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By Lisa Hatfield
The April 18 Monument Board of Trustees meeting included the departure of Trustees John Howe, Becki Tooley, and Jeff Smith, and the beginning of new four-year terms for Trustee Jeff Bornstein and new Trustees Greg Coopman, Shea Medlicott, and Don Wilson.
The trustees postponed a vote on the proposed annexation of a parcel of land owned by Rafael and Elizabeth Dominguez that they are petitioning to be annexed into the town as two smaller parcels, sequentially. They also directed staff to rework a proposed revision to the town’s snow storm traffic ordinance.
A majority of the trustees present requested staff to prepare an emergency ordinance for the trustees to consider on May 2 that would rescind the water rates increase that the board approved March 7.
Wilson was selected as the new mayor pro-tem. The board consensus was to continue accepting applications for the vacant trustee position until May 2, and then they listened as the three applicants who had applied by the initial April 18 due date presented their qualifications.
Trustee Kelly Elliott was absent.
Outgoing board recognition and incoming oath of office
Town Manager Chris Lowe individually recognized each of the outgoing trustees, Howe, Tooley, and Smith, as well as Mayor Dominguez who resigned March 29. He commented on their service to the town and their commitment to the community.
Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman then read the oath of office to the three brand-new trustees, Coopman, Medlicott, and Wilson, and returning trustee Bornstein. They all raised their right hands and swore, "I affirm that I will support the Constitution and laws of the United States, the Constitution and statutes of the State of Colorado, and the ordinances of the town of Monument, and faithfully perform the duties of the office of trustee."
Dominguez annexation questioned, then continued
Principal Planner Larry Manning presented two ordinances that would approve the annexation and town zoning of the 9.65 acre parcel owned by Rafael and Elizabeth Dominguez at 16440 Old Denver Road, according to the El Paso County Assessor map. The land would be zoned as R-1, single-family residential low-density. Dominguez first petitioned to the town about this property ,which is being submitted as two smaller parcels for the annexation request, on March 7, and the annexation hearing was set for April 18. See www.ocn.me/v16n4.htm#mbot0307.
On March 9, the Monument Planning Commission was consulted about only the zoning request, not the annexation request, and the commissioners unanimously approved the motion to recommend low-density R-1 zoning for the property, should annexation be approved by the Board of Trustees later on. See www.ocn.me/v16n4.htm#mpc0309.
Manning’s comments on annexation included:
• Annexation of the entire parcel is a logical extension of town boundaries.
• It would allow the town to control the rate, location, type and character of growth of the subject property (instead of leaving it in the control of the El Paso County Planning Commission and Board of County Commissioners).
• It would be zoned R-1 single-family residential low-density. (According to http://adm2.elpasoco.com/planning/Zoning/Zb700-799/714.pdf, the current county zoning for this parcel is Planned Unit Development (PUD)).
• It would include a development agreement to detail the rights and responsibilities of the town as well as the landowner regarding any future proposed development of the annexed land.
• The Comprehensive Plan identifies this land as land that can be most easily be served by existing utilities infrastructure and special districts (in case it is developed in the future).
• No cost to the town for annexing the property.
• It would generate property tax income for the town.
• Police service will be provided to the property from the time of annexation, but this would not add significant expense to the town.
Note: According to the Town of Monument ordinances, Development standards for the R-1 Established Neighborhood District say that the minimum area of a lot shall be 6,000 square feet. See https://www2.municode.com/library/co/monument/codes/code_of_ordinances.
There is no development plan for this property now. Manning said the property has a single-family residence on it, and it is served by a well and septic system already in place. The town is not required to provide water to the property. However, if town water becomes available in the future within 500 feet of the property, and if there were easements that would allow the property to access that water, and if the property were part of the town, then the property owners would be required to connect to the Monument water system and give their water rights to the town, Manning said, and the property owner would be responsible for paying for that connection.
Manning’s staff report on the Dominguez annexation petition included references to two other neighboring properties (that are not part of the Dominguez property) and noted that Manning is currently in discussions about possible annexation to the town and residential development within the "future Willow Springs residential development" to the southwest and the "future Wagons West residential development" to east of the Dominguez property, and this extra information generated questions from the trustees.
Bornstein and several of the other new trustees asked questions about future development of this property (and the neighboring properties that were not part of this petition), who would provide water if it were rezoned for denser development, and if there were enough water. Manning said that would be worked out in a future development proposal. He said for the level of development of this property, this one single family home would not be an issue (regarding water), but "in terms of future development I don’t know that number, at which time we might have a problem."
Bornstein, Coopman, and Wilson all asked for more time to consider the issue so they could understand it better and read through the whole board packet. Shupp and Lowe both suggested that the board could go into a short executive session to answer questions, but Bornstein said his colleagues had asked for more time. Coopman asked for several months to study it, but Shupp said that was not reasonable legally.
The trustees voted to continue both the annexation petitions and the associated public hearing to the May 2 meeting by a vote of 3-1-1; Kaiser voted no, and Bornstein abstained with no reason given.
Lowe asked each individual board member to contact him in the interim so he could provide the background information he would have given in the executive session.
Snow storm traffic ordinance sent back to drawing board
Public Works Director Tharnish presented an ordinance authorizing the revision of the town of Monument snow storm traffic regulations. The purpose of the revision was to make it easier for town snowplows (and those in Triview and Village Center Metro District, which are in the town and therefore fall under town ordinances) to do their work by making sure there were no cars parked on snow routes and residential streets during winter storms. "Certain neighborhoods really are problem areas," Tharnish said.
He said enforcement would be done by the Police Department using warnings, stickers on cars, fines, and towing vehicles away. He said he had talked to nine out of ten homeowner associations in the town about his proposed revisions, and they all supported the concept.
For 45 minutes, the trustees asked questions about the execution of the proposed revisions to the ordinance. Kaiser asked Monument Police Department Lt. Steve Burk for his opinions, and he had several logistical suggestions for Tharnish. During the public hearing, six people spoke up with suggestions and questions about the proposed ordinance.
Shupp suggested Tharnish bring a new draft of the revised ordinance to the next meeting. The trustees voted unanimously to direct staff to develop another draft of the ordinance using clearer language.
Water rates increase questioned
Bornstein requested that the board consider a motion requesting staff to bring forward an emergency ordinance by the next board meeting regarding the recent water rates increase. His objective would be to remove all the water rates increases implemented by the town on March 7, but then add a $5 increase to the previous base rate structure for all residents and businesses.
He also said he wanted to have a roundtable meeting as soon as possible in order to determine "what financial increase is truly required" to meet the financial expectations for the town of Monument. He said, "We need to get the numbers defined, what we need and why we need it, and then readjust what that water cost is going to be." He said there was a variance in the numbers showed to the trustees, and no one told the trustees why there was a variance.
Bornstein referred to the Feb. 22 workshop where public proposals were made for evaluation by town staff, but on March 7, town staff did not present analyzed data on all the proposals. See www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#photos.
Kaiser asked Lowe if he had an understanding of what was needed, and Lowe said, "Nope. I cannot figure it out. Ask the town attorney."
Coopman reiterated that the board was directing the town to write an emergency ordinance to reverse the water rates increase and then add a flat $5 increase to residential and commercial rates using the previous rate structure, "at which point we will reconvene with the residents of this community to discuss all information and share all information and ideas and come up with a more responsible water rate increase."
Shupp asked if there was a motion, a second, and a vote, but Kaiser said no, it was direction from the board to the town staff.
Lowe then recommended just repealing the rates increase and not adding the $5 "until you figure out what you want to do…. This board does not seem to believe what was done was correct, which is fine, but I would not jumble it up with the $5 increase."
Bornstein persisted in adding the $5 to the old rate structure "due to the deficit" in the water enterprise fund. Coopman added that given the financial loss of the water enterprise fund on an annual basis, presented both at a Board of Trustees meeting and also at the public forum workshop, "the $5 amount Bornstein refers to eliminates that loss and will make the water enterprise fund solvent immediately. So then we can decide how to move forward as a community."
Lowe said, "I think we have significant direction there." Kaiser summarized that there was no need for a motion or a vote because three trustees, Bornstein, Coopman, and Wilson, a majority of the board members present, had provided direction for staff to prepare an emergency ordinance on which they could vote at the May 2 meeting.
Process for public comments and agenda items questioned
Bornstein made suggestions about how items are added to board meeting agendas for equal treatment of all who want to participate, "to bring the credibility back to what we do." He said it was not the responsibility of the board to initiate topics for the agenda and that those should come from the public. Coopman and Medlicott agreed that a more formal process was needed.
After the meeting, Sirochman clarified for OCN that the practices currently in place are:
• Agenda items are approved by the town clerk and staff.
• Agenda items including PowerPoints and PDFs are due to the town clerk no later than 5 p.m. Monday, the week prior to board meetings. All late submissions will be placed on the next agenda.
• No digital presentations will be accepted the night of board meetings.
• Public comments are limited to three minutes per municipal code.
• Presentations are limited to a total of 20 minutes; subject to change by board approval, and limited to two presentations per meeting.
Shupp said that public comments are different from agenda items, which go through the town manager, not to exclude items from the agenda but to study them and make them ready for the board’s consideration. However, Bornstein, Coopman, and Medlicott wanted more avenues available to the public, going through the trustees, to get agenda items presented to staff to get onto future agendas.
Town easement in Forest Lakes
The trustees unanimously approved the consent agenda without discussion. If a trustee did have a question about a consent agenda item, he or she could ask at the beginning of the meeting for it to be moved to the regular meeting agenda.
One item approved was the supplemental and amended partial vacation of easements in Forest Lakes, which is El Paso County, not in the town. Tharnish’s memo in the board packet for this meeting explained that, "The partial vacation of the blanket easements in the Forest Lakes District … insures that the town’s interest in potentially drilling a well and having the ability to install the required pipelines, if necessary, to extract the water from underground is not injured. The documents allow for the Forest Lakes District to move forward with building the lots they need yet provides for securing the town’s interest in their water rights."
The easements granted to the town in 1984 by a property owner will remain in effect upon Tract D of Filing No. 1 as that site retains some potential for a well site, the memo said. The town also now desires to supplement the partial vacation in order to include some additional land within Forest Lakes Filing No. 2. See http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com/ for more information.
The consent agenda also included the following checks over $5,000:
• Triview Metro District, March sales tax paid, earned from February/March 2016, deduction of overpaid infrastructure fees for 2015 and 2016 − $107,145
• Forsgren Associates Inc., new water tank engineering − $5,281
Appointment of new trustee considered
Kaiser said since Dominguez resigned, and Kaiser vacated his trustee position to become mayor, the town now needed to fill an additional trustee position. He said three applicants had stepped forward by the initial April 18 deadline. Bornstein said he had hoped for more applicants and that he wanted Trustee Elliott present too when the applicants spoke. Coopman said he wanted to hear from the three current applicants but also wanted to extend the deadline for applications to the next board meeting so they could hear from more applicants.
The trustees spent the next 45 minutes interviewing the three current applicants, whose comments included:
• Dennis Murphy – has an operational background and has done Air Force pilot training, served in Vietnam, and had command billets including being a base commander as well as being part of the Joint Staff and Air Staff at the Pentagon. His vision is to find a way to make this a good place to live, grow smartly, and know where revenue comes from.
• Michelle Glover – a licensed attorney and litigator and veteran who currently serves on the Monument Planning Commission. Her concerns were that the explosive growth in Monument over the past several years was putting the town at a tipping point, threatening its position as a family-friendly small town, and that the decisions were being made using a 13-year-old comprehensive plan as a guidepost.
• Kevin Sorenson – a computer engineer who said he is good at working with those who don’t communicate well and helping foster communication in a non-threatening way to build consensus. He campaigned in the current election for trustee because he loves this area and wants to be more involved. His goals are low-density development, open spaces and parks, and downtown revitalization with protection against attacks from certain kinds of businesses.
The board consensus was that they would wait for additional applicants and then vote on May 2 to appoint a new trustee.
Bornstein then nominated Don Wilson for mayor pro-tem, and this motion was approved unanimously.
At the beginning of the meeting, Maggie Williamson thanked the current Board of Trustees for the time they donated on behalf of the people. She congratulated the newly-elected trustees, saying they had her respect as elected officials but that they did not yet have her trust due to their unbecoming conduct. She said the new trustees made unwarranted statements and nasty and slanderous comments about board members Becki Tooley, John Howe, Jeff Smith, Kelly Elliott, Jeff Kaiser and Rafael Dominguez. She said the current board had made decisions this year that were unpopular with residents but per the law and with town’s best interest in mind.
The meeting adjourned at about 9:30 p.m.
Caption: From left, Don Wilson, Greg Coopman, Jeff Bornstein, and Shea Medlicott were sworn in by Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman at the April 18 Monument Board of Trustees meeting. Photo by Bob Evans.
The Monument Board of Trustees usually meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Mondays of each month at Monument Town Hall, 645 Beacon Lite Road. The next meeting is scheduled for May 16. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information.
To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
Thanks to volunteer Bob Evans for recording this meeting and taking notes and photos for Our Community News.
By Chris Pollard
On April 14, the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) held a short meeting organized by Mark Ponti, director of the Architectural Control Committee, to present plans for a potential development of 28 individually owned town homes to be called "The Cove at Woodmoor" just to the east of The Cove on Deer Creek Road. A second part of the meeting was devoted to a proposal to increase parking at the Toboggan Hill open space to 18 vehicles.
The proposal for the new housing was described by Andrea Barlow, a project manager with NES Inc. of Colorado Springs. Under a 1972 Approved Development Plan, the area under consideration was zoned under an old county designation of R4 for 50 units. However, the current developer, Mike Ruebenson of LaPlata Communities, has decided that a less dense proposal of only 28 homes would work better on the site at the current time. See the site plan in Snapshots of Our Community.
The plans took into consideration the riparian habitat to the south, which would remain untouched. The homes would be attached but sold as individually owned units rather than as condominiums. Going forward, the developer plans to have further reviews with WIA and a planned submittal date to the county of June 10.
Neighbors from The Cove had been invited to the meeting and their main concern that needed to be resolved was that somehow parking and snow disposal had been going on in an easement into the new development. One of the access points was through the area currently used for parking.
At the end of the meeting, Rich Wretschko, director of Common Areas, gave details of a proposal that he was presenting to the WIA to increase parking at the Toboggan Hill open space. Parking at this site has often been a problem, with people illegally parking on adjacent roads. While the number of spaces in the proposal would not accommodate all cars, the extension to 18 vehicles, including one handicapped space, was achievable with an estimated cost of $30,000. The cost would include building a closed culvert and all costs for proper marking. The location of the extension would be to the west along Deer Creek Road.
Chris Pollard can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The April 4 meeting of the Monument Board of Trustees occurred a week after the resignation of Mayor Rafael Dominguez and the night before the election for four open trustee positions on the board. The trustees appointed Mayor Pro-Tem Jeff Kaiser to be the new mayor, announced April 18 to be the deadline for applications for the trustee position opened by the departure of Dominguez, and shared opinions about the current state of the town.
They heard reports on the end of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) one percent sales tax and the recent board retreat that gave direction to town staff on the vision for Monument in 2026.
Dominguez replaced by Kaiser
Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman read for the record that Dominguez resigned as mayor on March 29. As part of the consent agenda, the trustees accepted his resignation "with thanks to the mayor for his service during his term of office." Kaiser said that Dominguez had to resign because his new employer said serving as mayor was in conflict of interest with his new position.
Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that the board had the power to appoint a replacement mayor within 60 days of the resignation, but if that did not occur, a special election would need to be held, which would cost several thousand dollars. He said if a mayor were appointed from among the trustees this evening, then the town could advertise for a replacement for the other newly-vacant trustee position.
The trustees voted unanimously to appoint a new mayor at this meeting and advertise for the open trustee position, with April 18 as the initial deadline for applications.
Trustee Jeff Smith nominated Mayor Pro-Tem Kaiser to fill the mayoral vacancy. Kaiser’s appointment was approved unanimously.
The positions for trustees Jeff Bornstein, John Howe, Jeff Smith, and Becki Tooley would be decided by the April 5 election. Bornstein, Howe, and Tooley were running for re-election, but Smith was not. Kaiser said that as of April 4, voters had cast 598 ballots out of a possible 4,603 registered voters in the town of Monument. See related election results article on page 10.
Kaiser said that on May 2, Tami Tanoue, lead counsel for Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA), would conduct a one-hour session called "Do’s & Don’ts of Quasi-Judicial Proceedings" recommended for any current or new trustees, planning commissioners, board of adjustment members, other members of the town staff, and the public. He said, "(Trustees) can be sued, and CIRSA will only cover you in certain instances."
John Howe’s comments included:
• Congratulations to Palmer Lake Mayor Nikki McDonald on finishing her term and her 20 years of service to Palmer Lake.
• Thank you to Jeff Kaiser for accepting the position of mayor.
• We need volunteers for the Great American Cleanup on April 23.
Kelly Elliott’s comments included:
• This election period has had a bit of unbalanced media coverage of the various trustee candidates.
• It’s time to stop the inaccurate information being disseminated about certain board members.
• At the candidate forum on March 9, a question was asked whether a trustee should follow the law or their conscience, but this is not a choice! We have to follow the law from town to federal level.
• It was disturbing to me, figuring out ways to go around the law. If the law is not right, then let’s change it, but meanwhile we need to uphold the law.
Jeff Smith’s comments included:
• At the candidate forum, I was rather disappointed. One of the staged questions was how a candidate would handle an ‘unethical’ vote like the water rates increase. Our community is smart and good willed, but we are being painted like a bunch of hicks and bigots because of comments like that.
• It always comes down to people throwing mud out to see what sticks when they don’t get their way. That is sad, because it does not represent the town of Monument.
• I hope that good and upstanding people will talk to friends and neighbors and put an end to a very sad reflection on the whole town caused by a very few people.
• Please be active and engaged in your community. Don’t commit sins of omission by not speaking up when you see things that are not right.
• This is my last night here as a full functioning board member having to tolerate the constant assaults and blanket accusations of personal interest and unethical behavior.
BRRTA one percent sales tax ended April 1
Kaiser said that April 1 was the end of the one percent sales tax on businesses in the BRRTA jurisdiction. Citizens had approved the tax in 2006 to fund the improvement of the interchange at I-25 and West Baptist Road, "which was a real mess," he said. BRRTA was created to govern the administration of the additional sales tax to pay for the construction, since the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) did not have the funds then.
He said it was such an open-ended agreement with CDOT that they dragged their feet on repaying the $16 million, but due to constant badgering by BRRTA, CDOT found the money to repay the debt. See www.ocn.me/v16n4.htm#brrta0318 for Jim Kendrick’s detailed explanation of this milestone.
Board retreat summary
Town Manager Chris Lowe reported that the February board retreat in Estes Park was helpful in providing direction and priorities from the trustees to town staff. He appreciated that it was a safe environment for both negative and positive comments in creating vision for Monument in 2026. A vital question he mentioned was, "How do we talk to each other, even when we disagree?"
Measurable milestones from trustees for the staff to achieve included:
• Increase quality of life amenities: cemetery beautification, Lavelett Park, Park Trail Park, downtown.
• Community engagement: more accessible town website to include bill-paying feature and interactive discussion, better use of social media for two-way communication, increase number of downtown events and participants. "(Community Liaison) Madeline (VanDenHoek) is fantastic at promoting events," he said.
• Fund management and planning: identify operational possibilities for saving. Town Treasurer Pamela Smith will be in charge of developing a Capital Improvement Plan for the town General Fund (such as the one the town already has for the water).
Lowe said the goals set by the trustees were for "vibrant parks, east-to-west trails, open spaces. Places for children of all ages. Aesthetics, not just a two-truck-stop town. Commercial and residential attention. We can be a bedroom community of distinction." He said the comprehensive plan will be updated and will involve the park plan that John Howe and Becki Tooley have worked on so hard and to which they both contributed ideas.
Smith commented that it is important that the public would see that the trustees have given this direction and that Lowe has received it.
Downtown sidewalks 2016 phase
The trustees unanimously approved a contract for Phase 1B of the downtown sidewalks project, which will be 80 percent funded by CDOT, to go to NORAA Concrete Construction.
The work in 2016 will add sidewalks to the east side of Washington Street from Fifth Street to Third Street, the west side of Jefferson Street from Fifth Street to Third Street, and the east side of Beacon Lite Road from Buttonwood Court to Woodworth Street and from Third Street to Second Street.
Checks over $5,000
As part of the consent agenda, the trustees unanimously approved the following checks over $5,000:
• Triview Metro District, January Sales Tax, February Motor Vehicle Tax, January Regional Building Sales Tax − $139,195
• Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, second-quarter support − $5,000
• Forsgren Associates Inc., reuse plan engineering − $9,351
• Forsgren Associates Inc., well 9 treatment issues − $5,706
• Forsgren Associates Inc., water rate and fee study − $9,483
• Monumental Building Services LLC, reconfigure Town Hall downstairs administration office − $6,388
• Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, February land use attorney fees related to methadone clinic − $15,430
Chess club recognition
Kaiser and Lowe recognized the Prairie Winds Elementary School chess team for its third place win in the statewide Scholastic Chess Tournament. Coach Peter Wise said chess class is for all students at Prairie Winds who are not in band, and they focus on puzzles, logic, strategic thinking, the U.S. chess federation, world champions, great chess games, and tournaments.
The board voted unanimously to go into executive session at 8:04 p.m. to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease, transfer, or sale of any real, personal, or other property interest. Shupp said it related to the town’s Water Capital Plan.
Caption: At the Monument Board of Trustees meeting April 5, Prairie Winds Elementary School chess team members were recognized for their third place win in the statewide Scholastic Chess Tournament in Longmont. The nine team members recognized are, from left, Bennett Patrick, Kannon White-Corbaley, Brandon Baroni (on floor, in front of sign), Will Lottes, Grogan Blach, Joe Brandon (holding plaque), and Coach Peter Wise. Not pictured: Max Paulik, Andrew Bonneau, and Ethan Twesme. Photo by Allison Wise.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
Eight candidates ran for four four-year terms on the Monument Board of Trustees in the April 5 mail-in election. Town Clerk Cynthia Sirochman reported the following official results of votes cast by April 5:
• Tim Allen – 338
• Jeff Bornstein – 454
• Greg Coopman – 493
• John Howe – 279
• Shea Medlicott – 431
• Kevin Sorenson – 370
• Becki Tooley – 362
• Don Wilson – 468
The winning top four vote-getters are shown in bold.
A total of 874 votes were cast out of 4,604 registered voters in the town.
At the April 18 Monument Board of Trustees meeting, Sirochman recognized the diligent work of four Monument election judges who worked until 2 a.m. counting the ballots: John Giudice, Thomas Korytowski, Donald Nichols, and Sharon Tymes.
By James Howald
In April, the Palmer Lake Town Council met twice: on April 14 and on April 28.
The April 14 meeting was devoted to recognizing the outgoing mayor and trustees. A new mayor and two new trustees were sworn in at this meeting as well. No further business was conducted at this meeting.
On April 28, a fourth trustee was appointed, and the new board voted on resolutions to allow Facinelli Motors to do business temporarily at 735 Hillview St., and to move at a later date to a permanent location in Elephant Rock Acres. The board also moved forward on a plan to revamp the town’s municipal codes, and voted in favor of a resolution to finalize the terms of employment of Cathy Green-Sinnard as town administrator. During public comments, a representative of the Palmer Lake noxious weed eradication volunteers spoke about the need to eradicate myrtle spurge.
Outgoing mayor and trustees receive plaques, commendations
Mayor Nikki McDonald presented the outgoing trustees with plaques honoring their service to the community. Roads Trustee John Russel, Police Trustee Bob Grado, Water Trustee Mitchell Davis, Parks Trustee Paul Banta and Economic Development Trustee Judith Harrington all received awards from McDonald.
Fire Trustee Rich Kuehster will remain on the board.
Kuehster then presented a plaque to a tearful McDonald, expressing the town’s gratitude for her service as mayor. In a printed farewell, McDonald reminisced about her time in Palmer Lake, and expressed her confidence that the town was headed in a good direction.
New mayor and trustees take office
In her last official act on April 14, McDonald introduced the town’s new mayor, John Cressman. Cressman has served a term as mayor previously, McDonald said.
The April 14 meeting concluded with Town Clerk Tara Berreth administering the oath of office to new trustee Mark Schuler, returning trustee Paul Banta, and new mayor Cressman.
The April 28 meeting began with the appointment of new trustee Glant Havenar. Havenar is a real estate agent who has lived in Palmer Laker for 14 years. She has three children in D-38 schools, Havenar said, adding that she wanted to serve on the board to help preserve the small-town culture of Palmer Lake.
Mitchell Davis, who had served previously as the board’s water trustee, declined to be re-appointed to the board, citing family concerns.
Facinelli Motors to remain in Palmer Lake
Following a presentation by Kurt Erhardt, a local builder, the board approved a set of resolutions that together gave local businessman Tom Facinelli the conditional use permits required to allow his auto repair business to operate temporarily at 735 Hillview Street, until a new building can be built as a permanent home for his business farther south in the Elephant Rock Acres neighborhood.
In addition to the conditional use permits, the board also voted to approve a resolution that vacated a right of way belonging to the town adjacent to the property that will be the final location for Facinelli’s business. Vacating the right of way would allow a small piece of land currently owned by the town to become part of the lot where Facinelli’s business will eventually reside, according to Town Lawyer Maureen Juran.
Palmer Lake municipal codes to be overhauled
The board approved an agreement with the Municipal Code Corp. (Municode) to update the town’s municipal code. The update was needed, according to Town Administrator Cathy Green-Sinnard, because the codes as currently written use obsolete terminology and are not in a form that can be easily searched on the town’s website. The update will not change the content of the codes, Green-Sinnard said, and will make the codes easier to maintain over time. The project will cost $13,000 and take two years to complete, according to Green-Sinnard.
The board voted unanimously to approve the project.
Town Administrator position formalized
Following an executive session on April 28, the board passed a resolution approving an at will employment agreement with Green-Sinnard to work as town administrator. The town has received funding from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs to partially finance the position for three years.
Noxious weed team works on myrtle spurge purge
During the public comments portion of the meeting on April 28, noxious weed team lead Phyllis Head gave the board a report on efforts to eradicate myrtle spurge in the town. Myrtle spurge was commonly used as an ornamental plant, Head said, but is in fact dangerous since its sap will raise blisters when it comes in contact with the skin. In conjunction with the town’s Firewise Day program on May 7, the team is offering an incentive to homeowners who remove the plant from their lots, Head said. In addition to a book on gardening, the team will give a $5 gift card to McCord’s Garden Center for each 15 pounds of the plant homeowners bring to the team in plastic bags. Anyone dealing with the weed must wear gloves, long sleeves and eye protection, according to Head.
For details on how to eradicate myrtle spurge or the incentives offered to do so, call (719) 481-2953, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The meeting adjourned at 10 p.m.
Caption: Trustee Rich Kuehster presents a plaque to outgoing Mayor Nikki McDonald. Photo by James Howald.
Caption: Town Clerk Tara Berreth swears in Palmer Lake’s new Mayor John Cressman. Photo by James Howald.
The two meetings for May will be at 6:30 p.m. on May 12 and May 26, at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Meetings are normally held on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month. Information: 481-2953.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On April 12, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) heard about a facility communications disruption due to lack of a Tier II "utility locate" call by the Town of Monument before the town dug to repair a pipeline. The meeting also included a shining report on the current total phosphorus (TP) treatment expansion construction, and another JUC vote on the resolution concerning the use of the nutrient engineering report (NER).
JUC President Don Smith said this was his last meeting, and Monument Sanitation District (MSD) Board President Ed Delaney would be the new Monument JUC representative starting in May. All three districts’ board and staff representatives in attendance thanked Smith for service.
TLWWTF operates as a separate joint venture public utility and is owned in equal one-third shares by MSD, Palmer Lake Sanitation District (PLSD), and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD). The three-member JUC acts as the board of the facility and consists of one director from each of the three owner districts’ boards: MSD board Treasurer Smith, Palmer Lake Sanitation District Secretary/Treasurer Ken Smith, and WWSD Board Director at Large Rich Strom. Other board and staff members of the three owner districts also attended, including MSD District Manager Mike Wicklund, PLSD District Manager Becky Orcutt, and WWSD District Manager Jessie Shaffer.
Phone line damaged
Burks said the facility was without phone and internet service for 24 hours one day in March, and so the usual alarm systems would not work to notify operators at home of any facility problems during the night. Burks stayed overnight at the facility so that no alarms would be missed.
Burks said the Town of Monument was repairing a line in the vicinity of Dirty Woman Park and had requested a Tier I "locate" which would include phone, gas, and electric lines, but the phone line was in a different place than had been indicated. Wicklund said the backhoe also hit a major sewage wastewater line, and if the line had broken, "It would have been on television." Wicklund, Orcutt and Shaffer confirmed none of them had received "locate" calls, although all three entities have infrastructure in that vicinity. Burks explained to OCN that this was because wastewater is a Tier II, instead of Tier I, utility for "locate" calls.
Burks also said the phone company did not make repairing the line a priority, because there were "just two" accounts on that line. "But one of them is TLWWTF! They need to understand how vital this facility is!" Burks said.
Plant manager and construction report
Burks gave the February discharge monitoring report and reported that while there were a few small issues, all results were well within the required parameters.
Burks reported that construction was ahead of schedule on the TP chemical removal clarifier expansion project. He estimated that phosphorus removal could begin as soon as May 15, which would be about a month ahead of schedule.
This month, Aslan Construction crews installed the secondary effluent intake piping including additional valves to new tertiary building, and this required completely stopping the effluent flow from the basins from 4 to 10 a.m. one morning, but it all worked according to plan, he said.
They also installed interior conduit for electricity and the pumps that will supply alum, polymer, or sodium hydroxide as needed, to the effluent. He said the facility might have to spend about $200,000 a year on these chemicals, but the operators will monitor daily, as always, to see how the plant performs. Because the type of phosphorus removal technology being installed in the facility has only been tested in a laboratory to date, there is already some interest from others who want to see the new plant operating in real-time and on a grand scale, Burks said. "It’s going to be awesome."
PLSD asks for consideration, another vote on resolution
Ken Smith had formally requested that the resolution that had been approved Feb. 9 by a 2-1 vote of the JUC, which indefinitely postponed Phases 2 and 3 of the Tetra Tech nutrient engineering report, be included in the April 12 meeting agenda with this agenda item: "Consider and vote again on the resolution regarding the Phase 2 and Phase 3 projects that was originally presented to the JUC on February 9, 2016." For more information, see www.ocn.me/v16n3.htm#tlfjuc0209.
Strom moved to strike the resolution altogether. He reiterated WWSD’s opinion that Woodmoor disagreed with the resolution and would continue to use that nutrient engineering report (NER) that Tetra Tech had prepared in 2014, for long-term planning and budgeting purposes.
Shaffer said the resolution had everything to do with the current litigation between the districts. He said Woodmoor was still planning to use the NER for anticipating compliance with future regulations and future long-range financial planning, including possible rate adjustments or borrowing.
Wicklund said that the resolution meant that the JUC would get second opinions on the NER, since future regulations are unknown, "and we may be in a position that we don’t use Tetra Tech any more as the engineer for this facility, period." Strom’s motion died due to lack of a second.
Don Smith made a motion to vote on the resolution again. Ken Smith seconded. The result, again, was 2-1 with WWSD voting no. Don Smith said, "Obviously we have a disagreement. It will be worked out in the courts."
Regional water quality issues
Burks and MSD Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick reported on the April meeting of Arkansas and Fountain Coalition for Urban River Evaluation (AF CURE). Kendrick also summarized topics covered at the March Colorado Wastewater Utility Council meeting and the entire stakeholder planning surrounding the triennial review of the Nutrients Management Control Regulation 85 and section 31.17 of the Basic Standards and Methodologies for Surface Water, Regulation 31, which will be held in June.
Burks said that the facility had paid its annual dues to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). The PPRWA develops regional solutions to water supply issues. AF CURE is one of the projects sponsored by PPRWA. The annual dues cost increased from about $3,700 last year to $16,304 this year, because costs are now determined by plant design flow.
The total phosphorus restrictions in the state’s Control Regulation 85 only apply to the 45 largest publicly owned wastewater treatment facilities in Colorado, those rated at over 2 million gallons per day (MGD) of treatment capacity. TLWWTF is rated at 4.2 MGD, though the average flow rarely exceeds 1.2 MGD. Regulation 85 does not apply to the other two smaller treatment facilities in the OCN coverage area, Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility and Academy Water and Sanitation District’s wastewater treatment lagoons, which are both rated at less than 2 MGD. There are 391 wastewater treatment facilities in Colorado.
The meeting went into executive session for discussion of the facility’s total phosphorus clarifier’s access easement issue at 11:30 a.m. Kendrick told OCN that no announcements were made after the session.
TLWWTF has paid $1,250 for surveying and $2,553 for easement consulting. Burks did not report what costs had been incurred so far for services of TLWWTF attorney Mike Cucullu on this issue.
At the Dec. 8 meeting, the JUC had voted unanimously to have Wicklund present the facility’s two standard access easement options to the private property owner immediately adjacent to the TLWWTF TP expansion, but neither offer was accepted. Burks said that now, Cucullu is the only TLWWTF representative who can speak with the neighboring property owner, and Cucullu will convey any communication to Burks. See www.ocn.me/v15n12.htm#tljuc-1110, www.ocn.me/v16n1.htm#tljuc1208, and www.ocn.me/v16n2.htm#tlfjuc0112.
The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on May 10 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings throughout 2016 will normally be held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public. For information, call Bill Burks at (719) 481-4053.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met on April 14 to discuss service options for the Ponderosa/Bald Mountain Estates development, to plan for a quality study of Lake Woodmoor water, to review the status of the Chilcott Ditch, to consider a request to expand from a local brewery, to hear updates on a number of district projects, and to bid farewell to board President Barrie Town, who is leaving the board after eight years of service.
President Town leads last meeting
The April 14 meeting was the last chaired from start to finish by Town. District voters will elect two board members on Tuesday, May 3. Voting will take place at the Woodmoor Improvement Association Community Center (also called "The Barn") from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Jim Wyss, Beth Courrau, and Brian Bush are running for the two seats.
Town will convene the board’s next meeting on May 12; the new president will chair that meeting.
Development seeks to join district
District Manager Jessie Shaffer told the board that he was discussing options for the district to supply water to the Ponderosa/Bald Mountain Estates development, a neighborhood of 28 homes and a church complex just north of the intersection of County Line Road and Furrow Road. The residents currently use water from wells and are concerned about ground water depletion and the effort required to maintain their own water system, Shaffer said.
The homes are in Douglas County, and Douglas County Water Resource Planner Tim Murrell has offered to pay for an engineering study that will define options for water delivery, according to Shaffer.
Shaffer asked the board to approve the WWSD staff time required to do preliminary planning that would define the infrastructure needs for the project, and the board approved the request.
Lake Woodmoor water study planned
Shaffer told the board that three engineering companies have responded to requests for proposals to study how to improve the taste and odor of Lake Woodmoor water. Shaffer told the board he would give them his recommendation about which proposal to approve at a future meeting.
Chilcott Ditch now moving water
Shaffer told the board that three projects had recently been completed on the Chilcott Ditch, which conveys water to the Callahan reservoir on the JV Ranch. Two culverts and a flume have been replaced, Shaffer said, and water is currently flowing in the ditch.
Shaffer commended Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette and his team for their effectiveness in dealing with unanticipated obstacles to making the ditch functional after years of disuse.
Local microbrewery request leads to potential policy update
Shaffer told the board that Pikes Peak Brewing Co. is planning to expand its brewing capacity and will need additional water. Discussion between the brewery and WWSD led to a reconsideration of the district’s supplemental water service policy, Shaffer said. Shaffer argued that the existing policy should have a category added for breweries so that it does not require the brewery to pay unnecessary surcharges for supplemental water.
Manager’s and engineer’s reports detail progress
Other reports to the board made the following points:
• Well 11 has an undiagnosed problem causing sand to clog the well’s filter.
• Well 8 has had its pump replaced.
• Two proposals have been received for the construction of an equipment storage building on the JV Ranch. A fabric enclosure design, similar to the design of Denver International Airport, is being considered for the building.
• The Xpress Billpay project is moving forward. A merchant account with Chase Payment Tech has been set up. Xpress Billpay could be available to customers by August.
The meeting adjourned at 2:55 p.m.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 12 at 1 p.m. Meetings are usually held at the district office at 1845 Woodmoor Drive on the second Thursday of each month at 1 p.m. See www.woodmoorwater.com or call 488-2525 to verify meeting times.
James Howald can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jim Kendrick
Donala Water and Sanitation District Director, former board President, and former District Manager Bill Nance passed away early on April 20 and was eulogized by President Bill George at the start of the April 21 regular board meeting. Nance was two months short of his 93rd birthday. He is survived by his wife, Mary. Nance’s director chair was shrouded in black bunting for the April 21 board meeting. The board unanimously approved a motion to fly the U.S. flag in front of the Donala office building at half-staff through the date of Nance’s memorial service.
The board also honored the retirement of Office Assistant Ginnette Ritz. A life-long local resident, Ritz has served her entire career supporting the community working for the Colorado Springs Police Department, Donald Wescott Fire Protection District, and Donala. District General Manager Kip Petersen said he would call her back to serve again as Donala’s designated election official. Office Manager Betsy Bray stated, "Ginnette knows every single job in the office. She can do every single person’s job without a flaw."
George reviewed an email from former 20-year Donala Superintendent and General Manager Dana Duthie. Some of the items George and Duthie noted were:
Nance provided vision about future needs and proper planning that Donala had never had before as a developer district. Nance was a strong advocate for acquiring renewable water sources and would have bought more ranches in addition to Willow Creek Ranch if Donala had been able to generate more financing.
Nance transitioned from Donala’s board president to general manager "for very little pay" under a consulting contract in 1993 to initiate long-range planning and short-term staff and consultant changes, as well as to hire Duthie. Two years later, Nance returned to the board and was re-elected to board chairman as Duthie took over as general manager for the next 18 years. The new auditing firm, Hoelting and Co., and the legal firm of Petrock and Fendell P.C. that Nance and Duthie hired are still used by Donala to this day.
Nance initiated a first of its kind as well as the first successful lawsuit against the state water engineer’s office that resulted in hundreds of thousands of district water augmentation cost savings. Nance "held firm" in the district’s pursuit of this litigation in the face of strong advice "many times to give in to the state."
Nance also stood firm in converting Donala away from being a purely reactive developer district in order to control Donala’s growth as a forward-looking stand-alone entity that matched the available water supply rather than developer preferences. Donala was successful in negotiating acquisition of underground water rights in Fox Run Park from El Paso County.
Nance was the first president of the El Paso County Water Authority that has since evolved into the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, bringing together all county water entities to have an equal standing with Colorado Springs Utilities.
Duthie’s closing statement in his April 20 email to the board was: "A great man passed today and the people of Donala owe him a huge debt."
George stated that most Donala constituents do not know the magnitude of Nance’s effect on Donala. George said that throughout his life he was visionary "always looking to do better for people" through Donala and Gleneagle Sertoma. "Losing Bill puts a big hole in the district. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mary and his family. Bill’s in a better place. That we remember him with fondness is an understatement. He was a straight shooter. You never had to ask yourself ‘What did he really mean?’ He could cut to the chase very quickly." George added, "He knew he was cared about. He knew quite clearly the respect we all had for him and his contributions."
George then formally announced that Donala will be seeking a replacement for Nance in June. Those interested in seeking consideration for this June appointment should contact Betsy Bray at 488-3603 before May 26. An official announcement of this vacancy will also be published. For more information, see www.donalawater.org.
Investment policy change approved
Donala’s investment advisors from Chandler Asset Management––portfolio strategist and Executive Vice President Scott Prickett and Client Service Manager Stacey Alderson––presented a lengthy technical review of the current Donala investment policies regarding certificates of deposit and answered questions from the directors. This review had been previously requested by Nance but had been postponed due to scheduling issues.
Some of the technical items Prickett and Alderson discussed regarding Donala’s investments were: potential near-term Fed note interest rate increases, Colorado state law investment safety requirements to ensure preservation of capital in the overall portfolio, and diversification limits that preclude investments in long-term corporate bonds, certificates of deposit, or equities to get a higher yield due to the risk of loss due to the failure of the security issuer or backer.
Office Manager Bray noted the different state restrictions that apply to Donala’s three different funds: general fund, debt reserve fund, and the bond fund that holds the remaining balance of the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority low interest capital improvement loan.
The board unanimously approved a motion to increase the maximum maturity investment strategy of the general, debt, and bond project funds that Chandler manages "from a shorter duration target to a zero to three years strategy" with no change from a minimum of AAA ratings. This will increase the potential for a higher overall rate of return with an increase in the average maturity duration from six months to a year to 1.4 to 1.5 years, while still complying with state law regarding credit risk.
The board also approved a policy change to allow investment in treasury funds in addition to money market funds. State law allows a treasury maturity of up to five years. During Prickett’s report to the board on May 21, 2015 he noted that interest rates for two-year treasuries have ranged from 0.31 to 0.74 percent. Now a two-year treasury should yield 0.75 to 0.85 percent and a three-year treasury should yield 1 percent. The Donala portfolio will remain sufficiently liquid to meet all operating requirements that may be reasonably anticipated, with some low yielding same-day liquidity investments for short-term fund requirements.
There was also agreement that Alderson will arrange a board visit this summer to Chandler’s new Denver office at 1875 Lawrence St. near Coors Field that coincides with a Rockies home game. Director Ken Judd noted that he would use this decision as an example in the Webster University managerial economics course he is currently teaching.
Construction of the water pipeline between the Latrobe Court water tank and Holbein Drive tanks will begin early this summer. A new fence will be constructed around the recently acquired Donala Pauma Valley Drive storage facility.
The board unanimously approved a personnel policies and procedure manual amendment to limit employees to seeking one operator license upgrade at a time to focus their preparation and enhance their success rate. Higher-level state license certification testing has become increasingly more challenging as water quality regulatory changes have become more numerous and technical.
The board unanimously approved a resolution to appoint Petersen as Donala’s primary representative to the Colorado Special District Property and Liability Pool and Bray as the alternate. Donala has switched to the state pool from commercial carriers for its provider of property and liability insurance.
Petersen and returning director Ed Houle, who will be sworn in on May 19, attended the April 18 Arkansas Basin Roundtable. Petersen said that Steve Witte, the Division 2 state water engineer, gave a presentation on the "State of the Arkansas River." Witte also announced a core mission change in state water rights policy that eliminates the former automatic state defense, by filing objections, as a party in all state water rights cases, including party status in all cases regarding water rights not owned by the state. The state engineer’s intent now is to expedite water court cases though the review process.
Witte announced more state enforcement involvement regarding impaired water rights due to illegal water diversions and theft by rapidly proliferating marijuana grows throughout the state, particularly in the Arkansas River basin.
In addition, Peter Barkman of the Colorado Geological Survey announced that the state will be re-initiating its terminated program for disseminating results of geologic and soil surveys to water users to better optimize state water use.
The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority discussed state legislative results to date on April 6. Petersen noted that the state rain barrel bill was approved by the Legislature. House Bill 16-1283, which would require water utilities providing over 2,000 acre-feet of water per year to conduct annual water distribution efficiency audits to determine annual system losses, was killed this year, but will be re-introduced again by Western Slope interests in 2017. Utilities like Donala, which has a 98 percent efficiency—the limit of current technology, would not receive an exemption from this costly audit review. Members of the authority are considering having engineering consultant Forsgren and Associates prepare a 15-year look-back report on water conservation successes by authority members in self-defense and also to help effective participation during negotiations for state funding under the pending initiation of a state water plan, which includes a "flex" goal of 400,000 acre-feet of additional water savings per year.
Petersen said he will be part of an Arkansas River Basin Water Forum panel (April 27-28) that will discuss the future of alluvial aquifer storage of water. He will discuss Donala’s results in successfully injecting 40 acre-feet of water into Donala Well 2A, and then recovering the same 40 acre-feet of water from the Arapahoe aquifer from Well 2A. He also plans to discuss up to 600,000 acre-foot storage potential within the Upper Black Squirrel groundwater basin that was demonstrated by the Colorado Geological Survey in 2008. This basin extends from Peyton south to the El Paso County border with Pueblo County,
The district’s April 13 sod, soils, and sprinkles seminar presented by Water Returns and attended by 29 Donala residents was a success, and the seminar will be presented again in the fall.
April 15 Pueblo Reservoir spill canceled
Petersen reported that Donala’s previously forecast loss of space available storage in the Pueblo Reservoir on April 15 for its renewable surface water from Willow Creek Ranch in Leadville had been canceled by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. Donala has been solely using its renewable surface water in the reservoir for many months to supply all of its customers. As shown at http://www.usbr.gov/gp-bin/arc050_form.pl?PUER (click the submit button), Pueblo Reservoir storage peaked on March 10, 2016 and has been steadily declining ever since to about 77 percent of capacity, well the below the mandatory spillage threshold. The Pueblo Reservoir Flood Control Pool was empty as this article was written.
Donala’s plans to use groundwater from its wells again this summer during the peak irrigation season remain in place, but on hold until irrigation demand is high enough to justify turning on the wells and groundwater treatment plants. Donala has about 140 acre-feet of renewable surface water stored in the reservoir at this time.
The average amount of Donala’s Willow Creek Ranch renewable surface water being drawn from Donala’s renewable surface water storage in the Pueblo Reservoir during non-irrigation season is about 30 acre-feet per month. An acre-foot is 325,851 gallons. Snow melt runoff this year had been forecast to be so high that the reservoir was expected to be entirely filled by April 15 due to much higher than average El Niño. As a result, water stored in the reservoir using lowest priority storage rights such as Donala’s, would be "spilled" back into the Arkansas River. Donala’s annual "if and when available" water storage contracts with the federal Bureau of Reclamation have the lowest priority, so some or all of the remaining Donala water in this reservoir had been expected to be lost on April 15, to make room for other owner water entities with higher priority storage rights to completely fill their owned storage capacities.
The meeting adjourned at 4 p.m.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on May 19 in the district conference room at 15850 Holbein Drive. Information: 488-3603 or www.donalawater.org. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month.
Jim Kendrick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Kate Pangelinan
All board members were present for the April 19 Donald Wescott Fire Protection Board of Directors meeting, which saw the swearing in of Lucas Owens, the district’s newest volunteer. About 12 people were in attendance for this ceremony. Owens’ father pinned on his badge.
The meeting was preceded by the board’s bi-annual Pension Board meeting. The next such meeting will take place in August.
The bank balance reports were read without much comment. Administrative Assistant Stacey Popovich updated the board on the status of the new report discussed last month, intended to distinguish banking items that cleared, items that were expensed, and items that didn’t clear. This report should be completed in time to discuss during the May 17 meeting, and will help to fully represent the fire district’s financial situation.
March run report and chief’s report
In March 2016, the Wescott Fire Department ran 243 calls, as compared to the 283 calls run in March 2015. This indicates a 14 percent decrease from last year’s numbers.
One property loss structure fire occurred during this time, on March 14. This fire cost an estimated $60,000 in damages, and spread from a shorted-out hot tub thanks to 40 mph winds. The house itself was saved. It took the Wescott Fire Department volunteers four minutes and 30 seconds from first receiving the distress call to their arrival at the scene of the fire.
During public comments, William Lowes asked the board about the status of Colorado Springs Fire Station 22, which recently opened at 711 Copper Center Parkway, about 7 minutes away from Wescott Station 2. It was reported that as of this April 19 meeting no formal steps had been taken to establish Station 22 with Wescott’s area. Lowes also expressed concerns that if business with Station 22 follows historical precedent, homeowners may have to contact the fire district personally to be de-included from one district or the other.
The meeting began at 7:05 p.m., and Treasurer Joyce Hartung motioned to enter an executive session at 7:30 p.m. The session was held to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations; developing strategy for negotiations; and instructing negotiators.
The Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors’ next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. May 17 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Please call 488-8680, a non-emergency number, for more information, or visit www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook.
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
The directors talked about the possibility of consolidating with two other fire districts, the best way to hire new firefighters to fill current vacancies, and delaying the mill levy ballot item, among many other topics, at the April 27 meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD).
Directors Bill Ingram and Larry Smith were excused.
Discussions with Donald Wescott and Black Forest
Fire Chief Chris Truty said that he and the chiefs of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District and the Black Forest Fire Rescue Protection District have had months of high-level talks about how some type of consolidated operation might benefit all of them, whether it is a fire authority, enhanced mutual aid, or an actual consolidation. The benefit to TLMFPD would be access to economies of scale on operations and equipment. One concern would be how their different organizational cultures would meld.
He said, "The most notable challenge is obviously the financial situation that Donald Wescott is in … they are keeping fairly quiet about what their plans are for handling the possible exclusion of a number of their properties … they could be losing as much as two-thirds of their budget revenue" as the Colorado Springs Fire Department service area expands.
The consensus of the directors was for Truty to continue investigating the options with the other two districts as long as TLMFPD could be isolated from any financial issues the other districts may have.
Truty said the district hiring procedure would now be to advertise for paramedics and then train them as firefighters, which would be more efficient than hiring firefighters and training them as paramedics.
After a lengthy discussion about the current complicated hiring process to fill three vacancies, the board voted unanimously to include a fourth firefighter, previously scheduled to be hired in 2017, in the current hiring effort, pending financial review.
Mill levy discussion postponed to 2017
Truty said that the Mill Levy Committee, in consultation with consultant George K. Baum, decided to postpone a possible district mill levy vote until the end of 2017. Reasons included a possible "very ugly" 2016 election ballot and possible consolidation talks with Wescott and Black Forest. "We will have to make tough decision on the budget in the meantime," he said.
The meeting adjourned 8:37 p.m.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 25 in the Monument Town Hall at 645 Beacon Lite Road. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education reviewed and approved new curriculum materials, approved contracts, received the preliminary budget for 2016-17, and discussed various other matters at its April 21 meeting.
Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Sheila Beving and teachers from Palmer Lake Elementary and Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High Schools introduced proposed new materials to the board.
The process for selection included meetings with teachers who agreed on "look-fors" as they reviewed materials. An evaluation tool was developed and materials were reviewed. The public was able to review the materials from March 16 to April 8 and make comments. Once materials are adopted, professional development will be created.
Beving said that the proposed science materials for grades 4 through 8 were well received and reminded the board that science is not involved with Common Core. Teachers alone are driving these recommendations. All proposed materials meet state standards.
Director Sarah Sampayo objected to the fact that the eighth-grade book stressed such controversial concepts as global warming and that the publisher of that text seems to be losing standing as a business.
Beving reiterated that the look-fors were created by the teachers and that other sources were also considered.
The board approved the use of the proposed science curriculum for grades 4 through 6. Further discussion resulted in the conclusion that even if the state standards changed, it would not happen quickly.
Teachers Mark Ewig from Palmer Ridge High School and Carrie Coates from Lewis-Palmer High School addressed a new civics curriculum. They said that the new selection was partially prompted by a shortage of the current text. The proposed materials could be purchased as a bundle including the book copyrighted 2011 and a new set copyrighted 2017.
Sampayo expressed concern at not being able to review the 2017 version before purchase.
Ewig responded that he teaches AP Government in addition to Civics and is satisfied with the current text copyrighted 2009 and that it is comprehensive and fair. He said it discusses such issues as democracy versus a republic and cultural issues. Personal financial literacy and economics are also included.
Superintendent Karen Brofft commented that a new edition of a text cannot materially change from previous editions or it would be an entirely new book.
The board approved the new curriculum.
Adjustments to 2015-16 budget
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman reported that she initially thought that the district would face funding cuts during the year but instead saw a small increase. She proposed spending on Chrome books for use in testing in the elementary schools and the replacement of old computers used by staff and students. Also requested was the purchase of a new transportation service truck.
There have been increased revenues in the parent-raised activity fund and increased revenues in the cash in lieu of land, which will remain in the reserves.
The board approved the adjustments to the budget.
Preliminary 2016-17 budget
Please see the District Accountability Advisory Committee article in this issue.
Open enrollment update
Superintendent Brofft reported that there will be an additional 178 new students from outside the district.
The board approved a contract with the Tri-Lakes YMCA to provide before and after school care. YMCA staff will provide onsite care at each elementary school.
The board also approved a contract to continue to provide food serve to Monument Academy.
Public Information Officer Julie Stephen recognized members of several committees who were instrumental in creating the district’ new website.
Palmer Ridge High School Band Director Butch Eversole recognized Drew Peterson, who has recorded band and choral concerts and musicals for the district, wishing for the students to have them as a memento of their high school experience.
All students from Lewis-Palmer Middle School and Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools who participated in the History Day competition at Colorado College qualified to go to the state level competition. Principals of each school introduced the participants.
Stephen demonstrated the district’s new website and invited feedback from students and the community.
There were a great number of citizen comments. A new procedure to receive these is to hear 10 comments not directly related to agenda items at the beginning of the meeting, and comments regarding agenda items near the end of the meeting. In any case, it is suggested that if several individuals wish to speak on the same subject they choose a spokesperson to speak for no longer than three minutes.
Comments early in the meeting included:
• Jackie Townsend, a Bear Creek Elementary resource teacher, said that her sixth-graders took an overnight field trip to the Denver Museum of Science.
• Erica Ensign, a first-grade teacher from Bear Creek, commented on the extent of community participation in such events as Math Night.
• Jackie Burhans thanked the community and the district for their support of her son, who recently received an excellent score on the ACT.
• James Howald thanked the board, the district, parents, and corporate sponsors of the Palmer Ridge High School robotics team and for the excellent music programs offered by the district.
• Del Christman commented that student success is dependent upon teachers being able to maintain order in their classrooms. Teachers feel that they are not supported by the administration in this endeavor. He also advocated higher salaries for teachers.
• Linda Wilson, a teacher and member of Lewis-Palmer Education Association, said that she has never questioned the integrity of the district.
• Derek Araje commented that the board does not keep in adequate touch with the community. He suggested that communication with parents be vie email and that there should be full disclosure on details of items in the consent agenda.
• Melissa Brooks said that her husband owns a business in the district and feels that none of the business’s taxes is being used in support of Monument Academy (MA). She feels that the district does not support the choice to attend MA and requested that the academy receive equal funding.
• Cheryl Darnell, mother of three students at MA, said that while she is grateful for the quality of D-38 education, the Academy should benefit from the 1999 Mill Levy Override (MLO) equally with other schools.
• Kristen McWilliams, mother of two MA students previously at Classical Academy, was also unhappy that the MLO did not benefit MA.
• Mike Burris said that he was on the Board of Education in 1999 when the MLO was passed and that the MLO was primarily passed to support the construction of Creekside Elementary and as a hedge against TABOR. The Lewis-Palmer Charter Academy (as MA was then known) did not participate in writing or promoting the MLO and did not request funds until recently.
Comments later in the meeting included:
• Derek Araje speculated on the consequences of MA suing the district for MLO funds.
• Tammy John spoke about the TS Gold program of assessing school readiness and the fact that it included medical and developmental assessments, saying that those logging their observations are not professionally qualified to do so and that pictures and videos should not be included.
• Lance Goraczkowski, speaking for a group, commented that the 1999 MLO should benefit all students in the district and that the district has not offered a new contract to MA. He suggested that a new public vote be taken regarding the distribution of funds.
The board passed a list of items including routine approval of minutes, ratification of closures, personnel items, contract non-renewals, student fees, a budget summary, and a resolution approving extension of Monument Academy contract negotiations.
In response to requests for more detailed information, board President Mark Pfoff reminded the board that they may discuss any item on the consent agenda before voting.
Caption: Lions Club representative Jim Naylor presents a scholarship check to Jenna Bethany. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Kilmer Elementary School music teacher Arianne Thomas brought a group of first- and second-graders to the meeting to sing "You’re a Grand Old Flag" and lead the group in the pledge of allegiance. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
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 May 19.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) reviewed Unified Improvement Plans (UIPs) for each school and the district at its April meeting. Also, Board of Education liaison John Magerko reported on legislative activity and other matters.
Unified Improvement Plan overview
A representative of each school reported on the previous year’s performance and challenges. In general, trends were stable and a relatively few students required additional intervention. A few highlights:
• Lewis-Palmer High School met its target of having students with disabilities be within two standard deviations of the mean on reading and math. The school used NWEA tests to monitor progress because the state level tests had changed and made unavailable comparative scores from one year to the next. To improve reading, extensive staff development is planned. A freshman orientation of three half-day sessions to introduce students to high school life is planned.
• Bear Creek Elementary viewed reading by students with disabilities as a challenge. They are also using local assessments so they do not have to wait a year for results. Everyday Math is used for math improvement. Whenever the staff develops a new program, they also develop a remedial aspect for those who struggle. A goal is to improve collaboration between teachers, but time for such collaboration is limited.
• Prairie Winds Elementary missed its goals for students on Individual Education Plans (IEP), but otherwise students needing to catch up are the only category in need of improvement. The school is trying an approach that offers several options and allows the student to choose their focus. The school plans to offer additional professional development for staff.
• Kilmer Elementary also views reading and math among students with disabilities and those needing to catch up as challenges. They plan to use the Skills Navigator tool to improve monitoring of performance and to have their instructional coach aid staff in its use.
• Monument Academy reported stable trends in its data. They have changed the fourth-grade curriculum and have shifted from novel to narrative reading. Students are assessed three times a year.
• Lewis-Palmer Elementary reported that students on IEPs made more than a year’s growth in a year’s time but still are not reaching grade level. Professional development is planned.
• Lewis-Palmer Middle School reported that reading continues to be a challenge, especially in the area of growth gaps (students on free/reduced lunch, minorities, students with disabilities, English Language Learners). Staff is increasing the use of intervention with the Read Plus program, but many parents and students reject offers of intervention due to the stigma.
• Palmer Lake Elementary has the largest population of English Language Learners in the district. Reading comprehension and vocabulary are weaknesses. Staff analyzed the factors that are out of their control. A stress is on creating an engaging learning environment, considering the size and appearance of learning spaces—what is on the walls, is the area organized, etc.
• Palmer Ridge High School had stressed improvement in math for students with disabilities over the previous year, and reading scores slipped slightly. The staff is now using Reading Plus. Principal Gary Gable thanked the district for instituting late start days in the coming year to provide time for professional development.
• Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton reported on the district’s Unified Improvement Plan. She said that middle school reading was the biggest challenge, and the target for improvement was met. All students are now assessed twice a year in reading and math. High school freshmen were assessed for the first time last year. Reading in grades four through eight remains a weakness. There is a new tool called a skills navigator built into the assessment that points out weaknesses so they can be addressed. There is now a segment of the UIP that addresses exclusively gifted education.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman presented an overview of the district’s 2016-17 budget. Wangeman explained that a function of DAAC is to review and comment on the budget before it is presented to the Board of Education.
State funding continues to be an issue. Although K-12 enrollment continues to rise, TABOR limits funding. It is projected that the schools will reach base funding by 2020, which would be a decrease of $600 per pupil from current funding. While D-38 is among the lowest funded districts in the state, it can count on increased enrollment to help with the shortage.
It is estimated that the district enrollment will increase by 70 to 100 in the coming year based on meetings with local developers. There is also hope for an increase in income from specific ownership taxes on cars and boat sales.
Regarding expenditures, Wangeman will request the purchase of three new buses in the coming year. Due to lower fuel costs, now is also a good time to do asphalt work. The district also wants to replace many of the 8-year-old computers.
Also forecast are maintenance projects including removal of asbestos from Palmer Lake Elementary and repair of siding at Kilmer Elementary. The district will apply for grants to help fund these projects. Purchase of three tractors for schools that have none would expedite reopening of schools after snow closures, Wangeman said.
Board of Education and legislative update
Board Liaison John Magerko reported that recent legislation proposing that ninth-graders take the civics portion of the federal government exam taken by immigrants to qualify for citizenship did not pass.
Magerko reported that negotiations began last October for a new five-year contract between District 38 and Monument Academy. A draft has been generated and attorneys for both parties continue to meet.
Regarding a memo from the Monument Academy board requesting part of the 1999 mill levy override (MLO) funds, Magerko said that the document is deceptive because it fails to mention that contracts were renewed in 2001, 2006, and 2011 without mention of the MLO funding.
The academy put its own MLOs on the ballot in 2004, 2006, and 2007, and all failed to pass. In 2013, the academy and the district combined forces to pass an MLO that failed.
Magerko concluded that the academy board has come to agreements on how the academy and the district would operate with each other. On each renewal of the contract, the academy based its decision on what the district and the state were offering in the form of waivers and funding such as the facility funding only available to charter schools.
Members of the district board in 1999 and members of a committee that developed the MLO understood that the proceeds of the ballot initiative would only benefit traditional schools. Magerko said that his preference would be for the district and the academy to jointly propose a new MLO from which both would benefit.
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five times a year on the second Tuesday of the month. The April 12 meeting was the last of the 2015-16 school year.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) school board met on April 14 to discuss its Uniform Improvement Plan (UIP), update progress on the board election, and approve an interim 2016-17 budget after a long discussion on potential salary increases.
School budget discussion on salary increases
The board engaged in a lengthy discussion on whether it would be possible to approve a small (1 to 3 percent) salary increase for teachers only now, while hoping to approve a larger 25 percent increase should the school be successful in its bid for money from the 1999 mill levy override (MLO). The discussion ranged from showing current commitment to teachers for retention purposes, to whether paraprofessionals and other staff should be included, to offering a bonus instead of a salary increase while waiting for a resolution on the MLO issue.
Executive Director Don Griffin noted that there was a deadline to submit an approved budget to the district. Principal Lis Richard noted that expectations were set with the teachers that a contract would be extended in May and a second contract would be forthcoming in June with a minimum raise of 3 percent based on an expected increase in per pupil revenue (PPR) from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). The raise could be higher depending on the outcome of the MLO decision. The board noted that if things fall through with respect to the MLO in the near term, there were other avenues to pursue but that those would take longer.
A motion was made to extend an offer now for a 3 percent raise to all teachers and commit to coming back and looking at including the rest of the school and increasing the raise after the MLO decision. No one seconded the motion and it was not voted upon. A new motion was made to pass the preliminary 2016-17 budget, which was unanimously passed.
Uniform Improvement Plan
Principal Richard discussed the school’s Uniform Improvement Plan (UIP), which was presented to the School Accountability Advisory Committee (SAAC) as well as the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC). The data in the UIP is based on the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA) assessment as MA has seen a 70 percent opt-out rate for state assessments. Richard noted that MA’s NWEA scores compare favorably to state and national norms, but she does not have access to district scores for comparison. Overall, last year’s goals were met and the current target for performance improvement is fifth-grade reading, which had fallen flat. The action plan is already in place for fourth through sixth grade and the school is already seeing substantial growth.
Board report highlights
• Two people have notified the school that they will run for school board seats: Patrick Hall, a parent and former member of the Finance Committee, and Matt Dunston, a parent of three kids in MA.
• The board self-assessment survey was sent out on April 22 and will be on the agenda to discuss at the next board meeting.
• The executive director annual review and evaluation is underway with board input being sought for discussion at the June meeting in executive session.
• The turf competitive bids are in and construction will start after the kids are out of school.
The next meeting will be on Tuesday, May 17 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point due to conflicts with other events. The Monument Academy usually meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month. Information on the MA School Board, including schedule, minutes, committee and finances, can be found at http://www.monumentacademy.net/school-board.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On April 5, the El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) voted unanimously to allow Forest Lakes Residential Development LLC to begin construction of five single-family residences and a model home in Forest Lakes Filing No. 3 prior to the completion of the required public improvements in the new subdivision west of the terminus of West Baptist Road.
According to the BOCC packet, the county first approved the final plat for Forest Lakes Filing No. 3 on Jan. 25, 2007. On Oct 13, 2015, it entered into an amended subdivision agreement with Forest Lakes Residential Development and the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for the completion of subdivision improvements within the subdivision that were guaranteed by means of restrictions on the sale of lots within the development, and Forest Lakes provided collateral in the form of a bond to secure and guarantee performance of the remainder of the required subdivision improvements.
On April 5, Doug Stimple, authorized agent of Forest Lakes Residential Development, entered into a development agreement with the BOCC to begin construction of six homes prior to the completion of the required public improvements including paving Lakefront and Waterfront Drives, which provide internal access to the 79-lot subdivision filing. The general terms of the development agreement also included requirements for installation of temporary decorative fencing along the northern boundary of Forest Lakes Drive, protection of existing curb and gutter during construction, and provision for county Development Services to issue stop-work orders if Forest Lakes is not in compliance with the applicable tracking or erosion control requirements.
The report from Development Services Department Project Manager Ramiere Fitzpatrick noted that Forest Lakes may not sell the lots upon which the six homes are built until all public improvements necessary to serve such homes, including the adjacent road, have been preliminarily accepted by the county. For more information, see www.ocn.me/v15n11.htm#bocc1013.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board listened to resident feedback on the proposed expansion of parking at Toboggan Hill and approved spending from the reserve study for repairs and equipment replacement at the April 28 meeting.
Toboggan Hill parking feedback
Director of Common Areas Richard Wretschko reported that he held a public meeting two weeks ago in the Barn that was well attended by residents around Toboggan Hill. The plan is to expand from the current six spaces to 18, pave and stripe the spaces, and redo the traffic pattern so the entry is on Deer Creek and the exit is on Toboggan Hill for safety. The current estimate is about $28,000. This issue will be voted on at the next WIA board meeting in May. President Eric Stensland encourages residents to give feedback and to attend that meeting.
On snowy days people park along Deer Creek despite the no parking signs. There is a safety issue because emergency vehicles cannot get through and people are at risk when they cross the street. WIA posted a summary of the plan on Facebook and asked for input. Some responses suggested lighting, but other responses didn’t want the light pollution. Residents did want to see trash receptacles added because litter gets excessive during heavy use.
A resident who attended the meeting asked how many sledding days we see each season, how many people use the open space, and how many of those were residents. Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) Chief Keven Nielsen estimated the number of days was nine, but did not have a number for people though he noted at times there have been hundreds. Nielsen noted that the WIA is a 501C4 corporation and that one tax requirement of that is that all common areas must be open to the public, although signs say "residents and their guests only."
The resident asked why increase the number of parking spaces and change the texture of the neighborhood for eight or nine days of sledding. She asked why people didn’t take advantage of the parking lot at the church and walk to the sledding area. Nielsen agreed that signage could be changed to reflect the overflow parking availability but noted that people ignore the signs and only obey the rules when a WPS member is present. Stensland noted that this kind of feedback from residents is needed and WIA will use Facebook, the website, email, etc. to communicate with affected residents.
Reserve study expenditures
The board approved the expenditures budgeted in the reserve study. The reserve study is funded over the years for both unexpected and expected repair and replacement of equipment. All costs represent a significant discount from list prices. The expenditures were:
• Replace worn-out front doors for $4,000 to save energy
• Replace desk for administrative assistant for $869
• Replace desk, storage, and lateral files for homeowners association manager for $2,500
Board report highlights
• May 7 from 10 a.m. to noon is Firewise Day at United Methodist Church at Kings Deer. The event is for Woodmoor and surrounding communities. There will be vendors and displays on appropriate vegetation, rocks, and mulches.
• The board approved a motion for WPS to provide services to the Country Club of Woodmoor such as after-hour foot patrol, drive-by checks, and calls for alarms. The amount paid by the Country Club will more than cover the cost of services.
• There have been numerous projects submitted to WIA to construct large sheds. In the Project Design Standard Manual (PDSM), a shed can be up to 120 square feet. Several requests have been for sheds that are 200 to 400 square feet. Structures of that size are considered ancillary buildings and have different rules. Residents should consult the PDSM for the appropriate guidelines.
• The board approved the updated employee handbook that is based on the Mountain States Employee Council template with updates for specific WIA policies.
• The board unanimously approved having the WIA lawyer pursue legal action on lots 48LW and 41WCC to recover long outstanding dues, late fines, and fees after exhausting other options.
The WIA Board of Directors usually meets at 7 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month in the Barn at 1691 Woodmoor Drive, Monument. The next meeting will be on May 25. The WIA calendar can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/wia-calendar/. WIA board meeting minutes can be found at: https://www.woodmoor.org/meeting-minutes/ once approved and posted.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Bill Kappel
Like the last couple of months, temperatures in April ended up right at normal while precipitation ended up above average, but getting to these final amounts was far from straightforward. Much of the first two weeks of April were mild and mainly dry, then things changed dramatically during the second half of the month, with two major snow and cold periods. Keep in mind that April is on average our snowiest month, so a lot of snow isn’t unusual. Of course, with the stronger sun angle and warmer temperatures, all that snow usually melts pretty quickly.
The first week and a half of April started off mild and dry. Temperatures were above average every day from the 2nd through the 10th, after starting off cold on the 1st. Highs reached the upper 50s on the 2nd, then mid- to upper 60s from the 3rd through the 6th. There was one quick interruption as a quick-moving cold front produced a brief snow shower during the late afternoon of the 5th. The pattern started to change a little on the 9th and 10th, with a couple disorganized storms moving through. The first didn’t have any cold air with it, so it just produced some rain showers on the 9th. Then the next one came through at the same time as some cooler air. Low clouds and fog, along with snow showers, moved in late on the date and produced a dusting of snow.
Just when you were probably starting to get worried winter was over, we all got a good reminder as to why April is usually the snowiest month of the season. After a quick taste of cold and a dusting of snow greeted us on the morning of the 11th, temperatures rebounded to above normal levels over the next couple of days as high pressure built in from the west. Highs reach the mid-60s on the 12th and 13th, then touched 70 on the 14th. However, this was ahead of a powerful storm that was moving from the Pacific Northwest and turning the corner through Arizona and toward the Four Corners region.
As this storm approached the region, it was able to tap into Gulf of Mexico moisture at the same time cooler air was working down from the north. Also, a strong ridge of high pressure was developing upstream (over the Great Lakes). This served to block the storm from being able to continue its track to the east and allowed it to stay nearly stationary over Colorado for a few days. This resulted in heavy snow, blowing snow, and lots of moisture. Snow started late on the 15th, then picked up in intensity during the early morning of the 16th and lasted through the morning of the 17th. After the main part of the storm was finished, most of us had picked up 1-2 feet of snow and nearly 2 inches of liquid equivalent. Temperatures were of course well below normal during the period, with highs only reaching the low 30s on Saturday and Sunday.
All the moisture is very beneficial as we head into spring. Of course, while it was snow and blowing on Saturday, travel wasn’t much fun, but if you didn’t have to deal with that, it was quite a fun snow storm to watch.
One final wave of energy rotated around the back side of the departing storm, accumulating another 2 inches of snow during the morning of the 19th. Temperatures were held well below normal from the 18th through the 20th, with 30s on the 18th and 40s on the 19th and 20th. As the storm departed, sunshine returned. The warm-up was slowed on the 21st, as most of the energy went into melting snow. Then, warmer, windy, and drier air moved in from the 22nd through the 24th. Temperatures rebounded nicely, reaching the low 70s on the 22nd and 23rd, quickly working to melt the extensive snowpack. With the mild temperatures and residual moisture, afternoon and early evening clouds built each day, even producing a couple of brief showers, signifying that the region is trying to transition from winter to spring.
But of course, that transition never goes smoothly around here, and just as you’d expect another wet and cold system affected the region to end the month. The first leading edge of the storm and its moisture worked into the region on the 26th and 27th with a few brief snow and rain showers and areas of low clouds. But the main storm was still organizing to our west. The energy and moisture with this part of the storm began to affect the region during the evening of the 28th. Snow began to fall and continued that night.
Snow became heavier the next day, with 6-10 inches accumulating by the evening of the 29th. Winds started to kick in later that day as well, blowing the snow around. However, road conditions remained pretty good until the evening of the 29th, as the strong late April sun and prior warm temperatures meant a lot of the snow on the roads melted during the day. Snow continued and combined with the gusty winds to make for a raw day around the region to end the month. Highs held right at the freezing mark nearly 30 degrees cooler than normal.
A look ahead
May often brings a wide variety of weather conditions in the region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms and hail, and even some snowfall. May 2007 was a snowy May, with over 20 inches accumulating for the month, while the last couple of years recorded just a few inches. However, we can usually expect warmer conditions to finally settle in, with temperatures reaching above 80°F on several afternoons.
April 2016 Weather Statistics
Average High 54.2° (-2.3°)
Average Low 29.5° (+2.1°)
Highest Temperature 66° on the 9th
Lowest Temperature 9° on the 1st
Monthly Precipitation 3.15" (+0.19", 7% above normal)
Monthly Snowfall 36.2" (+9.5", 26% above normal)
Season to Date Snow 155.5" (+36.5", 23% above normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 18.28" (+0.94", 5% above normal) (the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 696 (+8)
Cooling Degree Days 0
Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in Letters to Our Community should not be interpreted as the views of OCN even if the letter writer is an OCN volunteer
We pay massive taxes yet my kids’ school is getting nothing?
We have three girls at Monument Academy. My husband has owned commercial property with his business in Monument since 2004. He pays enormous taxes (three times that of Colorado Springs), and I was disheartened to learn that none of those taxes pulled for the 1999 MLO were going to my children’s school. That is ridiculous!
One of our daughters has received reading assistance at MA. We worried when she fell behind in recognizing her letters and sounds. She needed help fast. The amazing teachers (SPED included) spent one-on-one time every week working with her. By the end of first grade, she was at benchmark. She now has amazing confidence and loves to read!! These teachers need to be rewarded for changing our daughter’s life.
Our family has been so blessed to be able to attend Monument Academy, a District 38 school of choice. I appreciate that the district supports the freedom to choose the school best suited for my children. However, I find it an unacceptable use of their power to say, "Parents can send their child to the best school for his/her situation. But if you send your child to Monument Academy, the district has chosen to withhold MLO funds (which were designated for every student in D38) from your children and that school."
No, Monument Academy students deserve to receive from the 1999 MLO as every other student in District 38 receives. I am not asking that the board repay us for the years we weren’t compensated on the MLO. But I am asking them to make things right starting now. It’s time for the board to step up and give Monument Academy the money from the MLO that they legally deserve.
Board disregards public comments, hides executive session topic
In the 1999 MLO, ballot language clearly stated to taxpaying voters that all students district-wide would benefit. Monument Academy, having been told they weren’t included, never received from those MLO funds. Just because they were lied to for 17 years does not make it truth. It’s very gracious of MA to forgive what was owed them from the past. Now the district needs to do what’s right and begin sharing the 1999 MLO funds equitably with MA from this point forward.
Public comments at the April 21 board meeting were handled wrongly by the board. Monument Academy and Prairie Winds parents were discriminated against and had their voices stifled.
Not only has President Pfoff attempted to place a gag order on the board through the BAA-R policy discussed at a previous board meeting, but now he’s trying to put a gag order on the public by manipulating public comments. The board placed public comments for agenda items after agenda items were to be discussed and voted upon. That clearly implies that the concerns and opinions of citizens who elected the board are not welcome.
Director Matt Clawson tried to give MA parents a chance to speak before entering executive session, but Pfoff prevented it. Pfoff asserted that the MLO was not on the agenda, so no one could talk about it. Later it was discovered the very purpose of their executive session was to discuss the 1999 MLO issue. This is a violation of transparency laws.
The board seems to be following direction of the administration and union but not considering concerns of their taxpaying constituents who elected them. Why else would they welcome public comments after the agenda items are voted upon? It may also explain the past four failed MLOs.
School board acts on hearsay instead of facts
I am a parent and my children attend Monument Academy. I was not permitted to provide comment at the District 38 school board meeting on April 23, 2016 because of Mark Pfoff, board president. He independently and without a vote from the rest of the board chose to prohibit remarks from the public, even when their names were entered on the appropriate public comment form. Mark Pfoff may have suppressed my remarks within the confines of the board room but he can’t censor my question and comments from the public at large.
Can Mark Pfoff testify that he has seen or can provide the public with a written copy of question 3A on the Nov. 2, 1999 ballot that states "Monument Academy is to be excluded from the 1999 mill levy override"? He can’t because it doesn’t exist. An exact copy of ballot question 3A is provided at the right. The purpose of the funds acquired is to provide to the educational needs "district-wide." There is no debate that Monument Academy is in the district. What is debatable is Mark Pfoff’s recall of conversations that he states he clearly remembers that took place in 1999. Even if Mark Pfoff has the ability to remember from nearly two decades ago, it doesn’t matter. What matters is the "record" of the voters.
Mark Pfoff and all of the school board members are responsible for acting on facts and written policies and not on unfounded information and the recollection of one individual. If the board members choose only to rely on Mark Pfoff’s memory on this issue, then the people of District 38 will know the board chose to "take the easy route and not the right one."
Monument Academy students treated unfairly
The MLO funding is an issue that is dividing the community and is ultimately affecting the entire district. I have heard every member of the board make statements that they individually care about all the students foremost above all the rest. However, actions speak louder than words. The actions of making public comments and stances that do not support all the students of the district hurt these students that they state they care about.
Monument Academy currently teaches 15 percent of the district’s students and is at full capacity for the next school year and it has a waiting list for almost every grade. D-38 statistics show that MA has the highest amount of students transferring from other D-38 schools and students opting into D-38. Both of these statistics show that what MA is doing is having a positive effect on the community that more families want to be there!
The question and concern really boil down to the choice that the board is taking to treat the students of Monument Academy as less than the rest of the schools in the district. The MLO of 1999 clearly stated that the MLO was for the district and reaffirms this in the verbiage when it states it as to benefit all students district-wide. Nowhere in the verbiage does it state that any schools are included or excluded. I have heard from previous board members and the previous superintendent that they never planned to include MA in the funds. If that is true then why was it not in the verbiage in 1999, so that voters knew they would be excluding students and families’ property taxes would not be distributed to all D-38 schools?
What’s fair for Monument Academy?
Monument Academy (MA) is threatening to sue Lewis-Palmer D-38 to get some of the 1999 MLO. They claim MA should receive the same funding as other D-38 schools. Is it fair to compare MA, a charter school, to the traditional public schools in D-38?
MA has almost 40 exemptions from the regulations that govern D-38 schools. The claim was these waivers would make MA cheaper to operate. Is it fair to ask the taxpayers to provide identical funding given the special rules in place for MA?
MA does not commit to educate all the students in the district. For example, MA does not provide bus service and is inaccessible to families with limited transportation. Is it fair to ask the taxpayers to provide identical funding when MA provides less service and less commitment to the community?
Then there’s the question of accountability. All voters in D-38 elect the school board officers that run the district. MA, on the other hand, grants voting privileges only to voters with students in the school. Is it fair to ask taxpayers to fund a school that is carefully designed not to be accountable to them?
Finally, the state already appropriates supplemental funds for charter schools only. Officially called Charter School and Institute Charter Capital Construction funds, these dollars go only to charter schools, and MA has collected hundreds of thousands of dollars of these funds, which of course it does not share with the other schools in D-38.
All in all, MA is much more like a private school that gets taxpayer dollars than a traditional public school. If MA would like to work together with the district on a joint MLO request that voters would support, that would be a fair resolution of this issue.
Amendment 69—please vote no for Coloradans
The letter to the editor in April 2 issue supporting Amendment 69 left out a few key details. First, all healthcare providers in Colorado would be forced to participate. This would result in less overall health care available in Colorado as providers who don’t wish to participate simply (gasp!) move away or quit. Next, the deduction amounts mentioned for non-payroll income would only apply to those 65 and older. Yes, for payroll income employers would pay 6.7 percent, but any competent payroll manager will advise you that you should consider any amount an employer pays on your behalf to be part of your overall compensation.
Beyond that, at least 15 percent of Colorado households are already healthcare covered by the federal government (Medicare recipients, military retirees, etc.). They’re not going to stick around and pay this extra 10 percent income tax. Same, at least, for six-figure income households who collectively already pay a large percentage of overall Colorado individual income taxes—they’re not going to stick around and pay five figures annually for ColoradoCare. And many would also take their businesses/jobs elsewhere, including for many, their healthcare practices—resulting in even less health care available in Colorado.
Particularly unjust would be Colorado resident active-duty military households stationed here, although fully covered by the federal government, still being forced to pay into this but can’t move away for several more years. And there would be no way to force providers in other states to accept ColoradoCare if you were to ever need emergency care when traveling outside of Colorado.
Colorado taxpayers are already forced to pay $9 billion/year for health care via their existing overall Colorado state taxes as it is. And what incentive would most people have to watch out for their own health if everyone else was forced to pay for their care? So please vote no—thank you.
Coloradoans were denied their rights on April 9
I have been a Republican all my life. I have always been a conservative who upholds the United States Constitution and affirms the Bill of Rights. I am for freedom and small government.
I became a resident of Colorado in June 2015. Being a new resident, I was unfamiliar with the caucus system but discovered that the party officials in the Colorado Republican Party decided in late August to deny the registered Republicans in this state from voting and selecting the presidential candidates in a traditional state primary, but instead requiring only state delegates to vote at the state convention.
It appears that the Colorado Republican elite feel they are better qualified to select the nominee than the faithful Republican electorate. Just like the national Republican Party feels they should be the ones to select the party’s nominee. Isn’t this why the vast majority of Republicans are fed up with the Republican Establishment and the Rhinos and have turned to Donald J. Trump?
This is a corrupt system. It is saying only the party is qualified to nominate and select the candidate for the people. Coloradoans, you have been screwed by your own party. I believe that the national Republican Party leadership put pressure on the Colorado Republican Party to stop Donald J. Trump. Sounds like what occurs in communist countries where the party chooses a slate of candidates and these are the only candidates that can be on the official ballot.
The Republican Party should go back to the state primary system in selecting a nominee for president of the United States.
Thomas Cheuvront Olson
Another great year at Lewis-Palmer
As we come to the close of another school year, I thought I would take an opportunity to give a brief update on how the school district is doing.
Financially, we will yet again end the year with a balanced budget. After eliminating all operational debt a couple years ago, we can continue to say, "we have no operational debt" (we only have debt on capital, i.e., buildings). We continue to maintain strong reserves.
Academically, Lewis-Palmer continues to be one of the top performing school districts in the state. Both high schools have received multiple recognitions for academic excellence. Our kids continue to amaze.
Because of our great teachers, involved parents, supportive community, and awesome kids, we continue to be one of the top school districts in the nation.
I take every opportunity I can to thank our teachers. It seems every year the job gets harder, they work harder, and our kids go farther. We have the best teachers! I don’t want to forget our entire staff that works hard every day. I’ve never seen a group of individuals so committed to our kids’ safety and education. We are LP!
I also want to recognize our kids. I regularly visit our schools and get to interact with many of them. They are truly awesome! Parents, you can be very proud.
I want to congratulate all our graduates and wish them a great future!
We are blessed with a great school district and the best community in Colorado. I’m proud to say I’m from Monument, Colorado.
I hope everyone has a great summer!
1999 MLO never included lots of schools
Americans are traditionally fair. Past and present D-38 School Board leadership hand-wave "everybody knows" Monument Academy was never specifically included in the 1999 MLO. Here is some Big News! Online Academy Schools and Pikes Peak Community College receive D-38 MLO money. Yet they too were not mentioned in the 1999 MLO. Presidents Ferguson and Pfoff owe a fair and better explanation to our kids than their "everyone knows" argument for the funding discrimination against MA kids. A return of fairness in our D-38 leadership is needed.
State board denies D-38 waiver
I have read with interest the Tribune article on the state Board of Education’s denial of D-38’s assessment waiver for kindergarten students. As a grandmother of a kindergarten student, I’m very concerned about excessive testing and collection of student data. I’ve been studying this issue for a while.
I’m equally concerned about, what looks to me, like an ongoing fuss between the D-38 leadership and its parents. Since we know there’s always two sides to every story, maybe it’s time for D-38 leadership to reach out to the handful of parents who took the time to study and weigh in on this important issue. Find out what these parents think. It’s always good to get an outside perspective.
And one more thought. As a D-38 taxpayer, I remain concerned about expensive bureaucratic processes. We have a chance to get this waiver right—the second time around. Let’s join together to make sure we do get it right.
School board’s actions disenfranchise students
I arrived at the D-38 school board meeting on April 21 early and entered my name on the public comment list. Twenty individuals were allocated to speak; I was number eight. I waited over three hours to speak. Through administrative shenanigans, the board president prevented several parents whose names were on the list from making comments.
Because I was not allowed to speak, I am providing my comments to the public directly.
My children are in the seventh grade at Monument Academy (MA). Our family moved to Monument two years ago. We selected Colorado, specifically Monument, because of the quality of life and the quality of the education.
Prior to relocating, we toured several schools in the community. We selected MA because of the school’s philosophy that all students benefit from challenging, content-rich educational programs that built personal character. MA educates students to become active, responsible citizens.
I expect my children to be responsible citizens!
Now to my surprise, I find that the D-38 Board of Education fails to have the character qualities that I expect in my children.
It is unconscionable that some district students are treated less favorably compared to their peers in other district schools. The D-38 board members were elected to represent all residents. The board should not be picking which schools win and which schools lose when tax dollars are distributed. A government body, picking winners and losers, was an instigating factor that led to the 13 colonies’ fight for independence. Every tax dollar spent by D-38 my neighbors and I earned. D-38 board members must make the responsible decision to treat all district schools equitably.
The majority of the board represents only a select number of D-38 students and parents. "Doing what is best for the students" are empty words spoken by Mr. Pfoff and other board members.
Thomas B. Smith
By the staff at Covered Treasures
May is the time when we remember special people in our lives—and an appropriate book is the perfect companion to a thoughtful card. One of the following titles may be just right for someone on your list.
Gift from the Sea
By Anne Morrow Lindbergh (Pantheon Books) $16 & $9.95
In this graceful, lucid and lyrical classic, Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; and peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A ground-breaking work when it was originally published in 1955, this book continues to be discovered by new generations of readers. It is available in both hard cover and paperback.
She Taught Me to Eat Artichokes: The Discovery of the Heart of Friendship
By Mary Kay Shanley (Sta-Kris Inc.) $13.95
Sometimes we must wait patiently for the treasures of life. Just as a shared artichoke slowly reveals its heart, time and effort turn acquaintaceships into friendships. You make time—and take time—to peel the layers off one by one, all the while working toward a goal you didn’t know was there. This tender story, combined with rich illustrations, portrays those day-to-day events that, slowly and patiently, transform two neighbors into friends.
The Same Sweet Girls’ Guide to Life
By Cassandra King (Maiden Lane Press) $15
Originally delivered as a commencement address, this volume offers inspiration and practical advice that will sustain new graduates through life’s ups and downs and that will only grow in meaning throughout the years. This small book for thoughtful people of all ages can—and should—be read again and again, as King presents readers with the sort of hard-earned wisdom that will enlighten both young and old.
By Kahlil Gibran (Alfred A. Knopf), $15
One of the beloved classics of our time, Gibran considered this book his greatest achievement. Published in 1923, it has been translated into more than 20 languages, and the American editions alone have sold more than 9 million copies. Musical and vibrant with feeling, this book reminds one of the majestic rhythms of Ecclesiastes, covering everything from love and marriage to buying and selling, crime and punishment.
It’s the Little Things
By Amy Collins (Adams Media Corp.) $9.95
If you feel overworked and underappreciated—or know someone who is—this book offers the perfect rewards for surviving today’s stressed-out world. You may find yourself saner and happier enjoying such simple pleasures as: Taking one item off your weekly to-do list, or using your good china and crystal often. This is the ideal gift for that overwhelmed friend, sister, or mother. It’s like having a day spa in book form.
The Importance of Living
By Lin Yutang (Harper) $16.99
Intended as an antidote to the dizzying pace of the modern world, Yutang’s prescription is the classic distillation of ancient Chinese wisdom: revere inaction as much as action, involve humor to maintain a healthy attitude, and never forget that there will always be plenty of fools around who are willing to be busy, to make themselves useful, and to exercise power while you bask in the simple joy of existence. Now, more than six decades later, with our lives accelerated to unbelievable levels, this wise and timeless book is more pertinent than ever before.
1,000 Places to See before You Die
By Patricia Schultz (Workman Publishing) $19.95
Covering the U.S. and Canada, 1,000 spectacular, compelling, offbeat, utterly unforgettable places are presented, including pristine beaches, world-class museums, mountain resorts, salmon-rich rivers, scenic byways, and the country’s best taco. Over 150 places of special interest to families are included with the nuts and bolts of how and when to visit.
If you need a gift for someone special, or would like a new addition to your bedside table, take a look at some of these inspirational books. Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
May’s Family Fun program on Saturday, May 14 is a visit by members of the PPCC Zoo Keeping Technology program, who will bring various large wild things such as lizards, tortoises, and snakes. The program is open to all ages and will run from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
The Legos Club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, May 21. We provide the Legos and you bring your imagination!
Having trouble with math? Come to AfterMath each Monday from 3:30 to 7 and sit down with an experienced tutor. There is no charge for this service and no appointment necessary. Open to students of all ages and grade levels, this program will end for the school year on May 16.
Come to the library on Saturday, May 7 from 1 to 3:30 to view Marvel’s The Avengers: The Age of Ultron! Snacks and refreshments provided. No registration required.
There will be a meeting of the Teen Advisory Board from 4 to 5 on Friday, May 13. Help us plan future events and parties for teens here at the library. Meet in the study room for snacks and conversation. You must fill out a volunteer application in order to get credit for volunteer hours.
Join Pikes Peak Library District’s first established yoga group at the Monument library every Thursday from noon to 1. Classes are held following D-38’s calendar and will end on May 12.
Join us on Friday, May 6 from 2 to 3:30 p.m. for coloring and conversation. Pages and coloring utensils will be provided and you are also encouraged to share what you have worked on. You are welcome to bring your own supplies.
Healthy Living: Secrets of Healthy Aging will be presented on Tuesday, May 10 from 9 to 10 a.m. Based on the book Healthy Aging by Andrew Weil, M.D., the event will provide participants with practical advice for keeping their mind and body in good working order through all phases of life. There will be an emphasis on diet, exercise, preventative health care, and stress management. Registration is required.
The Second Thursday Craft on May 12 from 2 to 3 is English Paper Piecing, Part II. This technique involves basting fabric to accurately cut shapes of cardstock, stitching them together and then removing the cardstock. This month’s theme will be 60 degree diamonds, which can be used to make stars or tumbling blocks. This is a very portable craft and a great way to use up small scraps of fabric. All materials are provided, but if you have some small scissors, please bring them along. Registration is required online or see a staff member.
There will be a Computer Help Lab from 9 to 10 a.m. on Friday, May 13. Come in for help with your computer questions! Registration is required and opens a week before class.
Join fellow writers of speculative fiction, science fiction, supernatural and steampunk fiction by attending The Muse from 6 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 18. Our goals are to improve our story experiment with thought and language and to have fun!
Living in the 21st Century places tremendous demands on us. Come to the library on Friday, May 20 from 4 to 5:30 to learn how to deal with stress by learning strategies for taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Registration is recommended but not required.
Are you turning 65 this year? Join us for Medicare 101 on Thursday, May 26 from 1 to 3 p.m. Learn the basics of Medicare A, B, and D and your options to enhance that coverage through Medigaps/supplements, Medicare Advantage plans, or employer group plans. No registration is necessary.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, May 20 to discuss Falling Angels by Tracy Chevalier. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.
There will be an exhibit of assemblages by Annie Dawid in the display cabinet and transparent watercolors on the walls by DonVan Horn during May.
Palmer Lake Library programs
May’s Family Fun in Palmer Lake is a Zumba dance lesson taught by certified Zumba Kids instructors from My Gym of Colorado Springs. Let’s get up and moving with music and dancing! Participants should wear sneakers and comfy, stretchy clothes. The program is recommended for ages 4 and up and will begin at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 21.
Please note that all PPLD facilities will be closed on Monday, May 30 in observance of Memorial Day.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On April 21, Charlease Elzenga-Bobo gave a PowerPoint presentation on "Spinning in the Western Region" to members of the Palmer Lake Historical Society and guests gathered for the April program of the 2016 Monthly History Series.
The program detailed the origins of spinning, the development of spinning tools and the spinning wheel, and the movement of spinning wheels from China/India to Europe, then on to the American colonies and later the American West. She included photos and information about the Works Progress Administration textile school at Estemere (1936-37) known as El Conejo Blanco (The White Rabbit).
Elzenga-Bobo had samples of early tools used to spin yarn and various fibers, such as soft, fluffy Angora rabbit. She brought her spinning wheel to demonstrate spinning techniques and was surrounded by attendees eager to learn about spinning first-hand at the end of her presentation.
Prior to the History Series program, Eric Swab gave a short update on the upcoming Monument Tree Nursery Site Tour, scheduled for May 14 from 1 to 4 p.m. He projected a map of the tour and had the map and tour description available for people to pick up and discuss after the program. A sign-up sheet was also available. Look for an Eblast from the Historical Society or email Swab at email@example.com for details and to sign up. Swab also brought copies of his newly published book, From Utility to Attraction: a History of the Mt. Manitou Park & Incline Railway, for attendees to purchase.
The next program in the Historical Society Monthly History Series will be on Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, Palmer Lake. Local author Joyce Lohse will present "Spencer and Julie Penrose: Colorado’s Community Collaborators." The Penroses built the Broadmoor Hotel, the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the Pikes Peak Highway, and many other important Pikes Peak-area resources and attractions. They worked together as partners. Spencer, a colorful pioneer, invested his mining riches in building, developing, and promoting the community, while Julie supported culture, religion, education, and the arts. Their El Pomar Foundation continues to donate millions of dollars to Colorado nonprofit groups. Lohse will have available copies of her newly published book, Spencer Penrose: Builder & Benefactor, for purchase.
Monthly History Series programs are free to the public. Light refreshments are served. For more information, visit www.palmerdividehistory.org or call 719-559-0837.
By David Futey
On April 14, retired Lt. Col. Tony Crews and retired Air Force officer Joe Conlan gave a presentation at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry on the history and operational activities within the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center. The center became fully operational in December 1965 and was created in response to the Cold War. The eight-acre facility required 495,000 tons of granite to be removed, with the majority of the material used to create adjacent parking lots.
The center was designed by the U.S. Navy and is able to sustain a near-miss attack but not an inter-continental ballistic missile direct hit, because that weapons technology came later. However, it still remains the best protected facility in the United States, Crews said. The location of the north and south portals, which lie perpendicular to the main blast doors and tunnel, prevents a direct impact on the doors. The blast doors have been closed only once since 1991, and that was on 9/11.
The complex is basically a small community with police, fire, fitness center, cafeteria, chapel, and store. However, the focus is the command center, which has a variety of organizations represented to "process events." Crews said the command center’s focus was initially on events external to the continental United States, but that changed with 9/11. Now a variety of civil (like the FAA) and military entities monitor events and receive information from their individual sources. Crews said such events include the obvious, like flight patterns and missile launches, and the not so obvious like satellites re-entering the atmosphere as space debris.
Crews and Conlan described how an event goes through a series of steps to validate it as a threat or not. In the event of a confirmed threat, that validation is passed onto a different organization that processes what action is taken regarding the event. Ultimately the president would make a final decision, given the threat severity. Thus those validating the event as a threat are not the ones to "pull the trigger," so to speak. The WMMI exhibit on Cheyenne Mountain will be open until early June.
Information on upcoming events at the museum is at www.wmmi.org.
David Futey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Janet Sellers
"A full day ‘medicine walk’ is an abbreviated but still powerful version of a vision quest and is doable for many people."—M. Amos Clifford, A Little Handbook of Shin-rin Yoku
Shin-rin Yoku, Japanese for "forest bathing," is a popular strategy for health that is ancient in origin. More and more scientific research is being done to learn of the therapeutic benefits of a forest walk for our well-being. Most of us in our area take it for granted that our forests and walks in the woods are enjoyable and good for us, too. We only need to walk outdoors and the pine forest gives us her best.
The ponderosa pines offer us health benefits with airborne and ground level volatile oils and enhanced hormone serum benefits. It’s like a medicine walk at our houses, which is the ponderosas’ home, too. The pines actually send out the volatile oils for self-protection against pathogens, and we benefit from that as well.
This year I am hearing a lot about varmints digging around our gardens and our forests, and people are considering what to do about it. One family reported that in their yard, a huge, healthy pine tree blew over at the roots in a recent blizzard. They discovered that gophers had tunneled through the root area. While ponderosa pine taproots can go down 30 feet to reach deep moisture, and the root system can spread 100 feet from the trunk, usually the main root structure goes down only a couple of feet, and in coarse soil can reach about 6 feet.
A grave caveat to all is that poison used anywhere can harm us, our children, and will also kill pets and helpful critters such as foxes, owls, hawks, etc. that control pests. Our recent fox population deaths may have been caused by strychnine poisoning from rodenticides and not mange as previously suspected. Strychnine, when inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through eyes or mouth, causes a poisoning that results in muscular convulsions and eventually death through asphyxia. It is possible for such poisons to get into our water sources. With these concerns, it is vital that we look into natural, safe ways to protect our forests, gardens, and ourselves from horrible toxins as well as from critters.
One successful and natural solution in many communities nationwide has been to introduce feral cat populations into neighborhoods infested with rats and other vermin. The (spayed) cats need a home, and they not only eliminate the vermin, but their predator pheromones remain in the area, warding off repeat invasions. Our local Humane Society has programs and information on feral and traditional "barn" cats.
Let’s be mindful of our natural forests’ earthly requirements as we garden amid the pine forest natural habitat. For me, it is easier on the body to walk and sit in the forest for health benefits than weeding and hoeing for the day, but that is what the work-free hugelkultur garden beds are for! And, a quick, nutritious "garden" is as easy as a jar of sprouts. Johns Hopkins and Ohio State University report broccoli sprouts contain 1,000 percent more nutrients than mature broccoli, including the phytochemical sulforaphane, which is touted to help prevent cancer cell production—that’s 50 times the cancer fighting power of mature broccoli. Tummy-wise, they contain potent digestive enzymes and mild flavor. Yum.
For hugelkultur (no tilling, watering or weeding) workshops and methods to keep out pests, stay tuned to our Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/MonumentCommunityGarden.
Janet Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.
By Janet Sellers
The U.S. Department of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service annually holds a K-12 national competition for the federal Junior Duck Stamp design. Young artists nationwide create waterfowl paintings to support conservation through the arts, adhering to strict requirements for stamp design, aesthetics, correct waterfowl anatomy, and habitat.
Some of our local Junior Duck Stamp award winners will be honored by the U.S. Department of the Interior at the Colorado State awards ceremony May 14: Isabella Barbosa (fifth grade) first, Sophia Lovato (11th grade) second, Jasmine Carter (fifth grade) second, Danielle Sprague (age 13) third, Lauren Bush (eighth grade) honorable mention. I spoke to several of these award-winning artists who said that in studying and painting the animals, they learn a great deal about each animal and the places where the creatures live in order to paint them.
This, combined with a huge respect for conservation, has led several of the youths to participate in the duck stamp design program. Lovato, who has participated for about 10 years, said, "I love animals, and this is a good way to support them."
The young artists were unanimous in their belief in the power and importance of protecting nature and wildlife, especially via their art. Each young artist wrote a conservation message for their entry, with the theme that protecting wildlife and natural habitat is vital to our future. These young artists are mindful that their generation is the group that must go forward and make others aware and take action to protect our natural wetlands, especially from man-made harm.
May art events
Ute Indian Prayer Tree Field Trip: Learn more about these ancient, living works of art on a beautiful, informative walk with author and artist John W. Anderson. Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m.-noon at Fox Run Regional Park. Meet at 9 a.m. at Roller Coaster Road Trail head one-eighth mile south of Baptist Road. For further details, contact Anderson at email@example.com.
Art Hop: Stroll around town, enjoy local art. May 19, 5-8 p.m. Monument, Palmer Lake.
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) exhibitions: "Abstract and Interpretation" through May 27. "Weaving their way to hope" curated by Max and Karen Hatfield of Friendship International, sales benefit programs for young women in Van, Turkey; through May 28. Palmer Lake Art Group 51st Annual Fine Art Show and "Four of a Kind," Lucy Owens Gallery. Both shows, May 31 to June 25, opening reception June 3, 6-8 p.m.
Janet Sellers is an artist and art teacher; her paintings and public art sculptures are on exhibit in city and museum venues in Colorado and the Tri-Lakes area. Sellers can be reached at JanetSellers@OCN.me.
MA Green4Green fundraiser correction: On page 26 in the April 2 issue, the photo credit for the MA Green4Green Fundraiser was incorrectly attributed to Jackie Burhans. It should have read: Photo by Laura Polen, www.footstepsphotography.com. OCN regrets the error.
Caption: On April 8, Jeffrey Broussard and the Creole Cowboys had the dance floor full most of the evening at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA). The Cowboys played an over two-hour, intermission-less performance that blended traditional zydeco numbers along with the band’s own contemporary compositions. Broussard is following in his father Delton’s footsteps with incomparable accordion playing. He won Accordionist of the Year (2007) from the Zydeco Music & Heritage Awards and, with his band, seeks to keep not only the tradition of zydeco alive but move it forward for the audiences of today. Information on the band is at http://jefferybroussard.com. Information on upcoming events at the TLCA is at www.trilakesarts.org. Photo by David Futey.
Caption: Gleneagle Sertoma Blood Drive, Mar. 24: Phlebotomist Melissa Gray prepared to collect blood from donor Barbara Gritzmaker. Photo courtesy of Dean Jones and Gleneagle Sertoma.
On March 24 at Antelope Trails Elementary School, the Penrose-St. Francis mobile blood crew and 25 hearty souls braved the inclement weather and a few snow banks to carry out the semi-annual Gleneagle Sertoma Community Blood Drive, which occurs during spring break and the first week of August. Since the program’s inception in 2004, 947 participants have donated over 100 gallons (810 units) of blood. The next Sertoma blood drive will likely be Thursday, Aug. 4. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information. If you care to donate at the hospital’s Blood Bank on Nevada Avenue at another time, please use our community group number 545 as you register at the front desk.
Caption: Monument signs methadone settlement. On April 14, following a vote of the Monument Board of Trustees, Mayor Jeff Kaiser, left, signed the final agreement between the Town of Monument and Colonial Management Group (CMG) settling the lawsuit regarding the proposed methadone clinic at 192 Front St. Town Manager Chris Lowe’s press release said, "Discussions were ongoing for months, but the details of these discussions could not be made public," since these negotiations were conducted under attorney-client privileges. Lowe commented, "I am satisfied that we have done the best we can for our community. We are moving forward and are excited about the wonderful future of Monument." Lowe can be contacted at (719) 884-8023 or email@example.com. Photo by James Howald.
Caption: Palmer Ridge Bear Necessity Theater presents Play-On, April 7-9. Cast members of the Palmer Ridge Bear Necessity Theater Company take a bow. They presented Play On! at Palmer Ridge High School on April 7-9. Play On! is the hilarious story of a theater group trying desperately to put on a play in spite of maddening interference from a haughty author who keeps revising the script. The three acts show the rehearsal, dress rehearsal, and opening night of the ever-changing performance. Photos by Jackie Burhan.
Caption: Pine Forest Spring Show and Sale draws 1,300, April 23-24. Present for the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club ribbon cutting are, front row only, from left, District 38 Superintendent Karen Brofft, co-chairs Michele Hanley and Susan Weese, Executive Director of the Tri-Lakes Chamber Terri Hayes, TLWC member Joann Quinn, and Co-President-elect Millie Town.
The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club hosted its 40th annual Pine Forest Spring Show and Sale at Lewis-Palmer High School on April 23 and 24.
Featuring almost 60 vendors of antiques, flowers, and hand-crafted items, the show also offered delicious baked goods in The Bakery and three food trucks outdoors. Attendance was estimated at 1,300.
The show is one of two fundraisers for the club each year, the other being the Wine and Roses event in the fall.
The mission of the club is to support the community through donations to nonprofit entities such as the school district, fire districts, and other groups. The club has distributed over $700,000 over its lifetime. For membership information, please go to www.TLWC.net. Article and Photo by Harriet Halbig.
Caption: Great American Cleanup, April 23. On April 23, volunteers participated in the Great American Cleanup all over El Paso County, and Monument had 71 community-minded participants who picked up 73 bags of trash from all around our area. In conjunction with Earth Day, the Great American Cleanup is designed to aesthetically improve our environment, creating cleaner parks, streetscapes, and public spaces. In 2015, more than 62 million pounds of litter and debris were collected by volunteers throughout the country. The Great American Cleanup/Pikes Peak Partners is a coalition consisting of El Paso County, the City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities, the Council of Neighbors and Organizations, the City of Fountain, the Town of Green Mountain Falls, Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, the City of Manitou Springs, and the Town of Monument. Photo by Madeline VanDenHoek.
Caption: Almost Maine presented April 20. A sold-out crowd braved the Saturday evening blizzard April 30 to see the Palmer Ridge Bear Necessity Theatre Company’s senior practicum Almost, Maine. Pictured is the opening scene in the rustic, mythical town of Almost, Maine. Photo by Jackie Burhans.
Caption: Site plan for The Cove at Woodmoor. The Cove at Woodmoor is a potential development of 28 individually owned town homes just to the east of The Cove on Deer Creek Road. It was presented at a WIA meeting April 14. See the WIA article on page 1. Graphic courtesy of NES.
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 information number for that event.
Senior lunch now Mon. through Fri., new location
Senior lunches are now served Mondays-Fridays, 12-12:30 p.m., at Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. Lunches are now provided by Silver Key Senior Services Golden Circle Nutrition Program. A voluntary donation of $2.25 is requested. Stay for bingo the second Thu. each month. Reservations are requested; call 884-2304.
Black Forest Slash Mulch site now open
The Black Forest Slash-Mulch Program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling program. Slash drop-off ends Sept. 11; mulch pick up ends Sept. 24. For the schedule and other details, visit www.bfslash.org or phone Carolyn, 495-3127; Chuck, 495-8675; or Jeff, 495-8024.
Volunteer needed for county Board of Retirement, apply by May 13
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve on the Board of Retirement. Applications are due by May 13. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.
Volunteer needed for county Housing Authority, apply by May 13
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking a community-minded citizen volunteer to serve on the Housing Authority. Applications are due by May 13. The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com. Click on the "Volunteer Boards" link. For more information, call 520-6436 or visit www.elpasoco.com.
2016 Law Enforcement Teen Academy, apply by May 25
The Pikes Peak Regional Law Enforcement Teen Academy provides young adults ages 13-17 with a unique opportunity to learn about the operations of regional law enforcement agencies in El Paso County. The Colorado Springs Police Department and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office are the host agencies for this week-long class scheduled for June 6-10, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Southeast & Armed Services YMCA, 2190 Jet Wing Dr., Colo. Springs. Courses will include jail operations, patrol procedures, SWAT, K-9, Explosives Unit, criminal investigations, search and rescue, and the Metro Crime Lab. Teens will also tour secure areas within the Criminal Justice Center (County Jail), the Evidence Facility, and courtrooms at the Terry R. Harris Judicial Complex. Applications are due by May 25 and can be found at https://cspd.coloradosprings.gov/content/teen-law-enforcement-academy. For more information, contact Officer Bernardino Bañuelos, 444-7410, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mother’s Day special at PENRAD Imaging
PENRAD Imaging is offering $99 screening mammograms throughout May at 17230 Jackson Creek Pkwy. #160, Monument. To schedule a screening mammogram, call 785-9000, ext. 1.
Would you like to honor a member of your family who served honorably in our United States military? Join American Legion Post 9-11 in honoring your family hero by having an 18-by-36-inch banner flown in the Tri-Lakes area featuring his/her photo in uniform with area and dates served on active duty. The banner will be attached to town posts by Palmer Lake Legionnaires and flown from Memorial Day through Veterans Day. The cost for the family is $125. To order or for more information, call Post Headquarters at the Depot Restaurant, 481-8668.
Tri-Lakes Y Summer Sports Camps, register now
The Y offers weekly camps in various sports and cheerleading from June 6 to Aug. 12, for ages 6-16. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy., Monument.
Vendors wanted for Pickin’ on the Divide, June 25
For $25 you can secure a spot for your booth at the Music Festival and Fiddlin’ Competition. For more information, visit pickinonthedivide.com or phone Diane at the Church at Woodmoor, 488-3200.
Host a teenage Spanish student for a month
Become a host family for only one month this summer, and receive $125 per week to support activities. Students arrive June 25-July 23. For details, call 481-4412 or visit www.xploreUSA.org.
Monument Hill Foundation Call for Grants, apply by June 30
The Monument Hill Foundation is the granting arm of the Monument Hill Kiwanis Club. The foundation provides funds in support of the club’s mission to support youth and the community, with a focus on the Tri-Lakes community. Club fundraising projects include the annual Empty Bowls Dinner that supports Tri-Lakes Cares and the Holiday Red Kettle Campaign collections that go directly to the Salvation Army. The club works on many other activities each year to raise funds that go to the Monument Hill Foundation for direct granting. A list of the latest grant recipients is posted on the website. Interested organizations may submit requests for grants now until June 30. Grant applications and instructions can be found at www.monumenthillfoundation.org.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance (formerly Health Advocacy Partnership) needs volunteers
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance is a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that serves and supports seniors in our community. The alliance currently needs volunteers, three hours a week; and active board members, eight to 10 hours a month. For more information, phone Sue Walker, 330-0241.
Volunteers are also needed to work a 3-hour shift once a week in the thrift store, to move items from storage into the store, or to pick up and transport donated items. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
El Paso County expands services to vets
Three El Paso County agencies providing services to veterans are making it easier to receive assistance by opening satellite offices at the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence, 530 Communications Circle, in Colorado Springs. The Veterans Service office at Mt. Carmel is currently open 8 a.m.-noon, Monday through Friday. Those hours will expand in June. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center (PPWFC) has also opened an office to serve veterans and transitioning military personnel at the Mt. Carmel location. The PPWFC Mt. Carmel office is open Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., and is staffed with two workforce center employees who specialize in helping veterans with their employment needs. The El Paso County Department of Human Services also has an office open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Mt. Carmel Center of Excellence. For more information, contact Dave Rose, 520-6540, DaveRose@elpasoco.com.
Property tax exemption for qualifying senior citizens and disabled veterans
El Paso County Assessor Steve Schleiker reminds residents that the Colorado Constitution establishes a property tax exemption for senior citizens and disabled veterans. For those who qualify, 50 percent of the first $200,000 in actual value of the primary residence is exempted from property tax. The State of Colorado pays the property taxes on the exempted value. The application deadline for disabled vets is July 1, and for seniors is July 15. For an application or a brochure that explains the exemptions or for questions regarding the exemptions, please call the assessor’s office at 520-6600, email ASRWEB@elpasoco.com, or visit www.elpasoco.com and click on "News Releases."
Become a CASA volunteer
Become a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). CASA offers a volunteer opportunity like no other. As appointed representatives of the court, CASA volunteers are empowered to make a lifelong difference in the lives of abused and neglected children. Learn more at http://www.casappr.org/volunteer-colorado-springs/ or contact Kelly at 447-9898, ext. 1033 or email@example.com.
Our Community Calendar
By Judy Barnes, Community Calendar 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.
LOCAL LIBRARY EVENTS
All branches close May 30 in observance of Memorial Day
WEEKLY AND MONTHLY EVENTS
Our community calendar carries listings on a space-available basis for Tri-Lakes events that are sponsored by local governmental entities and not-for-profit organizations. We include events that are open to the general public and are not religious or self-promotional in nature. If space is available, complimentary calendar listings are included, when requested, for events advertised in the current issue. To have your event listed at no charge in Our Community Calendar, please call (719) 339-7831 or send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132.
Contact us at (719) 488-3455, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, or P.O. Box 1742, Monument, Colorado 80132-1742.
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