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Vol. 13 No. 9 - September 7, 2013


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Contents

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

  • Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Aug. 22: Board examines funding, enrollment, and ballot measure
  • Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board, Aug. 20: Outdated county fire codes discussed
  • Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Aug. 28: Tax revenue continues to rise more than expected
  • Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, Aug. 13: TABOR waiver elections necessary for nutrient grants
  • Monument Sanitation District, Aug. 15: Election agreement with county approved
  • Monument Sanitation District, Sept. 3: TABOR election question certified
  • Donala Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 15: Office manager Sipes retires
  • Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 5: Board restricts trustees’ employment by town
  • Monument Board of Trustees, Aug.19: Revised wording for dual office holding rules approved
  • Monument Planning Commission, Aug. 14: Code changes approved; chicken-keeping issue delayed
  • Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing and Medical Marijuana Authority and Combined Workshop and Town Council meeting, Aug. 8: Retail sale of recreational marijuana prohibited
  • Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Aug. 28: School district ballot initiative explained
  • August Weather Wrap
  • Letters to Our Community
  • Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Autumn adventures
  • Motorists should take extra care in migration season
  • Art Matters: Art as home remedy
  • Snapshots of Our Community
  • August and September library events
  • Palmer Lake Historical Society, July 18: A history of Pikes Peak through postcards
  • Special Events and Notices

    the PDF file. This is a 16.9 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

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

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    Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Aug. 22: Board examines funding, enrollment, and ballot measure

    By Harriet Halbig

    The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District examined its financial state and plans for the future at its Aug. 22 meeting.

    Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman requested that $1.4 million in capital reserve funds be carried over into the 2013-14 school year. Of this amount, $400,000 is a matching grant to replace the roof at Lewis-Palmer High School and $600,000 is insurance funding for the roofs at Kilmer Elementary and Lewis-Palmer Elementary School.

    Additional projects that have been completed or are under way are correction of water seepage in the Lewis-Palmer Middle School gym, a new gym floor at Palmer Lake Elementary School, and various smaller projects.

    Wangeman explained that in the past few years, the carryover amount has been in the $100,000 to $300,000 range and pointed out that the difference results from grants received and insurance checks. She also said that, before the economic downturn, annual expenditures on infrastructure and buses was about $2.4 million.

    The board approved the carryover of funds.

    District financial process explained

    Wangeman said that state auditors were visiting the district to examine finances, record keeping, and various other aspects of the district.

    District finances are overseen by several external groups, including a CPA firm, the Colorado Department of Education (CDE), and the state auditor’s office. The audit committee also includes two members of the Board of Education.

    There is an individual responsible for each facility within the district, Wangeman said Bus drivers and mechanics must be licensed. Each facility is inspected daily for safety issues.

    The district has consistently received the highest scores for its audits.

    Wangeman said that the balance in the district’s general fund is now $11.06 million, about 26 percent of its operating budget. This percentage is about average among districts of the same size in the state.

    An auditor said, however, that this amount may need to be re-examined in the event that school districts are required to take on more liability as a result of a shortfall in the state Public Employee Retirement Association. The district should learn early next year whether the fund balance needs to be reviewed.

    Wangeman said that the district’s budget and all audits are accessible online.

    Mill levy override effort detailed

    Superintendent John Borman said that the board voted in an earlier meeting to place a mill levy override (MLO) on the November ballot. Borman’s secretary, Vicki Wood, has been designated as the district’s representative to work with the county commissioners and the Clerk and Recorder’s Office to ensure that the measure appears on the ballot.

    Borman emphasized that the district’s budget is now over $11 million less than it was five years ago, and much of the decrease is a result of cutting support services for students who struggle in various areas, such as reading and math. Cuts in faculty have resulted in increased class sizes, and the district has held back on spending on infrastructure and technology in an effort to support classroom activities. Fees have been raised in an effort to provide funding. The number of at-risk students in the district is growing and the population in general is on the increase.

    Borman said that the district still excels in many ways. It is accredited with distinction, has five John Irwin Schools of Excellence, is on the Advanced Placement Honor Roll for increasing AP offerings and the number of students who participate, has high ACT scores and little need for remediation for its graduates as they enter college. Lewis-Palmer also boasts award-winning music programs and athletic programs.

    However, there has been a slight downturn in test scores over the past few years, attributable to a lack of support for students who are struggling in their studies. Class sizes are increasing, resulting in less individual attention. The at-risk population is rising and there have been cuts in gifted/talented education programs as well. The result is a decline in opportunities for students as they enter college and the workforce.

    Borman said that, following the announcement of the MLO, individuals have asked him to break down the use of the $4.5 million in funds that would result from its passage. He explained as follows:

    • $1.3 million would be used to fund 22 teaching positions to create a solid educational foundation and help in reduction of class sizes.

    • $900,000 would be used to restore the safety net of support services for students who are having difficulty, librarians, technology teachers, and summer school teachers and to restore gifted and talented instruction.

    • $1 million would be used to recruit and retain the best teachers.

    • $130,000 would be used to fund the safety and security of the district.

    • $450,000 would be used to restore technical support and technology infrastructure.

    • $720,000 would be used by Monument Academy, based on the proportion of its student population in the district, to provide equal funding for all students.

    None of the funds will be used on administrative staff.

    A citizen oversight committee will review and report on the progress of the campaign.

    Enrollment update

    Borman reported that enrollment in the district appears to exceed the forecast number by 50 students. Unlike previous years, the growth in enrollment is across the spectrum from kindergarten to high school. As a result of the enrolment increase, a number of sections have been added at various schools.

    Borman said that the district will most likely not need to build a new elementary school for several years. Although Jackson Creek is still the fastest-growing area, there are also new families moving near Monument Academy and the middle school.

    Hall of Fame special event

    Borman reported that he and Board President Jeff Ferguson have discussed the idea of honoring the history of the district by creating a Lewis-Palmer Hall of Fame to recognize individuals who have contributed to the district’s present levels of achievement.

    An event is planned for late September to recognize the first group of inductees.

    Thereafter a committee will be formed to receive nominations for future honorees.

    Other information items

    Katy Dubois of the Nutritional Services Department explained the nutritional requirements for school breakfasts in the coming year. Each meal will consist of four components, including milk, fruit and two grains or a grain and a protein. Flavored milk must be skim and plain milk may be 1 percent fat.

    Examples of the formula include a breakfast burrito with the tortilla as the grain and beans or meat as the protein, or a muffin serving as two grains.

    As in the past, students may purchase additional food at additional cost.

    Dubois said that it is very challenging to stay within federal guidelines for sodium and other requirements while serving what the students like.

    A new software system allows parents to put money in a student’s account and allows parents to monitor the student’s purchases.

    District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) Chair Chris Amenson spoke briefly to the board, confirming the committee’s functions in the coming year to include monitoring progress by the schools in administering their Unified Improvement Plans.

    Amenson said that, due to reduced funds from CDE, increasing fees, and reduction in support staff, there has been a drop in scores on standardized tests. He is concerned that the district might not be able to retain its standing unless these scores can be improved.

    Amenson said that DAAC will meet with principals and Building Accountability Committee chairs to monitor progress. Instead of reviewing scores once a year, they will be revisited more often.

    Amenson also offered the help of DAAC to host a candidate debate in the event that several individuals choose to run for the vacancies on the Board of Education.

    Stan Walsh of Boulder energy firm Sundolier reported that he and Wangeman have discussed the possibility of purchasing natural gas from a firm other than Black Hills Energy. They solicited proposals from five firms and at this point favor Tiger Gas in Oklahoma, which could save the district up to $35,000 per year. In the first year there would be an upfront cost of about $11,000 to set up meters and other monitoring equipment and software.

    The district will be obligated to purchase a certain amount of gas per year, but the requirement can be adjusted on a monthly basis to reflect weather conditions.

    The board approved a number of routine items such as contracts, minutes of previous meetings, lists of substitute teachers, and the monthly budget summary.

    **********

    The Board of Education of the Lewis-Palmer School District meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Sept.19.

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

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    Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board, Aug. 20: Outdated county fire codes discussed

    By Lisa Hatfield

    On Aug. 20, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board discussed the possibility of stronger county fire code recommendations and learned more about its options to consolidate with Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District. The board also approved the wording of a ballot question for the Nov. 5 election to raise Wescott’s mill levy from 7 mills to 11 mills. This 4-mill increase would raise an additional $982,567 in 2014.

    The second of Wescott’s two semiannual pension board meetings was held before the regular monthly Wescott board meeting. Lt. Bryan Ackerman, one of two volunteer firefighters who serve as directors on the pension board, was present for both meetings. The absence of volunteer firefighter Lt. Tim Hampton for the pension board meeting was excused.

    The absence of Chairman Scott Campbell from both meetings was excused. Wescott board Secretary Greg Gent chaired both meetings. Director Harland Baker was absent.

    County fire code recommendations discussed

    Fire Marshal Margo Humes said that El Paso County is still using the 2003 county fire codes, but "I don’t think the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) has seen the light," even though it asked for input on this topic again now that homes are being rebuilt after the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires. After the board meeting, she said, "Counties all over the country are adopting the 2012 fire codes, and here we are stuck" with weaker codes that don’t account for new knowledge about home "hardening" and sprinkler systems.

    This year, the North Group, including the contiguous fire districts of Falcon, Cimarron Hills, Wescott, Black Forest, Tri-Lakes Monument, Air Force Academy, Palmer Lake, and Larkspur, will submit their suggestions to the BOCC as a group. Burns said the staff needs to have its recommendations approved by the Wescott board soon.

    Note: In 2012, the BOCC considered this topic but did not approve any new county code recommendations from the various county fire districts. On March 27, 2012, the BOCC approved a resolution for an elimination of all automatic sprinkler system requirements, which was requested by the Housing and Building Association and the Regional Building Department. "The Housing and Building Association was a big adversary to the cause and got commissioners on their side to say no," Humes said. She added later, "Even the national organization of HBA endorses residential sprinklers, but the local HBA refuses."

    The biggest change to the current recommendations from the 2012 recommendations to the BOCC has to do with water available to fight structure fires. Instead of requiring a sprinkler system for a new home that is 6,000 square feet or larger, the recommendations will now likely say that all new homes need to meet a certain fire-flow requirement inside the home that depends on the size of the home. This change would allow residents to include not only indoor sprinkler systems but cisterns, tie-ins to hydrants (where available), and ponds to meet the fire-flow requirement.

    Some of the other comments Humes made were:

    • An uncontrolled house fire can spread into a catastrophic wildfire.

    • Inside sprinklers can stop structure fires from spreading outside the home.

    • The BOCC has shot us down on upgrading the fire codes so many times.… But none of them are fire experts.

    • Insurance companies are making insurance coverage decisions "based on your ZIP code."

    • She has done many homeowners association presentations about fire mitigation and countless homeowner lot evaluations.

    • A lot of the people have dug in their heels for many years, saying, "That’s why I moved to the forest; I love the trees." They don’t understand what a healthy forest is.

    • Property values have dropped 30 percent and more in Black Forest since the fire.

    • Any building materials that are "fire rated," which likely will include some wood products, will be allowed in the codes the North Group plans to recommend.

    Some of the comments Burns made were:

    • The lessons learned about home hardening and fuels mitigation from the Black Forest and Waldo Canyon Fires need to be included in new home building code requirements.

    • Residents who rebuild similar-size homes wouldn’t have to meet the new requirements, but if a home is being doubled or tripled in size, it will have to meet higher fire-flow requirements by including sprinklers, cisterns, or ponds.

    • Firefighters can only deliver 500 gallons of water a minute in a wildland area where there are no fire hydrants.

    • We don’t want big differences between Wescott, Black Forest, Tri-Lakes Monument, and Falcon on fire codes. That would be a disaster.

    Some of the statements Gent made disagreed with the recommended code revisions others had discussed:

    • Limiting what kinds of materials could be used to build new homes will make homes all look the same.

    • I would rather give people information and let them make a choice rather than to "tell people what to do" when they are rebuilding a home.

    Some of Ridings’ comments were:

    • It’s important to have building codes reflect current fire safety information so that residents building new homes have enough guidelines to make informed decisions.

    • Studies done over the last 20 years show which materials survived fires best.

    • There are ways to have a tree next to your house without your house burning down.

    The Wescott board will vote on these new recommendations for the BOCC at a future meeting.

    Mill levy ballot issue language approved

    The board unanimously approved Election Resolution 2013-003, which included the Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) wording and the wording of the mill levy ballot question for the Nov. 5 election.

    The approved ballot language states in part: "Shall taxes be increased by $982,567.46 annually or by such an amount as may be raised by the imposition of a mill levy increase of 4 mills (for a total mill levy of 11 mills) upon taxable property in the district, commencing with the tax collection year 2014 … with such proceeds to be used for general operations, which may include, but are not limited to: funding the general fund of the district, defraying operating expenses and/or other lawful purposes."

    Designated Election Official and Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall said, "There is a price tag for the election: $20,000 is our portion" for inclusion by the county in the coordinated election mail-in ballot. Costs are evenly divided among all entities with issues on the ballot.

    Black Forest Merger Committee report

    Treasurer Joyce Hartung and Director Bo McAllister reported briefly on the second Black Forest Merger Committee meeting they had attended. They noted that these meetings are still in the exploratory phase. They asked the staff about current merger issues.

    Wescott’s merger with Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District is being considered to determine if both districts can make more efficient use of their resources through combined operations. The currently available options for combining operations are:

    • Fire authority—the least binding commitment possible between the two districts because "It can be undone," Burns said. Its creation does not require a vote of the citizens, and the funds of both districts would remain separate. Both districts would retain their boards. A separate/third authority board would also be created and hold its own meetings.

    • Inclusion—the district with the lower mill levy is absorbed into the other district. No public vote is required.

    • Merger (also known as operational consolidation)—would require a vote of the public to approve the merger, a uniform certified mill levy, and a new board to replace the two existing boards. "Hopefully the voters will not vote to merge the districts (and) vote not to fund it, as happened in Durango," Burns said.

    Some of the questions Hartung and McAllister asked the staff were:

    • Will the boards or the chiefs make the decisions and run the meetings?

    • How many boards will there be for each option?

    • How much money will the chiefs and firefighters get?

    • Who decides what color the uniforms will be?

    • Who selects the chief?

    Burns said, "We are nowhere close" to answering some of these questions. At a meeting with Black Forest Fire Rescue Chief Bob Harvey on Aug. 19, Burns told him, "a January 1 deadline is 100 percent unrealistic" for making a decision on the next step, but next June or July would be a reasonable target date.

    Assistant Chief Scott Ridings suggested forming working groups about the fire codes as well as the various merger questions.

    Chief’s report

    Ridings said that a natural vegetation fire at the corner of Stagecoach and Rollercoaster Roads is still under investigation by Humes, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Marshal John Vincent, and Sheriff’s Office Fire Investigator Rich Heaverlo. It had similar characteristics to fires set in Fox Run Park in July.

    Ridings presented the July run report. Calls decreased 6 percent, from 197 in July 2012 to 186 this July.

    Ridings received permission from the board to get price quotes on a new vehicle, possibly a mid-size pickup truck in the $35,000 to $45,000 range, to replace the chief’s current vehicle. After a purchase, the older vehicle would be handed down to Humes as a utility vehicle.

    Green Belt Turf farms donated dirt, sod, and sprinklers at Station 2 to say thank you to Wescott firefighters for their help on the Black Forest Fire, Ridings said.

    Fire marshal helps with local wildfire education video

    Humes announced that she, Falcon Fire Protection District Marshal Vernon Champlin, Larkspur Fire Protection District Marshal Randy Johnson, the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District, and Pikes Peak Wildfire Prevention Partners are collaborating on a professionally produced video demonstrating the need for increased wildfire efforts and mitigation planning.

    The video, which will be shot using local landmarks, roads, homeowners, and firefighters, will explain not only how to do mitigation but why it needs to be done. They are still searching for funding so that the video can be viewed by the most people.

    Financial reports

    Marshall said that bank balances as of July 31 totaled $1.8 million: People’s National Bank $59,000, Colorado Peak Fund $179,000, ColoTrust Fund $439,000, and Wells Fargo Public Trust $1.1 million.

    The district expended 63 percent of annual budget as of July 31, but at this point in the year it should have spent 58 percent, so expenditures are "a little ahead," she said.

    Ridings and Marshall mentioned these recent expenses:

    • Information Technology costs such as iPads and apps for the officers and upgrades to preplanning, GIS, and incident management capabilities "really helped during the Black Forest Fire."

    • A sinkhole in the front pad of Station 1 will cost about $4,500 to repair.

    • Sealing the driveway will cost $2,500 more.

    • The air conditioning unit on the roof of Station 1 failed and will cost $1,500.

    The board consensus was to pay for the repairs out of the regular budget and reconcile expenses at the end of the year.

    Pension board meeting

    As decided by the board in December 2012, the second pension board meeting was being held in August instead of October to allow time for earlier pension budget adjustments to the district overall budget, which funds the pension budget. No changes were made at this meeting, however, since the actuarial study is not due until October/November, said Ackerman. The results of the previous actuarial study said the plan was solvent, based on projections for the next three to five years, he said. The results of the mill levy ballot issue might also affect the decisions the board will make later this year.

    Ackerman and the board discussed three options for the Fire and Police Pension Association volunteer pension fund:

    • No increase in district contribution to the pension fund.

    • Increase district contributions enough to take advantage of state matching funds to pay for potential increases in payouts if all three new eligible volunteers start drawing pensions.

    • Make a larger increase in district contributions to pension fund beneficiaries.

    Chief Vinny Burns asked Hampton to investigate a fourth option: Find out what Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District pays into its pension fund for each volunteer and try to get Wescott’s to more closely match this in anticipation of some form of merger.

    If any adjustments are needed and done at a regular board meeting, both Ackerman and Hampton would need to be there for full volunteer firefighter representation during Wescott board discussions.

    Ackerman reported on the financial statement for the volunteer pension fund at the end of the second quarter. The pension fund is "still ahead, although paying out more." At the beginning of the first quarter, the fund balance was $985,000. At the end of the second quarter, the balance was $911,000 after accounting for both payouts and investments.

    Ackerman said 12 retired volunteers are currently drawing from the pension fund. One more volunteer is eligible to request pension retirement payments this year but has not yet applied, and there are two potential volunteers who would be eligible to apply for payments in 2014.

    The pension board meeting adjourned at 7:12 p.m. The regular meeting began at 7:22 p.m. and adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

    **********

    The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month. The public is always welcome. Information: 488-8680.

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

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    Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, Aug. 28: Tax revenue continues to rise more than expected

    By Bernard Minetti

    Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Treasurer John Hildebrandt told the board Aug. 28 that the district’s share of the Specific Ownership Tax revenue increased another 5 percent in July, to $183,634. He added that these taxes were ahead of budget expectations for the year by 28.86 percent. The Specific Ownership Tax refers mainly to auto registrations. The district’s revenue from this source now stands at 73.75 percent of the annual budget.

    Hildebrandt also noted that county property tax evaluations are forecast to drop by about $800,000 next year. This, he stated, will cause district revenue from this source to be adjusted proportionately. Through July, the district received $3.9 million or 96.74 percent of the annual budgeted amount of property tax revenue.

    Ambulance revenues amounted to $485,000 or 2 percent less than the budgeted amount.

    He added that administrative expenses were high and will normalize as the year progresses, with the exception of General Expense and Public Relations, which together were 300 percent over budget. The fuel expense was at 95.53 percent of budget when it should be not more than 58.33 percent at this point in the calendar year.

    District Fire Chief Chris Truty presented a "Brainstorming Idea List," which listed the various ideas that were either being worked on or in the process of completion. There were 80 items on the list, which ranged from the "Palmer Lake Relationship" to "Conference Room Chairs." Of the 80 items, 36 have "actions already taken for implementation." His memo also asked for additional items to be submitted.

    In another memo, Truty said his staff had voted to remove a tender (water tanker) from active service. It was considered obsolete and had no useful purpose in the district’s operational needs, nor was there staff available to assign to it. Director Roger Lance questioned the need for this item to be brought to the board as long as the equipment was not being disposed of. The directors and Truty agreed that the equipment would be taken out of service and held in reserve.

    Truty noted that the district had received many requests for assistance with fire mitigation inspections from Black Forest-area homeowners. The requests were refused because the properties were not on the district’s fire protection tax rolls. Since these requests have been submitted, Black Forest Fire Rescue and the district have pursued formal actions to provide inclusion of these properties into the district for fire protection services. There is an informal agreement with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office to provide first responder services to cover these properties.

    Connection problems

    In his Fire Chief’s Report, Truty advised that the information technology (IT) "connection problems" with the Internet and data transmissions were still difficult at best. Truty stated, "From a technical perspective, all the resources for the station, or for the district, are out at Station 2, on Roller Coaster Road. The existing infrastructure for moving corporate or commercial data back and forth is now out there. The reason it was moved out there was primarily for cost purposes. There are residential connections to this station where we should be having commercially established connectivity to that and that was not cost effective."

    He said he was "pushing" IT consultant Alerio Technologies for a plan for a more effective infrastructure. Director Lance stated that the district should get bids from other companies in order to get communications "where they should be, and we’re paying Alerio to provide this service and it’s not being provided…." Lance added that "it should be incumbent" on Alerio to make a suggestion or proposal on how to improve service. In an answer to a question from Lance, Truty stated that he did not know of any documentation from Alerio that indicated previous recommendations had been refused due to cost constraints.

    In discussing the health insurance situation for district employees, Truty said that IMI, which is the health insurance consultant for the district, is in continuous contact with the Internal Revenue Service. He said that with the onset of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, costs would have to be adjusted. The district was still waiting for actionable information from IMI.

    Station 1 drainage

    During a tour of Fire Station 1, which was part of the meeting, Truty said that the ramp leading up to the firehouse was inclined so that during a rainstorm, water from Highway 105 flows toward the firehouse. He showed the directors the small drains at the entrance to the building, which were insufficient to handle intense rainfall. It was also noted that the asphalted area on the west side of the building was not on district property. He also added that the asphalted area in the rear of the building, which bordered the property line, was so small that equipment could not use it to enter the building from the rear.

    Inside the building, Truty showed the directors that the insulation on the ceiling was deteriorating and required replacement. He also advised them that the two office spaces had to be utilized as bedrooms.

    **********

    The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, at Fire Station 2 on Roller Coaster Road. Directors and others will take a tour of the station. For further information regarding this meeting, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.

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

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    Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, Aug. 13: TABOR waiver elections necessary for nutrient grants

    By Jim Kendrick

    On Aug. 13, Facility Manager Bill Burks advised the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) that the facility had received a state planning grant for $80,000 to help pay for a study by the facility’s engineering firm, Tetra Tech, to plan the design and construction of new Tri-Lakes nutrient treatment equipment.

    The equipment would provide enhanced removal of total phosphorus from the facility’s effluent to comply with the new state nutrient Control Regulation 85.The Tri-Lakes facility already meets the new total inorganic nitrogen limits in Control Regulation 85.

    This planning grant requires a $16,000 match from the three districts that own the facility. Tetra Tech has suspended the long-range capital improvement study it was conducting for all aspects of the Tri-Lakes facility to focus on this nutrient equipment planning study.

    Burks also informed the JUC that the Tri-Lakes facility would receive a $1 million grant to help pay for design and construction of this new state-mandated nutrient treatment equipment. No match is required for this $1 million grant. This award of $1.08 million provides a total of $360,000 to each of the three wastewater special districts that own the Tri-Lakes facility. Both state grants are good for three years. Neither grant requires any reimbursement to the state.

    These two grants were announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper on July 19. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v13n8.htm#grant.

    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.

    Monument Sanitation District has scheduled an election on Nov. 5 seeking approval from voters to be able to accept its entire $360,000 share of the state nutrient grant award. Monument’s annual TABOR limit for state grants for its enterprise fund is about $50,000. Palmer Lake Sanitation District has not taken any steps at this time to be able to accept its entire $360,000 share of the state nutrient grant award. Palmer Lake’s annual TABOR limit for state grants for its enterprise fund is also about $50,000.

    Woodmoor’s TABOR limit for its enterprise fund is $600,000, and no action is required for Woodmoor to be able to accept its entire $360,000 share of the state nutrient award.

    Whitelaw resigns from Woodmoor board

    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. Several other district board members and district managers from each of the three owner districts also attended the meeting.

    Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Director and alternate JUC representative Jim Taylor noted that Whitelaw had just moved out of the district and had resigned from the Woodmoor board. Taylor said he would represent Woodmoor as its alternate JUC representative until the Woodmoor board selects a new primary JUC representative. Smith replied that all who have attended JUC meetings had learned "a thing or two" from Whitelaw and appreciated his service, and that he would be "sorely missed."

    TABOR constraints discussed

    The preliminary estimate for the construction cost for Tri-Lakes’ Control Regulation 85 nutrient project is $2.007 million––$669,000 each for Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor. If all the grant money can be accepted by each district, the remaining cost for the new phosphorus treatment equipment would be only $309,000 each.

    However, Monument Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District must have successful TABOR waiver elections before they can each accept their entire $360,000 share of the $1.08 million award. If their voters do not approve a TABOR waiver ballot question, these two districts can accept no more than $50,000 per year in state grants—10 percent of their annual operating budgets of about $500,000 each. The state would take away the portion of the $1.08 million award that these two districts could not accept due to TABOR limits and award the remainder to another eligible large state wastewater treatment facility.

    Woodmoor does not have to hold a TABOR waiver election to accept its $360,000 share of the state’s $1.08 million award. Woodmoor can accept up to $600,000 per year under TABOR because it has an operational budget of $6 million per year.

    There was a JUC discussion about what TABOR options might be available to the three districts that own the facility.

    Note: Section 20 (2) (d) of Article 10 of the state Constitution regarding the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights states the following: " ‘Enterprise’ means a government-owned business authorized to issue its own revenue bonds and receiving under 10% of annual revenue in grants from all Colorado state and local governments combined." (Italics added) Special districts are local governments authorized by Title 32 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Title 30 authorizes town and city governments.

    Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund said that Woodmoor could accept the entire $1.08 million award by itself during a two-year period if this award were split into two portions and if each portion were less than Woodmoor’s current $600,000 annual TABOR limit. However, Wicklund added, Woodmoor could not accept the entire $1.08 million and then simply give/grant $360,000 each to Monument or Palmer Lake to avoid each district’s annual state grant TABOR limit of $50,000 for both state and local government grants. Monument’s and Palmer Lake’s "gifts" from Woodmoor under this scenario would still be considered local government grants subject to the annual 10 percent TABOR limit on all grants received in a single year.

    Furthermore, the ownership of this new capital equipment would still be divided in one-third shares between Tri-Lakes’ three owner districts, and would immediately become depreciable equity in the Tri-Lakes facility on the Monument Sanitation District and Palmer Lake Sanitation District balance sheets for accounting and auditing purposes. The source of this new $360,000 in equity for each of the three districts would still be the state award.

    Wicklund stated that the Monument district will hold a TABOR waiver election on Nov. 5 in an effort to receive its entire $360,000 share of this award and any future state nutrient grant. Even tighter state-mandated nutrient limits for total phosphorus and total nitrogen are scheduled to take effect in 2022 under the new state Regulation 31.17. If the Monument electors do not approve the proposed TABOR waiver on Nov. 5, they will forfeit most of Monument’s $360,000 share of the state’s $1.08 million award after the Monument staff worked four years to obtain this award for all three Tri-Lakes facility owner districts.

    Wicklund added that Monument’s bond attorney, Kutak Rock LLC, has prepared the ballot question for the TABOR waiver for the Monument district board to certify in early September. He also noted that if Monument’s voters approve this TABOR election question, the Monument Sanitation District board would be unable to write a revenue bond—a board option currently available due to the district’s enterprise fund status—once the district starts receiving its $360,000 share of the three-year grant award.

    If the Monument electors don’t approve the TABOR ballot question, the Monument board will have to approve a larger revenue bond of about $700,000 to cover Monument’s entire share of the project cost. Monument does not have sufficient cash reserves to pay for its share of the project. The revenue bond would have to be in place before the district could sign a design and construction contract.

    The district cannot sign a contract unless the full amount of its share of the contract, including a supplemental amount for contingencies, is on hand, with or without the grant money, and the full contract amount including contingencies has been appropriated in the 2014 budget.

    Palmer Lake Sanitation District Manager Becky Orcutt and Smith stated that the Palmer Lake Sanitation District board had chosen not to hold a TABOR waiver election on Nov. 5 to become eligible to receive its full $360,000 share of the $1.08 million state grant award. If the Palmer Lake district board does not hold a TABOR waiver election, it will forfeit most of Palmer Lake’s $360,000 share of the state award.

    There was consensus that each of the three owner districts would meet with their individual bond attorneys. The three district managers will then meet to make further plans on how to manage the construction schedule and how to collaboratively accept the $1 million grant in a manner that conforms to TABOR state grant requirements.

    Pay as you go

    Wicklund stated that the state Water Quality Control Division staff now expects to make interim monthly progress payments from the $80,000 planning grant for Tetra Tech’s planning study rather than making a single reimbursement payment at the end of the study. Likewise, the division staff now expects to make interim monthly payments from the $1 million design and construction grant for Tetra Tech and the selected general contractor. As originally proposed by Hickenlooper, the design and construction grant proceeds would become available only after all design plans and all construction had been completely approved and certified by the division engineering staff. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v13n8.htm#juc.

    During several stakeholder meetings with the division staff, following passage of House Bill 13-1191, the Monument staff had pointed out repeatedly that the Tri-Lakes facility’s owner districts and very few of the other facilities that won design and construction grants would have been able to pay all of these costs while awaiting a single possible, but not fully guaranteed, grant payment three years after grant and engineering approval and certification for operation of the newly installed capital equipment. If, for some reason, the division’s engineering staff were not to approve the full unrestricted operation of the new equipment until after Sept. 1, 2016, Tri-Lakes would have lost the funding from the $1 million grant entirely under the originally proposed procedures.

    Wicklund said the Monument staff proposed the pay-as-you-go process for this unprecedented nutrient grant process to the division staff because the state already uses this process for disbursing multi-year federal construction grants, and pay-as-you-go would minimize the financial risk of not getting any of the grant money before the grant program expires in 2016. Wicklund told the division staff that Monument and many other applicants would not apply for the state nutrient grants unless this financial risk was eliminated by a pay-as-you-go system. The division then amended the invoice reimbursement procedures for all applicants.

    The Monument staff also met with the state division several times to deal with the unforeseen problem of how to distribute grant funding to local government entities such as Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility that are not special districts and therefore ineligible to directly receive a state grant. The legislative and division staffs did not anticipate that several of the eligible wastewater treatment facilities were owned by several special wastewater collection districts. Likewise, no thought had been given by the state to how the grants would be divided if the facilities were not owned by a single special district or municipality.

    Under the latest division grant reimbursement proposal, Tetra Tech’s planning study invoices would be forwarded to the state for approval and payments to a special Tri-Lakes facility account.

    Wicklund added that the latest water division proposal—although also still not approved and finalized—would use this same pay-as-you-go procedure for making progress payments to Tetra Tech and the selected contractor from the $1 million design and construction grant. He noted that the division used this procedure for disbursing the $2 million federal American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funding that Monument Sanitation District won for construction of the Wakonda Hills collection system.

    Financial report

    Burks spoke about the long-planned facility storage building that had been postponed in 2011 and again in 2012 due to owner district budgetary constraints. Then construction was postponed again to fall 2013 so that Tetra Tech could finish its long-range facility plan it started in March, 2013 (www.ocn.me/v13n5.htm#juc). This facility plan was supposed to include a review of long-range uses for this building.

    The JUC suspended this long-range study on June 11 because of the state nutrient grant award (www.ocn.me/v13n7.htm#juc). Burks said Tetra Tech had just stated that this storage building’s proposed design and location will not have to be modified to provide storage for the proposed new phosphorus removal equipment. As a result, construction costs for this storage building will not be eligible for reimbursement from the nutrient grants.

    Burks stated that he wanted to proceed with seeking construction bids for the storage building, as budgeted. He proposed reallocating the unused portion of the suspended long-range study funding to help pay for storage building construction.

    This building can now be paid for in part from the unused remainder of the 2013 funding that was budgeted for the facility planning study.

    The JUC unanimously approved construction of this new storage building this fall at a planned cost of $85,296. Each owner district’s one-third share of this budgeted cost will be $28,099.

    The building is planned to be completed by the end of 2013 as originally budgeted.

    The JUC also unanimously approved the July financial reports as presented.

    District managers’ reports

    Wicklund gave an update on the district’s annual collection line rehabilitation project, noting that good progress was being made. The one June suspended solids reading of 2,040 milligrams per liter in Monument’s south vault wastewater influent was not repeated in July. The maximum reading for July was 478 milligrams per liter. The high June reading was determined to be an anomaly. Wicklund also noted that a subcontractor of Insituform had been performing inspections of the collection lines that Insituform will rehabilitate with new liners without notifying him that the subcontractor would be opening Monument manholes.

    Orcutt reported that Palmer Lake was conducting a few small line repairs and Woodmoor District Manager Jessie Shaffer reported no issues.

    The meeting was adjourned at 11:08 a.m.

    **********

    The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 10 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 Sanitation District, Aug. 15: Election agreement with county approved

    By Jim Kendrick

    On Aug. 15, the Monument Sanitation District board unanimously approved the intergovernmental agreement with the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office for the district’s Nov. 5 election as well as the county’s $3,500 fee. The board also scheduled a special meeting for Sept. 3 at 10 a.m. in the district conference room to approve the final wording of the ballot question prepared by the district’s bond attorney, Kutack Rock LLC, and the district’s attorney, Larry Gaddis.

    The Nov. 5 district election seeks voters’ approval for the limited purpose of a TABOR waiver for Monument Sanitation District to accept its share of state nutrient grants such as the $1.08 million state award announced by Gov. John Hickenlooper on July 19. That award provides funds for design and construction new nutrient treatment equipment at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility for the treatment of total phosphorus to meet the new water quality restrictions in state Control Regulation 85 and state Regulation 31.17. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v13n8.htm#grant.

    No matching funds are required for the $1 million state design and construction grant. The separate $80,000 planning grant requires a 20 percent match of $16,000, or $5,333 from each of the three districts that own the Tri-Lakes facility. These grants are good through Sept. 1, 2016. All requests for reimbursements and construction/operation approvals from the state Water Quality Control Division’s engineering staff must be received by May 1, 2016, to allow final payments by Sept. 1. The preliminary cost estimate for the new Tri-Lakes nutrient treatment equipment project is $2.007 million.

    Under current restrictions in the TABOR amendment to the state Constitution, the district cannot accept a state grant larger than $50,000 per year––10 percent of Monument’s annual operating fund revenues of about $500,000––without losing the operational flexibility of its enterprise fund status.

    District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the Tri-Lakes facility cannot accept this state grant as a separate entity because the facility is not a state entity with constituents or taxing authority. Only the three wastewater special districts that own the facility, a joint venture, have their own separate constituents and individual taxing authority, making them eligible to accept the grant money under state law.

    The total state nutrient grant award of $1.08 million will be divided by the state in equal shares of $360,000 each between Monument, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, the three wastewater special districts that are one-third owners of the Tri-Lakes facility. Each district will pay its remaining share of the $2.007 million design and construction cost, $309,000 each from district reserves and user fees.

    If the Monument district electors do not approve the ballot question on Nov. 5, the district board will need to look at other financing options, such as a revenue bond, to cover the funds it would have received from the state grant. The board will need to appropriate this money in the 2014 budget for its portion of design and construction of the phosphorus treatment facilities at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Having to finance the money not received from the grant award would likely require the district board to raise user fees again to cover the debt service on the revenue bond.

    For more details see the JUC article.

    JUC update

    Wicklund reviewed the TABOR issues discussed regarding these state grants at the Aug. 13 JUC meeting. He noted that Woodmoor could not accept the full $1.08 million state award to the Tri-Lakes on behalf of Monument and Palmer Lake. Woodmoor would still be giving a $360,000 grant to Monument. Local government grants such as this count as state grants under TABOR. Wicklund stated that he did not know how Palmer Lake will be able to accept its $360,000 share of the state grant at this time, because the Palmer Lake board does not to want to hold a TABOR election.

    For more details see the JUC article.

    Financial reports

    Wicklund noted a payment of $8,500 to auditing firm Bauerle & Co. for the district’s 2012 audit. Gilmore gave the district an unqualified, or clean, opinion. No tap fees were collected since the last meeting. The total cash balance on hand was about $379,000.

    Wicklund presented the first draft of the 2014 district budget to the board. He asked the directors to review the figures and bring questions to the next board meeting.

    The board unanimously accepted the financial reports as presented.

    The meeting was adjourned at 8:45 p.m.

    **********

    The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. Sept. 26 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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

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    Monument Sanitation District, Sept. 3: TABOR election question certified

    By Jim Kendrick

    During a special meeting Sept. 3, the Monument Sanitation District board unanimously approved a resolution for a Nov. 5 election asking voters to waive the TABOR amendment’s limit on state wastewater nutrients management control grants. The district seeks approval of the ballot question so it can accept available state grants to aid district compliance with state wastewater nutrient regulations.

    All members of the board were present.

    The board also unanimously certified the single district question that will appear on the ballot for the coordinated election of Nov. 5:

    "Shall Monument Sanitation District be authorized to collect, retain, and extend state grants awarded to the district (and not required to be repaid to the state) for wastewater treatment facility planning, design, construction or improvements needed to comply with the state wastewater nutrients management control regulations and, during any calendar year in which such state and local grant moneys exceed 10% of annual district revenue, shall the district be authorized to collect, retain, and spend all amounts received by the district annually from all revenue sources as a voter-approved revenue change without regard to any spending, revenue-raising, or other limitation contained with Article X, Section 20 of the Colorado Constitution?"

    For more information, see the Aug. 13 JUC article on page 9 and the Aug. 15 Monument Sanitation District article on the facing page.

    Sept. 19 meeting date changed to Sept. 26

    The board unanimously approved changing the date and time of the board’s next regular meeting from Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. to Sept. 26 at 10 a.m. The meeting location is unchanged—the district conference room at 130 Second St.

    The meeting adjourned at 10:16 a.m.

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

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    Donala Water and Sanitation District, Aug. 15: Office manager Sipes retires

    By Jim Kendrick

    At the Aug. 15 board meeting, District Manager Kip Petersen and the Donala Water and Sanitation District board celebrated Jackie Sipes’ pending retirement as Donala office manager. Sipes formally retired Sept. 6. Former bookkeeper Betsy Bray has moved up to the office manager position. New employee Sharon Samek has taken over Bray’s bookkeeper and accounts payable responsibilities.

    The absence of board President Bill George was excused. Vice President Dave Powell chaired the meeting.

    Upper Monument budgets forwarded

    Petersen noted that he had provided a summary of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility budgets for 2011, 2012, and 2013 to the Triview Metropolitan District board and its district manager, Valerie Remington, on Aug. 8. This information was requested when Petersen and George attended the July 9 Triview board meeting. He offered to attend a Triview meeting this fall to review the preliminary 2014 Upper Monument facility budget. A copy of that preliminary 2014 facility budget will be forwarded to Triview as soon as it is completed.

    The total annual Upper Monument facility budget expenditures in this report were:

    • 2011—$1.07 million

    • 2012—$1.04 million

    • 2013—$1.20 million

    The Upper Monument facility is owned by Donala, Triview, and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District. The Donala staff operates the facility and bills Triview and Forest Lakes for their share of facility expenses on a quarterly basis. The approximate average shares for the owner districts in these three recent budgets were: Donala, 59 percent; Triview, 41 percent; and Forest Lakes, 0.01 percent.

    Power Authority loan information clarified

    Petersen said he spoke with Finance Director Keith McLaughlin of the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA) regarding the revised withdrawal schedule from Donala’s 2011 loan of about $5.3 million in CWRPDA revenue bonds. Petersen advised McLaughlin that since the original loan documents were prepared in 2010, Donala’s underlying conditions had changed, resulting in changes in demand for Donala’s water system and design and construction.

    Petersen reported to McLaughlin that the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation determination in late 2012 that Donala’s Brown Ranch property lies outside of the northern boundary of Arkansas River basin and could not receive renewable water from the Pueblo Reservoir had nullified Donala’s planned use of the ranch for construction of a new large Donala water storage tank. This new water storage tank was a large component of the infrastructure list that was to be funded by most of the 2011 CWRPDA loan.

    The Brown Ranch had been included by Donala in early 2004. The ranch was the best location in the Donala service area for a new reservoir to store renewable water. Reclamation stated that the ranch drains north into Cherry Creek, which is part of the South Platte Basin, rather than south into the Arkansas River Basin. This northward drainage flow prevents return flows of Donala’s renewable surface water from its Willow Creek Ranch property, which flows down the Arkansas River from the Leadville area to the Pueblo Reservoir for storage, from returning to the Arkansas River via Monument Creek and Fountain Creek.

    Donala has adjudicated water rights to use up to 280 acre-feet of renewable Willow Creek surface water per year when flows are high enough for Donala be in priority. Its renewable raw water is transported north from the Pueblo Reservoir by Colorado Springs Utilities for use by Donala customers.

    On Dec. 6, 2012, following Reclamation’s determination that the Brown Ranch could not receive renewable water from the Pueblo Reservoir, the Donala board approved the language in a proposed exclusion agreement with the current owners of Brown Ranch, Randy and Margaret Scholl of Randal Construction. The cost to create an isolated water supply system for residential development on Brown Ranch that was entirely within the South Platte River basin was prohibitive for Donala. The exclusion agreement with the Scholls was signed at the next Donala board meeting on Jan. 17. For more information see: www.ocn.me/v13n1.htm#dwsd and www.ocn.me/v13n2.htm#dwsd.

    The revised estimated cash disbursements Petersen proposed to McLaughlin on July 29 for Donala capital projects were:

    • $200,000—fall 2013

    • $275,000—spring 2014

    • $250,000—August 2014

    • $4.538 million—July 2015

    The project for July 2015 is still planned to be a new water tank. However, Peterson advised McLaughlin that Donala is now looking at water reuse and water reclamation options for use of CWRPDA funds. A final decision on whether to use the planned new large water tank for raw water, treated water, or a hybrid of treated water and reuse water has not been made. The reuse project is proposed to incorporate the use of highly treated effluent that will be mixed with Donala’s existing water sources to further reduce the district’s dependency on non-renewable groundwater and the load on its wells.

    In a reply email on Aug, 8, McLaughlin stated that the CWRPDA bond counsel had reviewed Petersen’s information and was "comfortable with the revised schedule and pace of fund withdrawals." McLaughlin asked Petersen to let him know if "you come across any additional delays that may cause the district to fall behind the revised schedule."

    Petersen stated that McLaughlin and his staff had been very easy to work with.

    Xeric landscaping services approved

    Petersen and Steve Moorhead of Water Returns (smoorhead@greenlegacies.org, 534-9960) briefed the board on their plans for providing information on providing xeric landscaping services to Donala customers. Water Returns is a nonprofit Green Legacies program with about 30 professional partners that help with assessing, planning, and implementing sustainable water resource programs.

    Petersen said he was working with Moorhead to expand this Donala program to assist commercial customers such as owners of townhouses and apartments. They noted that the best time for commercial entities to plan for xeric landscaping and water conservation is in the irrigation "off season" because of the time needed to analyze individual lots and needs, then design and install irrigation systems before the irrigation season begins.

    The board unanimously approved an initial contribution of $4,200 to Water Returns to be "strategic client partner" through March 31, 2014.

    Willow Creek Ranch update

    Due to monsoon rains, all of the creek water flowing on Willow Creek Ranch was still available for Donala’s use. Petersen said this availability this late in the winter run-off season was unusual for mid-August. Donala has already taken all the renewable surface water allowed by its water rights for one of the two metered creeks on the ranch. He estimated that a net total of 279 acre-feet of beneficial flows would be taken by the end of August after accounting for required return flows. Donala’s adjudicated water rights can average no more than a net total of 280 acre-feet per year of beneficial flows over a 30-year period.

    Petersen noted that he had been working with Carlie Ronca, chief of the Resources Division of the Eastern Colorado area of Reclamation on drafting Donala’s long-term storage contract to schedule a face-to-face meeting between Ronca and Southern Delivery System representatives from Colorado Springs Utilities to move Donala’s long-term contract negotiations forward.

    Petersen stated that the Donala staff has completed all summer maintenance work on the ranch and complimented them on the amount and quality of the work that was done. Petersen and Chief Water Operator Mark Parker will make monthly visits to observe stream flow characteristics and the success of the stream bank stabilization project in ensure that stream water does not flow into the ranch’s pastures and freeze.

    Regional water supply study report

    Petersen noted that Donala, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, and the Town of Monument had arranged for a regional water reuse/reclamation system concept study by the Tetra Tech engineering firm. The second phase of the Tri-Lakes region study would analyze implementation and administration alternatives. Triview has been invited to participate but has not responded to the invitation yet.

    The Tetra Tech study would evaluate how treated effluent from the Upper Monument and Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facilities would be conveyed to each water entity for reuse, how discharge permits and preliminary discharge would be written for transport and further treatment of the reused effluent, what types and levels of treatment are required for this project, and alternative conceptual designs for water reclamation facilities.

    Following the completion of the conceptual design phase of the study, a workshop will be held at the Woodmoor office for Tetra Tech to present its findings. Tetra Tech would then distribute a draft report to the entities for review and comment. These comments would be used for preparing a final presentation at entity board meetings. Final written reports and electronic copies would incorporate board inputs.

    The cost for the scope of work proposal for the Tetra Tech study is about $76,000. This cost would be divided evenly between the Town of Monument, Donala, and Woodmoor. The Triview board will not consider this proposal before Sept. 10 and currently plans to reuse only treated effluent for irrigation. Triview has not indicated whether it will participate in the Tetra Tech study.

    Donala’s engineering consultant, Roger Sams of GMS, recommended participation, noting that the study is needed and would cost about the same amount for Donala to do a similar study on its own for its own use.

    The board’s consensus was that all the participants should be required to commit to pay the full amount of their share of the contract cost "up front" when the Tetra Tech contract is signed. There was also board consensus to continue seeking purchase of usable surface water rights and expediting the long-term contract for Pueblo Reservoir storage with Reclamation and CSU while monitoring for new tighter inter-basin water transfer constraints that may be incorporated in the draft statewide water plan due for state Legislature adoption by 2016.

    The board unanimously approved spending up to $25,500 for this study.

    Financial reports

    Petersen answered a few questions about specific technical terminology with regard to the district’s new website software and the digital readout of a chlorine pump in the drinking water treatment system. The financial reports were unanimously approved as presented.

    In other matters, Petersen reported:

    • Triview issued nine additional taps and forwarded a $13,500 payment ($1,500 per tap), reducing the outstanding balance Triview owes Donala in its Upper Monument management agreement to $72,102.

    • GMS found a new 240 kVA generator with a base cost of $74,110. Donala has not settled on all the options that are needed, so a final purchase price is not yet available.

    • The Jessie, Struthers, and Latrobe pipeline projects are all complete.

    • The Upper Monument biosolids conveyor belt system was modified to extend its discharge by four feet to facilitate more efficient discharge of dewatered biosolids into 18-wheel trucks for transport to a landfill.

    The board went into executive session at 3:25 p.m. to discuss personnel and property disposition matters. No votes were taken after the executive session.

    **********

    The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 19 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603.

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

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    Monument Board of Trustees, Aug. 5: Board restricts trustees’ employment by town

    By Jim Kendrick

    On Aug. 5, the Monument Board of Trustees approved an ordinance amending the town code to prohibit a board member from being a salaried employee or contractor of the town in order "to prevent any tangible or perceived conflicts of interest in regards to dual office holding." The board also approved an ordinance amending the town code and the Regency Park Zoning and Development Standards that apply within the Triview Metropolitan District annexation.

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

    Dual office holding rules amended

    Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman proposed an amendment to the town code regarding dual office holding by town trustees that included this restriction: "No elected official shall hold any other elective and/or appointed public office or be an employee of the Town of Monument."

    During the public comment portion of the open hearing, town business owner John Dominowski asked that the board to consider adding a time period from when a town board member’s service ends to when the member can be employed by the town. During trustees’ discussion, a revision was proposed to respond to his request. Another proposed revision would prevent a trustee from becoming a town contractor.

    There was unanimous approval to replace the proposed statement above with these two statements:

    • No elected or appointed official shall hold any other elective public office, be contracted or employed by the Town of Monument.

    • Former elected or appointed officials may not, within six months of their term limit or resignation, be contracted or employed by the Town of Monument.

    The proposed resolution on dual office holding was unanimously tabled until the next board meeting on Aug. 19 so that the paperwork could be revised to reflect these wording changes.

    Cell phone tower code amended

    Tom Kassawara, director of the Development Services Department, proposed an amendment to the town code that included these changes:

    • Allow fences up to 8 feet in height around Wireless Telecommunications Services (WTS) ground-based equipment, require landscaping to be from the town’s approved plant list, and add an abandonment clause when WTS facilities are abandoned for more than six months.

    • Allow WTS facilities as conditional uses in the Planned Commercial Development (PCD), Planned Industrial Development (PID), and Planned Multi-Use Development (PMD) zone districts in the Regency Park Zoning and Development Standards.

    A proposed cell tower abandonment clause, which is not currently in the town code, and is standard language in most zoning codes, would require the owner and/or property owner of the WTS facility to dismantle and remove the WTS facility when it has been abandoned for six consecutive months or more after a determination has been made by the director of Development Services that the WTS facility is no longer in use. The town will also have the ability to dismantle and remove the WTS facility at the owner’s and/or property owner’s expense.

    Kassawara reported that in March 2013, the staff was approached by a representative from a wireless provider inquiring about locating a WTS facility on a property within a Regency Park zone district. Regency Park comprises the vacant land between the west side of I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail, north of Baptist Road as well as most of the portions on the east side of Monument.

    Two more recent town annexations on the east side of I-25 were not part of the Regency Park annexation: Monument Ridge shopping center development on the southeast corner of Baptist Road and Struthers Road and the adjacent Family of Christ Lutheran Church lot to the east.

    The staff researched the Regency Park permitted uses and found that WTS facilities were not currently permitted in any of the Regency Park zone districts. The wireless representative expressed concern that this limitation impaired the ability to provide wireless service in this particular area and requested an amendment to the code.

    The town staff had also received two calls from residents who live in Regency Park asking why cellular service coverage was spotty in the I-25-Baptist Road area. The staff determined that it was best for the town to propose a more comprehensive amendment to allow WTS facilities within certain zone districts of Regency Park instead of the wireless provider applying for an amendment for just one property. The proposed amendment will allow wireless providers reasonable access to the east and west sides of Interstate 25 within the Regency Park area.

    The Regency Park area was first zoned in the mid-1980s under Triview Metropolitan District, prior to annexation into the Town of Monument. When the Regency Park zone districts were established, WTS technology did not exist. The Regency Park Zoning and Development Standards have not been changed. Currently, WTS facilities are not permitted anywhere within the Regency Park area.

    Under the current town code, WTS facilities are allowed as conditional uses within five zone districts in the town: the Planned Business Development (PBD), Planned Commercial Development (PCD), Planned Industrial Development (PID), Planned Heavy Industrial Development (PHID), and Planned Commercial Development Highway (PCDH) Districts. Kassawara stated that the staff is recommending that WTS facilities not be allowed in residential developments in the Regency Park area.

    Staff research of the federal Telecommunications Act found that not amending the town code as requested by the wireless provider could leave the town vulnerable to legal challenges by telecommunications providers who want to locate facilities in the Regency Park area. Allowing WTS facilities may provide opportunities for better service through updates in technology on sites where wireless services are currently not permitted.

    On July 10, the Planning Commission voted 6 to 0 to recommend approval of the revisions.

    During board discussion, Trustee Jeff Kaiser inquired who would pay for the removal of a tower if it were abandoned. Kassawara stated the entity would more than likely be taken to court. Town Attorney Gary Shupp added that a lien could also be placed against the property.

    Trustee Becki Tooley inquired about the number of towers allowed. Kassawara stated that the town cannot restrict the number of towers when there is a coverage issue. However, zoning regulations would prevent towers from being placed throughout certain areas of the town.

    The code amendment was unanimously approved.

    Higby "hump" repair approved

    The board unanimously approved a resolution for award of a $21,533 construction contract to Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt to eliminate the high crown in the center of Higby Road where it crosses Jackson Creek Parkway. Although half the intersection is owned by Triview Metropolitan District, the Triview board refused to pay any share of the construction cost as requested by the town staff. Their request of a "fair share" from Triview was half the cost.

    Startup of construction was planned for Aug. 12. Although the maximum project duration in the contract was two weeks, the contractor planned to complete the work in two days, before the beginning of the school year at the adjacent Lewis-Palmer High School.

    Financial reports

    The board unanimously approved one disbursement over $5,000—$365,598 to Wells Fargo Securities LLC for annual payment seven (of 10) for the lease/purchase loan for construction of Town Hall.

    Staff reports

    Town Manager Pamela Smith reported that the town had received a loss prevention award from its insurance company. The town was recognized by the CIRSA Workers’ Compensation Pool for its outstanding management of its loss control program for 2012 with a 97 percent score on its audit and a loss ratio of less than 20 percent.

    Police Chief Jacob Shirk gave an extensive detailed presentation of department policies, programs, and initiatives as part of the annual department briefings prior to 2014 budget development by the board.

    In other matters, Kassawara and representatives of public relations firm Blakely and Associates gave a short progress report on actions taken under the contract for Blakely’s marketing plan.

    Public comment

    Dominowski stated he did not care for Blakely’s proposed new town tagline: "Nestled Away From the Everyday." Smith stated the new tagline would be used for marketing purposes only, and the town logo and motto would not change. The board discussed it but made no decisions regarding use of the new tagline.

    The meeting adjourned at 7:58 p.m.

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

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    Monument Board of Trustees, Aug.19: Revised wording for dual office holding rules approved

    By Jim Kendrick

    On Aug. 5, Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman proposed an amendment to the town code regarding dual office holding by town trustees that included this restriction: "No elected official shall hold any other elective and/or appointed public office or be an employee of the Town of Monument."

    The proposed resolution on dual office holding was unanimously tabled until this board meeting so that the paperwork could be revised to reflect wording changes regarding trustees seeking town employment after leaving office. On Aug. 19, Sirochman presented the rewritten ordinance to the board for final approval.

    The ordinance was revised to include these two sentences:

    • No elected or appointed official shall hold any other elective public office, be contracted or employed by the Town of Monument.

    • Former elected or appointed officials may not, within six months of their term limit or resignation, be contracted or employed by the Town of Monument.

    The revised ordinance was unanimously approved.

    Trustees Rafael Dominguez and Becki Tooley were absent from the meeting.

    Mail ballot ordinance approved

    The board unanimously approved a request from Sirochman for an ordinance to amend Chapter 1.12 of the town’s municipal code to authorize that all future elections held by the Town of Monument will be mail ballot elections. This will save time by not having to prepare any more resolutions or post public notices for hearings on holding a mail ballot election. She said the town has no choice but to comply with new mail ballot mandates for coordinated elections that are now required by the passage of House Bill 13-1303. This bill requires that all general, primary, odd-year, coordinated, presidential, special legislative, recall, and congressional vacancy elections to be conducted by mail ballot.

    Sirochman noted that the town will have no items on the Nov. 5 ballot and will not incur the higher mail ballot costs that will now be required for a coordinated election with the county. The town can avoid these higher coordinated election costs by holding its own separate elections in April.

    New escrow agreement for
    Village Center at Woodmoor approved

    Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, proposed a resolution approving an escrow agreement to install remaining landscaping and irrigation in the common areas at the Village Center at Woodmoor Filings 1, 2, and 3. The original approval for the Village Center Preliminary Planned Development (PD) Site Plan, composed of four filings, was approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2004.

    Since the original developer of the land, WED LLC., still has some obligations for the installation of landscaping pursuant to the original PD site plan approval, the town staff has required that an escrow agreement be executed between WED and the town to ensure that these required landscaping improvements are constructed within a reasonable time period.

    The resolution provided a guarantee to install landscaping in these three filings that should have been installed at the time the other public improvements were constructed about eight years ago. If the developer fails to install the required landscaping and irrigation by the due date, the town can contract to complete the work using the funds in the escrow account. A 25 percent contingency was added to the estimated cost of the improvements to account for unforeseen conditions if the developer defaults on this condition of site plan approval. The total amount placed in escrow by WED was $53,259.

    The current scheduled completion date in the escrow agreement for WED to finish the landscaping is Nov. 30 is included, with a contingency of July 2014 if installation is delayed by an act of nature.

    The board unanimously approved the resolution for the new escrow agreement.

    The board unanimously approved a resolution endorsing an application by the City of Colorado Springs for funding under the Colorado Regional Tourism Act to the Colorado Economic Development Council. The "City for Champions" project described in the application includes four elements: a U.S. Olympic Museum; a downtown stadium and event center; the U.S. Air Force Academy Gateway at Falcon Stadium Visitors Center; and a Sports Medicine and Performance Center at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

    There was no implied financial impact or cost to the Town of Monument due to the board’s endorsement. This resolution also included a Board of Trustees request that the Economic Development Commission approve the application for funding submitted by the City of Colorado Springs.

    Trustees’ comments

    Mayor Travis Easton presented a Monument Board of Trustees certificate of appreciation to former Tri-Lakes Tribune reporter Lisa Collacott recognizing her for her commitment to the community. Easton, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Kaiser, and Trustees Jeff Bornstein and John Howe each thanked her for her hard work, dedication, and service to the town. Collacott said she had enjoyed her work in the Tri-Lakes and Black Forest communities more than any other jobs she has had.

    Financial reports

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

    • $149,557 to Triview Metropolitan District for June sales tax ($141,291), July motor vehicle tax ($8,000), and July Regional Building Department sales tax ($266).

    • $61,865 to Joseph R Hurley Asphalt LLC for asphalt repairs to Old Denver Highway.

    • $11,322 to Jacobs Engineering for Monument sidewalk project engineering work in June.

    • $12,911 to Jacobs Engineering for Monument sidewalk project engineering work in July.

    Some of the items Town Treasurer Monica Harder noted in her June financial report were:

    • General fund revenues were more than budgeted by 7.2 percent or $161,000.

    • General fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 11.7 percent or $255,000.

    • General fund net revenues were more than budgeted by $309,270.

    • Water fund revenues were less than budgeted by 41 percent or $299,000.

    • Water fund expenditures were less than budgeted by 16.9 percent or $110,000.

    • Water fund net revenues were less budgeted by $103,000.

    • Total town net funds increased by $149,237 to $729,152.

    • Total net sales tax revenues earned through June were more than budgeted by 5.2 percent or $57,000.

    There was a brief discussion about water issues. Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said that water production levels have been 9 to 12 percent less through mid-August than in the summer of 2012, but he still expects the water department to be under budget for expenses versus revenues again this year by postponing a few projects until 2014. There have been very few complaints about the town’s water rate increases due to the amount of public notice, he said. Collection of delinquent accounts had been an emphasis item over the past six weeks. Some of the largest residential users have cut back from 50,000 gallons per month to 40,000 gallons per month.

    The financial reports were accepted as presented.

    Staff reports

    Some of the items Kassawara reported were:

    • He reviewed and issued final administrative approval for Monument Rock Business Park

    Phase III Final PD Site Plans.

    • Design of the town’s downtown sidewalk, curb, and gutter construction project should be completed by Jacobs, using a $50,000 grant, by the end of the year and go out for bid in early 2014.

    • The specific date for the September sidewalk project open house had not been set.

    • JT Mesite began work as the department’s new engineering assistant.

    Some of the items Tharnish reported were:

    • There were two separate graffiti incidents at the Monument Lake dam spillway and the ladies bathroom at Limbach Park; both sites were fixed and painted over.

    • The damage from these two incidents was investigated by the Monument Police Department.

    • Connie Paillette began work as the new water billing technician.

    Some of the police items reported Detective Joe Lundy reported were:

    • Sgt. Rick Tudor will retire on Sept. 3.

    • A new police officer will be hired to fill the vacated position.

    Some of the items from Town Manager Smith’s report were:

    • The town’s share of the cost of a northern El Paso County water reuse study by engineering firm Tetra Tech will cost $80,000, which will be divided equally between the town, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, Donala Water and Sanitation District, and perhaps Triview Metropolitan District.

    • Tetra Tech is Woodmoor’s engineering consultant, so Woodmoor will manage the study.

    Two liquor license requests approved

    Owner Melissa Niswonger briefed the board on her business plans and liquor license needs for the new Social Spark Community Center, located at 251 Front St. No. 8, Monument. There were no public comments during the open portion of the hearing.

    A background check had been conducted by the Monument Police Department. Her fingerprints had been sent to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) but not been reviewed and approved by this hearing date.

    The board unanimously approved the new license contingent upon the CBI fingerprint check and approval by the state Department of Revenue Liquor Enforcement Division.

    The board also unanimously approved a special event liquor license name and date change from the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. The event name was changed from "Monument in Motion" to "Monument Fall Festival." The event date was changed from Sept. 2 to Oct. 5.

    The board also unanimously approved similar name and date changes to the special event permit previously issued to the Chamber of Commerce for this now rescheduled event.

    The meeting adjourned at 7:44 p.m.

    **********

    Because of the Labor Day holiday, the next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 3, at 6:30 p.m. in Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: www.townofmonument.org or 884-8017.

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

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    Monument Planning Commission, Aug. 14: Code changes approved; chicken-keeping issue delayed

    By Kate Wetterer

    On Aug, 14, the Monument Planning Commission agreed unanimously to recommend four municipal code changes regarding the definition of side yards, expansion of the kinds of architectural revisions that can be approved administratively, requirements that trigger the need for a temporary use permit, and rules concerning nonconforming uses. These recommendations will be presented to the Monument Board of Trustees for consideration.

    The Planning Commission also debated a fifth code revision which, if passed, would enable chickens to be kept in some parts of Monument. Due to the need for further discussion, particularly concerning the impact keeping chickens might have on communities, the commission has decided to table this fifth revision for the time being.

    The approved proposals included a clarification of the definition of "side yard" and a move to eliminate the rule that temporary use permits should be necessary if a temporary use reduces available public parking spaces. The temporary use code revision matches recent changes to special event permit requirements and is intended to ease the permitting process for temporary uses such as construction activities, temporary sales offices, business promotional events, and seasonal uses outside a permanent structure.

    A third recommendation by the commissioners was an adjustment to section 17.40.220, minor amendment requests, which would make it possible to process changes to architectural features—like altering the color of something—as minor planned development amendments instead of major amendments. This would allow the director of Development Services to approve them administratively, which would be quicker than presenting them to the Planning Commission for review and approval.

    Finally, the Planning Commission approved the recommendation to adjust section 17.68, pertaining to nonconforming uses, which Principal Planner Mike Pesicka said allows the town control over nonconforming buildings that do not meet codes or have fallen to neglect. This code adjustment also offers protection to property owners in the event that some public action should reduce or change their land so that it no longer meets requirements. An example of this would be a new road encroaching on someone’s property so it no longer meets standards. Since this change wasn’t the homeowner’s fault, he or she would be protected from repercussions under this adjustment.

    In response to community interest, the Planning Commission also considered the possibility of adding a clause to municipal code section 6.04, permitting Monument residents living in R-1 and R-2 single-family residential zone districts to keep up to four hens in their yards for private use. Planned developments, such as Jackson Creek, Village Center and Promontory Point would not be included in this decision, because individual site plan agreements vary and might not allow keeping chickens.

    Keeping chickens would be treated very similarly under the tabled proposal to caring for other forms of livestock—one would have to secure a license to house chickens and adhere to a variety of rules regarding the upkeep and housing of fowl. Owning roosters would not be allowed, nor would selling any eggs for profit.

    **********

    The next Planning Commission meeting is set for Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. in Monument Town Hall. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.

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

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    Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing and Medical Marijuana Authority and Combined Workshop and Town Council meeting, Aug. 8: Retail sale of recreational marijuana prohibited

    By Lisa Hatfield

    The Palmer Lake Town Council approved an ordinance prohibiting the retail sale of recreational marijuana in the town on Aug. 8. Over an hour of public discussion preceded the trustees’ 4-1 vote to approve the new ordinance.

    The council allowed Palmer Lake residents and owners of businesses in Palmer Lake to speak during the public discussion. However, except for a representative of a nonprofit group from Denver who had obtained permission by phone the previous week, nonresidents were not allowed to speak.

    According to Amendment 64 to the Colorado State Constitution, adults over 21 years old may possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. However, the law left the decision to each local government to regulate or prohibit retail sales of marijuana. Oct. 1 is the deadline for localities to choose to either "opt out," impose a moratorium as a wait-and-see measure, or to "opt in" to retail marijuana sales by taking no action at all, Town Attorney Larry Gaddis explained.

    About 30 citizens spoke during the public discussion and were evenly divided in their opinions on this issue. The limitation of speakers to only town residents and business owners was announced by Mayor Nikki McDonald at the beginning of the public discussion but was not noted on the speaker sign-in sheet nor when Town Clerk Tara Berreth told latecomers and people who had not seen the signup sheet, "Whoever wants to sign up can come sign up right now."

    Due to bad acoustics in the Town Hall, some audience members from Monument, Larkspur, and the county were not aware until the end of public discussion that they would not be allowed to voice their opinions.

    Some of the comments made in favor of allowing retail marijuana sales were:

    • We should not opt out of a potential revenue source, especially since other towns have declined to take advantage of it.

    • Possession of cannabis is not a crime in Colorado, and we should not be treated like second-class citizens.

    • A majority of voters in Palmer Lake voted in favor of Amendment 64 to regulate marijuana the same way as alcohol.

    • It would be better to have the security and quality control at regulated grow centers than to go to the local black market or have to drive to Denver to buy marijuana.

    • Regulations are already in place to control alcohol, and cannabis would not require new regulations.

    • Children are not more vulnerable to marijuana than to alcohol or cigarettes.

    • Medical marijuana in Palmer Lake has not reduced home values.

    Some of the comments made by people speaking against retail marijuana sales were:

    • We can’t afford to be the guinea pig for a new industry.

    • It is still a federal crime to possess marijuana.

    • We are worried about ruining our town’s family-friendly image.

    • Revenue from taxes would not be enough to pay for even one new police officer.

    • We could lose sales tax from other businesses that don’t want to locate near pot shops. Property values will go down and businesses might leave town.

    • Marijuana is bad for your health and is a gateway drug.

    • We don’t want to be the marijuana center for the whole Front Range.

    • Colorado Springs and other areas that have "opted out" have good reasons for doing so.

    Economic Development Trustee Shana Ball made a motion to approve the ordinance creating Chapter 5.40 of the Town of Palmer Lake Municipal Code Regarding Commercial Growing and Selling of Marijuana for Recreational Use and Prohibiting Same, also known as "opting out" of Amendment 64.

    Some of the comments made by trustees during discussion of Ball’s motion were:

    • Ball said, "I work in emergency care. To say that (marijuana) is harmless is not accurate. To say the police have not been involved is not accurate."

    • Water Trustee Mike Maddox said, "Today’s marijuana is stronger… The Dutch classify marijuana as a hard drug now." He gave numerous citations from medical research about its harmful effects.

    • Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster said, "I think we would be remiss if we don’t pass a moratorium to see how other towns do it."

    • Police Trustee Bob Grado said, "I’ve been a police officer 27 years.… We cannot support something that is federally illegal.… The money stream coming in will be smaller than what it costs the town. Police in Denver do not support any of this."

    • Park and Recreation Trustee Mike Patrizi said, "I am a family man, and I love what this town stands for. I’d rather our town be broke … than get money from this source."

    • Mayor McDonald said, "I think there’s a lot of questions about this entire issue. I do believe with Rich that it should be put to a vote of the people."

    The final council vote was 4-1 to "opt out" of retail recreational marijuana sales. Kuehster voted against the motion because he preferred the moratorium option, and McDonald did not vote.

    Other business

    Grado announced that the Police Department was "still in the black and right on target," and town bookkeeper Linda Ousnamer reported that while revenue was "not coming in as fast as we would like, expenses are way down and everyone is maintaining their budget."

    The council unanimously approved a new liquor license application, submitted by Steve Rice and Skip Morgan for Illumination Café, 630 Highway 105. Of 80 people surveyed in the neighborhood, 32 approved of the license and 48 had no opinion.

    McDonald introduced John C. Russell, who will become the new roads trustee when he takes the oath of office at the next meeting. "Of course I have no time to spare … but I think Palmer Lake is worth living in and working for," Russell said.

    After the roll call vote, the meeting ended at 8:03.

    **********

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

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

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    Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Aug. 28: School district ballot initiative explained

    By Harriet Halbig

    Assistant Superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Cheryl Wangeman and Now’s The Time D-38 representative Deb Goth spoke to the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board at the Aug. 28 meeting about the mill levy override (MLO) initiative on the November ballot.

    Wangeman explained that the Lewis-Palmer school district continues to display excellence in many ways, including accreditation with distinction, AP Honor Roll recognition for increasing Advanced Placement offerings and participation, John Irwin Schools of Excellence, high ACT scores, award-winning music and athletic programs, and STEM (science, technology, energy and math) certified high school teachers.

    However, during the past five years, the district budget has been cut by over $11 million. These cuts resulted in a reduction in teaching staff and elimination of many programs that aided students who struggle in subjects such as reading and math. Gifted and talented programs have also been curtailed, and spending on technology has been reduced.

    As a result, test scores are slowly declining, causing concern that the district may lose its excellent standing as a result of lack of support for its students in their early years of school.

    Funding from the state has been erratic over the past few years, with the state often taking back part of its promised funding at midyear.

    District officials and community supporters decided, after many months of meetings, that it would be preferable to have a local source of reliable funding.

    The district has placed on the November ballot a proposal for an MLO that would provide $4.5 million to be used for:

    • Restoring 38 positions, including teaching positions, counselors, librarians, technology teachers, and elementary summer school.

    • Replacing and upgrading technology.

    • Ensuring safety and security of school buildings.

    • Recruiting and retaining high quality teachers.

    • Providing funding to the Monument Academy in an amount proportionate to its student population.

    Wangeman said that the emphasis will be on grades K-3 to provide support for the younger students.

    For detailed information, please refer to the Board of Education article on page 1 of this issue, and the district website lewispalmer.org.

    Woodmoor resident Gordon Reichal said that the ballot wording includes the words "but not limited to," implying that the board would have the option of using the funds for other things.

    The ballot wording no longer includes those words.

    Goth said that the district may not promote the MLO with public funds, so the committee requested that the WIA board endorse the measure. She said that details were available at the group’s website, nowsthetimeD38.org., and on the district website.

    Goth also reminded the board that home values in the area are enhanced by the success of its schools.

    WIA Forestry Director Eric Gross said that, while he supports the district and its activities, he hesitates to vote an endorsement without reading the wording of the ballot measure. He also said he was encouraged by the fact that the measure says there will be a community group to oversee the use of the funds.

    In response to a question, Wangeman said that the issue proposing to raise $1 billion in income taxes to benefit schools would not benefit the district to a great extent because most of the funding would be allocated to districts with a larger population in poverty.

    Another audience member said that, while supportive of the district’s children and teachers, she does not support the MLO because the district used public funds to determine whether it was necessary and that there are still trust issues to be addressed based on past performance of the board.

    She cautioned the board against advocating the measure, saying that they represent over 3,000 people and suggested holding a debate with both sides of the issue represented.

    Board President Jim Hale said that perhaps the board should not vote to advocate the measure due to its controversy.

    Fire mitigation efforts

    Hale said that he had met with the school board the previous week regarding fire mitigation in the Woodmoor area, especially in the area due east of Lewis-Palmer Elementary School and near the middle school. He also met with Wangeman and FireWise Chairman Jim Woodman to discuss the project.

    Wangeman said that she, Woodman, and the district’s grounds chairman walked the property east of the elementary school to determine what needs to be done. Work will be done during the winter months. Upon completion, the area will include a trail with signs offering advice on fire mitigation.

    She also said that she has been speaking with the developer of property near Lake Woodmoor regarding potential walkways that could provide new residents with a safe way to walk to the elementary and middle schools while avoiding the streets.

    Treasurer Tom Schoemaker reported that the association remains under budget for the year.

    Hale reported that covenant violations for the past month were largely due to excess slash and dead trees. While he thanked the homeowners for their efforts, he reminded them that the slash itself poses a fire hazard.

    Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that traffic near the middle school is very heavy and that bears are being seen in all parts of Woodmoor, especially where people put out their trash the night before it is collected.

    Nielsen also said that there have been isolated incidents regarding Drano bottles—homemade explosives involving plastic bottles with Drano and aluminum foil. He said that such devices have been used in the past to blow up mailboxes and cautioned anyone who sees a bottle with liquid and aluminum foil to call Woodmoor Public Safety. One such device has been found in Monument and several in Gleneagle.

    Forestry Director Gross said that homeowners can drop off slash at Anderson Tree Service, on Washington Street north of Highway 105, on Sept. 7 and 14 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. There is a charge of $5 per load. For further information, please see the website www.woodmoor.org.

    Gross also thanked Forestry Committee members Lisa Hatfield and Dick Green for their efforts in completing most of the requested site evaluations.

    Community Affairs Director Anne Stevens-Gountanis expressed concern about excess vegetation on August Drive that is limiting visibility. There was discussion about the possibility of having the county remove the vegetation and whether it impacts the Dirty Woman Creek watershed.

    Hale said that the board must begin planning for the association’s annual meeting in January. He suggested that, instead of overlong presentations about the activities of each committee, there be displays and representatives to answer questions.

    There was a brief discussion of ideas such as a raffle or drawing to encourage attendance at the meeting.

    **********

    The board of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month at the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. The next meeting will be on Sept. 25.

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

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    August Weather Wrap

    By Bill Kappel

    For the second month in a row, much above average rainfall accumulated throughout the region. Most areas around the Tri-Lakes received 4 to 7 inches of rainfall, with a few spots accumulating even more. This was about twice as much as normal. Of course, much of this rain accumulated in a short time and caused problems with flash flooding. Temperatures for August averaged a little warmer than normal, however we did not reach 90° during the month.

    August continued the July trend of an active Southwest monsoon season. This led to several days of rain, heavy at times, during the first few days of the month. As usual in these situations, some areas received high amounts of rain, while others received much less. The strong storms caused more flash flooding and some damage around the Black Forest burn scars on Aug. 4, as 1 to 2 inches of rain accumulated in less than an hour. The high levels of moisture helped to hold temperatures down to average and slightly below average levels through the period, with highs reaching the low to mid-80s early each day before the storms developed.

    The persistent flow of monsoon moisture continued to affect the region from the 5th through the 11th. This led to several rounds of afternoon and evening thunderstorms and periods of heavy rains. Most of the flash flooding, however, was at the Waldo Canyon burn scar/Manitou Springs region instead of at Black Forest. The active monsoon pattern has made up a large amount of the precipitation deficit we built up over the last few years, with some areas around the region receiving more than 10 inches of rainfall since the beginning of July. In addition, the high levels of moisture and persistent clouds helped to keep temperatures below average. Highs during the week were generally 5 to 10 degrees cooler than normal, ranging from 65°F on the 7th to the low 80s on the 5th and 6th.

    Above normal levels of monsoonal moisture continued to bring heavy rains to the region during the early part of the week of the 12th. Heavy rains brought more flash flooding issues on the 12th and 13th. Temperatures also held below normal, with mid- to upper 70s each afternoon. The monsoon pattern began to shift over the next few days, with the plume of moisture shifting back to the west. This allowed the region to dry out for most of the remainder of the week and temperatures to warm. Highs reached into the 80s from the 15th through the 18th. No storms developed from the 15th through the 17th, a rarity for the middle of August.

    The week of the 19th was an up-and-down week, starting quiet for the first few days, then very active during the middle, and quiet again on the end. Temperatures were well above normal from the 19th through the 21st, with highs reaching into the mid- to upper 80s. A couple of short-lived storms popped up, but limited moisture meant very little rainfall. The monsoonal plume then moved back over the area over the next few days, adding lots of available moisture to the atmosphere. This primed the pump just waiting for a trigger to release the energy and moisture.

    This happened most significantly from the afternoon the 22nd through the morning of the 23rd. A wave of energy moved over Colorado and added some extra lift, which combined with the heating of the morning and afternoon. This allowed several rounds of strong to severe thunderstorms to develop and, because the steering flow in the atmosphere was very weak, many of these storms remained over the same area for several hours. Heavy rain, hail, and flooding resulted in many locations from Teller County through most of El Paso County.

    Rainfall amounts of 1 to 2 inches in an hour were common, with some areas receiving nearly 5 inches. These rainfall amounts were equivalent to a storm having a 1 percent chance of occurrence in a given year (a 100-year storm) or less-pretty rare events. Once this area of unsettled weather moved out by the morning of the 23rd, conditions dried out significantly. Sunshine was abundant through the weekend, with temperatures again reaching into the low 80s, slightly warmer than normal.

    Mild and dry conditions were in control for most of the rest of the month. High temperatures consistently reached into the low and mid-80s, about 5 to10 degrees warmer than normal. A few isolated to scattered thunderstorms developed over the last couple days of the month, but only light rainfall amounts were seen for most of us.

    A look ahead

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

    August 2013 Weather Statistics

    Average High 81.1° (+2.0) 100-year return frequency value max 83.9° min 72.9°
    Average Low 49.6 ° (+0.4) 100-year return frequency value max 55.2° min 46.8°
    Monthly Precipitation 4.49" (+1.64", 30% above normal) 100-year return frequency value max 6.07" min 0.94"
    Monthly Snowfall 0.0"
    Highest Temperature 87° on the 1st, 20th
    Lowest Temperature 44° on the 14th
    Season to Date Snow 0.0" (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
    Season to Date Precip. 8.00" (+2.02", 35% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
    Heating Degree Days 37 (-31)
    Cooling Degree Days 49 (+8)

    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 to view 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.

    Continued need for food donations at Tri-Lakes Cares

    We at Tri-Lakes Cares have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our community in response to the needs of those impacted by the Black Forest Fire and want to express our gratitude to those who have donated toward this cause. We have been able to assist over 160 families affected by the fire with food, gift cards, clothing, and essential services due in large part to the kindness of Tri-Lakes residents.

    We are currently in need of donations of food, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies to meet the ongoing needs of the Black Forest Fire families while we also continue our regular assistance to local families. Our shelves are always a bit bare during the late summer, but coupled with the demands presented by the fire, they are particularly lean this year.

    We would be very grateful for donations of these needed items: pancake mix and syrup, soups, pasta sauce, cereal, canned meats, chili, beef stew, crackers, juice, tea bags, condiments, toilet paper, paper towels and facial tissues, feminine products, diapers (especially sizes 4-6), dish soap, and laundry detergent.

    Thank you for your help. This is such a wonderful community of neighbors and we are privileged to be in partnership with each one of you.

    Diane Brown, Programs manager, Tri-Lakes Cares

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    Making the investment: Support D-38 MLO

    "Ignite, engage, encourage and expect excellence." Though this is the motto of Palmer Ridge High School, these words very much capture the passion and spirit evident throughout the Lewis-Palmer School District. We all embrace and appreciate the worthiness of "excellence" as an ideal, but in reality, the pursuit and attainment of excellence requires adequate resources. Excellence does not come cheap. Is the additional investment in our schools via a mill levy override worth it?

    Homeowners recognize that keeping up on the maintenance and repair of our homes helps preserve property values. Realtors will tell you that excellent community schools likewise have a significant positive impact on home values. Supporting the MLO and restoring funding to our schools is worth it in this regard, as passage will help preserve and enhance our property values.

    When we are facing a serious health issue, we recognize the importance of seeing excellent doctors with the best training; highly competent nurses, technicians, and support staff; the latest and greatest in technology for diagnosis and treatment; and of undergoing treatment in modern, well-maintained facilities. Our health is worth it. Should we not have the same expectation for our educational system?

    The time has come to provide the funding the Lewis-Palmer District requires so that it may be restored to good health and continue its proven tradition of excellence in education. For several years now, the mantra in D-38 has been "Do more with less." It is becoming apparent, however, that the reality has simply become "less." It is time to give our schools the resources they need to maintain the level of excellence we expect. The children of the Tri-Lakes community are worth it; they deserve the very best education we can give them. Please join us in voting "yes" on the mill levy override question.

    Tom and Tricia Patrick, Palmer Lake

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    When is enough really enough?

    In the August OCN a citizen stated reasons to support the upcoming D-38 MLO: property values and declining test scores.

    I agree that property values and quality school districts parallel each other. Besides good schools, many people look for areas to live where taxes are manageable. A 10.5 mill increase will give D-38 one of the highest mills in Colorado, which may in turn hurt our property values. Many constituents in District 38 are retired seniors who chose this area for its views, character, and small-town feel. Most are on fixed incomes and a 20.8 percent increase in their property taxes, combined with the possibility of an increase in income tax, would be devastating.

    The issue with declining scores refers to Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Members of our current school board ignored teachers and parents who accurately predicted the negative impact on academics. The board voted to reconfigure the district to one 7-8 middle school and the dire predictions have come to fruition! Are we really supposed to trust a school board who made that radical decision to the detriment of our students with a "never ending" $4.5 million per year?

    The June edition of the OCN reported that Cheryl Wangeman, District 38’s CFO, stated that the school district would receive an increase of $185 in per pupil funding (approximately $1,017,500), which is enough to hire 20 new teachers. If Amendment 66, a state proposal, passes, an increase of $307 per pupil is expected (approximately $1,688,500). The district also currently has over $11 million in their bank account to offset other costs and still maintain a healthy savings. With the state amendment in the offering do we really need this MLO at this time? When is enough really enough?

    Jody Richardson, D-38 constituent since 1986

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    Preserve our educational excellence at Lewis-Palmer

    As we start another school year, I want to thank our great teachers and staff for another year educating our most valued treasures: our children. They have worked hard during trying times to maintain an educational experience second to none. Due to the state budget cuts and increased costs, we are spending $10 million less on our children than we did just five years ago and we have more students to educate. We have been forced to cut programs (cut teachers), increase classroom sizes (cut teachers) and increase fees (instead of cutting teachers). As a board member, I am concerned these cuts are starting to impact our students, and even worse, some might slip through the cracks. Lewis-Palmer (District 38) is known for providing a quality education to all our students which is a reason many of us live here.

    Our community has the opportunity to help. The mill levy override (MLO) on the ballot this November will help ensure new students receive the same educational opportunities of past graduates, restore some resources for our struggling students, and provide additional funding for much needed security enhancements.

    The facts concerning the challenges facing Lewis-Palmer and the plan for using additional funding are posted on the district’s website. (Select the Mill Levies and Bond Issues button on the left).

    Please join me at Maguireville on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. to show our support for our teachers, our community, and our kids. Don’t miss an opportunity to socialize with friends while getting a chance to walk through Maguireville and see all the history on display. There will be snacks, drinks and live music. Maguireville is located at 18110 Knollwood Blvd. just north of Highway 105.

    Visit www.nowsthetimeD38.org to obtain more information about the MLO and how you can help.

    MarkPfoff, Parent of two students and Lewis-Palmer D-38 School Board member

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    High teacher turnover at Palmer Ridge

    Out of the original 44 hand-selected, "Dream Team" teachers that opened Palmer Ridge High School in 2008, only 14 remain. There are 11 new staff members at PRHS this fall. This turnover rate in these professional positions would be devastating in any business and would indicate the need for immediate investigation into its cause.

    One example that could provide insight is an email that was sent to all staff from the principal’s secretary: "TEACHER CONTRACTS: Your contracts will be in your mailbox later today. Be sure to sign the WHITE original and return to me, by May 24, 2013 otherwise the District may open the position and offer a contract to another candidate as provided by law."

    The tone is not collegial but threatening, and it is actually untrue. Teachers have until July 1 to sign their contracts. Why would Principal Gabel threaten to replace his current teaching staff without a personal conversation as to why a contract has not been returned with the teacher’s signature? Also, past practice has established that teachers are assumed to be returning under contract, even if they do not sign by July 1. This email was brought to the attention of the district superintendent in June. It was anticipated that the district’s director of Human Resources, if not the principal, would have issued an apology to all staff for the tone and erroneous information in this communication as a misstatement or misunderstanding, but none was forthcoming.

    LPSD has a teacher turnover rate of 42 percent, one of the highest on the Front Range. The public has not been made aware of this nor if it is even being addressed by a director of HR in whom the district invests $82,000 a year plus benefits.

    Stephen Boyd, MA Ed, Larkspur

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    Seeking a mirage

    The good folks of Palmer Lake have a better chance in recreating an image of a lake rather than filling it with precious water. All they have to do is contact Christo, the world renowned artist who still awaits his OK on draping the Arkansas River. He could work his magic by stretching a tough, reflective Mylar over the now weed-infested lakebed, creating a mirage. He’d then take it down once the water rights were secured.

    Jim Sawatzki, artist/historian, Spruce Mountain, Douglas County

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    Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Autumn adventures

    By the staff at Covered Treasures

    As the leaves start turning, our thoughts turn to new beginnings—and maybe some new adventures. If you’re planning to get outdoors and enjoy some sunny September days, or if you’d like to preserve some of your garden produce, tour some Colorado wineries, try your hand at home brewing, or break out the crock pot and find some new recipes, there are good books to guide you on your way.

    Hiking Waterfalls in Colorado
    By Susan Joy Paul (Falcon) $21.95

    From the Front Range to the Western Slope, Colorado boasts hundreds of waterfalls, spilling over crags and cliffs, splashing off boulders, and slipping over slabs. This guide provides driving directions and hike descriptions, maps, and color photos for 150 of the most scenic waterfalls, leading you through state and national parks, forests, monuments and wilderness areas, and from popular city parks to the most remote and secluded corners of the state. There are hikes suited to all abilities with mile-by-mile directional cues, approximate hiking times, and maps.

    Preserving Made Easy
    By Ellie Topp and Margaret Howard (Firefly Books) $9.99

    This is the perfect book for busy cooks who want to prepare and enjoy the homemade goodness of fresh fruits and vegetables year round. These recipes—all thoroughly tested and perfected—were selected for their delicious taste and ease of preparation. Each recipe offers something special—an innovative twist to an old favorite, an inspired way to mix and match flavors, or a new tip to make the whole process easier and more fun.

    Exploring Colorado Wineries: Guidebook & Journal
    By Paula Mitchell (Summit Mesa Publishing) $23.95

    With colorful pages and detailed information, this guide introduces you to the state’s 125 wineries and tasting rooms with precise maps and written directions. Other amenities are listed for each winery, and space is left for your own notes.

    Home Brew Beer
    Bob Bridle, senior editor (Dorling Kindersley Limited) $22

    Find out how to brew a wide range of ales, lagers, and wheat beers—as well as a thirst-quenching collection of herb, spice, and fruit beers. The book includes 100 recipes from around the world, with brewers’ tips and full-page photos of the finished beers. Detailed step-by-step photographs show you what to do at every stage of the process, and a comprehensive equipment section is included.

    Putting Food By
    By Janet Greene, Ruth Hertzberg, and Beatrice Vaughan (Penguin) $17

    This classic book on preserving foods—from fruits and vegetables to meat and seafood has been fully updated for 21st-century kitchens. It includes instructions for canning, freezing, salting, smoking, drying, and root cellaring; mouthwatering recipes for pickles, relishes, jams, and jellies; information on preserving with less sugar and salt; and tips on equipment, ingredients, health and safety issues, and resources.

    The Homebrewer’s Recipe Guide
    By Patrick Higgins, Maura Kate Kilgore, and Paul Hertlein (Fireside) $15.99

    Magnificent pale ales, ambers, stouts, lagers, and seasonal brews are included in over 175 original beer recipes along with tips from the master brewers. There are also recipes for foods featuring homebrew as an ingredient, like red-hot rack of ribs, frijoles borrachos, and classic oatmeal beer bread. Rich quotations from Hemingway, Shakespeare, Joyce, and others celebrate memorable libations, special drinking spots, and other bits of beer and tavern lore and legend.

    The Paleo Slow Cooker: Healthy, Gluten-Free Meals the Easy Way
    By Arsy Vartanian (Race Point Publishing) $27

    Tender, herb-packed and satisfying dishes will appear on the table almost magically and with just a little effort from your slow cooker. From traditional stews and pot roasts mingled with wholesome vegetables to more exotic flavors from around the world, Paleo takes on dishes served in the best restaurants in this truly gourmet array of 125 recipes. Full-page color photographs illustrate each recipe, and ingredients and instructions are listed side by side on the facing page, making this an easy book for the busy cook to use.

    Kids are back in school, a new season is beginning, and maybe it’s time to try something new in the kitchen, outdoors, or on the road. Whatever you do, enjoy this beautiful season in colorful Colorado. Until next month, happy reading.

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

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    Motorists should take extra care in migration season

    By Kate Wetterer

    Imagine how cars must look to forest creatures—hulking beasts with stiff pelts that glint in the light, barreling along at breakneck speeds, not even stopping to devour their prey.

    We in the Tri-Lakes area live in a region blessed with thriving animal populations; we live side-by-side, our worlds brushing. In our cars, we pose quite a threat to these wild neighbors, so it is vital we should look out for wildlife that might fall victim to us on our thundering roads. This is especially important to consider when animals are migrating, like they will be as winter approaches.

    The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) warns drivers that October and November bring with them the highest number of reported animal/vehicle collisions, not even considering those left unreported in the street. Migration season stretches from Oct. 1 to June 1, so it is wise to be extra cautious during this time lest some poor creature should chance their luck on the road at just the wrong moment.

    Because animals are most active from dusk to dawn, some roads in other parts of the state have reduced speed limits at night, and fines are doubled for speeding after the sun has set. El Paso County doesn’t house any of these designated areas, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be wary when driving in areas with lots of animal life. In fact, according to CDOT, the county has a comparatively high number of animal/vehicle collisions.

    Other regions are having fences, wildlife escape ramps, and other handy accident-prevention devices added to their roads, but we are not, as yet. Couldn’t it be said this only increases our responsibilities, driving such that we leave the inhabitants of the woods safe to dart and scavenge another day?

    As Colorado State Patrol Capt. Rich Duran has said, quoted in a CDOT news bulletin: "In our state, it just makes good safe sense to slow down and drive with extra caution in wildlife areas, particularly at night. If you live here, you know. Wildlife are always present and when it’s dark, they are moving and we cannot see them as clearly—slowing down gives all motorists that extra protection necessary to avoid a collision." Something to keep in mind when hurtling down the road in the evening, or even with the stars out and about.

    On the whole, animal/vehicle collisions in Colorado have been decreasing since 2006, CDOT says. Many factors are potentially involved in this decline, of course, including weather shifts and fluctuating animal populations, but it is very possible driver awareness has helped bring about this encouraging news. That doesn’t mean we should let our guard down during this year’s coming migration season, though, by any means. This is a shared land, and we humans comprise only a percentage of its population. Drive safely!

    More information can be found about the CDOT and its doings at www.coloradodot.info. To learn more about wildlife migration and Colorado’s roads, search for "Wildlife on the Move!" on this site.

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

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    Art Matters: Art as home remedy

    By Janet Sellers

    "They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself."—Andy Warhol

    The current craze of wine and painting workshops is proof that people want to get out and do creative things together in a fun way, and this venue idea provides everything but the artist: you! Along the Front Range in Colorado, studio visits, drop-in art studios, wine bar studios and wine or tea art parties are becoming very popular.

    Of course, the hunt and purchase of a new painting or sculpture for you home or office is always a cure for the blahs. It can even become a magnificent obsession, in a good way. But what I’m talking about here is actually making some art for you. It is possible, under the guidance of a good artist as teacher, for you to make a good painting—good enough for you to hang proudly on your wall.

    Recently, I held an art and wine event for some newbie artists—some had never painted before, and most had not put paint to canvas ever, or at least not in a long while. I had a prototype prepared, a sample painting, and as I demonstrated the techniques with the brush and paint onto the canvas, the participants did the same moves, exclaiming happily about the greens, purples, and so on that they were mixing up and brushing onto their painting.

    At the end of the session, no two paintings looked the same, but all were fun and good looking. The artwork will be their keepsakes of that day together, and a work of art that will bring joy lifelong. Well, that’s what art does, you know.

    Many art collectors say that they get renewed pleasure from their art collection whenever they look at the works. Art can increase in value over time, it is true, but it’s still a good idea to buy what you like and die happy. Even just chatting about art at a gallery, or about one’s art collection, whether it’s museum quality or just something that makes a good fit for pleasure, creates a happy feeling. And you can always join a group or a one-shot artist night and make your own to enjoy!

    I hope you will join me this month for the festive events in art that many local venues have prepared just for you.

    September arts events

    Whimsy County Frog Festival and Show of Classic ConveyancesSept. 7, 1 to 6 p.m. at the Pikes Peak Brewery, 1756 Lake Woodmoor Drive. Frog on a Limb Primitives of Monument and the Pikes Peak Brewery are holding the event as a fundraiser to benefit the many neighbors, artisans, and customers affected by the Black Forest Fire. Guests can enjoy food, beer, games, raffles, and prizes.

    Monument Art Hop—the last Art Hop of 2013 is on Sept. 19, when over a dozen venues stay open until 8 p.m. Galleries, restaurants, and boutiques of historic downtown Monument feature art openings, food, and live music. The art quarter is between Second and Third Streets.

    Fabulous Friday Art NightsSept. 6, 13, 20, 5 to 8 p.m. Local art gallery receptions for featured artists, events, and art shows. First Friday is at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TCLA), 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake; Second Friday is at Bella Art and Frame, 187 Washington St., Third Friday is at Southwinds Fine Art Gallery, corner of Baptist and Roller Coaster Roads, Colorado Springs.

    Bella Art and Frame GallerySept. 13, artist reception for new exhibit and sale of art by Julia McMinn Evans, 5 to 8 p.m. Show runs Sept. 2 to 27. The main gallery hosts over a dozen local fine artists in the media of paintings, photography, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, and mixed media.

    Southwinds Fine Art Gallery—A special event as a sendoff for departing gallery Director Leo Huff, this show and sale for the end of summer will be held on Sept. 14 and 15, 10 to 6 p.m. The gallery has only local artists at this innovative community gallery, and Southwinds artists will be on hand to welcome the community for an event of art and conviviality.

    Richard Pankratz retrospective—Opening night has already occurred, but throughout September you can still enjoy the show of local art legend, Richard Pankratz, even with some work from his college years. TCLA, 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake.

    Front Range Open Studios—Local artists studio event Sept. 14 and 15. A self- guided tour of the studios and workshops of the Tri-Lakes region. Free to the public and for visitors of all ages. Artists will be demonstrating and showing their work. For a map to all locations, go to www.frontrangeopenstudios.com.

    Janet Sellers is an American artist, art teacher, and writer. She paints every day, makes public art sculptures for Colorado cities, and teaches art locally. 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 23. Below is the text of some short articles and captions that appeared within the Snapshots section:

    Gleneagle Sertoma blood drives total 564 pints

    By Dean Jones, Gleneagle Sertoma Club

    Thirty-eight donors signed in for Gleneagle Sertoma Club’s 17th biannual blood drive on Aug 1. Club volunteers and medical personnel from the Penrose Hospital Blood Bank collected 32 pints of blood from qualifying donors. A total of 564 pints have been collected since the program’s inception in 2005.

    The blood drive is held twice a year at the Antelope Trails Elementary School in Monument. The blood is drawn by donor phlebotomists from the Blood Bank and benefits the Penrose-St. Francis Hospital blood resources.

    Caption: Sherri Wells of the Penrose Hospital Blood Bank reviews and approves qualifications of Kelly Gauck to donate blood. Donors Bart Jones and Nannette Anderson receive careful attention by donor phlebotomistsTara Stewart and Laura Davis of the Penrose Hospital Blood Bank. Young donors Tyson Alcom and Brendon O’Connor give blood under the care of donor phlebotomists Rhoda Bell and Tara Stewart. Sertoma volunteers Wanda Jones, Bill Nance, and Rae Berg sign up and instruct potential donors to give blood for the Penrose Hospital Blood Bank. Photos provided by Dean Jones.

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    2013 Chautauqua, Aug. 2-4

    Caption: Storyteller and writer John Stansfield introduced the 2013 Chautauqua to the attendees on opening night in Palmer Lake. The Chautauqua is sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society and was directed this year by Jim Sawatzki, author, historian, and DVD producer and director. The evening was highlighted by the presentation of Sawatzki’s latest DVD, The Sojourn. It is a short, informative history of the Chautauqua.

    Contestants in the period costume event at the 2013 Chautauqua line up for judging. They are, from left, Chuck and Cathy Leoffler, John Snyder, Phyllis Bonser, Bonnie Allen, and contest coordinator and storyteller John Stansfield. Cathy Leoffler won first place, Chuck Leoffler was second, and Bonser was third.

    On the last day of the Chautauqua, Jim Sawatzki, local historian, author, and DVD producer and director, front left in the white jacket, conducted a tour of several prominent historical sites in Palmer Lake. Sites visited included the Palmer Lake Firehouse, the Old Jail, the Lucretia Vaile Museum, the Santa Fe Section Foreman’s House, and the First Proper Schoolhouse. Photos by Bernard Minetti.

    See also the ice cream social photo on page 26.

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    Tri-Lakes Y Back-to-School BBQ, Aug. 16

    Caption: Zach Franklin, 4, played on the turf after having his face painted at the Tri-Lakes YMCA Back-to-School Barbecue on Friday, Aug. 16. This free community event included face painting, bounce houses, food, games, and music. For more information on the Tri-Lakes YMCA, visit www.ppymca.org. Photo by Emma Gaydos.

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    Taste of Palmer Lake event Aug. 24 raised money for the lake

    By Bernard Minetti

    The Palmer Lake Restoration Committee organized the Taste of Palmer Lake restaurant-sponsored event on Aug. 24.

    Highway 105 through Palmer Lake, also known as Restaurant Row, was lined with tents and tables in front of each eating establishment to provide an opportunity for sightseers to taste their wares. The taste treats that were provided were varied at each table.

    Committee head Jeff Hulsmann stated that proceeds for the event would go to the Palmer Lake Restoration Committee. This 501(c)(3) committee was revitalized to provide a vehicle to obtain a Go Colorado lottery grant of $450,000, which the group is pursuing. The grant would provide funds to re-establish the park-like setting around the lakebed area.

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

    Captions: The Save the Lake effort in Palmer Lake Sunday, August 11. The campaign which is the brainchild of Ron Heard, is being sponsored by the Palmer Lake Historical Society in order to get grant assistance from the State of Colorado. The lake known now affectionately as the Palmer Lake Mud Flats, has dried up. This effort by the residents of the area is an attempt to rectify the situation. Photo by Jennifer Nasser.

    Bonnie Tinker, a volunteer for the Palmer Lake Restoration Committee, stands beside a sign that demonstrates the zeal and direction of this group. She and many other volunteers helped to produce the Taste of Palmer Lake fundraising event in Palmer Lake on Aug. 24. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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    Charlie Daniels

    On Aug. 31, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) hosted a music festival at the Lake of the Rockies Campground at Monument Lake. The Charlie Daniels Band headlined the daylong festival, bringing the audience to its feet on a number of songs including his iconic The Devil Went Down to Georgia. Though in his mid-70s, Daniels performed with youthful energy while displaying his well-known fiddle and guitar playing. Local acts The Lucci Music Band, Dakota Blonde, Chuck Pyle, Wire Wood Station, The Dinettes, and The Flying W Wranglers preceded Daniels. Photo by David Futey. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trillakesarts.org. David Futey can be reached at dfutey@ocn.me.

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    August and September library events

    By Harriet Halbig

    The library’s annual Ice Cream Social, part of the Return of the Rocky Mountain Chautauqua, was held Aug. 3. Despite the gloomy weather, the event was enjoyed by many, and the CountyLine Ramblers bluegrass group added to the festivity. Our thanks go to the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library and the Palmer Lake Historical Society for their sponsorship of this event.

    Children’s programs

    There are two schedule changes for regularly occurring children’s programs.

    The Paws to Read dogs will be in the library on Wednesdays from 4:15 to 5:15. They will continue to be here on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:30.

    Toddler Times on Thursdays will now be at 9:30 and 10:15.

    On Sept. 5, there will be a special Toddler Time with Pikes Peak Music Together. Fun and active music especially for toddlers! There will be two sessions as usual, at 9:30 and 10:15.

    Meet hedgehogs and tenrecs on Saturday, Sept. 14, from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Kathy of Kathy’s Kritters will bring real hedgehogs and their miniature versions, tenrecs. Learn about their behavior and care and make a hedgie craft of your own to take home.

    Join us for the Legos Club on Saturday, Sept. 21, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Legos enthusiasts of all ages are welcome. We will provide the Legos and you bring the creativity. Please do not bring your own Legos, but be sure to bring your camera to record your creation—all pieces remain the property of the library.

    Programs for teens and tweens

    Create a notebook as part of the September Crafty Teens program. Get together with your friends, eat snacks, and create a notebook. We’ll provide the materials, but you can personalize your creation by bringing your own artwork, magazines, and photos. The program will be on Friday, Sept. 6, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. No registration necessary.

    Is math homework getting you down? Are finals freaking you out? Do you need to brush up before the GED, ACT, or GRE? Students of all ages are welcome to sit down with our volunteer math tutors to clarify those trouble spots. No appointments are necessary. Come in on Mondays between 3:30 and 7 p.m. The program will continue every week from Sept. 16 to May 19, excluding District 38 and library holidays.

    Programs for adults

    Camilla Wetzel, the Geriatric Navigator, will offer a program on Wednesday, Sept. 11, to learn tips and techniques for assisting a loved one with a diagnosis of dementia. What is dementia and how is it different from Alzheimer’s? How does one adapt to this ever-changing life? Join us for this helpful discussion.

    The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, Sept. 20, from 10 until noon to discuss The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway. This is one of the titles in the 2013 All Pikes Peak Reads program. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

    Explore options for publishing your work with author Meredith Bromfield. Do you need an agent? What about self-publishing and small publishing houses that charge to publish a book? These are some of the interesting topics that will be discussed on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

    On the walls of the library in September will be photography by David Vessey. In the display case will be a patriotic display by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

    Palmer Lake Library programs

    Palmer Lake’s Family Fun program for September will be Music and Puppets from Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King. Join Allison Flannery, local author and music teacher, as she introduces you to Grieg’s beautiful and familiar music through the story in her book. You will create your own puppet to act out the story and enjoy familiar melodies and lots of movement. The program is suitable for all ages and will take place on Saturday, Sept. 21, at 10:30 a.m.

    The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of every month. New members are welcome and no registration is required. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection.

    The art exhibit in the library will be a charming photographic collection called Risa’s Rabbits.

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

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    Palmer Lake Historical Society, July 18: A history of Pikes Peak through postcards

    By Bernard L. Minetti

    Mel McFarland, engineer and chief conductor on the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway in Manitou Springs, presented "Pikes Peak as Seen in Early Postcards" at the August meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. He painted a picture of history through the use of historic post cards of Pikes Peak. He started by giving some background of the railroad and noted that the person who crafted the original idea of a railroad to Pikes Peak was Zalmon G. Simmons. Simmons was also the founder of the Simmons Beautyrest Mattress Co. This all began in 1889.

    McFarland noted that the postcards of that era, of which he had collected many, sometimes did not necessarily agree with fact. For example, the railroad cars usually were red in the postcards of that time, while they actually were green. He also noted that sometimes localities were not identified correctly, and he displayed a card that was labeled Pikes Peak but actually was an image of Cheyenne Mountain.

    Some photographs of trains on the cards were tilted to make it look as if they were going up to Pikes Peak, when actually they were going down, he said. Also, sometimes images of people were placed in photos when there were none in the original prints. Buildings were also placed in photos that were not actually on the spots shown. He showed cards that were "Photoshopped" to insert an airplane into a photo of Pikes Peak. He speculated that these techniques probably were used to make the cards more saleable.

    McFarland showed many cards that portrayed the history of the cog railway that climbed to the top of Pikes Peak. The cards themselves defined and portrayed the actual progression of the railway to what it is today. He showed many of the locomotives and railcars that hauled passengers to the peak and stated that many, while not in use, were still stored on the railway grounds in Manitou Springs. In the beginning all were steam powered, but they were gradually replaced by gasoline and then diesel-powered engines. McFarland was given a huge round of applause for this presentation by those present, many of whom were railroad devotees.

    Society President Al Walter advised the group that the Palmer Lake Town Council had approved restoration of the historic jailhouse located on the grounds in front of the Town Hall. He noted that the society would bear the cost of this project and that the council had also transferred management and control of the jail to the society. Walter said effort to place the Palmer Lake on the Colorado list of Endangered Places was originated by Ron Heard and was administratively sponsored by the society. Other local groups were assisting in the overall effort to "save the lake."

    **********

    The September meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society will feature a presentation on "Forgotten Tales of Colorado." Stephanie Waters, owner of Colorado Ghost Tours, will be the presenter. The society invites the public to this free presentation at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15, at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake,

    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 - September Menu

    Sep. 11: Spaghetti and meatballs, Caesar salad.
    Sep. 18:
    Raspberry chipotle chicken, roasted potatoes, salad.
    Sep. 25:
    Grilled shrimp, Caesar salad, rolls.

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

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

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    Volunteers needed for Black Forest Regional Park Fire Restoration

    The Rocky Mountain Field Institute seeks volunteers age 16 and up, or 13 if accompanying a parent volunteer. Work includes spreading native seed and building erosion control structures. The work days are Thursdays and Fridays Sept. 12, 13, 26, 27, Oct. 1 and 2, 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the parking lot at the Black Forest Regional Park off Milam Road. Contact Liz Nichol, 471-7736 or rmfi@rmfi.org, for more information or to sign up.

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    Volunteers needed for brush and tree thinning

    Volunteers are needed to cut scrub oak, junipers, and pine trees for residents who need help with fire mitigation. Two more volunteer fire mitigation workdays will be scheduled in September and October for residents identified by Wescott Fire Marshal Margo Humes as needing help getting work done on their properties. Volunteers may contact Julia at Integrity Roofing, 488-2800.

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    Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District seeks board member, apply by Sept. 13

    The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District No. 1 is seeking applications from qualified district residents to fill a vacant seat on the Board of Directors, completing the remaining term of the vacancy, which will run through May 2014. The application is available at the district office, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument, or at www.woodmoorwater.com. The completed applications must be received at the district office by Sept. 13. For more information, visit www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 ext. 0.

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    Volunteer needed for 911 Emergency Response Center Board, apply by Sept. 13

    The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve as an At-Large representative to the 911 Emergency Response Center Authority Board. Applications are due by Sept. 13. Applicants must have knowledge of emergency response by police, fire, and EMS. Also essential is an understanding of telecommunications systems and computer-based telephony. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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    Volunteers needed for Board of Adjustment, apply by Sept. 13

    The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve as associate members on the Board of Adjustment. Applications are due by Sept. 13. The Board of Adjustment hears and decides on issues of physical variances related to the county zoning code. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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    PPLD Adult Reading Program Logo Contest, enter by Sept. 15

    2014 will mark the 10th anniversary of the library’s Adult Reading Program. Each year there is a different theme and logo and the library wants you to come up with their next design! One theme/logo will be chosen for use on program materials such as tote bags and coffee mugs. Email your design to arp@ppld.org by Sept. 15. Also include your name, address, phone number, and email address. Info: www.ppld.org.

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    Volunteer needed for CSU Extension Advisory Committee, apply by Sept. 27

    The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on the CSU Extension Advisory Committee. Applications are due by Sept. 27. A 4-H representative, two Food and Nutrition representatives (knowledge in food safety and nutrition), two Family and Consumer Science representatives (experience/knowledge of nutrition and family relations), and two Community-at-Large representatives are needed on the committee. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436.

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    Register now for fall basketball and swim classes at the Y

    Tri-Lakes YMCA Fall Basketball for ages 3 years old-8th grade is scheduled for Oct. 21-Dec. 14. Also, swim classes are available for ages 6 months to adult. Register at www.ppymca.org or at 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. Info: 481-8728.

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    Wine, Roses and More, Oct. 20

    The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will present Wine, Roses and More, its fall fundraising event, Oct. 20, 5-8 p.m., at the Colorado Springs Marriott, 3580 Tech Center Dr., I-25 exit 148. The evening features celebrity servers, delicious delicacies from wonderful local restaurants, on-site chefs, more than 200 fine wines, spirits and beers, a coffee bar, raffle, an amazing live auction, plus a silent auction. Proceeds benefit the Tri-Lakes community. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased on line at: www.tlwc.net until 1 p.m. the day of the event or at the door. All proceeds from Wine, Roses and More will go to assist local nonprofit and educational organizations. For more information, visit www.tlwc.net.

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    Craft Fair vendors wanted, reserve by Sep. 28

    The Merry Bear Craft Fair is scheduled for Oct. 19-20 at Palmer Ridge High School, Monument. Reserve a 10-by-10 booth for $80. Reservation deadline is Sep. 28. For more information, call 487-7351.

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    MVEA Essay Contest, enter by Nov. 18

    High School Juniors can win an all-expense-paid trip in June to either Washington, D.C., or a week in July at Leadership Camp in the mountains! All you have to do to enter is write a 500-word essay on "What is your opinion on the War on Coal, and how do you feel it may impact electric cooperatives?" Requirements and contest entry form are available at either Mountain View Electric Association office or online at www.mvea.coop. Info: 719-494-2670.

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    Tax credit available for wildfire mitigation work

    Taxpayers with property located in a wildland-urban interface area can receive a tax credit up to $2,500 for performing wildfire mitigation measures. Information regarding community wildfire protection plans and wildfire mitigation measures can be found online at www.wescottfire.org and www.csfs.colostate.edu. For information about the tax credit, check www.taxcolorado.com.

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    Black Forest Slash and Mulch Site, slash drop-off ends Sept. 15

    The Black Forest Slash/Mulch site is still open Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The site is on the east side of Herring Road just south of Shoup Road. Items accepted include tree and bush trimmings (can be charred), pinecones and needles. No stumps, roots, weeds, grass, sod, lumber, trash, etc. Size limitations on tree branches are 6 feet long, 8 inches in diameter. Loads must be securely tied in transit. Slash drop-off ends Sept. 15. Free mulch is available for self-loading during normal business hours; for large quantities of mulch, an end loader is available only on Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., charging $5 for two cubic yards. Mulch pick-up ends Sept. 28 (or when mulch runs out). This free program accepts cash donations for the Black Forest Slash and Mulch Committee and food items and checks for Care & Share. For more information, visit bfslash.org or call Ruth Ann Steele at 495-3107, Carolyn Brown, 495-3127, Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878.

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    Free help line for fire victims

    Optum, a leading health and behavioral health services company, is offering a free emotional-support help line to those affected by wildfires. The service is free of charge and open to anyone. Specially trained Optum mental health specialists help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs. Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters. The toll-free number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for as long as necessary.

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    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.

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    Gardeners wanted for Monument 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.

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    Newspaper seeks volunteers

    Would you like to volunteer with Our Community News? You can help with mailing day, write articles, take snapshots and write captions, and more. We’ll teach you! Text or call Lisa at 339-7831 to find out more.

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    Lupus support group forming

    If you are interested in joining a lupus support group in the Monument area, please email Diane Bandle, dmbandle@hotmail.com.

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    Multiple sclerosis support group

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

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    Reverse 911

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

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    Get volunteer help for your nonprofit

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

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    Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center programs

    The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, Tuesdays and Thursdays, noon to 4 p.m.; National Mah-jongg, Fridays, 1-4 p.m.; line dancing, first and second Wednesdays, 1-2 p.m.; tea time, third Tuesday, 1-3 p.m.; bingo, third Wednesday, 12:30-3 p.m. Also available at the center are ping-pong, Wii video games, various puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table. For more information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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    Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free

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

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    Senior Safety Program

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

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