re just trying to see that everybody’s taken care of."

The filter plant loan payment will remain at $11.51 per month (included in base rate), "because it’s tied to the loan application by the state," Berreth said. Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster said, "Now we need to chip away at it instead of adding to it…. Everybody in town (except those with a well) are paying $11.51 each month to help pay for that loan." The monthly base rate also includes $3.59 for capital projects. (See http://www.ocn.me/v12n12.htm#pltc).

The current two-tiered water rate structure will be replaced with a three-tiered structure:

    • For the first 0-15,000 gallons, users will be charged $3.70 per 1,000 gallons.

    • At the next level, 15,001-20,000 gallons, users will be charged $6.05 per 1,000 gallons over 15,000 gallons.

    • People will be charged the most as they reach the highest tier; starting at 20,001 gallons, users will be charged $7 per 1,000 gallons over 20,000.

"Why can’t we leave the lower tier rates the same as a reward for people that aren’t using as much water?" Davis asked. Berreth said, "We wouldn’t generate (the) revenue that it’s costing us.… It’s costing (Water Supervisor) Steve (Orcutt) so much more to produce that much water" with the new filter plant. McDonald added, "And not only that, when you’re on the well, the wells are much more expensive, and if there’s not much moisture, we’re going to be using the heck out of the wells this summer."

Water Trustee Mike Maddox said, "There’s more to (the capital improvement). One 900-foot stretch of line … had no hydrants, but we’re supposed to have a hydrant every 500 feet…. It costs $2,000 each for a hydrant. It costs $32 for every foot of pipe that needs to be repaired…. In the long run it’s going to be for the benefit of citizens not to lose water into the ground (through leaks), and we’ll have a hydrant every 500 feet for the protection of the residents."

Resident Dave Bresnahan said, "Two-thirds of the pipes have been repaired, but it’s not two-thirds of the dollar outlay.… You have a third left (to replace), but those are the big dollar items. So that’s why this dramatic increase from a budget of $30,000 to a budget of $220,000."

"Correct," Berreth said, "The most costly repairs … over on Brookridge (for example) … that’s going to cost $60,000, maybe $70,000. That will eat up a lot of that $105,000 for capital improvements. Repairs are coming up here on the hill so those people won’t be out of water if those lines close up and we don’t have the money to fix it.... I don’t want to have a water truck (like Palmer Lake had in the ‘70s).… I would hate to go after another bond or mill levy … in order to fix the water lines…."

Note: This discussion was only about a list of the most corroded, aging water distribution pipes, not replacement of all town water pipes.

McDonald added, "A water person at Steve (Orcutt)’s caliber, which is the top, starts out at about $105,000. He’s nowhere near $105,000.… He got offered a good job and turned it down because he loves this town…. He’s one of the biggest blessings in this town."

Several residents and trustees wondered about the possibility of fining residents who "go way over" on their water use. Berreth said, "We can’t fine people" because town water meters can only be read monthly, and people can’t be fined without notification of their real-time water use first.

For perspective, Maddox said, "In Woodmoor, their (base) water rates doubled … went up from $50 a month to $105 a month." Berreth added, "In Falcon, I pay $89 before I get any water."

The trustees approved the 2013 water enterprise budget unanimously.

Trustees approve 2013 town budget

Resident Dave Bresnahan had many questions. "For 2013 the overall revenue is projected to increase by 40 percent over the 2012 budget? What happens if the projected increase doesn’t materialize? We can’t spend what we don’t have," he said. After some discussion, Berreth noted that audience members were looking at several different versions of the budget and said, "That one’s not valid…. Today we changed the budget five times."

Bresnahan replied, "It’s hard to be cogent with public comments when you don’t get the correct budget until the meeting…. It’s a little frustrating." Ousnamer added, "(Some of the confusion is) because of the way we had to include the reserve funds in the budget. Hopefully they will never be spent."

McDonald asked Ousnamer to explain more about the reserve funds. Ousnamer said, "Some departments are over budget and are having to dip into their reserve funds (in 2012), and we had to put the reserve funds on this budget (for 2013)." Each department needs to stick to its budget and not use any of the reserves in the operating budgets. "The reserves should be about $670,000…. They are basically for emergencies," Ousnamer warned.

Economic Development Trustee Shana Ball asked, "Will we no longer have any reserves available for 2013 then?" Ousnamer explained that "police and fire started 2012 with a huge negative also … so they don’t have any reserves."

Davis asked, "What’s the operating budget?… If I back this out (with a calculator), I have about $1,162,000 total budget. I’m trying to get an apples-to-apples on this operating figure that doesn’t include the emergency funds. It looks like about $1,062,000 last year…. So we’re looking at an increase of less than $100,000." Berreth said, "Yes, it’s an increase of about $90,000."

Davis said, "It’s really hard to give this a good review and approve it … since it’s different than what was presented last month." Berreth explained that the El Paso County assessor amounts updated this week were $106,000 lower than what they were at the end of September when the first budget draft was made. She said, "The only mills that we are bringing in is $459,000…. The only thing that changed (this week) is I gave more money out of my (general) budget out to fire and police to make you guys have more revenue."

McDonald said, "This is why you have an outside accountant…. For years everything was done in the office, and there was no double-checking of what’s going on." Berreth said, "The budget has to be done and in to the county by Dec. 15…. or we’ll get no property tax money."

Dave Bresnahan also asked about the large increase in overall salaries and wages when there was a $40,000 reduction in full-time salaries. "But the police chief salary went away, so somewhere there’s more money going out for salaries and wages?" Ball said, "That’s money we took away from what we were paying the police chief and is now being … rolled into the part-time officers getting a pay increase."

McDonald said, "People did get raises this year." Berreth added, "The staff got $2 an hour, police got $3, fire got $3.... We haven’t had a raise increase in five years." Police Trustee Bob Grado explained, "We did a complete re-org… now we have one full-time employee on the police department, and everybody else are part-time…. We have police officers working for $13 an hour and they have to maintain certification and risk their life every day." Part-time police officers will earn $16 an hour in 2013, and the town still has 24-hour police coverage by state certified officers. Grado said, "We’re as lean as we can be…. The police department has taken some shots this year. It’s unbelievable that we even have officers willing to work here at this point."

McDonald said, "This girl (Berreth) is getting herself so educated (on budgets)…. She’s been gone a lot, and it’s because she’s been going to school…. There’s things we’ve been doing so wrong…. She’s put her heart and soul into this."

Berreth told the trustees, "You need to stay within your budget. If you can’t make it within that budget, then we have another problem. I can’t share (general fund) money with you. Now if revenue doesn’t come in, that’s a different ball of wax." Ousnamer added, "Or if the expenses go up because the government decides payroll taxes are going to go up…. We won’t know that…."

The trustees approved the 2013 town budget by a vote of 5-1, with Davis opposed.

Business licenses approved

The council unanimously approved two business licenses:

    • D’Amado Leather, at 78 S. Highway 105, co-owned by Amado and Deborah Almada, will make custom-made leather motorcycle accessories such as saddlebags and chaps. It will soon have a small storefront sign and a parking area inside the gate.

    • JA Girlando Financial Planning LLC, at 401 Durango Way, is owned by former Palmer Lake Water Trustee Jim Girlando, a certified financial planner. He will operate out of his home with no storefront.

Committee reports

McDonald presented Rock House owner Jeannine Engel with a gift of appreciation for her work organizing the Chili Supper. Engel said, "This is my hometown, and the traditions need to be carried on. It makes it special for all of us."

Grado explained that Police Chief Kieth Moreland’s contract had not been renewed as a cost-saving measure. Grado introduced Jason Vanderpool, the acting administrator/lieutenant during the 90-day moratorium starting Dec. 6, Moreland’s last day of work. Vanderpool worked for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office for 13 years and has been with the Palmer Lake Police Department for two years, so "he is very familiar with the town…. He’s experienced and well-liked in the community and lives up here in our neck of the woods," Grado said. "I will do whatever I can to make sure it works," Vanderpool said.

Water Trustee Maddox said the town used 4,214,000 gallons in November, with 157,000 gallons for single-day high. "This is the same as last year, which means we’re not conserving. We need to take measures to conserve water," Maddox said. He recommended residents look at the town website (see http://www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.php/departments.html) for ideas on conserving water.

Maddox explained the need for a lot of water infrastructure repairs in the town. "In the long run, it’s more efficient to replace instead of repair," he said, since many pipes are 70 to 80 years old and leaking. "Leaks lose a valuable commodity to the ground. Water for bathing, drinking, and cleaning … not filling the lake."

Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster said there had been 27 calls in November and 358 for the year so far, totaling 27,723 volunteer firefighter hours. Zach Hier and Matt Gladin were elected as new lieutenants. The Chili Supper had 612 attendees, and Kuehster thanked the Restaurant Association, the town office, and those who ran the hayrides. Engine 2015 had maintenance done and is "ready to go." Kuehster said there will be a fire station maintenance day in April, and they will be looking for volunteers to paint and repair stucco on the building.

The meeting adjourned at 7:55 p.m.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 10 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953, then press 0.

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

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El Paso County Board of County Commissioners, Dec. 20: County delays decision on hazardous intersection

By Bernard L. Minetti and Jim Kendrick

The problem of a wall causing dangerous sight visibility problems for drivers at the entrance of Brookmoor Estates landed before the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) at its Dec. 20 meeting. The purpose was to authorize the county attorney’s office to pursue litigation against Brookmoor’s homeowner’s association in order to bring the property where the wall is located into compliance with countywide planned urban development (PUD) zoning restrictions. After a lengthy discussion, a motion was made to address the issue again on Feb. 19.

The hazardous intersection, Moveen Heights at Lake Woodmoor Drive, came to the forefront in the summer after an investigation into the opening of the subdivision’s back gate—originally reserved for emergency vehicle use—to general residential use. Residents told the BOCC in August that the back gate needed to be open because of the unsafe sight visibility problems at that intersection.

The wall was built in 2005 by developer Michael Brennan, who sits on Brookmoor’s homeowners association (HOA) board and who owns several lots in Brookmoor through Mountain Desert Investments LLC. The wall belongs to the Brookmoor HOA but sits on land owned by individual property owners. County Commissioner Darryl Glenn was the first to discover that the wall, built on the north side of the community, was constructed without amendment of the Brookmoor final PUD site plan. At that point, El Paso County Code Enforcement Officer Gayle Jackson issued the notice of violation against the HOA. At the Dec. 20 meeting, Mark Gebhart, deputy director of the Development Services Department, was seeking to pursue litigation by the County Attorney’s Office to bring the property into compliance.

The wall extends east and west of the main entry/exit gate that accesses the Woodmoor-based community. Because of its position and construction, it blocks a large part of the sight visibility of vehicles exiting from Moveen Heights onto Lake Woodmoor Drive. It also limits vehicles on Lake Woodmoor Drive from having a clear view of those vehicles exiting Brookmoor.

Gebhart said the original approval of the property—which occurred in 1995—contained "an iron wall, not really a wall, one that you could see through." In 1998, that was changed by an administratively approved minor site plan amendment to be a split-rail fence with some berms. But in 2005, Brennan constructed a more substantial stucco and masonry wall without informing the county or seeking county approval.

Gebhart stated that Brennan hired an engineering firm after the previous BOCC hearing on Aug. 9. Consultant traffic engineer Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants prepared a separate sight distance analysis at the request of the county, and the county Department of Transportation and the county engineer reviewed it.

Gebhart said, "Comments were provided to Hodsdon by the county engineering staff, but they have not yet been responded to by the applicant or the firm’s engineer." He advised the BOCC that this violation was viewed as a safety item and suggested there might be other methods of correcting the problem, including the moving of Lake Woodmoor Drive, to solve the sight distance problem.

Commissioner Sallie Clark asked Gebhart whether the company that constructed the wall was aware of the issues concerning the wall setback. Gebhart responded that to his knowledge, the wall received no county approval. So the issue was not a setback issue or a zoning issue but was still not in compliance with the Brookmoor PUD site plan requirement for a split-rail fence.

Gebhart said one solution might be a "modification of the road to eliminate the sight distance problem," but he asked who would pay for that.

Commissioner Amy Latham asked if Gebhart had any accident data for that intersection; he said he did not. But he said that people drive too fast, which adds to the hazards, and that many residents of the Brookmoor Estates community are seniors, and "their reaction time isn’t as quick." Latham asked if anybody had heard of the term "roundabout." Laughter ensued in the chambers, and she dropped the issue.

Developer Brennan said he had hired a transportation consultant company to do an analysis at the intersection. The resulting document was delivered to the county Engineering Department 30 days later, he said, noting that he had received no communication from the department. He said he had first learned about the county’s problem with the analysis he submitted by reading about it in articles in the October and November issues of Our Community News. He stated that he had talked with Max Rothschild, director of Development for the county, and told Rothschild, "I was pretty disappointed with the communications process because I was never even clued in that the analysis did not meet the requirement."

Brennan said that his company’s analysis indicated about 15 feet of wall to the east and 30 to 40 feet to the west would be affected, while the documents Gebhart provided indicated that 150 feet of wall would be affected. The focus of the discussion was directed at justifying the movement of the roadbed to solve the visibility problem. Brennan was opposed to moving the wall to a different location on the private property of the affected landowners due to the impact of lost existing private landscaping.

Brennan said, "I’ll be first to man-up that I built the wall and I’ll take responsibility for it … (A)t the same time when the development plan was approved and Lake Woodmoor Drive was approved to be realigned with the south pavement edge against that property, that was a complete mistake, in my opinion."

Clark asked Brennan what it would cost to move the wall. He estimated it would cost about $75,000 to meet county criteria. He added that if the road was moved to the north, "kinda the way the road wants to go … it helps us with our sight visibility."

Glenn then asked Brennan what his recommendation would be to correct the problem. Brennan said, "We are working on some kind of remedy to this." He added that the movement of the roadbed, putting cost aside, is the right thing to do. Glenn asked Brennan if he expected the county to pick up that cost or cost share. Brennan responded that that hadn’t been figured out yet.

Latham then discussed the issue of property rights and suggested that a three-way stop might be "appropriate." She also suggested that the movement of the roadbed to the north seems "very, very logical." She concluded that she would like to hear from the county attorney because this gives her a "great deal of discomfort in terms of private property."

Latham added that, in her opinion, the wall could easily be removed by the HOA because it is an HOA asset. She described a scenario that would allow the "homeowner" to rebuild the wall without county approval since it is less than 6 feet tall. The rebuilt wall would still have to be in compliance with the sight distance criteria.

Commissioner Dennis Hisey reminded others that the wall was not constructed in accordance with what had been approved and that if the previously approved split-rail wall had been built, the sight distance issues would not be a problem. He said, "We have a wall that was constructed contrary to (planned development) approval." He acknowledged the effect that taking down the wall would have on private property and said that in his experience, commissioners have never required someone to take down landscaping even though it created some safety issues.

County Engineer André Brackin said he had not heard of any accidents at this intersection, but he felt that it was the cause of a lot of anxiety for residents. He said that even though the analysis utilized different criteria, it came up with the same conclusion, which was to remove the obstruction (the wall). He said that for corrective action, there are only two things that can be done: Move the road or remove the wall. "I’d very much like to see Lake Woodmoor Drive moved," he said, "but the costs would be an order of magnitude higher."

Brackin said he first got involved in this issue after neighbors in the adjacent subdivision complained that construction traffic was using the emergency gate on the east side of Brookmoor Estates. He said he received calls from Brookmoor residents complaining that the sight problems were forcing them to use the emergency access gate rather than the controversial intersection. Brackin said that some corrective action should be taken because the county did not get the right-of-way needed for Lake Woodmoor Drive. He would like to see the road realigned but said the cost would be a "magnitude higher" than the cost of removing this wall.

Latham suggested adding speed bumps to Lake Woodmoor Drive, but Brackin did not see that as a solution because he didn’t think speed bumps slow drivers. Commissioner Peggy Littleton suggested that the wall be lowered to 2 or 3 feet to improve the sight visibility. Brackin responded by saying that anything other than the originally approved split-rail fence would be in violation.

Responding to Glenn’s question about who would pay for a remedy, Brackin said he expected the developer to pay for most of it and that it’s something that needs to be discussed. He said that he could see some minor cost participation by the county but that he certainly did not see "Road and Bridge" shouldering the cost. Glenn said he would like to see the cost comparison between moving the wall or moving the road. He also wanted a timeline for this issue. Latham ordered a break to obtain the timeline information.

After the break, Brackin indicated that the timeline issue had not been resolved and that he had explained to Brennan the criteria that needed to be met. He said that Brennan would need 30 days to acquire that information. Brackin then indicated that with the extra time, he would have a set of numbers to compare the road solution to the wall solution. Brennan said that he would pay for the analysis but did not state that he would pay for the corrective action. Jeff Zeikus, president of the Brookmoor HOA, said at a special meeting in September that Brennan had agreed to pay for all expenses for this corrective action. (www.ocn.me/v12n10.htm#brookmoor)

During the process of setting a date for the continuance, Commissioner Hisey stated, "I am real reluctant to spend taxpayer dollars to support a private property issue." Glenn requested that Developmental Services and Brennan put together some sort of news release so that the people interested in this situation are informed of the progress.

Brackin then brought up the emergency access gate violation. Glenn said that he would not support the use of an emergency access gate as a "free-flowing intersection." Gebhart said that a demand letter had been sent to the HOA that the emergency lock-only access be implemented by Dec. 10, but that had not been done by Dec. 11. He said the county attorney has been advised and that they are prepared to go forward with legal action after the first of the year.

Brackin also noted that Brennan stated that he would resolve that issue before the first of the year. He asked the developer to notify him in writing when it is completed, at which time the Fire Department and Brackin’s department would inspect and verify that it was done.

It should be noted that in October, Our Community News asked Glenn about who would be liable if an automobile accident occurred due to the sight visibility problem. He referred OCN to Amy Folsom of the County Attorney’s Office. To date, no answer to this question has been received. This reporter is a resident of Brookmoor Estates.

To hear the complete audio and read written minutes of the BOCC’s meeting, visit http://bcc2.elpasoco.com/bocc/agenda.asp.

Bernard Minetti may be contacted at bernardminetti@ocn.me, and Jim Kendrick at jimkendrick@ocn.me.

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Lewis-Palmer School District Board of Education, Dec. 20: In wake of Connecticut shootings, board approves formation of safety council

By Harriet Halbig

In response to public concern about school safety following a school shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, Superintendent John Borman reported to the board Dec. 20 that plans were underway to form a Safety and Security Advisory Council for the district.

Borman said that the district had taken an extensive look at its crisis plan over the last few years. The most recent plan included providing a crisis binder at each location with detailed floor plans of the building and evacuation plans for all students and for the My Place daycare locations.

Members of the food services and facilities departments were active in formulating the crisis plan. Parent notification systems were also developed. A representative of the district’s insurance carrier said at the time that it was the best plan they had seen.

Borman said that he met with Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman and the district’s school resource officer (a sheriff’s deputy assigned to the district) to determine how to refine and fortify the current plan.

Community leaders with skills in certain areas would be recruited and charged by the superintendent to make a new threat assessment, review staff training and drills, and review the need for additional security systems.

The council will consist of one board member, the school resource officer, Wangeman, and 10 to 15 citizens. The citizens should have expertise in certain fields such as:

    • Electronic security systems

    • Building contracting

    • Government security

    • Building security

    • Law enforcement

The council will meet each month and members will serve a term of three years. Members will be given detailed tours of all schools and shown the current materials before beginning their task.

Borman said that applications for the council were being prepared and would be due by Jan. 23.

He said that the district is starting from a strong position but needs ongoing vigilance.

Wangeman commented that there are already crisis teams in place and several safety committees. She said that the grounds and buildings are checked every day before opening.

Board President Jeff Ferguson praised Borman for being proactive on this subject. He nominated board Vice President Mark Pfoff to serve as the board member on the council due to his law enforcement background.

Pfoff said that the passage of ballot initiative 1A, providing additional funding to the Sheriff’s Office, should aid in developing a more aggressive security plan. Presently the district pays about $85,000 annually for the resource officer, his vehicle, training, and equipment. The new initiative would allow the Sheriff’s Office to cover this expense. He said that the school resource officer for the district is a very valuable individual because he interacts with students every day and is in a position to notice developing problems before they reach a tipping point.

Pfoff said that he thought it would be ideal to have a school resource officer in each high school. He also said that one of the most shocking aspects of the Connecticut shooting was that it happened in an elementary school.

The board passed a motion to approve the formation of a Safety and Security Advisory Council.

Superintendent’s update

Borman expressed pride in the district’s excellence in many areas including sports, the arts, and academic achievement.

He said that the district’s finance team and grant writers are invaluable in supporting the district’s activities and achievements. An example is the grant for $50,000 that allowed the district to install GPS tracking devices in all buses. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) gave the district a BEST grant of $40,000 to help pay for a new roof at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. The CDE also praised Wangeman for how well the district’s finances are organized and reported on.

Borman noted that a Prairie Winds kindergarten teacher got a grant for a presentation on the effects of trauma on developing brains. The preschool at Bear Creek Elementary has recently received national accreditation for its program.

End of year reflections

Ferguson commented on the continuing high performance of the district in terms of being accredited with distinction for three years in a row, having a number of schools designated as Irwin Schools of Excellence, and continuing success in sports on the state level.

He also acknowledged the activities of teaching and support staffs in support of the district and the community during the Waldo Canyon Fire emergency. Staff members worked many long hours in moving materials and school buses away from the administration building across the highway to Bear Creek Elementary and Palmer Ridge High School. The Red Cross Shelter at Lewis-Palmer High School was highly acclaimed by Red Cross and FEMA personnel.

Certificates of appreciation will be prepared for over 100 individuals from the district to honor their efforts.

Other items

The board voted to approve the recently reviewed audit report and instructed Wangeman to forward the report to the state.

The board voted to approve changes in the high school social studies curriculum. These changes were explained by Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton at the board’s November meeting. The changes were necessitated by the fact that the state will begin assisting achievement in economics, civics, geography, and world history in 2014.

The board approved the proposed district calendar for 2013-14. Two changes in this calendar are the elimination of days off during March outside of the spring break period and the addition of a day in December for making up exams. This day was added in the event of loss of class time due to bad weather during finals week. The day is a teacher work day.

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported on the district’s communications plan in preparation for a mill levy override ballot initiative in 2013. Charts have been prepared to compare Lewis-Palmer to several other districts in the area. These charts are being supplied to real estate and other professionals and are available on the district’s website.

Volunteers have been recruited among parents, staff, and others to present the district’s story to the public. Training will be provided in January for these individuals to speak on the district’s behalf. Borman said that about 150 influential community members have been identified.

Wangeman made a brief presentation on the state budget for 2013-14. It appears that the funding per pupil for that year will increase by $170. While the state may receive additional federal funds during 2013-14, it is unknown whether each district may determine its application or whether the state may require that they be used in specific ways. Wangeman reminded the board that despite increases in funding, spending for the Public Employees Retirement Administration will continue to increase by $250,000 per year and the cost of utilities and insurance will continue to increase.

Wangeman also said that the state officials are considering implementing a second student count in February. She said that the district has gained 24 students since Oct. 1 and will welcome an additional 40 or more in January. A second count would benefit the district’s state funding.

The board enjoyed a presentation by the Sound Beariers, a choral group from Bear Creek Elementary School conducted by Ali Pulford. The students sang four seasonal songs. Principal Peggy Parsley thanked the board for its support of the arts in the district’s schools.

The Palmer Ridge High School soccer and field hockey teams and the Lewis-Palmer High School volleyball team were recognized for reaching the state finals this season. The team coaches and captains were present. The Palmer Ridge soccer coach introduced the senior members of his team.

Shane Rice, a 12th-grade student, presented Borman with a copy of his newly published book Sinner, a fantasy about a half dragon/half elf. The book was co-authored by Char Marie Alder and is available at the Covered Treasures Book Store.

The board passed a motion to accept a number of routine items regarding minutes of past meetings, hiring and retirements, contracts, 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 held on Jan.17.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Dec. 11: Committee hears about Bear Creek Elementary, plans for mill levy override

By Harriet Halbig

On Dec. 11, Bear Creek Elementary Principal Peggy Parsley guided members of the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) on a tour of her facility and explained its characteristics and goals.

Superintendent John Borman said that the district is developing a vigorous public education program in advance of a mill levy override (MLO) ballot issue in 2013. It will request the maximum of $4.5 million, which would cost the owner of a $300,000 home $346.50 extra per year. He said that the funds from the MLO would enable the district to make a number of improvements:

    • Better pay for teachers and more teachers so that class size can decrease

    • Continued advanced learning opportunities

    • Support for struggling students

    • Purchase and maintenance of technology

    • Support for traditional and charter schools

    • Resumption of capital maintenance

    • Guarantee of safe transportation

In January, the district will begin training individuals to speak to the public about the district and its needs to promote the MLO. The wording of the ballot issue will include specific uses for the funds.

An overview of Bear Creek Elementary

Bear Creek Elementary was created when the district merged the two previous middle schools (Creekside and Lewis-Palmer) into one. The core population of Bear Creek Elementary had been in the Grace Best building until that time. It was decided that since the population of younger students was growing in the Jackson Creek area, it would be appropriate to put the Creekside building to use as an elementary school. The new name is a combination of Creek from Creekside and the Bears, the mascot of Grace Best.

The school currently has 792 students with four sections in each grade. There are two full-day kindergarten classes and preschool, and before-after school care. National accreditation is being sought for the preschool.

Parsley said that there are several requirements that must be met for the preschool to receive accreditation. Each classroom must have an exit onto a fenced playground, a specific amount of the floor must be carpeted and a specific amount must be tiled, and the class size is restricted. In addition, under lockdowns, the preschool room must be used for shelter.

The gifted education population is 6.82 percent of the school, the special education population is 7.45 percent, and the school has the largest English Language Learner (ELL) population in the district.

The free/reduced-price lunch population is currently 13.01 percent of the school, qualifying BCES for Title I funding. Enrichment activities include the Landsharks running club, a popular before-school choir program, and music instruction on keyboards and strings (cello, viola, and violin).

Parsley said that the Kiwanis K Kids program, rentals and volunteers from the Forest Ridge Community Church, an active parent-teacher organization, the Adopt a Class program, and donations of iPads and smart boards by Neumann Systems enable the school to do more with less.

Due to its former life as a middle school, the building is divided into pods with four classrooms and a central office in each. The central office is now used for ELL and special education activities.

Parsley said that the theme of the school is "Character Counts" and that such programs as Every Child a Writer and Every Child a Reader are used extensively over all grade levels. Regarding the school’s academic performance, the major weakness is math for those with disabilities.

Parsley said that the major challenges the school faces are reduction in bus service (reduced from eight to five buses), increased class sizes, growing special-needs populations with no added support, and the need to do more with fewer resources.

Superintendent’s report

Other than the plan for an MLO, Borman reported on accomplishments and plans for the district. He said that while he is very proud of the district’s three years of accreditation with distinction, three years on the AP Honor Roll recognizing a growing Advance Placement Program, and receipt of the John Irwin School of Excellence Award for six district schools, he is concerned that it cannot sustain such success without finding a new source of funding.

Borman said that the district budget is now more than $10 million less than it was four years ago, and many of the cuts involved intervention programs for those struggling with reading and math. In addition, the district no longer has a curriculum director.

He said that there is an unfortunate public perception that the administration is top heavy despite the fact that the number of administrative positions has been decreased from 17.5 to five. There is also a public perception that mistakes made several years ago regarding the buyout of a superintendent’s contract and rumors of the use of public domain to acquire land for Palmer Ridge High School occurred much more recently. As a consequence, public confidence in the system has eroded, he said.

Borman pointed out that in addition to the budget cuts, expenses have increased in several areas, including utilities, support for the Public Employee Retirement Administration (PERA), and as a result of past declining enrollment.

With this in mind, the district has increased fees for transportation, sports, and other activities and slashed its capital maintenance expenditures. This year is the first since 2008 that employees have received a pay increase and the first since then that the district has purchased a new bus. Funding for technology has been increased due to the age of much of the district’s equipment and the fact that technology is vital to retain a high-performance district.

Borman said that the budget looks stable for 2013. The district may receive funding to support growth for the first time in many years. In the past, if the enrollment increased, the result was fewer dollars per student. This year, funding will increase with the population.

The state has also received $30 million from the Race to the Top program, but it is unknown how much the district will benefit.

Unified Improvement Plan introduced

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton gave a brief introduction to the Unified Improvement Plan (formerly School Improvement Plan) process. Members of DAAC will receive presentations from each school on its plan before the end of the school year.

The new ratings are "did not meet," "in progress," "meet," and "exceed." Everything in the "did not meet" category must be addressed with a plan for improvement.

The district has received a waiver from the advanced yearly progress form of determining success. Instead it will measure growth. Each school must show last year’s targets and explain why they were or were not met. In addition, root causes of problems must be specified.

The school must then include a data narrative and set targets that can be evaluated on an interim basis before the following school year.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. Due to the holiday break, the next meeting will be held on Jan. 15 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Special Education Advisory Committee, Dec. 12: Changes to transition process suggested

By Harriet Halbig

The Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) for Lewis-Palmer School District 38 discussed ideas for improving the transition process during its Dec. 12 meeting.

During past meetings, SEAC members expressed dismay that the transition process between grade levels and between elementary-middle-high school is not consistent among schools in the district. It was hoped that the group could arrive at a set of suggestions that could be presented to the administration in hopes of improving the situation.

Among the suggestions presented after discussion were:

    • Students should meet their teacher for the following year during their spring Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting.

    • A general education teacher from the next grade level should be present at a student’s spring IEP meeting.

    • Students who respond negatively to confusion should be offered the opportunity to start school a few days after the beginning of classes in the fall.

    • Younger students should have someone to greet them on arrival in a new situation.

    • Teachers should read IEPs and classroom summaries before meeting new students. Classroom summaries include information on goals and modifications for the individual.

    • General education teachers should be encouraged to have weekly meetings with parents to discuss concerns and progress.

    • Efforts should be made to develop an orientation program to introduce parents to the special education program and the IEP process. This should include an explanation of the terminology used in meetings. Michelle Nay, the district’s parent liaison for the special education program, suggested that she be provided with names and contact information for newly identified students in the program.

    • Parents should be provided with quantifiable data at the beginning and throughout the school year. Confusion arises when students are given different tests from year to year.

    • All students should be introduced to the principal of their school.

    • Students should be offered the opportunity to meet students who are a year ahead to learn about organizing themselves and time.

    • Soon after a transition there should be a follow-up meeting to determine its success.

Director’s report

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury said that the district has completed its audit with the Colorado Department of Education and has been judged compliant in most categories.

The district had previously been determined to have a disproportionate representation of students in the special education program due to their race and ethnicity. This situation has been corrected and continues to be monitored.

Other past weaknesses have been the timeliness of submitting data to the state and insufficient notice of IEP meetings. The department continues to work on these issues.

Fleury also explained the process through which special education students entering high school begin a process of working toward personal goals in their adult lives. The program develops a list of these goals that is updated annually and a list of means by which the goals may be reached through age-appropriate means. The district is tasked with determining the needs and desires of the students and monitoring their progress through high school and the transition program that takes them to age 21.

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The Special Education Advisory Committee meets at 6:30 on the second Wednesday of the month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Due to the winter break, the committee will meet on Jan. 16.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 6: New 2013 rates and budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 6, the Donala Water and Sanitation District board unanimously approved resolutions for the new 2013 rate structure, 2013 district budget, 2013 appropriation, and 2013 mill levy certification. The board approved a contract with real estate agent Thomas Driemeyer of Keller Williams Top of the Rockies, located in Frisco, to represent the district in the sale of a portion of Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch property, which is located near Leadville.

All board members were present for the entire meeting, including all the public hearings conducted during the meeting.

New rate structure approved

Board President Bill George asked if there were any citizen comments regarding the new rate structure. There were no public comments for or against the rate increases.

These new rates were discussed at length by District Manager Dana Duthie at the Sept. 20 board meeting. The board unanimously approved the new rates without comment. For more information on how the rates were determined, see: www.ocn.me/v12n10.htm#dwsd.

A table that lists the new rates is available at: www.donalawater.org/newsletters/january-2013.html.

2013 budget and mill levies approved

George asked if there were any citizen comments regarding the 2013 budget or appropriation resolutions. There were no public comments. The board unanimously approved each resolution. Total expenditures for 2013 will be $12.6 million. Total revenues will be $17.9 million. The total appropriation was $17.9 million.

The board also unanimously approved both of the district’s current mill levies of 21.296 mills and 10.648 mills. The proceeds are used for general operating expenses. There were no public comments regarding either mill levy certification.

Willow Creek Ranch update

Duthie gave an update on negotiations with the federal Bureau of Reclamation for storage of Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch renewable water rights in the Pueblo Reservoir. He said any further delays by the Bureau of Reclamation may delay the use of any Pueblo Bureau of Water Works water in early 2013.

Duthie then gave a briefing on the reasons for putting up some of the district’s 35-acre Willow Creek Ranch for sale.

Donala purchased the ranch in 2008 for both use of its renewable water rights and to ensure unrestricted access to the new infrastructure that would be required to use these water rights. The ranch is one of five lots in the Halfmoon Acres parcel. On Nov. 15, 2011, Water Court Judge Dennis Maes signed a decree approving the district’s application to make municipal use of 280 acre-feet per year of stream flows formerly used to irrigate the Willow Creek Ranch. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. For more information see www.ocn.me/v12n1.htm#dwsd.

Duthie said his major concern is maintaining control of the water on the property for Donala’s use and preserving useable access easements for servicing the new measuring, recording, and reporting infrastructure installed throughout the property for this water supply after it is sold. There are numerous additions to the offering documents—amendments and exhibits—for Donala’s list of restrictions necessary to maintain its administrative rights. Duthie said he would meet with any prospective purchaser to personally show all the limitations being imposed face to face so Donala can maintain complete control of the ranch’s creeks.

After a lengthy technical discussion about necessary contract and access restrictions, the proposed contract with Driemeyer for sale of the 650 acres for $1.7 million was amended to add a new restriction that there would be no subdivision of any of the land to be sold by Donala.

Brown Ranch exclusion approved

The board unanimously approved an exclusion agreement for the Brown Ranch property from the district because it drains into Cherry Creek, which is part of the South Platte Basin rather than the Arkansas River Basin. This drainage condition prohibits the use of any Donala renewable water on the property. The cost of creating a separate ground water supply for this property is prohibitive. The ranch was included by Donala in early 2004 and Donala paid the owners of the Ranch, Randal Construction Inc., Randy Scholl, and Margaret E. Scholl $400,000 for all the groundwater rights for this property.

Under the agreement Donala will retain all rights to ground water in the Arapahoe aquifer underlying the Brown Ranch and the well site. The Scholls will pay Donala $150,000. Donala will convey to Randal and Margaret Scholls all rights to ground water in the Dawson, Denver, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers by warranty deed after the appropriate court actions specified in the agreement have been completed. Donala’s well site will be platted as a separate lot when the Brown Ranch is subdivided and conveyed by the Scholls to Donala by a warranty deed.

The board unanimously approved a meeting schedule public notice that calls for meetings on the third Thursday of the month in the district conference room starting at 1:30 p.m. There were the usual two exceptions: the meeting in November is cancelled and the December meeting will be held on Dec. 5, the first Thursday. For more information see www.donalawater.org/news-events/board-meeting-schedule.html.

The meeting went into executive session for a discussion of negotiating strategies and personnel issues at 3:04 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. Information: 488-3603.

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

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Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, Dec. 11: 2013 budget approved, including master plan study

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 11, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) unanimously ratified the final 2013 facility budget and appropriation that include a 10-year master plan study and a new storage facility. There were no public comments regarding either ratification. Burks distributed the final 2013 budget to all district board members and staff members.

For more information on how the facility will respond to and finance new monitoring and regulatory requirements imposed by the state and the EPA, see http://www.ocn.me/v12n12.htm#juc.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards:

    • President Jim Whitelaw, Woodmoor

    • Vice President Dale Smith, Palmer Lake

    • Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Robinove, Monument

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

At the start of the meeting, Whitelaw asked for a round of applause for Facility Manager Bill Burks for the "great banquet" he organized for the required annual JUC meeting held at the Villa Restaurant in Palmer Lake on Dec. 6. Whitelaw also stated that Burks’ presentation on plant operations and the actions he and the staff took in 2012 was excellent.

Financial report

Burks noted that the prepayment for annual property insurance to the Colorado Special Districts Property and Liability Pool for the coming year was $20,770. The amount increased about $4,000 because coverage now provides for replacement costs rather than the current depreciated value. The financial report was unanimously accepted as presented.

District managers’ reports

Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that the district board had approved a fee increase during the Nov. 15 board meeting. The residential customer fee will increase from $25 to $30 on April 1, 2013. Commercial customers will pay the same increased monthly use fee of $30 for the first 5,000 gallons of water used, starting on April 1. The commercial rate charged by the district for each additional 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons used will also rise on April 1 from $4.50 to $4.80 per 1,000 gallons.

Palmer Lake District Manager Becky Orcutt reported that her board would finalize the district’s 2013 budget on the evening of Dec. 11. There will be no fee increase in the new budget.

Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette said there had been no issues at Woodmoor in the past month.

Plant manager’s report

Burks reported that the plant had operated smoothly and efficiently in October. Burks then reviewed each line of the October Discharge Monitoring Report.

For ammonia, the daily average was 0.5 milligrams per liter (mg/l), or parts per million, and the daily maximum was 0.8 mg/l. There is no permit limit for ammonia yet, just a reporting requirement. For total nitrate, the daily maximum was 6.1 mg/l, much less than the permit limit of 23 mg/l. For total inorganic nitrate, the daily maximum was 6.4 mg/l; the permit limit is 23 mg/l. For potentially dissolved copper, the daily average was 8.0 micrograms per liter (µg/l), or parts per billion; the permit limit is 24.8 µg/l.

The wastewater flow through the plant averaged 1.01 million gallons per day (MGD) with a peak flow of 1.14 MGD. The plant is rated at 4.2 MGD. Removal of wastes and total suspended solids both exceeded 99 percent; the permit limit is 85 percent.

Burks noted that Monument had a high concentration of sand in its wastewater one day. Wicklund said the amount of sand was higher than any residential customer could produce. He checked with the car washes to determine if there was an oil-sand separator problem. He also checked with the Town of Monument staff to determine if a backwash cycle at any of their water treatment plants sand filters had resulted in an excess discharge. The cause of the slug of sand could not be determined and had not occurred again since this incident. Monument’s sludge production and direct sludge removal costs for the month were higher than average as a result. Sand cannot be treated by any wastewater treatment process, only removed.

Gillette discussed methods of inspecting sand filters in drinking water treatment plants and radium issues that Monument should be aware of as a result of the town’s well 6 excess radium readings, which was reported at the Monument Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 3. The town has shut down well 6, which can only produce 20 gallons per minute. This water was well diluted by blending with water from other wells in the town’s distribution system.

Monitoring report

There was a lengthy technical discussion of regional and local area plans to comply with new state Monument Creek monitoring requirements that begin March 1 and preparations for tighter limits on total phosphates in Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility effluent contained in the new state Control Regulation 85. Burks has received official notification from the state Health Department of the Regulation 85 requirement to begin nutrient monitoring above and below the facility’s effluent discharge to Monument Creek.

Burks said he will coordinate with Mike Poeckes, facility manager for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, to conduct stream sampling at the same time each month to minimize expense and ensure consistent readings. The Tri-Lakes downstream monitoring point is the same as the Upper Monument upstream monitoring point: where Monument Creek crosses Baptist Road. There was consensus on how to use existing Monument Creek monitoring station data to minimize costs while accounting for tributary contributions from Crystal Creek, Dirty Woman Creek, No Name Creek, and other non-point sources of stream flow.

If the data collected over the next five years show very low concentrations of nutrients, metals, arsenic, and selenium during dry and wet seasons, the monitoring requirement and resulting expenses may be eliminated. Numerous statewide and local work groups are meeting on a monthly basis to develop procedures that will meet the general requirements being imposed by the state Health Department and EPA.

Burks noted that the Tri-Lakes and Upper Monument staffs would be sharing the data collected by engineering and biological consultants, as well as the related consultant costs, for the Biotic Ligand Model Study of the effects of in-stream copper concentrations on Monument Creek aquatic life.

Burks also provided copies of the Oct. 18 cover letter and formal Notice of Intent document that he had sent to EPA Region VIII in Denver to renew the Tri-Lakes facility’s five-year biosolids permit for removing sludge and hauling it away for direct land application to area farms.

Burks stated that Tri-Lakes would join with several other local governments to form a larger group of employees to reduce the cost of employee health insurance. He noted that the Tri-Lakes facility attorney, Mike Cuculla, had reviewed and approved the health insurance intergovernmental agreement documentation. The participants in the health insurance intergovernmental agreement with new provider Kaiser Permanente are:

    • Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility

    • Town of Monument

    • Triview Metropolitan District

    • Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District

    • Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District

    • Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District

    • Town of Palmer Lake

Gillette stated that there would be a 4 percent savings for Woodmoor from the rates charged to this group by the former provider, Aetna.

The meeting adjourned at 11:04 a.m.

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

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, Dec. 11: 2013 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 11, the Triview Metropolitan District Board unanimously approved the final budget, appropriation, and mill levy certification for 2013. The revenue from the 35.0 mill levy for general obligation debt retirement expenses is expected to be $1.97 million. The total budgeted revenue is $4.08 million. The total budgeted expense is $3.93 million, plus $281,590 for transfers to other funds. The budgeted 2013 beginning fund balance is $10.3 million, and the ending balance is expected to be $10.2 million.

The single resolution for the budget and appropriations states that the appropriated amounts equal the budgeted amounts for each of the 2013 budget’s funds.

Secretary/Treasurer Bob Eskridge chaired the meeting in the absence of President Robert Fisher. Director Tom Harder was also absent. Directors Steve Cox and Steve Hurd were present.

The board unanimously approved the consent agenda at the start of the meeting. The items not discussed by the board before blanket approval were:

    • Nov. 13 Triview board meeting minutes

    • Approval of a letter designating new consultant Triview treasurer Cathy Fromm, of Community Resources Services of Colorado LLC, as Triview’s administrator for the VALIC retirement plan

    • The operations report on completed items

    • The manager’s report on completed items

There were no public comments.

Financial report

Fromm reviewed the October financial report as her first quarterly financial report, as this was the last meeting of the fourth quarter and the year. Revenues were slightly more than budgeted and expenses slightly less. All the 2013 debt service had been paid.

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

    • $5,642 to Lytle Water Solutions LLC for a LIRF (lawn irrigation return flows) analysis

    • $46,379 to Seal Coat Specialties Inc. for milling, patching, and other asphalt repairs

    • $7,184 to PSF Company LLC for the final payment for gutter and sidewalk concrete replacement and repairs

    • $9,125 to Merrick & Co. for booster pump design engineering

    • $6,390 to Felt, Monson & Culichia LLC for legal fees

Proposal for Sanctuary Pointe water service

Shannon Saramaa, a professional engineer of JDS-Hydro Consultants Inc., formally presented a scope of services proposal document to the board for engineering design for a new 1 million gallon water tank, associated transmission lines to and from the tank, and a second booster pump system to maintain adequate pressure in the new water distribution system for Sanctuary Pointe developments.

Saramaa listed the historical documents JDS-Hydro must review for both developments, a description of facilities they will design, and the components of the preliminary and final designs. She reviewed the historical documents she was able to recover from Triview’s former engineering consultant, Nolte Associates. Saramaa noted that she hadn’t been able to find a water master plan and several other documents and said she did not believe they would find any more documents. She said JDS-Hydro plans to develop "as-built documentation" because only about 30 percent of the necessary water system documentation could be found. She added that documentation had not yet been provided to JDS-Hydro by Merrick & Co.

JDS-Hydro’s proposed not-to-exceed fees were:

    • $5,000 for background documentation acquisition/review

    • $47,000 for preliminary design of water storage, transmission, and pumping facilities

    • $74,000 for final design

Triview water attorney Chris Cummins noted that Triview’s agreements with the owners of Home Place Ranch state that the new second tank will be at least 1.5 million gallons. Saramaa noted that this would likely require larger transmission lines and would make the residual chlorine requirement in distribution lines and the tank more difficult.

Saramaa also provided a conceptual topographic map that showed where water pressure could be expected to be at least 60 psi in the distribution lines from the new water tank. Much of the eastern half of Sanctuary Pointe will require a new permanent booster pump station to maintain at least 60 psi. Some of the temporary booster pump equipment may be salvageable and could be re-used in the second new eastern booster pump system.

Classic Homes plans to build the initial filing of new houses along the eastern boundary of Sanctuary Pointe. This will require the second booster pump station to be installed at the same time as the second water tank.

Classic Homes President Joe Loidolt told Saramaa and the board that he had expected to have cost and time estimates for Triview’s Sanctuary Pointe water supply and distribution system before the end of November. Saramaa said JDS-Hydro had no contract yet to develop anything other than a draft scope so no cost or timing estimates had been developed yet.

Loidolt replied that he would meet with investors later in the evening to finance the final phases of Promontory Pointe and could not wait much longer. Currently, the second half of Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe cannot be developed because Triview cannot provide fire flows to fire hydrants in these areas at this time. He added that Classic’s internal estimate is that the cost of the water tank, piping, and booster pumps would be $3.0 million to $3.3 million for a 1.5 million gallon tank and 12-inch distribution lines, but had not determined costs for a second booster pump system. He stated that Classic needs the new water tank and distribution system to be on line in six months or Classic will run out of lots that they can develop due to the complete lack of fire flows.

Loidolt also stated that he did not believe the current JDS-Hydro scope of work proposal was practical and could be completed in time to allow Classic to continue developing its remaining vacant lots in Sanctuary Pointe and Promontory Pointe, nor does the proposed scope of work address fire flows in either development. Saramaa agreed on the fire flows issue, noting that it was not asked for by Triview.

Note: Triview Metropolitan District is a developer district and Triview must pay for the entire water infrastructure in Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe.

Loidolt asked the board if it could pay for and complete the installation at this time. There was no answer from the board.

Saramaa concurred that this larger amount of work would take more than six months. She asked for Loidolt’s card. She also said she could not answer any questions about a booster pump station or fire flow requirements. Triview District Manager Valerie Remington acknowledged that she had not directed Saramaa to consider or plan for the second booster pump station or fire flows or the larger tank and transmission lines that Cummins had referred to.

Saramaa said she would now also consider the new detention time problems for chlorine in the larger distribution lines that appear to be necessary. She said the second tank could not be installed until the end of 2013 due to the time that will be required for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to complete the mandatory tank review process. She also said her proposed time line could not be compressed.

After much more technical discussion, Saramaa said the board’s estimated construction cost for the new Sanctuary Pointe system of $3.0 million appeared to be low.

Director Cox said the board should not vote on the JDS-Hydro contract until Fisher and Harder could review the proposal. Remington suggested that the board approve a motion to allow her to move forward with signing the contract if Fisher and Harder had no significant reservations after privately reviewing the JDS-Hydro scope of work proposal. Remington asked the board to define "what is and what is not a significant reservation."

Eskridge also said he wanted to know if Harder thought there were still significant unresolved issues before signing the contract. He said Fisher and Harder should be required to provide their views to the other directors and Remington by Dec. 17.

Loidolt said there would be no final price for the Sanctuary Pointe water distribution project until JDS-Hydro asks for bids and there would be no timely fire flow solution for the remaining unsupported filings in Promontory Pointe, even though Classic is paying for the first booster pump system.

The board unanimously approved a motion to approve the JDS-Hydro design contract, subject to the approval of Fisher and Harder, and to delegate signing authority to Remington or schedule a special public meeting to resolve any remaining issues.

Before Saramaa left the meeting, she agreed to meet with all the directors before the Jan. 8 board meeting to answer any questions they may have. After she left, Loidolt told the board he needed an answer on the Promontory Pointe booster pump now, not three months from now. He asked when he could meet with the board to get answers. "I’ve got investors asking me, ‘What’s going on?’"

Cox told Loidolt to contact Remington to schedule a meeting with all the board members.

Remington said, "I’m not sure what I can tell him." She asked Eskridge what the board’s position was on Loidolt’s questions and if the board was moving forward, noting she had never before heard that a second booster pump system was mandatory for Sanctuary Pointe.

Cox said he thought that he thought Triview would have to put in the Sanctuary Pointe fire flow pumps but questioned who would do the work.

Eskridge replied that the board would have to "chat about it" among themselves. Remington asked Eskridge to call her after they had "chatted" and tell her what she should tell Loidolt so she "could pass it along."

Hurd stated that the board’s concern was that the Promontory Pointe booster pump station cost was initially $100,000 to $150,000, but later that cost turned out to be closer to a half million dollars, and the installed equipment would be used only temporarily, then thrown away. Loidolt said Merrick’s estimate was less than $300,000, about what Classic was already contributing to the project. Hurd said Merrick had never provided that in writing to Loidolt.

Cox disagreed and said that Merrick’s first bid for the Promontory Pointe fire flow pumps was $420,000 and that Merrick hadn’t given that figure to Classic in writing.

Loidolt told Remington he would call her and the board and that everyone wants to "make this work." Then he left the Triview meeting to meet with his investors and give them an update on this meeting.

For more information on this Promotory Pointe booster pump issue see:

The board went into executive session at 7:05 p.m. to "conference with the district’s attorney regarding legal advice on specific legal questions."

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

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 14: 2013 budget approved

By Candice Hitt

At the Dec. 14 Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) meeting, board members adopted the 2013 budget, which included setting water rates and fees for the new calendar year.

    • The Renewable Water Investment Fee (RWIF) will remain at $45 per month for a single-family home.

    • Volumetric rates for water use were not increased for 2013, nor was the base water rate. This is the second year that volumetric rates have been held constant.

    • Sewer use fees will increase 3 percent to $26.04 per household. This is a flat monthly fee for residential customers.

    • Water tap fees for new service will increase by 3 percent in 2013.

    • Sewer tap fees for new service will not increase in 2013.

    • The district has no mill levy and therefore no property tax collections.

    • Availability of service fees were not collected in 2012, but will start being collected on Jan.1. The fee was set at $425 per vacant lot per year for full-service lots.

A letter with an overview of the budget will be sent to customers to inform them of the 2013 rates, fees, and services of the district as well as the progress on the JV Ranch water rights change case and other projects in progress.

The district has completed its long-range planning guide. This planning allows the board and staff to assess the water and sewer needs of the WWSD over the coming years and plan projects that the district will need to complete to maintain reliable and sustainable water and sewer services. A copy of the plan can be viewed at the district’s office. The guidelines were adopted at the meeting.

The district expects to be able to offer credit card payment options to customers sometime in early 2013. It is working with the Statewide Internet Portal Authority to provide this additional service.

Operations and construction update

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette gave the operations report and said there have been nine water main breaks recently due to the changing weather. He also said Well 6 has been cleaned and was scheduled to be reinstalled on Dec. 26.

Gillette said the Kum-N-Go gas station on Knollwood and Highway 105 was open with a temporary access permit until the water main on the property is realigned.

The district is working with El Paso County on the update of the county’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation Plan. This plan is updated every five years. It is designed to highlight measures that minimize impacts from natural or manmade disasters. It also preserves the county’s ability to obtain certain types of federal financial aid in the aftermath of a disastrous event.

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The next regular board meeting will be held at 1 p.m. Jan, 10 at the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. For information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com.

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 19: Board works to finalize well easements

By Susan Hindman

The Dec. 19 meeting of the Academy Water and Sanitation District board focused on 17 acres along Spring Valley Drive that are for sale and drew a handful of interested buyers and Realtors. Two of the district’s wells, which supply water to residents, sit on that property, and for several years the district has been attempting to work with the property owner to formalize conveyances of easements to those wells. Steps toward achieving this were taken at the meeting.

According to the district’s attorney, Paul Murphy, Academy has what’s called a prescriptive easement to the well sites on the property. But there has been nothing on record that bears a legal description, and until a survey was done recently, the dimensions of the easement were uncertain.

Murphy prepared a grant of easement document with a legal description and a diagram. When the property owner signs that, the district will execute a quitclaim deed of all of the current rights and titles that the district has on that property—including some abandoned wells and an old underground line. The board voted to require this conveyance to the district be completed no later than Dec. 31, 2013.

Once the property is sold, the new owner will have until Dec. 31, 2016, to actually tap into the district’s water system. A time frame for using a tap was important to include because it could affect the district’s augmentation plan as well as the need to plan for reserving a certain amount of water for use by that new property owner.

The district is providing three water taps to a future buyer, as the property can be subdivided into three parcels. The property can’t be developed for commercial or multifamily use. Wastewater connection is a separate issue.

The board also voted to authorize a payment not to exceed $1,000 for title insurance in the amount of $80,000 to ensure the district gets clear title.

2013 budget

The board approved the budget, which details $441,841 for current operating expenses, $17,000 capital outlay, and $159,850 for debt service, for a total of $618,691.

The mill levies—which were voted on in 1994 and pay for the water treatment plant and distribution system—were set for the next year. The levy for general operating purposes will be 2.937 mills, which pays for $21,518 of general operating expenses. And a levy of 21.818 mills will cover the bond and interest costs of $159,851. The total is 24.755 mills.

Website development

Director Ron Curry had hoped to get the district’s first website under way by fall, but the Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA), which helps the state’s local governments set up and maintain websites at no cost, needed to find a better content management system. Since the spring, the district has been on a waiting list for website development and training. SIPA has now selected a new system, but Curry was not given a date when training would begin.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at the Wescott fire station, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. The next meeting is Jan. 16.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Dec. 20: 2013 district budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 20, the Monument Sanitation District board held a hearing to formally approve the 2013 budget and appropriation. The board also formally approved a mill levy certification for zero mills, because Monument has no debt and no property tax. All board members attended the meeting.

The final district budget was the same as the one preliminarily approved on Nov. 15. The major figures presented to the board by District Manager Mike Wicklund for comparison of the estimated actual budget amounts for 2012 to budgeted amounts in the final 2013 budget were:

    • Use fee revenues will increase from $468,904 in 2012 to $537,368, following the $5 monthly increase that begins in April.

    • Other income will drop from $25,800 to $8,000

    • Rent income will drop from $25,450 to $25,200

    • Total operating revenue will rise from $519,554 to $570,568.

    • Total capital improvement income will drop from $64,400 to $50,000.

    • Total interest income will drop from $1,088 to $500.

    • Total operating expenses will rise from $507,840 to $535,263.

    • Total capital improvement expenses will rise from $11,364 to $28,099.

    • Total capital contingency expenses remain at $50,000.

    • Sludge removal expenses will increase from $16,087 to $33,969.

    • The ending balance for the district will drop from $297,120 for 2012 to $279,857 for 2013.

For more information on the budget issues discussed at the Nov. 15 meeting, see: www.ocn.me/v12n12.htm#msd.

There was no public comment during the open portion of the 2013 budget hearing.

A resolution to adopt the final 2013 budget was unanimously approved. A separate resolution to appropriate the amounts noted above, a total of $647,331, was also unanimously approved.

The board also unanimously approved a certification for a lien of $558 against a single district property for past due fees.

In other financial matters, Wicklund reported that:

    • A total of 10 new taps had produced a total of $64,400 to date in 2012.

    • The largest expense was $18,852 for the November billing for the district’s share of November Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility expenses, which included the facility’s annual property and liability insurance bill.

    • The district’s current snow removal subcontractor is retiring.

The board unanimously approved the person Wicklund recommended as the new snow removal subcontractor.

Wicklund stated that the district’s 2013 special district transparency information, which is required by state law to be published by Jan. 15, would be added to the district’s website before the next district board meeting. This information was subsequently placed on the district website and is now available at www.co.gov/msd.

The meeting adjourned at 7:13 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Jan. 17 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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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 3: Three planning commissioners reappointed

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 3, the Monument Board of Trustees reappointed Commissioners Glenda Smith, John Dick, and Brad Hogan to new two-year terms on the Planning Commission. The board also unanimously approved ordinance amendments on licenses for peddlers, solicitors, and transient merchants; parking; and rezoning requests.

Due the excused absences of Trustees Jeff Ornstein, Stan Gingrich, and Becki Tooley, the remaining board members voted unanimously to postpone the posted public hearings on the 2013 town budget and 2013 appropriation until Dec. 17, even though there were many citizens in the audience to attend for the advertised public budget hearings.

The four trustees present elected to hold the advertised public hearing to pass a resolution to certify the town’s mill levy at 6.289 mills since the documentation had to be submitted to the state by Dec. 15. This will raise a total of $684,221 in town property tax revenues in 2013.

2013 budget discussion

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith made a brief statement about two 2013 budget alternatives and answered questions from the trustees who did attend this meeting. The first option included an across-the-board 3 percent cost of living raise with a 1 percent performance increase with fully funded leased capital equipment and projects using capital leases for most of these items. The second option included an across-the-board 2 percent cost of living raise with a 1percent performance increase with no leased capital equipment or projects funding.

Each of the budgets contained a summary page to describe the total revenues, expenditures, carryovers, and assumptions.

Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk gave brief comments regarding raises and performance-based bonuses, noting the average town employee makes $39,900. A 2 percent raise is about $800, or $36 every two weeks before taxes, and is below most cost of living index increases. He also noted that there had been no across-the-board pay raises for several years. He also asked why there was such a rush to switch to pay for performance when there has been no planning for implementing this proposed program.

There was a lengthy discussion of these issues.

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish briefly discussed the need to purchase a maintenance lift for the town repair shop to safely work on the town’s large trucks during 2013.

Mayor Travis Easton asked the board to consider a third option for a 4 percent performance increase with no cost of living increase. Smith replied that this approach is not highly used in government and taking away the cost of living raise would be punitive.

No action was taken after the discussion.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Jeff Kaiser recognized Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman for her efforts in saving the town $71,000 while negotiating to retain all the current existing 2012 medical benefits for the town staff in 2013 by switching insurance companies. Sirochman is also in charge of Human Relations for the town.

Mayor Easton then announced that Sirochman would receive a bonus check for $500, to much applause from the audience.

Kaiser also thanked the Monument Police Department for safely negotiating with an armed suspect at the Kohls store in Monument Plaza on Dec. 2. The suspect was taken him into custody without incident.

Trustee John Howe thanked the Public Works Department for lighting the Christmas tree in Limbach Park and Director of Downtown Development Vicki Mynhier for organizing a great tree lighting ceremony.

Peddler’s license ordinance approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance that transfers the responsibility for conducting background checks before issuing a business license for peddlers, solicitors, and transient merchants from the police chief to the town clerk to expedite processing. The change eliminates the need for a Colorado Bureau of Investigation review of the applicant’s background.

Parking ordinance approved

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

    • Adds a provision for the maximum number of parking stalls allowed to limit impervious surface drainage issues.

    • Fixes discrepancy in parking stall length––standardizes stall length at 18 feet.

    • The minimum two-way circulation access shall not be less than 24 feet in width.

    • Adds a new prohibition on parking large trucks in residential neighborhoods within the public right-of-way or roadway (unless temporarily conducting business) or for living or housekeeping purposes.

    • Updates standards for Americans with Disability Act accessible parking spaces and aisles—now consistent with www.access-board.gov––to reduce the current excessive town requirement.

    • Adds wording for a new section on motorcycle and low-speed vehicle parking stall standards.

    • Adds parking lot landscaping as well as landscape island standards––one island per 10 parking stalls.

    • Updates off-street parking space requirements for each land use.

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

The ordinance was unanimously approved.

Public notice ordinance approved

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

    • The proposed language makes it clear the town’s Development Services Department will publish public notices and the required timelines for public notices.

    • Public notices will now be mailed to property owners within 500 or 1,000 feet of the property lines for a development application, as determined by the town planner.

    • Posting of a sign, or signs if more than one is required, on the property for a public hearing will be done by the applicant 15 days prior to a public hearing.

    • An affidavit will be required by Development Services from the applicant, notifying the town of the sign posting(s) along with photographs of the sign(s) in place on the property.

    • New requirements, meeting procedures, and other details are proposed for projects deemed to be controversial or of significant public interest.

    • A paragraph on email notifications and collection of emailed public comments by the applicant was also proposed.

    • Cross-references to the above were added to the code on final planned development site plans, major site plan amendments, and minor site plan amendments.

The ordinance was unanimously approved.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that the board should be prepared to deal with determining how the town would address passing its own marijuana use ordinances in early 2013.

Tharnish briefed the board on high radium levels in the drinking water from town well 6 by Beacon Lite Road, north of Highway 105. He discussed his receipt of a letter from the Colorado Water Quality Control Division directing him to shut this well down.

Tharnish told the board a cost analysis would be completed to determine what should be done with this well, which produces about 20 gallons per minute. He stated that this well’s water had been mixed with other water in a nearby pipe which has a flow of 200 to 400 gallons per minute.

He stated that well 6 had been the only town well with readings above the limit of 5 picocuries per liter, but the average for radium concentration had remained under this limit before the state ordered the well shut down.

Tharnish also stated that it is time to consider drilling a new well in any event, due to rapidly increasing water demands during the ongoing drought. However, a new well is not needed to replace the water no longer being produced by well 6.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 17: 2013 budget and appropriation approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 17, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) completed the public hearings on the 2013 budget and 2013 appropriation public hearings that were advertised for Dec. 3, but were continued when three trustees did not attend. The board unanimously approved Town Treasurer Pamela Smith’s proposed budget option that would provide an across the board 3 percent cost of living raise for town employees along with a 1 percent performance increase with fully funded leased capital equipment and projects, using capital leases for most of these items.

The number of town employees who attended the Dec. 17 meeting was far less than the number who attended the Dec. 3 meeting to learn what kind of raise might be offered after several years without cost of living increases. All seven board members were present at the meeting.

Mayor Travis Easton’s counterproposal to implement a 4 percent pay increase in 2013, based solely on individual employee performance evaluations with no across-the-board component, failed to achieve consensus. On Dec. 3, Smith told Easton that having no across-the-board cost of living increase for any employee for yet another year would be punitive.

See the Dec. 3 BOT article on the facing page for more details on the various optional 2013 budgets that were proposed.

There was no proposed method offered, discussed, or approved for how the 1 percent pot of money for performance-based pay increases will be divided among the employees in each department by their respective department heads, particularly in the department that has only one employee, nor how this pot of money will be divided between the various departments. No timetable was set for when the performance-based pay raise policy and procedures will be developed or approved, or a determination if the performance pay increases would be retroactive for all of 2013 once the board decides how they will be awarded.

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Easton asked those in attendance to pause for a moment of silence to pay respect to the victims and survivors of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Trustees’ comments

Smith answered questions from the trustees regarding the two budget options she presented on Dec. 3. The second option included an across the board 2 percent cost of living raise with a 1 percent performance increase with no leased capital equipment or projects funding. Smith advised the board that it could come up with any combination from her or Easton’s proposals. She noted that her pay is separate because she works directly for the board, and Town Manager Cathy Green has her own contract with the board.

After the question-and-answer discussion was completed, there was consensus to have a 3 percent cost of living increase for all the staff members with 1 percent of each department’s overall salary base available to department heads for individually determined performance-based pay increase starting sometime in 2013. Trustee Jeff Bornstein said the various staff employee teams should form their own group objectives for the performance-based pay policy.

No comments were offered from the public during this discussion.

Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk addressed the board in regards to new marijuana laws. Shirk stated that the district attorney had called him to advise that the town currently has no ordinances regarding town control of marijuana following voter approval of Amendment 64 to the state constitution. Shirk said the attorney general stated the town may want to address the issue by adopting an ordinance. He distributed a copy of the Greenwood marijuana ordinances for board review.

After a lengthy technical discussion, there was board consensus that a new town ordinance should be drafted to prohibit the open consumption of marijuana and to prohibit retail sales of recreational marijuana within town limits. Chief Shirk and Town Attorney Gary Shupp said they would draft the requested marijuana ordinance to present to the board at a public hearing during the Jan. 7 board meeting.

No comments were offered from the public during this discussion.

Public hearings

There were no public comments during the open portion of the hearing on the 2013 budget. The board unanimously approved the ordinance for the budget option with the 3 percent cost of living increase.

There were no public comments during the open portion of the hearing on the associated 2013 appropriation for the budget option with the 3 percent cost of living increase. The board unanimously approved the ordinance for the appropriation option with the 3 percent cost of living increase and the 1 percent performance increase.

The public hearing item for a request for de-annexation of a 5-acre lot in Sanctuary Pointe owned by Classic Homes President Joe Loidolt was postponed at Loidolt’s request. Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, said Loidolt "was having an issue with the county regarding water supply and until he gets a firm answer from them he’d prefer not to de-annex only to figure out that he doesn’t have any water."

Financial reports

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

    • $129,233 to Triview Metropolitan District for October sales tax, November motor vehicle tax, and November Regional Building sales tax.

    • $6,450 to Swingle Lawn, Tree, and Landscape Service for the Christmas tree lights installed on Second Street.

    • $5,404 to J3 Engineering Consultants for phase II rehabilitation work on the Monument Lake dam.

Smith reported that town sales tax through October was $186,000 (or 8.8 percent) higher than the amount budgeted, up $16,600 from September.

Smith presented a report to the board regarding the 30 hours per month saved for three employees by using Payment Service Network for collection of water bills. About $30 per month for paper and postage is being saved by electronic billing for 54 customers. Smith stated she was pleased with Payment Service but will continue to look into other systems to ensure the town has the best option available.

Downtown Development Director Vicki Mynhier briefed the board on a proposal to create a downtown business improvement district. She noted that only about half of the 51 downtown merchants are members of the private Historic Monument Merchants Association. An affirmative vote of at least 51 percent of the landowners and business owners must vote in favor of the district before it can be created. There are about 1,200 such districts in the United States.

Mynhier will determine if there is enough support for this kind of special district.

Staff reports

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish reported that a new sidewalk had been installed alongside the Town Hall property bordering Beacon Lite Road. Monument water production for November 2012 was about 6.9 million gallons, about 559,000 gallons (8.1 percent) more than in 2011.

Some of the items Chief Shirk reported were:

    • Detective Steve Lontz was investigating an armed robbery that occurred at the Walgreens on Highway 105.

    • Monument’s tactical team was called to handle an armed and barricaded gunman that had been breaking into vehicles at the Walmart. The suspect ran from responding officers while armed with an AR-style rifle. The suspect barricaded himself in the outside loading dock area of Kohl’s. The suspect, with the assistance of a hostage negotiator from the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, eventually put the weapon down and surrendered. Shirk thanked the Palmer Lake Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department, and the Sheriff’s Office for working together during this very intense and dangerous incident.

    • Shirk assisted the YMCA with their Cookies and Milk Santa Program

    • Shirk stated the Santa on Patrol event was very successful and read a thank-you email to the board from a local citizen.

The meeting went into executive session at 8 p.m. to receive legal advice regarding litigation. The board emerged from executive session and immediately adjourned at 8:43 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held on Jan. 7 at 6:30 p.m. 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Dec. 4: Fire district’s 2013 budget and appropriation approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 4, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board unanimously approved a resolution for the adoption of the final 2013 budget. Board Secretary Greg Gent chaired the meeting in the absence of Chairman Scott Campbell. Property tax revenues for the district are expected to increase about $14,000 in 2013.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution for the 2013 appropriation that allocated the following amounts for operating the district:

    • General fund: $1.7 million

    • Fund balance: $1.2 million

    • Special ownership tax: $145,000

    • Miscellaneous income: $72,462

    • Total revenue: $3 million

There were no public comments during the open portion of either the budget or appropriation hearings.

The board unanimously approved a resolution for mill levy certification. The mill levy will remain at 7.0 mills in 2013 and produce $1.7 million in revenue.

The board also unanimously approved a supplementary lease-purchase to the 2013 budget for $146,441 for the new Station 2 in 2013.

Board Secretary Greg Gent chaired the meeting in the absence of Chairman Scott Campbell.

Some of the items Chief Vinny Burns reported were:

    • Wescott held a successful "community chipping day" with the Pleasantview Estates homeowners.

    • Fire prevention training was given to every grade at Antelope Trails elementary school.

    • The state had provided reimbursements for two more of Wescott’s wildfire deployments, including its participation in the Waldo Canyon Fire.

    • Task Force One conducted formal truck training for driver operators in several regional fire departments, including classes, training, and written and practical skills testing.

    • A new full-time firefighter, Cliff Jones, was to be sworn in on Dec. 8.

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings reported that there were 182 calls in November, up from 132 calls in 2011, a 37 percent increase. Total calls through November were 1,794, up from 1,419 last year, a 26 percent increase. He said the increase was caused by more traffic and new construction of houses and commercial buildings. Burns added that the number of calls was catching up to where it should be for the population. There was one mutual aid building fire response in the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District and one automobile fire on Struthers Road.

The board approved the 2013 district and pension board schedules. Regular board meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of the month, with the exception of Nov. 12 and Dec. 3. The pension board meetings will be held on April 16 and Aug. 20.

The meeting adjourned at 7:49 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 15 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Dec. 5: Shirk elected board president

By Bernard Minetti

At the Dec. 5 regular meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Monument Police Chief Jacob Shirk was approved as board president. He was elected on a second ballot after at first tying with Director Bill Ingram. Director Roger Lance was elected vice president. Rod Wilson and John Hildebrandt were each re-elected and retained their positions as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

Financial report

Hildebrandt said that the district had received $2.9 million in property taxes for the year, or 99.79 percent of the expected amount. The district also had received $255,827 or 102.59 percent of the expected specific ownership tax revenue. Ambulance revenues were at $466,715, or 85.86 percent of the budgeted amount. This represents a budgetary deficit of 6.8 percent for the year to date. The Medicare reimbursement that was delinquent at the last meeting had now been paid.

Overall expenses for the district were 0.74 percent under budget for the year. Hildebrandt said that as a result, he did not believe that any adjustment would be required for the 2012 budget.

In a review of the 2013 operating budget, it was noted that the total projected revenue amounted to $5.52 million, with a pledged reserve of $166,233, or 3 percent of the budget. The proposed operating expenses for the 2013 budget amounted to $4.89 million. After some discussion of the proposed 2013 budget, Hildebrandt made a motion to accept the budget proposal and it passed unanimously.

The board voted to increase the payroll limit from $88,000 to $92,000. This was necessary due to the additional six fire positions that were being funded by the SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant. This is to be effective in January.

According to the budget message summary, the district had a total $1.26 million in cash in the four accounts in local banks. The average monthly expenses for the district through November amounted to $324,184. The cash balance, not counting impact fees, of $476,419 represented 2.41 months of operating capital.

The district recently received a federal SAFER grant to acquire six additional staff. This is a two-year grant in the amount of $615,000. The district will receive $305,000 for 2013, which will be utilized to pay for the new employees’ salaries and benefits.

The budget summary stated that the district continues to maintain an agreement with the Town of Monument for the use of the Old Town Hall building on an annual basis as an administration center for $1 per year.

The summary further noted that in 2012, all district lease-purchase payments were made using capital outlay funds (impact fees) as opposed to operational funds. Historically, the district has made lease payments from the operational budget but due to decreased property tax revenues, the board had decided to use capital funds for these payments in 2012.

For 2013, the district has budgeted $284,097 in lease-purchase expenses from the operational budget. These expenses are $66,268 for the ladder truck, $39,950 for pumper 1, $24,994 for pumper 2, and $152,885 for Stations 1 and 2 on an annual basis.

Including reserves, the general fund consists of current operating expenses of $4.6 million and debt service of $284,097. The total general fund amounts to $4.89 million. The reserve funds are appropriated to cover operations in the event of revenue shortfalls.

The board discussed the fire chief hiring process proposal that was submitted by the battalion fire chiefs. The proposal concerns the specifications for hiring procedures and the process of selection to fill the position. Board members indicated that this would be a deliberative and sound process.

Fire code resolution passes

The board passed Resolution 12-006, which rescinded adoption of the 2009 edition of the International Fire Code (IFC) with local amendments. This resolution also provides for revising the 2009 IFC by the fire chief and staff for submission to the board for consideration. This resolution was necessary because the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) had not accepted the previous version submitted by the district.

The board adopted Resolution 12-008, which specifies that the fire marshal shall submit the 2009 IFC with local amendments to the board for approval. It also states that proposed 2009 IFC with amendments shall not be effective until the BOCC has adopted a resolution or ordinance stating that the IFC 2009 with amendments shall be applicable within the district’s boundaries.

The board transitioned to executive session to discuss "personnel" items.

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The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District special meeting, Dec. 12: Battalion Chief Jack named interim fire chief

By Bernard Minetti

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board named Battalion Chief Bryan Jack as interim fire chief at special meeting Dec. 12.

Before the appointment, the board discussed leadership models, where the interim chief should come from, and the muted leadership that occurred with the three battalion chiefs in charge but no one individual solely responsible or accountable.

The focus of the discussion concerned the need for an interim person to be in charge and where this person would come from. Bringing in an "outsider" who would be immune from district history was the original focus, but there was considerable opposition by the citizen and fire personnel attendees who noted that this was a great training opportunity for one of the district’s battalion chiefs. It would also create a need for an interim battalion chief, which would require that a firefighter be moved up to that position.

The board transitioned to executive session to discuss "Appointment of an interim fire chief which … involves an employee who has not requested an open meeting."

Following an approximately 45-minute executive session, board President Jacob Shirk announced that Battalion Chief Bryan Jack had been unanimously selected as interim fire chief and that he had accepted that position.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association, Nov. 28 and Dec. 19: Arrests made in break-ins

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association discussed security matters and property improvements at its Nov. 28 meeting.

Woodmoor Public Safety chief Kevin Nielsen reported two arrests in connection with a string of break-ins in Woodmoor and the Red Rocks Ranch area. There have been no further break-ins since the arrests.

Nielsen said that 150 residents attended a special meeting at the Barn regarding security. He said that he hopes to form neighborhood watch groups in all neighborhoods and is awaiting materials from the county to accomplish this.

Woodmoor Public Safety welcomes any input from residents.

Common Areas Director W. Lee Murray reported that the area in front of the Barn had been landscaped and repaved. Bids are being sought for repairs on the deck and for the clearing of cattails and silt from the Twin Ponds area.

Murray said that the work on the ponds had been approved by the state Department of Agriculture. The board approved the use of reserves not to exceed $23,000 for the excavation of the ponds.

The nominating committee reported it has four candidates for the three positions open for election at the January general meeting of the membership.

Forestry Director Eric Gross reported that the committee had received requests for forestry evaluations. He reminds homeowners to continue to reduce fuels on their properties and stressed that it is important to water trees and shrubs during the winter.

Treasurer Nick Oakley reported that expenditures for 2012 were 13.6 percent under budget, largely due to improved rentals in the Barn.

The Dec. 19 meeting was cancelled due to inclement weather.

**********

The Woodmoor Improvement Association board meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr., Monument.

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

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December Weather Wrap

Click here to the PDF file of Bill Kappel's charts summarizing 2012 weather.

By Bill Kappel

It was a very dry and mild start to December, as high temperatures reached to above normal levels each afternoon from the 1st through the 4th. High temperatures reached the upper 50s to low 60s on the 1st and 2nd, before more seasonal temperatures returned on the 3rd and 4th. Winds also kicked up pretty well during the evening of the 2nd and morning of the 3rd, with gusts over 40 mph. As was the case for most of November, no precipitation fell. The only exception was a brief flurry at just before 3 p.m. on the 3rd, but if you blinked you probably missed it.

Winter finally made an appearance just in time for the second weekend of the month. Temperatures were well above average to start the week, reaching near record levels in the low 60s on the afternoon of the 5th. Slightly cooler air worked in over the next two days, dropping temperatures back to normal levels in the low to mid-40s. But, again we stayed dry with plenty of high and mid-level clouds but no precipitation.

Finally, on the 8th after a month-long period of record dry and warm weather, a storm system moved through from a preferred location. This area of low pressure from the Southwest combined with a strong cold front to bring our first measureable precipitation since Nov. 11. This storm first brought snow and blowing snow to the high country. Cold air then began to work into the Palmer Divide region during the late afternoon and early evening. As the jet stream moved closer to us and cold air continued to pour in, snow developed around 10 p.m.

Temperatures continued to fall through the night as snow accumulated through the next morning. Temperatures were in the mid-teens at midnight on the 9th, then fell to single digits during morning and afternoon. Snow began to wind down by noon, with 3 to 5 inches accumulating for most of us. As skies cleared that afternoon, temperatures plummeted, with most of us dipping well below zero before midnight.

The second week of December started chilly, with some lingering light snow at times on the 10th and 11th. High temperatures were chilly both days as well, holding below freezing each afternoon, after morning lows right around 0° F. Warmer air moved in on the 12th and 13th, with highs jumping back into the 40s. Cooler and unsettled conditions moved back in to end the week and through the weekend as a series of strong Pacific storms moved into the Southwest and eventually Colorado. Unfortunately, there was no accompanying cold front or upslope flow along the Front Range, and therefore the low levels remained very dry. What this meant for us was that we only received some very brief flurries and snow showers at times. However, in the mountains it was a different story. Heavy snow fell in the high country, which was a blessing after an extremely dry November. We have now pushed the mountain snowpack up to normal levels.

It was a rollercoaster ride in the weather department for the week of the 17th around the region. We were visited by wintry weather to start the week, then mild conditions to end things. A quick, but powerful storm rolled through the region starting late on the 18th and continuing through the 19th. This brought a quick shot of snow, and the high winds led to blizzard conditions from the mid-morning hours of the 19th through the mid-afternoon. Several roads were closed in the area because travel was very dangerous. Most of us picked up 3 to 6 inches of new snow.

However, this storm moved out of the region very quickly, and clear skies that night allowed temperatures to fall well below zero before midnight and through the next morning. The pattern quieted down over the remainder of the week as we headed toward the Christmas holiday. High temperatures rebounded from well below normal levels on the 19th to above normal on the 21st and 22nd. High temperatures reached as high as the low 50s on the 22nd. Cooler and unsettled conditions began to work back in by the Christmas holiday.

The next storm arrived just in time for the Christmas holiday, with light snow beginning to fall by late afternoon and early evening on Christmas Eve. Snow continued to fall through Christmas morning, but accumulations were minor, with most of us picking up 1 to 3 inches of new snowfall. Temperatures were chilly as well. After reaching the low 40s on the 24th, temperatures fell to the mid-teens by midnight and single digits on Christmas morning.

As this storm departed, clear skies returned for the 26th, making for some beautiful Colorado blue above the freshly fallen snow. This was short lived, however, as another quick moving storm was racing toward the region. Again, this storm didn’t have a lot of moisture to work with and was only able to produce an inch or so of new snow. Temperatures were chilly again, and with the clear skies and new snow, most areas tumbled to below zero readings on the mornings of the 28th and 29th.

Sunshine mixed with high and mid-level clouds were the story for the next few days, as temperatures struggled to reach normal levels. Highs stayed below freezing on the 27th, 28th, and 29th, before jumping back into the mid- and upper 30s on the 30th. Cold air again moved in on New Year’s Eve, with light snow and flurries flying as well. Temperatures struggled to reach the upper teens and low 20s, making for a cold New Year’s Eve celebration.

A look ahead

January can see the coldest temperatures of the year, but there is often a proverbial "January thaw" where mild temperatures make a brief appearance. Precipitation is on the low side, with amounts generally less than an inch. The month experiences numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The last few Januarys have generally been warmer than normal, with near normal precipitation and snowfall. January 2007 through 2009 received more snow than normal, but the last couple Januarys have been drier than average.

December 2012 Weather Statistics

Average High 39.7° (+1.6°) 100-year return frequency value max 50.5° min 32.6°
Average Low 12.0° (-0.3°) 100-year return frequency value max 22.4° min 5.4°
Monthly Precipitation 0.77"  (-0.35", 29% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.82" min 0.00"
Monthly Snowfall 14.7"  (-4.4", 23% below normal)
Highest Temperature 63° on the 5th
Lowest Temperature -11° on the 9th
Season to Date Snow 22.0" (-22.2", 50% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 8.04" (-3.38", 30% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1213 (-16)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

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

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Top weather events of 2012

Click here to the PDF file of Bill Kappel's charts summarizing 2012 weather.

By Bill Kappel

A record dry and warm year

March, June, August, and November 2012 received record to near record low amounts of precipitation. March was one of our driest in at least the last 100 years. Also, temperatures averaged almost 7° F warmer than normal. In June, temperatures averaged a whopping 7° warmer than normal and precipitation was sparse for most of us. This was the warmest June on record for the Front Range, with records extending back to 1872. November topped things off with only .01 inch of precipitation for the entire month. These conditions put 2012 in the top five warmest and top 10 driest years on record for the Front Range in the last 100 years.

Cold and snow to start February

A major snowstorm rolled through from Feb. 2 to 4. One to two feet of snow accumulated during the event. Temperatures tumbled as well, as highs failed to reach above freezing from the 4th through the 7th, a long stretch for this neck of the woods.

Severe weather in early June

Low level moisture moved into the region overnight on June 5 and stuck around for the 6th and 7th. This, combined with a couple of disturbances moving through the region, helped to spark strong to severe thunderstorms over the region. The first round developed during the afternoon of the 6th. These slow moving storms first developed over the south side of Black Forest, then continued to develop over Colorado Springs. These storms produced large, damaging hail and flooding rainfall for several hours. Areas hardest hit were generally south of Shoup Road through the south side of Colorado Springs. If you live north of this area, you were able to watch the storms and beautiful mammatus cloud formations, but didn’t receive any rain or hail.

At the same time this storm complex was wreaking havoc on the region, severe storms were also occurring just to our north. Large hail and several weak tornadoes occurred at about the same time in Douglas and Elbert counties, coming within about 10 miles of the El Paso County line. Another round of severe thunderstorms developed during the afternoon and early evening of the 7th. This complex developed east of Denver and moved south, affecting eastern El Paso County. This storm brought at least two tornadoes to Calhan and Ramah as well as numerous reports of large, damaging hail. This stayed just to the east of the region, sparing us a repeat of the day before.

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

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Blockbuster books of 2012

By the staff at Covered Treasures

January is a time for looking forward and back. We decided to take a second look at some of our 2012 best sellers.

It was a banner year for local authors who had signings at our store. Steve Stingley was our best-selling author with his memoir Under the Night Sky. Other locally-written books which sold multiple copies included Journey On: Beauty and Grit Along the Way by Anna Blake Godbout; I Love You, I Love You, I Do by Kris Abel-Helwig; and Wait Here, Wait There by Barbara K. Tyner. Congratulations, authors!

Other titles popular with Tri-Lakes area readers included the following:

Z is for Moose
By Kelly Bingham with pictures by Paul O. Zelinsky (HarperCollins) $16.99

Zebra is absolutely certain he’ll be able to direct everyone to appear on the correct page, at the appropriate time, without any mishaps, hurt feelings, or unnecessary drama. Oh dear. Zebra forgot about Moose, who is horrified when Mouse appears on the "M" page. Hilarious situations and delightful illustrations make this a joy for young children and adults alike.

Rules of Civility
By Armor Towles (Henry Holt & Co.) $16.99

Set in New York City in 1938, Towles tells the story of a watershed year in the life of an uncompromising 25-year-old named Katey Kontent. Following a chance encounter with a handsome banker, Katey embarks on a journey from a Wall Street secretarial pool through the upper echelons of New York society in search of a brighter future, with only her bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve to rely upon.

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

In a novel based on true events, Dallas delivers the story of four British women seeking the promise of salvation and prosperity in a new land who come together on a harrowing journey. In 1856, Mormon converts, encouraged by Brigham Young himself and outfitted with two-wheeled handcarts, set out on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, the Promised Land. The women endure unimaginable hardships and learn the true meaning of survival and friendship.

The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins (Scholastic Inc.) $10.99

In the ruins of a place once known as North America rises the nation of Panem, a shining capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl ages 12 to 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister’s place in the Games. In the end, Katniss has to weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

The Weird Sisters
By Eleanor Brown (Berkley Books) $15

Three sisters have returned to their childhood home, where books are a passion and TV is something other people watch. Their father, a professor of Shakespeare who speaks almost exclusively in verse, named them after the Bard’s heroines. The sisters each have a hard time communicating with their parents and their lovers, but especially with one another. Now, faced with their parents’ frailty and their own personal disappointments, not even a book can solve what ails them.

In the Garden of Beasts
By Erik Larson (Random House Inc.) $16

William E. Dodd becomes America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany in 1933, a year that proved to be a turning point in history. Dodd watches with alarm as Jews are attacked, the press is censored, and drafts of frightening new laws begin to circulate. As the shadows deepen, the Dodds experience days full of excitement, intrigue, romance, and ultimately horror, when a spasm of violence and murder reveals Hitler’s true character and ruthless ambition.

Add a little extra happiness to your new year with the magic of a book that others have enjoyed.

Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Northern pygmy owl

Click here to view the drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Northern Pygmy Owls

By Elizabeth Hacker

It’s always a joy to see birds at our feeders on cold January days. The dark-eyed juncos, pygmy nuthatches, chickadees, finches, and jays all stop by as we watch them, well protected from the blustery weather. Like humans, during stormy weather, birds seek protection. Feathers provide great insulation from the cold but birds still need food to generate heat. So, not long after a storm, birds come out of hiding to look for food.

In southern Colorado we are fortunate to have warm days and to be outdoors can truly be blissful. I find the best time to look for birds is in the aftermath of a storm when the weather breaks and while it may be on the cool side, it’s nice enough to venture out.

One secretive bird found in southern Colorado is the northern pygmy owl. In the past, OCN readers living west of I-25 have reported seeing one on their property. I’ve never seen this bird and want to add it to my list. I plan to look for it on the southwest side of Garden of the Gods in the Spring Canyon area of the park, because it has been reported wintering in this location. To help focus my search for this secretive bird, I am learning a little bit about it before venturing out to look for it.

Description

As its name implies, the northern pygmy owl is a tiny diurnal owl. Most owls are nocturnal, but this owl hunts during the day. Sightings are most commonly reported during late afternoon to dusk, but it is possible to see it at other times of the day.

It’s about 7 inches long with a wingspan of 15 inches and is the epitome of cute. It’s similar in color to other owls, but it can have a red or gray cast to its brown feathers. Females are slightly larger than males. Its upper body, head, and neck are brown. Its brown head and neck are sprinkled with white dots. Under parts are white with brown streaks. Its eyes are bright yellow, its beak is tan, and its legs are greenish yellow. It has no ear tufts. Its relatively long tail is distinctly barred with six or seven light colored bands and is more like that of a kestrel than an owl.

Other unique features of the northern pygmy owl include a rounded head with pencil-thin white eyebrows. Two black spots outlined in white that look like a second pair of eyes appear on the back of its head. It is thought that these "eyes" serve to help protect it from predators, which include larger owls, ravens, jays, hawks, foxes, and coyotes.

Unlike the longer and silent flight patterns of larger owls, this diminutive owl travels only a short distance when moving between perches, and its flight is relatively noisy, with rapid wing beats resembling that of a shrike.

Habitat and range

The northern pygmy owl is a Western species whose range extends from the Pacific Coast, east across the Rocky Mountains to the foothills of Colorado. It is most commonly found at altitudes between 4,000 and 6,000 feet but is also seen as high as 12,000 feet and as low as 3,000 feet. It is not a migratory bird but it may move to lower altitudes in winter.

It is found in a variety of forest habitats, typically at the edge of an open forest near a clearing.

Diet

Despite its small size, the northern pygmy owl is a ferocious hunter that defends its territory from much larger birds and animals and can carry prey almost three times its size. It prefers small rodents and birds but it also eats insects, amphibians, and reptiles.

It is a "sit and wait" hunter with keen vision that observes any movement from its perch. When it spots prey, the northern pygmy owl is quick to fly down and kill it by driving its sharp talons into the preys’ neck. It also dives into small birds, knocking them unconscious.

Unlike other owls, the northern pygmy owl does not consume feathers or bones, so it expels very small pellets. This owl strips the feathers from a bird’s head and eats only the brain, and typically, it consumes only the soft abdomens of rodents and insects.

In winter the northern pygmy owl caches food in the cavity of a tree. Caches help it to survive during storms and cold periods when prey is in short supply.

Breeding

For much of the year, the northern pygmy owl is a solitary and unsociable bird. In early spring, courtship begins when both male and female begin to make raspy "too-too-too" calls that last for about three seconds. Once a possible mate is located, the male brings food to the female and they cuddle together on a branch. When a pair bonds, they will stay together one season until the chicks fledge.

Eggs are laid between April and June. The average clutch size is three eggs but can vary between two and seven. The female waits until all the eggs are laid before incubation begins, and all the chicks hatch the same day.

The female incubates the eggs for about a month while the male brings food to the nest and fiercely defends it from intruders, including humans. Once hatched, the chicks are dependent on their parents. The female broods the chicks for 10 days while the male hunts and guards the territory. Chicks grow quickly and are able to fly within 30 days after hatching. Both parents continue to care for the fledglings another month. By September, the family will have gone their separate ways and formed new territories.

Every year I look forward to adding new birds to my list. Often, I travel to birding festivals to find one that isn’t a native. But honestly, I’m always amazed at the number of birds I find close to home. Reportedly there are more than 450 bird species that can be found in Colorado, which means I have about 250 left to find.

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: The arts: Attaching head to hand

By Janet Sellers

"Life is trying things to see if they work." —Ray Bradbury

I recently read an insightful comment on art and learning by one of Canada’s leading artists, Robert Genn, and I feel compelled to share it with you here:

"Art education can last more than one lifetime. In our day, when math, history and even language skills can be quantified and measured, giving clear percentages that pass or fail a student, it’s good to know the arbitrariness of art still persists. The teaching of art stretches young minds to new levels of curiosity, wonder and appreciation of our world. And while anything goes and solutions may be open-ended, there is still room for the joy of craft, proficiency and standards. Technical knowledge, design, drawing and an understanding of colour are still out there for each new generation."

The visual arts have a legendary and highly regarded reputation in our country. But they stay low on the active priorities among schools and even in the federal government (which supports our schools and thereby has a great degree of influence) with the current push for the "hard" subjects such as math, science, and reading. Those are regarded as the main subjects in what may be promoted as the intellectual education of our children—and ourselves.

But the basis of school involvement is in fact one of "education" and not just "intellect." Intelligence is not merely intellect or facts—we have encyclopedias and computers for that—and they do have an amazing ability for crunching numbers and data that are guided by—one would hope—actual human intelligence.

Even though we have a dabbling of the arts in our schools, the truth is that the arts are not respected or accessed as readily as math or science. This is possibly because there are no tests, no viable measurements for unlimited imagination in the poetry of creative thinking. And, teachers in public school are bound by specific goals of measurement for a specific range of studies. The common thread for Colorado schools in the Department of Education arts curriculum description is "manipulation of materials." This allows for hands on the materials without regard to the intelligence required in the process of creating the actual objects of art.

Perhaps the arts are too complex or too subtle for testing applications. And yet, the arts require discernment, judgment, and more in the generative aspect of the work as well as in the appreciation of the arts. The arts require a solid functioning of judgment and a building of a strong relationship to the processes in order to have intelligent results.

I’ve collected some information for you to participate in the arts this month in making art and in just enjoying it. I hope you join me at art this month in our community either by making some art in a class, at home, or by taking in the views at our arts venues around town. And remember, sharing the art you make is important for your quality of life as well as it being a lot of fun.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

The TLCA January exhibition centers on art "from the earth" done in wood and clay. Installation of art is Jan. 7, and viewing is daily except Sundays. The opening reception will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Jan. 11. The show continues through Feb. 2. TCLA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake.

Bella Art and Frame

A January group exhibit presents work by nearly two dozen artists at Bella Art and Frame. The show includes works in such varied media as oil, acrylic, watercolor, fiber arts, photography, and ceramics as well as jewelry and sculpture. The show has an open house feel to it, and the artists have their own niche wall space throughout the gallery. Bella is located at 183 Washington St. in Monument.

Secret Window Art Gallery

The Secret Window Art Gallery continues its ongoing exhibit of its featured artists. My personal favorite this month is a large painting of an Arabian mare, Desert Queen, by artist Ezra Tucker. Secret Window Gallery is located in the spacious adobe-style building at 47 Third St., Monument.

Call for Entries: Tri-Lakes Views

Tri-Lakes Views, a local organization for arts and historic interests, announced the 2013 Call for Entries for its annual outdoor public art exhibit titled ARTSites. ARTSites is a yearlong outdoor sculpture on loan exhibit displayed in the Tri-Lakes area. Entries are accepted January through March each year, and artists should submit digital images on a CD of all entries. For more information, contact Dr. Betty Konarski: bkonarski@earthlink.net.

Call for Entries: Visions of Light Photographic Exhibition

The TLCA has issued a call for artists for the March 2013 "Visions of Light" Photographic Exhibition, with John Fielder, nationally renowned photographer, publisher, teacher, and preservationist, as juror. The TLCA is located at 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For details, contact the TCLA at 719-481-0475.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American artist and writer. She does both because she can’t make up her mind which one she likes best. She makes public art sculptures and is a "script doctor" for novels and screenplays. Sellers lives in Woodmoor, Colorado. She can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Click here to view the on-line version. Snapshots of Our Community starts on page 25.

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December and January library events

By Harriet Halbig

The library’s Cookies and Claus and Holiday Harps programs were well attended and brought family cheer as the year came to a close.

We thank all of our patrons for their good ishes and for bringing some of their out-of-town guests to introduce them to the library.

A special new addition to the library is the large mural above the study room windows. Created by the Monument Creative Arts Program, the mural commemorates the library and Tri-Lakes Cares, with artwork of ducks and pond, Paws to Read, and the Empty Bowl Dinner.

For those who attend the children’s story time on Tuesdays, please note that the times for the program are now 10:30 and 11:15.

Family programs in January

The Family Fun program for January is Meet the Star Wars Storm Troopers from the 501st Legion. Come meet this dedicated group and learn how their light wands and other Star Wars weapons work. You will make a Star Wars craft to take home. Bring your camera for a great photo op! The program will be on Saturday, Jan. 12, from 1:30 to 3 p.m.

The Lego Club will meet on Saturday, Jan. 19, from 10 to 11:30. Legos enthusiasts of all ages are welcome to bring their cameras and creativity for this monthly session. Please do not bring your own Legos. All pieces used to make projects remain the property of the library.

The AfterMath free math tutoring program returns on Mondays from 3:30 to 7 p.m. This program is open to all ages to sit down with our volunteer tutors to smooth out trouble spots. No appointment is necessary.

Adult programs

The Adult Reading Program for 2013 will kick off on Monday, Jan. 14. Adults are rewarded with prizes and goodies when they participate in the eight-week Pikes Peak Library District Adult Reading Program. This year’s theme is Winter Wonderland. Come in between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on the 14th to register, receive your reading log, and enjoy a customized winter drink from the Hot Chocolate Bar!

All patrons are welcome to attend the Monumental Readers monthly book club. This month’s selection is Unbroken, a World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand. The club meets on Friday, Jan. 18, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Ever wonder what to do from a tax perspective for your working teenager? Is your working income offset from by having a preschooler in daycare? Find out from master tax advisor Deborah Mullica. She will offer a presentation on these and other tax issues to maximize your return. Question-and-answer session to follow. The program will be on Thursday, Jan. 30, from 7 to 8 p.m.

Teen programs

The Crafty Teens program for January is Make a Scarf/Give a Scarf. Make a fleece scarf for yourself and one for Tri-Lakes Cares as part of our Teen Advisory Board’s winter clothing drive. Enjoy snacks while doing something nice for your community. The program will be on Wednesday, Jan. 16, from 3:30 to 5. Register online at the library or call 488-2370.

The Teen Advisory Board is conducting a winter clothing drive for Tri-Lakes Cares until Jan. 16. It is seeking new or gently used coats, scarves, gloves, and hats. Please hang the coats on the rack in the teen area and put the other items in the box above it. Receipts will be available at the front desk.

On the walls during January will be art work from the students of Palmer Ridge High School. In the display case will be a variety of spindles for spinning yarn.

Palmer Lake Library events

Studies have shown that young readers can increase their fluency by reading to a quiet and patient dog. Come to the library on Thursday, Jan. 10, from 4:30 to 5:30 and on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 11 a.m. to noon to read to one of our Paws to Read dogs, Kirby the golden retriever or Misty the Sheltie.

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

January’s Family Fun event at the library is the Bestway Super-Hero Trash Recycler. Meet the amazing MRF Man from Bestway Recycling who will teach you all about recycling the 50 tons that Colorado Springs recycles every day! Learn what trash can be reused and recycled from your home. Plus, you can make a great craft from recycled items to take home. The program will be on Saturday, Jan.19, from 10:30 to noon.

New works by Palmer Lake Elementary School artists will be presented by their teacher, Kelly
Blake, on Thursday, Jan. 31, at 4 p.m. New works of art will be presented each six weeks. In the main area of the library, enjoy nature photographs by local artist Claudia Godec.

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

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Western Museum of Mining & Industry, Dec. 28: Burros mingle at museum

By David Futey

On Dec. 28, the Western Museum of Mining & Industry held Winter Break with the Burros. This event was an opportunity for museum visitors to meet the museum’s mascots, Nugget and Chism, and learn a little bit about the role donkeys played in mining history. Visitors could also play pioneer children games and "shop" at the prospector store to gain an understanding of costs of food, shelter, and mining equipment in the 1880s.

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

David Futey can be reached at dfutey@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

    Jan. 9–Raspberry chipotle chicken, roasted potatoes, & salad
    Jan. 16
    –Ham, scalloped potatoes, & salad
    Jan. 23
    –Tuna on a croissant with avocado & chips
    Jan. 30
    –Chicken Caesar salad & garlic bread

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.

Recycle Christmas trees this weekend

The county Tree-Cycle Program has a local drop-off site for natural Christmas trees (decorations removed first) at the Baptist Road trailhead at Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway, open Jan. 5-6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A donation of $5 supports El Pomar Youth Sports programs throughout El Paso County. Trees will be ground into mulch that will be given away free while supplies last. For more information call 520-7878 or visit www.TreecycleCOS.org.

Air Force Academy Boy Scout Troop 78 is offering its 12th annual Christmas Tree Recycling program as a conservation project and to raise funds for the boys’ camping. Christmas trees can be picked up from homes in the Academy School District 20 area or brought to four drop-off locations on two weekends, Jan. 5-6 and Jan. 12-13, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The locations are Eagleview Middle School (Vindicator Blvd.), Rampart High School (Lexington and Union), Western Museum of Mining (Northgate Blvd and I-25), and the Air Force Academy (North Gate, B-52 Scout Camp). Cost: $10 for drop-off, $15 for pick-up are the suggested donations for trees less than 10 feet tall. Please remove all lights and ornaments. For more information or to arrange a pick-up at your home or business, visit: https://sites.google.com/site/usafatroop78 or call 719-428-5402, or email usafatroop78@gmail.com.

Library’s adult reading program, Jan. 14-March 11

This year’s theme is "Winter Wonderland" and is open to anyone age 18 and older with a Pikes Peak Library District library card. The program runs Jan. 14 through March 11, and adults can read any eight books of their choice. Books on CD, audiobook players, eBooks, and eAudiobooks count, too! To register, bring your library card to any PPLD library and sign up at the information desk or sign up online at ppld.org beginning Jan. 14. Reading logs will be available at all libraries, but you may keep track of the books you’ve read using any method. After you read your first four books, visit your nearest library to pick up your first prize. If you read four books by Feb. 18, you will be entered in the Mid-Program Prize Drawing. If you read eight books by March 11, you will be entered in the Grand Prize Drawing for a Kindle Fire tablet. The program has great prizes this year! For more information, call 531-6333.

Tri-Lakes Cares blood drive, Jan. 15

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership will sponsor a community blood drive Jan. 15, 3-7 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St., Monument. License ID required. No appointment is needed, just walk in. For more information, call nurse Jackie Sward, 481-4864 x 103.

TLWC grant applications available Jan. 15

Continuing its 36-year tradition, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will once again consider grant requests for special programs and projects from 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools that significantly serve the Tri-Lakes area defined by School District 38. Applications and instructions for the 2013 grant awards will be available on the TLWC website (tlwc.net) from Jan. 15-March 15, 2013. Completed applications (which must include certain required documentation) must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2013. Late and/or incomplete applications will not be considered. Awards will be announced to grant recipients in late May. For information, email Sandi Liston, Grant Committee Chair, at santoliston@comcast.net.

MVEA scholarships, apply by Jan. 15

Graduating high school seniors might be eligible for one of the 14 $1,000 scholarships offered by the Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA). Requirements and applications are available at an MVEA office, high school counselors’ offices, or online at www.mvea.coop. Info: 719-494-2670.

Free 12-week fall prevention course, Jan. 22

Tri-Lakes YMCA will offer Moving for Better Balance, a fall-prevention course, beginning Jan. 22. The class meets every Tuesday and Thursday, 1-2 p.m., at 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. Call 481-8728 to register.

Haunted Mines:They scare because they care

Haunted Mines is an all-volunteer charitable organization that raises money for the Western Museum of Mining and Industry and other local charities. The 100-plus participants in this all-volunteer organization work all year to plan, build, and bring to life their amazing Halloween "haunted house" production. The 15,000 visitors to the Haunted Mines this year were immersed in an alternate world of underground mines and tunnels, turn-of-the century western towns, spooky swamps and creepy farms, cemeteries and mausoleums, all while trying to escape the monsters that lurk within. This highly interactive haunted attraction consistently earns top rankings in the state year after year. This year the group donated $102,000 to the community, bringing the total donation after just a few years to more than $500,000. The recipients include the Mining Museum, Tri-Lakes Cares food bank, the Wescott Fire Protection District, and the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. Numerous other local organizations benefited from tickets and other non-cash donations.

LEAP—Help for heating bills

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

Seniors in need

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

Clear snow and ice around mailboxes

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

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.

Volunteer drivers needed

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.

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.

Check out energy savings at local libraries

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

Free gun-lock kit

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

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