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Our Community News - Home
Vol. 14 No. 2 - February 1, 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 14.7 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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An important message for our readers

Our Community News needs you now!

For 13 years, our volunteers have provided unbiased reporting on important local issues, including real estate development, fire departments, school districts, and water availability.

We have provided a platform for advertising local businesses without competition from larger markets.

We have published letters to the editor to allow you to express your opinions on events in the Tri-Lakes area.

Now we find that we have more tasks than we have volunteers. Some vital jobs where we could use your help:

• Helping keep track of advertisers and following up with potential advertisers via phone and email.

• Laying out ads.

• Reporting on local meetings. You get down what they talked about and what they decided and our skilled copyeditors will help prepare your articles to run in the paper.

• Taking photos of local events.

• Putting together the layout of the paper. We use Adobe InDesign, so if you have prior experience with that program that would be a plus!

• Boxing papers to take to post offices and local businesses.

• Updating our website (www.ocn.me) using FrontPage.

The time involved varies greatly from job to job. OCN will provide whatever equipment and training you need.

Please join us today! Meet a group of interesting and committed people. Learn new skills – use your enthusiasm and creativity to benefit your community and celebrate unfiltered information.

If you can spare some time to help ensure that OCN continues to provide a vital service to our wonderful Tri-Lakes community, please contact us by Friday, Feb. 7.

Please call or text Lisa Hatfield, managing editor, at 339-7831, or email editor@ocn.me to see what you can contribute. Contact us today! We are waiting to hear from you.

Below: Monument Town Hall, Sept. 6, 2011, OCN received a certificate of appreciation. OCN volunteers (L to R) Ronald Henrikson, Jim and Paula Kendrick, Bernard Minetti, John Heiser, Janet Sellers, Dave Futey, Susan Hindman, Chris Pollard, Candice Hitt, Natalie Barszcz, and Joyce Witte. OCN volunteers not pictured include Jim Adams, Judy Barnes, Wayne and RaeJean Claybaugh, Ann and Emma Gaydos, Elizabeth Hacker, Harriet Halbig, Lisa Hatfield, Kalynne Holm, Bill Kappel, Kate Wetterer, Mike Wicklund, Marv Young, and the staff at Covered Treasures Bookstore. Photo by Carolyn Henrikson.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Jan. 9: April ballot: trustees, mayor, and recreational marijuana

By Lisa Hatfield

The Palmer Lake Town Council voted to include the recreational marijuana retail sales question on the April mail-in ballot. Residents will also determine who the town’s next mayor and trustees will be on the same ballot. On Jan. 9, the trustees also talked about the need for each household to do more fuel mitigation work to reduce the town’s risk of a major wildfire, asked for resident input on sources of revenue for the town, and approved a business license for Helping Everyone Recover Colorado Inc.

Town Clerk Tara Berreth was excused from the meeting.

April marijuana ballot item

Background: In September 2013, because of a successful citizens’ petition, the Town Council repealed the recreational marijuana sales prohibition ordinance it had approved in August. Then it enacted a moratorium on sales of recreational marijuana, planning to submit the question to Palmer Lake residents this April. See www.ocn.me/v13n10.htm#pltc for more information.

On Jan. 9, the trustees unanimously approved adding the recreational marijuana sales question to the April ballot. Berreth will work on specific ballot question language with Town Attorney Larry Gaddis. Specific town regulatory language for the sale of recreational marijuana will be developed if needed, once the results of the election are known.

During public comments, Palmer Lake medical marijuana business owner Dino Salvatori asked that the town write the regulations before the election "just in case," so that if sales are approved by Palmer Lake’s voters, he and other potential recreational marijuana retailers could be better prepared to meet demands "as soon as it would be allowed." He discussed the short window of opportunity for the town of Palmer Lake to "make money (from fees and taxes on recreational marijuana sales) before the state will take over in 2016."

April election of new trustees and mayor

Deputy Town Clerk Bob Radosevich explained to OCN after the meeting that all six trustee seats, as well as the mayor position, are up for election in 2014, since last year all the slots were filled by appointment. Residents interested in running for mayor or serving as trustee for the roads, economic development, fire, police, park and recreation, or water departments can pick up petitions Feb. 10 at the town office and turn them in Feb. 28 to get their names on the April ballot.

Residents asked to do fire mitigation

Resident Judith Harrington and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) Chief John Vincent asked residents to take individual responsibility as soon as possible for reducing fuel loads, such as overgrown scrub oak, on their properties. Vincent said the town is over 100 years behind on burn cycles. This is due to the Palmer Lake area not having experienced naturally-occurring wildfires in the past century that would have thinned out underbrush and pine trees. Vincent also said some town-owned land is out of compliance with its own mitigation ordinances and that the town is in an extremely high hazard area.

Harrington cited the www.coloradowildfirerisk.com website, where people can look up a lot’s wildfire risk.

PLVFD’s new volunteer wildfire mitigation specialist, Margo Humes, and Harrington are pursuing several grants to help reduce the labor costs for residents doing mitigation, but some grants require cash matching funds. Residents who are ready to do mitigation work could commit money upfront to the town to help win those grants, since the grants must go to municipalities, not individuals.

Committee reports

Mayor Nikki McDonald reminded residents about the Jan. 18 town meeting for their input about future finances to maintain the fire and police departments and roads. The concern is that both property tax and sales tax revenues have been falling below expectations. The meeting also included discussion on retail marijuana sales. More similar meetings will occur this spring, she said.

McDonald said the Lucretia Vaile Museum is now owned by the town, which will accept sealed bids to do the renovation work until March 1.

Police Trustee Bob Grado said Palmer Lake Police Department officers assisted in stopping a burglary in progress in Douglas County on Dec. 29. The suspect who was arrested also had an active warrant out on him for attempted murder in El Paso County. They also responded to a domestic violence first-degree assault on Nov. 30 and made three DUI arrests in December.

Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster applauded the PLVFD for a total of 24,339 volunteer hours in 2013. They responded to 395 calls for the year, including 123 mutual aid calls. All 25 members will be certified firefighters by March. Fourteen are EMT certified, and 18 are wildland certified. Residents should call Abby Vierling or Humes at 719-481-2902 for free wildfire mitigation assessments and evacuation planning information.

Water Trustee Michael Maddox said that a total of 4.3 million gallons was used in December and that 21,000 feet of water line had been replaced in town this year.

Roads Trustee John Russell is working to develop a program for road maintenance instead of emergency repairs.

New business license for nonprofit

The trustees unanimously approved a new business license for Helping Everyone Recover Colorado, Inc., a nonprofit now located at Illumination Point. It is owned by Racquel Garcia but is the brainchild of her daughter Mackenzie. The organization collects clothing and household items, including furniture, to give away to families who lost their homes in the Black Forest Fire. See www.helpingeveryonerecover.org for information.

Public comments

Lewis-Palmer School District Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman explained the timeline and process to search for a new superintendent. The goal is to find a qualified candidate who will remain in the position at least five years. The Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) will conduct the search nationally, he said.

The trustees went into executive session at 7:50 p.m. to discuss matters regarding personnel issues. They did not make any announcements after this session.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Feb. 13 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 and at hpwordsmith@q.com and www.HighPlainsWordsmith.com.

Caption: Mackenzie Garcia, left, and Racquel Garcia started the nonprofit organization Helping Everyone Recover Colorado, Inc. after the Black Forest Fire to collect clothing and household items, including furniture, to give to families who lost their homes. Six months later the other big relief organizations are gone, Garcia said, "and we’re the little guy who keeps caring." Mackenzie recently conducted a Christmas tree ornament drive at her school as another way of helping. For more information on how to help this local relief organization, see www.helpingeveryonerecover.org, a website donated to the organization by one of the victims it has helped, or visit its new location at Illumination Point in Palmer Lake. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission, Jan. 15: Gun range proposed for Palmer Lake

By Jim Adams

On Jan. 15, the Palmer Lake Planning Commission held a preliminary review of a potential application for a proposed gun range east of the motocross club in Palmer Lake. The proposed site is on the south side of County Line Road, opposite the Greenland Open Space trailhead and north of Facinelli Motors.

Dan and Angela Robbins of Tri-Lakes Shooting Supply would like to acquire the land, which is owned by the Town of Palmer Lake, through a long-term lease, and establish a National Rifle Association-compliant regional gun shooting range with handgun and rifle bays and, eventually, a storefront.

Their intent is to make Palmer Lake a destination location through competitions, gun clubs, and leagues. They project 500 walk-in visitors and 600 members that visit twice monthly. They estimated that an average visitor would shoot one or two boxes of ammunition containing 50 rounds per box.

The planning commissioners discussed these potential issues:

• Liability

• Security

• Traffic

• Lead abatement

• Location and adjacent property concerns

• Inability to discern criminal gunfire from gun range gunfire

The commissioners questioned the applicants at length about continued noise from people firing tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition each month at the site.

One couple who lives near the lake supported a gun range, but questioned the noise levels.

The consensus of the commissioners was that such a facility is warranted in the area to reduce the amount of illegal shooting already happening on the Rampart Range and in the Red Rock Ranch area.

Police Trustee Bob Grado expressed his support for the proposal. He also said that Town Attorney Larry Gaddis told him this was an acceptable proposal.

Questions about zoning for this property will be discussed at future meetings.

A sign was also retroactively approved.

**********

The next regular meeting will be held on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

Jim Adams can be reached at jimadams@ocn.me.

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Fire mitigation, marijuana issues discussed at Palmer Lake town meeting

By Jim Adams

The Town of Palmer Lake held a public meeting Jan. 18 with two agenda items. One hour was dedicated to fire mitigation and a second hour to retail sales of recreational marijuana.

Wildfire mitigation

Wildfire mitigation specialist Margo Humes and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) Chief John Vincent spoke about the specific wildfire mitigation needs of Palmer Lake and of creating defensible spaces in the town through removal of overgrowth and thinning of trees. The intent was to explain that firefighters can only fight slow spreading grass fires. Dense foliage throughout Palmer Lake makes many areas impossible to defend, placing firefighters and residents in extreme peril.

Many at the meeting were surprised to find out that the evacuation route in the event of fire is to the north. Highway 105 would be closed to eastbound traffic.

Property assessments are free through the PLVFD. Fire mitigation guidance and literature will be provided. Colorado Wildfire Mitigation matching grants are available to town residents. Work must be completed before June to receive the 50 percent matching funds. Reimbursement for time is calculated at $22.43 per hour. Contractor fees, equipment, fuel and related costs can be included up to $1,000 per acre.

The town is looking for individuals interested in certifying as sawyers to man chainsaws in the event of wildfire. Contact the PLVFD.

Recreational marijuana issue

Dino Salvatori of Palmer Lake Wellness spoke about the potential revenue that could be generated from retail sales taxes on recreational marijuana and a proposed fee structure. He explained that the first wave of retail openings is generating significant revenue for those communities choosing to opt in. Palmer Lake is missing out on potentially thousands of dollars each day in tax and fee revenues, he said.

Those in attendance generally appeared to be in favor of receiving the revenue that could be generated for the town from retail cannabis sales, because the town is very short on funds. The need for the Town Council to take action to tax and regulate cannabis was voiced by many. Others in attendance rejected recreational marijuana sales outright.

Another town meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Feb. 15. Contact Palmer Lake Town Hall at 481-2953 or tara@palmer-lake.org if you would like to be on the email list for meeting notifications and agenda items.

Jim Adams can be reached at jimadams@ocn.me.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Jan. 6: Renewable water source investigation tabled

By Jim Kendrick

Arkansas River basin water consultant Gary Barber, of WestWater Research LLC in Colorado Springs, discussed his proposed study to develop options for town purchase of renewable rights as well as investing in reuse of the town’s treated wastewater at the Jan. 6 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees.

On Dec. 16, Barber presented a proposed letter of engagement to the staff that was requested by the board on Dec. 2 after the board approved the renewable water source study Barber had proposed to the town staff on Nov. 27.

On Jan. 6 the board again expressed frustration over the numerous delays that it had previously voted for before making any decisions regarding Barber’s renewable/reuse water study proposal. The board then tabled the Dec. 16 letter of engagement because this contract was not distributed to the board members or Town Attorney Gary Shupp for their preliminary review until just before the Jan. 6 meeting. Trustee Jeff Bornstein had also asked that the contract be tabled until he could address the board in person.

Trustees Bornstein and Jeff Kaiser were absent from the meeting.

Recent background on Barber study

The board has been considering the purchase of renewable water for the past eight years using saved funds from the town’s Acquisition, Storage, and Delivery (ASD) fund, which is funded by a voter approved 1-cent sales tax fee. The current amount available in the ASD fund for these normally restricted kinds of purchases is about $700,000.

The town’s successful 1989 ballot issue language that created the 1-cent water sales tax states specified that the sole purpose and permitted use for the water tax revenue is the town water system. The separate ASD fund was created to avoid the TABOR restriction that tax revenues could not exceed 10 percent of the town’s water enterprise budget. (ocn.me/v5n11.htm#bot1017)

Each year $168,092 from the ASD fund is used pay the Colorado Water Conservation Board for the town’s annual payment on the Monument Lake dam rehabilitation loan. Also, an ASD fund payment of $365,598 is made to Wells Fargo Securities each year for the construction lease-purchase loan for Town Hall. This non-water loan was approved by town voters in the November 2005 election. These lease-purchase payments for Town Hall will continue until August 2016.

During the Jan. 7, 2013 meeting, the board requested a briefing from Barber at a future board meeting on reuse options for providing sustainable water.

At the March 18, 2013 board meeting, Town Water Attorney Bob Krassa and Town Water Resource Engineer Bruce Lytle gave an hour-long presentation on the complexities of water law, ownership of various kinds of water rights, and the legal and practical pros and cons of purchasing and transporting renewable water to supplement groundwater wells versus investing in reuse infrastructure. Krassa also gave a brief overview of the complexity of Monument’s various water law cases.

There was a very technical question-and-answer period for the trustees to ask questions of these consultants who rarely meet directly with the board. Lytle generally supported reuse options while Krassa generally supported renewable water options. Both agreed with Barber that the town’s groundwater wells will continue to become less productive and ever more expensive sources of drinking water. (ocn.me/v13n4.htm#bot0318)

On May 20, 2013 Sean Chambers, district manager of Cherokee Metropolitan District and president of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), and Will Koger, a professional engineer for Forsgren Associates Inc., gave a presentation to the board on a proposed $180,000 regional water supply feasibility study that Forsgren will perform for water suppliers in central and northern El Paso County.

Chambers, Koger, and Barber recommended that the Town of Monument contribute to the cooperative study, which would "identify the critical water supply objectives of each of the participants, identify and analyze possible joint water supply projects to meet those objectives, and plan for the necessary agreements and actions to develop the more promising projects." The board approved a $5,000 contribution to the study. (ocn.me/v13n6.htm#bot0520)

On Dec. 2, the board packet included a Nov. 27 proposal from Barber for a two-phase renewable water source investigation at a cost of $36,430. (ocn.me/v13n12.htm#bot1202)

Town Manager Pamela Smith stated that the funding for any combination of renewable or reuse projects would come from the 2A Water Acquisition Fund of the town’s water enterprise fund once the fund’s revenues no longer are used to pay off the Town Hall construction loan at a rate of about $400,000 per year through August 2016. The amount available for water acquisition will then rise to about $500,000 to $750,000 per year.

At the conclusion of the 45-minute discussion of all the factors that create uncertainty and require further study using economic and acquisition computer program analysis by Barber’s WestWater staff, the board agreed to move forward with the proposal. Barber said he would present a letter of engagement to the board on Dec. 16.

However, Barber was not listed on the very short Dec. 16 agenda nor was a budget restatement agenda item. Mayor Travis Easton, Trustee Stan Gingrich, and Trustee Kaiser did not attend the 25-minute Dec. 16 meeting. (ocn.me/v14n1.htm#bot)

Barber engagement letter tabled on Jan. 6

On Jan. 6, shortly before the board meeting, the trustees received emailed copies of Barber’s Dec. 16 Engagement Letter for Professional Services. The board declined to vote on the contract without time to read it. Smith apologized for not providing the proposed contract to the trustees sooner, and stated, "We had it." Gingrich asked Shupp to read the proposed contract and provide comment at the Jan. 21 board meeting. Trustee Rafael Dominguez stated that Bornstein had also asked that the contract be tabled so that he could discuss it at a future board meeting.

Barber stated that he planned to show the preliminary survey work on four options available to the town and review them with Krassa, Lytle, and Koger, then schedule an executive session with the board on Feb. 17. He would provide three or four recommendations on concepts, feasibility, design development, permitting, and financing by April 1 at the end of Phase 1 due to the month-long delay in contract start-up. There may not be sufficient definition of the preferable option until September for short-term grant applications. The staff will also be required to list the amount of matching funds that the town can provide.

The trustees each expressed frustration again about not having already made a decision to start Barber’s study. Smith replied, "Again, every meeting you talk about wanting to go forward and not wanting to talk it to death, but every meeting we put it out for going forward." Gingrich said the board was not ready to vote on the engagement letter without a review by Shupp and didn’t see how the board could move forward any faster than that.

Smith stated that she did not forward the Dec. 16 letter of engagement to the trustees because, in her and Tharnish’s opinions, it addressed everything the board had talked about. "We didn’t see it basically as a big deal," she said, adding, "We need to push forward at the next meeting."

Dominguez stated again that Bornstein had asked that the contract be tabled until Bornstein could address the board in person. Dominguez then asked Easton to formally table the engagement letter and study proposal until the next board meeting. After further discussion, the board asked Shupp to read the letter of engagement and prepare a resolution for the town manager to execute a contract with Barber as a formal agenda item for the Jan. 21 board meeting.

Land purchase for new public works facility proposed

Smith proposed the purchase of vacant land on Old Denver Highway for a new Public Works Department facility and the Colorado Sports Center hockey rink. She proposed paying $5,000 per month for a lease to purchase agreement with landowner Mike Watt over the next three years.

The accumulated $180,000 would apply toward the town’s purchase of five to six acres from Watt as well as a new leased public works building Watt proposed to construct for the town. She said the three-year lease would include the town’s "definite assurance to buy" the building and lot from Watt after the three years needed for the town to pay off the construction loan on Town Hall through August 2016 with ASD funds.

The consensus of the board was that the trustees were interested in the land but construction of the new public works facility would have to go out for bid. The board was also interested in self-funding construction of the facility in lieu of holding another election to request voter approval of using ASD fund revenues for another non-water building construction project.

Watts’ proposal included the opportunity to acquire adjacent vacant land to the north that would Watt would give to the town as protected Preble’s mouse habitat. Watt’s land is in the county and would have to be annexed into the town.

MVEA zoning/plat/site plan changes approved

The board unanimously approved three ordinances for the 1.5-acre expansion of the Mountain View Electric Association’s (MVEA) Anderson Substation Subdivision, located on Jackson Creek Parkway north of Ent Federal Credit Union, for installation of new transformers and infrastructure in order to be able to provide more power from this substation that has been in use since 1991:

• A zoning change from Planned Residential Development-6 to Planned Industrial Development (PID)

• A preliminary/final PD plat for the expanded portion of the Anderson Substation Subdivision

• A final PD site plan for the expanded portion of the Anderson Substation Subdivision

These three ordinances were unanimously recommended for approval by the Monument Planning Commission on Dec. 11 (www.ocn.me/v14n1.htm#monpc1211).

The property will now be 2.457 acres and include two new easements on the north and east sides. The new easements will provide access for MVEA to plant and maintain the landscaping buffer area and screen wall. There is adequate room on the south and west sides of the property for MVEA to maintain the landscaping without easements. Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara praised David Waldner, MVEA’s manager of engineering, for the utility’s cooperation throughout development of these proposals.

Front Range Animal Clinic replat approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance for a replat of Vision Holding LLC’s Visions Second Subdivision in the north end of the Monument Plaza Shopping Center. The 4.71-acre vacant lot at 481 Highway 105, between the Columbine Restaurant and Serranos Coffee Co., behind the Starbucks drive-through restaurant, would be split into two lots. The new northern 1.00-acre lot would be used for the new Front Range Animal Hospital. The replat was recommended for approval by the Monument Planning Commission on Dec. 11. (www.ocn.me/v14n1.htm#monpc1211)

The town staff is reviewing a site plan concurrently with the replat for the animal hospital. Since the Vision Holding property is zoned C-1, the site plan is reviewed administratively. The hospital’s site plan will not be scheduled for either a Planning Commission or Board of Trustees public hearing.

The approved replat Front Range will allow Front Range to expand its current operation and provide services for more animals. Front Range hopes to break ground at this new location in February.

Goodwill bond approved

The board unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that authorized the town to issue a refunding and improvement variable rate revenue bond for a Discover Goodwill of Southern & Western Colorado Project, Series 2014, in an amount not to exceed $17 million to assist Goodwill in financing and refinancing many of its retail facilities located in Monument and in El Paso County, Pueblo County, Mesa County, and Fremont County.

Under the state constitution, the Series 2014 Bond can’t "constitute a debt or indebtedness" of the town.

Planning commissioners reappointed

The board unanimously approved a resolution reappointing Ed DeLaney, Kathy Spence, David Gwisdalla, and Jim Fitzpatrick to serve as planning commissioners for two-year terms ending

Dec. 31, 2015.

Financial reports

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

• $16,703 to CIRSA Insurance for first-quarter workers’ compensation coverage

• $18,003 to CIRSA Insurance for first-quarter liability insurance coverage

• $19,935 to Wells Fargo Brokerage Services for a lease payment on town administration equipment

The board also unanimously approved the November financial reports.

Staff reports

Shupp stated he emailed the attorney representing Monument Sanitation District for approval of the town-district intergovernmental agreement (IGA) for the Downtown Sidewalk Project. Shupp noted that the district had approved the town’s amended IGA, according to the Dec. 19 Monument Sanitation District meeting article in OCN.

Kassawara said that he and Smith had talked about this issue that morning and did not know Monument Sanitation District had approved the amended IGA, but he had the engineers at Jacobs Engineering design the sidewalk on the west side of the district building to eliminate the district’s parking on Washington Street.

Jim Kendrick of Monument Sanitation District operations stated that the district board approved the amended IGA on Dec. 19 and that the town should have already received it from the district’s attorney. Kendrick said he would have the amended IGA sent to the town again in the morning.

Easton said "It looks like we’re almost there."

Kassawara said the town was looking to ask for bids on the sidewalk project this winter with a start-up in construction in May.

New water rights issue raised

Smith said she had received an email from Krassa just before this board meeting in regard to Palmer Lake filing with the state for a change of one of its interests in the Anchor Ditch Case, which was filed with the Water Court in December. The change could affect the yield to Monument’s water rights in Monument Lake. This is a senior water right with an 1867 priority. There are two significant legal problems in this new case.

Under what is known as the Santa Fe Trail Ranch case, the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that in a change of water right, no credit will be given for use not within the decree. It appears from the application that this water right was decreed for railroad steam locomotive water supply, and has not been used for that purpose since about 1957. This means that the calculation of the transferable consumptive use would require a lot of historic data, probably all zeroes for a long time.

The railroad leased the steam locomotive water right to the Town of Palmer Lake in 1957, and the railroad company then sold this water right to Palmer Lake in 1982 with a bargain and sale deed. This type of deed does not include any type of warranty for water rights. There may be evidence that the railroad abandoned this and other steam locomotive water rights prior to this deed. Whether or not Palmer Lake’s lease protected the water right from being a legal abandonment would be an open question.

Smith stated that Krassa recommended that Monument authorize him to file a statement of opposition in this case, which she did.

Smith also noted that in a previous board meeting, the county-proposed transfer of the Santa Fe Trail to the town was thought to include the section up to the area between Second Street and Highway 105. However, the county’s proposed transfer only included the trail between Second and Third Streets. Kassawara is working with the county to possibly acquire the remainder of the trail.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:10 p.m.

**********

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Jan. 21: Water consultant contract approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 21, Public Works Director Tom Tharnish gave the Monument Board of Trustees an overview of five water studies the town will conduct in 2014. Then Arkansas River basin water consultant Gary Barber of WestWater Research LLC once again reviewed his yearlong preparation of a statement of work and letter of engagement for his proposed study to develop options for town purchase of renewable water rights as well as investment in reuse of the town’s treated wastewater and the possible effects of stormwater requirements.

Approval of Barber’s Dec. 16 letter of engagement had been continued at the Jan. 6 board meeting, in part due to the absence of Trustee Jeff Bornstein. See the Monument article starting on page 6 for details.

Bornstein was absent from the meeting, as he had been on Jan. 6. However, Mayor Travis Easton stated that this time Bornstein had asked Easton to call him so that he could participate in the discussion of the Barber contract agenda item by phone from out of town. But Bornstein did not answer when contact was attempted by the staff. Town Manager Pamela Smith said she had spoken with Bornstein earlier in the day and he was "leaning toward" approving Barber’s contract.

At the conclusion of the lengthy technical discussion, the board unanimously approved Barber’s letter of engagement. Barber said he would contact Town Water Attorney Bob Krassa and Town Water Resource Engineer Bruce Lytle so that all three could prepare for an executive session discussion of the various renewable and reuse water options, issues, and tradeoffs that can be funded with available water sales tax revenues.

Barber noted again that in March, Krassa and Lytle disagreed during their briefing to the board on whether to pursue renewable or reuse solutions, and these differences need to be studied further. Reuse could provide up to about 10 percent of the town’s drinking water and a larger percentage of irrigation water to be determined. Conservation efforts have reduced the volume of water available for reuse while causing water rates to rise.

Tharnish supported Barber’s proposal, saying he did not have the knowledge, budget, or the time to pursue water rights out of town.

Trustee Jeff Kaiser said Barber had met with him for 2 1/2 hours to discuss these issues one-on-one. Barber also agreed to meet with Trustee Stan Gingrich for a one-on-one review of town water issues.

Major water studies

The following are some of the items Tharnish noted about the town’s six major water studies for 2014.

Regional Feasibility Study: This Forsgren Associates engineering study is a combined effort of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, Cherokee Metro District, and Donala and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts to examine the feasibility of installing a water pipeline from the Southern Delivery System to each of these water providers, including a line through the Black Forest region to Monument. The town has committed $5,000 toward the study.

Regional Reuse Study: This Tetra Tech engineering study is a short-term project for Woodmoor, Donala, and the town but not the Triview Metropolitan District at this time. The study will help determine the feasibility of using treated wastewater as a source of potable water by this group of entities or in-house by the town. The cost of this study and the town’s share have not yet been determined.

Renewable Water Study: This $36,430 WestWater Research study will be conducted by Barber and his staff to determine water acquisition strategies and potential water rights purchases.

Lawn Irrigation Return Flows: This $40,000 study by Lytle and Associates, the town’s consultant engineer, will investigate how to monitor the town’s adjudicated water used for irrigation and flowing underground. This volume of water has yet to be quantified. The study will show how to determine and use the amount of this water in these underground flows in the town’s water augmentation plan.

Water Master Plan update: This two-year $50,000 Forsgren engineering study started in 2013 and will help guide the town’s capital improvement plan and other water operations. The plan last was revised in early 2000.

Water Tank Site Study: Forsgren started this $17,750 study last fall to determine how and where to store renewable water coming into the town. Three potential sites are being reviewed.

Water conservation plan approved

The board formally approved a $3,000 five-year conservation plan written by Linda Firth that will be adopted as a guideline for future town water planning improvements. There was a lengthy discussion of options for grants for reducing water distribution system leaks and installation of xeriscape landscaping.

Single-family homes to replace Vista Ridge patio homes

Four ordinances were proposed to change the zoning, plat, PD site plan, and annexation agreement for one of four Village Center at Woodmoor filings. The Village Center development is adjacent to the south side of Highway 105 from east of Knollwood Drive up to Lake Woodmoor Drive. Before it was purchased by current landowner WED LLC and annexed by Monument, this 140-acre property was called the Wahlborg Addition. The proposed changes were:

• A major amendment to the zoning and land use final PD site plan for the entire Village Center at Woodmoor development.

• A replat for Village Center at Woodmoor filing 3A.

• A final PD site plan for filing 3A.

• An amendment to the annexation and development agreement for the Wahlborg Annexation and Village at Woodmoor.

The 16.9-acre filing 3A is located north and west of Woodmoor Acres Drive.

The complicated 10-year history of land use actions for development of this formerly vacant 140-acre pasture is available to readers by doing an all words (lower radio button) search of "Wahlborg Addition" at the top center of the OCN website home page at www.ocn.me.

Village Center site plan amendment approved

WED’s applicant, Classic Consulting Engineers and Surveyors LLC, applied for an ordinance to approve a Major Amendment to the Zoning and Land Use Final PD Site Plan for the entire Village Center at Woodmoor development to replace the previously approved 104 patio homes with 75 detached single-family homes with a new final PD Site plan. The amendment included a reconfiguration of the open space and park areas, as well as a tabulation of the specific added and subtracted acreages.

The amended PD site plan creates eight new residential lots in Tract A (1.05 acres). Now that the town has no plans for Tract A, which WED donated to the town at the town’s request, WED asked the town to give it back. In return, WED will give the town a 3,164-square-foot lot in Tract A and build a new two-acre park in Filing 3A. The net land transfer from the town to WED is 0.96 acre. The town has already agreed to WED’s proposed revisions to residential landscaping for these eight new steep residential lots.

All the new infrastructure will be built at the same time. It will be owned by the town, rather than the Village Center Metropolitan District, as previously approved by the board. However, the infrastructure will be maintained by the metro district at no expense to the town.

Principal Planner Mike Pesicka reported that the original Village Center Zoning and Land Use Final PD Site Plan, composed of four filings, was approved by the board in November 2004. This plan included an unspecified patio home development for filing 3 with a gross density of six to eight dwelling units per acre, resulting in up to 104 homes. A boundary plat for this property was approved by the board in 2006. The plat showed the various large acreage lots and tracts, as well as road rights-of-way for Gold Canyon Road and Mining Way. However, no individual residential lots were platted at that time since development was not imminent.

Now that a Replat and Final PD Site Plan are being proposed by the owner of the property, the original PD Site Plan for the entire Village Center property must be amended to include the new proposal for single-family homes in filing 3A. Several other changes are being proposed with the amended PD Site Plan, including a finalization of the development of the open space and park requirements and build-out. A revised overall layout of the Village Center master-planned community showing the locations of the new proposed park and modified open space areas, as well as a tabulation of the added and subtracted acreages, are included in this amended plan.

In the original annexation agreement approved by the town in 2004, the public streets in Village Center were dedicated to the Village Center Metropolitan District instead of the town. The staff requested that the annexation agreement be revised to indicate that all public rights-of-way are to be dedicated to the town. All the subsequent plats for Village Center dedicated public rights-of-way to the town. Minor changes will also need to be made to the annexation agreement to incorporate the proposed change in use and revised setbacks for the new detached single-family homes. A separate ordinance must be approved by the Board of Trustees.

Since the original developer of the land, WED LLC, still has some obligations for the construction of open space and park improvements pursuant to the original PD site plan approval in 2004, the staff has required that an escrow agreement be executed between WED and the town to ensure that these required public improvements are constructed within a reasonable period. The escrow agreement was approved by the board on Aug. 19, 2013, and the installation of the required landscaping in Filings 1, 2, and 3 is now nearing completion.

The current traffic studies for this amendment do not warrant a traffic signal for the Gold Canyon intersection on Highway 105 or a signal and turn lane upgrade at Knollwood Drive. The county may consider a traffic signal for Gold Canyon Road in 2015 when it widens Highway 105.

The proposed amendment to the preliminary/final PD site plan conforms to the PD site plan review and approval criteria in the town code.

Kyle Campbell of Classic Consulting Engineers and Surveyors LLC offered to answer questions from the board for WED, noting he had nothing to add to Kassawara’s presentation.

There was an extensive technical discussion about whether or not the town, the metro district, or the adjacent property owner would be responsible for repairing/replacing cracked sidewalks located in town road right-of-way. This has been a problem in Jackson Creek subdivisions within Triview Metropolitan District.

The sidewalk issue may be addressed in Village Center by the separate amendment to the annexation and development agreement.

Replat for filing 3A approved

Kassawara reported that the original approval for the Village Center Preliminary PD Site Plan, composed of four filings, was approved by the Board of Trustees in November 2004. A boundary plat for this property, with no individual lots, was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2006. It showed the various large acreage lots and tracts as well as right-of-way for Gold Canyon Road and Mining Way. This previously recorded boundary plat is included in the replat drawings as the "As-Platted" property description.

Kassawara reported that the original plat reserved 2.08 acres for open space within the main buildable area of the platted property. The proposed replat would dedicate 2.02 acres of land that will now be developed as a park rather than being left as open space. The park will be built by the developer of the site and maintained by the Village Center Metropolitan District at no expense to the town.

The original Tract A, which is owned by the Town of Monument, was platted as a 4.07-acre tract. The original size of this donated property on the master plan for the entire Village Center development was 3.11 acres for a new town police building that was never built due to high cost estimates. At the time of the original filing 3 plat, the town was seeking a public-private partnership with a senior housing developer who needed roughly 4 acres to build a senior living facility. As a result, the property owners transferred a 0.96-acre portion of buildable land to the town. Since the developer did not build the facility, the property owners wish to reclaim the area for the construction of homes, as originally contemplated. .

Village Center filing 1 consists of detached single-family homes on smaller lots (3,000 to 4,000 square feet). Filing 2 consists of detached single-family homes on quarter-acre to half-acre lots, or about 10,890 to 21,780 square feet. Filing 3A now consists of 75 single-home lots on a net acreage of 9.952 acres for an average lot size of 5,780 square feet, ranging from 4,376 to 10,016 square feet, for a net density of 7.54 dwelling units per acre.

The proposed replat is in conformance with the final plat criteria of the town’s municipal zoning code and the town’s subdivision regulations.

Kassawara recommended one condition for board approval of the replat request:

1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording of the annexation ordinance.

Final PD Site Plan for filing 3A (Vista Ridge) approved

The staff report for this final filing 3A PD site plan contained very similar information to that contained in the two staff reports noted above. There was no public comment for or against the final PD site plan during the open portion of the public hearing. The final PD site plan conforms to the PD site plan review and approval criteria in the town code.

The Planning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend approval of the major amendment, replat, and Filing 3A final PD site plan to the board at its Dec. 17, 2013 hearing.

There was no public comment for or against any of these three ordinances during the open portion of the public hearing.

The board voted 6-0 to approve all three ordinances with the recommended conditions of approval.

Annexation and development agreement amendment tabled

At the recommendation of Town Attorney Gary Shupp, Mayor Easton requested a motion to continue this annexation amendment ordinance due to late posting of this agenda item to the next meeting, Feb. 3, so that it would not have to be reposted. The amendment consisted of three revisions:

• Allow detached single-family homes where patio homes were initially contemplated.

• Revise setbacks for the new detached single-family product.

• Transfer ownership of the development’s roadways from the Village Center Metropolitan District to the town.

Dale Beggs, owner of WED, said, "This has been a long journey. We’ve been through a lot of staff, planning, and people and it’s to Mr. Kassawara’s credit that we’re here. He and his staff have been very diligent through some very troubling problems. I just wanted to thank him publicly."

Lake of the Rockies Annexation No. 2 and Zoning Map approved

Landowner Jerry Biggs of BK-LOR LLC applied for board approval for annexation and zoning of two BK-LOR parcels of land immediately adjacent to the already annexed BK-LOR Lake of the Rockies parcel on Mitchell Avenue just south of the Second Street intersection. The total amount of land annexed was 3.57 acres. The two parcels will have PD zoning to match the existing PD zoning of the larger Lake of the Rockies parcel.

Parcel A is a thin 0.47-acre sliver that lies along the western boundary of the large already annexed parcel. The middle of this narrow strip is adjacent to the east side of the Monument Lake Dam.

Parcel B is a 3.10-acre strip adjacent to the west side of the railroad tracks that extends south of the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and the access road to Monument Lake. It was previously owned by the railroad and will be deeded by BK-LOR to the town as right-of-way for Mitchell Avenue.

The staff annexation package included a Dec. 3 letter from Palmer Lake Sanitation District Manager Becky Orcutt to BK-LOR consultant Kyle Campbell of Classic Consulting Engineers and Surveyors LLC stating that the district expects to be able to serve homes built on the Lake of the Rockies parcel, while noting that there had been no district review of any formal plans or any engineered sewer plans from BK-LOR.

Kassawara recommended a condition of approval that prior to recording the Annexation Map, BK-LOR will submit, in writing, to the Development Services Department, confirmation from Palmer Lake Sanitation District that it intends to serve the properties and have the capacity to do so.

Consultant Land Planner Tim Seibert of NES Inc. stated that Lake of the Rockies would formally seek inclusion by Palmer Lake Sanitation District at the regular Feb. 11 district board meeting. NES has submitted the required construction plans to the district for its review at the Feb. 11 public hearing.

Kassawara stated that the two parcels meet state annexation statute requirements that at least one-sixth (16.67 percent) of the property boundary must be contiguous with existing town limits, which in this case are the boundaries of the already annexed BK-LOR parcel. He reported that the annexation also meets all other state annexation requirements and all relevant Monument Comprehensive Plan land use and annexation principles, policies, and guidelines.

The annexation was unanimously recommended for approval by the Monument Planning Commission during its Dec. 17 public hearing. (ocn.me/v14n1.htm#monpc1217)

Kassawara recommended three conditions for board approval of the annexation request:

1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made prior to recording of the annexation ordinance.

2. The two parcels (Parcels A and B) shall be included by reference in the existing Lake of the Rockies Annexation Agreement by the ordinance approving the annexation.

3. An executed petition for inclusion into the Palmer Lake Sanitation District shall be provided to the Development Services Department prior to recordation of the annexation map.

There was no public comment for or against annexation during the open portion of the public hearing.

The board unanimously approved the Lake of the Rockies Retreat and Camping Resort Annexation No. 2 request for these two parcels, with town PD zoning, with the conditions noted above.

BK-LOR will next seek town approval of an amended PD site plan for the Lake of the Rockies development.

Monument Sanitation District IGA continued

The Town of Monument, using grants and its own funding, is constructing sidewalks and curbing in downtown Monument. Some existing parking spaces have been reconfigured. The Monument Sanitation District board approved an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with the town, as amended by the town, on Dec. 19 regarding parking issues adjacent to the district’s property and the creation of a downtown public gathering space in front of the district’s building. The staff recommended that the board approve the resolution for this IGA subject to a legal description being inserted in the Exhibit to the IGA concerning the easement being granted by the district for the gathering area. (See the article on Jan. 6 board meeting starting on page 6 for more details on this issue.)

The district’s attorney, Steve Mulliken, provided this legal description and an easement document to the board during the discussion of this item. He also provided a copy of the IGA that had been approved by the district board to Mayor Easton, since the IGA was not included in the board’s staff package. Kassawara and Shupp said they thought the IGA was in the package.

Approval of the resolution, easement, and IGA were continued to Feb. 3 since the IGA was not provided to the trustees for their review before the meeting. Wicklund asked that the IGA be approved first on Feb. 3 since the IGA refers to the easement as an attachment. Construction for the sidewalk project will begin in May.

In other matters, the board approved a payment of $140,958 to Triview Metropolitan District for November sales tax ($134,131), December motor vehicle tax ($6,717), and December Regional Building Department sales tax ($110).

Staff reports and updates

Shupp stated a motion has been filed to dismiss litigation against two Monument police officers who were assisting in an effort to keep the peace. The amount of attorneys’ cost to date is $14,604, and the expected expense to conclude the case will be $42,395. The town has a $5,000 insurance deductible with CIRSA.

Kassawara reported that the town hired Tom Martinez as the town’s new engineering assistant. His first day was Monday, Jan. 13. Smith added that "We are thrilled with Mr. Martinez" and his stormwater experience.

Eight new single-family home building permits were issued in November and December, all in Triview, for a total of 80 permits for the year, with 63 in Triview.

The town is seeking Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) approval for three wayfinding signs for I-25 Exit 161 ramp rights-of-way. Three other new wayfaring signs will be installed on Highway 105 at the Third Street and Washington Street intersections and on Old Denver Highway north of the Baptist Road intersection. These signs would point motorists toward downtown businesses.

The town received its first sidewalks project grant check from CDOT for $31,335. CDOT is paying for 80 percent of this project.

Tharnish reported that tons of sediment and rock that have accumulated in the Monument Lake dam spillway since it was reconstructed in 2001 are being removed, dam drains on the back of the dam are being cleaned, downstream Monument Creek shorelines are being "reshaped," and sections of mouse habitat are being moved.

Chief Jacob Shirk and the Monument Police Department hosted another successful year of Santa on Patrol with assistance from Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department, Palmer Lake Fire Department, District 38, Texas Roadhouse, and Wells Fargo. The department is continuing to interview candidates to fill an empty police officer billet.

Smith noted that Forest Lakes Metro District declined to store water for Triview Metro District in its Bristlecone reservoir at its last board meeting. Monument and Triview are now working on an agreement to store Centre Development’s water from Beaver Creek in Monument Lake. Centre Development will pay Triview $675,000. Triview will then pay Monument for storage in Monument Lake. The money will go into an ancillary fund to help pay for lake improvements, such as dredging. The agreement is currently in the hands of the attorneys and will come to the board once the draft is approved.

The town will be hiring a full-time bookkeeper.

Public comments

Ted Bauman said he wanted to reintroduce himself to the board as interim superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 again. He noted that the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) will administer a nationwide search for a new superintendent to replace John Borman following his departure on Dec. 31. The closing date for applications for the superintendent position is Feb. 11. The school board and CASB will screen the applications to determine the potential finalists. Background checks on these potential finalists will be conducted by CASB.

Interviews will be conducted on March 7 and 8. Bauman said he would bring the finalists to Town Hall during "visitation day" on March 7. The interviews will conducted by four groups on March 8. The selected superintendent will be introduced at the March 20 D-38 school board meeting. Bauman said he looked forward to getting back to focusing again on the school district’s mission to prepare students to be successful learners, productive citizens, and caring contributors to society. He said he would introduce the new superintendent at a future board meeting.

Thanksgiving dinner thank you

Mayor Easton, with the assistance of President Ted Rinebarger and volunteer Allen Alchian of Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, presented plaques to several people and organizations for the 2013 Community Coming Together free Thanksgiving dinner served to 160 people at Rosie’s Diner. (www.trilakeshap.org/cct.php) Town plaques were given to Rosie’s owner AB Tellez and these organizations: HAP, Texas Roadhouse, Monarch Merchandising, Nobel Cisco, Safeway, Best Foods, Village Inn, Monument Academy, and Tri-Lakes Printing.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 3 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, Feb. 18 due to the Presidents’ Day holiday on Feb. 17. Information: 884-8017 or www.townofmonument.org/meetings/.

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

Caption: At the Jan. 21 Monument Board of Trustees meeting Mayor Travis Easton, with the assistance of President Ted Rinebarger and volunteer Allen Alchian of Tri-Lakes Health Adocacy Partnership, presented a town "Thank You" plaque to Rosie’s Diner owner AB Tellez for serving 160 free Community Coming Together Thanksgiving dinners to area residents. Town plaques were also given to these organizations for their support of this very successful event: HAP, Texas Roadhouse, Monarch Merchandising, Nobel Cisco, Safeway, Best Foods, Village Inn, Monument Academy, and Tri-Lakes Printing. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, Jan. 15: First steps taken toward connection option with CSU

By Susan Hindman

Communication with Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) about connecting to its wastewater treatment system has begun, Dave Frisch of GMS Inc., an engineering firm, told the Academy Water and Sanitation District board at the Jan. 15 meeting. He said the people he had spoken with were actively working on next steps, including drafting an intergovernmental agreement.

Frisch said that in February, GMS will conduct field surveying of the area along Smith Creek where a new pipeline would carry wastewater from the district’s treatment facility on Spring Valley Drive to the CSU connection point on Northgate Road. Currently, Academy’s treated wastewater is discharged to the creek. He said GMS should know by the end of the month if a lift station would need to be built along this pipeline’s route. However, building a lift station would boost the cost significantly, so Frisch and the board hope this won’t be necessary.

The board approved spending up to $300 for an initial meeting with a public relations firm to discuss how to educate residents about the new mill levy that will be required to pay for the connection.

The current need on the wastewater side is the result of new state regulations, which passed two years ago despite vigorous opposition by most wastewater treatment facilities across the state. While CSU also faces complying with the new regulations, connecting with CSU would help spread out the costs among more customers.

Though the Academy board hasn’t voted on a specific solution among the three offered by GMS — building a new treatment facility, connecting with the Donala Water and Sanitation District, or going with CSU — the CSU option has been pursued because, at this point, it doesn’t require building anything mechanical, said board President Richard DuPont.

May elections of directors

Two board positions are up for re-election on May 6: Walt Reiss and Susan Hindman. They will need to submit self-nomination forms by Feb. 28 if they wish to continue serving. The call for nominations will be published in the Gazette Feb. 5-20; if there are not more nominees than positions open, then the election will be canceled in early March.

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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 Feb. 19.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Jan. 16: Pueblo Reservoir renewable water storage contract approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 16, Donala Water and Sanitation District General Manager Kip Petersen reported that he had received a Bureau of Reclamation short-term storage contract for 2014 that will allow Donala to continue to store its renewable surface water from its Willow Creek Ranch property near Leadville in the Pueblo Reservoir. This renewable water is transported north in a Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) pipeline, treated by CSU, then delivered to the Donala distribution system primarily during the high demand irrigation season.

The cost of this CSU-treated water is higher than the cost of producing treated Donala groundwater, but it relieves the pressure on Donala’s various wells. The delivery of treated Willow Creek renewable water was reliable and effective in 2013. The board unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Donala board President Bill George to sign the 2014 short-term storage contract.

The board unanimously approved the regular board meeting schedule for 2014. Meetings will continue to be held at 1:30 p.m in the district conference room on the third Thursday of each month. However, there will be no meeting in November and the 2015 budget hearing will be held on Dec. 4 at 1:30 p.m. in the district conference room.

Repairs for hail damage at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility will be completed when the weather improves and there is no ice on the metal roof.

Petersen noted that he 2013 audit will be conducted by Hoelting & Co. in March. The board unanimously approved a minor update to the district’s investment policy to correct typographical errors. The district received one tap fee payment of $1,500 from Triview Metropolitan District. This reduced Triview’s outstanding balance to $746,542 under the agreement in which Donala financed a portion of Triview’s share of the cost of expanding the Upper Monument Creek facility.

There was a brief discussion of the Jan. 15 Tri-Lakes Tribune article "Donala raises water rates 20 percent." Board members noted that the January district newsletter to customers showed that this rate increase was merely part of a multiyear plan to raise rates over several years until revenues are high enough to cover water operation expenses. This long-term plan has been discussed numerous times in newsletters to Donala constituents and in OCN articles on Donala board meetings. George noted that despite the front page Tribune photo of a wooden water pipe, Donala does not have any wooden pipes in its distribution system.

The meeting went into executive session at 3:22 p.m. to discuss personnel issues.

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The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 20 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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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education, Jan. 16: Superintendent search progresses

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 continued to discuss the search for a new superintendent, the new teacher evaluation process, and financial planning for the future on Jan. 16.

Superintendent application deadline nears

Bob Cito of the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) reported on progress in the search for a new permanent superintendent. He said he was here before Christmas to hold meetings among various focus groups regarding qualities they looked for in a superintendent.

The qualities sought are experience in education, instructional leadership, and business skills. Cito said the individual should possess a management style that could incorporate state and federal mandates in the operation and success of the district. Innovative problem solving is critical. The superintendent must be willing to be visible in the schools and the community and possess communications skills with the staff and the community. Integrity is essential.

Cito said that four questions on the application would require research into the district before answering. The application form may be seen on CASB.org.

The position was advertised beginning in late December, with an application deadline of Feb. 11. At that time the board will review the applications and select a number of them for further exploration.

CASB will do background checks on this group of candidates. Finalists will be announced 14 days ahead of the interviews, which will be held on March 7 and 8.

By the date of this meeting, three completed applications had been received, two from out of state. Cito said that his experience has shown that most applications will be received late in the application period.

Board President Mark Pfoff said that the average term of recent superintendents has been 2 1/2 years. He was concerned about how to address this.

Cito said it is important to look at the resumes of applicants to see the longevity of their previous positions. It is also essential that candidates understand the strengths and challenges of the district when considering accepting the position.

Cito said that CASB would like to see a candidate who would stay for five to seven years. He also said that there are ways to structure a contract to encourage a candidate to stay.

Fund balance/liability planning

Board Vice President John Mann explained charts that he and Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman prepared regarding the district’s assets and liabilities.

He said that when the board refinanced the lease on the administration building, there were relatively few funds available in relation to the district’s debt. Low interest rates at that time allowed the district to have the use of an additional $75,000 per year for the purchase of technology and other uses.

Due to a partial rebound of the economy and increase in real estate values and resulting tax income, the district now has more revenue in relation to its debt.

Mann said the decision to be made now is whether to retire the debt from the administration building’s lease, which would yield $250,000 to $500,000 annually in savings, or continue to stay the present course.

The board’s financial advisor, David Bell of Stifel, Nicolaus and Co., gave the board a few alternatives of action. He said that, were the district to retire the debt, it still has a very good credit rating should it need to borrow again. There is no guarantee about the direction of the economy in the years to come.

He said that in 2008-09 the state allowed districts to borrow for working capital purposes, not just for construction. The board decided to borrow and extend repayment in case of emergencies. The district could borrow from the fund in the short term and still use the funds for long-term capital projects such as infrastructure or bus purchases.

Mann said that the decision is how much liquid funds the district needs.

Pfoff commented that any decision should take into account the next three to five years.

Board Secretary Robb Pike said that the board has long worked under the condition that any financial decision would not jeopardize the completion of the current school year.

Mann said that he would like Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman to return to the board a list of capital projects that would benefit the district, in order of priority.

Teacher evaluations

Director of Personnel Bob Foster explained changes in the teacher evaluation process as a result of the Teacher Effectiveness Act, which evaluates teachers 50 percent on the basis of their professional practices and 50 percent on the academic growth of their students.

Under the new law, all teachers will be evaluated on an annual basis. After three years of effective teaching, individuals will achieve non-probationary status. After two years of ineffective teaching, individuals will be returned to probationary status.

Foster said that the complex evaluation process, involving a 15-page document for each individual about his or her professional practices, several classroom observations, and documentation of student progress, is causing a considerable workload for principals. Teachers are also required to complete self-evaluations.

All evaluations are conveyed electronically to the Colorado Department of Education.

One of the greatest challenges is that 70 percent of teachers do not teach subjects that are easily quantified because they are not part of the testing process. These include such subjects as the arts and physical education. Also, employees such as psychologists and occupational therapists will be hard to evaluate.

These difficulties are yet to be solved. Mann commented that he is concerned about the time involved in the process.

When asked what good would result from the process in such a high achieving district, Foster said that sometimes the conversations between the teachers and principals may yield new best practices.

2013-14 budget adjustments

Wangeman reported an increase of about $400,000 in income for the district due to increased state funding because of a larger student count and increased specific ownership tax revenue.

The board approved the school calendars for the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years. The calendars may be found on the district website, lewispalmer.org.

Students of the Lewis-Palmer Home School Enrichment Academy performed for the board. Teacher Melissa Carpenter reported that the academy now has 81 students through the eighth grade.

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

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

Caption: Students of the Lewis-Palmer Home School Enrichment Academy performed for the board. Teacher Rose Dunphey accompanied Hannah Kelly and Leah Dunphey as they sang. Trace, Brock, and Austin Rouser, left to right, performed a comedy skit. Photos by Harriet Halbig.

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Jan. 14: High schools present Unified Improvement Plans

By Harriet Halbig

Palmer Ridge High School Principal Gary Gabel and Lewis-Palmer High School Principal Sandi Brandl presented each school’s School Performance Framework and Unified Improvement Plan to the District Accountability Advisory Committee for its approval Jan. 14 prior to submitting the documents to the state Department of Education.

The committee divided into two groups to hear the detailed descriptions and then reconvened for reporting of the results.

Palmer Ridge High School scores

Gabel reported that Palmer Ridge scored as "meets or exceeds" in the four categories tracked by the state. These are academic achievement (exceeds), academic growth (meets), academic growth gaps (meets), and postsecondary and workforce readiness (exceeds). The total score (of a possible 100 points) was 82.4 for the 2012-13 school year, a significant increase over the 2011-12 score of 72.

Gabel said that he is particularly proud that the school met all goals in the growth gap category, which measures progress over a year’s time for students in subgroups such as those with disabilities, those on free/reduced lunch, and minorities.

Gabel attributed the improvements in math and reading in the growth gap area to continuity of instructors and using assessments to determine appropriate classes for students. Reading was emphasized across the curriculum, as was writing. Writing is particularly stressed in ninth grade, and Gabel said that the English and social studies departments will collaborate on writing instruction for 10th-graders.

He said that the postsecondary score is based on the option of seven years to graduation, to include those who attend the Transitions program until the age of 21. These students have met the academic requirements but do not receive a diploma until they leave the program. The school has not yet been in existence for seven years. For this reason, the score in that aspect of the document should improve over the next two years.

Gabel said that the school’s challenges are in the areas of reading for students with disabilities and reading and writing for students needing to catch up. In both cases students are approaching the targets set in previous documents.

When asked how progress is monitored among those students failing to meet expectations, Gabel said that at the beginning of each semester, teachers are given a list of those whose progress is considered unsatisfactory or in need of catching up. Teachers are then aware of the students requiring extra attention and monitoring. If a student is getting a D or an F in a subject, an email is sent to the student’s parents. There are four data points required each year to monitor the progress of these students.

Gabel said that he invited several graduates to describe how well prepared they felt when they continued to college. They told him that they valued being held accountable for their achievements, he said.

Lewis-Palmer High School scores

Lewis-Palmer High School scored "exceeds" in academic achievements, "meets" in academic growth, "approaching" in academic growth gaps, and "exceeds" in postsecondary and workforce readiness for a total of 82.8 points.

The school’s improvement plan said that, although some targets in the growth gap area were not met, they improved over a year’s time.

Priority performance challenges were those on free/reduced-price lunch, students with disabilities, and students needing to catch up in reading, all subgroups in math and writing for students with disabilities and students needing to catch up.

Causes were identified as students not being provided with consistent direct reading instruction and support in the classroom. Disadvantaged students were not provided with consistent direct math instruction and support and additional math support outside of the classroom. Focused writing support was not provided in the Learning Center.

The use of frequent assessments and analysis of data will be stressed in the effort to improve results.

When asked whether there is an online component to the district’s instruction, Director of Assessment, Gifted Education and Technology Lori Benton said that there are supplemental materials online that can be tailored to the individual.

She also said that the fact that many future tests will be taken online may make a difference in scores.

DAAC gave provisional approval to each school’s framework and improvement plan.

Superintendent search

Board of Education Liaison John Magerko said that the search for a new superintendent is now underway and being administered by the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB). The search is nationwide, and by late February the candidates will be reviewed and background checks administered.

Magerko also said that CASB holds a legislative conference in late February during which members may meet with legislators and members of the state Board of Education. A primary topic of discussion will be the state budget and potential changes in taxation.

Communications plan

Community Relations Manager Robin Adair spoke about the district’s current initiatives. She pointed out that there is a communications advisory committee, consisting of district and community representatives and a member of the Board of Education. This committee sets goals and discusses the overall district communications plan. There is one large plan and several campaigns within it.

A goal is to convey a consistent message with the use a consistent brand, expand the use of media and the Internet, and evaluate the effectiveness of efforts and the opinions of target audiences.

Adair explained the open enrollment initiative for February and distributed a list of media outlets, postings, meetings, and other activities in support of the district. These include contacts with realtors, publication of information in relocation guides (military and civilian), and press conferences.

Under development is a mobile app that will be funded from outside sources and will contain such information as sports calendars, grades, assignments, and other information.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held on Feb. 11 at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, 1776 Woodmoor Drive, Monument.

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

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Special Education Advisory Committee, Jan. 15: Family, school, community partnering training offered

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee was offered training on family, school, and community partnering in education at its Jan. 15 meeting. The meeting was moderated by Beth Schaffner of the PEAK Parent Center in Colorado Springs. Also participating were Dr. Cathy Lines, chair of the State Advisory Council for Parent Involvement in Education, and Dr. Darcy Hutchins, Family Partnership director for the Colorado Department of Education (CDE).

The PEAK Parent Center is Colorado’s federally designated Parent Training and Information Center. It provides training to groups while also offering one-on-one assistance, conferences, and publications.

Schaffner said that family involvement in education includes supporting homework, seeing that students arrive at school on time and ready to learn, and being aware of how students are progressing.

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury said that D-38 is the recipient of a grant involving the Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS), a new protocol that will replace Response to Intervention. At this time, MTSS is in use at Lewis-Palmer High School, Lewis-Palmer Middle School, and Palmer Lake Elementary.

This new program focuses on academics and behavior together, because a child who struggles academically often has behavior problems as well. The new approach is not to view what is "wrong" with children who struggle, but how general education classroom practices can be changed to help them succeed. If outside intervention or support is needed, it will be provided.

The goal of the CDE is to ensure that all children reach their highest potential. The goal of PEAK Parent Center is to equip families of children with disabilities with strategies to advocate effectively for their children in the school setting and beyond.

In an exercise, the participants concluded that respect is essential in relationships between parents and teachers, students and teachers, and special education and general education teachers. It is only through respect and cooperation that the goal of reaching maximum achievement can be reached.

Schaffner stressed that children spend 70 percent of their waking hours outside of school and this is what makes partnering so essential. Ensuring that homework is completed, monitoring TV and online time, and offering enriching after-school activities are among the responsibilities of parents. Schaffner explained an activity known as interactive homework to involve parents in the child’s learning. Interactive homework could involve the child interviewing a parent or explaining what he or she learned that week.

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (otherwise known as No Child Left Behind) defines parent involvement as integral to a child’s learning and said that parents should be full partners in the education process.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 also stated that the role and responsibility of parents and participation of families of children with disabilities should be stressed.

The Response to Intervention law of 2007 required that parents of children with disabilities must be kept informed about the amount and nature of data collected about the student, strategies for increasing the child’s rate of learning, and results of assessments of the child’s progress.

The most recent legislation mentioned was the 2012 Colorado Read to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act in which parents play a central role in supporting a child’s learning to read. The parent is encouraged to support the student’s success at home, to work with the teacher, and to supplement the instruction the student receives at school. Parents are to receive ongoing, regular updates concerning the student’s progress.

The shift in responsibility is away from school-created plans explained to parents to plans developed by the parents and the schools together. Homework is seen as a home-school link and communication tool. Ongoing two-way communication is stressed. Learning is focused more on outcomes than on compliance by the student in the classroom.

The State Advisory Council for Parent Involvement in Education was created by the Colorado General Assembly in 2009 to review best practices and recommend strategies to increase parent involvement, thus helping to raise the level of student achievement throughout the state.

With the new stress on accountability, parents must learn to understand the data collected to measure achievement. When asked whether the district has enough evidence to know whether the new system is working, Fleury said that much of the progress would be reflected in growth gap scores in school performance framework documents (See the article on the District Accountability Advisory Committee on page 17).

In addition to data developed in the school, it is important for families to share observations about behaviors in the home and any difficulties at home that may contribute to difficulties at school.

When asked how a parent can improve his or her communication with the school, Fleury suggested that the parent first speak to the teacher involved. Another option is to call Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay, who will often mediate between parents and the district. Schaffner also suggested that, should the district not be able to offer the necessary programs or support, the parent should contact PEAK Parent.

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The Special Education Advisory Committee meets at 6:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on Feb. 12.

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

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Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations, Jan. 11: HOAs advised to prepare for disasters

By Bernard Minetti

At the Jan. 11 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations (NEPCO), Pikes Peak National Bank President Robin Roberts presented a short seminar on actions to be taken by homeowners associations (HOAs) before and after a fire or flood.

The seminar used information from disasters such as the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires and flooding in Manitou Springs and Cheyenne Canyon.

Roberts listed actions that can minimize the "unknowns" about disasters that HOAs face:

• Effective communications preparations are essential. This is accomplished by updating email and contact lists and keeping them current, ensuring that all homeowners are signed up for reverse 911 and that all elderly persons are signed up for 211. Websites should be kept up to date, and information should be updated through newsletter distribution and social media outlets.

• HOAs should keep all covenants updated and provide easy access to documents for homeowners by ensuring that there is a board of directors and an active architectural standards committee.

• Covenants should address what would happen if all or part of the community is destroyed. Will the community use one builder or several? What will be the architectural standards of the rebuilt community? Who will control the rebuilding process?

• Are common-area items such as the sprinkler system, curbs and gutters, and landscaping insured? Have homeowners been urged to consider insuring foundations? She noted that foundations could be damaged or weakened in such a way that replacement is required.

• Mitigation for floods and fires should be coordinated with a local fire agency. Ensure that important items are not stored in basements where they can be damaged by a flood or fire. Hold evacuation drills that involve the public safety and fire agencies. Hold disaster preparedness meetings.

• HOAs should bring homeowners together as soon as possible after a disaster. Ask for their help in coordinating and facilitating the recovery process. Let homeowners know if a special assessment is required to support the recovery process.

• As an HOA, recognize that a disaster can be the occasion for new opportunities such as new architectural designs, xeriscaping, rebuilding with new fire-resistant materials, and initiating flood mitigation procedures.

• Most important is to set up communication channels before a disaster strikes your community.

Recreational marijuana discussion avoided

Woodmoor Improvement Association board President and NEPCO member Jim Hale asked the NEPCO board and membership to discuss the effects on local property values should Palmer Lake allow recreational marijuana sales. NEPCO board President Dave Powell declined to allow the subject to be discussed, stating that it was a "political issue." Following the meeting, in a discussion with Hale, he stressed the urgency and the importance of a review of marijuana issue because it could pertain to property values in the Palmer Lake area.

Transportation Committee report

NEPCO Transportation Committee Chairperson Tom Vierzba said the Powers/I-25 Interchange would be complete within five years. He also noted that the high-speed rail system that is being designed would be on the same path as I-25.

**********

The next NEPCO general membership meeting will take place at 10 a.m. March 8 at the Monument Town Hall. The speaker will be Colorado HOA Information Officer Gary Kujawski, who said he is particularly interested in hearing from HOA members who are dealing with dictatorial boards. NEPCO members and nonmembers are welcome to attend.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Jan. 22: Fire mitigation, mail thefts reviewed

By Harriet Halbig

The Board of Directors of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) discussed fire mitigation, mail thefts, and other topics at its Jan. 22 meeting.

Board President Jim Hale thanked outgoing board members W. Lee Murray, Kristin Reimann, and Anne Stevens-Gountanis for their service. He said that Murray is considering serving as a Common Area captain to continue his involvement with the association.

NEPCO meeting

Hale reported that he had attended a meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Organizations (NEPCO) and learned that there is a reverse 211 service for individuals who might need help in the event of an evacuation. He suggested mentioning it in an upcoming WIA newsletter.

Other subjects discussed at the NEPCO meeting were strategies an association may use during the rebuilding of a community after a disaster and the necessity of removing trees that might make evacuation difficult or impossible in the event of fire.

Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Kevin Nielsen said that his group has made a list of such trees on county property and that the county had declined to remove them.

Forestry Director Eric Gross said that in Woodmoor, property lines extend to the pavement, so property owners are responsible for the vegetation. He said that the easement next to the road exists only in the event that pipes or wires need to be dug up for repairs.

Nielsen commented that in the past the county has sometimes removed trees within the easement.

Hale said that he mentioned at the NEPCO meeting that he was concerned about increased traffic and crime if Palmer Lake approves the sale of recreational marijuana in the town.

Homeowners Association manager Matt Beseau reported that there is a bill in the state House regarding administrative fees from homeowners associations.

Beseau said that Wi-Fi is now available for WIA employees in the Barn and he is inquiring as to whether it could be used during committee meetings in the building.

Treasurer Tom Schoemaker reported that the association ended the year 0.5 percent under budget.

More mail thefts

Nielsen reported that there have been two more incidents of mail theft, both on Silver Horn Lane in the northern area of Woodmoor. He has reported the incidents to the sheriff and the Postal Service. He said the only absolute solution to the problem is the use of locking mailboxes. Installing cluster mailboxes is prohibitively expensive and can only be done with 100 percent participation. Hale suggested that WPS might follow a postal vehicle occasionally as a deterrent.

Architectural Control Director Darren Rouse reported that the Project Design Standards Manual has been approved and published following board and membership review.

Fire mitigation

Gross reported that the Forestry Committee has distributed the remaining fire mitigation grant funds for 2013 and is now seeking a new source of funding. Among the 2014 events planned by the committee are a Do It Yourself Fire Mitigation tour of firewise homes in the community. Several chipping days, a Firewise Community Day and a possible panel discussion of causes of the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest Fires are also planned.

Murray reported that the broken fountain in front of the Barn will be replaced at the expense of the person who broke it. He also reported that some additional furniture has been purchased for the deck of the Barn and other public areas.

Secretary Jeff Gerhart reported that enough ballots have been received to constitute a quorum in advance of the annual membership meeting. He also said that three members of the League of Women Voters will oversee the sign-in process and accept or alter ballots from members during the meeting on Jan. 27.

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Annual Meeting, Jan. 27: Fire prevention, emergency response among priorities

By Harriet Halbig

Outgoing board President Jim Hale spoke of the Woodmoor Improvement Association’s (WIA) accomplishments in 2013 and its goals for this year at the annual membership meeting and board election on Jan. 27. He said the WIA has given continued attention to fire prevention and the creation of an emergency response plan.

Hale also spoke briefly about plans for development along Woodmoor Drive between the fire station and Moorwood. This area would be called the Dunes at Woodmoor and would contain 56 single-family homes by several builders. Additional development will take place north of the Barn.

Candidates for the board mentioned concerns about the cost of water and the viability of the Monument Hill Country Club, which is located within Woodmoor’s boundaries but not owned by the community. There are fears that, should the club cease to operate the golf course, the land will be used for development, lowering property values.

Three candidates were elected to the board: current board Vice President Kirstin Reimann, Mark Ponti, and Erik Stensland.

The Vincent Elorie Award to an outstanding citizen of Woodmoor was presented to Anne Stevens-Gountanis for her years of service on the Architectural Control Committee, on the Board of Directors, and as a WIA representative to NEPCO.

President’s Awards were presented to Mark Ponti and Lisa Hatfield for their contributions in 2013 and to Craig Gaydos and Jim Woodman for their contributions in 2012.

Good Neighbor Awards were presented to Dick and Karen Green and David and Wendy Reineke.

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

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January Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Overall, the temperatures and precipitation for January were about average. However, this simply represented the middle ground between the extremes, as two significant intrusions of arctic air were balanced by several, sunny mild days. As is usual in our region, a January thaw took place, most pronounced during the middle of the month.

January started out with a highly variable pattern that signified what we would get for the rest of the month. The first week of the month saw visits from both cold and warm air masses. A little snowfall started off New Year’s Day, with about a half inch falling in the morning and again in the evening. Temperatures were about normal for the day, with highs just reaching the freezing mark.

Mild air moved in over the next two days as high pressure moved in from the west. Temperatures peaked in the low 50s on the afternoon of the 3rd, almost 20 degrees warmer than normal. Of course, this was ahead of some cold air, as the high pressure moved off to the east and the cold front rushed in behind.

The high for the 4th was reached at midnight, as temperatures were in the upper 30s ahead of the cold front. Temperatures continued to fall through the morning and next afternoon, with single digits the best we could manage on the afternoon of the 4th. Snow also filled in nicely behind the cold front, with 3 to 6 inches accumulating. Cold air continued to be reinforced across the region, and we were below zero by that evening and well below zero on the morning of the 5th. Temperatures were not able to warm much that afternoon, only reaching the single digits for highs. A few snow showers developed at times as well, adding another light dusting to the wintry landscape.

Cold air was firmly entrenched during the first full week of January. Temperatures were below zero on the morning of the 6th, as clear skies, cold air, and a fresh snow cover all conspired to allow for efficient radiation cooling. Seasonal temperatures returned for most of the rest of the week as high pressure moved in. This led to mainly sunny skies, with high clouds at times.

High temperatures were in the 30s and 40s from the 7th through the 10th before stronger westerly winds kicked in. These gusty winds off the mountains allowed temperatures to warm to above normal levels to end the weekend. High temperatures reached the low 50s on the 11th, and the dry, warm winds helped to efficiently melt much of the lingering snow pack. Clear skies each night did allow overnight low temperatures to fall to normal and below normal levels, with single digits and low teens common.

The week of the 13th was generally dry and sunny week with one quick exception. Monday the 13th was a "normal" day, with highs reaching the low 40s and plenty of sunshine. However, a quick-moving shot of cold air and upslope conditions moved in just before sunrise the next morning. This brought a quick shot of snow and cold, accumulating around a half inch of snow. Temperatures only reached the upper 20s that afternoon. But as quickly as this shot of cold air moved in, mild and dry conditions returned.

The remainder of the week was mainly sunny and dry, with highs rising to above normal levels, reaching the upper 40s and low 50s the rest of the week and into the weekend. Sunday the 19th was the warmest day of the week, reaching the mid-50s about 10 to 15 degrees warmer than normal.

An active weather pattern again returned during the week of the 20th as the strong ridge of high pressure that has been dominating the West Coast most of the fall and winter moved toward Colorado. As the ridge moved closer to the state, temperatures soared to well above normal levels. This occurred on the 21st, 24th, and 25th. However, when the ridge shifted back to the west just enough to allow the cold air streaming through the Midwest to sneak into the Front Range, temperatures quickly plummeted and light snow accumulated. This was the case on the 22nd and 23rd and again on the 27th and 28th.

We continued to be on the western edge of this battle line between cold and warm air mass through the remainder of the month, with temperatures quickly warming on the 29th, only to cool down again later on the 30th and into the 31st.

A look ahead

February is often a dry and cold month for the region as we move toward the snowy and unsettled conditions of March and April. Precipitation averages less than an inch, with average high temperatures in the 30s. It can get very cold in February with arctic air making strong pushes into the region, but days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some nice, sunny days.

January 2014 Weather Statistics

Average High 39.5° (-0.9°) 100-year return frequency value max 48.4° min 30.8°
Average Low 9.7° (-2.8°) 100-year return frequency value max 26.6° min 6.6°
Highest Temperature 55° on the 19th, 21st
Lowest Temperature -12° on the 6th, 28th
Monthly Precipitation 0.66" (-0.0" 0% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 1.56" min 0.01"
Monthly Snowfall 16.1"(3.9", 25% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 33.5" (-20.9", 39% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 14.0" (+2.25", 17% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1240 (+45)
Cooling Degree Days 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.

Dreaming of Palmer Lake

You folks have one of the absolute best little towns on the planet!

Having travelled the world many a time, I have seen quite a few places in my life, but when I dream of where I’d like to settle down and stay—it’s always Palmer Lake, Colorado.

You see folks, I’ve had the pleasure to have met so many nice people in your town, eat there, stay there—fall in love there—and I just have to think that although many of you know it’s a great place, many of you also don’t fully appreciate it for what it is.

Do you have "issues" or problems there? Well of course you do! But it’s OK because of the people who live there, call it home and work and strive to fix problems as they come up and realize that no matter what, Palmer Lake is a wonderful place to live.

I don’t know if life will bring me back there or not to fully realize my dreams, but I’m sure hoping so. Enjoy and appreciate your town—I know I do!

Dean Hutson
Grandview, Mo.

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Voters didn’t think through marijuana issue

Thanks from families to the majority of Colorado citizens voting to make marijuana legal. Thanks for letting our children know that it’s OK to get high and making it easier to introduce our children to drug use. Thanks for helping parents in that they no longer need to be concerned about teaching their children against drug use, but only about responsible drug use. Thanks for not giving any thought to the difficulty you have added to parents struggling with their pre-teens and teens using alcohol or drugs. Thanks for making Colorado a less family-friendly state. Thanks for helping to take away the drive and initiative for self-improvement by providing an escape from reality. Thanks for addicting our local and state governments to the tax revenue from marijuana sales. 

All will have to pay for your selfish feel-good attitude and dumb logic in not thinking this all the way through when you voted. I only hope that all our local governments in El Paso County have the foresight and guts to say no to marijuana sales. 

Richard Muegge
Pleasant View

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D-38 School Board wins sign it before you read it award

It was revealed at this month’s School Board meeting that the promised money saving D-38 Certificates of Participation (COP) redemption cannot occur in 2014 as "always intended" without using Legal Defeasance. Defeasance definition says "this usually requires a team of attorneys, banking experts, and financial professionals." Read that as more wasted refinance costs, legal fees, and broken financial contracts risking deteriorating district credit ratings.

After two years of D-38 financial manager status meetings on COP redemption status, citizen warnings, and the board refusing to respond to questions or concerns, these consequences seemed surprising to our leadership. Review the D-38 video tape of January’s board meeting and over and over you hear our board members distancing themselves as "not financial experts." Hello! Our community and teachers placed faith in you to do just that, provide financial oversight, or at least pay attention to your fiduciary responsibilities to provide improvements in our kids’ D-38 educational environment.

Gordon Reichal

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Effective teaching in District 38

I would like to congratulate the teachers and administrators of District 38 for their talent, skills, and dedication as the district implements the Teacher Effectiveness Act, better known as Senate Bill 191 (SB 191).

The Teacher Effectiveness Act was passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2010 and the implementation is managed by the Colorado Department of Education. This act has many components that are designed to improve instruction for our students. It provides a rubric of five core teaching standards that focuses on student learning as a result of teachers teaching. Teachers are challenged to equip students with the ability to not just learn skills or a set of facts, but to evaluate information and apply it in a world of ever-growing complexity and information availability. However, this comprehensive rubric is just half of a teacher’s evaluation.

By law, the other 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation is based on student growth data. This data comes from individual students, schools, and the district as a whole. Teachers of subjects not tested by the state, such as art, music, and physical education, have been working together to create their own assessments.

As with any new system, the new teacher evaluation system presents challenges. Maintaining focus on students and teachers has been a hallmark of D-38 education. So, as we face increasing state mandates we continue to work on making all of the changes relevant; pursuing an excellent education.

Bob Foster
Director of Personnel and Student Services, Lewis-Palmer School District 38

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Winter sports

By the staff at Covered Treasures

With plenty of snow in the mountains and the Sochi Olympics about to begin, winter sports take center stage. Whether you’re an active player or an armchair enthusiast, some interesting books are available to enhance your activities.

Living the Life; Tales from America’s Mountains & Ski Towns
By David J. Rothman (Conundrum Press) $14.99

Skiing—like surfing, fishing, sailing, mountaineering, and climbing—is an environment sport. It doesn’t come to us; we must go to the places where it happens. The ones who are most committed to these places, who fall deeply in love with mountains and the alpine life, are not only athletes but rather people who have chosen to live their lives in a particular way. This is a book for all those people—38 tales of adventure and self-discovery for the skiers, the climbers, the alpinists and the people who love mountains and live in them, for all those who have ever lived that life or who dream of living it.

Backpacker Outdoor Hazards: Avoiding Trouble in the Backcountry
By Dave Anderson (Globe Pequot Press) $12.95

Perfect for pack or pocket, this book breaks down its subject into the essential topics, providing practical and portable information useful in the field. Full-color photos complement concise, clear text, introducing you to basic and intermediate skills needed to safely and successfully get by in the outdoors. The volume covers all the essentials, including poor planning, stinging insects, poisonous plants, large mammals, steep terrain, lightning storms, avalanches, river crossings, hypothermia, and psychological hazards.

Snowshoe Routes; Colorado’s Front Range, 2nd edition
By Alan Apt (Colorado Mountain Club Guidebook) $24.95

An active snow-shoer, skier, hiker, and backpacker who has lived in or near the Front Range for over twenty years, Apt includes an extensive introduction to snowshoeing in the second edition of this popular guidebook. Color photos and maps are provided, and distance, level of difficulty, skill level required, elevation gain, and author comments on the features of each of the 81 routes from Colorado Springs to Rocky Mountain National Park are given.

Ski Tips for Kids
By Mike Clelland with Alex Everett (Globe Pequot Press) $14.95

This little book breaks down the basics of helping first-time never-ever skiers into hilarious, eye-catching cartoons that will have little ones laughing out loud and looking forward to the next adventure on the hill. Any parent who has taught kids to ski knows how tricky it is to teach the basics, but expert ski instructors have developed a wide range of tricks and tips that appeal to kids ages 2½ and up. All the important details are covered, from selecting equipment and putting it on to riding the lifts and making first turns to negotiating bumps and conquering jumps.

Winter Day Play!
By Nancy F. Castaldo (Chicago Review Press) $13.95

Targeting children ages 3 and up, this book promises to make winter their favorite season. Try snow painting with spray bottles filled with food coloring, building snow castles, blowing magic bubbles and watching them freeze. If it’s too cold to go outside, make Eskimo Yo-Yos, hold a marshmallow sculpture contest, or construct a snowflake mobile. Included with each activity are the number of children involved, a list of supplies needed, step-by-step instructions, and illustrations. More than 70 activities, crafts, and games will keep kids busy learning, exploring, and having fun all winter long.

Skating Shoes
By Noel Streatfeild (Yearling Books) $6.99

When her doctor prescribes ice-skating to strengthen her legs after an illness, Harriet meets Lalla, the orphaned daughter of a great figure skating star, and the two girls forge a fast friendship, even though they have little in common other than a love of skating. Just as Lalla’s interest in skating starts to fade, Harriet’s natural talent begins to emerge, and suddenly they seem to be heading in very different directions. Can their friendship survive? This beloved classic is suitable for 8- to 12-year-old readers.

Winter is a good time to catch up on reading, but it’s also a chance to go outdoors and enjoy the fresh mountain air, try a new sport, or, this year, to get into the Olympic spirit. Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Art Matters: This winter, take it easel!

By Janet Sellers

"The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable." — Robert Henri

I would add to that statement that enjoying art someone else has made, or taking a class to make it oneself, creates such a wonderful state of being and the feeling is inevitable once we give it a try. On the dark, cold days of our winter season, when even the dog doesn’t want to go outside, we can warm our hearts with some creativity at home or in a class.

Some people insist that art is a natural expression of humans, particularly in children. Well, it seems more accurate to say that humans naturally express their creativity in a variety of ways, especially as children, and rather abundantly in the arts. For the long run, art is an acquired skill that is most enjoyable when the skill and creativity are working together to make the art.

Art making allows us to use all of our brain—not just one side, not just one skill. When we make art, we are generating a thought to manifest it, and that is quite different than playing music or observing dance or theater that someone else has created and is performed according to that author. The satisfaction in making art comes from learning skills, applying the skills with practice, and eventually making something new and interesting.

The benefits of making visual art are well known to many, but actually experiencing that colorful, spatial bliss is beyond words. No other field develops the senses, perceptions, and problem-solving abilities of both inner idea and outer manifestation that can be experienced with all the senses. From our mechanical inventions to our aesthetic enjoyment to the spoons on the table and the cars we drive, the very first part of the invention or idea came in the form of an artist’s rendering, to work out the form and function as well as the outer look of the object or artifact.

Art appeals to all the senses. While the "style and taste" in art varies with the billions of minds creating it and looking at it from earliest times, just about every work of art, oddball or not, resonates with people in one way or another. Children benefit from making art. Adults in their busy-ness of life benefit from at least seeing art if not the making of it, and senior citizens receive great benefit from participating in art classes and art exhibits, and having art near them.

Likely these great benefits are due to the fact that art is a human-made idea brought to form and shared. It just might be that the sharing of one heart to another is the key to our enjoyment of it. Graffiti art, once thought of as vandalism, is now in full, billion-dollar art form worldwide. It started earlier than one might guess—on the cave walls of our earliest beings who took charcoal and red earth and made drawings.

So, go ahead and join an art class or an art group in our area. Think outside your box, or make a new box if you like. We’ve got a lot of artists and art classes in our area to fill the bill and fill your heart. We actually have so many venues, I can’t list them all here, but a quick Google search of "art classes Monument Colorado" or the local phone book will bring up pages of information, and all you have to do is ask about it to get started.

So, that being said, "take it easel" this winter!

Call for artists

Tri-Lakes Views has an active Call for Entries for ARTSites, its annual yearlong outdoor sculpture exhibition. The juried exhibit will be installed in June 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. For application criteria and details, click on www.trilakesviews.org. Tri-Lakes Views is a nonprofit community arts organization.

Janet Sellers is an American artist, art teacher, and writer. She makes public art sculptures for Colorado cities and 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.

Caption: David Jones, aka Lordscience Universal, left, and Wyley Cotton, jewelry artist, chat at the January reception for Jones’ large works exhibition at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. The artists are Monument natives, having grown up in the area. Their art is available locally as well as in other select locations. Photo by Janet Sellers.

Caption: Metal sculptor Jodi Bliss, right, with glass artists Abby McMackin, center, and Chris Robin, are pictured at the TCLA January art reception show for Bliss’ new works. These local artists have a summer planned full of art and craft shows where they sell their work, traveling about the country. McMackin and Robin are also musicians who perform on summer tours. Bliss has a metalsmithing studio and art gallery in Historic Monument, where the three show their work year round. Photo by Janet Sellers.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Click here to view the on-line version. Snapshots of Our Community appears starting on page 22. Below is the text of the captions that appeared within the Snapshots section:

Sertoma bellringers raise $4,300

Caption: Ed Kinney, right, Legacy Sertoma president, presented a check to Dirk Lambert, Salvation Army representative, on Jan 9. Monument Legacy Sertoma conducted the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle Campaign at the Monument Walgreens from Thanksgiving through Christmas Eve, raising just over $4,300 for the Army. Sertoma’s primary mission is to improve the quality of life today for those at risk or impacted by hearing loss, through education and support. See www.legacysertoma.org for more information on how to participate. Photo by Denny Myers.

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Winterific event at Fox Run Park, Jan. 18

Captions: Friends of local wildlife enjoyed the second annual Winterific festival at Fox Run Park on Jan. 18. Numerous nature displays of animal pelts, antlers, scat and footprint casts offered visual information while local naturalists explained the exhibits and later took all ages on nature hikes to view the park trails and learn more. Hot cocoa and toasted marshmallow treats completed the tour on the sunny, brisk January day. Jamie Biquette of Bear Creek Nature Center, left, and a local volunteer are shown with the traveling exhibits from Bear Creek Nature Center. Photos by Janet Sellers.

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Animal rescue equipment donated to Wescott

Caption: The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District now has a BARK—that is, a Breath of Air Recovery Kit. The Animal Angels Resource Foundation’s goal is to keep pets and their families together. Animal companions can die from smoke asphyxiation in fires and are often victims of pet emergency situations. BARK, designed for animals instead of humans, provides the opportunity for first responders to administer oxygen to animals more efficiently. On Jan. 17, a kit was sponsored by Kenneth and Janet Kowalski to be presented to Wescott district’s Station 1. From left are firefighter Wayne Krzemien, Fire Chief Vinny Burns, and donor Kenneth Kowalski. Anyone interested in sponsoring a BARK for the community should contact info@aarfhelp.org, see www.aarfhelp.org, or call 855-4PetHelp (855-473-8435). Photo courtesy of Animal Angels Resource Foundation, Janet Whipker, president.

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Matson wins Sertoma essay competition

Caption: On Jan. 23, Val Hunter of Legacy Sertoma presented a trophy and check to Ryan Matson, an eighth-grade student at Monument Academy who wrote the winning entry in Legacy Sertoma’s "What Freedom Means to Me" essay competition. Faith Heery and Drew Vidano won second and third places, respectively. Ryan’s essay will advance to the Pikes Peak Sertoma District in competition with winning essays from 16 other area schools. That winner will be announced Feb. 19 at Sertoma’s National Heritage Banquet to be held in Colorado Springs. Photo courtesy of Legacy Sertoma.

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Ground broken for Health Village, Jan. 27

Caption: A ground-breaking ceremony for the Tri-Lakes Community Health Village, adjacent to the Tri-Lakes YMCA, was held Jan. 27. Participating in the ceremony were, left to right, Jim Kleinfeldt of Boldt and Co.; Jack Garro, vice president of Boldt; Dan Dummermuth, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region; Margaret Sabin, president and CEO of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services; Jamie Smith, executive vice president of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, and Monument Mayor Travis Easton. The 52,000 square-foot facility will offer a variety of services, including urgent care, rehab, primary care, wellness services, imaging, and various specialty services. Completion is expected in fall 2014. For further information on the facility, see our November issue, page 1. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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January and February library events

By Harriet Halbig

Our new Spanish language story time was a success and will continue in February. Please watch for dates and times.

The Monument Library had enrolled over 400 adults in the 10th annual Adult Reading Program as of Jan. 23. Please join us and read books for prizes! The program continues until March 12. Remember that the prizes include a 10th anniversary book bag, a commemorative coffee mug, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate! Grand prize is a Kindle Fire.

Family programs

February’s Family Fun program is Drumming with Bob Hall on Saturday, Feb. 8, at 1:30. Join Bob as he traces African-American musical traditions derived from African drumming. Learn about other rhythms from around the world as well. Come prepared to have fun and make some noise!

The Legos club will meet on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 10 to 11:30. All ages are welcome. We provide the Legos and you bring the creativity. Please don’t bring your own Legos but do bring your camera so you can record your creation. All pieces used remain the property of the library district.

This month’s homeschool program, Beyond Limits, will provide an exciting afternoon of building Lego Mindstorms robots and programming them to do fun missions! This program is great for beginners, and all kids will get hands-on experience with the robots and computers. More experienced kids may attempt advanced challenges to see how far they can go. Note: This is recommended for ages 8-13, but younger children are welcome to observe. The time of the program is 1 to 2:30.

Teens and tweens

The crafty teens program on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 3:30 to 5 is Valentines! Come make valentines for those you love or someone you secretly admire. All materials are provided and no reservations are necessary. The program is for ages 12 and up.

AfterMath free math tutoring continues on Mondays from 3:30 to 7. No appointment is necessary and all ages are invited to take advantage of this program.

Adult programs

The AARP Smart Driver course will be offered on Saturday, Feb. 15, from 1 to 5 p.m. This is the nation’s largest classroom driver refresher course especially designed for motorists 55 and older. Graduates may present their course completion certificate to their insurance agent for a discount. Charge for the four-hour course is $15 for AARP members and $20 for nonmembers. Preferred payment is in the form of checks made out to AARP, but cash is accepted. Persons of any age are welcome to attend, but the discount applies to those 55 or older only. Court-directed persons (those who need a class to regain a driver’s license) are welcome. Instructors are authorized to sign off on related court documents.

The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 a.m. until noon on Friday, Feb. 21, to discuss The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

There will be a class on Saturday, Feb. 22, from 2 to 3:30 on dealing with dementia in the family. Learn what dementia is, how it is different from Alzheimer’s, and how to adapt to an ever-changing home situation. Camilla Wetzel, The Geriatric Navigator, has experience steering families through this difficult time.

On the walls of the library will be artwork by Lewis-Palmer High School students. In the display case will be Depression glass from the collection of Roberta Hankins.

On March 1 at 2 p.m. there will be a special program on Underwater Beauty in the Indian Ocean, presented by nationally known underwater videographer Dr. Patrick Shahan. Dr. Shahan will narrate his video of flora and fauna in the waters surrounding the Maldives Islands and will bring along his diving gear and cameras and describe their use. Attendance is free, and punch, coffee, and goodies will be served following the program.

Palmer Lake Library events

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun event on Saturday, Feb. 15, at 10:30 is Pigeon Party! This is the 10th anniversary of Mo Willems’ Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. Learn to draw the pigeon! Hear this all-time favorite story about the pigeon who wants more than anything to drive a bus. We will celebrate 10 years of silliness with a great party. Plus meet a real pigeon!

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

Drop by the Palmer Lake Library for a morning of fiber fun with the Fibernistas. Share and learn new techniques of knitting and other fiber arts. All interests are welcome! Start a new project or bring one in progress every Thursday from 10 until noon.

The art exhibit on the walls of the library is Beauty from Ashes, photos of photographer Laurisa Rabins’ family property after the Black Forest Fire. These personal images are Laurisa’s way of processing the loss that she experienced. She hopes that they will offer hope to those who are discouraged or grieving, no matter the cause.

Please note that all Pikes Peak Library District facilities will be closed on Monday, Feb. 17, for Presidents Day.

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

Caption: Spanish-speaking librarian Sofi reads to children during her new story time in Spanish. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

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Historical Society names officers, directors

By Bernard L. Minetti

The Palmer Lake Historical Society installed officers and directors for 2014 at its January meeting. They are President Tom VanWormer, Vice President Pat McCarthy, Secretary Bernard Minetti, and Treasurer Barb Arbuthnot. Directors at large are Rogers Davis, Georgia Follansbee, Tom Dickinson, Jack Anthony, Al Walter, Susan Adams, and Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Chief John Vincent.

Retired Colorado Springs Police Officer Dwight Haverkorn gave a short history of the unsolved murder of Officer Burchfield. He described the suspect and his associates and the history of each. The mystery has not been solved.

**********

The Feb. 20 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society will feature a free presentation on "Tri-Lakes Ice Production, Storage, and Delivery" by Tom VanWormer. The Society invites the public to the event at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake.

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

Captions: The Palmer Lake Historical Society Board of Directors for 2014 are, from left, Al Walter, Tom VanWormer, Barb Arbuthnot, Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Chief John Vincent, Georgia Follansbee, Pat McCarthy, Tom Dickinson, Susan Adams, and Bernard Minetti. Photo by Ron Heard. Retired Colorado Springs Police Officer and local historian Dwight Haverkorn gave the January presentation. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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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

Feb 5: Baked ziti with sausage, Caesar salad, garlic bread
Feb 12:
Chicken Caesar salad, rolls
Feb 19:
Roast pork with apple cider sauce, roasted potatoes, rolls
Feb 26:
Lemon chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, rolls

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

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

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Choice Enrollment for all grades is now open

Did you know that you may attend any school you choose, regardless of where you live? The Lewis-Palmer School District is consistently among the top districts in Colorado and in Colorado’s top 10 percent for college entrance and state exams.

High school tour dates:

• Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument, Fri., Feb. 7, 2 p.m.

• Palmer Ridge High School, 19255 Monument Hill Rd., Monument, Fri., Feb. 14, 1:30 p.m.

These tours are intended for out-of-district students considering attending school in the Lewis-Palmer School District. For tours for grades K-8, contact individual schools. For more information, phone 488-4700, email info@lewispalmer.org, or visit www.lewispalmer.org.

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Free income tax filing assistance by AARP

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is offering free income tax filing assistance in the Tri-Lakes area. Trained AARP volunteers will be available to answer questions and to assist filers in completing their federal and state income tax returns every Monday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Cares, 235 Jefferson St. in Monument, until April 14 (except Feb. 17, Presidents’ Day). Free e-filing of both federal and state returns is available. Taxpayers with more complicated returns should seek the advice of a paid professional. Filers are asked to bring their W-2s, 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc. needed to complete their 2013 tax returns, plus a copy of last year’s (2012) tax return. A photo ID and copy of your Social Security card are also required. For more information or to make an appointment, call 481-4864 EXT 118. Leave your name and number and someone will return your call.

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Register now for spring sports at Tri-Lakes Y, sessions begin March 24

Sign up now for volleyball, grades 1-8, March 24-May 9; soccer, ages 3 years-6th grade, March 24-May 10; or flag football, ages 6-14, March 24-May 10. Register at ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify. For more information, call 481-8728 or visit www.ppymca.org.

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Host a foreign exchange student

Host families are needed for the 2014-15 school year. For more information, contact Sheryl Ellis, Monument, 321-536-9504; Sheryl.Ellis@EFFoundation.org.

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Monument Marketplace Facebook page

Tri-Lake residents can sell their used items, trade items, and chat about anything local goings on at https://www.facebook.com/groups/monumentmarketplace/.

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Adult Reading Program underway, ends March 12

Library patrons can win prizes after reading four books and again after reading eight books. Books on CD, audiobook players, eBooks, and eAudiobooks count, too. At the end of the program, finishers will be entered in prize drawings for each community library and in a district-wide grand prize drawing. Reading logs are available, or keep track of the books you’ve read using your own method. To register, bring your library card to any Pikes Peak Library District library and sign up at the information desk or visit www.ppld.org.

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Tri-Lakes HAP receives Griswold Cares Foundation grant

Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) received a grant of $1,000 from the Griswold Cares Foundation to help HAP continue efforts to support local seniors to live independent, healthy lives. HAP is an all-volunteer organization with no paid staff; all contributions directly support HAP programs for community health and senior citizens. For more information about HAP, visit www.TriLakesHAP.org.

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DVD documentary of the Black Forest Fire

The Black Forest History Committee has produced The Day the Forest Burned, a DVD documentary of the fire last June. The DVD includes more than 250 pictures and six video clips with narration and music. The cost of $15 includes three paper maps of different scales to show the burn area and homes burned. An accompanying 28-page booklet is $3 and includes the narrative plus additional information. All proceeds go to Black Forest Together to help people affected by the fire. The DVD is available at Keepsakes Unlimited, 251 Front St., Monument; Rockin-B Feed Store and R&R Café in Black Forest; and Ayer Feed Store at Meridan and Latigo. To obtain the DVD, maps, and booklet by mail contact Terry Stokka, 495-0895 or tstokka@juno.com.

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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.

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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 will be offered to all residents in the ZIP codes 80908, 80106, 80132, or 80831. Cardholders will save money on the goods and services they need to rebuild or repair their homes, and 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 1, 11445 Teachout Rd. For more information, visit www.BlackForestTogether.org.

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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 www.TriLakes-mcts-sshs.org.

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Tax savings for wildfire mitigation work

Taxpayers with property located in a wildland-urban interface area can receive a subtraction from their Colorado taxable income, 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.

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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.

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Reverse 911

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

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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., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, National Mah-jongg, line dancing, tea time, bingo, and more. Ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table are also available. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

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Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free

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

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