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Vol. 14  No. 3 - March 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 16.5 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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Tri-Lakes area celebrates senior center renovations

By Allen Alchian

Tri-Lakes area leaders and others marked recent renovations at the Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center in a ceremony on Feb. 19.

The renovation program was completed in December and was largely driven by Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP) board member David Betzler, who now serves as the HAP board president. Financial and material support for the renovation was provided by the Gleneagle Sertoma, Home Depot, American Legion Post 9-11, and the Town of Monument. Labor for the renovation came largely from volunteers, including several students, parents and faculty of Colorado Springs Christian Schools, John and Linda Ottino, David and Colleen Garwood, and Betzler.

After the celebratory ribbon cutting, Monument Mayor Travis Easton presented HAP President Betzler with a $2,000 check from the Town of Monument, continuing the town’s support and commitment to the area’s senior population.

Chuck Roberts was then honored for his many years of advocating for programs to support senior citizens in the Tri-Lakes region. A room in the Senior Center was dedicated as the Chuck Roberts Room. In announcing the room dedication, Betzler explained that many of the seniors’ programs and the Senior Citizens Center itself are largely the direct result of Roberts’ years of persistence and advocacy.

Roberts organized a Tri-Lakes Senior Forum in 2006 to identify the local needs for senior citizen support. He then created the Senior Alliance as a partnership with HAP in order to implement the findings of the Senior Forum. Soon thereafter, Roberts was serving on the HAP board, overseeing all of HAP’s senior program activities.

The Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center first opened in 2008 in a classroom in the newly completed Palmer Ridge High School. In 2009 the center moved to its present location—a surplus modular classroom building at the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. Some students helped transform the space into a community center. One student set up the popular lending library with a comprehensive catalog system; others helped in decorating the interior. Seniors have learned computer skills from students. The center’s location on the high school campus has encouraged interactions across generations.

The center is open Tuesday through Friday from 1 to 4 p.m., and at other times to accommodate scheduled events. An open house is scheduled for May 3, to coincide with the Tri-Lakes Annual Health Fair to be held at Lewis-Palmer High School. For more information, visit www.TriLakesHAP.org.

Allen Alchian can be contacted at allenalchian@ocn.me

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Gratifying response to OCN message

 This month, a remarkable assortment of caring and competent residents of the Tri-Lakes community (shown here at our Feb. 9 meeting) stepped up to volunteer to do the wide array of jobs vital to the publication of Our Community News. Because of this enthusiastic response, we will persevere in providing unbiased reporting on important local issues, provide a platform for advertising local businesses without competition from larger markets, and publish letters to the editor to allow you to express your opinions on events in the Tri-Lakes area.

We volunteers at OCN are grateful for the opportunity to continue to use our enthusiasm and creativity to benefit our community and celebrate unfiltered information. If you have questions or comments about OCN, please email editor@ocn.me or text/call Lisa at (719) 339-7831.

We are also grateful to our many loyal advertisers, without whom we could not afford to print and mail the newspaper free to almost 16,000 Tri-Lakes area mailboxes on the first Saturday of each month. If you would like to advertise your business, personal milestone, or apartment for rent, please write to ads@ocn.me or call Mary Ellen at 719-646-7363.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, Feb. 13: Election set for April 1, Vaile house now for sale

By Lisa Hatfield

At the Feb. 13 Palmer Lake Town Council meeting, the trustees discussed the upcoming election, the status of the Lucretia Vaile house, the proposed Verizon Wireless tower, and the town’s fuel mitigation grant application. They approved the town’s water conservation plan, and eight volunteer firefighters received the Black Forest Fire meritorious service ribbon.

Election date is April 1

Town Clerk Tara Berreth said that the correct election date of April 1 has now been posted on the town website.

Mayor Nikki McDonald suggested that since all six current trustees were appointed instead of elected, in order to regain the usual staggered terms for trustees, the top vote-getters would get four-year terms and the others would get two-year terms. No action was taken on this topic.

The mail-in ballot will include a question about whether or not recreational marijuana sales should be allowed in the town. During public input, resident Paul Banta asked the trustees if they could write a draft ordinance to let citizens know what to expect specifically if the item on the sale of recreational marijuana is approved by voters. Palmer Lake Wellness owner Dino Salvatori voiced the same request, “So that when people vote, they know what they are voting for.”

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis said the election is just a “straw vote of the residents,” and it will then be up to the new Town Council to follow through and create the ordinance to reflect the people’s wishes as reflected in the vote, whether it turns into a permanent ban or an authorization of recreational marijuana sales.

Lucretia Vaile house to be sold

Mayor McDonald explained that the Lucretia Vaile house at 118 Hillside Rd. and two associated lots associated were now for sale, and the town would accept sealed bids for the purchase of the house. (In the Feb. 1 issue of OCN, it was incorrectly reported that the sealed bids were for renovation of the property.)

Three representatives of Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) asked for clarification from the town on this matter, since as past PLAG President Margarete Seagraves said, “we were not informed” that the town had decided in January to go ahead with the sale of the property, and new president Meredith Bromfield said there is “40 years’ worth of artwork and furniture” to be cleaned out. John DeFrancesco of PLAG had given the keys to Berreth so that the house could be shown to potential bidders, but this information wasn’t shared with all the members of PLAG.

PLAG holds the deed to the house, and the trustees decided in March 2013 that it would eventually be sold and that one-third of the proceeds would go to PLAG for its scholarship fund, but in the meantime PLAG would continue using the house as a gallery, paying all utilities and insurance. See www.ocn.me/v12n9.htm#pltc and www.ocn.me/v13n4.htm#pltc for more information.

Bromfield explained that additional confusion arose this year, because the sign posted at the Town Hall about the bids didn’t say, “‘for sale,’ or ‘three-bedroom house,’ or ‘1,200 square feet. It didn’t look like a regular ad for a house for sale.” Berreth apologized for the misunderstanding, saying this is the first time the town has sold a house and different procedures must be used.

After a long discussion, the consensus between the trustees and PLAG representatives was that Police Trustee Bob Grado would inquire about getting pro bono realtor help from his father-in-law so that the maximum possible sale price could be obtained for the property. The two other lots associated with the property will be retained by the town for now.

Palmer Lake firefighters honored

Palmer Lake Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster presented the Black Forest Fire Recognition award to Palmer Lake volunteer firefighters Cale Lohman, Phillip Beckman, Chris Downs, Weston Oesterreich, Courtney Dalton, Tyler Ruona, Brent Newton, and Abigail Vierling. The award honored their “professionalism and dedication to duty which were instrumental in the success of the department’s mission accomplishment.”

Fuel mitigation grant deadline March 10

Judith Harrington, who was named the town’s volunteer fire mitigation grant coordinator at this meeting, asked town residents who are planning to do fuel mitigation this year to pledge money toward a grant the town is applying for from the state. The more matching funds pledged up front, the greater the total grant amount could be, and each resident who pledges would be rewarded. Harrington said, “A $250 pledge buys you $1,000 worth of fire fuel mitigation on an acre of your property.”

Harrington emphasized how areas such as The Glen are at extreme fire risk due to the overgrowth of vegetation there and the difficulty of evacuating this area in case of an emergency.

Before March 10, residents should contact Harrington at 719-229-9636 to send her a signed pledge amount. Residents would not actually send in pledge money until it’s known if the town receives the grant on May 5. Private property owners must agree to a free pre- and post-mitigation firewise assessment of their property to be part of the grant. Residents are also welcome to pledge money on behalf of the town so that it could do more mitigation on its property using the matching funds.

McDonald and Water Trustee Michael Maddox said they would contact other local government officials such as District 1 Commissioner Darryl Glenn and Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed district, for additional pledges to add to the grant application.

Cell phone tower proposed

Colleen Nebel, senior site acquisition associate for Black and Veatch Corp., represented Verizon Wireless, which is “very interested” in building a wireless facility in Palmer Lake to improve coverage. Verizon’s engineers have identified the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department (PLVFD) parking lot as their first choice for the 60-foot tower and the associated shed. The town would receive $800 a month in revenue if this location is approved. The trustees asked many preliminary questions and then asked that Nebel present information to the Palmer Lake Planning Commission on Feb. 19. See related article.

The issue will not be voted on by citizens, but the Town Council will take input from residents.

Committee reports

Park and Recreation Trustee Mike Patrizi said that the Awake the Lake committee is looking for grant writers to help with the next Great Outdoor Colorado (GOCO) grant application, which could be worth up to $350,000 to improve the park at Palmer Lake. See http://awakepalmerlake.org and www.ocn.me/v13n4.htm#pltc for more information. The committee is also discussing potential business sponsorships to help work on the possible lakebed repair or to sponsor holes on the disc golf course at the lake.

Grado said officers made four DUI arrests in January, including one juvenile charged with driving under influence of drugs (DUID) who admitted to being high on marijuana. Officers responded to 36 high-risk calls, 21 urgent calls, and 21 non-emergency calls in January.

Maddox said the town used 4.2 million gallons of water in January. Water Supervisor Steve Orcutt told Maddox that in 2013, because of the water restrictions and the drought, the town used the least amount of water in 24 years.

Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster said PLVFD responded to 25 calls in January and logged 2,239 volunteer hours; Grado commented that this is the equivalent of 14 full-time employees. PLFVD conducted a controlled burn to dispose of slash and do training, and it also practiced ice rescues. Capt. Abby Vierling attended a leadership class at Monument Fire Center. Kuehster said that PLVFD is now a Safe Haven, where a parent or legal guardian may surrender a baby anonymously and not risk prosecution for abandonment or neglect.

The PLVFD welcomed Margo Humes, its new volunteer fire marshal, who is already assisting with fuel mitigation grant applications and doing mitigation assessments for town residents. Residents can call Humes at 776-0380 or Vierling at 481-2902 for more information.

In the mayor’s report, McDonald said that the Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railroad contacted resident Gary Coleman about obtaining an access easement through his Highway 105 property to the railroad tracks. Since Coleman is not interested in financial remuneration, he asked instead for a letter of support from the railroad to attach to the GOCO grant application explaining the town’s desire for an overhead walkway from the park at Palmer Lake to the west side of the railroad tracks. Negotiations with the railroad will continue.

Town Clerk Berreth thanked Deputy Town Clerk Bob Radosevich for very accurately entering all the 2013 payables and receivables for use with the new accounting software.

Town Attorney Gaddis said that some town property contains noxious weeds, including knapweed, which must be eradicated according to state statute. Interested volunteers for a new committee on this issue should contact tara@palmer-lake.org or call the town office at 481-2953.

Water Conservation Plan approved

The trustees voted unanimously to approve the water conservation plan, which has been in progress about 13 years and is a joint effort between Monument, Triview Metropolitan District, and Palmer Lake. Now that it has been adopted, the state will pay the remaining 10 percent of the anticipated grant money for this study to the participating entities. Water Consultant Linda Firth said that for residents, the plan will emphasize public education about reducing water use, such as using xeriscape landscaping principles as a way to continue to conserve water and follow the water conservation ordinance put into effect in 2013.

Public input

Resident Meredith Bromfield expressed her frustration with the lack of information on the town’s website. Resident Paul Banta, a software engineer, offered to help and will report back to the town in March.

Nathan Liljestrand, representing the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, said the group is planning a Labor Day Kinetic Sculpture event and would like to coordinate with the town and the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts to get more participation.

Resident Sandy Russell asked if anything could be done to reduce the number of commercial trucks skipping the weight station on I-25 by going through Palmer Lake. The consensus was no because Highway 105 is a state highway for that section and Palmer Lake police officers do not have jurisdiction there.

New business license

The trustees unanimously approved a new business license for the Blue Wave Taekwondo Academy LLC, 630 Highway 105, owned by Nicolas Karkabé and Christine Ryan. They will provide taekwondo classes, exercise equipment, a homework area, and a report card wall of fame.

The meeting adjourned at 8:31 p.m.

**********

After the meeting adjourned, former Wescott Fire Marshal and new PLVFD Fire Marshal Margo Humes was hired as acting fire chief on Feb. 21 in an executive session. She will be sworn in at the next Town Council meeting.

The next regular meeting will be held at 6 p.m. March 13 in Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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

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Palmer Lake town meeting, Feb. 15: Trustees see need for new Fire Department facility

By Jackie Burhans

The Town of Palmer Lake held a public meeting on Feb. 15 to discuss fire station needs, fuel mitigation, the proposed Verizon Wireless tower, and other issues.

Fire station

The meeting started out with a tour of the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department facility, which was built in 1938. The firefighters demonstrated the tight fit of the truck bays by showing how mirrors must be folded back in order to move a truck in or out of the bay. The tour continued inside, with a visit to the combination living quarters/conference room/training center.

Trustees Shana Ball and Richard Kuehster explained that the building has issues with asbestos and lead as well as gas fumes from the truck bays. The town is searching for members for a citizens committee to discuss options for building and funding a new fire station or combined fire/police station. Municipal funding options include a bond, an increase in sales tax allocation for the fire and/or police department, or a grant.

Mitigation

Fire mitigation grant coordinator Judith Harrington, along with Fire Marshal Margo Humes, is writing a proposal for a state grant to help the town and its residents with the cost of fire mitigation. This matching grant would provide three times the amount committed by individuals. Residents interested in doing fuel mitigation in 2014 can pledge a minimum of $250 and then receive up to $750 to do mitigation for one acre of land if the grant is approved.

The community can also pledge money to help mitigate the 400 acres of land owned by the town to reduce fire risk. The deadline to contact Harrington at 719-229-9635 is March 1 so that the grant can be submitted to the state by March 13.

Verizon Wireless tower

Verizon would like to build a 60-foot cell tower at the rear of the parking lot near the fire station. It could be disguised as a tree or simply left as a plain tower. It would require a 12-by-26-foot shed to house equipment related to the tower. Verizon has made an initial offer of $800 per month revenue to the town and indicated that the fire siren could be placed on the tower for better sound distribution.

Although Verizon’s engineers indicated they were also considering a location by Palmer Lake Elementary School, a modification of the town height ordinance or waiver would have to be approved by the town if that location is chosen. Besides the revenue, another benefit to the town would be improved communications when fire or police personnel are near the reservoir. Verizon presented detailed information at the Feb. 19 Planning Commission meeting (see related article).

Other matters

Other topics touched upon included:

  • Recreational marijuana sales – No discussion. Voting will occur in the April 1 election.
  • Town Council election – All trustees and the mayor are up for re-election and most indicated that they were planning to run or in the process of making a final decision. The election will be on April 1, not April 8 as had been reported on the town website.
  • Labor Day Kinetics Jubilee – The trustees were urged to spread the word about this event, and more participation from Fire Department and local groups as well as people outside the Tri-Lakes area was suggested.

**********

The next Palmer Lake town meeting is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, March 15 at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. The date will be confirmed at the March 13 Town Council meeting.

Jackie Burhans can be reached at jackieburhans@ocn.me.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission, Feb. 19: More questions about proposed gun range

By Jim Adams

The Palmer Lake Planning Commission tabled a gun range proposal and discussed a plan for a cell tower at its Feb. 19 meeting. Three members of the Palmer Lake Town Council attended the meeting: Mayor Nikki McDonald, Trustee Bob Grado, and Trustee and former Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department Chief and Trustee Shana Ball.

The proposal for a gun range on County Line Road was introduced by Trustee Grado and presented again by Tri-Lakes Shooting Supply. This time a new concept for a “no blue sky” range was shown. This design was offered as a state-of-the-art outdoor shooting facility with a large sound-absorbing roof, extensive berm works with sound-absorbing panels, deflectors to prevent off-range firing, and enough range to accommodate handguns and long guns.

Tu Lam, affiliated with Tri-Lakes Shooting, made repeated impassioned pleas concerning the need for training in the Palmer Lake Police Department and the inadequacy of the town’s current facility. Benefits to the town were listed as including a long-term lease, user fees, sales taxes, and increased economic activity. Palmer Lake would be recognized nationally, and regionally, for having a state-of-the-art National Rifle Association-sanctioned training facility.

About 25 people spoke, with 18 town residents opposed to the proposal. There was much talk of the decibel level that a gun range might produce.

Of those opposed to the range, many actually wanted the range and were sympathetic to the need for one, but were wary of this proposal due to noise concerns. Many expressed extreme concern that the noise would be intolerable despite any sound proofing due to the volume of rounds expected to be fired (one person calculated 2 million per year). A claim was made that property values near gun ranges fall from 7 percent to 30 percent. One person said they would move away, but feared their home would be hard to sell. Another questioned whether or not such a large installation could easily be closed by the citizens if it proved to be a nuisance.

Of those in favor, many expressed belief that the no-blue-sky system would make the noise levels negligible or nonexistent. One person repeated that residents would get used to it, and that it would not be a problem at all. Many restated the need to relieve the Rampart Range National Forest of the burden of shooting. One explained that gun ranges are predominantly only for the use of members, making it either expensive or impossible to gain admission.

Many people came from the Spruce Mountain Road and Highway 105 north corridor. They uniformly appeared to be against the project due to noise concerns. One Spruce Mountain resident said that this was a defining moment for Palmer Lake.

Mayor Nikki McDonald explained that if the town does not accept the proposal, it could be moved nearby—exposing the town to the same noise levels without any revenue. She also noted that a gun range in the ‘80s and ‘90s was closed. She said it was the worst day of her life when residents became so deeply divided, unfriendly, and unneighborly over the closing of the gun range.

Commissioner Bill Fisher questioned whether a planned use development or conditional use permit in an M-1 zone would be required.

Mayor McDonald and others suggested visiting a gun range near a subdivision in Erie in order to gather information.

A motion passed unanimously to table the proposal for further consideration at the next meeting.

Verizon testing request goes to council

A proposal from Verizon Wireless for a cell tower on Town Hall property also was considered. Colleen Nebel, a representative of Verizon, said a 60-foot tall “mono-pine” or “mono-pole” was proposed for an area on the lot where the Town Hall sits. Alternate locations behind the Fire Department and at the elementary school were mentioned.

Nebel stated that a conditional use permit was required. There would be a 250- to 300-square-foot pad and town-required fencing. A generator would self-test weekly, and air conditioning equipment would produce a noise level of about 60 decibels. No lights would be required on the tower. Verizon was requesting right-of-entry to do testing of RF signals and site/soil inspections of potential locations. Once a site or sites are chosen photo-simulations will be presented for aesthetic consideration.

Planning commissioners raised issues about public safety, aesthetics, zoning, and location. Public safety was considered not an issue since the FCC controls cell tower safety at the federal level. The standard is, “If it does not heat your skin, it is safe.”

Town resident Paul Banta presented images to commissioners of the tower at the fire station showing how tall the proposed monopole would be relative to the existing 45-foot antenna attached to the north side of the fire station. .

A man considering moving to Palmer Lake was adamantly opposed to the proposed tower, claiming to have been a victim of electromagnetic poisoning in the past. He said that a half mile was the minimum safe distance to a cell tower.

Ball and others spoke in favor of the proposal in terms of benefit to the town in the form of rent, and to EMS, fire, and police services in the form of far superior communication abilities, especially up-canyon.

Commissioner Jim Adams called for a third party evaluation of current RF signal levels before the installation of any cell towers, followed by post installation evaluations by the third party. This would establish a baseline from which to examine future exposure to electromagnetic radiation from the cell tower. He also suggested that the town get free phone service for the duration of the lease.

Verizon’s right-of-entry request for testing was passed to Town Council unanimously.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 3: Two recognized for contributions to town

By Jim Kendrick

During the Feb. 3 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Town Manager Pamela Smith presented an employee appreciation certificate to Bob Schubert of Public Works for his 15 years of service to the town. Smith also thanked his wife, Marie, for her support throughout the past 15 years.

Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk presented a chief’s commendation to officer David Schott for his exemplary service to the community during a burglary-in-progress call after midnight Nov. 19 at the closed Monument Marketplace Coldstone Creamery. Schott observed that the front window was broken, someone inside was breaking into the cash register, and another suspect was in an idling car outside.

The first suspect ran out of the store to the vehicle. Schott pursued the vehicle and performed a high-risk vehicle stop taking the two into custody after backup vehicles arrived. Shirk added, “Officer Schott thinks that this is just part of doing your job. I can count the number of times I encountered a crime in progress on one hand. It just does not occur very often. Thank you and great job.”

Trustees Becki Tooley and Jeff Bornstein were absent from the meeting.

Wahlborg annexation amendment approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance approving an amendment to the annexation and development agreement for the Wahlborg annexation and Village at Woodmoor. The amendment transfers ownership of the development’s roadways from the Village Center Metropolitan District to the Town of Monument.

Intergovernmental agreement

The board unanimously approved a resolution approving an intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Monument and the Monument Sanitation District regarding the construction of sidewalks and curbing in downtown Monument, the granting of rights by the district, and the mutual creation of a downtown public gathering area in front of the district building.

The Town of Monument is constructing sidewalks and curbing downtown using grant funding and matching town funds. As a result of the project, some existing downtown parking spaces have been reconfigured.

The intergovernmental agreement with the district had previously been approved by the district board. The agreement resolved issues of parking adjacent to the district building at 130 Second St. and the creation of the gathering space in front of the district building.

The district provided a 2.55-foot access easement to the town adjacent to the west side of its building for construction of a 5-foot-wide town sidewalk on the east side of Washington Street. The district will now retain its perpendicular head-in parking places on Washington Street. The seven angled parking spaces on Second Street in front of the district building will be replaced by four parallel parking places. All but one of the parking places on the lot of the former town hall at 166 Second St. will be available for parking for the Willow Tree Café at 140 Second St., the district, and the Second Street Salon at 106 Second St.

The town’s first phase of the downtown sidewalks project will go to bid this spring, with construction beginning soon after the contract is awarded.

Part of Santa Fe Trail to be deeded to town

The town staff is seeking approval for the transfer of ownership of a portion of the Santa Fe Trail corridor between Second and Third Streets from the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners. If the commissioners deed this two-acre property between Second and Third Streets, the town would be able to make improvements within the rest of the trail corridor to enhance the area for visitors, residents, and businesses. The town plans to expand the trailhead parking area adjacent to Third Street to the south. Also under consideration is the addition of a “par course” along this section of the trail for use by hikers and joggers.

The first step in the land transfer was approval of a proposed quit claim deed from the county to the town for this area. The Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the proposed quit claim deed. The next step is commissioners’ approval of the transfer of ownership and this proposed quit claim deed.

Financial report

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

  • $12,119 to Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. for engineering work for the downtown sidewalks project
  • $8,890 to Intermountain Valve & Controls Inc. for valve replacement parts for town well 8

Town manager’s report

Smith reported that a preliminary water agreement between the town, Triview Metropolitan District, and Centre Development regarding Triview water issues is under review. Once finalized, Triview development can continue.

The Wounded Warriors held a successful charity ice fishing tournament at Monument Lake on Jan. 25.

Public comments

Betty Konarski distributed copies of Headwaters magazine she had picked up at the January Colorado Water Congress annual conference. The magazine is published by the Colorado Foundation for Water Education. She noted the current dispute over the governor’s request for a state water plan from the state water roundtables that were created by the Legislature. She asked the board to publish the town’s infrastructure plans and details of its reuse project to be eligible for roundtable or water conservation board grants. Konarski is the town’s representative to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority.

Terri Hayes, executive director of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, stated that the Colorado Springs Business Journal had just showcased seven local businesses and highlighted the Tri-Lakes area.

The meeting adjourned at 7:20 p.m.

**********

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, Feb. 18: Discussion of changes in sidewalk repair ordinance continues

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 18 Monument Board of Trustees discussed a controversial revision to the town sidewalk ordinance that assigns the responsibility for maintenance and repair of broken or unsafe sidewalks in town rights-of-way to adjacent landowners. The board developed a consensus in favor of shifting the responsibility for all costs and liability to the town. However, there is no funding budgeted or appropriated in the 2014 town budget for this proposed change even though this has been a continuing board discussion item for a year and a half.

Triview Metropolitan District, where most of the damaged public sidewalks exist, would become responsible for making and paying for repairs to its public sidewalks. There was no discussion of how the town would compel Triview to perform these public sidewalk repairs.

Trustee Rafael Dominguez was absent from the meeting.

Board requests new sidewalk repair proposal

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that as directed by the board at the previous board meeting, he had drafted options for amending town ordinances regarding repair of sidewalk safety hazards and broken concrete. He noted that the requirement that these sidewalks are to be maintained by adjacent property owners applies “everywhere with anybody I’ve ever talked to.”

Kassawara asked for board guidance on which options members would prefer to see in a draft amendment to the town’s current sidewalk ordinances. Some of the items he suggested for board consideration were:

  • Having the director of Development Services change roadway standards administratively.
  • Having the board define a town policy that sidewalk ordinance enforcement would be handled the same way as code enforcement is performed—in a reactive-only mode where the town staff responds primarily to citizen complaints.
  • Having the town’s engineering assistant report any sidewalks that are potentially hazardous to the director of Development Services for a decision on what town actions are appropriate.

Some of the criteria that Kassawara proposed that are used by Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority were:

  • Differential settlement between sidewalk sections or heaving of a sidewalk section must be a half-inch or greater.
  • For surface deterioration, there must be a minimum of a half-inch vertical distance between the original surface and the deteriorated section.
  • Any other conditions deemed to be hazardous to the public based upon good engineering judgment. In these cases, the director would make the final decision based upon personal observation of the conditions.

There was a lengthy discussion with Kassawara with most of the trustees stating that they were opposed to requiring property owners repair town sidewalks in town rights-of-way sidewalks where the town allowed these sidewalks to be incorrectly installed with inadequate town oversight or inadequate town construction inspections. But some trustees were opposed to the concept that the town would be required to pay for all sidewalk repairs when it appears that no such requirement or precedent exists elsewhere and the change would make the town more vulnerable to expensive liability lawsuits.

One contentious issue was the current ordinance making a property owner responsible for a sidewalk repair when there are so many third-party private contractors breaking town residential sidewalks in Triview with snowplows.

Another issue was whether the proposed revision would only apply in Triview when there appears to be no mechanism to force Triview to repair town-owned sidewalks in its service area. Nor was there a realistic option for the town to make a required repair in Triview and make Triview pay for it directly or withhold some of Triview’s sales tax revenue to compensate the town.

Furthermore, as pointed out by Public Works Director Tom Tharnish, no money was budgeted or appropriated in the 2014 budget for town repairs of town-owned residential sidewalks or hiring additional Public Works employees to implement a town-wide repair program or construction inspection program.

There was consensus on resolving this matter before the April board election. The board asked Kassawara and Town Attorney Gary Shupp to discuss a revision to the 2003 sidewalk ordinance that would delete homeowner responsibility for damaged town sidewalks in town rights-of-way and bring the proposal to the board with estimated immediate costs to the town for a March board decision.

Kassawara stated that the new ordinance would apply town-wide and Triview is responsible for maintaining its rights-of-way, so Triview would be responsible for repairing the controversial sidewalks in Jackson Creek and responsible for paying for the repairs to these public sidewalks.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved the affidavit for surrender of the 1st and 10 Sports Bar and Grill liquor license from owner Jamie Holland. The property has been seized by the Colorado Department of Revenue for non-payment of taxes.

The board unanimously approved an emergency ordinance that eliminated the requirement to absorb the additional cost required to have a polling place election in April. All town elections will now be by mail ballot to save money.

The board unanimously approved a second contract with Streetscapes Inc. not to exceed $25,000 for design, fabrication, and installation of the Highway 105 wayfinding (directional) signage program for Highway 105 at Exit 161 of I-25. The contract cost is $21,785 with a contingency amount of $3,215. These signs will be slightly larger and more expensive than the wayfinding signs that Streetscapes built and installed in the downtown area. They must comply with requirements of the Colorado Department of Transportation for major highway exit signs. A third contract will be written with Streetscapes in the future to complete the signage project. These new signs will be installed at the:

  • Northbound I-25 Exit 161 ramp for Highway 105
  • I-25 overpass heading west on Highway 105
  • Intersection of the southbound I-25 exit ramp and Second Street

The board unanimously approved the traditional temporary street closures in downtown Monument for the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club Fourth of July Parade on Lincoln Avenue, Front Street, Third Street, and Beacon Lite Road from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The board unanimously approved a town contract for $12,403, not to exceed $20,000, with Munson Landscaping and Excavating for the Monument Dam Rehabilitation Project. Munson will remove sediment and debris and reshape creek boundaries to prevent inundation of the Monument Lake Dam’s toe drain system. Munson will also perform downstream rehabilitation of Monument Creek below the spillway for the Monument Lake dam.

Financial report

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

  • $158,840 to Triview Metropolitan District for December sales tax ($149,651), January motor vehicle tax ($9,005). and January Pikes Peak Regional Building Department sales tax ($184)
  • $12,674 to Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2014 annual dues and transit loss model participation
  • $5,761 to Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District to Tetra Tech Inc. for the town’s portion of the Tetra Tech joint Regional Water Reclamation Study-Conceptual Design

Staff reports

Tharnish noted that a town lamppost and base at Second and Washington Street had been sheared off. A police report was taken. Street Technician 1 Monte Kuntz is the newest Public Works employee.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Becki Tooley asked for a blessing for the family of Don Breese who recently passed away. Breese was a coach, teacher, and principal for the Lewis-Palmer School District.

Trustee Jeff Kaiser announced that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting scheduled for Feb. 14 had been cancelled due to injuries and other family issues.

At OCN’s publication deadline, the new date for the first-quarter BRRTA meeting had not been announced.

Public comments

Carol Baker, an engineer with Colorado Springs Utilities, presented a short briefing on the utility’s view of stormwater solutions for Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and the Fountain Creek watershed. She said that there are a number of stormwater issues and not much funding available to solve them. Regional insurance rates are likely to increase due to inadequate stormwater infrastructure and no near-term solutions are available at this time without a coordinated plan agreed to by all municipal, county, and special district entities.

Colorado Springs Utilities is recommending the formation of a new stormwater authority with all entities participating in development of a regional master plan. Baker also reviewed several options for this new entity to analyze, evaluate, and choose from.

The meeting adjourned at 7:42 p.m.

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

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Monument Planning Commission, Feb. 12: Volleyball club expansion, commercial development approved

By Kate Wetterer

On Feb. 12, the Monument Planning Commission approved a Preliminary/Final Plat and Preliminary/Final Planned Development (PD) Site Plan for the Creekside Commercial development. Also approved was a Major PD Site Plan Amendment for the Colorado Juniors Volleyball building at 16815 Mitchell Ave. Owners Bill and Judy Peers hope to build a sand court facility on the southeast corner of the property, adjacent to the rear of their existing volleyball building.

Additional volleyball facility approved

The new volleyball building would be similar to the Peers’ current facility, though a bit smaller. It would focus on sand volleyball, serving a different purpose than their existing indoor volleyball court. The volleyball club hopes to host different kinds of tournaments, potentially even for collegiate teams. It has been promised, however, that both courts would not be used for events simultaneously; in fact, staffing wouldn’t allow for that.

Additional parking, including two new handicapped accessible spaces, would be provided to allow easy access to the new volleyball building. The addition isn’t expected to add significantly to traffic in the area.

A concerned citizen requested better traffic enforcement at volleyball events. Apparently some drivers have been overeager and unpredictable in the past. He also expressed concern about whether concessions would be offered at the upcoming tournaments, partially because he and other neighbors go out with trash bags sometimes to clean up after three-day events. If concessions are provided in the new building, they will not include alcohol since the volleyball club’s members are underage.

The man also noted that despite any questions about traffic and litter, the volleyball club has been a good neighbor for the past eight years, reliable and quick to address any grievances. The commission recommended that the Board of Trustees approve the plans as presented, with the condition that all technical errors must be corrected before the plans are recorded with the county.

Creekside Commercial lots approved

According to Planning Commission documents, the Creekside Commercial development is Visions Development Inc.’s plan to subdivide an existing 7.72-acre parcel off Jackson Creek Parkway, located on the southeast corner of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive, to make three lots for commercial purposes. Lot 1 would likely house a retail venue, Lot 2 would be home to a Goodwill store, and Lot 3 would feature a medical supply store.

Principle Planner Mike Pesicka reported that the property contains a portion of an existing protected Preble’s mouse habitat, but Vision Development’s representative noted that the current mouse habitat “has moved down to the drainage way.” The town staff is requiring Visions Development to submit an amended “404” permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers documenting that an arrangement has been made with them regarding construction within a portion of the mouse habitat prior to any town permits being issued for land development on the site.

Water and wastewater service would also have to be provided by Triview Metropolitan District before land use permits are provided or the plat system initiated.

All designs for buildings and signage would complement existing structures and color schemes. The proposed facilities would be built in “earth tones” with wood trim. The commission approved motions recommending that the Board of Trustees approve both the preliminary/final plat and the preliminary/final site plan with several conditions that the issues noted have to be resolved before any construction can begin.

The meeting concluded with a unanimous vote to retain Ed Delaney and Kathy Spence as president and vice president of the Planning Commission for another term.

For more information, see www.townofmonument.org/meetings/planning-commission/

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The next meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on March 12 at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or http://www.townofmonument.org/meetings/

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

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board, Feb. 18: Longtime resident named to board vacancy

By Nancy Wilkins

At its Feb. 18 meeting, the Board of Directors of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District unanimously voted to appoint John Fredell as a new board member. Fredell filled the vacancy created when Scott Campbell presented his letter of resignation at the Jan. 21 meeting.

Campbell, offering his best wishes and continued success to the fire district, cited personal reasons for leaving. Campbell served on the board for over six years.

Following the acceptance of Campbell’s resignation, the board unanimously voted to reassign Director Greg Gent as board chairman and Director Harland Baker as secretary.

Fredell, who is program director for Colorado Springs Utilities’ Southern Delivery System, is a longtime resident of the district. At the Feb. 18 board meeting, he expressed interest in continuing fire mitigation, praising the efforts of the board, fire chiefs, and firefighters. Fredell will be sworn in at the March 18 board meeting.

Chief’s report

Fire Chief Vinny Burns said a resident of the fire district expressed interest in purchasing Station 3. Baker said he would follow up with this inquiry. Assistant Chief Scott Ridings will pursue a state grant for fire mitigation affecting the area along the Highway 83 corridor in which the state would contribute 60 percent of the funds.

Ridings also reported expenditures for Self Contained Breathing Apparatus at $1,800 per set for 20 units. Burns mentioned that the ladder truck constantly needs repairs, adding unexpected costs to vehicle expenses. There were 150 calls for fire runs in January, down from 186 in 2013, Ridings said.

Financial report

Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall gave the financial report for January. The board expressed concern that the district had spent 10.5 percent of its budgeted expenses for the year in January. Marshall said the expenses contain insurance items that are paid in January but may cover more than one month. Marshall plans to speak with a representative from Wells Fargo Bank to discuss the possibility of refinancing the Station 2 construction loan at lower rates.

Bank balances as of Jan. 31 were: Peoples National Bank $52,482, Colorado Peak fund $179,942, Colorado Trust $439,388, and Wells Fargo Public trust $444,551, for a total of $1.1 million.

Other matters

The board appointed Marshall as the designated election officer for the May 6 election of the Wescott board. Marshall said if there are no new nominations, there will be no election because existing board members would run unopposed.

Director William “Bo” McAllister had asked the board about the possibility of pursuing a mill levy increase at the Jan. 21 meeting, but then withdrew the discussion at the Feb. 18 meeting.

Chairman Greg Gent stated the fire marshal position had been eliminated due to budget constraints.

The board entered an executive session for the purpose of “determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiators.”

Marshall said the district did not discuss merging with the Black Forest Fire Protection District before or after the executive session.

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The next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 18 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Call 719-488-8680 for more information.

Nancy Wilkins can be reached at nancywilkins@ocn.me.

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Black Forest will merge with Wescott as a fire authority

By Lisa Hatfield

During a press conference on Feb. 19, the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District (BFFRPD) said it will create a fire authority with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.

The Black Forest Board of Directors’ statement said, “We believe it’s time for responsible leadership to step forward and join us in creating a culture of working together, rather than being at odds. That’s what we hope to do as we join with our neighbors at Donald Wescott Fire in creating a new authority for better fire and rescue response.”

OCN will continue to report on the progress of these merger discussions in its Wescott meeting articles.

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

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Palmer Lake Sanitation District, Feb. 11: Lake of the Rockies inclusion approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 11, the Palmer Lake Sanitation District board conditionally approved the inclusion of the Lake of the Rockies development on the southwest corner of Mitchell Avenue and Second Street in Monument. Charlie Williams of the development firm Century Communities and consultant engineer Kyle Campbell of Classic Consulting Engineers and Surveyors LLC applied for district inclusion of the 156 single-family home residential community.

Century Communities is purchasing the Lake of the Rockies parcel from the landowner BK-LOR LLC. BK-LOR will next seek Town of Monument approval of an amended PD site plan for the Lake of the Rockies development.

Director Gary Atkins was absent from the meeting.

Background

On Jan. 21, the Monument Board of Trustees approved the Lake of the Rockies Annexation No. 2 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.

A condition of approval of BK-LOR’s request to have these two annexed Lake of the Rockies parcels rezoned to Planned Development Residential was that an executed petition for inclusion into the Palmer Lake Sanitation District had to be provided to the Monument Development Services Department prior to recording the annexation map.

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.

See www.ocn.me/v14n2.htm#bot0121 for more details.

Inclusion approved

Although all of the Lake of the Rockies parcel has now been annexed into Monument, BK-LOR did not seek inclusion of the parcel into the adjacent Monument Sanitation District. The Palmer Lake Sanitation District’s main wastewater interceptor pipe is located adjacent to the west side of the proposed development. The interceptor runs along the east shoreline of Monument Lake at a lower elevation than Monument Sanitation District’s closest interceptor pipe to the east. The comparatively greater depth of Palmer Lake’s interceptor will provide gravity feed of residential wastewater to all 156 lots.

However, installation of some of the development’s interior sanitary sewer collection lines will require relatively deep excavations to provide sewer service for lots on the east side of the Lake of the Rockies property. Palmer Lake Sanitation District’s engineering firm, GMS Inc., had not completed its review of the project’s plans by Feb. 11.

Monument will provide potable water to the development and meter the wastewater that flows into the Palmer Lake collection line to keep track of how much wastewater, which will be treated by Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, may be available for re-use or sale to downstream water users.

Some of the lot sizes have been changed by Century Communities and will have to be approved by the Town of Monument. The next tentative town hearing date for amendments to the previously approved Lake of the Rockies PD site plan is the April 8 Monument Planning Commission, followed by Board of Trustees consideration at a May meeting. The project would be developed in three equal phases from south to north.

There were no comments from the public during the open portion of the inclusion hearing.

A motion to approve the Lake of the Rockies inclusion subject to any and all required documents being submitted was unanimously approved. District Manager Becky Orcutt said she would provide a letter stating that Palmer Lake Sanitation District will serve the project with wastewater service.

The board unanimously approved a resolution to hold an election on May 6 for approval of the district’s ability to accept state grants totaling $360,000 for nutrient treatment equipment design and construction at Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility. Orcutt noted that she had mailed a notice regarding the district’s upcoming election to the address for every residence and business that receives wastewater service from the district.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday March 11 in the district conference room at 120 Middle Glenway. Information: 481-2732.

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

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Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, Feb. 11: State Senate bill threatens steep increases in permit fees

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 11, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) was briefed by Monument Sanitation District Manager Mike Wicklund on state Senate Bill 14-134, titled “Repeal Statutory Water Quality Fee Schedules,” which was sponsored by state Sen. Mary Hodge, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The bill would transfer fee setting from the elected members of the state Legislature to the political appointees not subject to recall by the electorate that sit on the governor’s Water Quality Control Commission.

The state Water Quality Control Division (WQCD), of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), acts as the staff for this Commission. Under this bill, the commission would have total control and discretion to set all the cash fees that finance the operation of the division, rather than the Legislature determining the state’s funding through the state’s general fund.

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

Details of SB 14-134 undefined

Wicklund noted that the state Senate bill would restructure water quality fees by eliminating over 100 fee categories based on type of facility and create these new general, but unspecified, cash funds covering broad water quality regulatory categories:

  • Public and Private Utilities Fund
  • Construction Fund
  • Commerce and Industry Fund
  • Pesticides Fund
  • Water Quality Certification Fund
  • Animal Feeding Operations Fund
  • Drinking Water Fund

The fiscal note that accompanied SB 14-134 stated: “For each cash fund, a surplus, shortfall, or another funding status is likely to decide the type and magnitude of fee adjustments. As of this writing, the fiscal note has no definite information about the ability of new cash funds to meet specific budget requirements. However, the fiscal note assumes that current statutory fees will be continued by emergency rule immediately following the effective date of this bill.”

The fiscal note also listed the funding status, on page 3, for each of these new funds as “Unknown.” This statement on page 5 of the fiscal note further explained the “unknown” impact on state local governments and special districts: “Without information concerning new cash fund balances and annual budget requirements associated with each fee, the fiscal note cannot estimate the impact of the bill on local expenditures.”

Furthermore, the fiscal note included this statement about fee increases to refinance 10.0 full time equivalent (FTE) staff members: “At least 16.0 FTE in the WQCD [are] currently financed using General Fund, despite fee authority that, in scope, includes these personal services. By authorizing administrative fee-setting, CDPHE will meet budget goals by adjusting fees to refinance up to 10.0 FTE using cash funds in FY 2015-16 and future fiscal years. This requires an increase of up to $782,470 in fee revenue, which will be apportioned to new cash funds based on allocation of these refinanced personal services in WQCD water quality programs.”

The division’s funding is 66 percent federal, 18 percent general fund, and the remainder is fees. The current division fee structure is enormously complex. Some permits, such as pesticides and 401 permits don’t have fees, and are currently being funded by transfers from other programs.

Wicklund noted that at the start of the division stakeholder meeting on Feb. 10, CDPHE Director of Environmental Programs Martha Rudolph and Water Quality Control Division Executive Director Steve Gunderson stated that they were surprised and caught off guard by Hodge’s bill and would not increase fees for two years. This would mean no increases in fees until FY 2016-2017, which is contrary to the fiscal note statement in the paragraph above.

Wicklund listed the various issues where there was consensus from about 100 stakeholders—representatives of sanitation districts and wastewater facilities—attending the Feb. 10 meeting and another 40 stakeholders on the phone regarding SB 14-134:

  • Few of the the governor’s unpaid political appointees serving as commission members are equipped to evaluate the costs and budget of the division when determining annual fee increases for dischargers. They are not accountable to citizens during elections.
  • There is not enough time available during scheduled meetings for the unpaid commissioners to provide oversight of division operations.
  • There is no requirement in the bill for complete disclosure by the division to the commission on the status of the budget—including number of employees, their salaries, overhead, time required for performing all mandated tasks, or analyzing other measures of efficiency.
  • There is no requirement that the staff of the Joint Budget Committee review the division’s budget or proposals for annual fees.
  • No Joint Budget Committee staff members are assigned to the commission to assist the commissioners with review and oversight of the division budget.
  • In the absence of commissioners capable of making the necessary economic analyses, the regulated community is at significant risk that the commission would be given a blank check by this bill to increase fees without justification.
  • The existing economic burden on small sanitation districts and wastewater treatment facilities due to state-mandated treatment plant upgrades, increased monitoring and sampling requirements, and the increased diligence required of districts with staffs of just two or three people to participate in increasingly complex stakeholder and rulemaking proceedings continue to be unfair.
  • The division has so many experts in so many areas that the regulated dischargers are out-manned, particularly the small districts.
  • The CDPHE staff is concerned about the blowback they would get should SB 14-134 become law, which would result in even less trust and cooperation from the regulated community.
  • As is evident in the fiscal note, the Joint Budget Committee staff is trying to set up a withdrawal of General Fund money paid by all taxpayers from the programs (about 18 percent of the program’s funding) with the balance made up of cash funds solely from water and wastewater permit holders.
  • The regulated wastewater community contributes only 36 percent of the waste that enters state waters while the other 64 percent comes from non-point sources that are not subject to division regulations or fees.
  • Everyone should pay to treat state waters through general fund support of the division approved with the oversight of accountable elected members of the general assembly, rather than the governor’s unpaid political appointees who are not accountable to the citizens during elections.

Wicklund noted that he immediately spoke directly with Rudolph, Gunderson, and Gunderson’s deputy, Dick Parachini, after the stakeholder meeting to directly express the concerns of about 300 small districts statewide that Wicklund had represented during nutrient stakeholder meetings as a spokesman for the Colorado Nutrient Coalition and Colorado Rural Communities Coalition.

Financial report

Facility Manager Bill Burks noted a $3,000 bill from J&K Excavating Co. for repairing facility manhole lids and rings on Mitchell Ave. that were damaged when Town of Monument snowplow blades hit them.

District managers’ reports

Wicklund noted a crack in a pipe for a lift station pump had been repaired and that the digital transducer sensors that will more reliably control pump operations in the district’s lift stations will be installed later in February.

Palmer Lake District Manager Becky Orcutt reported that her district board would hold a public hearing on an inclusion petition from the landowner of the Lake of Rockies vacant residential parcel on the evening of Feb. 11. For more information on this issue, see the Palmer Lake Sanitation District article.

Plant manager’s report

Burks noted that the Tri-Lakes plant had been running efficiently and that there were no unusual test results in the December 2013 Discharge Monitoring Report that is submitted each month to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment. Biosolids were removed at a rate of 99 percent, and total suspended solids were removed at a rate of 98 percent. The required removal rate for both is 85 percent. The quarterly whole effluent toxicity test results showed no toxicity in the plant’s discharged effluent.

Burks stated that the plant lost power for about an hour one time in December, but no problems were noted during treated effluent testing. There was a general discussion of new regulatory problems that have emerged due to much tighter EPA regulations on diesel emissions from standby electrical generators nationwide for all utilities.

Burks noted that the Tri-Lakes plant could act like a gravity lagoon system to capture all biosolids for a few days with manual mode operations during a complete multi-day electrical failure. He noted that potable water would not be provided in quantity throughout the local region by the towns and water districts during a massive power outage, greatly reducing the wastewater load on the plant. The availability of diesel fuel or a contract for a rented portable generator to be provided during an emergency is doubtful as well. In some areas, the use of diesel backup electrical generators is now prohibited, even by hospitals.

During the weeks when overnight temperatures dropped to minus 19 degrees, the skimmers in the clarifiers had to be turned off due to ice formation. A shear pin broke and was replaced when the weather warmed up.

The first payment to engineering consultant Tetra Tech for planning and design work was about $3,000 and will be credited toward the facility’s 20 percent match in order to receive the state’s 80 percent contribution of $80,000.

AF CURE meeting report

Burks noted that meetings of the Arkansas and Fountain Coalition for Rural/Urban River Evaluation (AF CURE) continue to focus on how to submit monitoring data to the Colorado Data Sharing Network in the constantly changing different template formats that are now being required. AF CURE will forward the data to the division and EPA to meet the new requirements of state Control Regulation 85.

The meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

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After this JUC meeting, Sen. Hodge agreed to a motion to kill her bill during the weekly Senate Appropriations Committee meeting held on Feb. 21. Hodge noted the widespread concern throughout the state regarding this bill and the desire of all affected parties to participate in a division stakeholder process to ensure that the staff recommends a fair and equitable fee structure. A motion by state Sen. Kent Lambert to postpone SB 14-134 indefinitely was passed unanimously.

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

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

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Monument Sanitation District, Feb. 20: District parking spaces on Washington Street preserved

By Jim Kendrick

On Feb. 20, District Manager Michael Wicklund briefed the Monument Sanitation District board on the final resolution with the town to preserve all of the district’s parking spaces on Washington Street, adjacent to the west end of the district building, using an intergovernmental agreement. The town was given a license to place public seating to create an additional gathering space in front of the district conference room at the district building.

The district board had approved the agreement on Dec. 10. The Monument Board of Trustees approved the agreement on Feb. 6.

All board members were present at the meeting.

Parking preservation legal costs continue to mount

The most recent district payment to the commercial trial lawyer firm of Mulliken Weiner Berg & Jolivet P.C. for legal work regarding the district’s on-street parking issues with the town was $1,171, for a total to date of $6,258.

The district’s costly three-month negotiations by attorney Steve Mulliken with the town for an intergovernmental agreement settlement on long-existing on-street and off-street parking spaces adjacent to the district building have resulted in a reversal of the town initiative to eliminate six existing parking spaces on Washington Street adjacent to the west side of the district building at 130 Second St. The district agreed to the loss of three on-street parking places in front of its building.

The settlement will preserve all six of the district’s Washington Street parking spaces on the west side of the district building as endorsed by the town’s own engineering consultant Bob Torres of Jacobs Engineering, who helped prepare all the engineering documentation for the town’s sidewalk construction grant.

The settlement calls for four parallel spaces to replace the seven angled spaces in front of the building on Second Street. The town will receive a 2.5-foot easement adjacent to the west side of the building for construction of a 5-foot-wide sidewalk adjacent to the building and west-side driveway. The town will receive a 10-year license to place town chairs and benches on the asphalt area in front of district conference room to create a public gathering space. The district will receive access to all but one of the on-lot parking spaces for the adjacent former town hall building at 166 Second St.

For more information see the Feb. 3 Board of Trustees article, and:

Treasurer’s report

Wicklund noted that expenses for the month since the Jan. 16 board meeting were low at $43,221. Total cash revenues for that period were $56,427. He also noted that the restricted funds in the district’s special nutrient loan payment account at Integrity Bank had been increased from $21,000 to $28,000. This cash reserve would be used to make all the annual principal and interest payments for the district’s nutrient loan if there were no other cash on hand to make the payment. The funds in this account cannot be touched until the $400,000 loan from Colorado State Bank and Trust Co. is paid off in 15 years.

Wicklund noted that steady progress was being made in upgrades to the district’s three lift stations: two for Wakonda Hills and one for Trail’s End. More reliable digital pressure transducer sensors are being installed at a cost of $22,000 to replace the original systems in each lift station that have been frequently clogged by floating household grease. The old systems will remain in place as back-up systems to the new digital sensors.

The board unanimously approved 2014 letters of engagement with accounting firm Haynie & Co.; law firm Gaddis, Kin, & Herd PC; engineering firm GMS Inc.; audit firm Bauerle & Co.; and IT maintenance firm Turbo RV.

Wicklund reported that the district would clean and perform a TV camera inspection of 20 percent of its collection lines as part of the district’s annual five-year rotating maintenance plan. A few collection lines are cleaned and inspected every year until all the lines that need Insituform relining can be upgraded.

The meeting adjourned at 10:56 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on March 20 in the district conference room at 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, Feb. 18: Donala board rejects plan for golf course purchase

By Jim Kendrick

During the Donala Water and Sanitation board’s Feb. 18 meeting, district constituents Carroll Clabaugh (a director of the Gleneagle North Homeowners Association), Rick Topper, and Larry Oliver asked the Donala directors whether they would consider taking over the Gleneagle Golf Club now that the home page of www.gleneaglegolfclub.com states that “Gleneagle’s golf course is closed.” The home page also states that the “The Palms Restaurant and the pool remain open.” The speakers said their major concern was maintaining their quality of life and property values.

After over an hour of discussion, the board unanimously approved a motion to not support formation of a metropolitan district to purchase and operate the Gleneagle golf course.

All the board members were present.

Clabaugh said that his friend Rod Kuharich had emailed Donala General Manager Kip Petersen to determine if Donala would take the current opportunity to own and operate this club as a golf course and multi-use facility.

Kuharich’s Feb. 11 email to Petersen stated that he was “most recently” the director of South Metro Water Supply Authority and could not attend this meeting due to surgery but had asked Clabaugh and Topper to represent him.

Kuharich’s email said that this proposed Donala takeover of the Gleneagle golf course land, about 130 acres, would require approval of two ballot issues by the Donala board. One would ask Donala property owners to approve an expansion of the authority of Donala to create a metropolitan district, which would require an amendment to Donala’s current service plan. The other ballot issue would ask for voter approval for the district to issue bonds in a high enough amount to purchase the golf club, upgrade the course irrigation system, acquire all equipment that would be necessary to operate the club, and raise enough additional money to pay for operations and maintenance for the first year.

Kuharich’s email noted that this would be no small feat due to the short time available for adding ballot issues to the May 6 special district election process, “but it has been done several places around the state and bond rates are historically low. Time is of the essence.”

Kuharich also stated to Petersen in this email that the district board needed to promulgate a policy for dealing with a potential change in use for the golf course land. He stated that not providing water and wastewater service to the golf course parcel could lead to litigation. But providing service to the parcel at the expense of existing citizens also could lead to litigation. To say that there will be “no cost” to current citizens is not sufficient. There should be no unfounded expectations on the amount of services that Donala can provide the next owner of this land, he wrote.

Kuharich also provided Petersen with a detailed list of his opinions on what the Donala staff should recommend to the board regarding golf course land zoning limitations and restrictions on Donala providing water and wastewater to the subsequent purchasers of the golf course land. He offered to work under Petersen to staff the golf course takeover.

There was a general concern that if the land were left unattended, it would become a public nuisance created by people on ATVs. There was considerable questioning about what options exist to have Donala protect quality of life and property values for property owners near the closed golf course in the current economic environment.

The directors said that Donala’s service plan covers only the provision of water and wastewater services and does not include recreation, which would be performed by a Colorado metropolitan district.

Donala Board President Bill George stated that the board would have to schedule a special meeting to be able to discuss this matter as an official agenda item, and the deadline for submitting a ballot issue to the state is March 7. Petersen stated that Donala’s 2014 budget already accounts for the club closing and no water revenue from it.

Director Ken Judd noted that Gleneagle Golf Club owner Miles Scully’s current agreement with the Board of County Commissioners to be able to build townhouses on the driving range precludes residential development of any of the holes of the golf course through 2020. Other development options with less water use were approved by Scully for 10 years. Judd also noted the ambiguity of the present Gleneagle golf course situation.

Director Dave Powell, a former El Paso County planning commissioner, offered several views while noting that Scully does not own any of the water rights under the golf course.

After further discussion on the merits of forming a recreational metro district and operating a golf course, there was agreement that takeover of the golf course would add considerable cost to every Donala constituent for the benefit of only about 130 constituents that live adjacent or close to the course. There was agreement that there was no reason to hold a special district board meeting to consider formation of a Donala Metropolitan District. A motion stating that the board would not support formation of a metropolitan district was unanimously approved.

Financial reports

Petersen noted an insurance reimbursement $39,964 for hail damage to the roofs of district buildings in 2013.

Manager’s report

Petersen said that the district’s water attorney, Rick Fendel, would attend the March 20 board meeting to discuss water acquisition options in executive session. Fendel provided a written summary of Donala’s water rights for the director’s future reference.

Petersen stated that he was conducting an analysis of costs of service for issuing a revised water tap fee for commercial customers to be presented at the March 20 board meeting. He will also analyze and report on whether there is a need for a residential tap fee revision.

The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority has resumed the regular monthly meeting schedule through this summer. Petersen said that all participants have made their initial contributions for the first phase of the authority’s regional water study and were helped by a grant from the state’s Arkansas River Basin Roundtable.

He expressed a general concern about whether the study would produce useful terminal storage data that will be critical during the times of the year when Colorado Springs Utilities needs to use all of the designed water transport capacity in the Southern Delivery System for its own requirements. This would be the peak demand period for other water providers such as Donala who would be out of priority for pipeline capacity during that time interval, making Donala entirely dependent on well production. A major goal of the water study is to identify and develop alternative means to transport renewable water to Donala as well as how extensive new water transport pipe systems will need to be to match summertime demands.

Triview has not joined the joint reuse water program study being conducted by Donala, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, and the Town of Monument to develop a conceptual design and presentation for these three boards, tentatively scheduled for the April board meeting.

May 6 board election update

Office terms expire in May for three of the Donala directors: Dave Powell, Bill Nance, and Bob Denney. Each has submitted a self-nomination for another four-year term. Another Donala elector was expected to submit a nomination as well. Because there will be four candidates, Donala must hold a special district election on May 6. The deadline for self-nominations was Feb. 28.

Triview status

The current balance for Donala’s loan to Triview for expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility is $746,542 after a payment of $6,000 for four new Triview water taps.

Operations report

Several motor replacements budgeted for 2014 are being conducted at the Upper Monument Wastewater Treatment Facility. There was an electric power surge due to a wind storm on Feb. 15 that caused about $45,000 in damages to electrical equipment. Extended subzero temperatures provided a significant challenge for the facility staff, which they met without incident.

The state Health Department will conduct a triennial inspection of Donala’s water treatment plants. The staff has worked hard to be fully prepared for this inspection, said Petersen.

Upper Monument plant Operator Del Phipps announced that he has taken a job in Kalispell, Mont. Petersen said the district will be sorry to see him leave.

Petersen advised the board that the new water meters that members had agreed to test in their homes would be installed before the end of the month.

Development status

Petersen stated that the district will update its water resource report to the state. Negotiations are continuing with Kum & Go regarding the company’s proposed construction of a new gas station on the northwest corner of Struthers Road and Northgate Boulevard.

Praise from the board

At the end of the public session of this meeting, George stated to Petersen, “Kip, your hiring was very fortuitous. It feels to me like you were made for the job. I appreciate the way you keep us informed as I do about Betsy and Sharon” and the other directors in unison said, “Hear, hear!” Betsy Bray is the district’s office manager and Sharon Samek is the district’s new accountant who took over Bray’s former position in September. All three attend each board meeting to answer board questions about any items on the agenda.

The meeting entered executive session to discuss matters related to negotiations at 3:15 p.m.

No votes were taken after the board came out of executive session.

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The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on March 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, Feb. 20: Board points out loss of local control and unfunded mandates

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer Board of Education passed a resolution regarding loss of local control and an increase in unfunded government mandates at its Feb. 20 meeting.

The resolution was proposed in response to the increase in assessments required by the state and federal authorities and the lack of funding in support of these mandates. Many of the tests which will be introduced in the next few years must be taken online, requiring the purchase of many resources at the expense of the local district.

Director of assessment, gifted education and technology Lori Benton explained the assessment process.

Beginning in 2014, all English language learners will be required to take the World Class International Development Assessment (WIDA) test at the beginning of each year or within 90 days of enrollment. New tests (TS Gold) will be required of kindergarten students and of preschool students whose attendance is funded by state or federal funds. These tests determine readiness to attend school.

Kindergarten through third grade students will be required to undergo an early literacy test known as Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) at the beginning of each school year and twice more each year. If a student fails to perform to standards, the test can be administered every 30 days until proficiency is reached.

A cognitive aptitude test is used in grades 3 through 6 to identify gifted students.

In addition to current testing in the areas of reading, writing, and mathematics, new assessments of English language skills, social studies, and science will be added at various grade levels.

At the junior level in high school, students are required to take the ACT.

In 2015 the present TCAP test will be replaced by the Partnership Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test, which stresses critical thinking and problem solving. This test must be taken online.

The board discussed this rigorous course of action at length. Board Vice President John Mann expressed concern at the amount of time involved in administering and analyzing the assessments. He said that many of the new tests are required to satisfy state or federal standards that are less rigorous than those of D-38 and yet the local district is required to put forth the time and resources to administer them to maintain its accreditation.

Mann said that he is more concerned with determining where D-38 students stand in relation to students from other states and internationally rather than within Colorado.

Board Secretary Robb Pike commented that by administering such a wide variety of assessments, the district is in danger of entering a slippery slope toward teaching to the test in all subjects. He said that he feared that teacher and student creativity could suffer should this happen.

Board President Mark Pfoff was primarily concerned about the time involved in administering the required assessments. He said that the district is primarily focused on achievement and will do what is required to retain its high accreditation, but each year there are more unfunded mandates, including the new, burdensome system for assessing the performance of teachers and other district employees.

He said that each time the district complies with such unfunded mandates, more of its local control over priorities is stripped away, although state funding has not yet regained 2008 levels. He said that the board would prefer that the district’s resources go toward benefiting the students rather than funding assessments.

Pfoff said that an indicator of the loss of local control is that parents who are dissatisfied with development are advised to contact their state legislator rather than the local board of education.

Board Treasurer John Magerko, who is the board’s liaison to the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB), said that CASB shares this concern with excessive testing. The organization has suggested easing into the increased requirements over a longer period.

Members of the group said that, when it was necessary to cut the budget, individual districts were required to make their own decisions about local priorities, but now that there is more funding they are told how to spend it.

Excerpts from the resolution

Some key parts of the resolution declared that the D-38 Board of Education:

  • Expresses its opposition to state and federal mandates generally and, specifically, to those that attempt to measure educational achievement well below the standards that we have established, that our students have consistently achieved, and that we know will be necessary to compete in the 21st century.
  • Does not support changing its proven successful curriculum or educational standards to align with Common Core State Standards and supports delaying and/or reconsidering the implementation of the PARCC assessment scheduled to start in 2015.
  • Expresses its opposition to the overly burdensome implementation of SB 10-191, and having an evaluation process that has proven effective by years of high student achievement, affirmatively states that D-38 is in the best position to determine if changes are warranted and, if so, how to incorporate them.
  • Is concerned about the long-term and ongoing erosion of local control by continual mandates from the state that fail to contribute to, and in some cases detract from, the quality of education for D-38 students and believes these intrusions by state and federal agencies disenfranchise our votes and infringe on the authority granted by the Colorado Constitution.

The entire resolution may be found on the district’s website, lewispalmer.org.

Following the passage of the resolution, a letter from Pfoff to parents in the district confirmed that, because school boards are elected by the local community to incorporate local values into the educational process, the use of “one size fits all” government mandates are inappropriate.

Pfoff said that the resolution was passed in an attempt to initiate a dialog with state and other authorities and discuss the importance of local control.

Pfoff asked parents to support and encourage their children to do their best in these assessments and participate in all that are required. He said, “Continued outstanding performance on these tests is essential for our district to maintain our accreditation rating of Accredited with Distinction. This is the highest rating possible in the state of Colorado and it demonstrates our pursuit of excellence in the educational opportunities for our children.”

2014-15 employee benefits

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster reported that the district will be able to maintain the same plans and deductibles for next year. The district will cover health, life, and dental care for employees.

The board passed a resolution to declare itself the exclusive chartering authority in the district.

2014-15 capital reserve budget

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman presented a proposal to devote $2.1 million to capital needs of the district.

In the area of technology, she said that a list has been made of all existing resources. The district will try to have a single brand of equipment to allow for ease of repair. Quotes on wiring of buildings and staffing levels will be sought.

It was suggested that the district hire a technology director to oversee that aspect of district operations.

Additional proposed expenditures were the purchase of two buses, a backup generator for the district’s computer server, purchase of 180 computers (including those needed for testing), and $430,000 for grounds improvement including fencing, resurfacing and maintenance of AstroTurf areas near Palmer Ridge High School.

Maintenance expenditures of $607,000 would include roof repairs, air conditioning backup for Palmer Ridge, and window repairs.

Wangeman said that, to make these expenditures, the district will need to transfer about $1 million from other funds. Further discussion will be held next month.

Superintendent search

Bob Cito of CASB reported that 34 applications had been received for the position of superintendent. Applications were received from all over the country, although most were from Colorado. They included 10 sitting superintendents, nine assistant superintendents and two principals. All hold at least a master’s degree.

Cito said that background checks are now being conducted and interviews will be held on March 8.

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The Board of Education of Lewis-Palmer School District 38 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 held on March 20.

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

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, Feb. 11: Four more Unified Improvement Plans reviewed

By Harriet Halbig

The School District 38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) reviewed an additional four Unified Improvement Plans for schools at its Feb. 11 meeting.

Lewis-Palmer Middle School

Principal Seann O’Connor of Lewis-Palmer Middle School reported that he was pleased with the increased performance at his school. In the area of academic achievement, the school was rated as “exceeds” with a score of 87.5 percent, a considerable improvement from the 2012 rating of 75 percent. The school was rated as “meets” in academic growth and in academic growth gaps.

The score for academic growth gaps increased from 40 percent to the current 71.7 percent, largely due to diligent monitoring of progress, O’Connor said. Areas in which the school did not meet requirements were writing and math among students with disabilities and writing among English language learners (although they did meet state standards). Although goals were not reached, improvement was shown among these groups.

O’Connor said that his teachers have put emphasis on data collection and monitoring in order to identify students needing additional help and interventions to improve their performance. He said that these students are evaluated on a more frequent basis than the general student population to determine the effectiveness of interventions.

Staff has been trained in the multi-tiered system of support (MTSS) so that lessons can be tailored to the needs of the students and excessive out-of-classroom teaching can be avoided. Additional training in the area of differentiation is planned for later this year. It is also possible that classroom assessments may be developed to aid in progress monitoring.

O’Connor said that the school’s Academic Excellence periods on Tuesday and Thursday were being used to offer additional help to students struggling with a subject. These periods, previously used as study halls, enable the school to offer additional help without interrupting the flow of the general classroom. A math teacher in attendance said that the higher-achieving math students are tutoring those who need help, a system that seems to benefit both as the tutor reviews basic concepts while the underachiever improves his or her skills.

Teachers analyze student records before the beginning of the school year to identify those who will need monitoring and assistance.

Bear Creek Elementary School

Bear Creek Elementary School Principal Peggy Parsley reported that her school is rated at “meets” for academic achievement, academic growth, and for academic growth gaps.

Parsley said that Bear Creek is one of three Title I schools in the district due to the number of students on free or reduced-price lunch. She said that the focus in the school for the past few years has been on reading and that attention will now be turned toward math. They have found that the Every Day math program does not serve special needs students and does not align well with assessments. In response, they have tried using the Math Triumphs program.

Parsley said that her teachers are focusing on assessments in order to determine where their efforts should be concentrated. The population of special education students is rising within the school, and an effort is being made for general education teachers to work with special education teachers within the classroom. Resource teachers and others have received additional training in math and special education.

Parsley said that she believes the special education count is up because students are identified earlier than in previous years.

The school sponsors a math night in March of each year where parents and students attend and learn math games and other ways to improve performance. As an added advantage, parents learn what is being taught at each grade level. There is also online help available in the areas of math (Moby Math) and reading.

The school has received funding for an instructional coach in the areas of math and response to intervention. This individual will observe support and instructional strategies used in math instruction.

Lewis-Palmer Elementary School

Special Education Parent Liaison Michelle Nay reported on Lewis-Palmer Elementary School’s (LPES) plan.

LPES scores as “meets” in academic achievement and academic growth and “approaching” in academic growth gaps. The school’s goal is to achieve a “meets” score in growth gaps within three years.

The school has many new teachers and a sizable special education population due in part to the presence of two center-based programs, one for students with significant emotional needs and one for preschoolers who are impacted by autism.

The growth rate for those with significant disabilities and English language learners has been slowing, causing the growth targets to increase. This is cause for concern, Nay said.

Students with disabilities are not making adequate growth in reading, math, and writing, she said. Students needing to catch up also are not making adequate growth in reading, math, and writing, and students on free/reduced-price lunch are not making adequate growth in math.

The MTSS team feels that the emphasis must be placed on students with disabilities and those needing to catch up in reading, writing, and math. Additional assessments have been used to confirm this conclusion.

The improvement plan document states that teachers were trained in additional math intervention during the 2012-13 school year and training is needed for new teachers in reading instruction.

The plan also proposed providing teacher training in the analysis of assessment data.

Monument Academy

Monument Academy scores as “exceeds” in academic achievement, “meets” in academic growth and “meets” in academic growth gaps. Monument Academy is somewhat different in its reporting because it encompasses an elementary and a middle school.

The school’s population has grown very quickly. The plan states that this factor plus an increase in the number of students entering the school at the mid-elementary and middle school level cause challenges due to their unfamiliarity with the district’s curriculum.

A school parent presented the plan information, saying the primary challenge is with minority students in math. They are not meeting state expectations for growth in math and are struggling with the analysis aspect of math. Assessments will be given to ensure that students are placed in the appropriate class.

Monument Academy has found it difficult to determine trends in growth gap performance due to the small number of students in each category.

In the area of growth gaps, the elementary free/reduced-price lunch population is “approaching” requirements for reading. The middle school free/reduced lunch group is “approaching.” The elementary group does not meet expectations in math. At the middle school level, minority students and students with disabilities are “approaching.” In writing, the students with disabilities are “approaching.”

The school proposes to address the problems through additional teacher training in the areas of interpreting data and increased differentiation as a result of this analysis.

Superintendent search update

Interim Superintendent Ted Bauman reported that there have been 34 applicants for the position of superintendent. The Board of Education will screen the applications for the following week, followed by an executive session meeting on Feb. 18.

Representatives of the Colorado Association of School Boards will then do background checks on the remaining candidates and report on these at a meeting on Feb. 25.

There will be a reception for the finalists on March 7 at the Learning Center and interviews will be held on March 8. Each candidate will be interviewed by the board and three additional panels.

A contract will be negotiated on March 10 and the new superintendent will be introduced at the school board meeting on March 20.

Security procedures

DAAC Chair Chris Amenson asked Bauman whether there were anticipated changes in the district’s security procedures following an incident in which a handgun was found in a backpack at Lewis-Palmer High School the previous week.

Bauman said that the Sheriff’s Office released an announcement of the incident to the media before the district was able to notify teachers and parents, causing great concern when students and their parents exchanged emails about the situation. The chosen response by the district was to declare a shelter-in-place situation, keeping all students in place. No injuries were reported.

Bauman also said that the district’s Safety and Security Advisory Council continues to discuss security equipment and procedures.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month. Locations vary. The next meeting will be held on March 11 at Prairie Winds Elementary School, 7909 Kinds Deer Point East, Monument.

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

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Top Weather Events of 2013

By Bill Kappel

Snowy and cold February

Nearly 30 inches of snow accumulated during February. Unfortunately, this was the exception so far this winter, as snowfall was below normal during the other months.

Cold start to the year

Not only was snowfall well below normal for the 2013 winter, but temperatures were low, too. Monthly average temperatures were below normal every month from January through May, with the largest departures in March and April. In fact, we had several late season cold snaps, with low temperatures reaching below zero as late as April 10.

Dry, warm June

Record warmth and several months of below normal precipitation in the spring conspired to produce extremely dry conditions that led to the devastating fire in Black Forest.

Wet end to summer

Rainfall was plentiful starting in July and continuing through late summer. This culminated with record rainfall and flooding along the Front Range during the first two weeks of September. This included a new 24-hour state rainfall record, when 11.85 inches accumulated from midnight to midnight Sept, 12.

Record December cold snap

After a quiet fall, record cold moved in just before the official start to winter. Temperatures plummeted well below zero starting on Dec, 4 and didn’t reach back above freezing unto the afternoon of the 10th. Snowfall totals during this cold period were not excessive, but the length of cold without a break was unusual for this area.

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February Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures and precipitation were right about normal for February, but the way we ended up there was anything but normal. We experienced wild temperatures swings from sub-zero cold to windy, warm, and dry.

Cold and snowy conditions were in control in the first few days of February. A quick-moving storm accumulated 4 to 6 inches of snow on the 1st day of the month as temperatures remained 10 to 20 degrees cooler than normal. Skies cleared out briefly during the evening of the 1st through the morning of the 2nd and allowed temperatures to rapidly cool to below-zero levels. Plenty of sunshine the next day made for a beautiful Colorado blue sky with the fresh snow cover.

High temperatures were briefly able to reach above freezing during the early afternoon hours of the 3rd, but that was the last time for the rest of the week that we reached above freezing, as several surges of arctic air and light snow moved into the region.

Temperatures were unusually cold for an extended period during the cold arctic outbreak. This included temperatures remaining below zero from the evening of the 4th through the mid-morning of the 6th. Low temperatures fell into the 20s below zero on the morning of the 5th and 6th, pretty cold even for us. Fresh snowfall accumulated 4 to 6 inches on the 4th, continuing to bring much needed moisture to the region.

The arctic air mass began to retreat on the 7th, pulling back to the lower elevation like the tide pulling away from a beach. In this unusual situation, we were a good 10 to 20 degrees warmer than surrounding areas like Colorado Springs and Denver. The warmth continued over the weekend as we reached into the 40s while lower elevations, mainly below 7,000 feet, were stuck in the fog and in the 20s.

After a cold and snowy start to February, a significant pattern change occurred starting in the second week of the month. This allowed the storm track from the Pacific to affect the region. It brought with it mild air and strong downsloping winds. Several rounds of Pacific moisture carried by a strong jet stream moved through the region. This moist, westerly flow was very beneficial to our mountains with several feet of snow accumulating in parts of the high country.

However, the strong westerly flow resulted in downslope winds for us. When the air descends from the Continental Divide and down the Front Range foothills, it dries out and warms up, leaving us windy and dry. This allowed temperatures to warm to above normal levels through most of the period, with plenty of high- and mid-level mountain wave clouds.

When the pattern set up just right, strong and gusty winds developed, battering areas along and west of I-25 with 70 to 80 mph winds. Of course, the dry, desiccating winds also helped to quickly melt the extensive snowpack we had developed during the first week of the month, adding moisture to the soil but leaving us in need of a couple wet spring snowstorms as we head into March and April.

The last week and a half was mainly dry and mild, with gusty winds again felt on many days. The week started off with high temperatures reaching well into the 50s from the 16th through the 19th. These temperatures were 10 to 15 degrees warmer than normal for this time of the year. A brief break in the mild, windy weather came through with a strong arctic front during the evening of the 20th. Strong winds accompanied this push of cold air and snow quickly filled in. A quick burst of 3 to 6 inches accumulated that evening and early morning, leading to a messy commute.

However, the stronger mid-February sunshine made for a quick warm-up the next afternoon as temperatures returned to normal levels, with low- to mid-40s on the 21st and 22nd. This helped to melt much of the snow over the weekend. Highs stayed above normal on the 24th and 25th, reaching the mid-50s as gusty westerly winds kept the cold air mass just to our east and north.

By late morning on the 25th, the cold air rushed back in, bringing a drastic drop in temperatures along with fog and flurries through the morning of the 26th. Sunshine returned for the afternoon of the 26th, with temperatures reaching the mid-40s. The weather remained uneventful for us through the end of the month, with seasonal temperatures on the 27th and 28th, and gusty winds at times, especially on the 28th.

A look ahead

March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30 to 50 inches of snowfall that shut down the region. However, snow that does fall begins to melt quickly this time of the year, providing beneficial moisture for our plants and limited inconvenience for us.

February 2014 Weather Statistics

Average High 39.1° (-0.2°) 100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 12.6° (-0.8°) 100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 56° on the 18th
Lowest Temperature -23° on the 5th
Monthly Precipitation 0.54” (-0.19” 22% below normal) 100-year return frequency value max 2.10” min 0.02”
Monthly Snowfall 13.9” (+0.4”, 1% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 50.9” (-19.3”, 23% below normal) (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 14.88” (+2.23”, 15% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 1069 (-17)
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.

Ready, Set, Test

I am often asked about the state assessments and why we test our kids. These assessments, along with other school, district, and national measures, help us make decisions about instruction and curriculum, set rigorous and relevant goals for students, and ensure we help students learn. After all, students are our business; and our bottom line is their success, in school and beyond.

The Colorado State Summative Assessment season is upon us. Students are currently participating in the TCAP (Transitional Colorado Assessment Program) tests in grades 3-10 in reading, writing, and math. This is the last year of the traditional TCAP paper and pencil testing. In April, elementary and middle school students will be assessed using a new online assessment with interactive items in science (grades 5 and 8) and social studies (grades 4 and 7) called CMAS (Colorado Measure of Academic Success).

While testing online stretches our technical resources, our students are ready to demonstrate excellence on these new measures. Our teachers have aligned and realigned our curriculum to the new Colorado Academic Standards and have prepared students to navigate an online testing medium.

District 38 has amazing students, supportive parents, and tremendous teachers who are all helping our students grow to reach incredible levels of academic success. Thank you for joining us as we help our students become successful learners.

Lori Benton, Ph.D.
Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lewis-Palmer School District #38

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Noteworthy new releases

By the staff at Covered Treasures

If these cool, March winds give you the urge to stay inside by the fire and read a good book, there are some excellent new titles to choose from.

The Forever Girl
By Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon Books) $24.95

The popular author of the best-selling No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series brings readers a new stand-alone novel about love and following one’s heart. Set in a close-knit community of ex-pats on Grand Cayman Island, Smith tells a tale full of love and heartbreak, humor and melancholy that beautifully demonstrates the myriad ways in which love shapes our lives.

The Kid: The Immortal Life of Ted Williams
By Ben Bradlee Jr. (Little, Brown and Co.) $35

When Williams, a cocky 20-year-old arrived in Boston in 1939, he declared that he wanted to become the “greatest hitter who ever lived.” He not only achieved that distinction within two years, but he also earned a long list of accolades, despite the fact that he left baseball for five years in his prime to serve in World War II and Korea. John Glenn, who flew with Williams, called him one of the best pilots he’d ever seen. After a decade of research, Ben Bradlee Jr. delivers the fascinating story of a man as big as his myth.

Still Life With Bread Crumbs
By Anna Quindlen. (Random House) $24.99

Quindlen’s latest novel begins with an imagined gunshot and ends with a new tin roof. Between the two events, she presents a portrait of photographer Rebecca Winter, who discovers that what she sees through a camera lens is not all there is to life. Skillfully written, this is a deeply moving and often very funny story of unexpected love, and a journey into the life of a woman, her heart, her mind, and her days, as she discovers that life is a story much more exciting than she ever imagined.

Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life
By Jane Pauley (Simon & Schuster) $26

By the end of this year, every baby boomer will have reached age 50. For most, it’s not an end but the beginning of the new experiences that lie ahead. Research has shown that people in their 50s are more vital than they were 10 years ago. Jane Pauley, one of America’s most trusted broadcast journalists, gives voice to the opportunities of her generation, offering humor and insight about the journey forward. She tells her own story and introduces readers to some of the fascinating people she has met during her broadcast career. Their delightful, compelling, and inspiring stories help boomers answer the question, “What am I going to do with the rest of my life?”

A Well-Tempered Heart
By Jan-Philipp Sendker (Other Press) $15.95

This spirited sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats explores the most passionate terrain: the human heart. Almost 10 years have passed since Julia Win came back from Burma, her father’s native country. Even though she’s a successful Manhattan lawyer, her career and wealth leave her longing for more. When her personal life falls apart, she finds herself considering questions she’s been trying to avoid: Why does she live alone? To whom does she feel close? What does she want in life? Interwoven with Julia’s story is that of a Burmese woman who finds her world turned upside down when Burma goes to war and calls on her young sons to be child soldiers.

After Visiting Friends: A Son’s Story
By Michael Hainey (Scribner) $16

Hainey was a boy of 6 when his father, a bright and shining star in the glamorous world of 1960s Chicago newspapers, died under mysterious circumstances. Years later, Michael undertakes a risky journey to uncover the true story by prodding reluctant relatives and his father’s old colleagues. The result is an unforgettable story of a son who goes searching for his father, and in the journey discovers new love and admiration for his mother.

While you’re waiting for warm weather activities, or enjoying spring break, why not treat yourself to one of these enticing new books? Until next month, happy reading.

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

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Art Matters: Public art supports your community every day of the year

By Janet Sellers

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” Pablo Picasso

As I mentioned last month, Tri-Lakes Views is a local organization that champions our local public art each year. Tri-Lakes Views currently has an active Call for Entries for its annual outdoor sculpture exhibition titled ARTSites. The juried exhibit will be installed in June and be on display for one year. They even create and distribute a bazillion maps of our local public art so you can take a self-guided tour any day of the 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, use this link: www.trilakesviews.org. To its huge credit, Tri-Lakes Views is a nonprofit community arts organization.

Why consider public art for your business or site? Putting art in your business or town increases prosperity. Creating art awareness creates community awareness and true love of one’s community. When we love where we live, we take good care of it and make plans to improve and keep it thriving.

Public art holistically improves local economies. Public art is free to enjoy, you don’t have to dress up to go see it, and you can enjoy it alone, with a group, or just on a walk with your dog. Public art increases a sense of community and love of place, and cities loved by their residents are more prosperous.

In choosing a place to live or shop, or plans for a business, social offerings, openness, and beauty were cited more often for desirability than leadership, safety, or local economy, according to a Gallup survey in 2010 of 43,000 adults in 26 U.S. cities. It is a perspective that may surprise civic leaders, but would likely be a valuable tool for helping areas to thrive, especially in tough economic times.

The survey found that high resident attachment/love for where people live results in higher GDP growth for an area. And while these factors are not new to residents because they have historically strongly influenced choices for people moving to a place, it may be a new idea for civic leadership and businesses for attracting new commerce and retaining residents for economic growth and community stability.

“This survey offers new approaches for communities to organize themselves to attract businesses, keep residents and holistically improve their local economic vitality,” Gallup Deputy Director Jon Clifton said in a statement.

“Our theory is that when a community’s residents are highly attached, they will spend more time there, spend more money; they’re more productive and tend to be more entrepreneurial,” Clifton said. In addition to improved living for residents, the survey also showed that public art located at a business increases an employee’s emotional connection to the company and also increased the company’s profits.

Art show events for March

Bella Art and Frame Gallery: Last call! The grand, yearlong show and sale of works by local pottery artist Tony Heslop will end in April. The gallery announced March as the final month of the show, which includes housewares, tableware, lamps, and ceramic sculpture in Heslop’s inimitable style. Heslop is widely collected nationally. Also on exhibit are the gallery’s dozen or more local artists featuring oil paintings, acrylic paintings, and watercolors as well as fiber art, pottery, and jewelry. Bella Art and Frame, 187 Washington St., Monument.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA): Visions of Light Exhibition March 4 to 29, opening reception March 7, 5:30 to 8 p.m. The show will be judged by internationally acclaimed photographer Dan Ballard. The exhibit includes a wide variety of subjects: urban and nature landscapes, architecture, people, nature, and abstract works. Ballard will also teach a photography class at TLCA on March 6. Details are at TLCA, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake or www.trilakesarts.org.

Janet Sellers is an American artist, art teacher, and arts writer. She makes public art sculptures for Colorado cities, teaches art locally, and you can often see her painting pictures outdoors, faithful pooch at her side, in just about any weather. She can be reached at janetsellers@ocn.me.

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Snapshots of Our Community

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

Museum exhibit and lecture focuses on mining communities

Caption: On Feb. 13, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) opened a new exhibit with artifacts relating to mining communities at the turn of the 19th century and a related lecture. Dr. Fawn Amber Montoya, shown in the museum’s changing exhibit area, spoke on the life of children in Colorado Fuel & Iron (CF&I) mining communities in southern Colorado during the late 1800s into 1930s. Montoya, an associate professor of history and director of Chicano Studies at Colorado State University-Pueblo, provided a history of mining in southern Colorado, beginning with Gen. William Jackson Palmer and the formation of CF&I. She provided information from her research that suggests the Ludlow Massacre was a turning point in how children were treated within CF&I mining communities. Leading up to Ludlow, children were involved in “industrial training” starting as early as kindergarten. After Ludlow, along with an influx of young and progressive-minded teachers from the East Coast, the company sought to “Americanize and Christianize” the children of over 40 ethnicities. This was attempted through education and competitive activities. Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmi.org. Photo by David Futey.

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Discovery Canyon High Fashion Show, Feb. 22

Caption: On Feb. 22 at Discovery Canyon High School’s Formal Wear Fashion Show, Scott Betzer and Lindsey Visscher sported bargain prom apparel. The fashion show generated money for the HOPE foundation by selling the dresses to audience members. A silent auction, bake sale, and sale of celebrities’ autographs raised more money for the cause. See www.hopefoundation.org for more information about supporting educational leaders in creating school cultures where failure is not an option for any student. Photo by Arjun Gheewala.

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Brummond wins VFW’s Voice of Democracy award

Right: Voice of Democracy winner McKenzie Brummond was congratulated Feb. 18 for her winning commentary. From left are Jamie Brummond, Voice of Democracy Veterans of Foreign Wars Coordinator Tom Dowd, McKenzie (Jamie’s daughter), post Judge Advocate Joseph Martin, and post Commander Joseph E. Carlson. McKenzie gave a commentary on the subject, “Why I Am Optimistic About Our Nation’s Future.” She presented her talk to the general membership of VFW Post 7829. Photo by Bernard Minetti.

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February and March library events: Adult reading program draws hundreds

By Harriet Halbig

The 2014 adult reading program continues to be a great success, with over 525 patrons registered at Monument and over 100 registered at the Palmer Lake Library. The program ends on March 15, so be sure to claim your prizes before then.

Family programs for March

Family Fun at Monument on Saturday, March 8 at 1:30 is Parrot Talk with Connie Stanton and her talking parrots, Rachel the Cockatoo, Jackie the Amazon Parrot, and Goosey the Hyacinth Macaw. Learn about these beautiful birds and do some fun crafts.

The Legos Club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, March 15. All ages are welcome to join in. Please do not bring your own Legos, as all pieces used will remain the property of the library.

Our Spanish-speaking librarian will resume her Spanish story time on the first and third Wednesday of the month at 5:15 p.m. Whether Spanish is new to you or is your native language, it is fun to listen to the stories as the librarian reads and points to the pictures in the book.

Teen programs

AfterMath free tutoring will be available on Mondays from 3:30 to 7 except for March 24 (due to spring break). All ages are encouraged to take advantage of this program. No appointments necessary.

Friday, March 7 from 3:30 to 5:15, the month’s Crafty Teens program is Learn to Knit! Come learn a new craft with your friends. Needles and yarn will be provided, but bring size 9 needles (or acrylic four-ply yarn) if you have them. Space is limited, so please register online or at 488-2370. Ages 12 and up, please.

Meet nationally-known local author Robert Liparulo on Wednesday, March 12 from 4 to 5:30. Liparulo has written several popular thrillers for young adults and adults, including the Dreamhouse Kings series and the Immortal Files series. Join him for an informal discussion of the writing life, pursuing your passion, or whatever writing topics interest you. Adults are welcome.

Spring break programs

Join puppeteer Bob Aiken on Monday, March 24 at 2 p.m. for a lighthearted piece of puppet theater that the family can enjoy. Four puppet styles and four performing techniques will be offered. This program has been performed across the country.

Laura Foye and her live bunnies will be at the library on Tuesday, March 25 at 10:30. Learn about rabbits and their care, meet a real bunny, and make your own rabbit creations at the craft table. Fun for everyone!

Kindie musician Steve Weeks offers an interactive family program with music, humor, and games on Wednesday, March 26 at 2 p.m. Come prepared to laugh, sing, and dance! For ages 5 and under with an adult.

Adult programs

On Saturday, March 1 from 2 to 3:30, nationally known underwater videographer Patrick Shahan will narrate his latest video of the flora and fauna in the waters surrounding the Maldives Islands. He will also bring along his diving gear and cameras.

Bring your iPad and learn basic functions including startup, apps, email, and using your iPad as an e-reader on Saturday, March 8 from 11 until noon. The class will be taught by Les Molina from Victory Solutions.

There will be a program on home buying on Sunday, March 9 from 2 to 3:30. Featured will be a mortgage loan officer, an insurance representative, and a local real estate agent.

The Monumental Readers will meet on Friday, March 21 from 10 to noon to discuss Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book club.

Learn the 10 keys to success and prosperity from Meredith Bromfield, who will help you unlock some areas in your life to help you define and achieve your goals. Register at the desk or call 488-2370 for this program on Saturday, March 29 from 10 to 11:30.

On the walls and in the display case during March will be the work of the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers. This display always brings color and joy to the library.

Palmer Lake Library programs

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

The Fibernistas meet each Thursday from 10 to noon. Bring a new project or one in progress to share your love of fiber arts. New members of all skill levels are welcome.

Palmer Lake’s Family Fun for March is Under a Magic Moon with musician Beth Epley. Anything can happen when the starts align. Beth brings her unique brand of silly stories, comedy, and song on March 15 at 10:30.

Palmer Lake’s spring break program is at 10:30 on Wednesday, March 26 when you can enjoy the Bunny and Birdie Magic Show with magician Connie Elstun. All ages are invited.

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

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The rise and fall of Tri-Lakes ice production

By Bernard L. Minetti

Palmer Lake Historical Society President Tom VanWormer presented “Tri-Lakes Ice Production, Storage, and Delivery” at the Feb. 1 meeting of the group. Ice production had become a viable and merchandisable business in the late 1890s and was centered in the Tri-Lakes area, he said. Palmer Lake and Monument Lake provided a source for this commercial ice production.

Production of ice by natural methods was the turning point in the transportation of perishable food items. It allowed large amounts of food and meats to be sent all over the country by using refrigerated freight cars and overland trucks. With the advent of electrical refrigeration units, natural ice production began to decline almost simultaneously with a temperature increase in the Tri-Lakes area during the winter that spoiled the freezing of the lakes.

VanWormer explained that in those days, temperatures in the Tri-Lakes area averaged below zero in the both daytime and nighttime all winter season. This allowed for the formation of large amounts of ice that could be harvested from the lakes in Monument and Palmer Lake. In the 1920s, there appeared to be a reversal of that trend and the area winter temperatures rose too high for the manufacture of commercial ice in these two lakes. He noted that at the same time as the temperature variation, commercial production of refrigeration containers for in-home and commercial use began in earnest.

VanWormer noted that commercial refrigeration progressed to a point where sawdust became a prime factor as the insulation utilized in railroad freight cars and overland trucks. In the home, iceboxes were replaced with refrigerators, with sawdust remaining as the main insulation.

He noted that the American diet began to change because of this industry. Refrigeration began to allow for the transportation and storage of large amounts of foods that had not been available in certain seasons. The ice industry had been a major industry in Palmer Lake and Monument, and economic conditions declined as this industry dissolved.

Two presentations in March

The Historical Society is instituting two presentations each month beginning in March. The first of these, on March 11, is titled “The Day the Forest Burned.” Terry Stokka presents a documentary of the Black Forest Fire of 2013. He will discuss the causes that led up to severe fire danger and take you through the days of the fire and the ongoing recovery.

The second monthly presentation, on March 20, is titled “Doctor at Timberline – Medicine in the Late 1800s and Early 1900s.” John Stansfield will portray Dr. Charles Fox Gardner, a leader in the early days of tuberculosis treatment in the Pikes Peak area.

Both presentations will take place in the Palmer Lake Town hall at 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. These events are free, and refreshments will be served after each presentation.

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

Caption: Palmer Lake Historical Society Board President Tom VanWormer spoke on “Tri-Lakes Ice Production, Storage, and Delivery.” 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

March 5: Roast pork with apple cider cream sauce, roasted potatoes, salad, rolls
March 12: Chicken Marsala over fettuccine, Caesar salad, rolls
March 19: BBQ brisket sandwich, tater tots, cole slaw
March 26: Tuna sandwich on a croissant, avocado, chips

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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Recent burglaries

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office has recently taken reports of several residential burglaries in the Kings Deer and Bent Tree subdivisions. Most of these incidents have occurred in the daylight hours, when residents are not home. If you discover a crime or witness suspicious activity, call the Sheriff’s Office immediately. For emergencies, dial 911. Otherwise, call the non-emergency dispatch number at 390-5555.

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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. 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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Polling locations needed

El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s Office is soliciting public comment and suggestions regarding the location of Voter Service and Polling Centers for the 2014 General Election. If you own or know of an appropriate potential location (such as a business, school, church, community center, etc.), contact Liz Olson at lizolson@elpasoco.com or at 520-6222. For details about requirements for a Voter Service and Polling Center, visit car.elpasoco.com.

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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 www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument. Financial assistance is available. For more information, call 481-8728 or email www.ppymca.org.

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Citizen’s Police Academy, April 15-June 3

The Monument Police Department is now taking applications for the Citizens Police Academy. This free eight-week program is open to all who live or work in the Tri-Lakes area. Participants will learn about criminal law, patrol procedures, use of force, computer forensics, internal affairs, community policing, tactical considerations, and have the opportunity to shoot a variety of police weapons and much more. Classes will be held April 15-June 3 on Tuesday evenings, 7-10 p.m., at the Monument Police Department, 645 Beacon Lite Road. For an application or more information, stop by the Monument Police Department, or call 481-3253, or email Officer Bob Steine, rsteine@townofmonument.net.

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Grant writers needed for Palmer Lake

The Awake Palmer Lake committee is looking for grant writers to help with the next Great Outdoor Colorado (GOCO) grant application to improve the park at Palmer Lake; the grant could be worth $300,000. See http://awakepalmerlake.org for more information or contact Park and Recreation Trustee Mike Patrizi parks@palmer-lake.org.

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Legacy Sertoma Receives Allstate Foundation Grant

Legacy Sertoma has announced the receipt of a $1,000 grant from the Allstate Foundation in honor of the community service of Monument’s Allstate Agent Pete Mills. Legacy Sertoma works to build a better community and to help those who cannot hear, and is happy to partner with Mills and Allstate in their commitment to making our hometowns better places to live. For more information about Legacy Sertoma, call Ed Kinney, 481-2750.

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Adult Reading Program 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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Volunteer needed for City/County Drainage Board, apply by March 14

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve as a citizen-at-large or banker representative on the city/county Drainage Board. No experience is necessary, the only requirement is an interest in local affairs. Applications are due by March 14. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the “Volunteer Boards” link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.

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CASA seeks volunteers, Mar. 18

Give the gift of a voice to an abused or neglected child; become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). Visit the website, www.casappr.org, for an application, training schedules, and frequently asked questions. The next CASA informational meeting is March 18, 5:30 p.m., at 701 S. Cascade, Colorado Springs. RSVP with Kelly at 447-9898 x1033 or kellyp@casappr.org.

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Volunteers needed for CSU Extension Advisory Committee, apply by March 20

A food and nutrition representative (knowledge in food safety and nutrition) and two community-at-large representatives are needed on the CSU Extension Advisory Committee. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the “Volunteer Boards” link. Applications are due by March 20. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.

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Red Cross Shelter Team needs more volunteers, Mar. 22

The Tri-Lakes Red Cross Shelter Team needs more volunteers to meet the sheltering needs of the community in the event of a disaster. Volunteers must complete the Red Cross volunteer application and background check, and attend shelter fundamentals training. The next training will be held March 22, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at St. Peter Catholic Church, PEC Lecture Hall, 124 N. First St., Monument. Registration is required. For questions or to register contact Jeanie Ahrens, 481-8128, Jeanie.ahrens2@redcross.org.

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2014 Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) board nominations now open

At MVEA’s Annual Meeting on June 5, 2014 at Calhan High School, a director will be elected to MVEA’s board of directors from District 7: Monument, Woodmoor, and a portion of the surrounding areas (Incumbent Donna Andersen-Van Ness). The procedure for director elections and member voting is available on MVEA’s website, www.mvea.coop. If you are interested in being a candidate, please phone Edward “Kelly” McGuire, 481-9377. A candidate must be a MVEA member and reside in District 7. Candidate applications must be received by the nominating committee by April 7, 5:30 p.m. If you are petitioning for nomination, your candidate application must be submitted to either Association office with your petition by April 21, 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 719-775-2861 or 719-495-2283 or visit www.mvea.coop.

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Host a foreign exchange student

Host families are needed for the 2014-15 school year. Create life-changing friendships and see your world through new eyes. 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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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 https://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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