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Vol. 13 No. 6 - June 1, 2013


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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 16.2 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

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

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, May 16: Need cited for more teachers and student support

By Harriet Halbig

In his annual report to the District 38 Board of Education, District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) Chair Chris Amenson said at the May 16 board meeting that he is concerned about the downward trend in student test scores, especially at the middle school level, and how the trend might affect the district’s standing in the future.

Amenson said that DAAC’s responsibilities include the examination and approval of each school’s improvement plan and extensive analysis of test scores and other data involved in the district’s accreditation. The committee met at several schools where principals explained their priorities and solutions to challenges.

Through access to this information, Amenson reached several conclusions.

Although the district continues to perform very well compared to others in the state, Amenson expressed concern about data involving academic growth gaps, the difference between the growth rate of the general education population and the free/reduced-cost lunch eligible, English Language Learners, and those on IEPs (individual education plans). He said that he feels these gaps are caused in part by the major cuts in funding for support programs, such as reading and math coaches.

Amenson said that the consolidation of two middle schools into one, resulting in larger classes and reduction of teaching staff, also contributed to declining scores. He said that he predicts that the district could lose its "accreditation with distinction" status if the problems are not addressed immediately.

He recommended three primary steps to improve the district:

• Hire more teachers at the middle school level.

• Increase support for those with IEPs, English Language Learners and other at-risk populations.

• Replace capital assets in the district. This replacement of such assets as school buses and technology has been postponed for the past several years.

Amenson’s conclusion was that the district desperately needs to raise revenue because it would be impossible to cut spending further without doing additional damage to student performance.

Superintendent John Borman agreed that class sizes in the middle school are too large, but that is partially a result of teaming. To lower class sizes, teaming would need to be eliminated.

Board Treasurer John Mann commented that there are also too few teachers at the high school level, resulting in each having to teach six sections rather than the former five. This makes it difficult to get to know students and give them the individual attention they may require. He also commented that the district needs more paraprofessionals and interventionists to act in supporting roles.

Communications plan update

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair reported on progress in the district’s communications plan.

She said that Borman is on track to take the district’s story to the community through meetings with homeowners associations, Kiwanis, the Lions Club, the Monument Board of Trustees and other groups. She said that the response had been positive, and the public is learning that some of its perceptions about the district are inaccurate.

Borman said that he has held many of these meetings and finds the questions to be challenging but indicative of public interest.

Adair said the next step in the plan is to analyze public opinion and schedule contacts for the summer. There will be a direct mailing in the near future.

Borman said that the board had held a work session the previous evening, including principals and administration staff, to discuss the prospect of requesting a mill levy override (MLO) on the November ballot.

Board President Jeffery Ferguson agreed that more resources are needed and asked what the deadline would be to place a request on the ballot.

Adair responded that requesting an initiative and submitting the wording are two separate actions, required about 60 days before the election.

Board Vice President Mark Pfoff said that members of the public who had been skeptical about past spending by the district are learning that cutting $11 million from the district’s budget has had a definite negative impact.

Pfoff added that the most important population to convince is the segment that does not have children in the schools. They need to see that a decline in the quality of the schools could result in a decline in their property values, and this in turn could also affect the business community in the area.

Pfoff added that since there is no guarantee of increased funding from the state, it is necessary to ask the community for help. The district’s staff and teachers have delivered all they can under the circumstances and it is time to ask for support from the public.

Budget matters

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman presented budget adjustments for the 2012-13 school year, including transfer of funds from the general fund to the capital reserve to fund some emergency capital repairs such as a new boiler for Lewis-Palmer High School, correcting water seepage at the middle school, and repair of the asphalt at Lewis-Palmer Elementary.

She said that she would like to set up a reserve for a BEST grant for a new roof for Lewis-Palmer High School. If the district does not receive the grant, it will reapply next year.

Addressing the proposed budget for 2013-14, Wangeman said some figures are unavailable from the recently passed state school finance bill, but it appears that per pupil funding will be $6,311, an increase of $166 from this year, but still $341 below the state average.

Wangeman predicted an increase of 60 students from this year and an increase of 10 students in the Lewis-Palmer Home School Enrichment Academy.

Wangeman said that 2013-14 will be the final year in which $350,000 from the cash in lieu of land fund can be included in the district budget. Although the rate of home building is increasing, it is unwise to predict its impact while planning, she said.

Due to an increase in real estate activity, it is projected that there will be an increase in property tax revenue but a decline in special ownership taxes on such items as cars and boats.

In a positive note, Wangeman said that the parents and students of the district have raised $3.3 million through ticket sales and other activities.

Online curriculum proposal discussed

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton and Lewis-Palmer Middle School Principal Seann O’Connor spoke to the board about a new online curriculum for grades 5-12.

After researching several options and testing two, O’Connor said that A+ Colorado Courseware is the favorite. Its meets the cost requirements of the district and offers superior customer service while providing diagnostic capabilities and suggesting ways to support the weaknesses of specific students.

The program is useful in many capacities, according to O’Connor. Among them:

• Students who miss school for long periods can catch up at home and teachers will not have to prepare catch-up materials.

• Students in special education can do their lessons individually if desired.

• More levels of instruction can be offered with additional support materials to add practice for those who may be struggling or more challenging work for gifted students. Remedial materials are included in the program.

• Homebound students at the upper elementary level may also use it.

If approved, the materials could be used starting next summer.

When asked about budget concerns, Benton said that the high schools have a budget for online resources and the middle school has shifted funds from other programs to support this.

Other matters

The board voted to approve an increase of 10 cents in the price of school lunches. This increase is required by the Colorado Department of Education and the federal government in order to continue to receive funding for the free/reduced-cost lunch program.

Wangeman said that, due to the success of the district’s food service program, excess funds will be used to replace equipment in the district’s kitchens.

The board approved the provision of worker’s compensation insurance by Pinnacol.

The board passed a list of routine matters such as approving school closures due to weather, minutes of previous meetings, and contracts.

Representatives from the Lewis-Palmer Home School Enrichment Academy in grades K-2 presented a program about Colorado geography and demonstrated a square dance.

**********

The Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on June 20.

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

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, May 7: Allocations proposed for expected budget increase

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer District Accountability Advisory Committee discussed several end-of-year matters at its May 7 meeting. The school district expects to receive a $1 million increase in funding next year regardless of whether voters approve a state education budget increase in November.

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman summarized the state’s budget for the coming year. She explained that K-12 education comprises 38 percent of the state’s budget, and this portion decreases as the baby boomer generation ages and requires more funding for Medicare and other benefits.

She said it appears that per pupil funding for the next year will be $6,311, an increase of $185 per pupil.

If the School Finance Reform Bill, SB 13-213, is passed by the public this November, it will add $1 billion to the state’s K-12 education budget. While this sounds generous, Wangeman said that this would merely restore funding cut over the past four years.

This billion-dollar increase would be applied to items such as longer school days and years, more funding for special education, additional teacher training, adding preschools to underfunded districts, filling positions in rural areas, charter school construction, and other needs determined by the CDE. District 38 may not benefit from all of these.

Other changes would include more frequent students counts (now only once a year), availability of full-day kindergarten, and full funding of high school students regardless of how many classes they take.

At present, it is estimated that the district will receive $1 million more for next year regardless of the fate of the finance reform bill. Of this $1 million, $250,000 will go to funding the Public Employee Retirement Administration (PERA), $25,000 will cover increases in district insurance costs, and it is hoped that $250,000 could be applied to a 1 percent raise for employees. The remainder could be applied to such investments as the purchase of an additional school bus and improvement in the district’s technology assets.

It is estimated that the student population will continue to grow at the rate of about 60 students per year and that increased development in the area may make available additional cash in lieu of land funds in the next few years.

Wangeman also said that grants will be requested for such projects as a new roof for Lewis-Palmer High School.

The committee voted to approve Wangeman’s report for presentation to the Board of Education.

New staff evaluation system reviewed

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton explained the new staff evaluation process to be used beginning in 2013-14. This process, mandated by Senate Bill 191, places 50 percent emphasis on professional practices and 50 percent on student learning outcomes for teachers.

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) offered a sample framework for the evaluation but allowed individual districts to develop their own, provided that they met state expectations. Lewis-Palmer opted to use the CDE’s professional practices portion and created its own format for student learning outcomes, and it has been approved for use.

In the first year, the process will be used to evaluate all certified employees. This will be a "hold harmless" year to test the effectiveness of the process.

Standardized test scores from the Transitional Colorado Assessment Program (TCAP) and the World-Class Instructional Design Assessment (WIDA), an English language proficiency test, will provide the basis for any TCAP or WIDA assessed area and be included as part of the evaluations. However, teachers for grades K-2 and 11-12 and those who do not teach subjects evaluated by these tests will be evaluated under district and school-wide data only.

In brief, principals are evaluated by the district’s superintendent by way of a 25-page document detailing their professional practices and an equal amount of data detailing the school’s performance.

The school’s performance is detailed in data from its School Performance Framework. In general, all schools in the district meet or exceed state requirements, except for a few subgroups: free/reduced-price lunch eligible, English Language Learners (ELLs), minorities, and students on an Individual Learning Plan. These subgroups often do not grow or perform at the same level as their peers.

To take this into account for the evaluation, the district has developed a system whereby, if members of a group grow acceptably in two of three areas (reading, writing, and math), the school receives an "equity bump" in scores and the results appear in the principal and teacher evaluation for the following year.

In this way, schools such as Palmer Lake Elementary, with larger at-risk populations, are potentially given additional points for their scores because they have larger numbers of students in the growth gaps groups.

Benton said that she hoped to work with teachers and principals in the district to create a similar accommodation for teachers’ evaluations in the coming year.

Teachers are also evaluated for professional practice via the teacher-level 23-page document and 50 percent on the basis of student achievement. Teachers are evaluated by their principals.

Special education program report

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Ann Fleury gave a presentation on her department’s responsibilities and activities. Her department encompasses special education, ELLs, the Section 504 disabilities law, and Response to Intervention.

Fleury enumerated the various specialized programs addressing autism and other disabilities, the creation of a Dual Diagnosis program at Prairie Winds Elementary, and the Significant Support programs at Kilmer Elementary, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, and Palmer Ridge High School. The district also offers Child Find services to diagnose children with disabilities as early as age 3.

The department also offers the Transitions program for students ages 18-21 on an IEP. This program offers life skills training, vocational training and the ability to attend community college and receive support in coursework.

Fleury said that there are significant needs for professional development for special education and general education teachers, especially with the new emphasis on inclusion of special education students in the general education classroom. Funding has been severely cut. One way she has tried to compensate for this is to have any teacher who attends outside training present the material to his or her peers.

The role of paraprofessionals in the special education program is being re-evaluated to encourage students to be more independent.

Board Liaison John Magerko spoke on legislative initiatives impacting the school budget. The state budget can be viewed at http://www.cde.state.co.us/cdfinance/ScoolFinanceFundingFR2013-14.htm. Lewis-Palmer’s numbers appear on row 63.

**********

The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month during the school year. The next meeting will be on Sept. 10 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Special Education Advisory Council, May 8: Superintendent, council look for ways to improve transitions

By Harriet Halbig

Lewis-Palmer District 38 Superintendent John Borman attended the May 8 meeting of the Special Education Advisory Council to discuss a document regarding the transition process between grades, schools, and semesters. The council agreed that the Special Education Department should develop a checklist of things that parents are entitled to request to enhance the transition process.

Transition was the focus of the council during the 2012-13 school year. The group consists of Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Ann Fleury, Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay, special and general education teachers, and parents of students in the special education program.

The discussion was facilitated by the council’s chairman, Suzanne Faber.

A primary concern of the group was lack of consistency in transition practices from one school to another. Some parents reported excellent results, while others were frustrated when schools refused their requests for such things as knowing the name of next year’s teacher or taking a trial ride on a school bus in the spring before middle school.

Faber said that it should be reasonable to expect best practices to be shared among the schools.

Fleury said that this issue had been discussed with special education staff, and a method of sharing this information was being sought. In the past, a special education leadership team met monthly. Because special education teachers are tied to their schools, it was difficult to ensure attendance. In the coming year the leadership team will consist of the department’s psychologists, who are better able to have the time to meet.

The psychologists attend the first IEP (individualized learning plan) meeting for each student and for each triennial meeting. In this way it is certain that they are aware of the needs of students, their progress, and the accommodations they require.

Back-to-school issues

The council discussed back-to-school practices. It is helpful for some students to know who their teacher will be the following year, although the teacher could change because staff is re-evaluated from one year to the next. Some students also wish to meet their new teacher and see their new classroom or school, and learn such things as how to use a locker and change classes. Other students need to avoid stress by beginning earlier or later than their peers. (Fleury said that this is now an option.) Some students may prefer to have a paraprofessional (para) with them at orientation.

Fleury and Nay emphasized that all students do not have an IEP meeting in the spring, and therefore it is not feasible to provide the name of the teacher for the following year to everyone. General education students often do not have this information.

The council said that it is critical to help parents understand the level of achievement of their student, to determine the best way to communicate with teachers, and to receive a list of books the student will be using. In some cases, parents like to have copies of textbooks and future assignments at home so that the student can feel better prepared in class.

Parents stressed that it is important for teachers to read each student’s IEP before school starts. In some cases parents provide additional information regarding behavioral and personality traits of their children, which could aid in defusing problems in the classroom. Some parents also want to meet with teachers a few weeks after the beginning of school to learn how things are going.

Superintendent Borman listened to the conversation and agreed that some changes were necessary. After posing some questions, he learned that not all parents need each of these actions, but for those who do, it is important to know that they may request them.

Borman said that in the past, teachers often did not receiver IEPs until a few weeks into the school year, by which time the situation could be problematical. It is now emphasized that teachers read the documents before school starts to familiarize themselves with the students.

Borman commented that as a result of budget cuts a few years ago, paras are available five fewer days a year and may therefore not be available to participate in orientation or other activities prior to the start of school. But it may be possible with planning, he said.

After further discussion, it was agreed that the Special Education Department should develop a checklist of things that parents are entitled to request. The list will be provided to parents and teachers. In this way, parents will not feel powerless, students needing special help will receive it, and both the parents and the school will be aware of the same possibilities.

**********

The Special Education Advisory Council meets at 6:30 on the second Wednesday of each month during the school year. The next meeting will be on Sept. 11 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Hotshots’ fire safety advice

By Lisa Hatfield

Working 16 hours or more a day for 14 days in a row during a wildfire emergency, the 20-person Pike Interagency Hotshot Crew works shoulder to shoulder, using chainsaws, pickaxes, and modified shovels to cut fire lines to contain wildfires. "It’s that teamwork that keeps you going, keeps you positive," said Kevin Neiman, superintendent, Pike Interagency Hotshots.

"We’re still in a drought. We’re still behind on moisture. The potential (for wildfire) is always there," Neiman warned residents. "The best thing they can do is prep their property well ahead of time so it’s fire safe, to let the firefighters get in there and be able to defend it properly." He asked homeowners to do the work now to clear away "the heavy fuel load right up to the structure. It really makes it easier for us to get in there and makes their homes defendable."

Pikes Peak Hotshots is a national firefighting resource based in Monument. The nation has over 90 federally funded hotshot crews who travel to wildfires as needed. When there are no fires to fight, the crew does fuel mitigation work and studies fire scenarios and the effects of terrain, weather, and fuel on wildfire behavior.

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

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Preparing for a wildfire in Woodmoor

By Emma Gaydos

What would happen if a wildfire struck Woodmoor?

The Woodmoor Improvement Association Firewise Committee held a community meeting titled "Preparing a Personal Wildfire Action Plan" April 30 in the Palmer Ridge High School auditorium to address the possibility of a wildfire in Woodmoor.

The speakers, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District interim Fire Chief Bryan Jack, Kathy Russell, emergency preparedness planner for El Paso County, and Assistant State Forest District Forester Dave Root spoke to the crowd of about 60 people. Their message: If more people would fire mitigate, make plans for evacuation, and prepare for a wildfire, more homes and lives would be saved.

Chief Jack said that in the event of a wildfire, especially when it comes into contact with homes and neighborhoods, firefighters perform a decision "triage" to determine whether or not saving the home or neighborhood is practical and survivable. Homes that are fire mitigated are much more likely to be saved, whereas homes that are surrounded by fuel are more likely to be "written off" and left to burn because firefighters have to use their resources efficiently to save as many houses as possible.

Homes that don’t have defensible space may create a "domino effect"—if one home goes up in flames, the nearby homes may follow, making the firefighters’ job much more difficult and possibly resulting in the loss of the entire neighborhood.

But disaster preparedness goes beyond fire mitigation, as Russell explained. She said that although the Mountain Shadows evacuation during the Waldo Canyon Fire last summer was primarily successful, some victims were nevertheless caught without transportation, children and pets were in some cases left home alone when the evacuation became mandatory, many people were underinsured, and there was far too much emphasis placed on automatic notification.

Pointing out that reverse-911 call systems are overly strained in the event of a disaster, Russell advised residents to use social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to keep informed. She stressed that people should get out as soon as they are ready and not wait for the evacuation order. She encouraged residents to prepare a "go kit" for everyone in their family, prior to evacuation. These kits should include medications, documents, and photographs. Residents should have a container for every pet, she said.

Root provided advice on home preparedness. He said that if residents look upward and see more trees than sky, the trees need to be thinned. He emphasized the importance of defensible space and encouraged homeowners to contact a forestry volunteer or the local fire department for a free consultation and to make fire mitigation plans.

Emma Gaydos is a seventh-grade student reporter. She can be reached at emmagaydos@ocn.me.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, May 22: Board discusses recreational use around Lake Woodmoor

By Harriet Halbig

At the May 22 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board member Tommy Schwab proposed that the area west of Lake Woodmoor be made available for recreational use.

Schwab said that the attraction of the Tri-Lakes area is the use of the lakes and the ability for all to enjoy them. Palmer Lake now is dried up and unavailable and Monument Lake is limited in availability. The north and east sides of Lake Woodmoor are private property, but the west side, near the library, is unimproved. Some people walk along there, sometimes with their dogs, but there are many signs stating that it is private property.

WIA board President Jim Hale said that, originally, Lake Woodmoor was the property of WIA. It was possible to fish and swim in it and to use boats without motors. Several triathlons used the lake for their swimming portion. Hale said that Woodmoor Water purchased the lake in the early 2000s and has since prohibited any recreational use because the lake serves as a reservoir for the community.

Hale said a new developer plans to build several homes on some common areas along the southeastern shore of the lake. He said these areas could offer future opportunities for community members to enjoy the lake. Architectural Control Director Darren Rouse said every other water source in the county is available for recreational use, including all reservoirs.

Hale requested that Schwab facilitate conversations between Woodmoor Water and the WIA to enable members of the community to enjoy this feature of the neighborhood.

Homeowners Association Manager Matt Beseau reported that he had recently attended a class about writing contracts for services to homeowners associations. Beseau also reported that there are now 554 approvals required for the WIA governing documents and that he has a list of those yet to respond. He offered to send the list to members of the board if they would be willing to contact friends to encourage them to respond.

Treasurer Tom Schoemaker reported that the association is still 4 percent under budget on expenditures. He said that the bank transition was almost complete.

Public Safety report

Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that the Woodmoor Public Safety road survey had been completed, and it submitted the 11 most serious issues to the county Department of Transportation. Four of these will be addressed by the county.

Nielsen said that several community members have called about cigarettes being dropped by the roadside or thrown from cars, causing a fire danger. Nielsen suggested placing signs around the community or considering this practice to be a covenant violation.

Bears have been seen in the north Woodmoor area—a mother with two large cubs and two individual adult males. Nielsen stressed that the public avoid contact with them and not leave food outside.Rouse reported that his committee continues work on the design standards manual and hopes to have it ready for board review next month. He also said that the committee is keeping a list of the remaining shake roofs in the area.

Chipping day a success

Forestry Director Eric Gross reported on the success of the chipping day on May 18, with 20 percent more participants than last year. He said that he will keep track of the number of members requesting a second day this year.

Gross reported that he will confer with the Architectural Control Committee on the design standards manual in order to make fire safety recommendations with regard to materials.

The FireWise Committee received a $30,000 grant from the state for fuels reduction efforts by homeowners. The funds can be used from June 2013 until September 2014.

The Forestry Committee will send letters to residents whose properties border on common areas to encourage them to reduce the amount of scrub oak.

Common Areas Director W. Lee Murray reported that work on the Barn deck has been completed and that bids for the spraying of noxious weeds and mowing are being finalized.

Anne Stevens-Gountanis, the newly designated director of Public Affairs, reported on a recent Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) meeting at which an expert in low water landscaping gave a presentation. She suggested that WIA offer a class with him. After a brief discussion, Beseau agreed to contact him to create a demonstration garden near the Barn.

Hale reported that the Monument Hill Country Club will open its golf course for the season June 1, after talks with Woodmoor Water resulted in a change in the tiered rating schedule for irrigation of the course.

The board discussed options for the association newsletter now that the country club would no longer be contributing to its cost. It was agreed to publish one more hard copy to be sent by mail and thereafter have the newsletter appear on the website, with a limited number of hard copies available in the office.

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

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

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Work now to save lives and property from wildfires

By Lisa Hatfield

Wescott Fire Protection District Fire Marshal Margo Humes and Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Marshal John Vincent presented wildfire safety information to homeowners at two meetings organized by the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, one on May 11 at Lewis-Palmer High School and the other on May 14 at Palmer Lake Town Hall. Humes and Vincent used examples from the Waldo Canyon Fire, described fire behavior, and explained how homeowners can make their homes more fire-proof and get to safety during a wildfire.

On the "blowout Tuesday" of the Waldo Canyon wildfire last summer, "The fire blew at 65 miles an hour down the mountain," Vincent said. "There was 300- to 400-foot flame height in Cascade because of the number of trees that were burning." In addition to the fire’s flames, blizzards of burning embers blew through the air and started spot fires on houses and vegetation at least a mile away from the fire front.

Vincent and Humes explained that although people cannot control topography or weather, they can control the amount of fuel available to burn on their property. During a wildfire, firefighters only have a few seconds to decide if they "can defend this house, or is it a goner?" Vincent said. "I am not going to die to protect your home," he said. "We need you doing things (ahead of time) to defend your house too, and that’s creating defensible space." They provided these guidelines:

• Firefighters need to be able to see the house from the street without vegetation blocking the way.

• The roof is the greatest threat to the home. During a wildfire, if a home has a cedar shake roof, "We will not even stop," Vincent said.

• The most important zone to clear of fuel is the first 30 feet from the home.

• Remove scrub oak because of its flammable oils and the way it steals water from other trees and plants.

• Get rid of all the "ladder" fuels that can bring the fire close to the house and ignite taller trees.

• Get rid of junipers; firefighters call them "gas cans on a stick."

• Thin out pine trees so there is 10 feet of clear space from the end of one branch to the branch on the next tree. This lets each tree get enough water so it is not stressed and weak, and good spacing helps slow crown fires.

An ember storm is like "the worst blizzard you’ve even been in, but all those snowflakes are cherry-hot embers," Humes said. Residents can "harden" the home against embers:

• Replace cedar shake roofs and cedar siding.

• Clear pine needles from the roof and 15 feet from the house.

• Use metal window screens and put 1/8-inch metal screens across attic vents to prevent embers from blowing in and igniting a fire.

• Remove wooden fences that can act like a fuse leading fire to the home.

• Lawn furniture or a propane tank on a wooden deck is fuel for a fire.

Vincent asked residents to think about alternate routes out of their neighborhood in case the usual exit routes are closed off. "There are only four ways out of North Woodmoor, and only two ways out of Palmer Lake," he said. If there is an evacuation imminent, he said, "Leave early! Give us a chance to work."

Humes told homeowners to "take bites out of this (fire mitigation) elephant; you won’t get it done in one year, but take a whack out of it a bit at a time."

For more information on defensible space, evacuation planning, and home hardening, see http://www.wescottfire.org and http://www.tri-lakesfire.com or call local fire protection districts.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, May 21: Wescott to discuss "relationships" with Black Forest district

By Lisa Hatfield

At the May 21 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meeting, the directors discussed how to proceed after finding out the district was not allowed to make an extra principal payment on the current construction loan and named members to a joint committee with Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District to discuss "future relationships."

The absences of Chairman Scott Campbell and Director Joyce Hartung were excused. Director Greg Gent chaired the meeting.

Black Forest joint committee

The board entered an executive session after the regular meeting to "determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategy for negotiations, and instructing negotiators."

In an email to OCN on May 22, Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall wrote, "After the executive session, there was a motion made by Bo McAllister to appoint two Board Members and the executive staff (Chief [Vinny Burns] and Assistant Chief [Scott Ridings]) from Wescott Fire to form a committee with Black Forest Fire for the purpose of discussing future relationships. Harland Baker seconded the motion. The Board voted unanimously to move forward with the joint committee and named Bo McAllister and Joyce Hartung as the committee members from Wescott."

Glitch for extra loan payment

Burns and Marshall explained to the directors that the extra $185,000 principal payment on the construction loan that the board approved in April could not be made, because the loan structure does not allow extra payments. The whole loan balance can be paid off early, but this would not reduce the fixed minimum amount of overall interest that must be paid to the lender.

Director Harland Baker asked if it were possible to refinance into a new loan that could be paid off early in order to reduce district debt. The directors discussed their concerns about the cost of refinancing and the possibility of using the rollover fund money for other projects. For example, Burns mentioned that the district’s self-contained breathing apparatus will need to be replaced next year at a cost of $136,000.

The board asked Marshall to invite Wells Fargo and Integrity Bank to the June board meeting to give competitive quotes on refinancing the construction loan.

Chief’s report

Assistant Chief Scott Ridings reported that the total of 166 calls in April was 5 percent less than the 175 calls in April 2012. No fire loss was reported in April; the only fire was a mutual aid call to a garage fire in Black Forest.

Ridings invited local residents to the Summer Safety Fair on June 1 and to stop by Station 2 on Highway 83 anytime to see the new fuel break. He said there was good participation in the Pleasant View Chipping Day on May 4. (See photo on page 29 of the on-line edition). Ridings estimated that Pleasant View homeowners have done 20 acres of fire mitigation work, and grant money is allowing them to take advantage of a 50-50 match from the state to help pay for more mitigation work.

Pleasant View is the first neighborhood in the Wescott district to become a Firewise Community, and Ridings now hopes to help other neighborhoods in the Wescott district to get organized in the same way.

The new station alerting system has been not purchased yet, Ridings said, because the district might have another alternative for funding it, so he has slowed down on the project while he does research.

Financial report

Marshall said the district’s financial balances as of April 30 totaled $1.4 million: People’s National Bank $266,000, Colorado Peak fund $179,000, ColoTrust Fund $439,000, and Wells Fargo Public Trust $547,000. Marshall said there were no unexpected expenses in March or April.

The initial information gathering stage of the annual audit for 2012 is going smoothly, she said.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. June 18 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month. Residents are always welcome to attend. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, May 22: Unexpectedly higher rates of tax money

By Bernard L. Minetti

Treasurer John Hildebrandt advised the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board May 22 that monthly revenues continued to show significant increases. He said the extra money was significant, but a judgment on whether the tax revenues would continue increasing had not yet been made and the trend might be temporary.

Hildebrandt said that the district had received $1.8 million or 44.66 percent of its annual budgeted property tax revenues through April. The Specific Ownership Taxes received were $119,790 or 48.11 percent of the annual budget, with ambulance revenues at $182,682 or 37.67 percent of projected income. All income levels had markedly surpassed the budgetary projections.

Administrative expenditures were high due to "one-time" insurance and medical exam expenses, and he said that these will "normalize" as the year progresses. He added that all line sub-total items were under budget except salaries, which had increased at a 4.08 percent monthly rate. No explanation was given for the increase in salaries. Medical equipment and uniforms had been over budget in March, but were now under budget for the year to date.

Specific Ownership Taxes were ahead of projections by 14.78 percent. Overall expenses were over budget by 0.98 percent or at the 37.41 percent. The board voted to accept the treasurer’s report.

Hildebrandt asked about the status of the annual briefing of the board concerning the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA). This legislation is described as, "To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to improve portability and continuity of health insurance coverage in the group and individual markets, to combat waste, fraud, and abuse in health insurance and health care delivery, to promote the use of medical savings accounts, to improve access to long-term care services and coverage, to simplify the administration of health insurance, and for other purposes."

The board is required to participate in an extensive annual review of HIPPA, especially as related to personal privacy. No specific response was provided to Hildebrandt’s query.

Hildebrandt asked about the impact of "Obamacare" on the district financial status. Fire Chief Christopher Truty said that the rules appeared to be changing on a weekly basis as they come out and that it seems that there will be some impact on the district. He added that the subject would be reviewed over the coming month.

Board President Jacob Shirk asked for an update on the Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the district’s bookkeeping requirement. Truty said all three of the applicants "lacked something" and were not acceptable. Meanwhile the district would continue with the present bookkeeper and correct some of the deficiencies while a new RFPs was developed, Truty said.

Shirk asked about the status of the check signing for the district. Truty said he and the treasurer would be the check signers.

The official May 13 swearing in of the new fire chief was re-enacted at the meeting. Afterward, all available fire personnel also were sworn in to reinforce who the fire personnel are and what they do for the community.

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

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

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, May 9: Woodmoor board adopts new irrigation rate

By Candice Hitt

At the May 9 Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board meeting, District Manager Jessie Shaffer presented an analysis of potable and non-potable irrigation "blocks," or water use categories, and rates. The analysis was developed by Red Oak Consulting to assist the district with adopting new price rates and block volumes.

Shaffer stated that WWSD revenue needs are generated by blocks 1 and 2, which represent the bulk of customers. Shaffer also explained the difference in the rate structure between potable and non-potable irrigation-only users, outlining how the blocks were originally structured and stating that irrigation block volumes were likely lower what they should be.

Shaffer recommended larger volumes in each block. The board approved the new block structure on a trial basis for 2013 with an effective date of June 1. The volumes within the block structures were changed. The only rate that changed was for the first block of non-potable irrigation, which will increase from $2.21 to $2.35 per 1,000 gallons.

Operations and construction projects

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said about 1 million gallons of water per day were being pumped out of the Monument Creek Exchange into Lake Woodmoor. The exchange is a pumping station that pumps surface water owned by the district. At times of high flows in Monument Creek, the district can pump water from it.

The new lake mixers were scheduled to be delivered mid-May. Mandatory adherence to the customer watering schedule begins on June 1. About 976 customers have signed up to receive email updates and reminders from the district.

President Barrie Town again suggested that WWSD needs to let its customers know what is happening within the district on a regular basis. Shaffer stated the WWSD used to provide a monthly newsletter to the customers called Pipeline. Town stated it would be a good idea to provide the newsletter again on a quarterly basis. Shaffer will bring a draft copy back to the board next month.

Shaffer said he received an invitation from the Woodmoor Improvement Association to a work session with developer La Plata Communities. La Plata purchased all the vacant land in and around Lake Woodmoor and plans to develop the lots. It will start on the east side with 13 to 18 lots and slowly develop the rest. The project is in the preliminary stage.

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

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, May 15: Grant money would go toward protecting wellhead

By Susan Hindman

District Manager Anthony Pastorello has a plan for how to use the remaining $1,500 of a $5,000 grant that the Academy Water and Sanitation District received last year. At the district’s May meeting, he told the board that he had met with Paul Hempel from the Colorado Rural Water Association to discuss the grant money, which was awarded through the Source Water Protection Plan. Hempel helped the district set up the plan in 2011. Pastorello said he would like to better shield a wellhead at the Spring Valley Drive plant.

The wellhead is set on a steep plateau on the road and lacks any protection from vehicles that might accidentally clip it if a driver lost control. He would like to surround it with large boulders, and then wrap 8-by-8-foot fencing around all of it.

Pastorello said that if the entire job bid out for more than $1,500, Hempel said he could write out a new $5,000 grant request. Any excess could be put toward a second phase of well protection: installing fencing around the other two wellheads farther down Spring Valley Drive.

The board authorized Pastorello to obtain bids and submit them to Hempel.

One step closer to a website

Director Ron Curry attended training in Denver for building a website for the district. The session was conducted by the Statewide Internet Portal Authority (SIPA), which provides free assistance to Colorado governmental entities wanting to set up websites. Curry had already submitted text to SIPA, which input that material onto the site; Curry will now be able to fine-tune it.

He plans to be able to post emergency notices, as needed, on the site as well as regular updates about district issues (including the anticipated bond issue), other information, and even a picture of the directors. There is no email capability on the website, but he said he can arrange for that through Go Daddy.

Possible stricter effluent regulations

On June 10, the state Water Quality Control Commission will hear a proposal to change the Arkansas River Basin from Use Protected status to Antidegradation Designation—a move that would impose stricter regulations on the effluent that all treatment facilities release into the waters that eventually drain into the Arkansas. Academy discharges its effluent into Jimmy Smith Creek, which drains into Monument Creek, which winds its way to the Arkansas River. Changing the designation would have a profound effect on the district.

The district’s engineer, Roger Sams of GMS, earlier prepared a letter from the district directed to the commission, asking that Use Protected status be retained. By sending the letter, Academy would join most of the treatment facilities along the river basin protesting the change. The commission’s meeting will be held in Alamosa.

Sludge slowdown

Pastorello said that the lagoons have been accumulating sludge at a rate of 3 inches per year since they were cleaned in 2009. He said the lagoons have about 4 inches to go before they must be cleaned again, so the district may be able to save money and postpone the planned 2014 cleaning until the following year.

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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 June 19.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, May 16: General manager’s upcoming retirement honored

By Jim Kendrick

At the May 16 Donala Water and Sanitation District board meeting, Assistant Manager Kip Petersen introduced two new employees, Water Operator Matt Tracy and Waste Plant Operator Ronny Wright, to the directors. Petersen also took a moment to celebrate the retirement of General Manager Dana Duthie on June 14. Duthie will have served in this position for 20 years.

Petersen carefully presented a very heavy sheet cake, laden with very large chocolate-coated strawberries precariously placed around the perimeter, bearing the words "Fighter pilot to Water General Manager." Duthie is a retired Air Force F-16 fighter pilot. Petersen called for a recess to serve slices of this cake to Duthie, the board directors, and staff members in attendance.

All of Donala’s board members were "present for duty" at Duthie’s last board meeting.

Community meeting summarized

Duthie praised Petersen for his presentation on issues facing the district, the district’s response to each of them, and future challenges at a special community meeting held on May 15 at Antelope Trails Elementary School. This meeting was attended by 47 customers. In response to a question during this community meeting, the board unanimously approved a motion to post minutes of board meetings and budget executive summaries on the district website after the board has formally approved them at a board meeting.

The board also considered a question raised at this community meeting about Donala joining the Southeast Conservancy District, which would require an election in both El Paso County and Pueblo County and back payment of all property taxes for Donala properties back to 1962, amounting to very roughly $180,000. Although the cost of storage of Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch renewable water in Pueblo Reservoir might be slightly less if Donala becomes a member, the board decided to defer a decision at this time.

Willow Creek Ranch update

Petersen said that Donala’s one-year renewal of Donala’s Pueblo Reservoir storage contract with the Bureau of Reclamation in 2013 was finally signed on May 1 by both parties through the use of couriers. The effective date of the renewal is May 1, the first day of the year that Donala can start use of its decreed Willow Springs renewable water each year. This storage contract renewal will run through Dec. 31. Also, the district added $15,000 to its account that the bureau draws on for incurred expenses from time to time.

Flows from Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch property, near Leadville, are being remotely reported to the state as of May 1, following the spring thaw of the ice in the flume. Flows have been high enough for Donala to be in priority for exchanging or storing water since May 8. Petersen said the proposed sale of the ranch would be discussed in executive session.

Duthie briefed the board on how the district’s water flows are measured and stored, using a map of the region. He noted that the 2012 paper water exchange of some Willow Creek water with Aurora from the Twin Lakes Reservoir upstream of the Pueblo Reservoir, using Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) storage to minimize evaporation losses, has caused some problems with the bureau’s federal environmental analysis.

Duthie said the bureau has determined that CSU no longer has the right kind of storage contract with Pueblo Reservoir to be able to transport Donala’s stored water in the reservoir to Donala for distribution to its customers during periods of high demand. Duthie told the board that this problem was still not resolved. He also noted that current flows from Willow Creek Ranch are so high that they may exceed the Donala’s allocation for the month of May. He said that Donala should be able to use 60 acre-feet of water in May.

Duthie used a map to show how Willow Creek Ranch water is moved to Donala from Twin Lakes Reservoir through the Otero pump station to Rampart Reservoir, then to CSU for transport north to Donala. The alternate route for Willow Creek Ranch water goes to Donala’s storage rights in Pueblo Reservoir, per the new May 1 contract. This water then goes through a paper transfer to CSU storage rights in Pueblo Reservoir, so that it can be pumped northward to CSU through the Fountain Valley pipeline. CSU then pumps the water farther north to Donala for distribution.

The bureau says that CSU’s Pueblo Reservoir account does not actually list Willow Creek Ranch in its primary permanent storage account in its environmental impact study. In 2012, CSU listed Willow Creek Ranch in a separate temporary account that allowed transport of Donala’s water by CSU from Pueblo Reservoir to Donala. Now, however, the bureau has stated that this temporary CSU account is not effective for 2013 and it cannot move Donala’s water through Pueblo Reservoir to Donala.

CSU disagrees with the bureau’s position, as does Donala. The bureau says the required solution is to complete new environmental impact statement that lists Willow Creek as a source within a long-term Donala bureau storage contract.

Duthie said the only other process that would work is to make a paper exchange transfer of Donala’s water in Pueblo Reservoir (after a 10 percent evaporation loss) back to Twin Lakes for a direct transfer to CSU via Rampart Reservoir. The water transferred using this alternate method can then be credited as an offset to some of the CSU water used by Donala. Donala would pay cash for the rest of the water CSU provides during peak irrigation demands with a surcharge of 50 percent. However, accounting of actual flows, amount stored, and amount lost to evaporation is not as accurate using this method.

Donala’s water attorney, Rick Fendel, also briefed the board on the complex water law issues listed in his May 15 memo regarding the status of the one-year contract extension. There was a lengthy technical discussion of board member questions about how to resolve this issue promptly while flows from Willow Creek are high enough to give Donala priority for making use of this water. No decisions could be made by the board because of these ambiguous circumstances.

Financial reports

Petersen asked the board to sign new bank signature cards and adopt a formal resolution for approving the updated signature authority listing. The board unanimously approved the resolution and unanimously accepted the financial statements of revenues and expenditures, including a short summary of interest earned in Donala’s three funds invested in Davidson Fixed Income Management.

Petersen reported that he had received the late payment for Triview Metropolitan District’s quarterly payment for first-quarter wastewater treatment by Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. The payment was made on May 15. The Triview board refused to authorize payment in April when it was due, even though there was more money in Triview’s budget line item than was required to pay Donala on time on April 17.

Petersen noted that the Triview board had sent an April 22 notice to its water customers stating that Triview has the least expensive water rates in northern El Paso County. He also noted that Triview owes Donala a balance of $785,486 under the management agreement.

Peterson updated the board on the status of prehearing activities in preparation for the tri-annual Arkansas River Basin hearing for Regulation 32 before the Water Quality Control Commission in Alamosa on June 10. The Upper Monument Creek facility is supporting the initiative to use an alternate method of determining the correct copper water quality for Monument Creek north of Northgate Boulevard. For more information on hearing issues, see the May 16 Monument Sanitation District article and the May 21 Joint Use Committee article.

The board went into executive session at 3 p.m. to discuss property disposition and personnel issues.

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The next regular meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on June 20 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org/news-events/board-meeting-agenda.html.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, May 16: Board approves financing policy for customer pipe repairs

By Jim Kendrick

On May 16, the Monument Sanitation District board approved a policy to help some district constituents finance repairs of customer-owned sanitary sewer service pipes suffering from tree root infiltration that causes backups. The policy is designed to minimize the illegal use of copper sulfate to kill tree roots in service lines. Use of copper sulfate can lead to very large state and EPA fines for the discharge of excessive amounts of copper into Monument Creek by the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

The absence of Director Kristi Schutz was unanimously excused. The absences of Board President Ed DeLaney on March 21 and April 18 were also unanimously excused.

New district financing policy approved

District Manager Mike Wicklund stated that tree roots have grown into several leaking customer-owned service lines. These roots have then extended down toward the larger water supply available in the district’s collection line. Some of the affected customers have not had the money to excavate their service lines to repair the leak problem. When a domestic sewer line starts to back up into a home, the cost to have the tree roots cut out of the service line to restore a free flow from sinks and toilets is typically about $300. Just cutting the roots does not repair the leak in the service pipe. During the current drought, these tree roots grow back into the service line and may have to be cut out as often as every three months.

Wicklund noted that there is a high risk that frustrated customers might elect to use a bottle or two of copper sulfate, which is prohibited by Monument Sanitation District regulations, to kill these intruding roots.

However, the use of a jar of copper sulfate is sufficient to cause a very high copper concentration in the district’s domestic wastewater that enters the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. A high concentration of copper is very difficult for the plant’s activated sludge treatment process to remove. The high remaining concentration of copper in the treated wastewater that is discharged to Monument Creek can cause a Tri-Lakes facility discharge permit violation due to the tight restrictions being imposed by the EPA on the state of Colorado.

The danger to all the district’s customers is that these copper violations can lead to an EPA fine as high as $28,000 per day, which must be shared by all district constituents—about 1,000 homes and about 100 commercial businesses.

Wicklund stated that the cost of providing an interest-free loan to a customer to have the district repair a leaking service line so it can meet district standards is far less than the potential daily fine for a discharge permit violation. Such a loan would only be available if the district’s contractor performs the repair and if the Monument district has sufficient cash reserves to pay for the repair of a customer service line. Wicklund suggested that the affected customer could make small interest-free payments for a period up to 180 months (15 years). Such loans are available to property owners with failing septic systems who seek inclusion to the district. In both cases, if the property is sold before all the payments have been made, the balance of the loan would have to be paid off during closing of the sale.

The collection line repair loan would be subject to the same property tax liens that currently apply to tap fee loans and delinquent monthly service fee payments. Collection line repair loans would only be available at the sole discretion of the district on a case-by-case basis based on the prevailing service line and district financial circumstances at the time of the tree root infiltration.

The board approved this new policy by a 3-0-1 vote, with Director Don Smith abstaining, and asked Wicklund to have the district’s attorney provide a sample repair loan contract for review at the next board meeting on June 20.

The board also approved Wicklund’s request to obtain bids for cutting down dense mature trees in district easements where there are several older vitreous clay collection lines. The thicket of subsurface roots that has grown denser during recent drought periods can shift the position of these collection lines, causing failures of gaskets and linings designed to prevent root infiltration.

Final state nutrient grant rules discussed

Wicklund noted that Gov. John Hickenlooper signed House Bill 13-1191 on May 10. This bill appropriates $15 million over the next three years for state grants for planning, designing, and construction of capital improvements to state wastewater treatment plants with a rated capacity of more than 2 million gallons per day for treatment of nutrients such as phosphates, nitrates, and nitrites to comply with state Control Regulation 85.

The 34 available planning grants would provide $80,000 each and require a wastewater treatment facility match of $16,000 (20 percent). The 12 $1 million design and construction grants do not require a match from the facility. All planning, engineering, or construction financed by one of these grants must be completed and approved by the state Water Quality Control Division by Sept. 1, 2016. The amount set aside for each of the three years of administration by a division employee is $100,000.

House Bill 13-1191 is available at: www.leg.state.co.us/clics/clics2013a/csl.nsf/fsbillcont3/1E95DAB0015B3FFB87257AEE005853C0?open&file=1191_enr.pdf

Details for implementation of House Bill 13-1191 are available by clicking on the "Nutrient Management Grant Program" link on the Water Quality Control Commission "What’s New" page at: www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDPHE-WQ/CBON/1251596763746

The link for the Water Quality Control Commission’s Nutrients Management Control Regulation 85 is available at: www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDPHE-Main/CBON/1251595703337

Wicklund stated that the Tri-Lakes facility should definitely apply for one of the $80,000 planning grants. 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.

Even though the HB 13-1191 program was designed to provide grants directly to wastewater treatment plants, the Tri-Lakes plant is not a separate special district and has no taxing authority, which renders it ineligible to receive a grant directly. The Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor special districts will all sign a single grant application form for the Tri-Lakes facility as co-equal owners.

Possible TABOR issues

Wicklund also noted that seeking a construction grant may cause TABOR problems for the enterprise funds of each of the Tri-Lakes facility’s three owner districts. Under the TABOR amendment to the state constitution, the maximum amount a special district can accept each year from state grants is 10 percent of its operating revenue. Currently the annual enterprise fund revenue for both Palmer Lake and Monument is about $500,000, so each of these districts can accept no more than about $50,000 in state grants per year. The maximum amount of state grants that Woodmoor can receive each year is about $300,000.

If the construction grant reimbursement payments for design and construction can be divided into partial payments as various phases of the nutrient treatment construction project are completed during the three-year lifespan of this grant program, there may not be a TABOR problem for accepting some of the grant money each year through 2016. However, the specific rules for reimbursing the owner districts and municipalities of the 45 publicly owned treatment plants that are eligible for these grants for payment of contract fees have not yet been finalized, approved, and published.

The Monument board directed Wicklund to move forward in coordination with the district managers of Palmer Lake and Woodmoor to provide the Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee and the owner district boards with options and preferred alternatives for accepting a planning grant and a design/construction grant for a chemical treatment plant for enhanced removal of total phosphorus from the Tri-Lakes facility’s treated effluent. The three-member Joint Use Committee acts as the board of the Tri-Lakes facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards.

Tetra Tech of Denver will act as the facility’s consultant for developing these alternatives and completing the required state grant application forms by the June 30 deadline. RTW, the plant’s original engineering firm that designed and supervised construction of the Tri-Lakes facility, was purchased by Tetra Tech a few years ago. The former owners of RTW now work for Tetra Tech.

In other matters, Wicklund noted that there were no unusual payments since the April 18 board meeting. The cost for snow plowing cost by Oasis Landscape & Irrigation Inc. was $355. Total cash assets were $339,199, even though no tap fees had been received yet this year. None of the planned major capital expenses for this year had been incurred yet.

The board unanimously approved a $10 increase in the district returned check fee, from $25 to $35.

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

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

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

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Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, May 21: Draft 2012 audit approved

By Jim Kendrick

On May 21, auditor John Cutler advised the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) that his 2012 audit would contain an unqualified, or "clean," opinion. He noted that the amount of mandatory facility depreciation for the year was about $188,000. However, the facility’s cash balance actually increased by about $8,000. The draft audit was unanimously approved as presented.

Cutler said he would provide electronic copies of the preliminary final draft audit to the three owner districts for their individual 2012 district audits that afternoon. He will provide printed copies of the final audit for formal approval and signatures at the June 11 JUC meeting.

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, and Secretary/Treasurer Chuck Robinove, Monument.

At this meeting, Palmer Lake Director Joe Stallsmith filled in for Smith’s excused absence. Monument Director Don Smith filled in for Robinove, who arrived after the start of the meeting due to an overlapping appointment. Several other district board members and district managers from each of the three owner districts also attended the meeting.

Update on Monument Creek copper limits

During the financial report, Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks noted payments for two consultant work invoices for work done to support a facility request to the state to amend the facility’s two copper discharge permit limits: the monthly maximum individual copper test result and the 30-day average test result. The board unanimously accepted the financial report. The JUC approved a payment of about $8,000 for legal work performed by the facility’s environmental attorney, Tad Foster.

Also approved was a payment of about $3,000 for analysis of in-stream aquatic life data in a study of fish gill absorption of copper using the biotic ligand model. This work was performed by GEI Consulting Inc. of Denver.

The current three-year temporary modification to the Tri-Lakes facility discharge permit increases the copper limit for the 30-day average sample reading to 24.8 micrograms per liter (µg/l) and the peak monthly copper sample reading to 36.4 µg/l. This temporary modification expires at the end of 2014. The Tri-Lakes copper limits will change to a monthly average of 9.8 µg/l and a monthly peak of 15 µg/l on Jan. 1, 2015, for the last two years of the five-year permit.

The plant’s activated sludge treatment process was never intended to nor expected to remove copper. No copper limitations existed or were planned when the plant was constructed in 1998. No affordable treatment option is available that would meet these pending 2015 copper permit limits.

GEI formally recommended in the facility’s March 19 proponent’s prehearing statement that the Water Quality Control Commission establish site-specific dissolved copper standards of 17.4 µg/l on average and a peak of 28.4 µg/l on the sub-segment of Monument Creek from immediately above the discharge of the Tri-Lakes facility down to the North Gate Boulevard Bridge (Exit 156 on I-25.) This recommendation is based on nearly a decade of studies that led to GEI’s creation of a biotic ligand model as well as GEI’s fixed monitoring benchmark statistical analysis, in accordance with EPA’s new 2012 guidance document, of copper concentrations in fish gills.

These new results were documented in GEI’s update of its biotic ligand model study. If approved, this change would take effect before the Tri-Lakes discharge permit limits for copper revert to an average of 9.8 µg/l and a peak of 15 µg/l on Jan. 1, 2015. The Water Quality Control Division staff now appears ready to recommend adoption of the GEI recommendations to the commission on June 10.

At the commission hearing on June 10, Foster will present the Tri-Lakes facility’s formal request that the commission adopt new site-specific permit limits of 16 µg/l (average) and 25 µg/l (peak), the best performance that the plant can be reasonably expected to achieve now, for the rest of the permit period. Both limits are lower than the site-specific stream standards GEI has recommended. In-stream concentrations below the mixing zone will be much less than either the new Monument Creek segment standards or new Tri-Lakes effluent standards noted above after the effluent copper is diluted by the essentially copper-free Monument Creek headwater flows coming from upstream of the Tri-Lakes facility discharge location.

District manager’s reports

Mike Wicklund, Monument’s district manager, reported that the Monument board had approved a new policy to help limit the potential for illegal use of copper sulfate in leaking customer-owned sewer pipes that have tree root infiltration causing backups. Monument will offer financing for replacement of these damaged sewer pipes. For more information, see the May 16 Monument Sanitation District article.

Wicklund and Becky Orcutt, Palmer Lake’s district manager, both reported that the annual line cleaning and video inspections of their collection systems had been completed. Woodmoor Assistant District manager Randy Gillette reported that Woodmoor’s annual line cleaning and video inspections would begin later in the month.

Facility manager’s report

Burks noted the following individual monthly sample readings from the March Control Regulation 85 nutrients data collection report were:

• Ammonia nitrogen – 0.45 milligrams per liter (mg/l)

• Nitrite nitrogen – 0.35 mg/l

• Nitrate nitrogen – 2.00 mg/l

• Total inorganic nitrogen – 2.80 mg/l

• Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen – 2.30 mg/l

• Total nitrogen – 4.65 mg/l.

• Total phosphorus was 3.6 mg/l

Burks also noted the following monthly grab sample readings in this March Reg. 85 report for samples taken in Monument Creek below the mixing zone for stream and effluent flows––about a mile south of the Tri-Lakes discharge location where Monument Creek crosses Baptist Road, just west of the railroad tracks:

• Ammonia nitrogen – 0.13 mg/l

• Nitrite nitrogen – 0.00 mg/l

• Nitrate nitrogen – 2.00 mg/l

• Total inorganic nitrogen – 0.90 mg/l

• Total Kjeldahl Nitrogen – 1.03 mg/l

• Total nitrogen – 2.20 mg/l

• Total phosphorus was 2.6 mg/l

Some of the separate nutrient concentrations Burks noted for weekly testing in the March facility discharge monitoring report were:

• 30-day average for nitrogen ammonia – 0.7 mg/l; no permit limit

• Daily maximum for nitrogen ammonia – 1.2 mg/l; no permit limit

• Daily maximum for nitrate – 4.1 mg/l; permit limit is 23 mg/l

• Daily maximum for total inorganic nitrogen – 5.6 mg/l; permit limit is 23 mg/l

Two of the twice per month sampling results that Burks noted in the March facility discharge monitoring report were:

• 30 day average for sulfate – 34 mg/l; no permit limit

• 30 day average for chloride – 67.5 mg/l; no permit limit

The plant’s nutrient effluent limits in the next facility discharge permit, which is tentatively scheduled to be issued in January 2017 under Control Regulation 85, will be 15 mg/l for total inorganic nitrogen and 1 mg/l for total phosphorus. However, the Water Quality Control Division is currently running two to three years behind schedule in issuing new five-year discharge permits.

The interim value for total nitrogen in Regulation 31.17 that will become effective in 2022 for the Tri-Lakes facility is 170 µg/l, which is a more restrictive standard than a total inorganic nitrogen standard of 170 µg/l would be. The total phosphorus interim value in Regulation 31.17 that will become effective in 2022 for Tri-Lakes is 2.01 mg/l.

A new treatment chain will have to be installed to remove total phosphorus down to the 1 mg/l limit in Control Regulation 85. A chemical pilot plant will be built first to determine the exact settings that will be needed in a variety of waste loading, flow, and temperature conditions. A full-scale chemical treatment chain will then be added to the existing plant to meet the Control Regulation 85 total phosphorus discharge permit limits in the facility’s next five-year discharge permit. The chemicals that are currently used for removing total phosphorus are ferric chloride or aluminum sulfate.

The current Tri-Lakes discharge permit requires Burks’ staff to test for and report 30-day average readings each month for sulfate and chloride concentrations. The chloride and sulfate readings are being collected by the Water Quality Control Division to establish a baseline for the current concentrations before the planned pilot plant is built and becomes operational. Treatment of total phosphorus using either ferric chloride or aluminum sulfate will cause sulfate and chloride concentration in treated Tri-Lakes effluent to increase.

Some of the other twice-per-month sampling results that Burks noted in the March facility discharge monitoring report were:

• 30 day average concentration for copper – 8.5 µg/l

• Daily maximum concentration for copper – 9 µg/l

• 30 day average manganese concentration –35 µg/l; no permit limit

• 30 day average zinc concentration – 74 µg/l; no permit limit

• Hydrogen sulfide, lead, selenium, and nonylphenol were undetectable

Nonylphenol is a family of closely related organic compounds that are surfactant precursors to a wide range of household and commercial detergents. The nonylphenol in dry cleaning compounds has proven to occasionally be a hazardous material. For example, some dry cleaning sites in Colorado Springs have contaminated some of Security Water and Sanitation District groundwater wells.

Burks stated that he had contacted the facility’s permit writer to request a decrease in the frequency of the facility’s requirement for testing for nonylphenol. The cost for a single nonylphenol test is $350 and the current testing requirement is twice per month. All facility sample tests to date have been unable to detect any nonylphenol.

Mercury was again undetectable in the quarterly test. The quarterly whole effluent toxicity tests showed no effluent toxicity for the tested minnows and fleas.

The JUC also discussed various options and TABOR revenue constraints on seeking a state grant to help finance future capital treatment plant construction. Improvements will be necessary to meet inevitable tighter restrictions on total phosphorus concentrations in the plant’s treated effluent that will be imposed first by the Water Quality Control Commission’s Control Regulation 85 in 2017 and Regulation 31.17. For links for downloading these two regulations, see: www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite/CDPHE-Main/CBON/1251595703337

Each of the three facility owner districts can hold an election for a temporary or permanent waiver for the TABOR-mandated state grant ceiling for special district enterprise funds of 10 percent of the fiscal year’s operating revenue. This TABOR limitation on the three owner districts’ ability to accept large state grants is about $400,000 per year, which makes it difficult for the Tri-Lakes facility to accept a state construction grant of $1 million when the timing, number, and amount of grant payments are unknown.

The meeting adjourned at 11:35 a.m.

**********

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

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 6: LPHS boys’ state champion basketball team recognized

Below: The Town of Monument held its annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony at Dirty Woman Park on April 26th, 2013 to continue in the tradition of keeping our town designation as a "Tree City USA" city. Several citizens from Monument in addition to Public Works personnel we on hand to make this event an enjoyable one and to help beautify our community. Photo provided by the Town of Monument.

By Jim Kendrick

On May 6, the Monument Board of Trustees again formally recognized the Lewis-Palmer High School Rangers boys’ state champion basketball team. At the start of the 6:30 meeting, Mayor Travis Easton presented a certificate of recognition to Head Coach Russ McKinstry for winning the Colorado 4A state championship a second year in a row by beating Valor Christian 51-40 on March 16. The Rangers have made the final four in the state championships five years in a row.

Coach Russ McKinstry thanked the board for its recognition and support for the team’s athletic and academic performance, character, integrity, work ethic, and unselfish teamwork. He thanked his players and his coaching staff of Bill Benton, Kevin Englehart, Kevin Phillips, and Derrick Stone.

Trustee Steve Kaiser’s absence from the meeting was excused.

Public comments

Former Monument Trustee Gail Drumm, who continues to serve on the board of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, announced that the department had awarded a $27,000 grant to the town to fund a summer jobs program for fire and erosion mitigation.

Role of the Colorado Municipal League discussed

Sam Mamet, executive director of the Colorado Municipal League (CML), discussed CML’s roles in legislation, advocacy, information, and training for board members. He answered questions from the board and citizens and stated that he feels there will be a tax increase proposed on the November 2014 ballot to support transportation and transit.

D-38 "State of the District" briefing

John Borman, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 superintendant, presented a lengthy "State of the District" briefing on the status of D-38.

Some of D-38’s achievements that Borman discussed were:

• Accredited with distinction.

• Advanced Placement Honor Roll—the only district in Colorado to receive the award all three years of program and the only district in southern Colorado to earn it this year.

• However, Lewis-Palmer accreditation scores have dropped from 85.8 percent in 2009-10 to 81.6 percent in 2011-12.

Some of the items Borman discussed about D-38’s recent graduates in the Class of 2012 were:

• More than $14 million in scholarships and awards offered.

• National Merit Scholarship recipients at both high schools.

• Five U.S. Military Academy appointments.

• More than 82 percent will go on to postsecondary education.

• Advanced Placement scores—74.5 percent scored well enough to receive college credit (national average is 58 percent).

Regarding D-38’s impact on the community, Borman noted:

• Property values are higher than in neighboring districts.

• Numerous studies show strong schools are consistently a major factor in home sale values and growth.

• Great schools boost economic development and strengthen the business community.

• Strong schools improve quality of life by successfully preparing students to become productive citizens, skilled leaders, and caring contributors to society.

Some of the things Borman said D-38 is working to improve on are:

• In the past, some mistakes were made regarding financial and election issues and lack of transparency in decision making.

• It takes hard work to regain community trust and credibility.

• Major improvements have been made to financial transparency and the public decision-making process.

• The central staff in the Big Red school building has been reduced from 47 to 34 people, saving $1.05 million annually.

Borman went into great detail on the negative fiscal impacts the district has suffered in recent years. For example, the total annual reduction in available funding caused by increased costs and decreased revenues has risen from $1.2 million in 2008-09 to $11 million in 2012-2013 due to decreased state funding and local revenues, mandatory retirement cost hikes, inflation, utilities, fees, and other factors.

A total of $1.1 million in support cuts equal to 23 full-time positions has resulted in the reduction or elimination of Gifted and Talented Services; science coordinator; intervention for struggling students; math, reading, and writing labs; librarians; summer school programs; technology teachers; music/PE/art teachers; guidance counselors; and instructional coaches.

Other financial problems Borman noted were:

• 15 classroom teachers were cut to save an additional $750,000.

• Annual individual student fees have risen from $75 in 2001- 02 to $560 in in 2012-13.

• The deferred maintenance and capital replacement backlog is up to $30 million.

• The technology replacement/upgrade backlog is up to $2 million.

• There is significant risk of losing more quality teachers in the future due to salary freezes and future cuts.

• The rise in user fees has reached its practical limit.

Borman recommended:

• Small class sizes, smaller teacher course loads.

• Math and language intervention.

• More gifted and talented coordinators, aides, instructional coaches.

• A solid elementary foundation.

• Necessary number of teachers restored.

• Maintain advanced learning opportunities.

• Strengthen support for struggling students.

• Necessary technology.

• Safety and security.

• Quality teachers through recruitment and retention efforts.

For more information on how to help D-38 improve, Borman recommended that citizens:

• Monitor district news at www.lewispalmer.org.

• Attend monthly D-38 Board of Education meetings at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month.

• Watch board meetings on www.ustream.tv/channel/lpsd-live.

• Attend events listed on the district’s website calendar.

Proclamations

The board unanimously proclaimed April 27 as World Tai Chi & Qigong Day. Tai Chi, a traditional Chinese exercise, is a series of relaxed movements, increasingly found to benefit the health of people of many fitness levels.

The board also unanimously proclaimed May 25 as Take Pride in Monument Day to celebrate Monument pride with volunteer participation in community projects, clean-ups, minor exterior home repairs for those in need, and flower plantings.

Three liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved annual art gallery liquor license renewals for:

• Margo’s Inc., doing business as Margo’s on the Alley, 253 Washington St.

• RSL Development, doing business as The Village Merchants, 155 N. Jefferson St.

• Bella Casa, 155 Second St.

Landscaping code changed to reduce irrigation demand

The board unanimously approved an ordinance that amended the current town landscaping code by deleting the maximum limit of 20 percent in regulations for nonliving landscaping allowed for a non-residential site without Board of Trustees approval. The amendment also deleted the maximum limit of 50 percent for nonliving material for any site.

The proposed landscape changes are recommended to promote the planting of low water use landscape materials and allow sites to be planted with a mix of non-living and living material. Eliminating the nonliving material restriction will promote the town’s ongoing water conservation efforts and xeric landscaping requirements.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that new lots will be limited to 33 percent coverage of the pervious area by bluegrass and 50 percent drought-tolerant fescue. A combination of the turf types may be used.

Kassawara added that the remainder of the pervious area on any new residential lot shall be covered with a combination of natural colored cobble or gravel, wood mulches, and/or native grasses. Fifty percent of the remaining area shall be covered with a combination of shade trees, coniferous trees, and/or ornamental trees; and shrubs, flowers, and/or groundcover.

All plantings should be drought-tolerant and must be irrigated with a drip system or micro-spray system that uses a minimum amount of water. This restriction will not be retroactive to existing home landscaping.

The board also unanimously approved an amendment to the town sign code. The changes in these regulations:

• Adds banner board regulations for nonprofit and charitable organizations.

• Revises requirements for real estate signs and adds an allowance for displaying corporate flags under U.S. flags.

• Adds material requirements for ground-mounted temporary banners on private property.

• Adds a definition for nonprofit and charitable organizations.

The current code only allowed signs to be displayed on the property they referred to. Only one street sign could be displayed on the property, on its street frontage or at a development entrance from a major arterial road. The amended language will allow signs to be placed on any lot in the subdivision. The proposed change may result in off-premise signs, but only with the consent of the property owner who owns the property where the sign is to be located. This will allow greater visibility for the signage, which will benefit homebuilders and other entities wishing to advertise real estate for sale. The wording was changed to eliminate current sign clutter for subdivision entrances by adding a 300-foot spacing limit between real estate signs for a subdivision.

A corporate flag can now be flown until the last building permit is issued for the subdivision or if the model home is the last residence that sells. Presently, there is no such allowance for corporate flags. The maximum proposed flag size is 24 square feet.

The new banner board language is a joint effort of business owners and staff to provide a mechanism for nonprofit and charitable organizations to advertise special events, at no charge, at up to four proposed locations in the town.

Each banner board may be up to 10 feet wide, 6 feet high, and 30 square feet in area. There will be two advertising spaces and a Town of Monument logo on each board. The final design of these town banner boards will be presented to the Board of Trustees for final approval. The final design will be consistent with the design for new directional signs that the town will install for the downtown area. Construction and installation of the banner boards will be a partnership between the town and private individuals. The staff will monitor use of the banner boards and maintain them with assistance from volunteers led by local business owner John Dominowski.

The new town banner boards will cost $3,975. A contribution of $1,000 from local organizations will help pay this cost. They will be placed at four locations in town:

• The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce at Highway 105 and Third Street.

• Old Denver Highway and Baptist Road.

• On Jackson Creek Parkway near Higby Road.

• North of the MVEA substation on Jackson Creek Parkway.

New language requiring specific materials for ground mounted banners is being added. The new language proposes that ground mounted banners must be attached to 4-by-4 wood posts, or metal posts at least 2 inches in diameter.

The new approved definition of a nonprofit or charitable organization is a group designed to benefit society or a specific group of people. Its purpose may be educational, humanitarian, or religious. A nonprofit or charitable organization must be recognized as tax exempt by the IRS and the State of Colorado.

The Planning Commission voted 6 to 0 to recommend approval of these revisions at their meeting on April 10, 2013.

During public comments, Dominowski said the volunteers would work with Public Works Director Tom Tharnish to maintain the banner boards. He thanked the Easton and town staff for meeting with him and "bending over backwards to make this work."

The board unanimously approved these revisions and the banner board locations in a roll call vote.

Fourth of July street fair permit approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the temporary closure of Lincoln Avenue, Front Street, Third Street from Front Street to Beacon Lite Road, and Beacon Lite Road from Third Street to Second Street from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the issuance of a special event permit for conducting the annual Monument Hill Kiwanis Club’s Fourth of July parade. Traffic will be restricted to through traffic on Old Denver Highway from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. between Santa Fe Trails and Second Street.

Patrick Quinlan, the 2013 parade director, noted that the U.S. Air Force Academy Band would participate in the parade this year, along with about 10 other bands and 200 horses. There will be 65 volunteers assisting police and fire personnel as parade marshals.

Promotional contract approved

The board unanimously approved a $20,000 contract with Blakely and Co. to promote activities in the town of Monument and attract visitors.

Sidewalk grant agreement approved

The board unanimously approved an Intergovernmental Agreement between the Town of Monument and the Colorado Department of Transportation for downtown sidewalk improvements. The state funding to be provided for the project will be $791,858 over the next four years. The town match over the next four years will be about $183,142.

Financial report

The board unanimously approved a payment of $12,425 to A Cool Breeze Heating & Air Conditioning for the final payment for installing radiant heaters in the Public Works Shop.

Deputy Treasurer Monica Harder reported that General Fund revenues for March were $52,000, or 1.3 percent, more than the amount budgeted. General Fund expenditures were $124,000 less than budgeted, or 13.3 percent. Water Fund revenues for March were $193,000, or 10.5 percent, less than the amount budgeted. Water Fund expenditures were $116,000, or 10 percent, less than budgeted. The cash net for all funds was $393,149, up $217,948 from February.

The board unanimously accepted the March financial report.

Staff reports

Interim Town Manager and Town Treasurer Pamela Smith distributed a draft lease-purchase agreement from Wells Fargo Bank with a 2.14 percent interest rate for three years or 2.43 percent for five years. The bank’s loan committee was expected to approve the proposal within two weeks.

Tharnish reported that the town held its annual Arbor Day tree planting ceremony at Dirty Woman Park on April 26 to continue in the tradition of keeping the town designation as a "Tree City USA" city. See photos above.

Tharnish reported his concerns about the Triview Metropolitan District water situation to the board. "There has been some concern about our citizens that live within the Triview Metro District and are on the Triview water system."

Nick Harris, Triview’s operations supervisor, recently was hired as the Monument Water Department’s chief operator.

Triview has contracted with ORC Inc. to have a consultant fill Triview’s "operator in responsible charge (ORC)" position, a mandatory requirement for having an operator with the correct minimum certifications to operate the Triview water system.

Tharnish reported, "I am concerned that this summer the requirements of an ORC for the Triview System will be demanding due to the amount of operational time and usual plant issues that arise every summer. I don’t know what the contract between Triview and ORC Inc. looks like so I can only hope that they have planned on having (an operator in responsible charge) onsite for the majority of the summer."

Tharnish advised the board that the crossing on Old Denver Road near the Ranchero Drive intersection is not a designated pedestrian crossing. The town does not perform any type of maintenance on this crossing. The speed limit on that segment of Old Denver Road would most likely require a flashing signal and installation of proper signage. The Public Works Department has no plans or 2013 budget funding for installing a pedestrian crossing at that intersection. The board agreed that the inappropriate pedestrian crossing sign near Ranchero Drive needs to be removed for public safety.

Tharnish stated the town’s tree company had looked at the trees along Second Street and reported three are dead and six "are on life support." The tree company will remove and replace the three dead trees and will continue trying to revive the six dying trees.

The well 9 raw water pipe repairs are complete and the treatment plant is back in full operation. Water Department personnel performed the majority of the work required and as a result saved the town several thousand dollars in otherwise contracted costs.

The board went into executive session at 9:26 p.m. for personnel matters. The session ended at 10:27 and the meeting was immediately adjourned.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 20: Town to contribute to regional water study

By Jim Kendrick

On May 20, Sean Chambers, district manager of Cherokee Metropolitan District and president of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), and Will Forsgren, a professional engineer for Forsgren Associates Inc., gave a presentation to the Monument Board of Trustees on a proposed $180,000 regional water supply feasibility study that Forsgren will perform for water suppliers in central and northern El Paso County.

Chambers, Koger, and Monument water consultant Gary Barber recommended that the Town of Monument contribute to the cooperative study, which will "identify the critical water supply objectives of each of the participants, identify and analyze possible joint water supply projects to meet those objectives, and plan for the necessary agreements and actions to develop the more promising projects." The board approved a $5,000 contribution to the study.

Trustees Jeff Bornstein, Rafael Dominguez, and Stan Gingrich were absent from the meeting.

Water shortfall facts presented to board

Forsgren’s regional water infrastructure study will be a follow-up to the Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) completed for PPRWA in 2008. Water providers that are members of PPRWA are heavily dependent on nonrenewable Denver Basin aquifer groundwater to meet their current water demands. These local government entities are proactively seeking to secure and deliver renewable water supplies for their customers and constituencies. The projected water shortfall through 2050 is expected to be about 22,000 acre-feet. A U.S. acre-foot is 325,853 gallons.

The Forsgren proposal states that the common need for sustainable water supplies and the geographic proximity of these providers create opportunities for developing regional water supply and delivery projects. By sharing resources, objectives, and focus in joint regional projects, the participating water providers can better address growing water demands in the years ahead.

The study tasks proposed were:

• Hold an initial scoping meeting to refine the study’s objectives.

• Perform a literature review on 17 documents regarding local renewable water issues.

• Meet with each study participant’s managers and operators to gather system information and discuss plans for future changes.

• Develop a preliminary summary of projected water supply needs for all participating providers.

• Coordinate with the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

• Develop alternative preliminary proposals for three main corridors—Pueblo Reservoir to Fountain, Fountain to Black Forest, and Black Forest to the Palmer Divide area—as well as reuse, exchange and trade opportunities, and other projects such as Flaming Gorge.

• Present the preliminary assessment at a project work session to clarify objectives, preferences, goals, and narrow down the number of alternatives to be analyzed.

• Finalize the assessment, rank the alternatives, and provide recommendations to each of the participants.

The study will cost about $180,000. In-kind contributions from participating members will be about $20,000. PPRWA will seek grants of about $30,000 each from the Arkansas Basin Roundtable grant account and Colorado Water Conservation Board statewide account. The study will take about 11 months to complete. Forsgren plans to start the study in November.

Barber stated to the board that as the chair of Arkansas River Basin Roundtable, he has been a "cheerleader" for this study. He said this is the first study that Colorado Springs Utilities has contributed data to.

There was a lengthy question-and-answer discussion of numerous technical issues on interconnections and methods of water delivery between the trustees and Chambers. There was also a discussion of how each participant determines their specific cash contribution. Chambers said it was up to each entity to determine the worth of the study and make a contribution accordingly.

The town’s water engineer, Bruce Lytle of Lytle Water Associates LLC, sent a written report to the town that was included in board member packets. Some of the comments in Lytle’s May 16 report were:

• I don’t see any new ideas here, only rehashing work and proposed supplies that has already been done to some extent in the El Paso County Water Authority Master Plan and the PPRWA WIPS study.

• I think Monument might be better served by a more focused study that could provide more tangible results such as reuse.

• It seems like the renewable sources of water they are going to be evaluating, e.g. SDS, Super Ditch, exchanges from the Arkansas, etc., have already been evaluated and, at this time, seem to be too expensive, the water quality is extremely poor, and/or legally you can’t do what they propose efficiently.

• The scope of the reuse task is very regional in nature and probably not very practical.

• Selling reusable return flows to farmers won’t come close to obtaining the value of your reusable water.

• Exchanging reusable return flows into Pueblo Reservoir will be available only on rare occasions and would not be reliable.

• The WIPS study indicated that exchanges are problematic, even when limited to the area north of the Air Force Academy, much less from Fountain Creek downstream of Colorado Springs.

• My initial recommendation relative to this study is that Monument should ask Forsgren to better explain what results would be provided from this study that are applicable to Monument, as it appears that a lot of the study has no real benefit to Monument.

• This would give you a better basis to assess how much you should contribute.

• My other recommendation is for you to meet with Woodmoor to see if a more focused, local study that is more likely to actually produce tangible results that can be acted upon isn’t a better use of your funds.

• If this study did produce some tangible results, I don’t think that Monument would be precluded from participating at a later date, as levels of participation are always in flux and it is our experience there is typically room for participants to join at a later date.

Contribution to Forsgren study approved

Barber again endorsed the efficacy of the Forsgren regional water supply study and recommended that the town donate $5,000 in 2013 and another $5,000 in 2014. There was board consensus to include another $5,000 contribution in the 2014 budget.

The recommended donation of $5,000 for this year was approved by a vote of 3-0-1. Mayor Travis Easton recused himself from both the discussion described above and the vote due to being a participating engineering consultant in the map drawing portion of the project.

Charlie Daniels concert approved

The board unanimously approved a special event liquor license and special events permit for the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts to hold a Charlie Daniels concert on Aug. 31 at the vacant former Lake of the Rockies campground at 99 Mitchell Ave. The initial application estimated attendance would be 2,500 ticketed participants. Police Chief Jacob Shirk asked that the event be capped at 5,000 participants to ensure public safety and that the promoters coordinate with the Police Department on safety and traffic control issues.

Fourth of July Bull Bash approved

The board unanimously approved a special event permit for the Monument Bull Bash, a bull riding event to be held on the vacant Goldwest II LLC lot on Beacon Lite Road just south of the Pankratz building and east of Grace Best School to be put on by Ty and Nancy Rinaldo of TNT Events LLC. The bull riding competition will be held between 2 and 6 p.m. July 4.

Downtown directional signage project approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution approving a $24,995 town contract with Streetscapes Inc. for design, fabrication, and installation of the Downtown Wayfinding Signage program. The first phase of signs will be completed by July 4. If additional funds are available after the mid-year town budget statement is completed, other new signage may be funded.

Public comments

Mark Kirkland of the Fourth of July Fireworks Committee asked the board if the committee’s flyer could be mailed as an insert in Town of Monument water bills. The board unanimously approved his request. Kirkland also asked the board for a monetary donation to the committee.

Town Treasurer and interim Town Manager Pamela Smith told Kirkland she would research the amount budgeted for this event and the portion that would be retained to pay overtime to Monument Police Department staff working on July 4 to support the committee’s fireworks display. Shirk said this cost is usually about $2,000. Smith said she would email that information to Kirkland.

Financial reports

The board approved a payment of $119,896 to Triview Metropolitan District for March sales tax ($109,391), April motor vehicle tax ($10,326), and April Regional Building Department sales tax ($179).

Sales tax revenue through March was $54,000 or 8.9 percent higher than the amount budgeted. The gross revenue to the town after the Triview payment noted above was $63,000 or 8.9 percent more than the amount budgeted.

Staff reports

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that the owners of Kum and Go had agreed to having additional town signs installed on their property to direct traffic exit onto Cipriani Loop rather than making a prohibited left turn directly into the northbound lane of Knollwood Drive. The town’s marketing firm has hired an intern recommended to them by the town staff to assist in promoting the town.

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish reported that the town cleanup event held on May 16-19 was a great success and four large dumpsters were filled with refuse by volunteers. Public Works has received all its new asphalt equipment and is "fine tuning and training at this time." This new equipment will be put into active service on town streets in the next few weeks. The staff installed three new maple trees during the annual Arbor Day planting ceremony at Dirty Woman Park on the east side of the pavilion.

Chief Shirk reported that one of the two Police Department range masters is attending a Patrol Rifle Instructor course that will certify him to teach other officers the proper use of the department’s AR-15 rifles.

The department provided active shooter training to Woodmoor library personnel. About 40 citizens and faith-based leaders attended a department safety and security presentation at Town Hall. Chief Shirk also said he had helped conduct a similar five-hour training session for faith-based leaders in Arvada on May 18.

Smith reported that all the field work by the town’s auditing firm had been completed. Wells Fargo Bank has given final approval to the capital lease agreement.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 3 at 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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El Paso County Town Hall Meeting, May 2: Sheriff attacks new state gun laws

By Lisa Hatfield

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa criticized two new state gun laws and discussed other current issues affecting law enforcement at a town hall meeting co-hosted with District 1 county Commissioner Darryl Glenn at Lewis-Palmer High school on May 2. Many of the 100 residents present asked questions, mostly about gun-related legislation.

Glenn encouraged residents to attend his second-quarter town hall meeting 10 a.m. Saturday, June 15, at the Lewis-Palmer High School auditorium. It will include information on Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority projects, other road projects including Doewood Drive and the I-25 widening, and an update on the economic impact of federal funding sequestration in the region. He said I-25 commuters can sign up for notifications about construction activity at http://www.coloradodot.info/projects/southi25expansion.

Legislation and law enforcement

Maketa spoke mainly about current bills that are written in ways that make them "impossible for officers to enforce in real-life situations." He also cited second and 14th amendment concerns. He said, "Unless these bills have a narrow focus to target criminals, and not target law-abiding people, we sheriffs are not going to support them."

On May 17, the Independence Institute filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state on behalf of 54 of the 62 Colorado sheriffs, as well as 21 other plaintiffs, with the goal of overturning two laws scheduled to take effect July 1:

• The universal background check bill (HB13-1229), signed into law March 20, will require background checks for gun transfers. Maketa said the current version of the bill would not actually keep guns out of hands of criminals, but would "criminalize law-abiding citizens" if, for example, a gun is transferred between spouses or friends. Instead, it ought to limit background checks to "permitted sales to unknown persons," he said.

• The high capacity magazine bill (HB13-1224), also signed into law March 20, will prohibit large-capacity ammunition magazines to be sold after July 1 and is intended to prevent mass shootings. But the challenge for law enforcement is that it’s impossible tell by looking at a magazine when it was sold and therefore if it is legal or illegal, Maketa said.

Sheriff’s comments on gun
rights and freedom

Maketa philosophized about legislative issues:

• "We need to refine laws so they target the people they are intended to target."

• A conservative estimate of the cost of companies leaving Colorado in response to the current gun legislation is $27 million to $47 million a year, including secondary contractors.

• "The burden should not be on the citizen to justify why they need something.… It’s a property rights issue."

• This legislative session is an attempt to empower law enforcement to enter a private home and confiscate weapons without a conviction.… We have to draw a line."

• The domestic violence bill (SB13-197) "targets a broader audience instead of those with history or tendency to violence" and would allow officers to enter homes without a search warrant.

• "Criminals should have a stiffer penalty if they steal a gun in a burglary. Let’s send a clear message to criminals."

• Maketa would support a bill allowing local school district decision-making on the "concealed carry" of firearms in schools. If schools could advertise that some of their staff "might" be armed, it would deter criminals.

Crime, fire, and marijuana

The sheriff had these additional comments:

• Don’t make it easy for criminals to steal property. Always lock car and house doors to prevent crimes of opportunity.

• More sheriff patrol units will be on the road soon because of the El Paso Public Safety Tax 1A approved by voters in 2012.

• Fire mitigation work will be done at Fox Run and Black Forest regional parks with the help of AmeriCorps volunteers.

• "Ready, Set, Go!" materials on planning for possible evacuations were distributed. See http://rsg.epcsheriff.com for more information.

• Amendment 64 to the Colorado constitution allowing for the regulation of recreational marijuana permits local governments to regulate or prohibit such facilities, and the Board of County Commissioners has voted not to allow retail recreational marijuana establishments in unincorporated areas after the law takes effect.

• The Legislature needs to set the parameters for marijuana regulations on revenue, DUI limits, etc., but so far "all questions have gone unanswered."

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, May 10: West Baptist Road planning progresses, but funding issue remains

PDF file of some plans for Baptist Road west. This is a 4.1 Mbyte file.

By Jim Kendrick

On May 10, Engineering Manager Jennifer Irvine of the El Paso County Public Services Department updated the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) on the current status of county plans, 30 percent complete, for widening Baptist Road on the west side of I-25 and building a bridge over the railroad tracks. However, Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority funding remained about $3.3 million short of the $7.5 million needed to complete the project.

BRRTA’s attorney Jim Hunsaker reported that a business owner within BRRTA had settled just before being taken to trial in front of an administrative law judge by the state attorney general for failure to remit BRRTA sales taxes to the state Department of Revenue. The business owner agreed to pay all back taxes owed to BRRTA, plus interest.

Hunsaker said both the Attorney General’s Office and Department of Revenue were "extremely happy" with how responsive he and BRRTA District Manager Denise Denslow of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP had been in preparing them to go to trial, even though neither office was very familiar with how rural transportation authorities work.

The other main agenda items were approval of the 2012 draft audit and staff financial updates.

BRRTA’s current primary activities are:

• Monitoring the county’s planning for the upgrades to West Baptist Road.

• Helping finance engineering work through the collection of BRRTA road use fees.

• Monitoring the state’s collection and forwarding of BRRTA sales tax revenues.

• Making principal and interest loan payments to the holders of BRRTA’s privately held revenue bonds that financed the expansion of the Baptist Road I-25 interchange.

The BRRTA board consists of three elected county representatives and two elected Monument representatives. The current members are County Commissioners Darryl Glenn and Dennis Hisey, County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams, Monument Mayor Travis Easton, and Monument Mayor Pro Tem Jeffrey Kaiser.

Hisey’s absence from the meeting was excused.

West Baptist Road improvements

Some of the items Irvine briefed concerning West Baptist Road work were:

• Preliminary design of the bridge over the railroad associated roadway improvements was underway.

• Surveying and geotechnical work was essentially completed.

• The initial field meeting was held with a Union Pacific railroad representative concerning requirements for building over the top of the railroad tracks.

• The intersection at Old Denver Highway will continue to have two stop signs for traffic control for now.

• Baptist Road will have a curved continuous connection to Forest Lakes Drive.

• Hay Creek Road will have one stop sign at the T-intersection with West Baptist Road.

• There will be a new T-intersection for the Dellacroce quarry driveway.

• More public meetings will be held if a roundabout at either the Old Denver Highway or the Hay Creek Road intersection looks like a good option.

• The county is seeking additional funding from energy grants (August application date) and a contribution from the railroad.

• Preliminary design will be completed by the end of this summer.

• Final design will be completed next spring.

• If enough funds are available, construction will start in fall 2014.

No additional funding has become available. Only $4.2 million is currently available for this $7.5 million project. There will be three phases of construction for this project:

• Building the bridge over the railroad tracks and eliminating the existing at-grade railroad crossing.

• Building the curved connection of the west end of Baptist Road to the south end of Forest Lakes Drive and a new access to the Dellacroce property.

• Building additional intersection lanes on Old Denver Highway and Woodcarver Road, as well as on Baptist Road between I-25, as required during future development.

Glenn asked Irvine to schedule one more public meeting after the preliminary design is completed. Williams asked if any cost comparisons for roundabouts versus the existing intersections had been done and whether the adjacent landowners to the proposed roundabouts would want to donate or sell the additional land required to construct them.

Irvine replied that roundabouts have a higher initial cost of construction. Converting to four-way stop signs at the Old Denver Highway intersection would fail to provide adequate service in about 15 years, when the intersection would require traffic signals. Any traffic signal construction and operational cost avoidance savings from constructing a roundabout now will not be realized for a long time. The proposed roundabout at Hay Creek Road would cost about $160,000, more than the one proposed for Old Denver Highway, because Hay Creek Road would have to be realigned. The Hay Creek Road roundabout would provide no near- or long-term traffic signal avoidance cost savings because a traffic signal would not be needed to replace the stop sign in the long term.

Specific details for the planned West Baptist Road upgrade are available at:

www.baptistroad.com/brw_mtg_2012nov.html#PrefAlt4

www.baptistroad.com/_dl/_2012nov/41HybridNorth.pdf

ww.baptistroad.com/_dl/_2012nov/42PreferredAlternativeProfile.pdf

Financial items

Clifton Larson Allen accountant and financial manager Carrie Bartow briefed the board on the draft 2012 BRRTA audit:

• Total year-end assets were $4.2 million.

• Total year-end liabilities were $16.4 million.

• The end-of-year "total net position" was a deficit of $12.2 million.

• Total revenues were $1.3 million.

• Total year-end general fund cash assets were $1.0 million, up $404,000.

• Total year-end service fund cash assets were $2.7 million, up $63,000.

• Total year-end cash assets were $3.7 million.

• Total year-end bond principal still to paid by the end of 2026 was $16.37 million.

• Total year-end bond interest still to paid by the end of 2026 was $7.42 million.

• Total year-end bond debt still to be paid off was $23.79 million.

The audit was unanimously accepted as presented. The auditor will complete the audit and file it with the state.

Payment of these financial claims was unanimously approved:

• $11,125 to Clifton Larson Allen LLP for sales tax administration, accounting, and district management.

• $3,524 to Spencer, Fane, and Grimshaw LLP for legal services.

• The first, and still only, Colorado Department of Transportation reimbursement payment for the Baptist Road interchange, plus interest, was $3 million.

Some of the items Bartow noted in her report on the first-quarter financial statement were:

• General fund road use fees were $7,500.

• General fund Interest was $162.

• General fund Expenditures were $14,659.

• The general fund balance dropped about $7,000 to $993,000.

• Debt service fund revenue was $162,610.

• Expenditures for collection expenses were $1,027.

• There were no principal or interest payments on bond debt yet in 2013.

• The debt service fund balance was about $2.8 million, up about $162,000.

• The capital projects fund balance was $13,206, up about $5.

• Sales tax revenue for January and February was about 8 percent higher than in 2012.

The first-quarter financial report was unanimously accepted as presented.

The board unanimously approved an engagement letter from auditing firm BiggsKofford P.C. for performing the 2013 audit next year for $4,250.

The board gave formal direction to open a "local no-fee" BRRTA bank account with Wells Fargo Bank.

Denslow reported that negotiations with Pikes Peak Regional Building are still continuing on an intergovernmental agreement for providing relevant sales taxes collected to BRRTA within the next six months. Glenn and Williams asked Denslow to provide them with specific details of issues remaining to be resolved so they could intervene on her behalf with local administrative staff members.

Glenn to hold I-25 town hall meet at Lewis-Palmer High

Glenn announced he would hold a two-hour town hall meeting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 15, at Lewis-Palmer High School to discuss transportation issues, particularly the I-25 widening project between Woodmen Road and Highway 105.

Monument Mayor Travis Easton noted that BRRTA had sent a letter on April 26 to several senior officials in the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority to:

• Again thank them for their partnership in completing the expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange.

• Express appreciation to CDOT for its first $3 million reimbursement to BRRTA, all of which was used to retire bonds early.

• Remind them that the remaining BRRTA debt is still over $18.3 million and would like it "to stay fresh on the radar" for additional payments as they become available under CDOT’s new multi-billion-dollar Responsible Acceleration of Maintenance and Partnerships program. (www.coloradodot.info/programs/RAMP)

The meeting was adjourned at 3:04 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 9 at Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the second month of the quarter. Information: 884-8014.

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

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Brookmoor Estates, county pursue solution to intersection issue

By Lisa Hatfield

The sight obstruction issue at the entrance to Brookmoor Estates has moved into the litigation phase after the realignment plans submitted by developer Michael Brennan to the county engineer didn’t meet county standards. The plans were submitted after the final public Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) hearing on this matter in mid-April.

Steven Klaffky, assistant county attorney, said in an email to OCN on May 23, "Currently the wall issue is being litigated and the Brookmoor Homeowners Association (HOA) has retained counsel to represent them in this matter. I am working with the HOA’s attorney to see about an alternative solution outside of court." He added, "Because we are now on the Court’s procedural calendar, it may be some time before an actual order is issued," and the county is still in the "preliminary pleading stages" of resolving this matter.

Brookmoor residents expressed concern regarding the sight distance as one reason they used the emergency-only access gate at the east end of Symphony Heights as a secondary entrance to their subdivision last year. But this was not an approved use, and this code violation was investigated by county Code Enforcement Officer Gayle Jackson. During her site visit to Brookmoor in July, she observed that the intersection sight distance at the main entrance of Brookmoor Estates was obstructed by the stucco perimeter wall at the intersection of Lake Woodmoor Drive and Moveen Heights.

The stucco wall that Brookmoor Estates’ second developer Brennan built at the main entrance in 2005 encroached on the Lake Woodmoor Drive public right of way and was not in compliance with the County Engineering Criteria Manual or the amended planned unit development site plan, Brackin said in a clarifying letter to Brennan on Nov. 20, and Brennan did not obtain building permits or a county site plan amendment. After sending several notices of violation to the HOA, Jackson and Gebhart referred the stucco wall sight line violation to the BOCC in December in an attempt to get the wall or the obscured intersection realigned so that drivers can see oncoming cars sooner when they enter the intersection from Moveen Heights.

The emergency-only access gate was locked again at the direction of deputy Director of Development Services Mark Gebhart in December 2012. However, the Brookmoor HOA recently hired an attorney to try to get the emergency-only access gate unlocked again for residents’ use as a through-street connection to Southpark Drive in the adjacent community to the east.

The issue went in front of the BOCC again Feb. 19 and March 12 but was not resolved. The controversy is now in litigation between the county and the Brookmoor Estates HOA. The HOA now owns the wall and is the subject of the county’s litigation, rather than Brennan. However, Brennan is also a board member of the Brookmoor Estates HOA.

El Paso County Engineer André Brackin said in an email to OCN dated May 15, "This is now a legal matter so I have to defer to the County Attorney’s Office. But I can say that I have not approved any plans for construction related to the sight distance issue or work in the right of way for Lake Woodmoor Drive."

On May 23, Dave Rose, county public information officer, said in an email to OCN, "The County Engineer says the configuration proposed by the developer is not acceptable. We understand that the developer has retained the services of former County Attorney Bill Louis so this may be an opportunity to further discussions to achieve a design which would work for both parties. The County’s primary concern is the safety of the intersection."

No further BOCC meetings on this matter are scheduled at this time, because it is now a legal matter.

For more information see: http://www.ocn.me/v13n5.htm#bocc.

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

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Public comments sought on oil and gas development

The U.S. Forest Service and Pike and San Isabel National Forests and Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (PSICC) held a meeting on May 22 at Bear Creek Elementary school to solicit comments on the PSICC Oil and Gas Leasing Availability Analysis Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The EIS analyzes the effects of potential future oil and gas development and focuses on surface-disturbing activities. Comments should only address activities that disturb the surface of the land.

See www.fs.usda.gov/detail/psicc/landmanagement/projects/?cid=stelprdb5418254 for more information about potential oil and gas leasing impacts and stipulations concerning coal-bed natural gas and conventional oil and gas development in the Pike National Forest.

The Forest Service is asking residents for:

• Substantive comments about the proposed action.

• Possible additional alternatives that we did not consider.

• Site-specific geographic comments about areas on the public lands that are important to you.

• Identify areas of cultural, social, economic or environmental importance that could be impacted by oil and gas leasing that are not already identified in the Forest Service’s proposed action.

For questions or comments, contact John Dow, forest planner, PSICC, 2840 Kachina Dr., Pueblo, CO 81004 or by phone at: 719-553-1476. Email inquiries should be sent to: psicc_oandg@fs.fed.us.

Only individuals or entities who submit timely and specific written comments will have eligibility to file an objection under 36 CFR 218.8. For objection eligibility, each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments must either sign the comment or verify his/her identity upon request.

Issues raised in an objection must be based on previously submitted timely, specific written comments regarding the proposed action unless based on new information arising after the designated comment opportunities.

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Two Village Center metro district board members face potential recall elections

 

By Lisa Hatfield

The El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office announced May 24 that there are two separate recall petitions for two members of The Village Center Metropolitan District, Bruce Hacker and Steven Barr. Recall organizers have 60 days from May 25 to gather 102 signatures to recall each respective board member. There are 254 eligible electors who can cast ballots in this election if enough petition signatures are gathered.

According to the district website http://vcmetro.net/, Village Center is located south of Highway 105 and East Knollwood Drive and provides several essential services for the Village Center community including maintenance of the streets, snow removal, and maintenance of the storm water system and the common areas. Below is a map of the district:

The Clerk and Recorder’s Office has estimated the cost of this potential recall election at $3,422, which will be charged to the district and not other county taxpayers.

For more information about this potential recall, contact Ryan Parsell of the Public Information Office at the Clerk and Recorder’s Office, (719) 351-9626 (cell/text message) or (719) 520-7322 (office).

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NEPCO meeting, May 11: Saving water takes landscape planning

By Lisa Hatfield

At the May 11 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), Steve Moorhead of Water Returns described methods of achieving water conservation through sustainable landscaping. He emphasized replacing Kentucky bluegrass and other non-native, thirsty turf with native Colorado grasses and other xeric plant materials that provide color and texture to homeowners’ yards and common areas in housing developments.

"It is better to invest in water efficient investments in your landscape than to keep paying for more water," said Moorhead.

Some highlights of Moorhead’s presentation and responses to questions:

• The main mission of xeriscaping is to save water by reducing the need for irrigation.

• Typically, 50 percent of a household’s total water use is consumed by irrigation of non-native grass lawns.

• Modifying the type of plants in the yard can reduce outside water use needs by about 30 percent.

• Good xeric design provides color and texture to the yard, improves the value of the property, and is a good return on investment due to reduced water use.

• Native grasses are the cheapest plant material to replace bluegrass, but another option is dense plantings of a variety of xeric plants.

• Assessment of soils, grade, drainage, and solar orientation is part of planning for plant selection for high, medium, and low watering zones for a sustainable waterwise landscape.

• Group plants and shrubs by water needs into distinct watering zones so it’s efficient to water plants as a group without over- or under-watering any of them.

• It is vital to improve soils before new plantings; 80 percent of vegetation problems relate to the soil.

• The firewise qualities of plants need to be considered when choosing new plant material. Junipers are particularly flammable and should be removed.

• Residents should clarify their goals with their designer or architect. Water, flood, and firewise principles all need to be integrated in xeriscape plans.

• Plant new materials sparsely to allow for their mature size.

• Water Returns does not advocate replacing turf with large areas of rock, and sometimes the percentage of rock allowed is limited by homeowners association (HOA) covenants or town ordinances.

• Mulches retain moisture in the soil. Wood mulch adds organic matter to the soil, and rubber shredded mulch doesn’t blow away as much as wood mulch.

• Underground irrigation systems are more expensive to install, work best on level areas of turf, and water does not evaporate or blow away, encouraging plants to develop deeper root systems.

• Demonstration xeric gardens of various stages of maturity can be seen at the USAA building on Research Parkway east of Voyager Parkway (just planted), at the Donala Xeriscape garden between People’s Bank and the Loaf & Jug shopping center at 13784 Gleneagle Drive (a few years old), and at the Mesa Water Treatment Facility on Mesa Road just north of Fillmore Street (20 years old).

• Bluegrass sod serves a purpose, but "don’t let it be the default." It’s up to individual HOAs to make rules on landscaping.

Current Colorado law does not allow graywater from sinks and showers to be reused for any kind of outside irrigation because of water rights and public health issues. However, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed HB13-1044 on May 15 allowing in-house graywater to be reused in toilets, but there are public health, water rights, and cost issues for graywater use in an entirely separate plumbing system.

Senate Bill 13-183, signed by Gov. Hickenlooper on May 10, prevents HOAs from requiring planting of non-native turf and punishing homeowners whose lawns die during times of drought and water restrictions.

Business meeting

At the business meeting, new Vice President Kelly McQuire reported on several land use issues north of Northgate Road that are under review. The NEPCO board will monitor Board of County Commissioners’ upcoming agendas and report to members of NEPCO.

The new NEPCO Transportation Committee needs a charter. County engineer André Brackin will be the main county contact, and Commissioner Darryl Glenn will be an additional contact. Non-county issues will be directed to the Monument Transportation Department.

**********

NEPCO’s mission is to promote communication and interaction among about 50 HOAs and residential areas in northern El Paso County in order to exchange ideas on topics of common interest and to develop collective responses to the county on issues affecting the quality of life of NEPCO member associations.

The next NEPCO meeting will be held at 10 a.m. July 13 at the Monument Town Hall and Police Building, 645 Beacon Lite Road at Highway 105. HOA attorney Lenard Rioth will address homeowners on HOA legal issues and recent state legislation concerning HOAs.

For more information on NEPCO, visit www.nepco.org or call Bob Swedenburg at 481-2723.

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

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May Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

May was a tale of two seasons around the Tri-Lakes region as we transitioned from winter during the first week of the month into summer with about a week of spring. The trend of record cold that we had experienced in March and April continued into the first week of the month, culminating with a monthly record low of 8° on the 2nd, but by the time we hit the middle and end of the month, summer-like 80s were common.

For the month as a whole, temperatures were cooler than normal and precipitation was higher than normal, a good combination as we head into summer. Also interesting to note was the delayed start to the growing season. The extended cold period, starting in late February, meant most plants were around three weeks behind schedule, with many trees not reaching full leaf until the end of the month.

Winter decided to make another appearance during the first few days of May. The high temperature of 33°F was reached at midnight on the 1st, with snow filling in quickly by 5:30 a.m. that morning. Snow continued to fall, heavy at times in the morning and middle of the afternoon. The few days of warmth at the end of April helped to melt a good amount of the snow during the day, as the ground was still quite warm. This limited overall accumulations to generally 4 to 8 inches.

The high of 33°F was a record low high for the date, as was the morning low on the 2nd of 8°F. This was the third month in a row with record monthly low temperatures (-9°F in March, -3°F in April) at this weather station (12 years of records). Temperatures slowly moderated over the next few days and the snow melted by the 5th.

The first full week of May started quiet and cool, with highs reaching the low 50s on the 5th, then mid-60s on the 6th and 7th. A slow-moving area of low pressure began to move into the region later on the 7th and continued to bring cool, unsettled conditions over the next several days. A nice, soaking rain fell on the 8th and 9th, with temperatures holding in the upper 30s to low 40s during the day.

It turned cold enough for some wet snow to fall overnight on the 8th, but the snow line remain just a little above us for most of this event. This allowed some of the higher elevations around Teller County to pick up over a foot of snow. Unsettled conditions stuck around through the first half of the weekend, as moisture left behind from this storm combined with stronger May sunshine to produce a few showers and thunderstorms on Friday and Saturday. Mother’s Day turned out to be beautiful, with sunshine and low to mid-70s.

The week of the 13th was a mild one overall, breaking the trend of below-normal temperatures that had been so persistent since February. Temperatures reached the upper 70s on the afternoon of the 13th and continued to warm into the 14th, reaching 80°F that afternoon. This was the first 80° reading since last September. Highs continued to hit the mid-70s to low 80s from the 15th through the 17th. Our first spring-like rounds of afternoon and early evening thunderstorms developed each day, dropping some beneficial rain showers. Slightly cooler air moved in for the weekend, dropping highs back to normal and slightly below levels, with low 70s on Saturday and low 60s on Sunday. Unsettled conditions also accompanied this cooler air, with showers Sunday afternoon producing rain and graupel.

The week of May 20 started cooler than normal and a little unsettled. Thunderstorms produced brief heavy rain and some hail during the afternoon of the 20th, bringing much appreciated moisture. Cool, moist air stuck around the next two days, bringing a brief shower late on the 22nd, then lots of low clouds, fog, and some drizzle on the 23rd. Temperatures were held in the 60s on the 20th and 21st before rebounding closer to average with low 70s on the 22nd.

The low clouds and fog on the 23rd held temperatures back to below normal levels, with upper 50s the best we could do as some sunshine appeared late in the afternoon. Dry, windy, and warm air quickly moved in for the rest of the week, just in time for Memorial Day weekend. The dry air mass also meant lots of sunshine, with just a few areas of afternoon clouds interspersed with high clouds at times.

A slow-moving Pacific storm system affected the region through the remainder of the month. This led to unsettled conditions, with cooler than normal temperatures and scattered showers. However, most of its energy and moisture stayed to our north and east. Therefore, accumulations of rainfall weren’t great, but we were happy to get whatever we could squeeze out.

A look ahead

By June we can usually say goodbye to our chance of snowfall but hello to frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms. There are times when see a little snowfall in June in the region, but most of the time we can expect warm, sunny days with afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

May 2013 Weather Statistics

Average High 65.8° (-0.8°) 100-year return frequency value max 75.7° min 57.9°
Average Low 34.1° (-1.5°) 100-year return frequency value max 43.2° min 32.5°
Highest Temperature 82°F on the 25th
Lowest Temperature 8°F on the 2nd
Monthly Precipitation 2.05" (+0.35" 20% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"
Monthly Snowfall 7.1" (+2.0" 29% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 101.8" (-25.3" 20% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 14.22" (-4.90" 26% below normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 468 (+40)
Cooling Degree Days 0

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at http://www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm.

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

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Letters to Our Community

Click here for guidelines for letters to the editor.

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

A new idea for treating ponderosa pine needles

Every homeowner with ponderosa pines lives with the ever-increasing and annually replenishing supply of pine needles. We love them for their everlasting green foliage, wind protection, beauty, and grandeur, but hate them for the mess! The most popular option is to rake the pine needles up, bag them, drag them to the curb and walk away.

I propose a new way of thinking about our pine needles. The ponderosas have been building soil in our harsh alkaline environment for thousands of years. The pine needle mulch resists wind and water erosion, holds moisture and provides a matrix for microbial activity.

Given all this, I call for a rethinking of the way we look at and treat pine needles. It would seem better, wiser, and more prudent if we were to compost the needles in place.

I propose that instead of removing the needles, we begin to advance their in-place decomposition by placing thin layers of compost or compost-enhanced soil products on top of the needles. This removes their threat as a fire-spreading medium by holding them down closer to the ground. The compost-laced soils carry beneficial bacteria and microbes, and free nitrogen. It is the intent of this theory that advancing the decomposition of pine needles in-place will build our soils, prevent wind erosion, retain water, reduce fire danger and have an over-all beneficial effect.

This novel idea may not apply to all cases, but I think it could bring some relief to the wind scrubbed, hard-raked look of so many properties where the pine needles are regularly removed, where the copper color of pine needles has given way to bare dirt and dust.

Jim Adams
Greenbranch Garden Services

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Triview watering restrictions

Page 13 of the May 4 issue of OCN said that I noted that Monument only allows watering twice per week. That was not what I communicated to the board. At the joint board meeting between the Town of Monument and Triview, water restrictions were discussed. There were no changes for Monument or Triview this year. Both allow watering three times a week.

Valerie Remington
District Manager, Triview Metropolitan District

Editor’s note: In Monument and Triview, odd addresses can water on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; even numbers can water on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Watering is between the hours of 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. No watering is allowed on Sundays.

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The water conservation conversation

I am very concerned about water conservation and have seen news reports about the drought. One news story I saw was about golf courses in El Paso County possibly being put on water restrictions; that got me to thinking that places like Monument Hill Country Club, the Y, and all community-based organizations would be the perfect places to show leadership in doing water conservation things. I understand that the Country Club is upset about their water bill, but if they would make an effort, they could be part of the solution.

I would like to see things like gray water (the collection of shower/bath and sink water to be reused for toilet flushing and lawn watering, not human consumption), rain water collection (to be reused for toilet flushing and lawn and plant watering), and waterless urinals. Now I do understand that in Colorado, rain water collection is against the law because farmers are afraid that would be water taken from their farms, but in a conversation with Jessie Shaffer of Woodmoor Water, he told me that there is legislation proposing that rain water collection should be allowed.

Water is our planet’s most precious resource and the one thing that mankind cannot live without, and we have to start doing these water conservative things that I mentioned. The problem with us humans is that when we get some rain like we had last week, we tend to forget that we have a serious water problem. My hope is that maybe I can get people to realize that the only way to get things done on water conservation is to keep the conversation going.

John D. Wedgewood

Editor’s note: Gov. Hickenlooper signed HB13-1044 on May 15 allowing in-house graywater to be reused in toilets, but there are public health, water rights, and cost issues for an entirely separate plumbing system.

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Kiwanis Club says thank you

The Monument Hill Kiwanis Club (MHKC) paid tribute to the fine merchants, professionals, and organizations that are Partners in Service and Corporate Sponsors to the club. Our community is enriched greatly by the business and services they provide, and as MHKC Partners in Service and Corporate Sponsors, they "give back" by funding club projects that make a difference in the Tri-Lakes community.

Partners in Service are businesses, individuals, and organizations that work together to such an extent as to merit special recognition from the club and supporters in the area. The Partners in Service include Integrity Bank and Trust, Lewis-Palmer School District 38, and the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.

The collaboration between MHKC and these organizations is extensive and includes events such as the Fourth of July Parade and Street Fair and Empty Bowls. Each year over the past nine years, Integrity Bank and Trust has given MHKC $5,000 for the Fourth of July Parade in Monument.

Bill Stoner, program manager of Corporate Sponsors, and Barrie Town, vice president of Fundraising, recognized the Corporate Sponsors who give back to the community through their generous financial support to MHKC.

These Corporate Sponsors align with the mission of MHKC, which is helping youths and building community in the Tri-Lakes area, and it is through their contributions that MHKC can carry out programs for kids and community. Kids programs include Service Leadership Programs in all D-38 schools, dictionaries for all third-graders in D-38, support to Pikes Peak Soap Box Derby, therapeutic horseback riding for children with disabilities, and Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Camp. Among the community programs are the Fourth of July Parade, peach sales, Empty Bowls benefiting Tri-Lakes Cares, and the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign.

Most people and organizations are not remembered for what they’ve done for themselves, but what they have done for others in the community. MHKC President Russ Broshous said, "We appreciate being a member of the community that gives so well. We have much to be thankful for in this community and you represent that."

Monument Hill Kiwanis Club

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Get outdoors!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Now that the snowy days are hopefully behind us, it’s time to get outdoors and enjoy our beautiful state. Whether you enjoy gardening, hiking, biking, birding, rock hounding, or four-wheeling, here is a selection of books to guide you on your way.

Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Handbook
By Mary Ann Newcomer & John Cretti (Cool Springs Press) $24.99

If you’ve come from another part of the country and have been frustrated by gardening in Colorado, this new guide specifically written for the Rocky Mountain area may be just what you need. The authors share their years of garden wisdom and experience to help you plan, plant, and maintain a beautiful healthy garden, including personal recommendations of plants that will thrive.

The book features 10 popular plant categories, from annuals to vines; a chapter on edible gardening, including fruits and herbs; 12 months of around-the-garden advice for each of the plant categories; and an easy-to-use format.

The Best Front Range Hikes
By The Colorado Mountain Club $24.95

The Boulder, Denver, Fort Collins, and Pikes Peak Groups of the Colorado Mountain Club have written, photographed, mapped, and published Pack Guides with the best hikes within an hour of their towns. These 65 hikes were selected from those highly successful Pack Guides. The guidebook includes comments on the outstanding features of the hike; accurate route descriptions; color photos and topographic maps of the routes; elevation gain, difficulty level, round-trip distance, and time.

Birds of North America
By Laura Erickson & Jonathan Alderfer (National Geographic) $12.95

With this handy, easy-to-use bird guide, anyone looking up to the skies can discover the joys of bird watching. The top North American species—from the tiny tufted titmouse and house wren to the majestic great blue heron and bald eagle—are presented with full-color illustrations and photographs that capture key details and typical behavior. For beginners and seasoned bird-watchers alike, the guide features 160 of the most common species with up-to-date range maps that show you where the birds are.

Road Biking Colorado’s Front Range
By Robert Hurst (Globe-Pequot Press) $15.95

This FalconGuide features 32 carefully designed rides between Colorado Springs and Fort Collins. It includes rides for every fitness level and ability, detailed information about each ride, vivid descriptions of points of interest, and 3-D shaded relief maps.

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
By David Dahms (Paragon Press) $6.95

This handy, spiral-bound pocket guide devotes a whole page to each flower with a color photograph and gives its description, leaf design, size, season, and habitat. Indexes are arranged by common and Latin names.

Geology
By Waterford Press (Penguin Putnam) $5.95

This pocket guide is an introduction to familiar rocks, minerals, gemstones, and fossils. The foldout laminated format is durable and easy to use and includes color illustrations and descriptions of common samples in each area.

Guide to Colorado Backroads & 4-Wheel-Drive Trails
By Charles A. Wells & Matt Peterson (FunTreks Inc.) $29.95

This third edition includes 100 trails arranged into five areas of Colorado. Each section features a full-page color photograph of the area, a map, and a trail listing that is color-coded according to easy, moderate, or difficult. The spiral binding makes this guide especially durable and easy to use when on the road.

Grandparents Colorado Style: Places to Go & Wisdom to Share
By Mike Link & Kate Crowley (Adventure Publications Inc.) $14.95

This book offers a way to show your grandchildren the best of Colorado. It features over 65 attractions and activities suited for children of all ages, tips on making each stop a bonding experience, and recommendations for every site.

Warmer, sunny days beckon us into the fresh mountain air. Maybe you’ll be enticed to try a new activity suggested by these books, or you’ll continue with your favorite ones. Either way, it’s time to get outdoors. 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: Bullock’s oriole: Icterus bullockii

Click here to view the drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Bullock's Orioles

By Elizabeth Hacker

Recently, Lisa Hatfield emailed me to say she saw a Bullock’s oriole at her hummingbird feeder in Palmer Lake. Bullock’s orioles are late this year, probably due to the cool weather. I checked with other states and learned that the orioles arrived about three weeks later than last year.

Current records indicate that only about 2 percent of Bullock’s orioles nest on the Palmer Divide. However, birds often adapt to variations in climate and percentages change from year to year.

Description

The male Bullock’s oriole is a strikingly beautiful, medium-size songbird, about the size of a robin. The male’s crown, nape, and back are black. White wing bars appear on his outer primary and secondary wing feathers. Bright orange-yellow feathers are located beneath his black cap and his breast and rump are a striking yellow. A feature that distinguishes the male Bullock’s oriole from other orioles is a slender horizontal black stripe that runs across the middle of both of his eyes.

The female is similar to the male but smaller, thinner, lighter, and less conspicuous. She has pale yellowish gray, almost greenish under parts with grayish-brown wings and pale wing bars. There is a bit of black under her beak that becomes more pronounced as she ages.

Orioles have a long tail, white wing bars, and a rather thin, straight pointed black beak. Skin parts, including legs and around their eyes, are black. In the wild and under the right conditions, orioles may live as long as 6 years.

Habitat and diet

Bullock’s orioles summer in open woodlands of the Western United States in pine, pine-oak, fir, and deciduous forests. They winter in central Mexico where fruit bearing plants rely on orioles for pollination and make up about 90 percent of the birds’ diet.

Early in the spring I cut up oranges to attract orioles, but they pass on the fruit and head straight for the hummingbird feeders. Some ornithologists suggest that the reason orioles go to nectar feeders when migrating is because of their reliance on nectar during the winter months. When they are not nesting, they don’t need the protein that insects provide and subsist on a diet high in sugar, which sustains them during the winter and provides the energy needed for migration.

Orioles use their long, thin beaks to extract nectar from flowers, pick fruit, and glean succulent insects like caterpillars, spiders, and aphids from leaves, bark, and grasses. In addition to pollination, orioles help to keep forests healthy by consuming large quantities of insects during the spring when protein is necessary for egg development and in summer when protein is needed to sustain chicks and help them grow fast and strong. Removing large quantities of insects from tree leaves and bark helps to maintain healthy forests.

Song

Given the male’s bright yellow underbelly, one might expect that it would be easy to spot him but he blends into the foliage and is difficult to see. Orioles tend to dart from leaf to leaf and when they do, it is possible to see a flash of color. But the forest is large, so it helps to get a bead on their location by listening for their song.

An oriole’s song is unmistakable, and I rely on it to determine its location. Male and female have a similar series of whistles, tweets, and rattles. The female’s ending to the song is harsher and more abrupt and her song is much louder than the male’s, especially when she is constructing the nest.

Typically, birds are most vocal in the morning, quiet in the afternoon, and sing again but to a lesser degree in the evening. But why do birds tweet?

Bird songs are form of communication and birds’ way of sending a message. For example, it is easy to distinguish the difference between a frenzied warning cry that a predator is near and a melodic call of love, but there are other subtleties that are less obvious.

An oriole’s call is complex and carries more than 60 notes per second. Males sing to mark and defend a territory. The more complex his song, the better chance he has of attracting a mate, because females evaluate a male’s ability to provide for her and defend the nest by the complexity of his song. Female birds don’t have to look good or sing to attract a mate. A female sings because she has assumed dominate role, and this role for the female oriole is nest building.

Mating and nesting

Oriole nests are masterpieces of engineering genius. The female tweets to her mate to let him know that she needs to build the nest. He happily responds to her requests and often surprises her by bringing manmade shiny objects to brighten up the nest. She takes his "gifts" and weaves them into the nest.

She uses her long, slender beak to weave long pliable stands of grass to form the basic structure. Bark, hair, fur, twine, wool, and feathers are added to strengthen the pouch-like nest, which is attached at the rim and hangs down 6 to 8 inches from thin outer branches of a tree. Nests are located 8 to 20 feet above the ground and, while they may sway in the breeze, they are strong and secure and can withstand gale-force winds. While remnants of a nest often last for several seasons, and the male may return to the same location, nests are never reused.

Oriole nests blend into the foliage and are difficult to find. It takes time and patience to find the nest because orioles search for food a good distance from their nest so as not to alert predators, such as crows, magpies, and jays, to its location.

The female lays two to seven eggs and incubates them for about two weeks while the male brings her food. When the chicks hatch, both the male and female bring food to the nest. Chicks fledge the nest in about three weeks but stay close to the parents to learn survival skills.

Other interesting facts

Chicks are unable to sing when they hatch. They quickly learn this skill from their father. The first song they learn is a cry for food. The louder they cry, the harder the parents work to bring them a meal.

There are regional variations in the Bullock’s oriole song. Oriole songs in Colorado are slightly different than songs in Wyoming. Regional dialects develop because birds listen to other birds and adapt their own song.

When a male’s song is played back to him, he does not recognize it and becomes defensive, thinking it is an intruder. Many birders now use recording devices to play back birds’ songs. The recording alarms a male and coaxes him out of hiding, giving birders an added advantage. I don’t use this technique and discourage its use because it puts added stress on already stressed out males. Also, when a male comes out of hiding, predators are alerted to its location.

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: Plein air is the art of being outdoors

By Janet Sellers

Artists and art collectors of all levels enjoy plein air paintings. The artworks appear fresh, the colors are vivid, and the brushstrokes reveal the artists’ thoughts about nature as no other art tends to do.

Plein air art is a challenge few artists are able to meet. There is no time for labored drawings, color studies or photographs as reference. The artist must be able to quickly assess the approach, then with speed and accuracy apply each brush stroke efficiently to create the painting.

Artists usually use watercolors or oils for the painting: watercolors because they are quick and immediately finished; oils because the artist likes them, even though they take a year to dry.

So, just what is plein air art? Basically, the term implies that the work was created outdoors in nature, without the convenience of the studio. Some artists still bring a work back to the controlled environment of the studio to complete it without the wind, sand, and bugs the outdoors provides as distraction. Plein air art works are usually paintings or drawings, but some sculptors also work outdoors as the name of the genre suggests.

The artist must create the work in the conditions of the day, often in spite of conditions less than ideal. Outdoors, the artist has the freshness and inspiration of nature but also the inconveniences. There are few second chances for observation of the skies, sunlight, and colors, because these things change in minutes or an hour or less. So the artist must take the scene for what it is and gather the vision quickly and accurately.

If the call of making a picture outdoors sounds appealing, I encourage you to start right away. I’ve written a few tips here to help make the process as simple as possible, and while the fun is guaranteed, the addition of a glass of wine (or lemonade) is one of my favorite must-haves for summer plein air painting.

My secret weapon for plein air success is a small cardboard viewfinder that I bring along every time. With a viewfinder, an artist can scope out many scenes in nature and choose the composition for the artwork most easily. Just point and shoot, so to speak. One can also take a photograph instead of using a viewfinder, but some artists and collectors don’t consider that genuine plein air technique.

For plein air watercolor works, an artist might choose these materials: a small viewfinder cut from cardstock, the sketch box with clips, watercolor paper, pencils, eraser, pencil sharpener, a large round brush with an excellent tip, palette, at least the three primary colors of watercolors (in paint or colored pencil form), water, paper, and a knapsack to carry it all. Then take a hike to the mountains or your back deck and get to painting!

June art events

Monument Art Hop–Venues open until 8 p.m. June 20. Galleries, restaurants, and boutiques of historic downtown Monument feature art openings, food, and live music.

Friday Art NightJune 7, 14, 21. Local art gallery receptions for featured artists, events and art shows. See below for details.

Tri-Lakes Views will install its 2013 outdoor sculptures exhibit June 5; artist reception 6 to 8 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TCLA). The exhibit will run until summer 2014. Maps are available at local merchants. TCLA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake.

Bella Art & Frame presents Colorado Barnscapes by Margaret Zimbrick, on display June 1 to 27; artist reception 5 to 8 p.m. June 14 (a Friday Art Nights event). Bella Art and Frame, 183 Washington St. in Monument.

Palmer Lake Art Group art show and sale June 7-15; artist reception June 7, 5 to 8 p.m., with refreshments, music, raffle drawings for artistic gifts created by member artists. Show judged by Anthony T. Archuleta. Monument Hill Church, 18725 Monument Hill Rd. in Monument.

Southwinds Fine Art Gallery shows fine local artists’ works (a Friday Art Nights event), 5 to 8 p.m. June 21. Refreshments and karaoke-style fun will be featured for June, so bring your ukulele or just a smile—it’s always a blast at Southwinds. Southwinds Fine Art Gallery, corner of Baptist and Roller Coaster Roads in Colorado Springs. (The entry is just north of Baptist Road. If you go all the way to Baptist Road, you’ve gone too far).

TLCA presents Black and White Mixed Arts Exhibition June 3 to 27. The artist reception is 6 to 8 p.m. June 7 (a Friday Art Nights event). TCLA is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake.

Janet Sellers is an American artist, art teacher, and writer. She makes public art sculptures, puts brush to paint every day, and teaches art locally outdoors (and indoors). Sellers lives in Woodmoor. 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 27. Below is the text of four short articles that appeared within the Snapshots section:

Health fair provides free screenings

By Harriet Halbig

A free health fair was held at the District 38 administration building on May 11 from 7:30 until noon. The fair was organized by nursing students from Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences, a part of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, in conjunction with the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP).

Screenings for high blood pressure, hearing problems, diabetes, and stress or depression were offered.

Among the organizations represented at the fair were the American Red Cross, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 911, 211, the YMCA, and the Pikes Peak Library District.

Organizer Emily Kitchen of Beth-El said participation fulfilled a community health clinical rotation requirement for some of the nursing students, while others volunteered to participate. Kitchen said that attendance might have been affected by Mother’s Day weekend and the nearness to graduations.

HAP volunteer Larry Lawrence said that the nursing students were a pleasure to work with and planned and implemented the event in a short period of time.

Both Lawrence and Kitchen said that they hoped to hold another fair in the future.

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

Memorial Day Ceremony at Monument Cemetery

The Town of Monument Memorial Day Ceremony May 27 was attended by about 275 people. Thanks to all the participants who made the ceremony possible including Mayor Travis Easton, the Rev. Dr. Bob Kaylor, Bishop Bradley, Bob McDonald, Boy Scout Troops 8 and 17, Girl Scout Troops 98, 172, 3661, and 3740, Master Sgt. Max Williams, Pastor Dave Jordan-Irwin, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, Palmer Lake Police Department, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Monument Public Works Department, Sharon Williams, Trustee John Howe, Deputy Clerk Laura Hogan, the VFW and Foreign Legion, Serrano’s Coffee, Monument Homemakers, and all of our men and women in uniform.

2nd Annual Take Pride in Monument Day

On Saturday, May 25, local citizens and friends took part in an event to spruce up the town. Groups of volunteers worked on various projects under the direction of Vicki Mynhier to help clean and Historic Monument. Garden volunteers planted vegetables at the Monument Community Garden on Beacon Lite Road. Pictured from left, volunteers Rick Squires, Carol McCleod, Leah Squires, and Claudia Swenson weeded, amended and planted the garden beds and grounds of the Monument Community Garden in Lavelett Park. Volunteer Janet Sellers is not pictured. Of the two raised beds, one was planted for Tri-Lakes Cares and one for other community use and care. More volunteer gardeners are welcome to join the efforts in time, labor or materials. For information, call Leah Squires: 719-488-5902. Photo by Janet Sellers.

York leads scout project

Henry York and other members of Boy Scout Troop 9 work on building a new retaining wall at the Church at Woodmoor on May 20. As a Life Scout working to attain Eagle Scout, York is required to plan, develop, and give leadership to others in a service project helpful to any religious institution, any school, or their community. The project must benefit an organization other than the Boy Scouts. York, pictured in the protective vest, developed extensive plans for the retaining wall, acquired all the needed materials and manpower, and led the project to completion. Troop 9 meets at The Church at Woodmoor at 7 p.m. Tuesdays. For more information, please call 488-3200. Photo by Mark Slepicka.

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May and June library news: Teen volunteers assist library

By Harriet Halbig

May has special meaning in the library. We show appreciation to those who have aided students through tutoring, congratulate volunteers who are graduating from high school and college, and welcome new volunteers who are coming to help with the summer reading program.

We have recruited over 60 teen volunteers who will help in June and July with the registration and awarding of prizes for the Summer Reading Program involving children from birth to 17 years old. Our new baby program for age birth to 2 years involves doing activities with your child to win prizes. The children’s program, Dig Into Reading, is for pre-school to fourth-grade students. Those entering fifth grade may choose to participate in either the children’s or teen program. The teen program, Beneath the Surface, is for those entering fifth grade up to those age 17.

All programs begin on June 1, when you may come to the library to register or register online at www.ppld.org.

Summer reading programs

There are many special programs during summer reading. Each Tuesday at 10:30 will be a program for kids of all ages.

• On June 4, Beth Epley will bring The Rock Brothers, traveling through time and exploring the Earth’s formation. Silly songs and laughter will rule.

• Tuesday, June 11, will be comedy, magic and juggling with Ann Lincoln, the Kooky Cave Woman with her dinosaur and performing Pomeranian dog.

• Tuesday, June 18, will be Burrow with … Bunnies. Join Laura Foye and her bunnies and learn some facts about rabbits, pet a soft (real!) bunny, and make a rabbit craft.

• Tuesday, June 25, will be Puppets! Perfect Pets and Preposterous Prairie Dogs. Go below ground as a curious prairie dog and discover what you can do with a piece of fuzz in The Great Fuzz Frenzy by Janet Stevens. Meet Lulu as she demands a dinosaur for her birthday in the hilarious puppet show Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst.

On Thursdays from 2 to 3:30 will be read-aloud stories and an activity or craft for ages 5 and up. Each week will be a different theme related to digging.

Children 7 and older can attend 7-up programs with art instruction. All will be offered on Friday afternoons at 2.

• June 21, create a collage in Matisse for Kids. Lean how to "paint with scissors."

• June 28, learn to draw different kinds of animals.

• July 12 is Painting for Kids.

Programs for teens

Teens and tweens in fifth through 12th grades are welcome to attend a Henna Tattoo Workshop as part of the teen summer reading program. Learn about the ancient art of henna and get your own temporary tattoo. Registration is required and space is limited. Please pick up a permission slip at the circulation desk before the program. The program is on Wednesday, June 5, from 2 to 4 p.m.

Programs for adults

Bring your iPad and learn basic functions including startup, apps, email, and using your iPad as an ereader. Register online or at the desk. The program will be on Saturday, June 8, from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, June 21, at 10 a.m. to discuss The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

The AARP Mature Safe Driving Program will be offered on Saturday, June 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. This is a driver refresher course for motorists age 50 and older. Charge for the course is $12 for AARP members and $14 for nonmembers. Class size is limited and registration is required. To register, call AARP at 203-4972.

Please note the following time changes for library programs:

• Toddler Time will now be on Thursdays at 9:30 and 10 a.m.

• Life Circles will now meet on the first and third Monday of the month from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

On the walls in June will be photographs by Victoria Sparrow. In the display case will be holiday dolls from the Colorado Springs Doll Study Club.

Palmer Lake Library events

Special summer story times at Palmer Lake will be on Wednesdays at 10:30.

• June 5 will be Dig in with Kathy’s Kritters. Look at a variety of animals such as possums, snakes, and tarantulas and how they dig. An animal craft follows.

• June 12 is Dino Dig. Come dig for fossils with Andrea and make a Dino-craft.

• June 19 is The Rock Brothers with Beth Epley. The brothers travel through time discovering Earth habitats and exploring Earth’s formation. Silly songs and laughter will rule.

• June 26 is Oh, Give me a Home, the story of poor Arthur, a dog with no one to love him and take him for a walk. He is stuck in a shelter with no one to take him home. Help Barb and Ruth make Arthur’s dream come true with songs and fun.

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

Palmer Lake will not have Paws to Read during the summer.

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

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, May 16: The icehouse phenomenon

Bernard L. Minetti

Author and historian Bill Reich described icehouses and their role in American and Colorado history to about 70 history buffs at the May 16 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. He talked about the evolution of the icehouse phenomenon and how it meshed with railroad history in particular.

Reich noted that icehouses existed in 700 B.C. Mesopotamia and 700 B.C. China. He described how primitive icemakers utilized the Venturi tube effect to make ice. Ice was known far back in history to preserve freshness in food products.

He also described the introduction of ice into the households of America to help to preserve food in appliances called iceboxes. In the early 1900s, the Doyle Ice House in the Palmer Lake area removed ice from the lake and shipped it in new insulated freight cars. Rail cars were designed with ice refrigeration to help preserve fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat during overland transit.

In this time period, ice almost became a utility. With the advent of electricity, refrigeration became mechanized and machinery was developed to freeze water and to refrigerate food and food products. The railroad system, while slow to accept the concept of rolling refrigeration, developed the concept. The rail system became a kingpin of refrigerated transportation. Palmer Lake became a thriving hub of the ice industry around 1872. Of course, electricity replaced the manual ice cutting and transportation, and Palmer Lake’s primary industry of the time disappeared.

Reich has written many books on the subject of rail and rail history and sells them through the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden. Among his titles are Colorado Railroad Icehouses and Colorado Industries of the Past.

Society President Al Walter said "Chief Manitou and His Contributions to the Pikes Peak Region" would be presented June 20 after being canceled in February. He also said the society had received a grant of $3,590 for continued cataloguing of the Lucretia Vaile Museum items and artifacts.

The Annual Fathers’ Day Ice Cream Social and Green Grass music concert will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. June 16 at Palmer Lake Town Hall. All citizens, members and nonmembers, are invited to bring dads and kids for free pie and ice cream and to sit on the green to enjoy the concert.

**********

The next meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society will feature the topic, "Chief Manitou and His Contributions to the Pikes Peak Region" at 7 p.m. June 20 at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Bob Cronk will tell the story of this individual in local history.

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

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Events Editor

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

June 5: Roast pork, applesauce, & roasted potatoes.
June 12:
BBQ pork sandwich, potato salad, & pickle.
June 19:
Chicken Caesar salad, & garlic bread.
June 26:
Brisket, garlic mashed potatoes, & salad.
July 3:
NO LUNCH

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.

Slash-Mulch season underway

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here! Slash (tree and brush debris only) will be accepted until Sept. 15. Mulch will be available until Sept. 28 or when mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County, co-sponsored by the Colorado Forestry Association and the Black Forest Fire Department, in cooperation with Colorado State Forest Service and the State Board of Land Commissioners.

The program’s purpose is to teach forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest. For more information visit bfslash.org or call Ruth Ann Steele 495-3107, Carolyn Brown, 495-3127, Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878.

Walking tours with local historian/filmmaker Jim Sawatzki

Walk in the footsteps of early Monument pioneers. Stroll through Old Town Palmer Lake or visit the Chautauqua grounds and cottages in Glen Park. Journey north to neighboring picturesque Castle Rock. Each tour is 1 1/2 hours. For details, call 481-3963 or visit www.palmerdivideproductions.com.

Volunteers needed for El Paso County Board of Adjustment, apply by June 14

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners seeks community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as associate members on the Board of Adjustment. Applications are due by June 14. The Board of Adjustment hears and decides on issues of physical variances related to the county zoning code. Applications are located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

Volunteer needed for county Community Corrections Board, Apply by June 21

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve as an at-large representative to the Community Corrections Board (CCB). Applications are due by June 21. The CCB advises the commissioners on community-based and community-oriented programs that provide supervision of offenders being diverted from prison and those transitioning back into the community after prison. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

Monument Hill Foundation accepting grant applications, apply by June 30

The Monument Hill Foundation invites community-oriented organizations in the Tri-Lakes region to submit grant requests by June 30 for the October 2013-September 2014 granting year. Request forms can be obtained from the foundation’s website at www.MonumentHillFoundation.org or by sending an email request to Granting@MonumentHillFoundation.org. The foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Its mission is to provide financial support to the Tri-Lakes community of northern El Paso County and its youths. In 2012-13 the foundation approved giving out $40,000 to 26 recipient organizations and expects to give out a similar amount for the 2013-14 granting cycle. Grant recipients have included District 38 special needs children, Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, the District 38 Robotics Team, the Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference, and the Emily Griffith Center. For more information, visit www.MonumentHillFoundation.org or email Scott@rosses.me.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club upholds tradition

As the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) funding year comes to a close the club is proud to award $68,000 in grants to many of our community’s non-profit and public service organizations and public schools. Outgoing co-president Donna Wagner notes that this is the largest amount the club has given in grants in a single year. All this is possible with the dedication and commitment of the club’s 235 members who volunteer many hours toward the success of their two major fundraising events, Wine and Roses and More and the Pine Forest Antique, Home Décor and Garden Show. Each event had a few new features added that boosted attendance and participation. In addition, TLWC could not attain these results without the support of these events by numerous businesses in Tri-Lakes and beyond. Many thanks to a great community.

Gardeners wanted for Community Garden

The community garden is located in Monument’s Lavelett Park on Beacon Lite Road. One garden bed is available to a gardener for personal use. The other bed’s harvest will be donated to Tri-Lakes Cares as it has for the last two years. Help is needed with planting, maintaining, and harvesting that bed. Also needed are donations for the purchase of short-season seeds for the Tri-Lakes Cares bed. For more information, contact Leah Squires, 488-5902, leahssquires@gmail.com; or Carol Crossland, 661-1476, cdcland@yahoo.com.

CSU Extension seeks public input

Colorado State University Extension is conducting a survey to identify the education needs of vegetable gardeners in the Pikes Peak region. All El Paso County residents are invited to participate in a short 10-question survey. To respond, please type the following URL into the address box of your search engine: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BCSMFVJ. No personal or contact information is required.

Gardener Help Desk Summer Hours

Colorado Master Gardener (CMG) volunteers are ready to assist you with your lawn and gardening questions. CMG volunteers are available at the Colorado State University Extension office Monday through Friday mornings 9 a.m.-noon. You may call and leave a message at any time at 520-7684, or email your questions to CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.

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