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Vol. 14 No. 1 - January 4, 2014


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Contents

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

the PDF file. This is a 16.0 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

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Dec. 9 and 19: Board prepares for superintendent search, appoints Hawkins to fill board vacancy

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education held a special meeting on Dec. 9 to formalize its agreement with the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) to administer a search for a new superintendent to replace John Borman following his departure on Dec. 31.

Former Superintendent Ted Bauman will serve in an interim capacity.

CASB representative Bob Cito attended the meeting and explained his plans for the search. Cito had conducted the search that resulted in Borman’s appointment.

Cito said that the contract between the district and CASB would be the same as the previous one and that much of the background investigation regarding the community would not be necessary due to the short time elapsed. The fee of $12,000 is based on the size of the district, and expenses will not exceed $2,000. Cito said that the expenses were far less in the former search.

The board voted to retain CASB to administer the search procedure.

Cito said it was not necessary to publish an advertisement soliciting candidates before Christmas. He said that if the ad were published immediately after the holidays, a candidate could still be found by March.

He proposed a publication date of Jan. 6 with an application deadline of the first week in February. This would allow time for background checks before interviews at the end of February or early March.

Cito said that he would like to discuss the content of a brochure for candidates with the board, principals, and members of the community before its publication.

Cito said that, due to the improvement in the housing market, there may be more candidates this time than last.

Cito commented that his goal would be to select a candidate who would stay for at least five years. He said that being a leader in public life is more difficult than it once was and that it can also take a toll on the candidate’s family. It is critical that a superintendent be visible and accessible to his or her constituents.

The names of the applicants will remain confidential until the finalists are selected. Following background checks involving interviews with their colleagues and others, the finalists will be notified by March 1 of their status and the names would be made public. If an applicant is a current superintendent, interviews with his or her board of education will also be conducted. Aspects of candidates to be examined will include personal touch, communication abilities, and conflict resolution. Cito said that it is important for board members to determine where they are now and where they wish to go with the new superintendent before initiating the process.

All discussions of the search prior to the announcement of the finalists will take place in executive session.

Cito said that on the last occasion, background checks were performed on 12 to14 candidates and three were selected for interviews.

The board decided that on the Friday of the interview week, the candidates would arrive and tour the district’s facilities and the community. That evening there would be an informal social gathering with members of the board.

During the day on Saturday, the actual interviews would take place and on Saturday evening there would be a meet and greet event with the community.

Pfoff explained the search process during the board’s regular meeting on Dec. 19. He said that the board hopes to select a new superintendent in March and have that individual hired by July 1.

Pfoff also said that the brochure used to attract applicants can be found on the district website (lewispalmer.org) and on the CASB website.

Audit report presented

Paul Niedermuller, CPA, and Shawn Sonnkalb, manager of the auditing firm of CliftonLarsonAllen, presented a report on the district’s annual audit. Board Treasurer John Magerko presided over the process this year.

The auditors reported that all information was provided in a timely manner and no difficulties were encountered.

They offered only two suggestions for future audits. The first was that teachers should be detailed in their reporting of time spent on programs funded by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to ensure that the time spent is valid. There should be a requirement for the teachers to sign off on such reports on a regular basis.

The second suggestion was that the district restrict access to financial activity in such a way that no one employee may complete a transaction from start to finish.

The auditors also suggested that the district have an actuarial analysis of the retirement fund done every three years or so.

The board approved the report of the auditors and directed Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman to submit the report to the state as required.

New board member appointed

Board President Mark Pfoff reported that there were four candidates to replace Dr. Jeffery Ferguson, who retired from the board in November. All candidates were highly qualified, he said.

After a brief discussion, the board approved the appointment of Sherri Hawkins, who has served as a leader in parent-teacher organizations and is a former teacher and coach.

Hawkins had told the board that she chose to live in the district because of the academic excellence of its schools and her desire to continue providing the quality education district residents have come to expect.

Hawkins will serve for two years, at which time the state requires that an election be held.

She was sworn in on the day following the board meeting.

Mill levy certified

Wangeman reported that the board had certified a mill levy of 23.16 mills in 2014 on Dec. 9.

Wangeman said that the assessed value of district property is down slightly from last year, but that the amount required for debt service is significantly decreased due to refunding of past bonds. Tax savings for the district should continue through 2029 as a result of these refundings.

Pfoff confirmed that the district’s financial advisor suggested the action of refunding and refinancing these bonds.

Electronic attendance

The board approved a measure to allow members to attend meetings electronically, although Pfoff said that he would always prefer attendance in person.

Report on Exceptional Students

Director of Language, Culture and Equity Stephanie Johnson said that the number of foreign language-speaking students has grown to 285, with the largest number at Bear Creek Elementary School. There are now 43 languages spoken in the district.

There are new criteria for exiting the program, requiring proficiency in TCAP reading and writing. In high school, ACT scores are also taken into account.

Two new categories are now in use. The first is Former English Language Learners and the second is Primary Home Language Other Than English.

There are two homework clubs and twice-weekly adult literacy classes.

Eight-grader Nick Lee spoke to the board about his experiences over the past year.

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury reported that the special education department continues to meet all state requirements.

She goes to each school and discusses each student and how to help them to advance. The purchase of netbooks has helped with writing ability, and students scored above the state average in growth.

The department has recently purchased the Hands on Equations program to help in visualizing math.

Fleury said that the emphasis in her department is on fixing the curriculum to help students rather than determining what is wrong with students.

Assessment update

Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton offered a brief update on the district’s performance framework (DPF). She said that the DPF is now available on schoolview.org. The framework is based on four indicators: academic achievement, academic growth, academic growth gaps, and postsecondary and workforce readiness.

The district continues to be accredited with distinction, and this year for the first time the middle school was rated as meets or exceeds in all categories.

German exchange program

Students from Palmer Ridge High School reported on their participation in the German American Partnership Program in which German students shadowed Americans for two weeks in September and October.

American students will travel to Germany during the summer.

The board congratulated the Lewis-Palmer High School girls volleyball team on their state championship. Coach Susan Odenbaugh said that many other teams complimented the Lewis-Palmer girls on their sportsmanship and personalities in addition to their athletic skill.

Citizens’ comments

Pfoff opened the comment period with a statement that while board members respect the right of citizens to comment, they discourage comments critical of district employees and prefer that such comments be submitted in writing.

Ivan Anthony commented that he had watched the previous month’s meeting online and didn’t recall a mention of the possibility of prepaying debt on the lease of the Big Red administration building prior to the election. He also said that he felt that businesspeople were not well informed about the ramifications of a mill levy override (MLO). He said that he had approached Pfoff and Wangeman with a way to save the district money and was rebuffed.

Becky Yoder spoke briefly about her service on several audit committees and her support of Wangeman and her leadership in the district.

Russ Broshous said that he has a letter with many signatures in support of Wangeman.

Gordon Reichal commented on board Vice President John Mann’s use of the term "off-budget sheet" debt. He said that perhaps "off-balance sheet" would be more accurate. He said that he could not find in the contract the option to repay the administration building debt ahead of the 2020 expiration.

Deborah Goth said that she was disappointed that the MLO did not pass but felt Directions 38 was not the cause of the failure. She said that Directions 38 is a very small group of individuals who seem to be primarily anti-tax and don’t mention the welfare of students in many of their statements. She suggested that the board stop listening to them.

Board Secretary Robb Pike commented that, since the board voted to refinance the administration building, members have discussed and intended early repayment of the debt. He said that there has been a great deal of tension and anger in recent meetings. In determining his duty as a public servant, he says that he will always read emails from constituents and respect their right to speak, but he believes in approaching issues in a positive way and would like the criticism to stop.

Pfoff commented that Anthony had not said that he was a vendor when he first made contact and that Pfoff refused to circumvent the district’s purchasing policies. He also said that he requested frequent review of the district’s debt service in order to make early repayment of the building’s lease.

Pfoff also read a prepared statement saying that he is responsible to the entire community and that it is not an effective use of his time to concentrate on the grievances of a small group of individuals.

He said that he chooses not to engage in dialog with anyone who participates in personal attacks on staff, administrators, and board members. He asked that all members of the community acknowledge that the goal of the district is to concentrate on the students and work together to make the district as good as it can be.

Pfoff also read a statement from Mann to the employees of the district saying that comments at a board meeting will not result in personnel action. He said that personnel policies are based on legal statute and advice from legal counsel.

Mann stated that it would be harmful to the district if those who consider applying for employment would feel that the board would ignore its own policies and not treat its employees with fairness. He said that those criticizing Wangeman’s performance are not informed regarding her work record under three superintendents.

Mann assured the district staff that the board values its employees and is committed to supporting them.

**********

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 Jan. 16.

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

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D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, Dec. 10: Committee learns of its responsibilities in assessing school performance

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) learned of its responsibilities in assessing school performance at its Dec. 10 meeting. Board of Education liaison John Magerko was unable to attend the meeting.

Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton explained the district performance framework to the committee at its November meeting (see the article in the December issue of OCN). The framework is now accessible at www.schoolview.org.

At each of its future meetings, the committee will hear presentations by school principals regarding last year’s scores and plans to improve them through a form known as the Universal Improvement Plan (UIP). The committee will divide into groups to hear the presentations and then report back to the committee as a whole.

Benton said that one of the challenges of assessing a high performing population is to grow each student over the course of the year despite the fact that D-38 students begin near the top of the range of scores.

Benton said that the district achieved its highest score during the past year because the framework enables teachers to identify individuals who are struggling in a given subject and concentrate their attention on small groups in this way while retaining high standards throughout the student body.

A new reading challenge

A new challenge in the coming school year is the requirement that students be assessed for their reading ability in grades K-3. Those in pre-kindergarten who are state funded must also be assessed at the beginning of the year.

These assessments are required by the Reading to Ensure Academic Development Act passed by the state Legislature in 2012. An initial assessment must be made at the end of the 2012-13 school year.

The assessments can be very time consuming and time is being included in the school calendar on the first Friday after the beginning of school in August to enable teachers to plan the tests, Benton said. Substitutes will be employed to free the primary staff for this function.

The assessment must utilize a state-approved test. Those found lacking in reading skills must undergo intervention and be reassessed in 30 days following the initial assessment. All will be tested at the beginning and middle of each school year, Benton said.

Funding will be provided on a per-pupil basis for those requiring full-day kindergarten, summer school literacy programs, or tutoring services.

Also included in the UIP for each school will be academic achievement, academic growth gaps, graduation rates, and post-secondary and workforce readiness.

Benton stressed that a responsibility of DAAC is to carefully consider and understand each UIP before it is submitted to the state Department of Education. Members must ensure that plans of action are complete and clearly stated and that goals are realistic.

Benton said that the state requires that the effort focus on adult behavior—teachers and parents and their efforts on behalf of academic success.

School calendar

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster offered the first reading of the 2013-14 school calendar. He said that it had been presented to principals previous to the meeting. The start and end dates of the year will be about the same as this year. There will be 163 days of elementary instruction, 167 for middle school and 169 for high school. The starting and ending times of the school day will remain the same. The first Friday of school is a teacher workday to plan required assessments.

Foster reminded the committee that the district’s graduation date has to be planned around the timing of the Air Force Academy graduation.

**********

The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be on Jan. 14 at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument.

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

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Dec. 4: Average $8,000 raises approved for five top positions

By Bernard Minetti

Fire Chief Chris Truty, who has been chief fire administrator for eight months, asked the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District (TLMFPD) board on Dec. 4 for an average $8,000 pay raise for the top five district administrative positions, including his own. The other four positions, as named by board President Jake Shirk, are deputy chief and the three battalion chiefs. Currently, there is no deputy chief, and two of the battalion chief positions are temporary.

In response to a question from the board for clarification of the numbers in this request, Truty stated, "If we just raised everybody up $8,000, that would be just basically five people so it would be a $50,000 increase, and it’s not in the budget right now."

Background: On Nov. 6, 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved a mill levy increase from 8.5 to 11.5 mills. Campaign materials as well as spokespeople from the district noted that a "yes" vote would keep fire Station 3 open, allow the district to accept a federal SAFER grant, maintain current ISO staffing as well as hire and/or train two more paramedic/firefighter positions, and restore operational reserves and vehicle and fire station maintenance funding.

A "no" vote reportedly could have triggered a station closing and layoffs. The measure would also provide a temporary bridge to make up for lost revenue due to decreased property values. Pay raises of this magnitude were not mentioned as part of the mill levy increase.

In a memo to the board dated Oct. 4, 2013 and posted online at www.tri-lakesfire.com/BudgetDocs/2014%20Budget%20Memo.pdf, Truty indicated that the staff received no raises in 2013, so he budgeted a 2 percent increase for 2014 and 1.25 percent increase in 2015. However, his proposed raise for his own position would be 5.5 percent, to $95,000, "which puts him at the top of the 2013 pay scale for his pay grade ... but 5 percent below every comparable Colorado fire department’s chief’s salary," according to the memo.

Truty later presented a comparison of battalion chiefs’ pay scales in Colorado. This January 2012 document, prepared by Mountain States Employers Council, compared salaries for specified tax levy income districts grouped by tax revenue (TLMFPD is not included in that comparison). The three agencies that appeared comparable to the TLMFPD showed that the average annual battalion chief pay was $72,334. The average battalion chief pay in TLMFPD was $72,000, Truty said.

Shirk asked Truty if the district could support the increase, specifying that he meant financially, not politically. Truty said that he thought it could be supported.

Director Roger Lance made a motion to approve the pay increases and, following a second, the board unanimously approved the pay increases.

Truty also advised the board that the pay increase for the district office manager position had been completed. The amount was not specified, but in that same budget memo, Truty noted the raise was 15 percent, from $39,000 to $45,000.

Treasurer’s report

Treasurer Hildebrandt advised the board that the financial data through the end of November represented 91.66 percent of the budget year. He said 91.66 percent of the expected property tax revenues and 144.18 percent of the Specific Ownership Taxes had been received as of Nov. 30. Ambulance revenues were at 104.6 percent. Salaries and vehicle (fuel) line items continued to reflect monthly over-budget expenses. Hildebrandt noted a continued significant excess over the budgeted revenues for the Specific Ownership Taxes, which accrue from the sale of items such as vehicle taxes at the county level. The overall budgeted expenses remained under budget by a small percentage.

Fee schedule

A revised fee schedule for 2014 was presented to the board, covering fees charged by the district for services. Most fees averaged a 10 percent or more increase. Truty noted that the increases were another way to generate income for the district. Noteworthy fees included impact fees for new construction. This item listed a fee of $700 per residential lot and $700 for every 2,000 square feet in a commercial building. There was also a false alarm fee of $500. Truty said that the $500 fee might cause violators to correct the false alarm problem.

The fire watch fee, Truty said, was the hourly fee required when an authorized and qualified fire alarm system is not installed in a building and therefore does not meet the installed alarm system criteria. When any building is occupied, a proper alarm system must be installed and operating. If not, a qualified fire watch person must be on duty to provide a manual alarm notice to the occupants. The district hourly rate for this qualified individual is $125 an hour. For further information, and/or to obtain copies of the fee schedule, contact the district fire marshal’s office at 719-484-0911.

Battalion chief search to be readvertised

Only 12 applications were received in the search for battalion chief replacements. Truty said he wanted at least 25 applicants and that perhaps the parameters were too high. He added that the search would be readvertised and would continue through Christmas.

2014 budget approved

Treasurer John Hildebrandt made a motion to approve the 2014 TLMFPD budget. This budget had been reviewed at the previous two board meetings, and this was the final review. Total budgeted revenue and expenses are the same, $5.31million each. The motion passed.

Budget spending authorized

Resolution 2013-005 provides the annual spending authorization for the district once the budget has been approved. The resolution contains an attachment that specified the district’s cash positions. The balances were stated as Vectra Bank (checking account) with $475,640, Vectra Bank (savings account) with $956,288, Vectra Bank (impact fee account) with $337,966, and First National Bank (savings account) with $316,833. The total cash position for the district was $2.08 million as of Nov. 30. The resolution passed.

Replacement of Station 1 doors

Truty asked for and received authorization to spend $10,800 to replace the sliding entry (garage-type) doors at Station 1. He justified the request by advising the board that the door insulation and seals were insufficient. This had been an ongoing problem.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22, in the Administration Building at 166 Second St. in Monument. For further information regarding this meeting, contact the district Fire Administration Office at 719-484-0911.

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, Dec. 3: 2014 budget approved

By Lisa Hatfield

The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board unanimously approved a resolution to adopt the 2014 operating budget at the Dec. 3 meeting. Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall said no public comments about the budget had been received after the required posting of a public notice of the budget review. There were no public comments during the open portion of the budget hearing or appropriation hearing on Dec. 3.

Directors William "Bo" McAllister and Harland Baker were absent.

Five resolutions approved

The Wescott board unanimously approved a resolution to adopt the 2014 budget. Chairman Scott Campbell said the final district property tax revenue document had been received from El Paso County. The final budget revenue lines had been adjusted to reflect these county tax revenue figures. Some of the total amounts in the 2014 budget were:

• Total revenue: $3 million

• Special ownership tax revenue: $150,000

• Miscellaneous income: $79,708

• Total general fund expenditures: $1.7 million

• End-of-year general fund balance: $1.16 million

The board unanimously approved a resolution for mill levy certification. The mill levy will remain at 7.0 mills in 2014 and produce $1.7 million in property tax revenue, which is $34,990 more than in 2013.

The board then unanimously approved the 2014 appropriation resolution allocating the required amounts of money to each of the district operating funds:

• General fund: $1.7 million

• Fund balance: $1.16 million

• Special ownership tax: $150,000

• Miscellaneous income: $79,708

• Total revenue: $3 million

The board also unanimously approved an annual lease-purchase payment, contained in the final 2014 budget, of $146,440 for the construction loan for Station 2 on Highway 83. The 15-year lease-purchase agreement was made in 2010 with Wells Fargo Securities LLC for a total of $1.53 million and is renewed annually to comply with TABOR restrictions on creating multi-year funding obligations.

The district budget message was unanimously approved. It states that Wescott is chartered to provide fire protection and first response medical services to the district and that the 2014 budget provides for the continuance of these services:

• Maintain operational expenses for three fire stations.

• Increase vehicle maintenance and fuel expenses.

• Provide salary step increases for career firefighters.

Both Treasurer Joyce Hartung and Marshall mentioned that the focus of the 2014 budget was to fund the operational aspects of the district and curtail some of the community events and fire mitigation events.

Chief’s report

Chief Vinny Burns said the district received two donations from local residents totaling $5,129 in November as thanks for the district’s programs and services. "We know that there are people who support the Fire Department," Campbell said.

Burns mentioned plans for the Santa on Patrol community event on Dec. 21.

The meeting adjourned at 7:43 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 21 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 5: 2014 budget approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 5, the Donala Water and Sanitation District board unanimously approved its budget, mill levy certification, and appropriation resolutions for 2014. There were no public comments during the open portion of the public hearing. The board also unanimously approved a roof repair bid, a budget amendment to the Flaming Gorge water study, a participation agreement for the Water Authority infrastructure project, and appointment of a designated election official.

2014 budget finalized

Some of the items noted while the board was approving the budget, mill levy, and appropriation documentation were:

• Total 2014 expenditures were $9.61 million.

• Total 2014 revenues were $17.91 million.

• Total budgeted funds available at the end of 2013 were $21.0 million.

• Total budgeted funds available at the end of 2014 were $17.9 million.

• Total 2014 appropriations were $17.91 million.

• The Area A mill levy of 21.296 mills on $70 million of assessed district value will raise $1.49 million.

• The Area B mill levy of 10.648 mills on $271,910 of assessed district value will raise $2,895 and apply only to those few Chaparral Hills homes receiving water service only)

Manager’s report covers several projects

General Manager Kip Petersen reported that the district’s insurance company had determined that seven structures had experienced hail damage totaling $150,000 during August and September. The board unanimously approved the lowest responsible bid of $66,217 from Holiday Grace Roofing.

Petersen expressed concerns about Donala contributing another $5,000 to the Flaming Gorge water study until the Bureau of Reclamation has completed its peer review of the computer modeling program that will be used for about 25 runs by Hydros Consulting Inc. The cost for the computer runs is an additional $40,000 to the partner water entities in the project for this feasibility study. Donala has already invested $10,000 in the project to date. These prior payments already cover the cost of model development.

The board unanimously approved making the next $5,000 contribution after the Bureau of Reclamation peer review validates the accuracy of the model. The project calls for water to be transported from southwest Wyoming and northwest Colorado to the Reuter-Hess Reservoir of the Parker Water and Sanitation District (www.pwsd.org/projects.html). The other six entities participating in this eight-member Flaming Gorge project were: South Metro Water Supply Authority; Douglas County; Castle Rock; Laramie County, Wyo.; City of Torrington, Wyo.; and City of Cheyenne, Wyo.

Petersen reviewed the proposed project participation agreement for the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority’s regional infrastructure study. The project consists of the joint study of combining other water entities’ proposed potable water pipelines and related facilities with those planned to be constructed by Cherokee Metropolitan District for the mutual benefit of all potential authority participants. The other six entities considering partnering with Cherokee are Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU), City of Fountain, El Paso County, Town of Monument, Town of Palmer Lake, Triview Metropolitan District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

Cherokee will be transporting water south from its Sundance Ranch well field on Hodgen Road to the Cherokee water system. Woodmoor needs infrastructure to transport its renewable JV Ranch water north. Woodmoor could exchange water with Cherokee and transport water from the Sundance Ranch over a much shorter distance at a lower cost.

Petersen said the project would provide an alternative to being solely dependent on CSU’s internal water distribution system for transport of Donala’s renewable Willow Creek Ranch water from the north end of CSU’s Southern Delivery System to Donala’s system. The pipeline project may be able to facilitate water exchanges between Donala and other participating entities that may reduce Donala’s water transport costs.

The board unanimously approved a 2014 allocation of $10,000 from the 2014 budget for Donala’s contribution to the first phase of this study. The total project study cost will be about $180,000.

The board unanimously approved a resolution appointing Office Assistant Ginnette Ritz as the district’s designated election official for the Donala special district election to be held on May 8. Ritz will process nominations for the district board election. The terms of current Directors Dave Powell, Bill Nance, and Bob Denny expire in May.

Some of the other matters Petersen reported on were:

• The design of the proposed county roundabout at the intersection of West Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway will not restrict heavy truck traffic access via Woodcarver Road and Old Denver Road to the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility.

• Petersen met with Colorado Springs City Council President Keith King to explain that while Donala has no stormwater responsibilities in its service plan, the district wishes to work with the city on any regional solutions that the city can work out with the county as well as continuing to work with CSU on drinking water issues and stormwater issues.

• Petersen provided copies of the Davidson Investment firm’s investment policies for its Donala accounts so the directors can better understand the requirements to comply with state law.

• Petersen advised members of the Tri-Lakes Economic Development Committee at their late November meeting that public utilities such as Donala cannot discount the fees or rates for the services they provide to recruit or encourage businesses to relocate to the Tri-Lakes region.

• The staff will visit Willow Creek Ranch monthly this winter to better understand the effects of snow and ice on Donala’s equipment and stream berms to better control flows next year.

• Petersen asked board members to participate in a test of seven new-generation water meters that measure flows with no moving parts to determine if the new style of meter will actually lower operation and maintenance issues/costs.

• Triview paid Donala for seven new taps in November, lowering Triview’s remaining debt to $743,810 for Donala’s financing of part of Triview’s ownership cost for expanding the Upper Monument facility to a sequenced batch reactor process.

• The Triview board has two vacant seats.

• The Doral Way waterline construction project has been delayed due to problems including lack of written approval to bore under the fourth hole fairway of the Gleneagle golf course (which is undergoing financial hardships), delays in CSU providing written project approval, and some delays in obtaining public utility easements.

• Work continues by the Donala staff to arrange for the meetings between CSU and the Bureau of Reclamation staff to finalize a long-term storage contract for Donala’s renewable water from Willow Creek Ranch in the Pueblo Reservoir prior to transport north by CSU to Donala’s distribution system.

The meeting adjourned at 3:30 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 5 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 488-3603.

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

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Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, Dec. 10: JUC approves 2014 budget

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 10, Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) Manager Bill Burks presented the final draft of the facility’s 2014 budget to the facility’s Joint Use Committee (JUC).

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

Due to the absence of Taylor and Smith, Robinove chaired this meeting. Woodmoor was represented by Director Rich Strom and Palmer Lake was represented by Virgil Watkins. Several other district board members, district managers, and district staff from each of the three owner districts also attended the meeting with Burks.

Financial report

Burks noted that he had listed estimated 2014 coverage expenses for Colorado Special Districts Property Liability Pool insurance in the November accounts payable invoice to the three owner districts. The estimated total cost for workers compensation coverage was listed at $5,000, while the estimated cost for liability coverage was $21,000. He said the actual cost for liability would be $21,264, but he had no invoice for workers compensation yet. Burks also noted an unplanned expense of $6,017 to Bob’s Electric Motor Service for replacing a failed pump.

Burks distributed final copies of the 2014 Tri-Lakes facility budget. It included additional costs for an application for an early renewal of the facility’s five-year discharge permit to start in 2014. The facility’s current discharge permit expires at the end of 2016.

The facility’s budgeted total revenues and equal total expenses will increase from $948,785 in the 2013 budget to $2.8 million in the 2014 budget, primarily because of the $2 million cost for the state-mandated total phosphorus treatment expansion. However, the estimated actual total revenues and total expenses for 2013 were $859,990, due primarily to the postponement of construction of an $83,000 storage building until 2014. Repairs and maintenance costs will increase next year from $29,780 in 2013 to $55,748. Chemical costs will increase from $58,328 in 2013 to $66,500.

The facility has no revenue source other than the three special districts that own it and pay their individual district operating invoices monthly. The facility’s operating costs are divided between the three owner districts using a formula based on the total weight of solid wastes delivered to the plant by each district times 0.6 (60 percent) and total volume of liquid wastes delivered to the plant by each district times 40 percent. Ownership costs, such as capital costs and liability insurance, are divided equally into one-third shares.

The facility will receive $1.08 million from an $80,000 state planning grant and a $1 million state construction grant. The entire $2.007 million planning/design/construction cost was budgeted and appropriated for 2014 because of the grant requirements. The grant money will be spent first before the rest of the costs are paid by the three owner districts, with the exception of a required $16,000 match for the planning grant.

Burks stated that he met with the owner district managers after the Nov. 12 JUC meeting to finalize accounting, auditing, and payment procedures for processing invoices from the phosphorus contract engineering consultants and the general contractor selected for construction. Reimbursement will be accomplished through a single JUC budget line item and new separate nutrient project JUC account.

District managers’ reports

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the success of Monument’s TABOR waiver election Nov. 5 allows the district to accept nutrient grants larger than 10 percent of district operating revenues without having to seek voter approval in the future. Wicklund reported that the district had engaged bond counsel from the investment banking firm George K. Baum & Co. to obtain revenue bond financing for the district’s one-third share of the cost for new phosphorus treatment equipment that is not covered by the state nutrient grants.

Palmer Lake District Manager Becky Orcutt and Woodmoor Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette stated that their districts were operating smoothly and had nothing unusual to report.

Plant manager’s report

Burks noted that the plant had been running efficiently and that there were no unusual test results in the October Discharge Monitoring Report that is submitted each month to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Biosolids were removed at a rate of 99 percent and total suspended solids were removed at a rate of 98 percent. The required removal rate for both is 85 percent.

Wicklund asked if the facility has been doing regular upstream and downstream sampling for ambient E. coli concentrations in Monument Creek. Currently Monument Creek is on the state 303(d) list for E. coli impairment, but the problem area is well south of the Air Force Academy. Wicklund said that the facility should start monthly testing above and below Monument Lake to determine the amount of non-point source E. coli contamination in upper Monument Creek, as well as at Baptist Road to determine the difference being caused by sources below the Tri-Lakes facility. Burks replied that testing had not been done recently.

Wicklund stated that this information can be submitted to the Arkansas River/Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AFCURE) for annual reporting to the state and EPA to show how small the contribution from the Tri-Lakes facility really is and that the facility is not causing any E. coli impairment of Monument Creek or Fountain Creek to the south. The testing and reporting would help the district defend itself from a new expense for more involved testing in the new facility discharge permit to be issued in 2014. Colorado Springs Utilities will head up the Monument Creek E. coli data analysis for AFCURE. Pigeons have been shown to be the primary source of excessive E. coli immediately downstream of Manitou Springs.

There was a related general discussion of the EPA’s new testing and regulatory demands on sedimentation. The Tri-Lakes facility does not contribute any sedimentation to Monument Creek. However, the EPA is now demanding that the state require wastewater facilities to report on stream, lake, and reservoir sedimentation in the same manner as multi-metric index data collection for various forms of aquatic life such as sand fleas and macroinvertebrates. These types of life don’t naturally occur in any significant quantity in the creek due to its shifting sandy bottom, types of stream bank, and the scouring flows that sweep out any floating aquatic life after rain or stormwater events. Nonetheless, Monument Creek is reported as being well below standards for multi-metric index readings for this aquatic life that cannot naturally occur.

This naturally occurring low level of tiny aquatic life may lead to a new 303(d) stream impairment listing for Monument Creek for aquatic life if the state gives in to EPA demands to declare such streams impaired. Years of additional expensive biological testing will be demanded of the Tri-Lakes facility––as well as Upper Monument Creek facility and Academy Water and Sanitation District––if a 303(d) sedimentation stream impairment classification is declared even though the reason for the paucity of aquatic life has been well-documented at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Tri-Lakes facility.

Discharge concentration reports

Burks noted the following monthly grab sample readings from the Oct. 8 Regulation 85 report for samples taken in Monument Creek about a quarter mile north of the Tri-Lakes discharge location, where Monument Creek crosses Arnold Road, west of Mitchell Avenue:

• Ammonia nitrogen – 0.04 mg/l

• Nitrite nitrogen – 0.00 mg/l

• Nitrate nitrogen – 0.00 mg/l

• Total inorganic nitrogen – 0.04 mg/l

• Total Kjeldahl nitrogen – 1.10 mg/l

• Total nitrogen – 1.10 mg/l

• Total phosphorus was 0.07 mg/l

Burks noted the following individual monthly influent/effluent (before/after treatment) sample readings from the Oct. 8 Control Reg. 85 nutrients data collection report were:

• Ammonia nitrogen – 30/0.24 milligrams per liter (mg/l)

• Nitrite nitrogen – 0.00/0.04 mg/l

• Nitrate nitrogen – 0.00/3.46 mg/l

• Total inorganic nitrogen – 30/3.74 mg/l

• Total Kjeldahl nitrogen – 37/1.50 mg/l

• Total nitrogen – 37/5.00 mg/l

• Total phosphorus was 8.0/6.4 mg/l

Burks also noted the following monthly grab sample readings from the Oct. 8 Reg. 85 report for samples taken in Monument Creek below the mixing zone for stream and effluent flows––about a mile south of the Tri-Lakes discharge location where Monument Creek crosses Baptist Road, just west of the railroad tracks:

• Ammonia nitrogen – 0.04 mg/l

• Nitrite nitrogen – 0.00 mg/l

• Nitrate nitrogen – 0.20 mg/l

• Total inorganic nitrogen – 0.24 mg/l

• Total Kjeldahl nitrogen – 0.75 mg/l

• Total nitrogen – 0.95 mg/l

• Total phosphorus was 1.5 mg/l

In October, the plant used 28 percent of its rated flow treatment capacity of 4.2 million gallons per day and 41 percent of its rated biosolids treatment capacity of 5,600 pounds per day.

AFCURE meeting report

Burks noted that the AFCURE meeting focused on how to submit monitoring data for 2013 to the Colorado Data Sharing Network. Robinove asked that the data in the CDSN spreadsheet format be easily convertible to graph presentations.

The meeting adjourned at 10:45 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 14 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 special meeting, Dec. 10: Revenue bond resolution approved

By Jim Kendrick

At a special meeting Dec. 10, the Monument Sanitation District board unanimously approved a resolution to create a 15-year $400,000 district revenue bond to help pay for the district’s one-third ownership share of new total phosphorus removal equipment to be installed at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility.

Board secretary Kristi Schutz did not attend the meeting.

Bond and election attorney Tom Peltz of Kutak Rock LLP gave an overview of the bond resolution that he said would most likely be placed with a single bank. He said the board would set bond parameters at this meeting that would be specified in the proposed bond resolution. Then the board would formally adopt the final revenue bond resolution and sign it.

Investment banker Michael Persichitte, vice president of George K Baum & Co. in Denver, stated that Colorado State Bank and Trust would probably underwrite and purchase up $400,000 worth of 15-year district revenue bonds that were needed to finance the district’s individual $309,000 cash payment requirement for the phosphorus treatment expansion contract. The bank would also act as the paying agent to expedite transactions and minimize costs.

The proceeds from this bond sale would pay for the portion of the district’s one-third share of the $2.007 million Tri-Lakes capital expansion, and bond interest as necessary, that will not be funded by the district’s one-third share of the $1.08 million in state nutrient grants.

There was a general technical discussion about the various closing costs; policies and procedures for the new segregated district project account; related segregated funds that would have to be set up to establish various reserves for paying the interest and principle to the bondholders; and procedures for paying other administrative expenses while complying with federal tax regulations.

Persichitte reviewed various options for early payoff of the bonds after the 10-year call date, which would be a remaining principal balance of about $185,000 at the call date. There was also a discussion of the timeline for all the events that needed to occur before closing and the various documents that need to be signed by district representatives.

During this technical discussion, Persichitte received all the specific parameters of the offer from Colorado State Bank and Trust by text message from a Baum associate in Denver. He then reviewed all the other technical details of the Form of Bond document attached to the bond resolution.

Peltz read aloud his proposed motion, including all of the board’s amended parameters, for adoption of the revenue bond resolution that would authorize Peltz and Persichitte to perform all of the various legal and financial requirements to issue and sell $400,000 worth of revenue bonds. The term of the bonds was confirmed at 15 years. Adoption on Dec. 10 was required to ensure that the bonds would be issued before the end of December while the district still retained its enterprise status. A motion to adopt Peltz’s proposed motion was unanimously approved.

Bond payments will be interest-only for the first three years to provide flexibility in paying for any contingencies that may develop during the construction project. The escalating repayment schedule will also help the district postpone an increase in the monthly user fee at this time. A tentative bond closing date was set for Dec. 23.

The district will lose its enterprise status for 2014 because the size of its share of the $1.08 million in state grants is $360,000, which exceeds 10 percent of the district’s annual operating revenue of about $500,000. The district held a successful TABOR waiver election on Nov. 5 that allows the district to accept more than $50,000 per year in state nutrient grants.

The board also approved a final draft proposal to the town for an intergovernmental agreement regarding changes in the configuration of on-street parking adjacent to the district building on Second Street and Washington Street. These changes are part of the town’s downtown sidewalk project that will begin in 2014.

The meeting adjourned at 3:05 p.m.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Dec. 19: 2014 budget approved; revenue bond changed to revenue loan

By Jim Kendrick

At the regular board meeting held on Dec. 19, the Monument Sanitation District board approved the 2014 budget and 2014 appropriation during a public hearing.

The board also approved a follow-up resolution to change the $400,000 Colorado State Bank and Trust revenue bond that the board approved at a special board meeting on Dec. 10 to a loan for $400,000, also to be paid from district revenue. This loan will help pay for the state-mandated $2 million nutrient treatment expansion at Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. The district and its partners, Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, own one-third shares in this facility.

2014 budget details finalized

District Manager Mike Wicklund noted a few minor changes that have been made over the past four months of budget preparation. Total salaries and wages dropped from $184,238 in 2012 to $181,780. Other income was actually $14,354 for 2013, while the amount budgeted was $8,000. The additional revenue results primarily from contributions made to Monument by other county wastewater districts to pay for staff support of basin-wide representation performed by district staff at state stakeholder meetings and legislative lobbying in Denver.

The board also approved $23,000 for the cost of changing from the existing float control systems in all three of the district’s lift stations to a pressure transducer system that is more reliable and requires less periodic maintenance for grease removal while enhancing operator safety when late-night alarms are triggered, particularly during freezing and snowy weather. The existing float control system will remain in place as a backup system.

The net proceeds from the $400,000 revenue bond (which was changed to a loan) were added to the total cash assets for a total ending balance of $783,414, up from $306,672 at the end of 2012. The approximately $20,000 in closing costs for the $400,000 loan noted below will be paid in cash later in December as part of the 2013 budget. The separate $1,998 cost of the Nov. 5 TABOR waiver election for the state nutrient grant was also covered by the 2013 budget.

This higher ending balance is necessary for the district to be able to pay its share of the cost of the state-mandated nutrient treatment capital equipment expansion cost in 2014. The district could not legally sign the construction or state nutrient grant contract for $1.08 million to help pay the rest of the $2 million cost without already having the total cash on hand at the start of 2014 that is required for the district to pay its share of $669,000 in contracted expenses.

There were no public comments during the open portion of the public hearing on the budget resolution. It was approved unanimously.

The resolution to appropriate $1.43 million to the district’s general fund for 2014 was also unanimously approved. There were no public comments during the open portion of the public hearing on the appropriation resolution.

This appropriation covered total operating expenditures of $561,278 and all the projected 2014 costs for revenue bond interest payments and nutrient expansion capital costs plus construction contingencies that may arise. Any amounts that were appropriated that are not spent in 2014 will be rolled over in the final 2014 ending balance to cover the new construction that may be deferred until 2015.

There was no need for the board to approve a mill levy resolution because the district still has no debt that is being paid for by a district property tax. The Colorado State Bank and Trust loan for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility nutrient expansion will not create a property tax.

Revenue bond changed to a loan

The board unanimously approved an amended and restated resolution that changed the resolution approved on Dec. 10 from a revenue bond to a wastewater revenue note, at the recommendation and request of Colorado State Bank and Trust. Under this revised resolution, Wicklund will act as the paying agent for sending interest and principal payment checks directly to the loan agent. The change from a revenue bond was requested to make it easier for the bank to deal with this type of small, short-term public entity capital loan.

Meeting time changed for 2014

The board unanimously approved a change in the meeting time for monthly board meetings from 7 p.m. to 10 a.m. throughout 2014. Meetings will continue to be held on the third Thursday of the month. The first 10 a.m. meeting will be held on Jan. 16.

Treasurer’s report

Wicklund noted that the district’s revenue since the Nov. 21 board meeting was $55,123 and expenditures were $45,703. Total cash assets on Dec. 19 were $398,265. A total of $10,800 in new tap fees was received after Nov. 21, for a total of $76,400 year to date. The amount budgeted for 2013 was $50,000. He added that he did not expect any more tap fees to be paid for the remainder of 2013, nor did he expect any large outstanding bills after this meeting. "We’ve dug ourselves out of that hole where we were down to about $200,000," he said.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Jan. 16 at the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings will be normally held in 2014 at 10 a.m. on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Dec. 18: District poised to begin work to meet new treatment regulations

By Susan Hindman

A timeline of tasks facing the Academy Water and Sanitation District (AWSD) as it works to comply with new state effluent regulations was presented at the Dec. 18 board meeting. In his presentation, Dave Frisch of GMS Inc., the district’s engineering consultant, emphasized that if the board wants to put a mill levy issue before voters in November 2014—to pay for meeting the mandated ammonia limits—work has to begin immediately.

The work includes:

• Meeting with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) to confirm a commitment and develop an intergovernmental agreement.

• Identifying the exact route of piping that would extend from district’s treatment plant all the way to Northgate Road, where it would connect with CSU.

• Determining if the pipeline "will work hydraulically."

• Identifying the property owners along the way, who will need to be approached about purchasing easements.

• Hiring an environmental consulting firm to determine the pipeline’s impact on protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for mitigation.

• Approaching Colorado Springs City Council for approval of connecting with CSU.

• Designing either the pipeline or a new treatment plant at the current location, depending on the results of other actions.

Either option—connecting with CSU or building a treatment plant—is projected to cost district residents around $4 million. While the numbers aren’t firm, the district has to proceed with that number in mind as it prepares a mill levy. The district also plans to apply for grants that could offset some of the cost. But it will compete with treatments facilities across the state for whatever grant money is available.

Special districts, such as AWSD, can hold elections only in even-numbered years, so the board had the choice of holding an election in May or November 2014 or May 2016. Because the wastewater permit requires all plans and funding to be in place by October 2016, waiting until 2016 for an election would not give the board enough time to meet that deadline. The board told Frisch to begin work immediately.

The district’s permit also requires a dechlorination facility be built by October 2014, to meet new total residual chlorine (TRC) limits. However, this facility—estimated to cost around $35,000—would no longer be needed once the district either connects to CSU or builds a treatment plant. The district is working with GMS to try to get this requirement waived.

Note: The November 2013 OCN article on AWSD contained an error: The district has to be able to report that the TRC numbers are below 0.05 mg/L, not 0.5 mg/L.

New insurance policy increases coverage

Kathy Francis, with Specialty Insurance Partners, presented an updated policy proposal that increases the district’s coverage by $1.1 million, to $3.14 million. The board approved the new policy, which will take effect Jan. 1. The premium will be $16,909.

Website up and running

Director Ron Curry reported that the district’s first-ever website is now public. He worked for more than a year to get the site up and running. He will purchase a new domain name and a "business email package" that includes five email addresses, so that residents can reach board members.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 6 p.m. the third Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Gleneagle and Jessie Drives. The next meeting is Jan. 15.

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

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Former partner no longer affiliated with country club

Editor’s note: After the article on the Nov. 14 Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board meeting was published in the Dec. 7, 2013, issue of OCN (see www.ocn.me/v13n12.htm#wwsd), Don Uhl, who was pictured in this article, told OCN he was a part owner of Woodmoor Country Club in the 1980s, but he and his partners sold their shares back to the club in 1986 at the request of the membership as promised. Uhl stated that currently he has no interest in Monument Hill Country Club except to help find a new private owner for this club.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Dec. 16: Liquor license approved for DeVine Restaurant

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 16, the Monument Board of Trustees approved a new hotel and restaurant liquor license for 366 Beacon LLC doing business as DeVine Restaurant. The restaurant is located in leased space at 366 Second St. in Suite D of the Pankratz Building. A condition of approval was a clear fingerprint check of Stephen Rice, applicant, owner, registered manager, and registered agent of 366 Beacon LLC, by the Colorado Board of Investigation. There were no public comments during the open portion of this public hearing.

Mayor Travis Easton and Trustees Stan Gingrich and Jeff Kaiser were absent from the meeting.

This meeting started at 5 p.m., as noted and posted, rather than at its previously posted starting time of 6:30 p.m. due to its very short agenda.

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

• $142,737 to Triview Metropolitan District for October sales tax ($131,773), November motor vehicle tax ($10,872), and November Pikes Peak Regional Building Department sales tax ($92)

• $47,667 to Applied Ingenuity LLC for town well 9 equipment removal and repairs, video inspection, labor, and materials

• $5,395 to I & C Design for installation of a rebuilt supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer that controls the district’s water treatment plants.

• $15,804 to Jacobs Engineering for engineering work on the downtown Monument sidewalk project

• $7,330 to Jacobs Engineering for engineering work on the downtown Monument sidewalk project

There were no trustee comments or public comments on items not on the agenda.

The meeting was adjourned at 5:25 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 6 at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. However, the second meeting of the month will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 21, due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday on Jan. 20. Information: 884-8017 or www.townofmonument.org/meetings.

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

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Monument Planning Commission, Dec. 11: Expansion plans approved for MVEA, animal clinic

By Kate Wetterer

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) and Front Range Animal Hospital both presented land use requests that were unanimously approved at the Dec. 11 Monument Planning Commission meeting.

MVEA substation could expand

MVEA applied to expand the 115kV-12.47kV Emil Anderson substation by 1.5 acres, making it 2.5 acres in all. The expansion would allow MVEA to install new transformers and infrastructure in order to be able to provide more power from this substation that has been in use since 1991. This would provide more power to homes generally east of I-25, between Colorado Springs and the El Paso County line, where demand is growing. It would also allow room for landscaping easements that will improve the substation’s appearance and help it meet town codes.

This substation is located off of Jackson Creek Parkway. The proposed expansion would encroach on an adjacent Planned Residential District. MVEA hopes to rezone the encroached area to Planned Industrial District, as required for the proposed electrical infrastructure improvements.

The Planning Commission agreed that expanding the substation’s existing equipment would make it easier for current and future Monument residents to be guaranteed the electrical power that will make their lives comfortable. "When the power goes off, it’s amazing the amount of things we need," said Commissioner Glenda Smith. She thanked MVEA for its service to the Monument community. The planned improvements abide by all town codes and should not create any dangerous flooding situations or height issues.

Vet hopes to expand in new location

The Front Range Animal Hospital’s veterinary clinic hopes to move from its current location off Third Street to a larger plot of land on Highway 105. The suggested location, 481 Highway 105, is in the vacant lot behind Starbucks, between Serranos Coffee and the Columbine Restaurant, in the Monument Plaza commercial center.

The proposed amendment would require a replat of the vacant lot, splitting it into two lots. The new one-acre northern lot would be used for the animal clinic. The new southern lot would be used in the future. Hammers Construction represented the veterinary clinic at this hearing.

The requested change by Front Range would allow it to expand the current operation and provide services for more animals. The hospital hopes to break ground at this new location in February.

Both amendments were approved unanimously and will soon be voted on by the Board of Trustees.

The meeting adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

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The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 7 in Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Rd. 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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Monument Planning Commission, Dec. 17: Single-family homes might replace patio homes in Vista Ridge plan

By Lisa Hatfield

On Dec. 17, the Monument Planning Commission recommended the land use amendments needed to allow Vista Ridge, Village Center at Woodmoor Filing 3, to be built with single-family homes instead of the previously approved patio homes. The commissioners also voted unanimously to recommend that the town annex two parcels contiguous with Lake of the Rockies development. The Monument Board of Trustees will vote on these recommendations at future board meetings.

The absences of Commissioner Kathy Spence and Alternate Commissioner Melissa Wood were excused.

New plans for Vista Ridge recommended

The Planning Commission recommended three items be forwarded to the Board of Trustees for approval so that Vista Ridge could be built as 75 single-family detached homes instead of the originally approved 104 patio homes. The Village Center at Woodmoor Filing No. 3 is east of Knollwood Boulevard and south of State Highway 105 in the northeast corner of what used to be known as the Wahlborg property.

The commissioners unanimously recommended the application for approval of a Major Amendment to the Zoning and Land Use Final PD Site Plan and the Final PD Site Plan for Village Center Filing 3A. Both were determined to be in conformance with the PD site plan review and approval criteria.

However, the vote was 5-1 to recommend the Approval of a Replat of Village Center Filing No. 3. Commissioner David Gwisdalla dissented, citing concerns about 5-foot side lot setbacks being too small and creating a crowded look to the neighborhood. "Ten feet from my wall (would be) someone else’s home. That doesn’t seem like enough space," Gwisdalla said. "I don’t want Monument to become a sea of homes side by side."

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara noted that the town’s comprehensive plan includes a principle to "provide a wider array of land use types to meet the changing needs and ensure the fiscal sustainability of the community." A reasonably affordable residential component is provided in Village Center, Kassawara said.

Developer WED LLC­ would build a 2-acre park in Vista Ridge in exchange for the return of a 1-acre parcel the property owners had given to the town when a senior living housing development was proposed for that 1-acre lot.

The Village Center Metropolitan District manager has agreed that the metro district will take over management of the park, including watering of turf areas, when the park is completed and the metro district accepts it. An escrow agreement will be executed between WED and the town to ensure that the required public improvements, including tree plantings, are done within a reasonable period.

Kyle Campbell of Classic Consulting Engineers and Surveyors LLC said his firm has reanalyzed the drainage infrastructure for this site. It has been modified to bring it into compliance and add additional storage volume. The metro district will maintain the drainage features such as retention ponds, Campbell said.

All public rights-of-way would be dedicated to the Town of Monument, but maintenance such as snow plowing, road repairs, and trimming weeds would be done by the metro district, Kassawara said.

Commissioner Jim Fitzpatrick, who lives in Village Center, was concerned about traffic safety at the intersection of Knollwood Boulevard and Highway 105, especially at times when Monument Academy parental drop-off/pick-up carpool traffic blocks the center lane of Highway 105. Kassawara said he would conduct a traffic study in January and submit the results to the county to see if the intersection should be upgraded.

Annexation of parcels requested

Landowner Jerry Biggs of BK-Lor LLC has submitted an annexation petition to the town to annex two small parcels adjacent to his larger Lake of the Rockies parcel and zone the properties Planned Development. The two properties totaling 3.57 acres are located directly east and west of the Lake of the Rockies property, which is already in the town. The annexation would facilitate the development of the larger Lake of the Rockies parcel in the future, according to the staff report.

Principal Planner Mike Pesicka said the westernmost 0.47-acre parcel is undeveloped and was deeded to the property owner as part of a land swap with the town of Monument related to upgrades to the spillway for Monument Lake many years ago. This parcel would be dedicated to the town as open space, Pesicka said.

The second parcel, which is 3.10 acres, extends south from Second Street along Mitchell Avenue and was previously owned by the railroad. It would be deeded to the town as right-of-way for Mitchell Avenue.

Both parcels meet state annexation contiguity requirements and were determined to be in conformance with the state annexation review and approval criteria.

The Palmer Lake Sanitation District board intends to serve the properties and has the capacity to do so but will not include the parcels in their service area until civil construction drawings of the site are submitted by the applicant for district review and approval.

The meeting adjourned at 8:36 p.m.

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The next Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for Jan. 8 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.

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Dec. 12: Funds for 2014 budget formally appropriated

By Lisa Hatfield

The Palmer Lake Town Council passed two resolutions to appropriate funds for its 2014 operating budget at the Dec. 12 meeting. Members also discussed plans for a geological survey of Palmer Lake, scheduled a meeting for residents’ input about the future of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD), and approved a new business license.

Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster and Town Clerk Tara Berreth were excused from the meeting.

2014 budget formally adopted

The trustees unanimously approved Ordinance 7, officially adopting the 2014 budget that was formally approved during the Nov. 7 regular board meeting. The trustees also unanimously approved Ordinance 8, which appropriated all the money in the 2014 budget to various funds so that it can be spent in 2014. See www.ocn.me/v13n12.htm#pltc for more information on the 2014 budget.

Committee reports

Mayor Nikki McDonald said the annual Thanksgiving chili supper fundraiser for the PLVFD on Nov. 30 fed almost 730 people, a record. However, she added that because Palmer Lake’s Town Hall was so crowded, the department might consider a different venue in the future.

The Restaurant Association (www.palmerlakedining.com) coordinated the food, hay wagon rides, and a visit from Santa. After the meeting, fire volunteer Abby Vierling told OCN that all of the more than $6,000 in funds raised will go to the 501(c)(3) PLVFD Association to be used for maintenance of the Palmer Lake Star, as well as PLVFD volunteer training and equipment.

McDonald said that the Palmer Lake Restoration Committee 501(c)(3) (also known as the Awake Palmer Lake Committee) has arranged for a rig to drill 20 to 30 holes in the lakebed for a geological survey to determine the next steps for restoring water to the lake. Dave Wilson obtained grant money from the El Paso County Regional Building Department to help pay for the survey. A rig will drill down to bedrock, which can be done now since the lake is dry, to find the source of the lake water retention problem, Awake Palmer Lake member Jeff Hulsmann said after the meeting.

Police Trustee Bob Grado said that the Police Department is still in the black.

Water Trustee Michael Maddox said that Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt found a way to spend only $3,500 to update old diagrams of the dam for an inundation study that was ordered by the state engineer’s office, instead of paying $20,000 or more for a new study.

In November, water customers used a total of 4 million gallons of surface water and well water, and the town is in good shape with its water use, Maddox said.

McDonald said the PLVFD handled 29 calls in November, making 350 for the year so far, and compiled 2,179 volunteer hours, totaling 22,372 hours to date in 2013. The department assisted the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District in the response to an outside fire near Old Denver Highway on Nov. 8. The department applied for a grant to help replace self-contained breathing apparatus equipment that is 15 years old.

McDonald scheduled a meeting for residents’ input about the future of PLVFD, "since money is tight … and our poor Fire Department is limping along." The meeting will be on Jan. 18 from 9 to 11 a.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. It will be the first of several such meetings discussing the possibility of mill levy increase ballot initiatives, possible inclusion in Tri-Lakes Monument district and other ideas to make sure Palmer Lake has fire and ambulance coverage, McDonald said.

Roads Trustee John Russell has been talking with Roads Department employee Jason Dosch about getting estimates from vendors to fix some of the bigger trouble spots. Dosch will make a presentation to the trustees soon. The road scraper’s tires are six years old and need to be replaced; the $10,000 replacement cost is funded in the 2014 budget. Russell said he’s very pleased with the wonderful attitude of the "three guys who work in the shop and back each other up."

New business license approved

The trustees unanimously approved a new business license for Cathy Thompson, owner of Johann, an urban-industrial family hair care salon located at Illumination Point on Highway 105.

The meeting adjourned at 6:30 p.m.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 9 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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Board of County Commissioners, Dec. 10: Commissioners approve some code changes requested by fire districts

By Lisa Hatfield

This article is based on a press release submitted to OCN by Dave Rose, El Paso County public information officer. Some information has been added.

On Dec. 10, the Board of El Paso County Commissioners (BOCC) unanimously approved Resolution No. 13-503 regarding applicability of the 2009 International Fire Code and Appendices adopted by Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District, Cimarron Hills Fire Department, Wescott Fire Protection District, Falcon Fire Protection District, Security Fire Department, Hanover Fire Department, and Peyton Fire Protection District.

The resolution approved many of the changes to county fire codes that had been submitted by this group of fire districts. However, the BOCC amended the proposed document submitted by the fire districts and excluded some of their requests.

The changes are intended, according to the fire districts, to make new homes and commercial buildings more fire resistant in order to protect public safety. Board approval means the county will move from codes and standards based on the 2003 International Fire Code (IFC) to codes and standards based on the 2009 IFC.

Discussions with area fire districts, community groups, homebuilders, and other stake holders began about three years ago. Under state statutes, the fire districts must initiate proposed changes and submit them to the BOCC for approval.

"The board’s action today approves approximately 98 percent of the fire code changes adopted by area fire districts and presented for county approval as required by state statute," noted County Attorney Amy Folsom.

The BOCC did reject proposed changes adopted by the fire districts that could result in requirements that new homes over a certain size include expensive sprinkler systems, water storage cisterns, and the use of more fire-proof materials in construction.

The BOCC also rejected the payment of extra fees to the fire districts that have already been charged to some property owners as an alternative to meeting other requirements.

Fire Chief Trent Harwig of the Falcon Fire Department told the commissioners, "Ninety-eight percent of the amendments have been agreed to. The 2 percent that we’re talking about is significant. That 2 percent probably has an impact that is greater than all the other 98 percent on the code." For example, he said an amendment to the IFC saying that no home has to have a water supply, adequate access for fire apparatus, or have proper addressing, "that’s a huge amendment. That’s an amendment to the code making it less restrictive, not more restrictive," said Harwig.

"We understand the need for reasonable changes to the fire code in order to protect life and property, but we cannot support regulations which will make it impossible for many of the Black Forest fire victims to rebuild, or unnecessarily drive up costs and increase red tape for everyone," said Commissioner Amy Lathen. "Neither will we support the practice of charging fees in lieu of meeting code standards."

Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who represents the Black Forest area, was alarmed to hear that a representative of one of the fire districts was insisting that the commissioners approve all recommended changes as a package with no changes. Glenn said such a position "totally disrespects all of the people who have participated in the stakeholder process, and it’s particularly troubling that they are saying to us unless you approve 100 percent of what we say we are just going to take our ball go home," Glenn said.

Folsom advised the commissioners that fire districts have the authority under state statutes to "adopt and enforce fire codes subject to approval by the Board of County Commissioners adopting those codes by resolution." Folsom told the commissioners that an "all or nothing" directive by the fire districts would be "well beyond their statutory authority."

Along with Fire Code changes, the commissioners have instructed the County Development Services Department and County Attorney’s Office to develop specific recommendations for land use criteria that should be considered as part the County Land Development Code for construction in areas designated as Wildland Urban Interface—areas where new developments are proposed adjacent to undeveloped and forested wildland. The staff is expected to present those recommendations in about 90 days.

Dave Rose can be reached at DaveRose@elpasoco.com.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Dec. 18: 2013 achievements recalled, membership meeting set

By Harriet Halbig

The board of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) wrapped up the year’s activities at its Dec. 18 meeting. President Jim Hale reported that 2013 had been a productive year, yielding many improvements to WIA facilities and the finalization of the Project Design Standards Manual (PDSM). The annual membership meeting and election was scheduled for Jan. 27.

Vice President Kirstin Reimann, Director of Community Affairs Anne Stevens-Gountanis, and Secretary Jeff Gerhart were absent from the meeting.

Association Manager Matt Beseau said that the PDSM is now on the association website (woodmoor.org) for member review. The previous manual is also on the site for easy comparison. Only four responses had been received to date. Members can search the manual by subject.

Annual membership meeting

Beseau said that the annual membership meeting and election will be held on Jan. 27 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School. Ballots will be counted by the League of Women Voters. A Meet the Candidates event is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8 in the Barn to introduce the four candidates for the three vacancies on the board.

Following the annual meeting, the board will have a special meeting on Jan. 29 to determine the positions which each member will fill.

WIA has joined the Mountain States Employees Council, Beseau said. State requirements for professional employees of homeowners associations have changed over the past year, and this membership should aid in employee evaluations, Beseau said.

Beseau reported that statements for the annual membership dues were sent Dec. 3 and that the newsletter was in progress.

Treasurer Tom Schoemaker reported that the association will end the year slightly below budget. He said there were considerable expenses in November due to slash and tree removal.

Schoemaker also pointed out that the association receives $8,000 to $9,000 during some months due to office rentals, Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) checks on local businesses, and Barn rental for events.

Hale concurred, saying that the association received $10,000 more than budgeted for Barn rental in 2013.

WPS Chief Kevin Nielsen reported that new officer Les Mulligan was doing a good job. He also said WPS was purchasing a 2014 Jeep Cherokee to replace a 2008 Jeep Liberty. The new vehicle will be shared by WPS and the administration for covenant checks and other official uses.

Purchase of traffic trailer approved

Nielsen also proposed the purchase of a new trailer to record traffic and speeds. He said that the trailer keeps records of the number of vehicles that pass it, the time of day, and the speeds at which they travel. These data can be sent to the Sheriff’s Office to justify changes in speed limits, placement of signs, and monitoring by county officials.

The board approved the expenditure of $7,500 for a new trailer.

Architectural Control Director Darren Rouse reported that 15 projects were proposed in November, including decks, pods, roofs, and snow fences. He said that he would conduct an email vote to approve the new PDSM at the beginning of 2014.

Forestry Director Eric Gross reported that the committee exceeded its 2013 budget due to wildfires and mitigation efforts. There were two slash removal days added to the original schedule, and much scrub oak and other vegetation were removed by contractors.

The WIA has renewed its membership in the national FireWise organization. To justify this membership, WIA reported that the association spent over $148,000 to make the community safer. This is the organization’s largest expenditure since 2005 and included the largest number of property evaluations in its history.

Gross suggested that the title of FireWise volunteer be changed to FireWise advisor. The board approved the change.

Common Areas Director W. Lee Murray reported that all common area projects had been completed. He said that the fountain in front of the Barn had been broken, and the committee was considering the installation of Wi-Fi for WIA use only and purchasing deck chairs and tables for outdoor use during rental functions.

**********

The board of the Woodmoor Improvement Association meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on Jan. 22.

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

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December Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

December was a cold month around the region and drier than normal. A major and prolonged intrusion of cold air at the beginning of the month put us in a large deficit temperature-wise. We had several glancing blows of snowfall, but no major storms developed over the area.

The first week of December was cold, with an unusually long-lived arctic intrusion of cold air and light snow affecting the region. The first three days of the months were mild and dry as west/southwest breeze ahead of the cold air allowed high temperatures to warm into the low 50s. However, at 3 p.m. on the 3rd, the first blast of arctic air moved in. Light snow developed that evening, and temperatures reached the single digits by midnight.

That temperature of 9°F at midnight on the 4th was as warm as we got for the next four days! Temperatures dropped well below zero, hitting 10 to 20°F below each night and morning from the 4th through the 8th. Afternoon highs only managed to squeak slightly above zero during the period. Some slight warming did return on Sunday the 8th, as we reach into the mid- and upper teens during the afternoon. Of course, when teens for highs seem warm, you know it’s been cold.

During this cold spell, snow fell at times, but nothing too heavy. However, the windy conditions did cause some driving and visibility problems with blowing snow on Wednesday and Thursday. For the period, about 3 to 4 inches of snow fell throughout the region. This cold spell was the coldest stretch of sustained cold we’ve seen this time of the year since December 1972.

For the most part records weren’t quite set, but the unusual part of this cold air outbreak was its uninterrupted duration. Normally, after a day or two, westerly winds begin to kick in and scour out the cold air mass. This didn’t happen, as several reinforcing shots of cold air and an area of high pressure to our north stayed firmly entrenched. This kept the cold air locked in place for several consecutive days.

The arctic cold that girded the region hung on for one more day to start off the week of the 9th as highs that afternoon only reached the upper teens after starting off below zero again. Finally, the cold relented and we broke above freezing the next morning at 10:30 a.m. This was quite a cold stretch for us—we were below freezing from 3:30 p.m. on the 3rd through the morning of the 10th.

Quiet and dry conditions quickly returned once the cold air moved out. Temperatures stayed below normal on the 11th, then warmed up nicely to the low 50s on the 12th. Slightly cooler air dropped highs back to the low 40s on the 13th before rebounding back above normal over the weekend, with high temperatures in the low 50s. No precipitation fell during the week, allowing much of the snow in the areas receiving sun to melt away.

It was mild and dry for the first of the week of the 16th. High temperatures reached into the 50s from the 16th through the 19th, peaking in the upper 50s on the 18th near-record high territory for that day. Cooler air arrived around 5 p.m. on the 19th and dropped temperatures about 20 degrees. Highs struggled to reach the freezing mark from the 20th through the 22nd, with a dusting of snow falling. Unfortunately, the main energy and moisture with this cold surge was split in two. One piece brought heavy snow to north Texas and Oklahoma and the other to Wyoming and the Upper Midwest.

Strong northwesterly flow continued to dominate our weather pattern during Christmas week. This meant several fast-moving storms bringing some snow and wind to the mountains, but for the most part only glancing blows to the Palmer Divide. Temperatures on the 23rd started off a little cooler than normal, with highs in the low to mid-30s and a few snow flurries during the overnight hours. Christmas Eve started off breezy and mild, but a cool push of air moved in during the early afternoon hours and produced a dusting of snow.

Temperatures were seasonably cool again on Christmas, with highs reaching into the mid-30s. Sunshine was the rule that day and continued through the early part of the weekend. Mild temperatures also returned, with west/southwesterly flow leading to highs in the low 50s, well above average for that time of the year.

Our last taste of winter for the year affected the region by the early afternoon of the 29th, when a cold front moved through and clouds soon followed. Snow began to fall that evening and continued through the early morning hours. This storm brought 2 to 4 inches of fresh snow to the region. Sunshine and fresh snow on the ground left behind a wintry scene through the end of the year.

A look ahead

January can bring the coldest temperatures of the year, but there is often a proverbial "January thaw" when mild temperature make a brief appearance. Precipitation is on the low side, with amounts generally less than an inch. The month experiences numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The last few Januarys have generally been warmer than normal, with near normal precipitation and snowfall. January 2007-09 received more snow than normal, and the last couple have been drier than average.

December 2013 Weather Statistics

Average High 37.1° (-1.0°) 100-year return frequency value max 50.5° min 32.6°
Average Low 9.9° (-3.3°) 100-year return frequency value max 22.4° min 5.4°
Monthly Precipitation 0.43" (-0.38", 47% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.82" min 0.00"
Monthly Snowfall 7.3" (-11.9", 62% below normal)
Highest Temperature 57° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature -17° on the 6th
Season to Date Snow 17.4" (-24.8", 59% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 13.35" (+2.27", 20% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1286 (+57)
Cooling Degree Days 0 (0)

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

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Letters to Our Community

Click here for guidelines for letters to the editor.

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

A town with no traffic lights

Dear Palmer Lake:

You are a town with no traffic lights. You are nestled in the Front Range, small, peaceful, and quiet. You are a close-knit home to hundreds who still enjoy the company of a community chili dinner. Where children still walk to school in safety. Where a trip to the post office or a walk around the lake is always an occasion to say hello to neighbors. People come to you for your tranquility. People come to you to escape the fast and the loud. Some come to visit. Others cannot resist you and stay a lifetime. All come because you have no traffic lights.

Your 2,500 residents are resting now, unaware of the approaching storm. A silent vote. An anonymous vote. A town-wide vote in April. Just months away. A vote that could bring you your first traffic light, and more. Your fate will be decided in a single day; in the blink of an eye. A lone issue: marijuana. And with that issue, difficulties, consequences. The only place in the county with legal marijuana. 650,000 possible customers. Even when only a fraction comes, you will be wiped away forever. Your name will remain, but you will no longer be Palmer Lake—you will have traffic—you will have traffic lights. I hope for the alternative. I hope that I will have to drive to Denver to get my marijuana. In Denver, the fast and the loud and the congestion will put a smile on my face—knowing that I’m heading home to Palmer Lake—a town with no traffic lights.

Peter Anderson

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Monument Academy stands alone against Common Core

The Monument Academy Board of Directors passed a resolution to reject the Common Core State Standards Initiative, surprisingly making it the only school in District 38 to do so.

What the state fails to realize is that this measure will actually lower standards, particularly in schools like Monument Academy. It uses current Colorado State Standards of 1993 that are already much more rigorous, more thorough, and tailored to the unique needs of each student.

Common Core replaces tailored education for a one-size-fits-all approach. Even the Colorado Charter Schools Act says "The best education decisions are made by those who know the students best," and that’s not the state or federal government.

The resolution rightly states that "Colorado is a local control state, where local school boards, particularly and specifically those governing charter schools, are constitutionally granted broad discretion in setting curriculum and standards for their students."

Originally, 45 states and the District of Columbia approved the Common Core standards being implemented this school year, even before they were complete. Since then, at least 18 states have either rejected the standards or asked for more time to review or implement the requirements.

The Monument Academy resolution also addresses testing. Beginning next year, all Colorado state assessments will be replaced by a mandatory standardized national test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment. The resolution states the PARCC "will not adequately evaluate our students’ performance, and we desire a more specifically tailored accountability measure."

Ultimately, the resolution calls on the state Board of Education to reconsider their actions and to allow charter schools the option to readopt the State Standards of 1993.

As District 38’s only public school of choice, Monument Academy’s open enrollment began on Jan. 2 and runs through Feb. 28. Fortunately, parents in our district still have an option if they do not agree with the Common Core curriculum.

Jim Cunningham
Media relations and outreach chair
Monument Academy

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Superintendent sees strength and resiliency

Good news: The search for a new superintendent for Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is underway. The school board has contracted with the Colorado Association of School Boards to conduct the search, and community focus groups have already been meeting and discussing the attributes needed for leadership in our school district and community. The school board has established a timeline for the process and anticipates naming a superintendent in March. The position will be nationally advertised as we endeavor to attract the very best candidates.

I would like to thank John Borman for his work and wish him well as he pursues new goals and this next chapter in his life. That being said, I am looking forward to the challenges in the coming semester as we close out the school year. We will not hit the pause button waiting for a new superintendent. New initiatives have been started by the school district, principals, and teachers, and we will continue to move ahead on those programs. I am encouraged by the strength and resiliency of our teaching and administrative staff as they continue to provide students with opportunities to learn and to achieve at the highest level, even as they once again go through a leadership change in the district.

It is my desire to provide and instill an emphasis on the vision and core values of District 38. Occasionally, we lose sight of the importance of our public schools and the opportunities necessary to give children the very best education possible. Schools are the foundation of our community and, quite frankly, are the foundation of our country’s future. If we lose that focus, then we do our children an enormous disservice. Working with community members and school staff, I hope to once again encourage the cooperation and collaboration necessary to pursue the excellence in education for which this community and District 38 are known.

Ted Bauman
Interim superintendent
Lewis-Palmer District 38

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The $907,170.80 question

Our D-38 school board said in many public meetings it has always been their intention to redeem over $4 million of Certifications of Participation debt in 2014.

After a long time, under citizen pressure, and a lot of collective community effort, the district finally released a difficult-to-read scanned hardcopy of this financial contract. No 2014 redemption option appears in the contract. Why?

When asked at December’s meeting if this 2014 redemption was going to occur, our school board refused to answer and attacked, saying there is no problem and we must "Set an Example" for our kids of community cooperation. In answer to a question the school board did make concerning how they can recover community trust, it is transparency and truth that gain trust, not stone walls. There are $907,173.80 in additional interest charges to the year 2021 because of this missing 2014 redemption option.

The questions the school board has refused to answer were, 1) Did the school board direct district financial managers this 2014 early redemption be explicitly specified in the contract? 2) Was the school board direction ignored or discarded by D-38 financial managers? 3) Or did something else happen causing our kids’ and teachers’ education apple to have a $907,170.80 bite taken out of their funding?

Perhaps if our many community members, including Mr. Russ Broshous writing in last month, demand a $907,170.80 answer from this school board, a true example can be set for our kids and teachers, rather than our school board’s continual attacks on people and facts.
Gordon Reichal

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D-38 administrator should go

Twice now, Russ Broshous has written letters to our two local newspaper editors. And both times, he’s been flat out wrong! Russ thinks it’s a "travesty" for citizens to speak out and demand the resignation of D-38’s Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman. Really, is this a dictatorship? Who gave you the power to decide what is OK to say in a public meeting?

The definition of travesty is "a false, absurd, or distorted representation of something." Here’s what I think is absurd. No one in D-38 has been held accountable for the $75,000-plus that the three failed mill levy overrides (MLO) cost the D-38 taxpayers. Ms. Wangeman was the architect of those three failed MLOs (2007, 2008, and 2013) and, to add insult to injury, she approved the payment of $14,000 this past July for a professional survey of "likely voters" in D-38 concerning the $4.5 million MLO.

The professionals advised against the MLO request, but the powers that be didn’t bother to listen. In the highest turnout in all El Paso County, the voters proved the pollsters correct with a 3-to-1 "no!" vote. Another $14,000 down the drain! And what about "distorted representation of something"? Now we hear that there’s plenty of money in D-38’s budget. How about just telling the truth, Ms. Wangeman?

But maybe the bigger question is how much more should the D-38 taxpayer tolerate from this high-paid administrator? In my book, not one more penny! It’s time to send her packing and maybe Mr. Broshous should go with her. He has a history of expecting the local taxpayers to pick up the tab for his pet projects from a taxpayer funded recreation center to D-38 MLOs. I am just happy that you are not on the school board. What will you want the taxpayers to pay for next, Russ?

Ernie Biggs

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Good news and bad news at D-38

There is both good and bad news from the last school board meeting.

The bad news first: The school board now begins its meeting with a long-winded, legal-sounding statement intended to intimidate district patrons regarding their citizen comments. The statement threatens possible legal action for comments that question a school staff member’s performance. Board member Robb Pike went further when he stated that the board will listen to community members who bring dissenting points of view, but will not answer any questions posed or respond to any comments that appear critical of the district. Is this the new normal?

What the board will welcome is accolades. The good news came from board President Pfoff when he proclaimed the results of his research regarding student scores. He drew a direct correlation between the revolving door of district superintendents and the increase in student scores: Every time a superintendent leaves, the scores go up. So, the obvious conclusion is that D-38 never needed an MLO, smaller, reasonable class sizes, or competent teachers to achieve their high ranking.

Hence the lackluster commitment to acquiring a highly qualified experienced superintendent with a proven track record who would be invested in developing a vision for the district’s future with a long-term commitment to seeing it through. These comments can be viewed on the district website when viewing the streaming of the Dec. 19 meeting.

Stephen Boyd

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Taking care of No. 1 in 2014

By the staff at Covered Treasures

After spending the holidays keeping family and loved ones happy and comfortable, January is a good time to take care of yourself. Whether through reflecting on life, adopting a healthier lifestyle, exercising, or dieting, there are books to inspire and help you find your way.

Stretching
By Bob Anderson (Shelter Publications) $19.95

Stretching relaxes your mind and tunes up your body, so it should be a part of your daily life, regardless of age or flexibility. Regular stretching will reduce muscle tension, help coordination, increase range of motion, help prevent injuries, make strenuous activities easier, help maintain flexibility—and it feels good! This 30th Anniversary Edition includes 150 stretches with instructions for each, 17 routines for everyday activities, 10 routines for computer users and office workers, and 37 routines for different sports. Illustrator Jean Anderson has also created a graphic index of all 150 stretches, which is useful for doctors and medical and fitness professionals in prescribing stretches for patients.

How to be a Lady and How to be a Gentleman
By Candace Simpson-Giles and John Bridges (Thomas Nelson) $16.99 each

A lady is not only kind and intelligent, witty and resourceful. She is also mindful of the effect she has on those around her and knows how to breeze through an awkward conversation with poise. A gentleman is not only a nice, considerate guy. He also knows when to use email and when a handwritten note is proper. He knows how to dress for the golf course, church, and for a party, and how to smartly initiate a conversation. These contemporary guides to common courtesy reiterate ideals that will never be obliterated by technology, or the latest social ideology. Bridges, Bryan Curtis and Kay West have also developed companion volumes for young gentlemen and young ladies.

The Daniel Plan
By Rick Warren D. Min., Daniel Amen M.D. & Mark Hyman M.D. (Zondervan) $24.99

With assistance from medical and fitness experts, Pastor Rick Warren and thousands of people from his congregation at Saddleback Church started a journey to transform their lives. The result: 15,000 people lost over 360,000 pounds in the first year. But the changes in people’s lives went far beyond the pounds they lost. This book is an appetizing approach to achieving a healthy lifestyle by optimizing the key five essentials of faith, food, fitness, focus, and friends.

The Gifts of Imperfection
By Brene Brown, Ph.D.,L.M.S.W. (Hazelden.) $14.95

Brown encourages readers to let go of "who they think they are" and embrace "who they are" by sharing 10 guideposts on the power of "Wholehearted Living." She advocates cultivating authenticity, self-compassion, a resilient spirit, gratitude and joy, intuition and trusting faith, creativity, play and rest, calm and stillness, meaningful work, and laughter, song and dance.

Think and Grow Rich
By Napoleon Hill (Ballantine Books) $12.95

Andrew Carnegie’s magic formula for success was the direct inspiration for this book. Carnegie demonstrated its soundness when his coaching brought fortunes to those young men to whom he had disclosed his secret. This book will teach you that secret by showing you not only what to do but how to do it.

Desperate
By Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson (Thomas Nelson.) $15.99

Motherhood turns you inside out. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed by how tired you feel; the days go on and on, and you want to be a "good" mom, but you feel like a failure so much of the time. Mae and Clarkson have been to the edge and back. Desperate is not a book about despair; it is the story of one young mother’s trials and one experienced mentor’s priceless exhortations. It is filled with encouragement, help, and answers to some of your heart-wrenchingly honest questions.

The Four Doors
By Richard Paul Evans (Simon & Schuster) $19.99

Evans weaves stories from his readers, stories about great achievers, and stories about his own struggle growing up in a large family into a careful explanation of the four doors to a more fulfilling life: Believe there’s a reason you were born; free yourself from limitation; magnify your life; and develop a love-centered map.

We at Covered Treasures hope that 2014 is a happy, healthy New Year for all of you. Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Art Matters: Art: the many benefits to each person

By Janet Sellers

It is good to love many things, for therein lies true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done. — Vincent Van Gogh

I hope we all find our inner creativity this January—and all winter—with creative endeavors such as art classes, art groups, and our local art venues. The arts are a heartfelt and heart-filled, vigorous effort on the part of our citizens to live the best life possible in any season of our lives. We are very fortunate to be able to support our local arts here and thereby create our community ourselves by daily effort and enjoyment.

Do drive around town, even on a cold wintry day, and see the art at the Sculpture Park, Monument Town Hall, or Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts and keep an eye out for the outdoor art we have that is steadfastly carrying on the cause, in snow or sun, to make your day a little happier, your thoughts a brighter, and your love of our place, our community, that much warmer.

We can thank local citizens and volunteer groups for our local outdoor art. One such group is Tri-Lakes Views. It began informally in 2002 as a group of interested citizens who looked to support and promote the arts and historic preservation in our area. Through the years, the group has brought art shows, art awards and art venues into existence where previously there were none.

Our beautiful Monument Sculpture Park is a case in point. Through the efforts of Tri-Lakes Views, School District 38 and the Town of Monument have joined hands to create a lovely, grass-filled (OK, I admit it is a field of fluffy snow this time of year) park with numerous fine art outdoor sculptures in a wide variety of art expressions. It is all there to bring us a fun, happy sense of community through the arts.

Tri-Lakes Views not only helped create and sustain our sculpture park, but also has broadened the reach of the outdoor art venues throughout our Tri-Lakes region. From Palmer Lake to Monument to surrounds, our local public art is on view in every season. This means that visitors and locals alike benefit from a sense of place, regardless of town limits or town politics.

Long-timers in our area know that our community remains strong because of the immense volunteer spirit and volunteer activities of its people. People new to the area bring ideas, energy and wonder to the place, and as they settle in, find the many opportunities to support our Tri-Lakes area that they can join in and strengthen our community even more.

People mention over and over that our Tri-Lakes area is unique in the state, if not the nation, for the immense impact of the arts through virtually all volunteer efforts. That’s enormous testament to the social fiber of our area.

The winter months bring an indoor variety of activity to a frigid clime. The gardeners plan their gardens and start their seeds indoors in anticipation of spring (albeit quite late here compared to the rest of the nation). Schoolchildren play indoor sports, play in the snow (a novel idea to my tropical heart) and seem to spend better quality time with their studies and creative thinking. Artists plan their works and prepare their art for the warmer season, known in the trade as the "high art season" when people are out and about more and traveling and buying art.

Local art activities for January

Tri-Lakes Views—Announced a Call for Entries for its annual yearlong outdoor sculpture exhibition titled ARTSites. The juried exhibit will be installed in June 2014 and be on display for one year. The chosen sculptures will be on exhibit throughout the Tri-Lakes area and the Monument Sculpture Park at Big Red, which is along Second and Jefferson Streets. Submittal deadline is March 31, 2014. For application criteria and details, check the website www.trilakesviews.org. Tri-Lakes Views is a nonprofit community arts organization.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TCLA)—Colossal Archives exhibit Jan. 10 to Feb. 1, 2014, reception Jan. 10, 6 to 8 p.m. A show of nine 4-by-7-foot modern art paintings by "Lord Science Universal" aka David W. Jones. The artist says of his work, "I am a raw artist." He is the son of David and Jan Jones of Monument, who have been active for decades in the Tri-Lakes art scene and instrumental in the founding of the TCLA. Their daughter, Carrie Ann Baade, was featured in 2012 for a major exhibition at the TCLA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.

Janet Sellers is an American artist, art teacher, and writer. She makes public art sculptures for Colorado cities, teaches art locally, and you can often see her painting pictures outdoors, faithful pooch at her side, in just about any weather. 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 appears starting on page 21. Below is the text of the captions and articles that appeared within the Snapshots section:

Bell ringers raise $37,000

Caption: Monument Hill Kiwanis Club member Bill Schmidt was one of scores of bell ringers in the Annual Red Kettle Campaign. Tri-Lakes area volunteers rang bells from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve to raise $37,000 for the El Paso County Salvation Army. Larry Adams, Monument Hill Kiwanis Club Red Kettle coordinator, extends the club’s gratitude to all those who contributed to the kettles and volunteered their time to ring bells at the kettles, located at King Soopers, Walmart, and Safeway. The Red Kettle Campaign is one of many Monument Hill Kiwanis community service and fundraising events during the year. See http://monumenthillkiwanis.org/mhk/ for more information. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.

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Handbell Concert, Dec. 14

Caption: Joyce Lash (front), and Jon Casbon, left, and Mark Alexander (back), joined in the free 12th Annual Tri-Lakes Community Christmas Handbell Concert on Dec 14. The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir and the Monument Community Presbyterian Church Handbell Choir were joined by Sue Hippe on the flute, Glenda Herman on the organ, the TLUMC Brass, Sweet Harmony Women’s A Cappella Chorus, and Barb Taylor’s vocal students. "Our heartfelt thanks to all who participated in this special holiday event," said Director Betty Jenik. Photo by Leslie Hall.

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Cops for Kids, Dec. 14

Caption: Irene Walters wrapped gifts at the Christmas Bazaar for Monument Cops for Kids on Saturday, Dec. 14, at Sibel’s Barn in Monument. It featured toys, books, collectables, jewelry, and free gift-wrapping for kids doing their shopping. Monument Police Cops for Kids is a nonprofit organization started by Officer Rob Stewart about 14 years ago. Stewart saw a need for mentors for kids in the Tri-Lakes area. Volunteer police, firefighters and Lewis-Palmer school counselors have donated their time to take at-risk kids to different events in the area. At Christmas, they adopt a family or families and provide them with Christmas dinner and a visit from Santa with gifts for the children. They also supply local kids with school supplies and pass out glow sticks and candy to trick-or-treaters on Halloween. Call 719-213-6349 or see http://monumentcopsforkids.net/about/about.cfm on how to get involved. Photo by Mary Russelavage.

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A Small Town Christmas

The three consecutive Saturdays of A Small Town Christmas are organized by the Historic Monument Merchants Association. The event included a visit from Santa, free crafts for kids, special sales at many downtown stores, musical guests and authors, live reindeer and alpacas, a tree lighting ceremony and concert at Limbach Park, and face painting. Girl Scout Troop 584 raised money for Dream Power. Families sampled cider and cookies and visited the downtown merchants ready to share their treasures with the world.

Caption: Charles Dahlem holds boxes of assorted homemade cookies he selected.

Caption: Beverly Carlson and Teri Stephens of the Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Women display some of the cookies for sale at the Cookie Walk in the Fire Administration Building as part of Small Town Christmas on Dec. 7. The $2,300 raised went to Colorado disaster victims via the United Methodist Committee on Relief. The cookie sale shared the meeting room with Girl Scout Troop 3740, which offered help and supplies for children to create holiday craft masterpieces. Photo by Leslie Mundy.

Caption: Jody Adams a.k.a. TwangloSaxon joined many craft vendors at the Seventh Annual North Pole at Tri-Lakes Arts and Crafts Fair at Grace Best School, Dec. 7-8. Bob Nissen of Monument Hill Kiwanis Club said attendance at the craft show was about 600 people, which was more than they expected given the frigid weather. Visitors contributed $500 in donations and almost 250 pounds of food for Tri-Lakes Cares. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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TLMA Christmas Concert

Caption: Baily Nagle, left, and Andrea Shafer were part of a caroling choir that greeted the hundreds of people gathered in the entryway of Palmer Ridge High School on Dec. 20, 21, and 22 to hear The Hope of Christmas, the Tri-Lakes Music Association annual holiday concert. The free concert was created by Phil Barfoot and David Williamson and featured many choirs and orchestras. All proceeds from the freewill offering went to Tri-Lakes Cares and $500 college scholarships to two Lewis-Palmer District 38 seniors. See www.trilakesmusic.org for information about making a donation or participating in the next concert. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.

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Gleneagle Festival of Lights draws more than 400, Dec. 15

The annual Gleneagle Festival of Lights drew over 400 attendees on Dec. 15. Attendees had the opportunity to take a hayride on the streets of Gleneagle to see Christmas lights displays, sample a variety of cookies, and warm up with the purchase of chili from the Palms Restaurant. Youngsters could visit with Santa Claus and get in those last wishes for the upcoming big day.

Volunteers from Gleneagle Sertoma, the Gleneagle Women’s Club, Holy Trinity Church, Journey Chapel, and Eagle Scout Troop 194 assisted with the activities.

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

Caption: A hayride around the Gleneagle community allowed riders to see the light displays while singing a variety of Christmas carols.

Caption: Kate and Jonathan Simpson spend a little time with Mrs. Claus and Santa in the Gleneagle clubhouse.

Caption: Ruth Spencer, Mark K. Jones, and Pat Martel were among the volunteers who kept the cookie trays full for those attending the Gleneagle Festival of Lights. Photos by David Futey.

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Santa on Patrol, Dec. 21

Caption: Many Monument area children are provided with gifts during the annual Santa on Patrol event. Santa Claus (Police Chief Jake Shirk) and Mrs. Claus begin the annual event by swearing in the elves (volunteers from the Monument Police Department, nine Police Explorer Scouts, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District personnel, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department personnel, and many other volunteers who helped with the annual distribution of toys and gifts). Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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Fay Family Fundraiser, Dec. 20

Caption: Fay Family Friends ­(F3) presented a Cowboy Christmas Dinner on Dec. 20 at Family of Christ Lutheran Church. This benefit dinner was in support of Leland Fay, who is fighting Stage-IV cancer, and his family. The event included a silent auction, raffles prizes, a wine pull, and music, along with the delicious dinner prepared by friends and family. See www.facebook.com/F3FayFamilyFriends to find out how to help with costs associated with his treatments that are not covered by insurance. From left are Sarah, Connor, Derek and Leland Fay. Photo courtesy of Fay Family Friends.

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WMMI WinterFest, Dec. 26-28

Caption: Western Museum of Mining & Industry volunteer and burro wrangler Jennifer Pillars tries to get museum burro Chism to smile for visitors at the museum’s WinterFest. Held Dec. 26 to 28, the event offered visitors a chance to meet and greet the museum burros, play pioneer games such as jacks, do arts and crafts, and cookie mine—an activity to understand the economics of mining. Over 800 visitors attended the three-day event. Photo by David Futey.

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December and January library events

By Harriet Halbig

Library patrons enjoyed the soothing harp music on a frigid day Dec. 21 and children decorated colossal cookies to celebrate the season. The cookies were enjoyed by those who attended Legos Club on Dec. 21 and the homeschool group on Dec. 23.

Children’s programs

We are offering a new program beginning in January: Story Time en Español with our Spanish-speaking librarian. She will read expressively and point to the pictures in the books so that children of any language ability will enjoy the stories. The story time will be on Wednesday, Jan. 8 and 22, at 5 p.m.

The January Family Fun program is Raptors Survival. Real hawks, owls and vultures (all are raptors) encounter many obstacles in order to live in the wild. Meet some of these survivors and hear their stories, and make a raptor puppet to take home. Presented by Nature’s Educators of Aurora on Saturday, Jan. 11, at 1:30.

The Legos Club will meet on Saturday, Jan. 18, from 10 to 11:30. All ages are welcome to come and create, but please do not bring your own Legos. Do bring your camera to record your creation because all pieces used will remain the property of the library.

The homeschool program at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 27 will be Trombone Tunes and Technique. Enjoy some tunes by the Bare Bones Trombone Choir and see a brief demonstration of their instruments.

Programs for teens and tweens

Join us on Wednesday, Jan. 15, from 3:30 to 5 p.m. for Origami! Have snacks with your friends and learn to do origami from some skillful teen teachers. We’ll concentrate on making lanterns and horses. All materials are provided and no reservation is necessary. Ages 12 and up are welcome.

Help the teen advisory board to spread the warmth by donating new or gently used coats, hats, scarves, and gloves to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. Hang the coats on the rack in the teen area and put the smaller items in the boxes above or below it.

The AfterMath free math tutoring program will resume on the second Monday in January and continue each week on Mondays from 3:30 to 7. All ages are welcome to take advantage of this assistance. No appointment is necessary. No sessions are available on library and school holidays.

Join the Tech Club for ongoing adventures in technology. We will explore new ideas in Scratch and look into additional fun software in the future. For boys and girls in grades 3 through teens. The program will be on Friday, Jan. 24, from 4 to 5:30. Registration is limited and required.

Adult programs

Get the most up-to-date information on selling your home in our community from a panel of experts. An experienced realtor, an inspector, and a staging expert will give you tips so you can get top dollar for your home. The program will be offered on Sunday, Jan. 12, at 2 p.m.

Learn to use your eReader. Learn how to check out digital books using your new device! The library cyber shelf offers a wealth of materials available for check out on Kindles, iPads and smart phones. Become comfortable searching, downloading, and using these devices on Monday, Jan. 27, at 9 a.m.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, Jan. 17, at 10 a.m. to discuss Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

On the walls of the library in January will be artwork by students of Palmer Ridge High School. In the display case will be M&M dispensers from the collection of Rick LaRue.

Palmer Lake Library programs

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

Join the Fibernistas for a weekly morning of fiber fun. Share and learn new techniques of knitting and other fiber arts. All interests are welcome! Start a new project or bring one in progress on Thursdays from 10 to noon.

January’s Family Fun program on Saturday, Jan. 18, at 10:30 is Raptor Survival. Real hawks, owls and vultures (all are raptors) encounter many challenges in their quest to survive in the wild. Meet some of these survivors and hear their stories. Make a small raptor puppet to take home. This program is for all ages.

Enjoy a charming photographic collection, Risa’s Rabbits, on the walls of the library.

Please note that all library facilities will be closed on Monday, Jan. 20, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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

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Our Community 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

Jan 8: Ham, scalloped potatoes, & salad
Jan 15:
Raspberry chipotle chicken, roasted potatoes, & salad
Jan 22:
BBQ pork sandwich, pasta salad, & pickle
Jan 29:
Meatloaf, potato casserole, & salad

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

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

A Matter of Balance class begins in January

The Tri-Lakes Senior Center will offer A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls beginning in January. The free course emphasizes practical strategies to reduce fear of falling and increase activity levels. It includes exercise to increase strength and balance. The eight-week class will meet once a week for two hours at the Senior Center. There is limited space available. The dates and times are to be determined. Call Rebecca, 963-0988, for more information and to register.

El Paso County Citizens College, enroll by Jan. 15

The Citizens College will take place Feb. 1 and 8, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Participants will get an up-close look at county government functions and services. County officials, administrators, and affiliated agency leaders serve as college instructors. The syllabus will cover a wide range of topics, including: County Government 101, Child/Adult Protection and Economic Assistance Programs, Criminal Prosecution and Investigation, Public Health and Safety, Road and Bridge Operations and Maintenance, Land Use and Zoning Regulations, Parks and Recreation Programs, Environmental Services, Property Tax Assessments and Collections, County Budget and Finance, Q&A with County Commissioners, and more. This year’s college will incorporate video and other media to help illustrate county government in action and will include "field trips" to the Criminal Justice Center and El Paso County Coroner’s Office so that students can learn, first hand, about the county’s public safety and justice operations. For more information and to apply online, visit www.elpasoco.com/citizenscollege. The application deadline is Jan. 15.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club 2014 Grant Application available Jan. 15

Continuing its 37-year tradition, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will once again consider grant requests for special programs and projects from 501(c)3 non-profit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools that significantly serve the Tri-Lakes area defined by LP school district 38. Applications and instructions for the 2014 grant awards will be available at www.TLWC.net Jan. 15- March 15. Completed applications, including required documentation, must be postmarked by March 15. Awards will be announced to grant recipients in late May. Questions can be emailed to granting@tlwc.net.

Tri-Lakes Women’s Club is proud to continue its support of our great Tri-Lakes community. Over the last 40 years, TLWC has given more than $750,000, making it a major player in enriching the lives and organizations of those who call the Tri-Lakes community home. In 2013, TLWC raised $67,847, which it awarded to 36 grant recipients. The club holds two major fundraising events each year: The Pine Forest Antiques, Home Décor and Garden Show and Sale will be held April 26-27; Wine and Roses & More will be held in the fall. For more information about TLWC, visit www.TLWC.net.

MVEA Scholarships, apply by Jan. 15

Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) awards 14 scholarships of $1,000 each to graduating high school seniors. Applications are available at either MVEA office, high school counselors’ offices, or online at www.mvea.coop under ‘Community.’ For more information, call 719-494-2670.

Online survey for Black Forest fire victims

United PolicyHolders has a short online survey to collect information so the organization and its partners can continue to provide support to the Black Forest-area residents impacted by last summer’s disastrous fire. Residents are encouraged to respond to the survey as soon as possible at www.surveymonkey.com/s/BlackForestFire.

New Discount Card to benefit Black Forest fire survivors and local businesses

A new program from Black Forest Together will help Black Forest families and local businesses recover together from last summer’s devastating wildfire. The Black Forest Together Discount Card, made possible through a donation from Heartland Payments Systems, will be offered to all residents in the following four ZIP codes: 80908, 80106, 80132, or 80831. More than 72 businesses have already committed to participate in the program for at least one year, and more continue to join the program. Cardholders will save money on the goods and services they need to rebuild or repair their homes, but they’ll also get discounts on sporting goods, meals, or other amenities. Cards will be issued Mon. to Thu., 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; and 9 a.m.-noon on Fridays at the Black Forest Together Resource Center, located at Fire Station One, 11445 Teachout Rd. For more information, visit www.BlackForestTogether.org.

CASA seeks volunteers

Give the gift of a voice to an abused or neglected child. CASA volunteers are an amazing force for good, and more are needed. Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). Visit the website for an application, training schedules, and frequently asked questions. You can also contact Kelly at 447-9898 x1033 or kellyp@casappr.org.

Help chart Colorado’s transportation future

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) invites citizens to get involved in planning the future of the state’s transportation system by visiting the website, www.coloradotransportationmatters.com. Website visitors will discover what opportunities and challenges face Colorado’s transportation system. It allows the public to provide comments and take online surveys and examine the financial practices and organizational policies used by CDOT to stretch resources and meet statewide needs. Local planning processes, upcoming events, and data on the state’s economy, environment and transportation system are available on the site. For more information, visit www.coloradotransportationmatters.com.

Monument Academy looking for Walk-a-thon sponsors

Monument Academy is still seeking sponsors for the Middle School Walk-a-thon scheduled for Feb. 21. Monument Academy receives the lowest level of per-pupil funding of any school in the state, making fundraising essential. Sponsorship can be given at any amount, but a company’s logo will be placed on all event-related signs, banners, and T-shirts for those who donate $100 or more. Sponsors can also donate goods and services that support the event expenses. Sponsors can contact Julie Galusky at pto@monumentacademy.net through January for more information or to help sponsor the upcoming Walk-a-thon. All donations are tax-deductible.

OCN seeks volunteer reporters

Our Community News (OCN) is looking for reporters to cover these monthly meetings:

• Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District, which usually meets on the second Thu. of each month. The next meeting will be at 1 p.m., Thu., Jan. 9, 1845 Woodmoor Dr., Monument.

• Triview Metropolitan District board meeting, which usually meets on the second Tue. of each month. The next meeting will be at 5 p.m., Tue., Jan. 14, 16055 Old Forest Point, Suite 300, Monument.

OCN will provide volunteer reporters with training and writing assistance. For more information, please call or text Lisa at 719-339-7831.

PPLD Seeks Photos, Videos of the Black Forest Fire

Pikes Peak Library District wants to preserve the record of the historic Black Forest Fire and its effects on our community. The district is collecting images for an online photo gallery, which you can send to photos@ppld.org. Feel free to include any personal accounts associated with each image, which will be used as a caption. For details on how to submit your photos, video, and high-resolution photos, visit www.ppld.org.

LEAP—Help for heating bills

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

Free Senior Safety Handyman Services

Senior Safety Handyman Services is a unique program funded by the Pikes Peak Area Agency on Aging. It is designed to help seniors (age 60 and over) in northwest El Paso County with safety-related handyman projects. Dedicated, paid contractors and volunteers install grab bars, wheelchair ramps, railings, steps, etc., to help seniors to continue to live independently in their own homes. For service, call 488-0076 and leave a message for Cindy Rush. For more information, visit TriLakes-mcts-sshs.org.

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, check www.taxcolorado.com.

Free help line for fire victims

Optum, a health and behavioral health services company, is offering a free emotional-support help line to those affected by wildfires. The service is free 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.

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 on the district website www.lewispalmer.org under the community tab. Nonprofits may list their volunteer needs in the directory free of charge. For information, contact Robin Adair, P.O. Box 40, Monument, CO 80132; call 785-4223 or email radair@lewispalmer.org.

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/.

Reverse 911

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

Volunteer drivers needed for seniors’ transportation service

Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. It is the only transportation service in the Tri-Lakes area to take seniors to medical appointments, the grocery store or pharmacy, the bank, legal appointments, senior lunches, shopping, and to the many activities offered through the senior center and our community. The program needs additional volunteer drivers. Volunteers are provided with an orientation after criminal and driving records have been screened. Mileage is reimbursed if volunteers use their own vehicle. The program operates Monday-Thursday and is flexible; volunteers can be involved as much as they choose to be. For information or to request brochures, email browneyesmlk@hotmail.com or call Mary Ketels, 481-2470, or Faye Brenneman, 481-2527, or leave a message with the dispatcher, 488-0076.

Attention Tri-Lakes residents with medical conditions

If you have a medical condition or a physical disability, please contact Jennifer at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, 484-0911, to register for emergency assistance if evacuation is required.

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 information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free

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

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 information call 484-0911 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

County prescription discount program could save you money

El Paso County’s prescription discount program saved 10,000 residents $250,000 in discounted medicines over 18 months at no additional taxpayer cost. People using the card saved an average of 23 percent. There are no eligibility requirements and no strings attached to receive the discounts. You can pick up a free Prescription Discount Card at most county government locations or you can download your own personalized prescription discount card on the county website (bottom of the front page) at www.elpasoco.com. Any county resident without prescription coverage can use this program. Even if you have insurance for prescription medications, the discount card might save you money on prescription medications your existing plan does not cover. For information, visit www.elpasoco.com/ or call 520-6337 (MEDS).

Check out energy savings at local libraries

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

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