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Vol. 14 No. 6 - June 7, 2014


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

the PDF file. This is a 24 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.

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

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Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education May 15: Board appoints director of curriculum, finalizes budget

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education appointed a director of curriculum, finalized its 2013-14 budget, discussed post-graduate surveys and interviews, and recognized a number of the district’s students at its May 15 meeting.

The board approved a one-year contract beginning Aug. 1 for Dr. Sheila Beving in the position of director of curriculum/instruction and professional development. Incoming superintendent Karin Brofft explained that there were initially five candidates for the position, narrowed to two before Beving was selected. Beving has been a principal in Douglas County for 12 years and has a broad understanding of the accreditation process and pre-K-12 education, said Brofft.

District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) Chair Chris Amenson said that DAAC encourages participation from every school, both parents and staff. The committee held its meetings in various schools to familiarize the group with the varying environments and practices.

The committee reviewed all unified improvement plans, budget updates, teacher and principal evaluation processes, and the Gifted and Special Education programs.

Amenson said that although the district at large performed well on standardized tests, there were mixed results in academic growth for free/reduced lunch students, English language learners, and those on Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Primary areas of concern were middle school reading for those with disabilities, and math and writing for those with disabilities.

Amenson said that scores may be partially related to socioeconomic situations. At the high school level, those with disabilities also fell short. Amenson acknowledged that these results may be partially due to budget cuts over the past several years that eliminated coaches and other individuals who could aid those falling behind.

Home School Enrichment Academy update

Benton said that the Home School Enrichment Academy served 78 students in the 2013-14 school year, up from 53 the previous year. Programs are now offered for students in grades K-7, one day a week from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The enrichment program is intended to offer homeschooled students enrichment in the areas of art, drama, music, physical education, and creative writing. The academy also offers proctoring for required tests. Parents purchase the assessment materials.

Some field trips are also offered. All teachers are state certified and the program is free. The district receives funds from the state (each student is counted as half-time) for offering the program, and any excess funds are reinvested in the program.

The goal for next year is to expand to 95 students and serve grades K-8. It is hoped that world language instruction can be offered to those at the middle school level.

Benton said that many of the academy’s staff have homeschooled their children and have an insight into which features are useful.

Exceptional Student
Services update

Director of Exceptional Student Services Mary Anne Fleury said that there will be a summer institute to train staff of the Multi-Tiered System of Support and accommodations. Special education and general education teachers are being trained in Hill reading and Hill math. Work continues on standardizing transition processes from one school to another. Please see the DAAC article on page 6 of this issue for further details.

English learners plan approved

English Language Learning Coordinator Stephanie Johnson reported that her program now has eight teachers to serve 305 students speaking 42 languages, the largest number of students in the history of the program. This is the fastest-growing segment of the student population.

Students are assessed on their ability to speak, read, write, and listen in English. Students are monitored through graduation even though they may be rated as proficient. This is partly because the vocabulary required becomes more difficult in middle and high school.

The program provides tutoring, summer school, and programs for parents. Students younger than third grade are not permitted to exit the system.

Students are assessed on an annual basis. Even those students whose parents declined to receive services are required by law to be assessed.

The board voted to approve the program as presented.

Palmer Ridge High School post-graduate survey

Palmer Ridge High School sent surveys to graduates of the classes of 2011-13 regarding their preparedness for college or the workforce.

The responses from 30 to 35 percent of the graduates indicated that the majority (60 percent) stayed within the state for college. Of these, 8 to 12 percent required remediation (classes to bring them up to grade level before beginning college level classes) and 27 to 36 percent required tutoring (help with college-level courses).

Students reported that they wished to have had better library research and time management skills, and experience in a lab, with a diverse population, with such software as Excel, and with midterm exams.

They felt they were well prepared in writing skills, Advanced Placement classes, working in groups, and advanced math classes. They would have liked to have had more instruction in life skills such as budgeting, balancing a checkbook, leasing an apartment, and writing resumes.

Members of the board encouraged continuing the program.

Final adjustments to 2013-14 budget

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman requested that remaining funds in the 2013-14 budget be used to purchase three new school buses, to complete the roof projects at Kilmer and Lewis Palmer Elementary schools, and to use $105,000 to replace food service equipment.

The board approved the adjustments as presented.

First presentation of 2014-15 budget

Wangeman presented the 2014-15 budget for the board’s review. She said that early repayment of certificates of participation and adjustment of food service in the high schools to offset a decline in federal funding for free/reduced lunches will make a difference. Some goals for the coming year are to create a stronger technology infrastructure and address class size. Enrollment figures will be evaluated on a monthly basis.

Per pupil funding from the state will increase by $350 per pupil in the coming year. Student enrollment is expected to rise by about 100.

Wangeman reported that she has been in touch with local developers to learn of their plans for building homes in the next year. This information is useful in determining the amount of cash in lieu of land funding available to the district.

Black Hills Energy has said that it will not increase its rates for natural gas in light of the fact that the district was investigating other sources for the resource.

Bauman commented that he and Wangeman hoped to restore the district’s reserves to over 20 percent of total assets as a result of a conservative budgeting process. Present reserves are about 18 percent.

The board will vote on the budget at its June meeting.

Parking issues

During citizens’ comments, Jackie Burhans expressed concern about individuals parking in a no parking zone near Palmer Ridge High School during games. She said that people were parked on both sides of Woodmoor Drive despite signs. She suggested the use of chains to block access to the area. Board President Mark Pfoff thanked her for her comment and said that part of the area is the property of the district and part is not.

Wangeman said that the area was originally intended to be an emergency and construction entrance only. She said that the district is seeking bids to move the fence and add signs. Woodmoor Public Safety Chief Kevin Nielsen said that he is trying to get signs posted on the opposite side of the street.

Palmer Lake Elementary School Counselor Patty Dunard thanked the board and the district for their mentorship and support. She worked in the district from 1998 to the present and planned to resign on the evening of the meeting. The board took a short break to meet with her.

The Palmer Ridge basketball team was introduced by Principal Gary Gabel, who said that they had received the Les Schwab Academic Team Championship Award. To receive the award, the team must have a 3.5 cumulative or higher grade point average. The Bears have a 3.56 average.

The Palmer Ridge High School robotics team utilized their robot to present the colors before the meeting. Team member Danielle Wieland explained the rules of competition to the board.

A "Rube Goldberg" demonstration from Lewis-Palmer Middle School was also presented. The class had been divided into several teams, each of which was allotted a 12-by-12-inch piece of plywood on which to base its creation. They could only build upward and had to start the motion of an object near the bottom of the creation. Through the use of simple tools, they had to propel a marble or toy car up and around and onto another team’s structure.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s learning center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on June 19.

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

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Palmer Lake Town Council May 8: Medical Marijuana Zoning Talks Continue

By James Howald

The Palmer Lake Town Council on May 8 discussed medical marijuana sales, reviewed an application for a new business license, and heard a presentation on wilderness preservation and an update on the fire mitigation grant project.

Medical marijuana issue goes to workshop

In the previous meeting, the council voted to table an amendment to Ordinance 4, 2010 that would have prohibited the sale and cultivation of medical marijuana in areas zoned M1 (light manufacturing), such as the portion of County Line Road in Palmer Lake. On May 8, the council resumed the discussion of the proposed amendment and heard a statement from a business owner with commercial property in the M1 zone who argued that this amendment would potentially prevent him from using his property to produce medical marijuana products should he decide to do that. The council took no action on the amendment at the May 8 meeting, deciding instead to discuss it further at a workshop session to be held June 5 at 6 p.m.

License approved for fitness business

The council approved a request by Jason Lupo, owner of Out of the Box Performance, for a new license for his business, which will be located in the Westend Center at 755 Highway 105, Suite M. Out of the Box Performance will provide personal training for athletes, including cyclists and weightlifters.

Club presents plan to preserve Rampart East

Phillip Kummer spoke about the Colorado Mountain Club’s goal to preserve 32,000 acres in the Rampart East area. The goal is to support the wildlife and the watershed in the Pike National Forest above the Rampart Reservoir, and ultimately to have these lands, which are currently classified as a roadless area, declared a wilderness area. Wilderness areas do not allow motorized vehicles or mountain bikes. The club will host open houses to present its ideas to the public at the Palmer Lake Town Hall.

Fire fuel mitigation project funded

Judith Harrington reported that Palmer Lake’s fire fuel mitigation project, part of a larger project organized by the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP), will receive funds from CUSP, but the exact amount is yet to be determined. CUSP still has some funds from its previous budget cycle available to help Palmer Lake begin the mitigation work. Harrington advised those interested in seeking funds to have their pre-mitigation assessment done as soon as possible. Contact her for further details at 719-229-9636. Forms and information relating to the project are available on the Palmer Lake website (www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us).

Laser tag business inquires about site

Mark Smith, owner of Battlefield Colorado, an outdoor laser tag business in Colorado Springs, expressed an interest in leasing land owned by Palmer Lake on Spruce Road. The business needs to move from Colorado Springs by June. Smith described outdoor laser tag as similar to paintball, but without the paint. Laser tag is played using infrared rifles that mimic the sound of a rifle but quieter, measuring 52 decibels at 100 feet. The business would operate seven days a week, by reservation only.

The business would not alter the terrain on the leased land and would use portable toilet facilities. It would require parking for a maximum of 60 cars. The council decided to schedule a viewing of the property within two weeks and then have a special meeting about the lease.

The meeting adjourned at 9:20 p.m.

**********

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

James Howald can be reached at jameshowald@ocn.me.

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District Accountability Advisory Committee, May 6: Year-end reports summarized; new superintendent introduced

By Harriet Halbig

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) ended the school year with reports from the Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) and the Gifted Education Leadership Team, a review of Teacher Effectiveness Evaluations, and an introduction to incoming superintendent Karin Brofft.

Director of Exceptional Student Services May Anne Fleury reported that her department’s responsibilities encompass special education, English language learners, Response to Intervention, Multi-Tiered System of Support Services (MTSS), extended school year (ESY), and 504 plans (similar to Individual Education Plans or IEPs).

Fleury said that there is now SEAC, a parent support network, and a Person-Centered Practices group supported by the Peak Parent Center. Assistive technology is also offered for those who are unable to write or have difficulty reading.

Fleury reported that the department continues to meet all state requirements in its work. She said that the special education department served 524 students in the 2013-14 school year, or about 8.3 percent of the student population. Resources are available in all buildings—programs for those with significant support needs, intensive intervention for those with emotional needs, the Transitions program for students ages 18 to 21, preschool, and the ChildFind program to diagnose children from age 2 1/2 to determine whether they qualify for services. The Extended School Year program serves about 120 students per summer.

Fleury said that in the 2013-14 school year, she provided additional training for paraprofessionals and made training videos on the creation and use of IEPs and Extended School Year qualification. Specialists were scheduled in such a way that they did not need to commute between schools.

Highlights of the SEAC year included presentations on text anxiety, augmentative communication, and family-school-community support.

Fleury reported that four schools in the district received state grants for the use of MTSS. The state provided training to address issues of academic and behavioral issues together.

Teacher effectiveness update

Director of Personnel and Student Services Bob Foster reported on the status of the new teacher evaluation process, overseen by DAAC. The process for teachers and principals began this year and continues to evolve. Standards for teachers differ from those of principals. Professional Practices encompass 50 percent of a teacher’s score.

Foster said that a major challenge is the fact that many teachers teach subjects that are not assessed through standardized tests. This makes it difficult to assess student growth and performance, the basis for 50 percent of a teacher’s assessment.

Foster said that in the coming year, the district will finalize its evaluation systems, continue to work on assessment tools, analyze and adjust data, and develop a method of evaluating other licensed providers such as psychologists and therapists.

Teachers will be assessed through self-appraisals and midyear reviews. Probationary teachers will have two observations in the classroom per year; non-probationary teachers will have one.

Lewis-Palmer has developed a unique system by which teachers with more challenging populations can receive a "bump" in their scores if they "grow" students on free/reduced-price lunch, minorities, students with disabilities, and English language learners even though those students may not achieve high scores on tests.

Director of Gifted Education and Assessment Lori Benton said this adjustment would encourage teachers to continue to work with this population and not fear that test scores would rob them of their non-probationary status. Benton also said that teachers are aware of the students’ scores from the previous year and in that way know where to concentrate their efforts.

Gifted Education Leadership Team

Benton reported that the Gifted Education Leadership Team divides its attention among gifted programming, identification of gifted students, development of personnel, budget concerns, and a new addendum for the district’s Unified Improvement Plan.

The district has a gifted population of 13.9 percent. Students are identified in the third and sixth grades. Once identified as gifted, the designation is not removed.

There is a four-year program in place to redefine the identification process and improve the quality of advanced learning plans. Benton said that most of the facilitators in the district meet state requirements as Highly Qualified in Gifted Education.

Students are identified on the basis of cognitive ability (evaluated on the basis of the Cognitive Ability Test, or COGAT), academic achievement (in the 95th percentile or above), behavioral characteristics, and demonstrated performance in creativity or leadership.

The district continues to develop identification techniques in the areas of fine arts, music, performing arts, leadership, and creativity.

Once a student is identified as gifted, parents receive a letter from the district and must then request or refuse services.

Benton said that it is sometimes difficult to identify as gifted those individuals who are disabled or economically disadvantaged.

She said that her department has recently received additional funding for professional development.

Legislative update

Board of Education liaison John Magerko reported on recent developments in the Legislature. He said that meetings with legislators by members of the Colorado Association of School Boards and letters and emails from concerned individuals have made an additional $110 million available for the use of schools. A presentation by Interim superintendent Ted Bauman surprised the state Board of Education that a high-performing district such as D-38 did not have the technology required to administer newly required tests.

Bauman introduced incoming superintendent Karin Brofft, who said that she sees recent legislative initiatives and financial restraints as her primary challenges, and developing better engagement with the community, and especially local businesses, as her primary goal.

**********

The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month during the school year. The next meeting will be on Sept. 9 in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument.

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 5: Potential county stormwater fee ballot item discussed

By Lisa Hatfield

On May 5, the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) discussed Monument’s options to deal with a possible county ballot measure on stormwater fees and learned more about the function of the Development Services Department and the quasi-judicial decision-making process legally required when the town makes decisions on development projects.

Town Clerk Cindy Sirochman introduced Rafael Dominguez as the new mayor and Trustee Kelly Elliott as the new board member.

Trustees Stan Gingrich and Jeff Bornstein and Town Manager Pam Smith were absent.

County seeks support for stormwater plan

Sirochman stated that Smith had submitted a detailed 73-page town "Stormwater Update" report to the board by Smith as requested at the April 21 BOT meeting. She noted that the El Paso Board of County Commissioners is considering a November 2014 ballot question for a new stormwater fee or tax. The county commissioners are asking for the BOT’s support of this ballot issue and for the town to participate in the Storm Water Mitigation Plan.

The BOT package included a copy of the "White Paper Exploring Potential Solutions to Regional Stormwater Challenges" that was prepared by Summit Economics LLC for the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and the regional stormwater task force headed up by the county and City of Colorado Springs. (http://www.pikespeakstormwater.org/stormwater-101/presentations/)

Public Works Director Tom Tharnish noted that the package contained several emails between Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach and former Monument Mayor Travis Easton, and six major projects were identified in the town’s 2006 20-year stormwater plan.

Tharnish gave two reasons why the town of Monument could opt out of the county’s request that all municipalities participate in a regional plan:

• The town already has its own stormwater funding mechanism in place and wants to make sure it is not "double paying."

• The town is already working on its own stormwater projects to help mitigate current issues.

The Waldo Canyon Fire and the Black Forest Fire have pushed stormwater issues to the forefront, since fire-scarred land is extremely susceptible to erosion, washing sediments downstream and adversely affecting watersheds, roads and bridges, businesses, insurance rates, utility rates, water quality, property values, and personal safety.

Currently, there are no dedicated regional funds to address stormwater needs in the region, since the Stormwater Enterprise fund was dissolved in late 2009 and only $2.2 million in capital funds is available annually now, according to the Pikes Peak Regional Stormwater Task Force. The Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA) raises about $70 million a year for roads and bridges and could be used as a model for a similar fund for stormwater improvements.

Trustee Jeffrey Kaiser said that the City of Colorado Springs is trying to manage its flow of water downstream so that the City of Pueblo won’t hold the Southern Delivery System (SDS) "hostage" to meeting Pueblo’s stormwater control demands on Colorado Springs. The SDS has been designed to transport water north to El Paso County entities that hold water rights but need a way to get the water to their districts.

The county’s 2013 stormwater task force findings indicated that Monument’s five infrastructure needs would cost about $6 million, while the regional total, including infrastructure needed in Colorado Springs, El Paso County, Fountain, Monument, Cherokee Metro District, and Manitou Springs would cost about $850 million.

In its 2006 Storm Water Plan, the Town of Monument listed six major stormwater infrastructure projects, including Beacon Lite Road from Highway 105 south to Dirty Woman Creek, Front Street between Second and Third, Jefferson Street from Third Street to Santa Fe Avenue, along the east side of the railroad tracks draining southward, and stormwater drainage to Monument Lake to be completed over the next 20 years for an estimated cost of $4.1 million, Tharnish said.

Two new issues that have arisen since the 2006 plan was made will receive funding first since they require immediate attention. Heavy rain caused the culvert to overflow at Teachout Creek along Old Denver Road, and erosion at Front Street and Lincoln exposed a water main and washed away the edge of a citizen’s property and affected the safety of the railroad tracks.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the town could support the county’s resolution without entering into the Intergovernmental Agreement, but the specific language of the issue is not yet available.

Kassawara summarizes Development Services

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara explained the general mission and function of the department. It reviews and processes development project applications that require a recommendation from the Planning Commission and approval by the Board of Trustees, as well as smaller-scale development applications that are approved administratively.

It also responds to inquiries related to land use planning, land use and zoning regulations, reviewing infrastructure construction plans, and permitting and inspecting all new developments and infrastructure improvements. It manages the planning, design, and construction of capital improvement projects. And, he said, it is working more closely with the Public Works department than it has in the past.

Kassawara then explained the legally required quasi-judicial process trustees must use in making decisions on development projects at Planning Commission and Town Council meetings. Rulings on whether the project meets town code must be made based on facts and evidence presented at the hearing, not on personal opinions, emotions, anecdotal evidence, or hearsay.

Recommendations on projects are provided in the staff report and presented as evidence to the trustees. The project applicant presents his evidence, and the public is invited to give factual input during the public comment section of the meeting. Then the decision is made to approve or deny the development project. This quasi-judicial process is vital, because if it is circumvented, the results could later be challenged in court, Kassawara said.

Code cleanup ordinance

The trustees unanimously approved Ordinance 18-2014, designed to improve eight sections of municipal code on an administrative level, Kassawara said. See www.ocn.me/v14n5.htm#mpc0409 for more details.

Disbursements over $5,000

The board unanimously approved one disbursement over $5,000:

• $7,083 to Jacobs Engineering for engineering work for the Monument Sidewalk Project.

At 7:35 p.m., the meeting went into executive session in regards to "legal advice/pending lawsuit." No votes were taken or announcements were made after the executive session.

**********

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

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 19: Triview a step closer to water ownership

By Jim Kendrick

On May 19, the Monument Board of Trustees approved an ordinance to establish a new ancillary fund to be known as the Monument Lake Water Storage Fund. The ordinance will help facilitate a related intergovernmental agreement (IGA), approved on April 7, between the town and Triview Metropolitan District allowing Triview to use the town’s water storage rights in the town’s Monument Lake for up to 75 acre-feet for augmentation water.

Trustees Kelly Elliott, Stan Gingrich, and Jeff Kaiser did not attend this meeting.

Ancillary water fund creation approved

Town Treasurer Monica Harder reported that the board had approved the IGA between Triview and the Town of Monument on April 7 for water use and storage, which included a stipulation for Triview to pay the town $675,000 for the ability to store up to 75 acre-feet of water, as needed by Triview, using the town’s water storage rights in the town-owned Monument Lake.

The resolution that approved this IGA also states that the town may use all of its annual average surface water right of 75 acre-feet from Beaver Creek for later release "for replacement of any injurious post-pumping depletions which may result from Triview’s use of water purchased from Jackson Creek (Land Co.), pursuant to any applicable plan for augmentation to be adjudicated by Triview for such purposes."

The resolution also stated that while the town will provide storage and Beaver Creek surface water for augmentation as required to Triview so that Triview can sell the water formerly owned by Jackson Creek Land Co. back to it for future developments within Triview, "the town is not responsible for meeting any such post-pumping replacement obligations, except as provided in this 2014 IGA and the water (sale) agreement."

This ancillary fund ordinance is part of a water augmentation plan between Triview and Jackson Creek Land Co. that has not yet been approved by the state or adjudicated by the state water court.

The town had recently begun denying approval of some new construction on property owned by the Jackson Creek Land Co. within Triview until it concluded the sale of all its water rights to Triview. Monument now requires any developer to deed its water rights to the town for any development within the town boundary prior to issuing any construction permits. The town has land use authority over all the land in the Triview service area, while Triview has the obligation to provide water and wastewater services within its service area.

The language in the IGA between the town and Triview clarifies "the rights and responsibilities of each in the provision, delivery, and use of a water supply sufficient to support a plan for augmentation allowing Triview to provide water service to include the Jackson Creek (Land Co.) developments, the scope and detail of which are more specifically described and contained in the Water Agreement." Triview is solely responsible for obtaining, treating, and delivering water services for each of its "will serve" letters to developers. The town will not review, approve, or bear any responsibility for fulfillment of any of these future Triview "will serve" letters or provide its Beaver Creek surface water rights to Triview for any purpose other than augmentation and only if the augmentation plan is approved and adjudicated.

The money in this new ancillary account must be segregated from all other town general fund revenues as well as already segregated town water enterprise fund revenues. The town will provide Triview and Jackson Creek Land Co. and its affiliate development partner Centre Development Company LLC with annual accountings of this new ancillary fund’s disbursements, or more frequently on request (maximum of monthly).

The uses of this Triview ancillary fund will be restricted to expenditures on infrastructure, improvements, and delivery of water as described in the IGA. The remaining balance of the ancillary fund would be returned to Triview only in the event that an augmentation plan that would allow use of all of the water credits in connection with the anticipated development in Jackson Creek is not approved by the state and adjudicated by the state water court by Dec. 31, 2019.

The ordinance for creation of this new ancillary fund was unanimously approved by roll call vote.

Town fee schedule amendment approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution to bring town staff research and retrieval fees in line with a new statewide requirement in the recently passed House Bill 14-1193. The state law limits the amount that can be charged for town staff research to $30 per hour after the first hour, which has to be provided for free as of May 2. The town had been charging $5 per 15 minutes.

The following sign fees were created by this resolution:

• $50 per freestanding or monument sign, plus $250 landscaping bond

• $25 per wall sign

• $15 per temporary/banner sign

A re-inspection fee of $50 was also created for each scheduled inspection where the contractor is not ready for the inspection, resulting in an additional trip by the engineering assistant.

Financial reports

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

• $119,584 to Triview for March sales tax ($111,792), April motor vehicle tax ($7,518), and April Pikes Peak Regional Building sales tax ($274)

• $6,010 to CIRSA Insurance for a workers compensation 2013 payroll audit adjustment

• $20,132 to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for a 1997 Water Enterprise Fund loan payment for water distribution equipment

• $39,072 to Wells Fargo Equipment Finance Inc. for a lease for Public Works and Water Enterprise equipment and vehicles

Harder reported that through April, general fund revenues were $23,000 more than budgeted (1.64 percent), general fund expenses were $351,000 less than budgeted (23.5 percent), and net revenue was $374,000, up by $60,000 compared to last year. Water fund revenues were $146,000 less than budgeted (31 percent), expenses were $119,000 less than budgeted (27 percent), and net revenue was $27,000 less than budgeted, up from $110,000 less than budgeted through April last year.

The town financial reports were unanimously approved.

Staff reports

Police Chief Jacob Shirk presented a comprehensive 30-minute Police Department training briefing prepared for the orientation of Trustee Elliott. However, she did not attend the briefing.

Some of the items Shirk reported were:

• Officers Steve Lontz and Robert Steine attended a 40-hour training class to be certified as field training officers (FTOs).

• FTOs train new officers for 12 weeks.

• The Monument Police Department responded for a suicidal person armed with a handgun on foot during blizzard conditions, requiring dispatch of the Fountain Monument SWAT team before lengthy negotiations by Sgt. Mark Owens persuaded the person to put down his weapon so he could be taken into custody.

Some the other items Shirk noted in response to board member questions were:

• There has been an increase in heroin use and juvenile marijuana possession.

• Confiscated guns are returned to the owner, traded in for credit for department purchase of new guns, or destroyed.

Some of the items Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported were:

• Administrative Assistant Marsha Kassawara will retire on June 1.

• A land use permit had been issued for the new Front Range Animal Hospital building.

• Seven new building permits for single-family residential housing were issued, bringing the total to 26 for the year.

• Three benches have been installed in the Second Street art park just west of the D-38 Big Red building.

• Red bike racks and a trash can as well as three silver table and chair sets have been placed in the new gathering area in front of the Monument Sanitation District building on Second Street.

• Five new parallel parking spaces have been striped along the new sidewalk in front of the Monument Sanitation District as part of the downtown sidewalks project.

Tom Tharnish, director of Public Works, reported that the town’s new bulk water station at the Wagon Gap Trail intersection of Old Denver Highway is operational.

Town Manager Pamela Smith reported that the town received a $27,500 Pikes Peak Regional Building grant for youth summer hiring for parks and mitigation. It will be used to hire six youths for 40 hour per week youths and two youths for 20 hour per week. Smith also noted that hiring one part-time staff member at 25 hours per week at $13 per hour will produce savings of $17,600 per year over the out-sourced cleaning contract that Smith did not renew.

Board of Trustees comments

Trustee Becki Tooley reminded everyone that Art Hop has started and will be held on the third Thursday of the month through the summer.

Mayor Rafael Dominguez stated he was approached by one the local veterans’ associations with a request to install a taller flagpole in the Monument cemetery so a POW flag could be displayed as well as the American flag. He asked Smith to obtain a price quote.

Dominguez said a tree limb is blocking the directional sign on Second Street near Wisdom Tea House. Tharnish will notify the property owner the tree limb is in the right of way and that public works will cut the limb.

The meeting adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

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

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Monument Planning Commission, May 14: Landscaping restriction, Lake of Rockies rezoning approved

By Kate Wetterer

On May 14, the Monument Planning Commission approved a landscaping requirement and the Lake of the Rockies rezoning.

Commercial landscaping requirements

The commissioners decided that new commercial developments would be generally restricted from using sod in landscaping due to difficult upkeep and to conserve water, but that a case could be made for sod on an individual basis provided there is an adequate water supply available. The bill was approved 5 to 2, with Brad Hogan and John Dick voting against. Commissioner Dick made a case for the public’s right to choose whether or not to use sod without the government’s interference.

Lake of the Rockies rezoning

The Lake of the Rockies development’s discussion was divided into three segments, and each proposition was voted on separately.

Tim Seibert represented NES Inc. in proposing the rezone of 60.506 acres from Planned Commercial Development to Planned Development only, making way for the Lake of the Rockies housing project. The plot of land currently allocated for the development is southwest of the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and the access road to Monument Lake.

While the housing development could be built without rezoning, the change would forbid commercial enterprises. This rezoning request was approved unanimously.

156 single-family homes proposed

The Lake of the Rockies housing development’s preliminary final plat divides the land into 156 single-family lots, fewer that were approved when the plan was originally suggested. The community might have to purchase water from the town if its water resources fall short.

Should the Board of Trustees approve the Lake of the Rockies development, homes of different sizes would be built, serviced by a variety of hiking trails and some new facilities near Monument Lake. Improved parking and restrooms would be provided for visitors to the lake, as well as public seating/eating areas and a freshly-paved access road. All trails would be open to the public.

A concrete wall would be built along Mitchell Avenue and a wooden fence would be installed along the south barrier of the development. Commissioner Glenda Smith advocated eliminating the tall wooden privacy fences in the design plan, which is something the builders agreed to work with.

A 14.19-acre parcel of land would be delegated to the town as open space for light public use. This is because it is impacted by a 100-year floodplain and because it is a protected Preble’s mouse habitat.

Citizens from the West Oak Ridge subdivision expressed some concerns about the Lake of the Rockies development, including the increase in traffic this new community would generate.

Other issues discussed included the density of the development, with builders urged to construct fewer homes across the lot. Citizens said this would improve safety and would better conform to the rest of Monument. Also, it was noted that run-off from so many new homes could add chemicals to Monument Lake itself, resulting in increased algae growth.

In the end, the preliminary final plat and the final PD site plan were approved 6 to 1, with Commissioner Dave Gwisdalla voting against both times.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. June 11 in Town Hall, 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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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, May 13: Shaffer nominated for Manager of the Year

By Nancy Wilkins

At the May 13 Woodmoor Water and Sanitation (WWSD) Board of Directors meeting, the board unanimously voted to recommend Jessie Shaffer as Special District Association Manager of the Year. Also, WWSD faces an upsurge in service to new homes, a major water main broke in two places on Woodmoor Drive, and unaccounted water was down to 7 percent.

Attorney Erin Smith presented resolution 14-07 for the board to nominate Jessie Shaffer as Special District Association Manager of the Year.

Shaffer has served as district engineer since 2004 and was appointed district manager in 2008. As district manager, Shaffer has steered the district though the long and lengthy process of obtaining a new renewable water source, created a rate structure for customers who use large quantities of water for irrigation, and recently updated system specifications for design plans and construction.

According to the resolution form, "When decisions need to be made regarding the district, Jessie is able to look at things from a high-level management view, along with looking at, and understanding, the technical engineering intricacies involved in providing clean and safe water to district customers."

Shaffer complimented a talented and diverse staff, supportive board, and a group of remarkable consultants at WWSD.

Rise in new housing development

WWSD is experiencing a surge in the number of residential housing units being planned in the district.

One of several new housing developers who contacted WWSD plans to construct houses surrounding Lake Woodmoor. The developer, La Plata, plans to build several homes on existing lots and is proposing to realign a reach of sewer service within the development.

WWSD also received preliminary development plans referred to the district from the town of Monument for 128 single-family detached structures, near the southeast corner of Knollwood Drive and Highway 105. The developer seeks rezoning from the city of Monument from commercial to residential uses.

Rivers Development also plans to build additional housing units, near Palmer Ridge High School.

Shaffer said he hasn’t seen this much new activity in WWSD for over five years

Two water main breaks along Woodmoor Drive

Near Top O the Moor Drive East and Shadowed Drive, two major water breaks occurred along Woodmoor Drive. Water service was interrupted for about 36 hours May 1 and 2. Inspection of the leaks found water had washed away a substantial amount of soil under Woodmoor Drive.

The first main break occurred near Top O the Moor Drive East. A three-foot split in the 8-inch iron water pipe was easily found. The second break occurred along the same pipe as the water line was being recharged shortly after the first leak had been repaired.

The second break was caused by a nine-foot crack in the iron pipe, split lengthwise, and was more difficult to find. The cost of repairs for both leaks is estimated at about $8,000.. Shaffer said an inspection showed that the two breaks apparently were isolated areas in the pipe.

Unaccounted water down to 7 percent

Assistant Manager Randy Gillette reported 1.3 million gallons of unaccounted water representing 7 percent of total net billable water were pumped between March 31 and April 30. Unaccounted water is the difference between metered water production and metered water billed to the customer, as water is currently measured at the start and end points of the system.

Shaffer showed a chart of the percentage of unaccounted water per month for each year from 2002 to 2013. Anything under 10 percent is very good under industry standards, said consulting engineer Steve Tamburini.

According to the chart, WWSD is averaging 6 percent in unaccounted water over 10 years. In 2013 WWSD experienced 11 percent unaccounted water. Shaffer suggested installing additional meters in the water lines of several zones to help gauge where leaks occur.

Gillette will continue to research and test new equipment for detecting leaks, check existing meters for accuracy, and search for sources of unaccounted water.

Grant for security received

Office Manager Marsha Howland reported the district received "a little over" $7,000 as a grant recommended through WWSD’s insurance company. The grant was specific to security use. The district purchased new door locks, a camera system, and other security equipment.

Chilcott ditch report

According to Shaffer, the Chilcott ditch and flume are working as planned, and water is flowing for irrigation use into JV Ranch. WWSD will eventually take over the management and accounting of the ditch for the Chilcott Ditch Co., possibly before the end of the summer. WWSD will use telemetry equipment from Mission Communications LLC, which will provide the measuring equipment at a competitive cost.

A cell phone service will automatically upload the water information to a web page run by Mission Communications. Gillette said the equipment should be installed within one or two weeks. WWSD is required to measure the water flowing into JV Ranch through the Chilcott ditch in order to take receipt of the water.

Creating a perfect brew

WWSD informs the local Pikes Peak Brewing Co. about when the water source changes from underground aquifers to surface water. Board member Rich Strom said Pikes Peak Brewing uses this information to adjust the pH in its water in order to reach high standards used in producing its beer products. WWSD was projected to start drawing from Woodmoor Lake water at the end of May.

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The next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, June 12, at 1 p.m. at 1846 Woodmoor Drive. Please call 719-488-2530, or visit www.woodmoorwater.com for more information.

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

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Tri-Lakes Facility Joint Use Committee, May 13: Planning and design of phosphorus equipment underway

By Jim Kendrick

On May 13, Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks reported two more bills from engineering consultant Tetra Tech RTW for planning and design of new phosphorus removal equipment to be installed at the facility in the near future. The total of all three bills from Tetra Tech was $37,420, which will be reimbursed from the state’ s $80,000 planning and design grant.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. 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 Don Smith of Monument. Several other district board members, district managers, and district staff from each of the three owner districts also attended the meeting.

Financial report

Burks noted April payments of $13,692 and $12,066 to Tetra Tech RTW for planning and design of new phosphorus removal equipment to be installed at the facility. The March payment to Tetra Tech RTW was $11,722. All three will be reimbursed by the state.

Burks also noted a payment of $424 to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for an administrative fee for tracking the biosolids that were removed from the plant. A payment of $4,000 was made to John Cutler and Associates for the facility’ s 2013 audit. Burks will provide copies of the draft audit to each district for their separate internal 2013 district audits. Cutler will present the final facility audit report at the June 10 meeting.

The April financial report was unanimously approved as presented.

District manager reports

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that the district’ s new computers and new accounting software have been installed.

Palmer Lake Sanitation District Manager Becky Orcutt reported that district collection line cleaning was underway. Voters approved, 208 to 30, the district’ s TABOR waiver election on May 6 to be able to accept $360,000 in state grants. The funds will help pay for the district’ s share of the facility’ s planned $2.08 million total phosphorus removal equipment installation at no cost to constituents.

Woodmoor Assistant Manager Randy Gillette said his district had nothing unusual to report regarding wastewater but had been dealing with a water main break.

Plant manager’ s report

Burks noted that the plant had been running efficiently and that there were no unusual or noteworthy test results in the facility’ s March Discharge Monitoring Report or Control Regulation 85 tests for nutrients in Monument Creek or the facility’ s treated effluent. The facility’ s quarterly whole effluent toxicity test was passed successfully as well.

There was discussion of what nonylphenols are and how they are a problem elsewhere in El Paso County. The facility’ s latest nonylphenol test yielded a "non-detect" reading as always. Burks applied successfully to the state Health Department last fall to reduce the number of expensive tests from twice a month to once a quarter because no facilities use significant amounts of nonylphenols in the facility’ s service area.

The meeting adjourned at 10:45 a.m.

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

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

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Palmer Lake Sanitation District voters approve TABOR waiver for state grant

By Jim Kendrick

In the May 6 mail-in ballot election, Palmer Lake Sanitation District voters overwhelmingly approved a one-time TABOR waiver that allows the district to accept $360,000 in state nutrient grants for planning, design, and construction of phosphorus removal equipment at the Tri-Lake Wastewater Treatment Facility. The vote was 268 to 30.

Although there were only four candidates for five empty board seats, there was a board election on this same ballot with the following results:

Richard Shellenberger—208

John Marshall—203

Kenneth Smith—213

Joseph Stallsmith—199

After the election, Director Dale Smith, who was term limited, was appointed at the May 11 district board meeting to fill the fifth seat until the next election in 2016. At this meeting, the board elected officers as follows: Richard Shellenberger, chairman; John Marshall, vice chairman; Kenneth Smith, secretary/treasurer and JUC representative; and Joseph Stallsmith and Smith as directors.

The district board has changed its monthly board meeting date and time. Meetings are now held on the second Wednesday of each month at 10 a.m. in the district conference room at 120 Middle Glenway. The next meeting will be held on June 11.

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

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Monument Sanitation District, May 15: New directors sworn in

By Jim Kendrick

On May 15, Directors Gene Kreft and Terry Madison were sworn in for four year terms as Monument Sanitation District board directors. Director Matt Vincent was sworn in for a two-year term. Most of the extended meeting was spent on orienting the new directors on district procedures, policies, and issues.

Ed DeLaney was re-appointed to board president, Don Smith was re-appointed to board treasurer, and Madison was appointed board secretary. Smith was appointed as the new primary district representative to the Joint Use Committee (JUC) of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, and DeLaney was appointed the primary alternate representative to this committee since they attend all the JUC meetings already. The other three directors were also appointed as backup alternates.

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. DeLaney urged the new directors to attend JUC meetings whenever they can to learn how the facility operates.

District Manager Mike Wicklund reported that Safeway had paid the district bill including late fees for under-reported water use since 2010 due to a bypass valve that had been installed around the town’s water meter. For more information on this issue see http://www.ocn.me/v14n5.htm#msd0417.

Treasurer’s report

The district received three tap fees since the April 17 board meeting, totaling $28,800. Total tap fees for the year to date is $37,900. The amount of tap fee revenue budgeted for 2014 is $50,000. More tap fees from new residential construction are likely later this year.

Wicklund asked the board to consider whether tap fees should be modified at a future meeting. The current fee is $4,500 for a residential wastewater tap, plus $300 per fixture unit over 20 units.

Wicklund briefed the board on the new computers, software, and network modifications that had been installed at a cost of about $5,000. The new systems allow him to monitor all the district’s supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) computer readings and directly operate the district’s new digital lift station control system from his home at night and on weekends. This will allow Wicklund to safely monitor and operate the system from his home during snow storms and at night.

Wicklund noted the purchase of a new shredder, after nursing the old shredder along for years, from Factory Express for $1,758.

A tree root infiltration blocked a district vitrified collection line and caused a basement backup in a district home. The cost for Servpro of Northern Colorado Springs to clean up the basement was $1,882. The reimbursement cost for basement property damages was $1,957.

A payment of $2,188 was paid to Insituform Technologies for reimbursing a 2013 retainage fee as part of the district’s ongoing multi-year program of relining aging terra cotta vitrified clay collection pipes in the downtown area. Insituform is a felt liner saturated with resins that is pulled through these decaying pipes and cured in place with steam. Wicklund said the liner is stronger and cheaper than the vitrified clay pipes were when new and has a lifespan of at least 100 years and only takes one day to install with no excavation required. Also, Insituform is a multi-billion-dollar corporation that is well insured.

The new liner will be installed this summer and paid for from the $50,000 contingency line in the 2014 budget. This year the liner will be installed west of Washington Street and north of Third Street.

Wicklund stated that a district grinder pump in a Wakonda Hills home had been replaced. The replacement pump from Keen Pump Co. cost $941.

The cost for lift station repairs by J&K Excavation was $2,250.

Total cash assets were $799,933. About $400,000 of this amount is a loan to pay the district’s one-third share of design, engineering, and construction costs for new phosphorus removal equipment at the Tri-Lakes facility that is required by the state’s Control Regulation 85 and Regulation 31.17.

The facility received a state grant of $80,000 for planning and design and a separate state grant of $1 million for construction following four years of district participation in state nutrient removal stakeholder meetings and aggressive lobbying of the state Legislature and Gov. John Hickenlooper for help in paying the total facility expansion cost of $2.08 million.

The district auditor will attend the June 19 board meeting to present the draft 2013 audit.

The board unanimously accepted the treasurer’s report as presented.

The meeting adjourned at 11:58 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on June 19 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, May 15: Three directors sworn in for four more years

By Jim Kendrick

On May 15, Donala Water and Sanitation District Board President Bill George congratulated Bob Denny, Dave Powell, and Bill Nance on their re-election as incumbent directors, noting, to much laughter, that they "got four more years" with "no time off for good behavior." George then swore them in for their new terms.

The board then unanimously re-elected George as board president, Powell as vice president, and Director Ken Judd as secretary/treasurer. Donala General Manager Kip Petersen commended Donala’s designated election official Ginnette Ritz for the great job she had done on this polling place election.

Donala General Manager Kip Petersen noted that the district’s investment advisor, Scott Prickett, had informed him that he had moved from Davidson Fixed Income Management (www.davidsoncompanies.com) to Chandler Asset Management (www.chandlerasset.com), and that several other members of Davidson who had worked with Donala had also moved to Chandler.

Prickett and several members of Chandler then met with Petersen to ask if Donala would move its investments to Chandler. Petersen scheduled a presentation to the board at this meeting by Prickett. Petersen said Donala financial advisor Joe Drew, of Drew Financial (www.drewfinancial.com), who had originally recommended Prickett to Donala, is very comfortable with Prickett and moving Donala’s investment account to Chandler. All policies and fees with Prickett will remain the same with Chandler.

Prickett was accompanied at the May 15 board meeting by Chandler’s Senior Vice President Ned Connolly and Client Service Manager Stacey Alderson. Chandler manages $7.5 billion, which includes $5.5 billion from 81 public agencies that is held entirely by third-party custodian Colorado State Bank for investor safety. After their presentation, they answered a few questions by the directors about independent customized investment management of public agency funds to safely maximize yields while preserving capital.

The board unanimously approved a motion to move Donala’s cash investment accounts to Chandler.

Financial report

Petersen gave a brief refresher on the how the district’s water infrastructure revenue loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority is administered. The authority reimburses Donala a short time after the district receives an invoice. The pace for receiving amounts from the loan depends on the pace of district awards and contract completions. The financial reports were unanimously accepted as presented.

Petersen noted the ongoing water reclamation study by engineering consultant Tetra Tech RTW for Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, and Donala to determine if a joint reuse project between the three would be more cost effective than each doing their own separate reuse projects. He said that preliminary results have shown that if Triview Metropolitan District did not participate, it may cost Donala up to an additional $20 million for joint re-use infrastructure that has to cross Triview’s service area from Donala to Woodmoor’s treatment facility. Final results may be available in July.

Petersen also said that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority water supply infrastructure study, to which Donala contributed $10,000, is nearing completion of a study installation of a water pipeline proposed by Cherokee Metropolitan District from the north end of the county down to North Williams Reservoir, where Colorado Springs Utilities will store its Southern Delivery System flows. Woodmoor may exchange water from its JV Ranch near Fountain with water from Cherokee from its well field in Sundance Ranch on Hodgen to reduce piping costs for each. The final report should be available at the end of this summer.

Manager’s report

Petersen reported that Stage 2 water restrictions would be in force from May 26 to Sept. 5—three days per week using odd/even dates/addresses, with no watering on Sunday, as has been in force for eight of the past nine years.

Petersen said there was an unexpected shutdown of the 1,300-foot deep Arapahoe Well 2A on May 4 that was determined to have been caused by a short circuit in the windings of the pump motor. The pump and motor have to be pulled out for repair or replacement at a cost of up to $80,000.

Annual hydrant flushing to eliminate residual precipitates that form in water distribution pipes during low irrigation periods has been completed.

The required repairs needed after the Mountain View Electric Association surge at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility have been substantially completed at a rough estimated cost of about $50,000. A plant blower motor was replaced due to internal failures structure and wiring failures at a less than expected cost of $24,000.

Engineering consultant GMS Inc. asked for bids on a water line installation from Viewpoint Estates to the western end of Doral Way as the first phase of a new water main to take water from Colorado Springs Utilities at its Northgate Boulevard connection to the district’s Latrobe Court water storage tank. Currently, water has to be pumped all the way uphill to the Holbein Drive water storage tanks before it can be returned downhill to the Latrobe Court tank. The board unanimously approved awarding the bid to Frazee Construction Co. at a cost of $240,297.

The meeting was adjourned at 3:26 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on June 19 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, May 20: Summer Safety Fair set for June 14

By Nancy Wilkins

At the May 20 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) board meeting, Fire Chief Vinny Burns and Assistant Fire Chief Scott Ridings announced DWFPD will host a Summer Safety Fair 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 14 at Fire Station 1 at 15415 Gleneagle Drive.

All district residents are invited to meet firefighters, learn about wildland firefighting, and visit with many vendors who will offer safety topics for homeowners and kids. A free lunch of hotdogs and chips will be provided. Kids will be able to climb on a fire truck and squirt water.

Fire mitigation efforts continue

DWFPD continues to help its residents with fire mitigation efforts. Ridings reported the district is very busy with wood chipping. Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall said she receives four or five calls a day requesting information on this program.

District policy is to provide wood chipping for groups of five homeowners living in the same neighborhood. District residents belonging to a homeowners association (HOA) are asked to contact their HOA before contacting DWFPD directly. Ridings said DWFPD is the only fire district that he knows of in the surrounding area that provides this service.

Financial report

Administrative Assistant Cheryl Marshall gave the financial report for May: Bank balances reported on April 30 are as follows: Peoples National Bank, $48,244; PNB Colorado Peak Fund, $179,993; Colorado Trust, $439,395; and Wells Fargo Public Trust $846,486, for total of $1.5 million.

Expenses for 2014 through the end of April were 18 percent.

2013 budget approved

The board unanimously voted to amend the 2013 budget, adjusting both revenue and expense budget line items. The board approved an amended budget increase for the cost of the November 2013 mill levy election, overtime pay due to the Black Forest Fire, vehicle maintenance, and health insurance.

The amended budget also adjusted expenses that were under budget. For example, in 2013 the amount for accident insurance was budgeted at $17,864. The actual expense for accident insurance in 2013 was reported under budget at $13,901, so the board reduced the 2013 budget for accident insurance to $14,000.

Aluminum radiators
unreliable at DWFP?

The frequency and cost of repairs needed to fix or replace aluminum radiators in several fire trucks at DWFPD is an ongoing concern for Burns and Ridings. According to the April 15 minutes, the aluminum radiators in fire engines 511 and 513 and ladder truck 531 all needed repairs or replacement. A concern at DWFPD is that a possible manufacturer defect occurs in the same type of aluminum radiators installed in fire engines in other fire districts.

No decision on
pension increase

The volunteer firefighter pension board met for the second time this year to consider increasing benefits, and Lt. Bryan Ackerman received another "wait and see" from the board. Ackerman’s current proposal would raise benefits for retired volunteer firefighters to the same amount of benefits given from Black Forest Fire Protection District. Ackerman also suggested the raise in benefits might help recruit and retain more volunteer firefighters.

Director Harland Baker noted that an increase from $400 to $500 per month was 20 percent, and suggested that the board consider the possibility of a smaller increase this year. The board asked Ackerman to research and present comparative pension benefit rates from other fire districts. Another pension board meeting will be scheduled after Ackerman notifies DWFPD when his research is complete.

Volunteer firefighters needed

Ackerman said volunteer firefighters are always needed, and he is currently looking for more volunteers. The summer safety fair hosted by DWFPD is an opportunity for adults to inquire about volunteer opportunities.

Marshall leaving district

Marshall announced she was leaving DWFPD. The board, Burns, and Ridings thanked Marshall for her contribution to the department and wished her success. Marshall will be joining her family in Idaho this summer.

There were 158 district calls reported in April, down from 166 calls in 2013, a 5 percent decreaseThe board entered an executive session for "determining positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiations." No public announcements were expected after the session.

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The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board meetings are normally held the third Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m. at Station 1, located at 15415 Gleneagle Dr. The next meeting is scheduled June 17. Please call 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org.

Nancy Wilkins can be reached at nancy.wilkins@ocn.me.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, May 28: District considers merger options

By Lisa Hatfield

At the May 28 Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) meeting, four new board members were sworn in, and the board contemplated a merger with another district, approved the 2013 audit, and received the April financial report.

Director Bruce Fritzsche was excused.

Newly-elected board members sworn in

Office Manager Jennifer Martin read the oath of office to the four board members elected May 7: Jacob Shirk, John Hildebrandt, Michael Smaldino, and Larry Smith. The two newest directors were Smaldino, a Monument resident since 2006 and firefighter in the Colorado Springs Fire Department since 1998 who is starting a four-year term, and Smith, a Woodmoor resident for over 20 years who is starting a two-year term. The current board now includes:

• Jacob Shirk, president

• Roger Lance, vice president

• John Hildebrandt, treasurer

• Michael Smaldino, secretary

• Bill Ingram, director

• Larry Smith, director

• Bruce Fritzsche, director

Shirk explained a new procedure: There will be a roll-call vote for all resolutions and positions. Martin will fill the new position of recording secretary and take meeting minutes.

TLMFPD considers merger

Chief Chris Truty said that TLMFPD is continuing "high level" discussions with Larkspur Fire Protection District in Douglas County. The first time the merger possibility was presented to the board was at the April meeting, and now Truty said he’s about halfway through the process of meeting with all the TLMFPD shifts and companies for their input.

He also plans to meet with the Larkspur board and crews for informal discussions. "We wanted to find out if there were any skeletons in the closet" that might prevent future discussions, Truty said. "So far we have not come up with any significant or even minor opposition to this yet." He said he and Larkspur Chief Jamey Bumgarner wanted to make sure there were no issues among the board members "before getting into the real time-consuming discussions."

Truty said that the staff has a whole host of questions about the details but that they are "cautiously optimistic about the whole thing." He hopes that by the June board meeting, the high-level discussions will be complete and he would then ask the board’s permission to pursue a more detailed analysis and discussion of options.

Hildebrandt said that in April, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District was also considered. Truty agreed that from an operational perspective, it would be a benefit to work with Wescott, and that the staff supports this, but first "Wescott needs to work through whatever issues they have with Black Forest."

Truty said TLMFPD is trying to "do this as transparently as possible," trying to make sure that not only the board but all of the staff knows what is going on "every step of the way, including actually being involved in what the solutions are."

2013 audit approved

Russ White and Jessica Mueller of the Rubin Brown CPA firm presented the results of the 2013 district audit of the general fund. They gave an "unmodified," or clean, opinion of the district’s finances through December 2013, which is "the best you can get," White said. The financial position is "definitely going in right direction," with the increase in mill levy and improvement in economic conditions, and they saw no evidence of fraud or unusual transactions, White summarized.

White and Mueller reported these end-of-year figures for Dec. 31, 2013:

• Total assets – $8.7 million

• Total revenues – $5.6 million

• Total expenditures – $4.9 million

• Ending net cash position – $2.6 million

• Change in net position from 2012 – $735,000

Mueller said that in 2012, the final net position was a deficit of about $224,000, so ending 2013 with a net position of $735,000 is a positive trend, most likely due to increased district property tax revenues after the mill levy increase.

Background: On Nov. 6, 2012, voters overwhelmingly approved a mill levy increase from 8.5 to 11.5 mills. Campaign materials as well as spokespeople from the district noted that a "yes" vote would keep fire Station 3 open, allow the district to accept a federal grant to help pay for hiring additional firefighters and paramedics, maintain current staffing to retain the district’s Insurance Services Office (ISO - www.iso.com) rating for district property owners, and restore both operational reserves and vehicle and fire station maintenance funding.

On May 28, Truty said that at the beginning of the Aug, 27 board meeting he will run a budget workshop regarding a new three- to five-year financial plan.

The district’s final budget was only $9,000 off the original estimate for total expenditures, compared to being "off by a couple of million a year or two years ago," White said. "That’s good budgeting."

Smaldino asked for the audit packets to be distributed to board members ahead of time so they can compile questions. Truty agreed it should have been included in board packet.

The board approved the audit as presented 6-0.

Financial report

Treasurer Hildebrandt said the district was "spot on" where it was supposed to be at the end of April. Overages did occur in several line items including morale and welfare, communications, and infrastructure. Firefighter overtime expenses were due to physical restrictions of firefighters on "light duty" status creating the need to back fill with unrestricted firefighters, and vehicle maintenance expenses were higher than expected. The pay raises that were approved at the December 2013 meeting were not mentioned. See http://www.ocn.me/v14n1.htm#tlmfpd for more information.

The full cost of the May election had not yet been posted, but is expected to be $27,000 to $30,000, Hildebrandt said. A new budget line item for elections is now in the budget and will be funded every other year, he said. Chief Truty said that 4,500 of 20,000 ballots mailed were not returned, which is not a good use of the district’s money. Accountant Cheryl Marshall said that the Special District Association (SDA) will look into complaints from smaller districts like TLMFPD about the huge financial burden of requiring mail-in ballot elections.

Hildebrandt said that revenue amounts are good, with specific ownership tax running 25 percent higher than budgeted. He reported the bank balances as of April 30 totaling $2.3 million: VECTRA Gen Ops, $382,000; VECTRA Impact $388,000; VECTRA Money Market, $1.3 million; FNV Reserve quarterly statement, $317,000; FNB Flex Spending, $7,000. The board accepted the financial report for April on a 6-0 vote.

Thanks to TLMFPD fire medics

Lance said, "I just want to say thank you, thank you, thank you," to fire medics Steve Peters and Jon Bodinsky and Lt. Tracey Stapley for their coordination and professionalism when he had to be "on the receiving end of one of these adventures" and was taken to the hospital recently. "Their response was absolutely incredible….You ought to go for a ride in one of our ambulances," he joked.

Chief’s report

Truty thanked "our beloved accountant" Cheryl Marshall, for accomplishing an "absolutely unbelievable task" in figuring out the district financial records in a short amount of time to prepare for the 2013 audit. Marshall is moving out of the area and has been working with her replacement, Frances Esty.

A surveyor is doing a title search to determine the exact property boundaries for the Station 1 well so that the county can approve a subdivision exemption, which should have been done 35 years ago, Truty said.

Communication between TLMFPD and the property owner next to Station 2 has been cleared up, allowing for an easement for the Station 2 septic system to be obtained.

Truty said that the inclusion vote in May passed by a significant margin; the preliminary result was 129-22. This will include 162 new properties into TLMFPD, east of Highway 83 between County Line Road and Hodgen Road, and generate about $60,000 in annual property taxes.

Five district vehicles were out for repair or maintenance the night of the May 28 meeting: two engines, two ambulances, and one truck. Wescott and Larkspur have both provided equipment to help breech the gap.

Truty told the board that he signed renewals of agreements with Penrose-St. Francis Indigent Health Care Program and with Pike Peak Community College to continue to allow EMS students to ride with the ambulances.

Switching to gmail email system has reduced costs by $600 or 25 percent per month.

The North Group selected a new EMS physician advisor, Dr. Timothy Hurtado, which could standardize training for EMS for the whole North Group.

Black Forest Fire After Action Reports indicated the need to be able to get a large quantity of units to one place quickly. In May, the State Fire Chiefs Association ran an exercise with a goal of getting 30 fire apparatus to a scene within 90 minutes; 24 units reached the scene.

TLMFPD hopes to hire a new firefighter when a captain retires on July 8. Because of this year’s prior reorganization of battalion chiefs, there is one extra officer at this time. Truty stated that no one will be promoted when the captain retires, because the number of officers will then match the number of officer positions.

After some discussion, the board consensus was to offer to host a workshop for board members in the North Group to learn more about the Special Districts Association (SDA) and rules for board members in Colorado.

The board went into executive session at 7:42 p.m. No votes were scheduled after the executive session.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 25, in the Administration Center at 166 Second St. in Monument. For additional information, contact the district Fire Administration Office at 719-484-0911.

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

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, May 13: 2014 budget amended

By Jim Kendrick

The board of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) elected officers for 2014 at the meeting on May 13. The board, which had not met since Sept. 23, 2013, consists of two members of the Monument Board of Trustees and three elected El Paso County officials. The five-member board elected the following officers:

• Chair—Monument Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Kaiser

• Vice chair—County Commissioner Darryl Glenn

• Secretary/treasurer—Monument Mayor Rafael Dominguez

• Assistant secretary/treasurer—County Commissioner Dennis Hisey

• Assistant secretary/treasurer—County Clerk and Recorder Wayne Williams

Hisey did not attend this meeting.

2014 budget amendment approved

The board unanimously approved a resolution to amend the 2014 BRRTA budget and corresponding appropriation to increase the total amount appropriated in the general fund from $608,000 to $860,000. A board-approved 2013 BRRTA contribution of $250,000 to the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) for future West Baptist Road construction was not actually wired until January 2014, so this amount had to be shown as an amendment so it could then be formally re-appropriated for 2014. A second contribution of $500,000 in 2014 to PPRTA for West Baptist Road construction had already been approved in the original 2014 budget.

The amendment and appropriation amendment to the 2014 BRRTA general fund budget:

• Increased the construction line from $500,000 to the full $750,000 contribution.

• Increased the contingency line from $2,142 to $4,142.

• Increased the beginning general fund balance from the Sept. 23 estimate of $748,840 to the actual amount forwarded, $1.018 million.

Claims approved/ratified

The board unanimously approved 12 payments totaling $775,437 made by the staff since the Sept. 23 board meeting:

• $750,000 to PPRTA for road construction

• $6,787, $4,949, $6,204, and $10,427 to Clifton Larson Allen for accounting, management, and sales tax administration

• $4,608, $1,372, $577, and $3,724 to Spencer Fane Britt and Brown LLP for legal expenses

• $21 to Community Media of Colorado for miscellaneous expenses

• $220 to Special Courier LLC for miscellaneous expenses

• $700 to the Town of Monument for impact fees inadvertently sent to BRRTA

 

Financial report accepted

BRRTA accountant Carrie Bartow, of management consultant Clifton Larson Allen, presented the first-quarter financial report, which was unanimously accepted as presented. Some of the cash figures as of March 31 that Bartow noted were:

• Cash assets—$285,641

• Liabilities—$14,150

• Road use fee revenue—$17,488

• General fund expenditures—$764,381

• General fund balance—$271,491

• Debt service fund sales tax revenue—$170,215

• Debt service fund expenditures—$219

• Debt service fund assets—$2.75 million

Bartow also noted that the total amount budgeted for all of 2014 for debt service fund expenditures for 2014 is $1.472 million.

The engagement letter that was previously signed by Glenn for the 2013 audit already being conducted by Biggs Kofford LLC was unanimously ratified. The annual fee increased $125 this year to $4,375. To much laughter, Bartow thanked the board for approving the appointment letter "because we should have opinions on Monday for the audit" – on May 16.

The board also unanimously approved the final draft of the 2013 audit financial statement. At the end of 2013, total BRRTA assets were $4.15 million and total liabilities were $15.9 million. Williams said that the Colorado Department of Transportation, which has already paid $3 million to BRRTA for reimbursement, plans to pay more of its road construction debt to BRRTA in 2014.

West Baptist Road construction update

County Engineer André Brackin and Engineering Services Manager Jennifer Irvine gave the Public Service Department update on the status of the county’s portion of the West Baptist Road widening and railroad bridge construction project.

Brackin noted that the Baptist Road improvement project started in 1995. He said the existing and still "outstanding" Baptist Road bridge over Monument Creek was built in 1996—"but does not span the railroad tracks."

Some of the project items Brackin and Irvine discussed were:

• Project cost estimate —$9.94 million (per Energy Impact Assistance Grant application)

• This project estimate is conservative, based upon the preliminary design, and the estimate will be updated with the final design.

• Current funding available is $8.62 million from PPRTA budget ($6.87 million), BRRTA ($750,000), and DOLA Energy Impact Assistance Grant ($1 million).

• The preliminary design for the rest of the improvements has been completed.

• Final design of the bridge and walls for grade-separated crossing, the single-lane roundabout at Old Denver Highway, and associated roadway and drainage improvements is proceeding.

• The initial concept has been submitted to and reviewed by the Union Pacific Railroad.

• Discussions/updates continue with key stakeholders and property owners.

• Property acquisition requirements and "challenging" utility relocation needs are being finalized.

• The project secured a $1 million Energy Impact Assistance Grant from the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) and the grant contract is being reviewed.

• The BRRTA contribution toward the project of $750,000 has been transferred to PPRTA.

• The county is awaiting wetland permit approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and approval of the submitted biological assessment document related to protected mouse habitat.

• A conditional letter of map revision for the floodplain modification will be submitted to FEMA once the biological assessment is approved.

• Final design plan review submittal—mid-May.

• Public Utility Commission application and railroad submittal—May.

• Property acquisition underway.

• The county’s Baptist Road Santa Fe Trail trailhead will be expanded.

• County will advertise for bids in July.

• Construction will take place in 2014-15.

Brackin also reported that the engineers’ construction estimate will likely be reduced when the final design is finished. The contingency amount will also be reduced proportionately to the savings from a competitive bidding process for the construction contract. If needed, potential additional funding may be available from PPRTA reserves, revenue, and/or re-allocation of surpluses from other PPRTA projects.

Attorney items

The board unanimously approved a new intergovernmental agreement between BRRTA and the Town of Monument for town staff collection and forwarding of BRRTA’s one-cent use tax for construction and building materials to BRRTA’s district manager. The town will charge a 2 percent fee for collection and forwarding of each use fee check as town staff do now with BRRTA’s road use fee checks.

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker, of Spenser Fane, announced he would be moving to Oregon and introduced his colleague and interim replacement Matthew Dalton, also of Spencer Fane, noting that Dalton had worked with BRRTA when it was first created. Dalton said his fees will be the same as Hunsaker’s for the rest of 2014.

Board member items

Williams thanked the town of Monument for working with the county to install a new permanent outdoor ballot box that can be used for county, town, and special district elections.

The meeting adjourned at 3:25 p.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 in Monument Town Hall. Meetings are normally held on the second Friday of the second month of the quarter. Information: 884-8017.

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

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Academy announces efforts to reduce flight noise

By Lisa Hatfield

On May 29, the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA) held a town hall meeting at the Discovery Canyon High School Campus to discuss changes to flying training activities in an effort to mitigate noise generated by the USAFA cadet airmanship program.

Two changes are intended to reduce the impact of the flying training activities over the communities directly east of USAFA by about 30 percent, said Col. Joseph Rizzuto, commander of 306th Flying Training Group. Neighborhoods affected by the new plan include Gleneagle, Jackson Creek, Sun Hills, Fox Run, Chaparral Hills, and others in the general flight corridor along I-25 to Baptist Road and east along Baptist Road.

Addressing about 50 residents who asked many detailed questions after the presentation, Rizzuto and David Cannon, academy director of Communication, outlined the two changes scheduled to begin June 2. A representative from Rep. Doug Lamborn’s office also spoke.

First, Bullseye Airfield near Ellicott, which was closed two years ago due to budget cuts, will be reopened to reduce congestion at the USAFA airfield.

Second, the departure route for about 30 percent of sorties will be extended north, with cadet aircraft flying north along I-25, where they will turn east to follow Baptist Road at an altitude sufficient to be able to reduce power. Following roadways will allow noise to blend with existing road noise. The pattern was chosen to minimize flight time over neighborhoods to reach the eastern training areas, Rizzuto said.

At another town hall meeting last November, residents east of USAFA voiced their concerns about noise generated by the busy summer flying training season, when half the year’s training is completed. The revised plan presented May 29 was meant to address those concerns while still making safety for cadets and residents the first priority.

Those with questions or concerns may call the academy’s Public Affairs office at (719) 333-7470.

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

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Board of County Commissioners, May 27 and 29: Recent votes on Misty Acres, marijuana clubs and Maketa

By Lisa Hatfield

Several items approved by the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) in May concerned the Tri-Lakes area.

Misty Acres Filings 3 and 4 approved

On May 27, the BOCC unanimously approved a request by Nextop Holdings LLC for approval of a preliminary plan for Misty Acres Filings 3 and 4. The parcel, totaling 48.66 acres, is zoned planned unit development. The applicant is proposing a new preliminary plan for a 91 lot, detached single family lot development, which is southeast of the intersection of Misty Acres Boulevard and Painter Drive, north of Palmer Ridge High School between Misty Acres Boulevard and Doewood Drive, behind the Colorado Heights Camping Resort. The property is within the Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan Area.

Filing 3 includes 63 proposed lots on approximately 41.03 acres and an average lot size of 18,500 square feet, with 5.7 acres of open space. Filing 4 includes 28 single-family residential lots on 7.63 acres, for an average lot size of 8,000 square feet, with 0.81 acre of open space along Misty Acres Boulevard.

Water and sanitation services will be provided by Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District will provide emergency services. Mountain View Electric Association will serve the development. Public utility easements will be provided by Nextop with the final plat. The developer will be required to pay fees in lieu of parkland dedication and school land dedication at the time the final plat is recorded. The property is included in Misty Acres Metropolitan District, which will be responsible for maintenance of the drainage and open spaces.

The conditions of approval were:

· The county attorney’ s conditions of compliance shall be adhered to at the appropriate time.

· Water sufficiency for water quality, quantity and dependability shall be determined at time of the final plat.

· The developer shall comply with federal and state laws, regulations, ordinances, review and permit requirements, and other agency requirements including, but not limited to, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Department of Transportation, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding the Endangered Species Act, particularly as it relates to the Preble’ s meadow jumping mouse as a listed species.

· As identified in the development guidelines, careful siting of the home sites is to be incorporated by the builder so that the natural features such as drainage ways and vegetation can be preserved.

· Plat notes with the following language shall be included:

· The county will not install a sidewalk along Lindenmere and Alexandria Drive.

· A driveway access permit will be required from the El Paso County Development Services Division for any access to a county maintained roadway.

· Applicable traffic, drainage and bridge fees shall be accounted for with each final plat.

· Applicable school and park fees shall be paid with any final plats.

· The subdivider(s) agree that any developer or builder successors will be required to pay traffic impact fees in accordance with the Countywide Transportation Improvement Fee Resolution.

· No individual lot access to Misty Acres Boulevard will be allowed.

Notations included:

· The detention basin for the Crystal Creek Drainage Basin and associated culvert and outlet on the south end of Filing 3 of the preliminary plans will require permit authorization under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. It is strongly recommended that the applicant contact U.S. Army Corps of Engineer’ s office for permit authorization prior to construction disturbance for this component of the proposed subdivision.

Temporary moratorium for marijuana clubs

On May 29, the BOCC unanimously voted to establish a moratorium on the use of any property within unincorporated El Paso County, or any portion thereof, for the establishment or operation of a marijuana club. The moratorium will expire six months from this date unless earlier repealed, and it was put in place so that county staff has time to study the safety, health, and legal impacts of the location and operation of marijuana clubs on county residents and develop zoning regulations and development standards to address and mitigate such impacts in order to determine how best to regulate them within the bounds of Colorado Amendment 64.

The county defined "marijuana club" as any organization of persons formed or operated with a primary or secondary purpose of using or consuming marijuana at a common location and characterized by membership qualifications, dues, or regular meetings.

Vote of no confidence in sheriff

On May 29, the BOCC unanimously approved a vote of no confidence in Sheriff Terry Maketa and publicly asked him to resign his office, effective immediately. This action is in response in part to the contents of an article making allegations against the Maketa published in the May 23, 2014 Colorado Springs Gazette.

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

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Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), May 10: Fire marshal urges homeowners groups to embrace Firewise

By Robert L. Swedenburg

John Vincent, fire marshal for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD), challenged homeowners associations (HOAs) to achieve Firewise designations. Speaking at the May 10 meeting of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO), he told HOA representatives they can do it, and he will help.

Firewise is a project of the National Fire Protection Association. The Firewise Communities Program encourages local solutions for safety by involving homeowners in taking individual responsibility for protecting their homes from the risk of wildfire.

Vincent said he has been working on a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP) for the TLMFPD.

The TLMFPD is bordered by Baptist Road to the south, County Line Road to the north, and Black Forest Road to the east. The district covers about 60 square miles and has about 24,000 residents. This CWPP will help HOAs in the pursuit of their Firewise status by providing needed data, and will support HOAs’ efforts to apply for monetary grants to help achieve Firewise status.

HOAs can use El Paso County’s CWPP in support of grant requests, but the county’s CWPP does not include enough detail for individual HOAs, Vincent said. The TLMFPD’s CWPP will address specific fire fuel sources and other particular information within individual HOA boundaries, and thus will be more detailed and more useful than the county’s CWPP.

Vincent requested that all HOAs in the TLMFPD contact him as soon as possible and provide the boundaries of their HOA. He can be contacted at 719-484-0911 or JVincent@tri-lakesfire.com. HOA representatives also can stop by the fire station and office at 166 Second St. in Monument. He plans to complete the first draft of the Tri-Lakes CWPP by December.

Vincent showed the NEPCO members a Firewise Starter Kit. It can be obtained at www.firewise.org. He also showed the audience a reflective home address plate, which can be bought locally, to help firefighters find houses easier. Vincent described the "Ready-Set-Go" process for evacuation planning, and he counselled all residents to check their fire insurance policies very carefully.

**********

The next meeting of NEPCO is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday, July 12 at the Monument Town Hall. NEPCO can be visited at www.NEPCO.org.

Robert L. Swedenburg is secretary of NEPCO.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, May 28: Great American Cleanup on June 7; Firewise event June 21

By Jackie Burhans

At the May 28 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board, Manager Matt Beseau said the Great American Cleanup event will be held June 7. Residents are asked to clean streets and common areas from 9 a.m. to noon. The WIA will supply bags and vests and will provide a barbecue lunch for volunteers afterward.

The absences of Treasurer Tom Schoemaker and Secretary Jeff Gerhart were excused.

The board changed the next slash removal date to June 14. President Jim Hale said the Highway Advisory Commission told him that work will be done on County Line Road between I-25 and Furrow Road starting on June 1 and continuing through the end of the year.

Forestry Director Eric Gross and Beseau attended a Community Associations Institute (CAI) meeting called "Nature’s Wrath" and obtained information for the upcoming Firewise community event on June 21 at The Barn. This year’s theme will be "Protecting Your Home from Embers."

Vice President Kirstin Reimann has been working with Beseau on updating the employee handbook. They will finalize handbook changes and submit them for review and advice.

Beseau reported that the La Plata group, which has purchased a lot of property in the area, is interested in the property just north of the Barn. He has been working with Gerhart on the website, and they expect to remove old items within two weeks as well as send out a new template to review. Beseau will attend a law seminar at CAI next week to learn about updated homeowners association legislation.

Per Suhr, director of Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS), reported on service calls and noted that WPS has treated WIA ponds for mosquitoes with a larvicide.

WPS Chief Kevin Nielsen is taking the old Jeep in to remove equipment in preparation for selling it via Craigslist. Nielsen received board approval to sell the old Jeep at an agreed upon price range.

The board discussed recent incidents of outgoing mail theft. Nielson noted the increase in mail theft may be related to graduation gift cards. The board suggested that residents not place outgoing mail in mailboxes but take it to the post office or consider a post office box. They also discussed the feasibility of community mailboxes but expressed concern about residence acceptance and noted that individual mailboxes are useful for directing responders to the correct house.

Darren Rouse, director of Architectural Control, noted that it is the busy season but the system is working—the Architectural Control Committee administrator is able to approve the majority of projects that are routine.

Gross said that due to the DIY fire mitigation meetings, the number of new evaluation requests has increased. He indicated that WIA had received a $30,000 fuels reduction grant on May 5 from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR). He indicated that grants are harder to get and come with more stringent requirements for monitoring. He has been working with the DNR and the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute to understand the new requirements and do pretreatment baseline data collection.

Gross noted that all planned common area mitigation work has been completed. This includes scrub oak and dead tree removal. The first of six slash removal dates was held on May 19 and was well attended, with 182 loads totaling 461 cubic yards. Slash removal is open to all Tri-Lakes communities, but 60 percent of the loads were from Woodmoor. WIA has budgeted for three or four events but will need other HOAs to participate to sustain all six slash removal dates.

Nielsen indicated that WPS will be more active in addressing off-driveway parking to prevent grass fires. The board approved updated patrol, safety and coyote/wildlife plans. The wildlife plan will be posted on the website. The board also approved the 990 tax return at the request of Schoemaker.

**********

The WIA Board of Directors meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the association’s Barn, 1691 Woodmoor Drive. The next meeting will be on June 25.

Official minutes of the WIA board meetings can be found at http://www.woodmoor.org/content/admin-bod-meeting-minutes.html after they have been approved by the board.

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

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May Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Good news in May, as precipitation was well above normal for the month. This included nearly a foot of snow from the 8th through the 15th, the a couple inches of rain from the 21st to the 31st. Unfortunately, any plants that decided to start growing early took a double shot from Mother Nature with the snow and cold, then wind and hail.

The first few days of May were mild and dry. Temperatures started off right at normal on the 1st, with highs in the upper 50s. However, warmer weather moved in under a strong ridge of high pressure over the next few days. High temperatures jumped to the low 70s on the 2nd, then upper 70s to low 80s on the 3rd and 4th. The 80°F high temperature on the 4th was the first time we’ve hit 80°F since Sept. 9, 2013, so we were ready for the warmth. Atmospheric moisture levels were very low during the period as well, meaning no showers or thunderstorms developed and when the dryness combined with gusty afternoon winds, produced extreme fire danger.

Near record warmth gave way to near record cold during the first full week of May as we experienced a taste of summer followed quickly by a taste of winter. Typical spring weather on the Palmer Divide. Highs were in the upper 70s to low 80s on Monday the 5th as gusty winds and warm high pressure affected the region. Temperatures cooled slightly the next two days, "only" reaching the mid-70s on the 6th, then the upper 60s on the 7th.

During this time, the first of two storm systems was ready to affect the region. Brief heavy snow moved in during the early hours of the 8th, accumulating 1 to 2 inches of snowfall. This made for a slippery commute that morning as the warm roadways initially melted the snow and left a layer of ice. The strong May sunshine quickly melted that snow, and by noon it was gone. Temperatures hovered around average the next few days, with highs reaching the low 60s on the 9th and 10th. Clouds built up and a few sprinkles developed each day, even mixing with some graupel on the 9th.

The week ended with a power storm affecting the region. A strong and cold low pressure system moved through the intermountain West and combined with high pressure moving out of Canada to set up the perfect situation for cold, snow, and wind. Rain quickly changed to freezing drizzle and light snow around sunrise on the 11th. Then, as the storm continued to intensify and move closer to the region, snow and wind really picked up. Accumulations were slow to start for the majority of the day on the 11th, but by mid-afternoon a couple of inches had accumulated. Roads also began to get slushy that afternoon. Snow and wind continued through the evening. Most areas accumulated 4 to 8 inches by midnight, much of which was drifted around as well.

Temperatures were very cold for the middle of May, with highs holding just below freezing for the entire day, which is very rare for this time of the year. Snow and wind continued into Monday morning, as temperatures held in the mid- to upper 20s. The storm began to pull away slowly later that morning and into the afternoon. Snow tapered off to snow showers through the day Monday, with only minor accumulations continuing. The good news with this storm was lots of beneficial moisture, from a half to more than an inch. The bad news was our newly growing plants weren’t too happy to be buried in ice, snow, and cold. Hopefully they’ll make it through.

Winter was still raging across the region during the first few days of the week of the 12th. Another 2 to 4 inches of snow accumulated during the morning of the 12th, with snow showers and windy conditions continuing throughout the day. High temperatures were at record low levels for the date, with most areas only touching the freezing mark. The, cold unsettled air mass stuck around the next few days as well, allowing afternoon and early evening snow showers to develop each day and keeping temperatures well below normal. Overnight lows dipped into the upper teens and low 20s on both the 13th and 14th.

Warmer air finally began to work back into the region as the week progressed, with highs reaching normal levels—in the mid-60s, by the 16th and 17th. Warm weather moved in under an area of high pressure behind the departing storm to end the weekend, with highs reaching into the mid-70s. Even with the strong May sunshine, the snow from earlier in the week managed to hand on for a few days, adding beneficial moisture to the soil, but the cold temperatures did damage some early growing plants/leaves. However, all the snow was gone by the end of the week as more May-like weather returned.

It was a wet week around the region as an area of cut-off low pressure slowly moved through the desert Southwest. This pulled high levels of moisture into the region and combined with the strong May sunshine to allow an area of severe weather and heavy rainfall to form. The first round of severe weather and heavy rain developed during the afternoon of the 23rd. This produced large hail from around 3:45 to 4:20 p.m. over parts of the Black Forest from about Highway 83 east through Meridian Road. Several tornadoes also formed from Elbert County through Denver.

We had a brief break on the 22nd, with most of the storms that day forming in the mountains and farther east into the plains. Another round of heavy rain and hail formed on the 23rd and 24th. During this wet period, most areas picked up 1 to 3 inches of beneficial moisture, but of course we could do without the hail. A unique aspect of this storm was the strong southerly flow, which allowed the thunderstorms to move from south to north. In more typical situations, we see more of a west-to-east storm movement. Temperatures during the week were above normal ahead of the storms, reaching the low 80s on Monday afternoon. Then, as the storm began to affect the region, temperatures were generally normal to slightly below normal, with 60s to low 70s common.

The month ended in typical May fashion, with quiet and seasonable cool weather on the 26th and 27th, giving way to daily afternoon thunderstorms from the 29th to the 31st. Temperatures were able to warm into the low 80s on the 28th and 29th before cooling to the mid-60s on the 30th and mid-70s on the 31st.

A look ahead

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

May 2014 Weather Statistics

Average High 66.8° (+0.2°)

100-year return frequency value max 75.7° min 57.9°

Average Low 36.8° (+1.2°)

100-year return frequency value max 43.2° min 32.5°

Highest Temperature 83°F on the 29th

Lowest Temperature 19°F on the 14th

Monthly Precipitation 3.23" (+2.53" 52% above normal)

100-year return frequency value max 6.94" min 0.15"

Monthly Snowfall 11.6"

(+6.5" 57% above normal)

Season to Date Snow 99.4"

(-25.4" 20% below normal)

(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)

Season to Date Precip 21.56"

(+2.72" 13% below normal)

(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)

Heating Degree Days 410 (-18

Cooling Degree Days 0

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

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

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Letters to Our Community

Click here for guidelines for letters to the editor.

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

Thanks for help with After Prom

We would like to express our gratitude for the wonderful group of community members who helped with the Lewis-Palmer High School After Prom event. The LPHS After Prom is offered as an alternative to private parties or merely driving around on the highways in the middle of the night. It is also open to those students who do not or cannot attend the actual prom, for any number of reasons.

Many school districts do not offer an After Prom event, as the planning and coordination involved takes a substantial amount of time and money. Both District 38 high schools have such a dedicated group of staff, parents, and community patrons that we have been able to make After Prom a yearly tradition.

In order to encourage students to attend, we keep ticket prices low, so a large amount of the support for this event comes from donations from the community. We were amazed at the outpouring of support from local businesses and individuals, who all understood the importance of keeping the students safe on that night. We would like to specifically recognize the following:

American Furniture Warehouse, Bird Dog BBQ, Borriello Brothers Pizza, Bork family, Chipotle Mexican Grill, City Rock, Coca-Cola Refreshments, Cogburn family, Commerford family, Costco, Dominos Pizza, Hamula Orthodontics, Heins family, In the Moo Frozen Yogurt, Ito family, It's a Grind Coffee House, Jimmy Johns, Kadlubowski Family, Karen Morgan, King Soopers, Larsen family, Luna Hair Salon, Mallette family, Mary Tostanoski, Michael Joyal, Mills family, Mobley family, Monument Vision, Morgan Chapman, Papa John's Pizza, Pavlik family, Peoples National Bank, PF Chang's, Deuces Wild Casino Rentals, Plato's Closet, Qdoba, Rocky Mountain Car Wash, Shuman family, Smiley family, Taekwondo Center Monument, Tri-Lakes Printing, and Walmart.

Additionally, we partnered with the Air Force Academy, which provided 15 cadets to help with the games that evening. This was truly a community-sponsored event, thanks to everyone who made it happen!

Karen Shuman and Deanna Smiley
LPHS After Prom co-chairs

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Kiwanis Club accepting grant requests

The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. Its mission is to serve as a resource for the club in providing financial support to the Tri-Lakes community of northern El Paso County and its youth. For the 2013-14 year, the foundation has given out $40,000 to 28 community organizations through our annual granting program.

Grants will be on an annual “call” basis. That is, requests for grants may be made by interested parties starting May 15, and they will be due by June 30. The requests received as a result of this call will be evaluated, and requestors will be notified privately of the results pertaining to their requests. Those the foundation are able to support financially will receive the funds as requested and as they become available.

Grant recipients of these funds have included District 38 special needs children, Pikes Peak Library District, the Rocky Mountain Youth Leadership Conference and the Emily Griffith Center, to name just a few.

If you are interested in requesting a grant, please see our website: www.monumenthillfoundation.org.

Along with more details regarding our granting program, a grant request form is available online at the granting page on the site. It can be completed on the requestor's computer and the completed form, along with supporting information, can be submitted electronically to the Foundation Granting Committee.

Scott Ross
Director of Granting
Monument Hill Foundation

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Reason needed for memorial park

This is in response to the letter Kim Makower, consulting geologist, had printed May 3, 2014 concerning Makower's land. The complicated complaints he printed against the Town of Palmer Lake against his attempt to donate land are too complicated for me to understand. However, there is a question of why the Town of Palmer Lake should honor his and Willan's request that the land be dedicated as Jamie Willan Memorial Park.

My heart goes out to all parents who lose a child, and only they know how that feels and what pain they go through. The Willans have a beautiful memorial to their son in front of their home as is their right. My request is that both Makower and Willan list all the accomplishments that Jamie Willan has done to benefit and improve the Town of Palmer Lake, earning his right to have a memorial park named for him. With all due respect, all residents of the town should be made aware of this list and entitled to have a vote on this matter.

Donna Jean Wagner
Palmer Lake

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Getting educated about Common Core

In August 2010, the Colorado Department of Education adopted Common Core State Standards. These standards were mandated as a state statute in 2012. Sadly, there remain too many unanswered questions about funding, assessments, curriculum, data mining, and much more. On May 5, 2014, in an ongoing effort to educate citizens about current public school education concerns, Direction 38! sponsored a Public School Education Forum: “Common Core, The Good, The Bad, The Unknown.” Paul Lundeen, Colorado’s state Board of Education chairman, together with Mark Hyatt, former director of Colorado’s Charter School Institute, expertly led the discussion. Dedicated and articulate School District 38 moms Traci Burnett and Mary Senour served as panelists to deliver parental concerns, while professional educators, School District 11 math teacher Tena Logan and The Classical Academy’s senior administrator Wes Jolly, offered their unique perspectives. A special shout out goes to our gracious host, School District 20’s Nancy Pinchock, at Antelope Trails Elementary School.

Parents, grandparents, public school employees, public servants, and others—community members from a variety of local school districts—asked challenging questions. As conversations on Common Core are happening in grocery aisles and at water coolers across our state, a community discussion of this important issue was timely and extremely valuable. Thanks to all who participated in this successful event, including our many volunteers. Now is the time to get educated on Common Core! To learn more, please visit Direction 38!’s website at: lpd38.wordpress.com. 

Ana Konduris
Direction 38!

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Another successful school year

We just concluded another school year. I hope everyone has a fun summer and our staff gets a chance to relax and regenerate. I want to thank Ted Bauman for helping out the district. This is the second time in eight years we’ve hired a new superintendent, and Ted has stepped in both times to be our interim superintendent. His leadership has been invaluable and his passion for education inspirational. Thanks, Ted and get back to your well-deserved retirement.

I also want to say good luck to all our 2014 graduates; it was an honor to be part of both graduation ceremonies.

I’m happy to report the school board voted unanimously to payoff our General Fund debt this summer. We hope to save the district over $400,000. Since 2007, District 38 has basically eliminated all long-term operational debt, almost doubled the district’s reserves, and refinanced multiple building bonds, lowering our community’s taxes by over $3 million. All of this during a recession and we continue to receive the highest accreditation from the state for student achievement.

So, have a relaxing summer, spend time with your families, and we look forward to seeing your kids this fall.

Mark Pfoff
D-38 School Board president

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More taxes for District 38 without oversight

Last November our D-38 school board tried once again to increase our property taxes. With an unprecedented voter turnout, the people defeated D38's mill levy override for the third time in a row. The people spoke out. Now, I don't think I would object to more money for the schools if they really needed the money, but they say they have a tremendous amount in the reserve account. I just wonder why we can't have a true audit of the district's expenses, their reserves, and even the facilities. The audits they are doing now are inadequate. Why not a full forensic audit? And how about more transparency and fewer closed-door meetings? Maybe we could start to rebuild some of the trust we have lost with our current school board.

Soon the district will be trying to get more money from the taxpayers. They will be asking for a bond issue to build another elementary school, and if we have a proper audit I think we will find we have plenty of space by using the facilities we currently have. It may require moving some of the schoolchildren to utilize other buildings. The sad thing is, our children are being cheated because the misguided school board uses money to pay for frivolous things other than looking for ways to save money so that needed teachers can be hired.

Ernest Biggs

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Between the Covers at Covered Treasures Bookstore: The Magic of Fiction

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Immersing yourself in a good work of fiction is like stepping out of everyday life and into another world. That world may be exciting, humorous, sad, joyous, terrorizing, or some combination of these. Peruse the following new offerings to see if there’s one that could be magical for you.

The Painter
By Peter Heller (Alfred A. Knopf) $24.95

Heller’s second novel is an achingly beautiful, wildly suspenseful story of an expressionist painter confronting his inner demons and trying to outrun his past. Jim Stegner has seen his share of violence and loss, and when his marriage disintegrates, he abandons the art scene of Santa Fe to paint and fly-fish in the valleys of rural Colorado. However, his quiet life is soon ripped open, and he returns to New Mexico in this savage novel of art and violence, love and grief.

All the Light We Cannot See
By Anthony Doerr (Simon & Schuster Inc.) $27

Set during the Nazi occupation of Paris, this is the story of Marie-Laure, a blind girl who lives with her father and a German orphan, Werner, who becomes an expert at building and fixing radios, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth. When a special assignment to track the resistance takes Werner through the heart of the war, his story and Marie-Laure’s converge. Deftly interweaving these two young lives, Doerr illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another.

Any Other Name
By Craig Johnson (Viking) $26.95

When his former boss asks Sheriff Walt Longmire to take on a mercy case outside his jurisdiction, he becomes involved in a thrilling story of deception and betrayal. In attempting to determine why a by-the-book detective with a wife and daughter would take his own life, Longmire uncovers a blood trail too hot to ignore, leading him in circles: from a casino in Deadwood, to a mysterious lodge in the snowy Black Hills, to a band of international hit men, to a shady strip club, and back again to the sheriff’s office. Featuring the unforgettable characters of the bestselling Longmire series, this could be one of Johnson’s best yet.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
By Gabrielle Zevin (Algonquin Books) $24.95

A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected. His wife died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he isolates himself from all the people of Alice Island. And then a mysterious small package appears at the bookstore. This unexpected arrival gives A.J. the chance to make his life over, and the wisdom of his books again becomes the lifeblood of his world. Finally, everything twists again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming. This is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, and an irresistible affirmation of why we read and why we love.

Fin & Lady
By Cathleen Schine (Picador) $15

When 11-year-old Fin and his glamorous, worldly, older half-sister, Lady, are orphaned, Fin is uprooted from a small dairy farm in rural Connecticut to Greenwich Village in the middle of the Swinging Sixties. Fin soon learns that giddy and impulsive Lady is as much his responsibility as he is hers. This is an enchanting novel of a brother and sister who must form their own unconventional family in increasingly unconventional times.

The Bees
By Laline Paull (Harper Collins) $25.99

Flora 717 is a member of the lowest caste in her orchard hive, where work and sacrifice are the highest virtues and worship of the beloved queen the only religion. But Flora is not like other bees. When a feat of bravery grants her access to the queen’s inner sanctum, she discovers mysteries about the hive that are both profound and ominous. Thrilling, suspenseful, and imaginative, this book and its dazzling young heroine will forever change the way you look at the world outside your window.

Whether you’re traveling or catching a few quiet moments at home, a good book is a great escape. Until next month, happy reading.

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

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HANG—High Altitude Natural Gardens: Gardening heats up in June

By Janet Sellers

With our capricious weather, the Tri-Lakes garden motto is “plant after Memorial Day.” But it’ s too hot for cool air crops by late June, so we average best by using started plants or quick harvest seeds like salads and greens. Many cover beds in netting to keep out critters and avoid hail damage.

The Tri-Lakes Garden Community, an open group of local avid gardeners, offers tips and monthly events, and has demonstration/garden beds at Monument Community Garden (MCG) on Beacon Lite Road. In mid-June, MCG will be seeding heat-loving squashes, herbs, and summer veggies, as our “spring” plants start to bolt by early July.

Also this month, a local youth group with Ascent Church will help at MCG and get some local seniors started with raised beds in Hugelkultur and African keyhole gardens. These garden mounds need no tilling, weeding, and little to no watering, and are within easy reach for seniors and the disabled. Keyhole garden soil is nourished by a central compost cage for daily kitchen scraps with a bucket of water; nutrients flow within the mound to the plants. In Africa, where they must carry water for miles, these gardens can feed the families all year long.

Janet Sellers is an artist and avid gardener who helps with the Tri-Lakes Garden Community beds and demonstrations. Contact her with garden news or questions at janetsellers@ocn.me, or just visit these Facebook pages for details: Tri-Lakes Garden Community and Monument Community Garden.

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Art Matters: Make your “staycation” with local art

By Janet Sellers

Did you know that the classic elements of composition for paintings, photos, and even videos keep the same rules? Yep. Regardless of the era of art and imagination, the way we see and perceive through our eyes to our brain is the same as when Leonardo and Michelangelo got to work on their art. Just because styles change doesn’t mean our eyes and perception change all that much—it’s how we’re wired.

Our eyes send the visual image to our brain, and our brain interprets the imagery for immediate action as a safe situation or a threat to our safety. That’s why both still images in paintings and photography can be as visually interesting as action movies. We have to view and interpret the visual information that we see, and that gets our attention and thereby enjoyment.

Our eyes don’t know if it is a real bear (yikes!) in front of us or just a painting or movie of it, so when we see an image, both a live or a picture image can get a rise out of us. We are open to the message of the image and ready for action just by that informed glance.

When we take an art or photo class, and even when we just take up the pencil on our own, we practice the basics of images or making marks, but frequently, if the meaning via composition is not in the mix, the work can come out bland or worse, even when the subject is rendered just fine. Using the power of composing for visual thought in addition to good, strong drawing or camera skills begets an immediately satisfying work of art, even with some technical errors. This is because our intent, our message, is clear even if we are new to art and our abilities in the medium are at the beginning stages.

After all, once our interest is piqued we want to examine an image for ourselves, and I bet that is the attention an artist wants for the work, besides the sale, of course. Even the allure of modern art ostensibly relies on this tactic: reaction over technique. We have oodles of art to visit locally, art as do-it-yourself via an art class, our local monthly Art Hop, and of course, our wonderful public art is all over Tri-Lakes, with new pieces this month!

June Arts Events

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts hosts the art show, Critteratti, juried by acclaimed artist Rodney Wood, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.

Art Hop opens June 19, 5 to 8 p.m., with over a dozen local Historic Monument merchants participating. Historic Monument is the quadrant of Second Street to Third Street between Front Street and Beacon Lite Road. The following venues sent me their show updates: Bella Art and Frame Gallery, Balance June 4-28, wall sculptures by Geoff Wilder; Wisdom Tea House, Fiddlesticks June 10 to Aug. 2, paintings by Douglas Buchman.

Palmer Lake Art Group: Opening June 20-22, “Symphony in Color Fine Art Show and Sale,” Mountain Community Gallery at Mountain Community Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Artist reception Friday, June 20, 5 to 9 p.m.; event benefits local D-38 art students with scholarships.

Tri-Lakes Views will have 13 new sculpture installations in the Monument Sculpture Park and in sites around town on June 19, with a celebration during the Art Hop, 5 to 8 p.m. at the new Catriona Cellars, 243 Washington St., Monument.

Janet Sellers is an American artist and art teacher. She teaches art locally, exhibits her paintings all over the world when possible, and makes public art sculptures for Colorado cities. 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 26. Below is the text of the captions and articles that appeared within the Snapshots section:

Kiwanis receives chamber award

Caption: The Monument Hill Kiwanis Club, represented by Kiwanis President Bill Healy, was recognized by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce as the Non-Profit of the Year at the Chamber’s annual dinner and awards ceremony held at the Pinery on March 29. Photo by Warren Gerig.

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TLCA hosts Bowersox

Caption: On May 2, Crystal Bowersox continued her inaugural tour of the Rockies at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). Bowersox, the runner up for the ninth season of “American Idol,” dazzled the attendees of the sold-out show with her vocal range and musical arrangements. Accompanied by her three-piece band, she played a number of her songs off her album All That for This. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.

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HAP Health Fair, May 3

Captions: The Tri-Lakes Community Health Fair is an annual community event presented by Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership (HAP). A wide variety of free health screenings is offered by vendors from around the region. This year’s fair, May 3 at Lewis-Palmer High School, had over 30 vendors presenting a wide selection of various health care products, services, and information to fair visitors.

(left): Leslie Mundy, left, assists Linda Dameron at the Dangerous Decibel booth during the 2014 Tri-Lakes Community Health Fair. The Dangerous Decibel booth, one of over 30 at the fair, lets visitors find out if their preferred sound volume is potentially dangerous to their hearing.

(right): Community Health Fair visitor Jaeden Moran waits patiently as body artist Dana Dawdy applies artwork to Jaeden’s hand. Dana is a registered nurse and instructor at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Beth-El School of Nursing and Health Sciences when not donating her time at community events applying body art. The senior class of nursing students organizes and operates the health fair as their final class project prior to graduation. The students and other health care professionals perform the free health screenings and services during the fair. Photos by Allen Alchian.

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King's Deer course opened May 3

Caption: Reiner “Swiss” Schaeffer chips to the green on the “soft opening” day of the King’s Deer golf course May 3. The course was closed in January after a bank foreclosure. In March, King’s Deer resident and avid golfer Doug Almond struck a deal with the bank to temporarily lease the course until the foreclosure issue could be settled. Almond said he hired the previous maintenance crew and professionals to bring the course back up to operation, with the stated goal of making it a “five star course.” Almond plans to purchase the course through the foreclosure. The golf course is again open seven days a week. Information about the course is available at www.kingsdeergolfcourse.com. Photo by Allen Alchian.

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HAP Senior Center Open House, May 3

Caption: Brandon and Samantha Brecht and their children Elijah, left, Edric, and Sophie, enjoyed a light breakfast during a morning visit to the Tri-Lakes Senior Citizens Center Open House after attending the Tri-Lakes Health Fair there May 3. The Senior Center was the final stop for Health Fair visitors, and it provided many snacks and refreshments. The Senior Citizens Center is located on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus and is open Tuesday through Friday, 1 to 4 p.m., and at other times for special events. Photo by Allen Alchian.

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TLWC hosts energy presentation

Caption: On May 5, Jim Riggins of EnerSmart Energy Solutions explained how to decrease utility bills, increase the comfort and safety of a home, and reduce a home's carbon footprint. The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presented this free seminar on Home Energy Savings. See www.tlwc.net for more information. Photo by Gail Wittman.

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TLWC supports PLES Arbor Day project

Caption: Palmer Lake Elementary School’s Arbor Day event on May 6 included thanks to the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC), which granted supplies to help with the school’s greenhouse project. From left are Katie Dubois, supervisor, Lewis-Palmer School District Nutritional Services; Geri Bush, TLWC Co-president; Jim Riggins, “Green Panther” advisor; and TLWC Co-President Gail Wittman. Over the last 40 years, TLWC’s over 200 members have granted over $800,000 to nonprofits, School District 38, and public service organizations in the Tri-Lakes community. Two annual fundraisers, Wine and Roses held in the fall, and the Pine Forest Antiques, Home Décor and Garden Show, which was held April 26-27, along with the generous support from Tri-Lake’s businesses and individuals, provide the resources to fulfill these grants. For more information about TLWC, visit www.tlwc.net. Photo by Elise Riggins.

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Spirits of Spring fundraiser, May 17

Caption: At the “Spirits of Spring” fund-raiser May 17 hosted by the Gleneagle Sertoma Club at the Pro Rodeo Hall of Fame, located at Rockrimmon and I-25, the featured auctioneer described various items up for auction. The event benefitted The Home Front Cares, Mission Medical Clinic, and Tri-Lakes Cares. Monument, Colorado Springs, and Denver residents enjoyed tasty treats and fine wines in the classic Western setting. Local businesses—Downtown Fine Spirits and Wines, Carraba’s Italian Grill, Texas Road House, Biaggi’s, Bourbon Brothers, Ted’s Montana Grill, California Pizza Kitchen, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Freddie’s Frozen Custard—and others donated food and wine samples and services. Photo by Michael Justice.

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St. Baldrick's fundraiser, May 9

Caption: Volunteers shaved their heads and donated $5,727 to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation May 9 at Bear Creek Elementary School. St. Baldrick’s is a volunteer-driven charity that funds more in childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government to give hope to infants, children, teens and young adults fighting childhood cancers. An army of St. Baldrick’s volunteers has made it possible to award $127 million in grants since 2005—nearly $25 million in 2013 alone. The Honored Kid on May 9 was Benny and his family Randy, Laurie, and his brother, RJ. For more information, see www.stbaldricks.org/events/bearcreekgoesbald. Photo courtesy of Carrie Hill Photography.

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McGrath presents to Kiwanis May 17

Caption: Retired Navy Capt. Mike McGrath, a Monument resident and Monument Hill Kiwanis member, right, chatted with Kathy Strom, Kiwanis member and bookkeeper, before the Kiwanis meeting on May 17. McGrath spoke briefly but powerfully about “The Sex Life of a Naval Aviator at the Hanoi Hilton,” a.k.a., “Rats, Bugs, Snakes, and Torture.” He told about his experiences as one of over 700 POWs inhumanely imprisoned during the Vietnam War, including living conditions, torture, the prisoner “tap code” for communication and camaraderie, and the desperate need to “hold onto your little ball of faith” and “return with honor.” Monument Hill Kiwanis meets every Saturday 8 a.m. at the Inn at Palmer Divide to “help kids and youth, build our community, and have fun while doing it.” See http://monumenthillkiwanis.org/mhk/ or call Bill Healy, president, (719) 278-8393 for upcoming speakers and community service projects such as the club’s next big project, the annual Fourth of July Parade in Monument. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.

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Slash disposal in Monument

Caption: Several Tri-Lakes residents drop off yard debris at the Anderson Slash Disposal Site on North Washington Street, north of Highway 105 and north of Peak Disposal and Recycling in Monument. Residents can still bring their slash to the disposal site June 14, July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 13, and Oct. 11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a fee of $7. Large diameter logs, MPB wood, and pine needles are all accepted. No metal, nails, concrete, lumber, firewood, stumps, or trash, please. Photo by Janey Nickel.

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Thunderbirds visit Tri-Lakes, May 26

Caption: Thunderbird jets roar above visitors at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry Picnic ‘n’ Planes event May 26. For a donation, visitors gained access to a 360-degree vantage from atop the hill on the south side of the museum property. Over 200 visitors gathered to view the nearly 30 minute aerial acrobatics by the Thunderbirds. Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmo.org. Photo by David Futey.

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Memorial Day in Monument

No accompanying caption for the four photos by Jim Kendrick and Michael Justice.

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Tri-Lakes Cares and Hangers Thrift Shop benefit Tri-Lakes area

Caption: Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) hosted an Awareness and Informational Get-Together on June 4 to tell about all the services it brings to the community to improve people’s lives through emergency, self-sufficiency, and relief programs.

One hidden treasure is Hangers: Your Thrift Store (pictured at right) benefiting TLC, 245 Jefferson St., next door to TLC’s building. The Hangers Thrift Shop sells gently used women’s, men’s, and children’s clothing, accessories, and household items. Hangers is a nonprofit organization, and all its proceeds benefit TLC’s operations. Hangers depends on donations of items from the community to sell in the thrift store. Look for Hangers coupons in Our Community News. Hangers is open Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Donations are accepted 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.

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June library events: Summer programs kick off

By Harriet Halbig

School is over for the year, and the library is offering a summer of entertainment and new experiences for all ages. Our well-trained teen volunteers began on June 1 to register toddlers, children, and teens for summer reading programs. We thank them in advance for their time and dedication.

Children’s programs

Some of our children’s programming will continue during the summer. These include Toddler Time on Thursdays at 9:30 and10:15, Paws to Read on Mondays from 3:30 to 4:30 and Wednesdays from 4:15 to 5:15, and book breaks on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10:30.

On Mondays, programs for ages 7 and up are available. June 16 from 2:30 to 4 will be Kandinsky for Kids, an art class using oil pastels. June 23 will be a hands-on science program, and on the 30th will be an art class on drawing and painting robots—wear an old shirt!

Replacing our regular story times on Tuesdays will be special programs each week at 10:30. On June 10, the program will be the Space Alien’s Big Bang Magic and Juggling Show. On June 17 there will be alpacas from Las Bonitas Alpaca Ranch. On the 24th Denise Gard and her border collie, Sienna, will tell tales about the stars and constellations (recommended for ages 5 and up).

Each Thursday afternoon at 2:30 will be a story and craft session.

Legos club will meet on Saturday, June 21 from 10 to 11:30. Bring your creativity and we provide the Legos. All pieces remain the property of the library, so bring your camera to record your creation.

Tween and teen programs

New this summer will be a series of computer classes for teens and tweens. During June these classes will address web design. Web Design 1 was June 4; Web Design 2 will be on June 18 at 4 p.m. Bring a flash drive with your own pictures or media loaded (optional) and your own laptop (also optional). This program is for ages 10-18. Registration is required at 488-2370.

Crafty Teens will meet on Friday, June 27 at 2 p.m. for Flip Flop Fun—decorate a pair of flip flops with colorful balloons. The program is for ages 11 and up. All materials provided or you can bring your own flip flops if you have hard-to-fit feet. No registration required.

Adult programs

Adult discussion groups will continue at their usual time during the summer. Socrates Café meets on Tuesdays from 1 to 3 and Senior Chats meets on Wednesday from 10 to noon.

The Monumental Readers Book Club will discuss The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh on Friday, June 20 from 10 to noon.

New computer classes will be offered for adults this summer. The first is Everything Google on June 11 at 4 p.m. Learn about Google products for email, cloud storage, and searching. On June 18, the subject will be staying connected. Learn how to use websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Skype to stay in touch. Bring your own laptop if you’d like. Registration is required for each class at 488-2370.

The AARP Smart Drivers Course will be offered on Saturday, June 21 from 1 to 5 p.m. The cost for the course if $15 for members of AARP and $20 for non-members. Please call 495-5022 to reserve a space.

On the walls during June will be acrylic paintings by Gary Snyder. In the display case will be trains by Malcom Grimes.

Palmer Lake Library events

Palmer Lake’s scheduling will also change during the summer.

On Wednesdays at 10:30, instead of the regular story time, there will be special program each week. On June 11, Beth Epley will sing songs about the Slime. On the 18th there will be a puppet show, Alien Blee-boo and the Moo that Flew, a retelling of the story The Little Engine that Could. Can a cow achieve her dreams with the help of some simple machines and a chemical reaction? On June 25, there will be a magic show with Bruce Black teaching some magic tricks.

Palmer Lake’s Lego Club meets on the first Saturday of each month from 10:30 to noon. Please don’t bring your own Legos—we will provide all you need!

Toddler Time will continue to be on Fridays at 10:30.

The Fibernistas will continue to meet on Thursdays from 10 to noon. Bring your own project and share some time with others as they knit, crochet, and enjoy other fiber arts.

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

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

Palmer Lake Historical Society, May 15: Maggie went west for the cure

By Tom Van Wormer

Presenter Mary Ann Davis told the tale of her grandmother’s life in “Maggie: She Went West for the Cure” at the May 15 meeting of the Palmer Lake Historical Society. The historical presentation was a tale of early Colorado, emphasizing a primary reason why people came to the Pikes Peak Region: health. Mining and farming and ranching were the other two main reasons.

As a teenager, Maggie left her family home in Missouri to gain relief from consumption that Colorado was supposed to provide with its clean, dry air. Davis told of Maggie’s trip from Denver to the ranch of Mel Perry, to whom she carried a letter of introduction. She was able to adapt to the thin, dry air at the high altitude and prepare herself for the final push into Colorado Springs. She made it as far as Palmer Lake but became ill with scarlet fever, and a ranch family took her in and cared for her until she was able to recover enough to make the trip into Colorado Springs.

She spent the next several years in Gardner Tent, supporting herself by cooking and cleaning for various families in the city. She grew healthy enough to move up Ute Pass to Cascade, where she found employment and married Frank Hart, a local handyman. They moved to Green Mountain Falls and established a store. During the next 30 years, Maggie Hart and her daughter, Dorothy, became central figures in the life of Green Mountain Falls with her store, starting a Homemakers Club and the Library Circle.

Maggie Hart died in 1928 and was honored with a citation from the Homemakers that was read as a final capstone of a life well lived and appreciated.

**********

  • June 10 at 7 p.m., John Putnam will present a commentary on the “Interface with the Insurance Industry.” The information might help residents understand the problems and solutions for making insurance claims in a fire or possible fire event. Palmer Lake Town Hall at 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake.
  • June 15 is the Fathers’ Day Ice Cream Social on the Palmer Lake Village Green from 2 to 4 p.m.
  • June 19 at 7 p.m., in “Dragoons in the Revolution,” historian and re-enactor Brent Brown will bring his collection of weapons and discuss how soldiers brought their European war skills to the American Revolutionary War. Palmer Lake Town Hall at 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake.

Tom Van Wormer may be contacted by writing to editor@ocn.me.

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Our Community Notices

By Judy Barnes, Events Editor

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

By Judy Barnes, Events Editor

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

Wednesday Senior Lunch at Big Red

June 11: Tuna on a croissant, avocado, chips

June 18: Raspberry chipotle chicken, roasted potatoes, salad

June 25: Ham, scalloped potatoes, salad

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

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

Reminder for homeowners affected by the 2013 Black Forest wildfire

United Policyholders reminds all homeowners affected by the 2013 Black Forest wildfire that the one-year anniversary is approaching and there are important deadlines in insurance policies and Colorado law that may come up at this mark that will affect your claims and your rights. If you have not reached an acceptable insurance settlement, communicate with your insurer as soon as possible. For more information, contact 520-7324 or JoelQuevillon@elpasoco.com.

County Line Road reconstruction

The reconstruction of County Line Road from I-25 to Furrow Road is scheduled to have begun, with most of the work done by the end of the year. A final layer of asphalt overlay in will be added in 2015. This project will provide major safety improvements to include adding shoulders, gentling curves reducing the horizontal profile, improvements to drainage, and the addition of turn lanes at key intersections. The intersection of County Line Road at Furrow Road will be widened and rebuilt. Slow traffic, narrower lanes, and delays should be anticipated. Use alternate routes when possible. Project updates will be posted to www.elpasoco.com.

PPLD Kids Summer Reading Program

This year’s Kids Summer Reading Program is Fizz Boom Read! Registration began June 1 and the program runs through July 31. Register online, www.ppld.org, or in person at your local library and start reading! Info: 488-2370, www.ppld.org.

Register now for Tri-Lakes Y Summer Sports Camps, ages 6-13

Lacrosse Camp, June 16-20; Soccer Camp, June 23-27; Basketball Camp, July 14-18; Cheerleading Camp, July 21-25; Volleyball Camp, July 28-Aug. 1; Advanced Soccer Camp, Aug. 4-8; Baseball Camp, Aug. 11-15. 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument. Cost: $128 members, $159 nonmembers. Financial assistance available. Register at www.ppymca.org/locations/tri-lakes or call 481-8728.

St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling for 2014-15 preschool-eighth grade

The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class size, Christ-centered education. NCA accredited, state licensed, financial aid available. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.

Help restore Black Forest Regional Park

Black Forest Regional Park burned badly in the Black Forest Fire, then heavy rains that followed damaged trails and caused severe erosion. This summer, crews will install log barriers to fight erosion and plant native plants to revegetate the 385-acre park. You can help! Workdays are July 19, 20; Aug. 23, 24; and Sept. 13, 14. To register call the Rocky Mountain Field Institute at 471-7736 or contact Molly at molly@rmfi.org. For other volunteer opportunities in our parks, trails and open spaces go www.openspacevolunteers.org.

CASA volunteers needed

Become a spectacular CASA volunteer who makes a difference in the life of a child involved in a case of abuse or neglect in El Paso and Teller Counties. CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) invites you to come to the CASA office, 701 S. Cascade, Colorado Springs. Contact Kelly, 447-9898, ext. 1033, or visit the website, www.casappr.org, for more information.

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 at parks@palmer-lake.org.

Slash-Mulch season has begun

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch season is here! Slash (tree and brush debris only) will be accepted until Sept. 27. Mulch will be available until Sept. 27 or when mulch runs out. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. The mulch loader schedule is Saturdays only, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. The loader fee is $5 per bucket, about 2 cubic yards. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. For more information visit www.bfslash.org or phone Carolyn Brown, 495-3127; Chuck Lidderdale, 495-8675; Jeff DeWitt, 495-8024; El Paso County Environmental Division, 520-7878.

CSU Extension offers Garden Coaching Program

Colorado State University Extension Master Gardeners will meet with you on at your home to coach you and your family in home food production. These one-hour customizable tutorials will provide you with the information you need to grow the garden you want. For more information or to schedule an appointment with a master gardener, call Julie at 520-7690.

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.

Monument Marketplace Facebook page

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

Help chart Colorado’s transportation future

The Colorado Department of Transportation invites citizens to get involved in planning the future of the state’s transportation system by visiting the website, www.coloradotransportationmatters.com.

Free Senior Safety Handyman Services

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

Get volunteer help for your nonprofit

Due to popular demand, the Lewis-Palmer School District is adding a list of volunteer opportunities to its Youth Activities Directory online. If your nonprofit has a need for volunteers for a one-time project or an ongoing effort and can use volunteers under age 18, obtain a directory listing form on the district website www.lewispalmer.org under the community tab. Nonprofits may list their volunteer needs in the directory free of charge. For information, contact Robin Adair, P.O. Box 40, Monument, CO 80132; call 785-4223 or email radair@lewispalmer.org.

Donala’s Customer Assistance Program

The Donala Water and Sanitation District offers a Customer Assistance Program in conjunction with Tri-Lakes Cares to help Donala customers in financial hardship, unable to pay their water and sewer bills. Applications can be picked up at the Donala office at 15850 Holbein Dr. in Gleneagle or at Tri-Lakes Cares (TLC) in Monument. For information call 488-3603.

Volunteer drivers needed for seniors’ transportation service

Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. It is the only transportation service in the Tri-Lakes area to take seniors to medical appointments, the grocery store or pharmacy, the bank, legal appointments, senior lunches, shopping, and to the many activities offered through the senior center and our community. The program needs additional volunteer drivers. For information, email browneyesmlk@hotmail.com or call Mary Ketels, 481-2470, or Faye Brenneman, 481-2527, or leave a message with the dispatcher, 488-0076.

Attention Tri-Lakes residents with medical conditions

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

Tri-Lakes HAP Senior Center programs

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include pinochle, National Mah-jongg, line dancing, tea time, bingo, and more. Ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table are also available. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.

Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free

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

Senior Safety Program

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

County prescription discount program could save you money

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

Free gun-lock kit

The Monument Police Department is offering free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gunlock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Police Department administrative offices at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For information, phone 481-3253.

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Parting Shots OCN bids farewell to its president, co-founder

The board and volunteers of Our Community News are sorry to report that John Heiser, our president and co-founder, will be leaving the Tri-Lakes area in the near future.

John and 11 others founded the paper in 2001 when it consisted of four pages delivered by hand. It has since grown to an average of 33 pages delivered by mail to 15,900 homes and businesses and incorporates the contributions of more than 30 volunteers.

The paper was originally founded to provide information regarding the proposed recall of six members of the Monument Board of Trustees and to give details about developments in the area, including the proposed construction of a Walmart supercenter on the south side of Baptist Road across from the King Soopers store.

Our Community News strives to offer unbiased reporting on planning, water, education, and fire protection services in the Tri-Lakes Area. We report almost exclusively on what was discussed and what was decided at local governmental meetings.

John has dedicated the majority of his waking hours to the paper over these many years as a reporter, ad designer, placer of phone calls, accountant, software developer, invoice generator, layout master, and trainer of volunteers. In addition, he drove the truck to and from the printing plant each month and supervised the mailing.

John has assured us that he will continue to be available by phone and email should crises arise.

We wish him well in his future endeavors and sincerely thank him for being an inspiration to all of us through his dedication to OCN.

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