This page contains only the text of the articles and columns in this issue. To see the photos and captions including the Snapshots of Our Community section, view the on-line version above or download the PDFs whose links follow this table of contents.
the PDF file. This is a 29 Mbyte high-resolution file with color photos.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Board of Education and a number of citizens addressed the issue of behavior at board meetings during its Feb. 16 meeting. Also, the board extended the contract of Superintendent Karen Brofft.
Because citizens’ comments have become increasingly disruptive, several citizens and members of the Lewis-Palmer administration found it necessary to comment on the issue.
Former board member and district parent Robb Pike assured teachers and staff that he has their back. He said it is critical to find a way to move forward through disagreement. Naming a small group of individuals (Derek Araje, Gordon Reichal, Traci Burnett, Tammy John, Michael O’Hare and Ana Konduras), he said that they are striving to divide the community. There was an attack against a teacher on social media, which Pike said crossed a line. He urged Director Sarah Sampayo to resign for her efforts to promote negativity.
Kilmer Elementary School Principal Drew Francis, speaking on behalf of the district’s Administrative Council (principals and administrative personnel who stood behind him as he spoke) said that the board should require members of the public to behave appropriately at meetings and elsewhere to model behavior for students. Due to recent meeting disruptions, he suggested that no student performances or demonstrations of learning including students should be part of board meeting. He said that the current climate at meetings has led to attacks through social media.
Many members of the audience stood during these comments.
During the board comment portion of the meeting, Treasurer John Magerko also commented on the climate at recent meetings, saying that it is more important to focus attention on the ability of the district and Monument Academy to work together and on how to deal with funding issues.
Magerko apologized to Superintendent Karen Brofft for not addressing the issue of last year’s lawsuit against the district (mentioned by Derek Araje at last month’s meeting, when he suggested that Brofft did not inform the board of the suit). He said that he was well-informed on the subject.
Board Secretary Mark Pfoff (formerly board president) also said that he had received frequent updates from Brofft about the suit and that it was his decision not to address the subject during meetings. He thanked all district staff for their contributions to his children’s education and welfare and could not understand why a small group of people would want the district to fail, saying that teachers do not deserve to be bullied. He said that this group of people accuses the board of lack of respect, and yet they practice disrespect for the board. They list names in their accusations and object to having their names used.
Pfoff said that he had sent certified letters to the individuals asking them to stop disrupting meetings and that it was unfortunate to have to spend time discussing this matter.
Several members of the public commented on the value of the Path 2 Empathy program. Karen Heater praised its use at Lewis-Palmer Elementary. James Howald thanked the district for the program, and said that development of empathy is integral to working with people from other cultures and countries later in life. Heather Jacobson said that she had been bullied early in life and stressed that attacks on the board, teachers, and students should not be tolerated. Marcy Deeds said that Lewis-Palmer Elementary Principal Jenny Day held a coffee to explain Path 2 Empathy and that she appreciated its use.
Teacher Phyllis Robinette thanked Brofft for encouraging teachers to take time to reflect on their priorities and their relationships with students.
Araje said that, due to the results of last year’s elections and their change in policy focus, the district should remove "global" from its vision statement.
The board voted to extend the Superintendent Brofft’s contract through June 30, 2019.
Brofft reported that the district had been praised for its efforts to ensure data privacy. She also listed several awards that had been received by local schools from the Colorado Department of Education (CDE). These awards will be highlighted at next month’s meeting.
Brofft reported that the long-range planning open house held the previous Monday had been well attended and informative, especially with regard to a demographic study. The demographers spoke with local developers regarding plans and trends. The next step in the planning process is for the facilities committee to meet. Final recommendations are due in April. (See related D-38 article on page 4.)
The open enrollment period ended a week after the meeting. At the time of the meeting, it appeared that about 120 students would be involved.
Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman expressed support for the superintendent and the board. She said that she has been working with the Monument Planning Commission on the town’s plan and learned that the town sees the school district as a major reason for people to move to the area.
Wangeman reported that nine more pupils are leaving the district than are opting in, but that this number has decreased annually.
Wangeman presented a budget update, expressing concern that it appears state funding will remain flat for the next year while there are significant needs for projects such as replacing the turf in the stadium and doors and windows at several schools, in addition to new buses and computers.
The board voted to request a waiver from the state Board of Education regarding the review period for new charter schools.
The board voted to approve a consent agenda of routine items such as minutes of previous meetings, purchase of a vehicle for the chief of safety and security, land use, and new course adoption.
Caption: The Lewis-Palmer D-38 Administrative Council stands during a statement from Kilmer Elementary School Principal Drew Francis regarding behavior at board meetings. Photo by Harriet Halbig.
The Board of Education for Lewis-Palmer D-38 meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month in the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next meeting will be on March 16.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at email@example.com.
By Kate Pangelinan
At a very short Monument Planning Commission meeting Feb. 8, the new draft of the town’s comprehensive plan—which was discussed extensively during both January meetings—was unanimously approved, 5-0. The meeting lasted about 15 minutes.
Commissioner David Gwisdalla was absent.
Between this February meeting and the last meeting in January, commissioners contacted project consultant Barb Cole of Community Matters Inc. over the phone to discuss various elements of the plan. She was also in contact with former planner Karen Griffith—who presented proposed changes to the plan at the Jan. 25 meeting—to address concerns.
The Comprehensive Plan draft is available for public view online at the Town of Monument’s website, by going to the "Documents-on-Demand" page and selecting "Planning Commission Packets." Recordings of Monument Planning Commission meetings can now be found there, too, by selecting "Planning Commission Recordings." https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com/
The next Monument Planning Commission meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8 at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or www.townofmonument.org/meetings/
Kate Pangelinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Monument news starts on page 7
By Jackie Burhans
The Monument Academy (MA) School Board met on Feb. 9 to hear about plans for opening a new high school and to vote to permanently approve a fifth-grade bubble class size increase.
Principal Lis Richard and accountant Nancy Tive were absent due to illness. Board President Sonya Camarco arrived late due to a meeting in Denver.
MA high school plans
The board met in executive session to discuss positions relative to negotiations concerning the possible addition of a high school in regards to authorizers, timetables, and authorizations. After the closed session, board members voted unanimously to submit applications when windows are open for D-38, D-48 and Douglas County School District (RE-1) for authorization of a high school. More information on MA’s plans to open a high school can be found on its website at http://monumentacademy.net by searching for "high school." The applications will reflect an opening date of no sooner than the 2018-19 school year.
Middle school class size permanently raised
The board considered a recommendation to modify Board Policy 1523 to permanently increase the middle school per grade maximum size to 118 to accommodate a fifth-grade bubble class (a class that is unusually large). The board approved a temporary exception last year to allow this large class size. Griffin noted that some parents enroll their kids in fifth grade to be at MA for middle school. The board unanimously approved this change. MA board policy 1523 can be found here: http://bit.ly/ma-bp1523.
Other board highlights
• Board member Patrick Hall presented the treasurer’s report and highlighted a $22,000 net income loss for January due to technology upgrade costs with the servers, but the report still projected a solid budget for the year.
• The Colorado Department of Education corrected school performance status that was wrong due to clerical errors.
• Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Wangeman invited the MA and the church next door to meet with County Commissioner Darryl Glenn to discuss a county engineering plan to modify both Highway 105 and Monument Hill Road near Palmer Ridge High School.
• MA board elections will take place May 18-19; if there are more than two candidates there will be a candidate forum on May 17.
The next meeting will be on Wednesday, March 9 at the Monument Academy library at 1150 Village Ridge Point. The Monument Academy usually meets at 6 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 Jennifer Kaylor
At the Feb. 13 Community Open House: Long Term Planning presentation conducted by the Lewis-Palmer School District (D-38) along with Western Demographics Inc. and RTA Architecture, community members learned about the growing number of D-38 students and possible solutions for accommodating them. The open house format allowed time for the public to hear initial findings and then provide feedback.
Karen Brofft, superintendent of schools for D-38, introduced the speakers.
Schools’ capacity challenged
Shannon Bingham, president of Western Demographics, said that within D-38’s boundaries, 300 new homes are under construction. This winter building activity is surprising and suggests that local growth will only increase. Over the past six years, the district has grown an average of 1.75 percent per year. In contrast, during 2016-17 the district has grown by 3.57 percent, or over 200 students. A standard measurement used for estimating the number of incoming students is 0.7 students per new home, thus the additional households will likely send at least 200 extra students to D-38 classrooms for the 2017-18 school year.
Estimating conservatively and considering the high quality of home development, as well as a statewide annual growth of 1.5 percent over the next 40 years, Western Demographics projected D-38 student population growth over the next eight years as:
• K-6—680 additional students
• 7-8—181 additional students
• 9-12—499 additional students
Student population forecasts include current student populations within current boundaries, plus estimates of choice-in students.
Strategies to address growth
The D-38 Long Range Planning Committee, formed in January 2017, intends to explore new facilities, additions, grade redistributions, and boundary adjustments as potential solutions. Bingham commented that the least expensive school to build is an elementary school, which costs about $17 million. He added that shifting sixth-graders to the middle school buys time for the elementary schools, but immediately overcrowds the middle school. Western Demographics and RTA Architecture will continue to gather data for the Long Range Planning Committee as it meets throughout the spring.
Doug Abernathy, principal, RTA Architecture, reported that deferred maintenance, safety and security, and Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED) will be included in the growth strategies considerations. The age of some schools—Grace Best Elementary School, Kilmer Elementary School, Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, and Lewis-Palmer Middle School—presents varying challenges. Boilers, pumps, and mechanical systems have life cycles and their respective replacement costs and efficiency, or lack thereof, must be assessed and factored into the Long Range Planning Committee’s decision making.
Abernathy cited a new state law that requires door hardware to be lockable from the inside of a classroom so that students and teachers aren’t forced to step out of the room to lock the door. Schools may also need to upgrade to two-way addressable PA systems, which allow communication during emergencies to specify shooter situations, tornadoes, fire, etc. Abernathy explained that CPTED, which addresses vulnerability to crime according to a school’s site, building, and technology, adds to D-38’s financial obligations.
Western Demographics, RTA Architecture, and D-38 invited attendees to view the kiosks and ask questions during the open house portion of the evening.
The next Community Open House: Long Term Planning presentations are scheduled for April 10 and 12. The presentations will be identical and are offered on two separate nights to accommodate schedule conflicts.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at JenniferKaylor@ocn.me.
By Harriet Halbig
The Lewis-Palmer D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) received reports on communications, gifted education, and technology at its Feb. 7 meeting.
District Public Information Officer Julie Stephen reported on improvements to the district website, including a photo gallery, news feeds, and customizable calendars; customized communications such as a calendar illustrated with student art, postcards for newcomers to the district, and a variety of newsletters.
Stephen reported that the district is creating a growing presence on social media and offering a selection of videos for public viewing. The district continues to work with local media such as television and newspapers and to develop relationships with churches, seniors, civic clubs, homeowners associations, district committees such as DAAC, building advisory committees and booster clubs. They also are working with local businesses and participate in such community events as an emergency responder appreciation day and veterans’ appreciation events.
Stephen welcomed feedback from committee members.
Gifted Education Leadership Team report
Director of Curriculum and Professional Development Sheila Beving reported on developments within the Gifted Education Leadership Team (GELT). Director of Assessment and Gifted Education Lori Benton was unable to attend.
Beving reported that GELT is required by the DAAC bylaws to give an annual report on its activities. The team is composed of parents, facilitators, principals, and administrators. Responsibilities include creation and administration of gifted programming, identification of students qualified to receive services, communication with state authorities on the program, reporting on results of the Colorado Gifted Education Review Audit (every four years), and review of the gifted addendum to the annual Unified Improvement Plan (UIP) of the district.
Displaying a chart of statistics about the number of gifted students in the district, Beving pointed out that the numbers have decreased in the past two years from 723 in 2014 to 702 in 2016. She pointed out that the students included in the statistic are different each year.
Regarding the review audit from 2015, Beving said that the state praised the district website for its ease of navigation to find resources, the ability to create independent study classes in high school, a commitment to provide services in excess of those supported by state funding, and the fact that each building has a facilitator on site.
Beving explained the identification process and pointed out that the district had to create measurement tools for the arts. A new challenge is identifying students who are gifted in terms of psychomotor skills such as national-level athletes.
She explained that some students may be identified as gifted although they do not test well. In these cases, interviews and observation are the basis for identification.
The district is unusual in that it commits funding well beyond that of the state ($537,000 from the district, $83,149 from state) to the gifted program.
The gifted addendum to the district UIP will be included for the first time this year. It will measure success in meeting the previous year’s improvement goals, explain strategies, and offer a timeline for these strategies.
One member of the committee commented that he was disappointed that the district committed such resources to the gifted program and not for the exceptional student program (formerly special education).
Director of Instructional and Information Technology Liz Walhof reported on activities in her department.
The district hired Applied Trust, an IT security firm, to investigate a reported security breach in the summer of 2016 and to conduct a detailed security audit in January of 2017. The goal was to ensure complete awareness of and transparency regarding the district’s IT security, Walhof said.
Applied Trust determined that there had been no breach because the incidents resulted from shared passwords. The security audit revealed that the district is positioned like other organizations and the network is strong.
The district was rated satisfactory or strong in 10 of 14 categories examined and especially for awareness of security, malware protection, and infrastructure.
The district will continue to implement staff training and develop a curriculum for student digital citizenship to ensure their safety online, Walhof said.
D-38 was innovative in its insistence that vendors would not profile students and would delete information at a predetermined time. The attorneys for the state Department of Education have asked for district feedback on this process so that other districts may implement it, she said.
Beving reviewed the curriculum under examination at this time, including science for grades 4 through 8, high school ancient world history, and Reading Plus for grades 3 through 12.
Reading Plus is an intervention for struggling readers that has proven to be very successful.
Beving said that materials on Algebra I and II, Geometry and Pre-calculus are now available for review by community members, as are high school biology texts.
Financial literacy materials will be added to the K-5 curriculum, and the science curriculum is being brought into alignment with Colorado academic standards.
Beving said that texts are now being offered in bundles, including digital and hard copy formats, which will make them valid for about five years.
Lewis-Palmer Elementary School Principal Jenny Day offered a campus introduction to her school and its current focus on growth in math and the Every Child a Reader program. She praised the active parent-teacher organization and availability of before and after school enrichment programs. The school operates under the goal of SOAR: safe, on task, attitude to achieve and respectful and responsible. The Path 2 Empathy program is being used in grades 2 through 6.
Board of Education and legislative update
Board Liaison John Magerko reported that the Colorado Department of Education is still encouraging comments on educational standards and that the Colorado Association of School Boards was scheduled to hold its annual legislative conference in late February.
Magerko said that the review of the superintendent has been completed and that the process of the review is the same as that for teachers. He praised Superintendent Karen Brofft’s open-door policy and the hours she spent listening to staff and parents, her connections with local and state government, and her active participation in the Pikes Peak Superintendents Association and Colorado Association of School Executives.
Magerko also praised Brofft’s concern with safety and security on the web or in schools and the creation of a chief of safety and security position.
The District Accountability Advisory Committee meets five times a year. Locations vary. The next meeting will be on April 4 at the district’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., at 6:30 p.m.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
The trustees discussed a hearing date for a proposed annexation, two proposed alternatives for an emergency water interconnection, and the proposed water reuse facility at the Feb. 6 Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) meeting. They also made a recommendation to the Planning Commission regarding the town’s landscaping ordinance and canceled the ordinance review workshop.
Mayor Jeff Kaiser and Trustee Kelly Elliott were excused.
Wagons West annexation hearing date not set yet
Principal Planner Larry Manning presented a resolution to set a hearing date at which the trustees would consider annexation of Wagons West Addition No. 1, a 34.715-acre parcel located south of Wagon Gap Trail, north of the Colorado Sports Center, and between Old Denver Road and the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad.
Manning and Town Attorney Gary Shupp both had to explain that the resolution before the trustees was just to set the date of the hearing, which must be accomplished within 60 days of the annexation application, according to state statute.
Manning said the statute is set up for a landowner that has substantially complied with the requirements to be annexed, and the applicant must be allowed to have a hearing. The details and questions about the annexation itself would be discussed at the actual hearing, which should occur around April 3, he said.
Trustee Greg Coopman made a motion to table the resolution, saying, "Last year this board established that its priority number one was finding and implementing an emergency connection with an outside water district in order to protect our current residents from experiencing a similar crisis as our neighbors in Triview Metropolitan District experienced last summer." He went on to say that it was "highly irresponsible to annex any more land into the town" without a long-term water action plan and until the emergency water interconnection was operational. "There is no point in setting a hearing date because of these issues," he said.
Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson said the statute seemed clear that the board had to set a hearing date.
Coopman said he was not comfortable passing a resolution to set a hearing date until he received additional legal insight and knew exactly which statute was involved.
The board voted 4-1 to continue the discussion to the Feb. 21 meeting. Wilson was opposed.
Emergency water interconnection and reuse plant discussed
At the beginning of the meeting, Coopman had asked for the memo discussing the emergency water connection update be moved from the consent agenda to the regular meeting agenda, and the trustees approved this unanimously.
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish said the memo covered a new potential alternative to the proposed emergency water interconnection with Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) and that he planned to present more details on this option on Feb. 21. See related BOT article on page 10.
The first option that had been proposed for an emergency-only water interconnection was to build a pipeline to bring treated water from WWSD under I-25 to the portion of Monument on the west side of I-25, which would cost the town about $737,000 and has not yet been agreed upon by WWSD. This "treated water" connection has been under discussion since last July when neighboring Triview suffered a water leak that lasted several weeks and lost 20-30 million gallons of water, bringing the 31.5-foot water tank level to only 1.1 feet. Ultimately, Donala Water and Sanitation District provided 112 hours of emergency water to Triview through an emergency connection between the two districts that had never been used before. See www.ocn.me/v16n8.htm#tvmd0712, www.ocn.me/v16n9.htm#mbot0801, www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm?#mbot1121.
Tharnish said the new alternative being discussed for an emergency interconnection for the town’s water system west of I-25 would be to literally tap into infrastructure in the proposed joint Monument-WWSD water reuse facility that he predicted would be complete by mid-2019 to early 2020. He said it would be possible to "T" into a WWSD pipeline sending raw water from Monument Creek to WWSD. This would provide an emergency-only water connection to west Monument that would "be almost no cost to Monument taxpayers."
Trustee Shea Medlicott summarized that this raw water interconnection would be a cheaper way to create an emergency interconnection, but it would take nine to 12 months longer to become operational. Tharnish added that if a drought dropped the level of Monument Creek, that could impede WWSD’s ability to share emergency water with the town. If the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) reservoir were ever built, he said, the pipe from there under Higby Road would be a way to get renewable water into the town’s system (search PPRWA at www.ocn.me).
Tharnish said it would be wasting money to pursue both the $737,000 treated water emergency connection and the raw water emergency connection with WWSD.
Coopman thanked Tharnish for coming up with an alternate option for the emergency water connection that was fiscally responsible.
Trustee Dennis Murphy objected, saying, "Three years is too long to wait. I would like to see an emergency interconnect, connected to a renewable water source like Donala, Triview, or Colorado Springs Utilities. I am wondering how come we are avoiding that."
Tharnish said the town has never been in a situation where it would have needed an emergency interconnection. "I realize this goes back to what occurred in Triview last summer.… If you knew the heart of the matter over there and why things occurred … we are just not set up the same way as Triview on a lot of different levels.... It is just not the same structure from an operations standpoint that something like that would occur and the type of mistakes that were made.… Not only do we have a better handle on our system, and more experienced guys who know where to look … but we have much better infrastructure and equipment to detect a problem."
Murphy then asked how approvals for annexations and multi-family home developments could occur when the town’s aquifers were being stressed and the town did not yet have access to renewable water supplies.
Wilson said that is why the town had a long-term water master plan, and Tharnish said he would not sign a will-serve letter guaranteeing a development that the town had water for its projected needs for 100 years if there was a risk that potential supplies could not meet them. He cited the town’s 20-year water master plan, which has calculated how much capacity would be needed at full build-out. Town Manager Chris Lowe said that applicants are also required to bring their water rights with them into an annexation. "If we don’t have the capacity to meet it, we would not allow it to come before you," Tharnish said.
Coopman said his concern was giving a will-serve letter guaranteeing 100 years of water to a development "when we are being told by professionals we better get moving on the reuse plant so that we will have 20-30 years of water instead of just 8-11 years’ worth."
Medlicott asked Tharnish to provide as detailed of a build schedule for the proposed reuse plant as he could for the Feb. 21 meeting where the emergency interconnection options will also be discussed in more detail. The board reached consensus on this direction.
Regarding the proposed Monument-WWSD water reuse, Trustee Jeff Bornstein asked about how the costs of building and operating the facility would be shared, since WWSD has more customers and water consumption than the town’s water system west of I-25 does. "Are you looking at a sliding scale for charges based on usage and consumption?" Tharnish said, "I am thinking if you are going to process more water to benefit them, then they would be on the hook for more of that cost, but I would not want to throw a percentage out there." For the next chapter, see related Feb. 21 Monument BOT article on page 10.
Xeriscaping ordinance discussed
Xeriscaping is a landscaping method developed especially for arid and semi-arid climates that utilizes water conservation techniques including growing drought-tolerant plants that require less water, incorporating mulch, and using efficient irrigation systems such as drip irrigation. See www.denverwater.org/Conservation/Xeriscape/ for many creative water-wise landscaping ideas from the Denver Water Board.
The current Monument landscaping ordinance has been considered by the Planning Commission several times, but the commissioners were not able to reach a consensus on how exactly to tailor the ordinance to help reduce water used for irrigation. See www.ocn.me/v16n9.htm#mpc.
Principal Planner Manning presented some recommendations to the trustees. The board consensus was to recommend the following criteria to the Planning Commission for further discussion:
• Eight plants per 100 square feet (reduced from 24 currently)
• 4.1 trees per 5,000 square feet (more for parking lots) (reduced from eight currently)
• Add the possibility of "administrative relief" for special circumstances, such as when businesses were either approved or built when more water-intensive landscapes were required for their site plans, but now they would like to opt for more xeric landscaping.
Ordinance review workshop canceled
Wilson said he thought it was inappropriate for the trustees to run an ordinance review workshop without town staff in attendance. Lowe concurred, and after some discussion, the board agreed that Lowe should give direction to department heads to review ordinances and bring any that might need updating to the board’s attention. The workshop scheduled for Feb. 11 was canceled.
Bornstein reiterated that he wanted to remove ordinances that were on the books but not being enforced.
Town’s website redesigned
Lowe announced that the town’s website, http://townofmonument.org, has been redesigned to include new features including online bill paying and posting of all active bids. It might also include online forms to streamline the application process for the development community.
State of the Region
Wilson said the Feb. 3 State of the Region event coordinated by the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development "was a fantastic event and was even on the news." He congratulated Chamber President and CEO Terri Hayes. Wilson was a speaker at the event, which seems to have generated an inappropriate "email barrage" to town staff due to different interpretations among the trustees on whether Wilson needed to report to the rest of the trustees before he spoke. "I was not speaking with respect to anything that was not public knowledge," he said.
Checks over $5,000
• Murray, Dahl, Juechenmeiser & Renaud LLP, legal services for new water tank land condemnation − $11,416
• NV5 Inc. (Nolte), professional services (landscape architects, survey manager, etc.) − $5,579
• Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments, 2017 dues − $5,004
Resident Nancy Swearengin had several comments, including:
• Nowhere in the current landscaping ordinance does it say a resident has to have 25 percent grass; that was just the maximum allowed.
• I hope you will focus just as much effort into the water reuse facility, which will reduce the speed of diminishing the aquifer, as you are on the emergency water connection.
• You mentioned the State of the Region luncheon, but no one reported on the content of the event.
Resident John Howe, who is a member of Monument Sanitation District board, encouraged the public to tour the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) to see how the plant works. "There is awfully clean water going out of that plant after all the treatment for Palmer Lake, Monument, and Woodmoor." See related TLWWTF tour photo on page 26.
The board voted to go into executive session at 8:30 p.m. to receive legal advice on two pending litigations. Deputy Town Clerk Laura Hogan said the board did not take any votes or make any announcements after the executive session.
At the Jan. 17 meeting, in a discussion about future outside funding for widening Jackson Creek Parkway, Triview President Reid Bolander referred to PPRTA (Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority), when he meant to say PPACG, the Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments. Thanks to an astute reader for pointing out the error. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#mbot0117.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
At its meeting on Feb. 21, the Monument Board of Trustees discussed strategic goals for the town and the town manager and set a hearing date for an annexation application.
For the first time, the meeting was streamed online so that members of the public could watch the proceedings from elsewhere. See www.townofmonument.org for instructions.
Mayor Jeff Kaiser was absent.
Wagons West annexation hearing set for April 17
Principal Planner Larry Manning again presented the Feb. 6 resolution to set a board hearing date to consider annexation of Wagons West Addition No. 1.
This resolution was supposed to have been voted on at the Feb. 6 board meeting to set a hearing date of April 3. However, Trustee Greg Coopman then questioned what state statute required the annexation hearing, saying the town should not consider annexing any more land until the town’s emergency water interconnection was operational. The resolution was postponed to this meeting by a 4-1 vote. See related Feb. 6 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 7.
Wagons West is made up of three parcels totaling almost 35 acres owned by the Watt Family. The area is south of Wagon Gap Trail, between Old Denver Road and the Denver & Rio Grande Western railroad, and north of the Colorado Sports Center. Teachout Creek runs across the northern half of the property.
Manning said the annexation request met the state statute criteria for consideration for annexation to the town, which is that all the owners of the land area have signed the annexation petition, and the parcel has more than the required one-sixth of its boundary contiguous to the existing town limits.
Manning requested that the board change the date of the annexation hearing to April 17, which is still less than 60 days after the property owners’ formal request for a hearing. The resolution and the requested two-week hearing date postponement from April 3 to April 17 were both unanimously approved with no discussion.
The land north, east, and south of Wagons West is inside the town boundaries, but the parcel to the west is still in El Paso County, although it was approved for annexation in May by the trustees. That annexation was never finalized by the county resident/landowner of the property to the west, according to the El Paso County assessor parcel map. See www.ocn.me/v16n6.htm#mbot0502, and http://gis2.asr.elpasoco.com.
Strategic goals discussed
For one hour before the meeting, Town Manager Chris Lowe and the trustees conducted a strategic goals and objectives workshop.
Lowe presented progress on a list of high-level strategic objectives and measurable milestones that had been initiated by the prior board at a retreat in February 2016. He talked about milestones including:
• Increasing quality-of-life amenities: cemetery beautification; Limbach, Lavelett, and Park Trail Park upgrade plans; historic downtown beautification.
• Community engagement: new town website, community outreach strategy, increasing the number of events and participants, adopting the comprehensive plan update.
• Fund management and planning: identifying possibilities for savings, developing a capital improvement plan for the general fund, assessing sales tax options.
To read the 96-page 2016 Year-End Report, which includes reports from each department head, see https://monumenttownco.documents-on-demand.com, choose Board of Trustees, Packets, Feb. 21 meeting, and go to page 44.
Lowe then proposed and discussed the following three new goals with the trustees:
• Build a healthy water utility, including reuse and renewable water, and work toward regionalization and cooperation between metro districts, other utilities, and other municipalities.
• Downtown revitalization, visual consistency and "a sense of place" downtown, including murals, facades, and possible matching grants.
• Parks master plan, including a potential GOCO grant, more possible surveys, and progress noticeable to residents.
Lowe’s presentation sparked a long discussion with ideas about parks planning in the town on both the west and east side of I-25, including funding and use options. The trustees entreated Lowe to build rapport and communication with the metro districts and the school district. Trustee Shea Medlicott said, "I realize there is some institutionalized animosity, but we are all adults and doing this for benefit of citizens."
Coopman thanked Lowe for his presentation. "You hit it dead on with the ones you presented, and I think there are a half-dozen others we could add to the list," Coopman said.
However, Coopman and Trustee Dennis Murphy said they thought the intent of the workshop was to set measurable objectives for Lowe personally in his role as town manager.
Coopman said the trustees couldn’t measure Lowe’s job—"Your day-to-day duties and how you manage those," based on the overall big vision of the town. Murphy said, "You have all the ‘what’ up there, but no ‘how.’ We are supposed to monitor how responsible you are with our resources, how responsive you are to our direction, how do you communicate, leadership, judgment, and decision making. That is what we are assessing."
Lowe agreed that this one-hour workshop would be a kickoff discussion, but he said he felt the need to spend time on the strategic objectives that the trustees wanted him to work on before deciding what interim measurable milestones would be set.
Trustee Jeff Bornstein said, "I didn’t come tonight prepared to discuss these big dogs so to speak, but it’s good that we do discuss them too.… Shame on the board for not giving (Lowe) objectives last year. Maybe we could get this complete by mid-March."
Town manager’s report
As he had at the workshop before the meeting, Lowe said the 2016 Year-End Report listing quarterly achievements included many examples of "how vastly and comprehensively we interact with people and change their lives for the better," and he asked all the trustees to read it.
He wants to increase the number of events happening in the town, which include the Memorial Day ceremony, movie nights at the clock tower, July 4 parade, summer Art Hops, concerts in Limbach Park, Great American Cleanup, Creek Week cleanup, Bines and Brews, and the Tree Lighting event.
Lowe said, "We have a great town. We’ll do even more in 2017 than we did last year."
Police fence update
Public Works Director Tom Tharnish presented some possible options for a security fence or wall that would surround the police parking lot on the east side of the Town Hall. A first batch of estimates for various designs ranged from $50,000 to $133,000, which seemed high to the trustees and staff.
Trustee Kelly Elliott asked how the police officers felt about the plan. Police Chief Jake Shirk said the Police Department’s objectives were to have a wall for total visual separation and a barrier to prevent suspicious people from entering the police parking lot. However, he hoped it could be done for less money and said it could wait until the budget could support it. He said, "The officers are 100 percent in favor of doing something."
2016 budget amendment
Town Treasurer Pamela Smith presented an ordinance to adopt a budget amendment of $145,000 for 2016. She said the "$350,000 financial settlement" (of the total $900,000 settlement payment to Colonial Management Group on April 13, 2016 for administrative town approval and subsequent revocation of CMG’s methadone clinic license at 192 Front St.) was not budgeted. She said the staff was only able to make up $205,000 of that, but "it is a legal requirement to have a balanced budget." (http://www.ocn.me/v16n6.htm#mbot0502) (http://gazette.com/company-that-wanted-methadone-clinic-in-monument-gets-final-terms-of-settlement-to-stay-away/article/1574232)
Smith also presented an ordinance appropriating sums of money to the general fund to accompany the 2016 budget amendment. The trustees approved both ordinances unanimously.
Checks over $5,000
The trustees approved the consent agenda unanimously, and it included these checks over $5,000:
• Triview Metro District, sales, motor vehicle, and regional building use tax − $189,022
• Community Matters Inc., comprehensive plan − $8,816
• Magtech Ammunition, 2017 annual ammunition purchase − $6,085
Board comments get argumentative
Elliott said she was "a little bit appalled" at what she heard in the recording of the Feb. 6 meeting that she was unable to attend. She said during the agenda item that was supposed to set a hearing date for an annexation petition, the tone was undermining the expertise of the town’s legal counsel and of Larry Manning. She said the trustees should listen to the advice of the experts. "We are really at risk if we start taking things into our own hands and trying to come across as the experts" on these subject matters.
Mayor Pro-Tem Don Wilson said the vote at the Feb. 6 meeting was not even needed, that Town Attorney Gary Shupp agreed about that at the time, and that the vote to postpone the hearing resolution was a collaborated vote.
Bornstein and Coopman objected. Coopman said, "It would be irresponsible for me to vote when I am unclear of the requirements.… We have to ask those tough questions and get a second (legal) opinion." Wilson and Coopman argued about the intent of Coopman’s objection to the hearing resolution.
The meeting adjourned at 7:34 p.m.
Above: Trustee Rich Kuehster presents a plaque to outgoing Mayor Nikki McDonald. Photo by James Howald.
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 March 6. Call 884-8014 or see www.townofmonument.org for information about live video streaming. To see upcoming agendas and complete board packets for the Monument Board of Trustees or to download audio recordings of past meetings, see http://monumenttownco.minutesondemand.com and click on Board of Trustees.
Lisa Hatfield can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By James Howald
In February, the Palmer Lake Town Council met once, on Feb. 9. The board heard a request from a developer to vacate a road, considered changes to the town’s procurement policy, and discussed a bid to update the sound system in the Town Hall.
Request to vacate road stirs debate
Jim Stiltner, a developer planning to build three houses on land adjacent to an undeveloped road, asked the board to vacate a portion of Gillia Street. Doing so would allow him to avoid building a road that would have a 23 percent grade, and would be impractical to use and maintain, he said.
Town Manager Cathy Green-Sinnard said that although the Planning Commission had approved the vacation, both the Sanitation and Water Departments wanted to maintain easements where the undeveloped road would be vacated.
Residents who live close to the planned houses argued against the vacation, saying that three houses were too many to maintain the character of the neighborhood.
Paul Banta said the board should visit the location of the planned houses before deciding on the request.
Stiltner argued that if the town forced him to develop the road instead of granting the vacation as approved by the Planning Commission, he would build the road but would also build an additional house, bringing the total to four.
Mayor John Cressman pointed out that typically the board follows the guidance of the Planning Commission, which voted unanimously to approve the vacation of the road. Green-Sinnard responded that the Planning Commission had not been aware of the requests for an easement from the Sanitation and Water Departments when they voted to approve the vacation.
In the end, the board voted unanimously to table the request to vacate the road, and to send a related request for a minor subdivision back to the Planning Commission.
Additional purchasing authority for town manager considered
At a previous meeting, Town Attorney Maureen Juran reviewed the town’s procurement policy with the board and asked for their comments. One outstanding question was whether the town manager should be authorized to expedite purchases up to $10,000, while maintaining appropriate checks and balances in purchasing processes.
The board elected to review the policy at their next meeting.
Second quote in place for sound system
Green-Sinnard said the town had obtained a second bid to upgrade the sound system in the Town Hall building from Listen Up. The second bid included different microphones than were specified in the first bid for the project.
The board decided to review both bids more closely before deciding between them.
The two meetings for March will be held at 6:30 p.m. on March 9 and March 23 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 James Howald
The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District (WWSD) board met on Feb. 9 to consider a request from two local property owners to adjust their $73,306 water bill, and to hear operational reports from district staff.
Runaway toilet triggers supplemental water charge
During the public discussion portion of the board meeting, Roy and Dina Newton asked the board to reduce an exceptionally large water bill they had received for Cipriani Loop Retail Center, a shoppette they own.
According to Dina Newton, her brother bought the property about 2 1/2 years ago. The shoppette is home to several local businesses, including Back East Bar and Grill, Jasmine Gardens restaurant, and an orthodontist office. Newton said she was not aware when the property was purchased that the orthodontist office did not have a water meter installed, although the other businesses did.
Newton said a toilet in the orthodontist office failed, and the toilet was continuously flushing, leading to the excessive water use. Her automatic payment method disguised the excessive use, she said. A meter for the orthodontist office is now in place, Newton said.
In his comments on the issue, District Manager Jessie Shaffer explained some of the background to the billing issue, which involves the district’s supplemental service water policy. Shaffer said businesses such as the Cipriani Loop Retail Center have a choice when it comes to how they will be billed for water under the policy. They can use a demand table provided by the district to project what their use and bills will be, or they can use a method specific to their business to estimate future demand. If they choose their own method to estimate use, they must accept a covenant on their property that includes a surcharge if they exceed their estimated water use. Excess water use is billed at 1.65 times the normal rate, Shaffer said.
According to Shaffer, a previous owner of the property chose to use their own method to estimate water use, and this decision led to the application of the surcharge in the calculation of the Newton’s bill. The shoppette consumed 1.53 acre-feet of water over their estimate, resulting in a bill for $73,306.
The board took no action on the Newton’s request to have the bill reduced, promising to reach a decision in executive session.
Misty Acres exercises supplemental service request
In the district’s financial report, Director Brian Bush reported that Misty Acres Filing 4, a development adjacent to I-25 and south of County Line Road, had executed its supplemental water service agreement.
The next meeting is scheduled for March 9 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Feb. 14, the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Joint Use Committee (JUC) heard good news on the operation of the new total phosphorus (TP) chemical removal clarifier expansion. Members also asked many questions about how TLWWTF could be affected by a possible indirect potable water reuse treatment plant that the Town of Monument and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District staffs are discussing and have mentioned at recent Monument Board of Trustees meetings.
TLWWTF operates as a separate joint venture public utility and is owned in equal one-third shares by Monument Sanitation District (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: WWSD board Director at Large Rich Strom, president; MSD board Chairman Ed Delaney, vice president; and PLSD board and JUC Secretary/Treasurer Ken Smith. 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 Assistant District Manager Randy Gillette.
New phosphorus removal treatment working well
Facility Manager Bill Burks presented the December discharge monitoring report (DMR). He said, as usual, that all the numbers looked good for biological oxygen demand (BOD), pH, total suspended solids, ammonia, total inorganic nitrogen, phosphorus, and total recoverable iron.
The average flow for December was 1.13 million gallons a day (MGD), with a daily max of 1.23 MGD. The facility’s rated treatment capacity and discharge permit limit is 4.2 MGD. The facility used 25 percent of its hydraulic capacity and 58 percent of its 5,600 pounds per day rated BOD organic capacity, averaging 3,230 pounds per day.
Burks said the average influent phosphorus contributions to the facility for 2016 were 57 percent for WWSD, 28 percent for MSD, and 15 percent for PLSD.
Burks reported that the new total phosphorus (TP) chemical removal clarifier expansion was in operation and reducing effluent TP below 1 milligram per liter (mg/l.) The process uses a combination of alum and sodium hydroxide to remove the phosphorus and keep the effluent pH level near 7 (neutral.) "It is a beautiful system," Burks said.
Nutrient sampling by the TLWWTF staff is conducted in Monument Creek at Monument Lake Road, Arnold Road, TLWWTF, and Baptist Road. Even with December’s TLWWTF effluent level of 4.9 mg/l of phosphorus (before the phosphorus removal clarifier was activated for the first time), natural in-stream processes reduced TP to only 1.9 mg/l at Baptist Road. Burks predicted that January’s nutrient report will likely look different. "Hopefully we will see no phosphorus at all by Baptist Road," he said, after the TP clarifier is in full-time operation.
He said that a favorable byproduct of this new tertiary treatment process for removing total phosphorus was the discovery that the TP clarifier also pulled out coliforms such as E. coli, cutting in half the number of ultraviolet bulbs that were needed to disinfect the treated effluent before it was discharged into Monument Creek. The new phosphorus clarifier expansion is also reducing effluent turbidity levels, he said.
Burks said that while the new TP chemical removal clarifier expansion is undergoing operational testing/evaluation, two construction items are not complete: the fire sprinkler alarm system for the chemical storage room and some warranty work for adjusting feed rates for the chemicals.
After many months of research, Burks reported that the new monitoring equipment the facility needed to notify operators of any problems, such as electrical outages or malfunctions of specific equipment, would be installed by Feb. 17. The equipment will be tailored to alert operators about nine different systems within the facility.
Burks said he does not have baseline test results yet for radium coming into the facility in the effluent because of a miscommunication with the lab doing the analysis. MSD Environmental Compliance Coordinator Jim Kendrick recommended that the samples be split and analyzed by two different labs. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#tlwtf.
Burks said he has given several tours of the facility recently and that a group of schoolchildren would be visiting on March 6. See related TLWWTF tour photos on page 26.
Discussions with the Town of Monument
Wicklund said he and Burks had met informally on Jan. 13 with Town of Monument Public Works Director Tom Tharnish and Water Superintendent Steve Sheffield to discuss E. coli testing, which the town saw the value of continuing at least until the end of 2017.
Wicklund said that on Jan. 13, Tharnish indicated that the town would use blending (dilution from other wells) to deal with slightly elevated radium levels in water from one of its wells. However, at the Jan. 30 Upper Monument Water Quality Management Association meeting, Tharnish indicated they planned to do some kind of (chemical) treatment, as has also been discussed several times before. See www.ocn.me/v16n11.htm#mbot1017, www.ocn.me/v17n1.htm#mbot.
No joint meeting between MSD, the Town of Monument, Forsgren Associates (the consulting engineers hired by the town), and Tetra Tech (TLWWTF’s engineers), to discuss town radium discharges to the MSD collection system and TLWWTF, has yet occurred, Wicklund said.
Wicklund said that since the Monument Board of Trustees is so busy with land use decisions, roads, and other topics, the trustees don’t spend a lot of time on water issues. "I think the town council should get out of the water business and form a separate water district (like the Denver Water Board), so they can actually spend real time on it." Strom said that at WWSD meetings, in contrast, a great deal of time is spent on water discussions.
Wicklund said that most town trustees live in Triview Metropolitan District (on the east side of I-25) but are making the decisions about the town’s water system on the west side of the highway. The consensus of the members was that the patchwork nature of all the different special district utilities serving this region’s residents was confusing.
Nutrient stakeholder meeting report
Kendrick reported on several nutrient stakeholder meetings held in January and February and how decisions being made in Denver could affect TLWWTF.
He said the biggest unknown for dischargers is whether the state Water Quality Control Commission will implement the stricter discharge requirements of the "interim values" in Reg. 31.17, and/or if Reg. 85 will be turned off, and whether the changes would happen in 2022, 2027, or 2028. "We do not know what the target is for nitrogen and phosphorus, so it is hard to plan for it."
Kendrick summarized other unknowns on the horizon, including:
• Possible change in timing for rulemaking hearings for the state’s eight individual river basin water quality standard regulations, from a staggered five-year schedule to a simultaneous 2028 revision to impose all aspects of Reg 31.17 statewide, including the current TP and TN interim values for all rivers and streams as well as all lakes and reservoirs.
• Adding selenium limits to ammonia and nutrients criteria, vastly increasing statewide capital treatment construction planning complexity.
• Possible tightening of all existing total inorganic nitrogen (TIN) discharge permit limits from the current Regulation 85 limit of 15 mg/l to 10 mg/l as a way of "showing progress" to the EPA.
• Possible new interpretations of Water Quality Control Commission definitions, including: "new facility," "headwaters," "direct use water source," and applying "large" treatment facility regulatory limits to small wastewater treatment facilities as well, which have been exempt before.
• Possible changes to nutrient, chlorophyll ‘a’, and other recreational use numeric water quality standards for individual stream segments where there are no current recreational uses.
Kendrick also said that the state’s lakes and reservoirs criteria will change the water quality limits for Monument Lake if a possible new water reuse plant that pumps effluent from TLWWTF upstream to a new discharge point at Crystal Creek, above Monument Lake, is ever built by the Town of Monument and WWSD. The state would reclassify Monument Lake from a headwaters classification to a downstream direct use water supply (DUWS). "This is a big deal" that will create "a bunch of unknowns," he said.
Wicklund said that the possibility of adding an upstream discharge point could affect TLWWTF’s permit limits since its existing discharge pipe would no longer be the first wastewater effluent discharge to Monument Creek. He said there was a lack of communication between the town and the JUC about the possibility of locating a new Town of Monument-WWSD water reuse facility inside TLWWTF. Note: The town of Monument is not a TLWWTF co-owner, and an option like this is not addressed in the TLWWTF Joint Use of Facilities Agreement.
Burks asked WWSD to keep the JUC up to date on Woodmoor’s joint planning process with the town. Strom said PLSD also needed to be involved, since if the project went forward, it could mean increased costs to all three districts. Burks wondered who would pay the difference in cost of treatment "if (the town) is going to force (the reuse plant) on us." Kendrick asked Burks how the town could force the reuse plant on TLWWTF, but Burks did not reply.
Gillette said it was premature to discuss these questions yet, since the reuse treatment process had not yet been determined. "Everyone here is getting all worked up about being in the dark, but it is all conceptual ideas at this point," adding that when the plan was more developed, the town would have a conversation with the JUC. He said WWSD has met with Tharnish about four times so far "to throw out ideas."
Kendrick then reported that at the Feb. 7 Arkansas River/Fountain Creek Coalition for Urban/Rural River Evaluation (AF CURE) meeting, the members reached consensus to hire a contractor to manage accounting for this stakeholder coalition. This would be the same contractor who performs the same duties for the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), which develops regional solutions to water supply issues. AF CURE is one of the projects sponsored by PPRWA.
AF CURE also approved a $10,000 contract with Brown & Caldwell to continue 2017 planning for the scientific data collection and analysis work that the firm is doing for stakeholders to create a watershed model for Monument Creek and Fountain Creek. The model would be presented to the state Water Quality Control Division to document actual stream conditions in different stream segments.
Burks reported that he had located an alternate data collection site on Smith Creek to replace the inaccessible site that had originally been chosen by Brown & Caldwell. While the new site is not upstream of TLWWTF, it is still a good representation of northwestern El Paso County’s non-point source effects on Monument Creek in-stream water quality.
Burks presented the financial report for January, saying all items looked normal. Strom asked why expenses for natural gas were up in January, and Burks explained that colder weather causes this jump but that it would even out by the end of the year. The members accepted the financial report as presented unanimously.
Burks told the members that TLWWTF’s accountant, Jackie Spegele of Numeric Strategies LLC, suggested that each district make a one-time additional supplemental $7,000 payment to the facility’s operating fund to increase the cash available from $59,000 to $80,000. Orcutt said she would have to check with the PLSD board first. Wicklund said that the formal cash flow escrow agreement between the districts, specifying how much each district puts in, would have to be adjusted and signed again. Burks and Orcutt said the escrow contribution amounts had been increased before, and Burks said he would research that.
Smith asked about the 2017 engagement letter with Numeric Strategies and whether they should be retained at an hourly rate again this year or use a lump sum divided by 12 instead. Smith and Orcutt both wondered why the January accounting bill was higher than normal monthly bills. After some discussion, the consensus was to wait until the March meeting to decide.
The next meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 14 at the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month and are open to the public. For information, call Bill Burks at 719-481-4053 or see www.tlwastewater.com.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jason Gross and Lisa Hatfield
At the public meeting held by Triview Metropolitan District on Feb. 15, the board awarded a contract to improve water system monitoring and control systems, approved leases for the district’s Fountain Creek water shares, received an encouraging briefing from their water attorney on the district’s legal water status, reviewed the final status of the 2016 district budget, and discussed how to work better with the Town of Monument.
Treasurer Marco Fiorito was absent.
Triview is a Title 32 special district within the town of Monument that provides roads and open space maintenance, water, and sanitation services to the residents of Jackson Creek, Promontory Pointe, and Sanctuary Pointe.
New SCADA system contract awarded
John McGinn of JDS-Hydro Engineering Consultants, district Manager Valerie Remington, and Josh Cichocki, water superintendent, presented to the board the results of the Request for Proposal (RFP) to construct and overhaul the TMD Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system. This RFP covers phases 1 and 2 of the project through 2017. Additional bids for phases 3 and 4 will be awarded later, for a total budgeted cost of $400,000.
The hiring panel, which consisted of representatives from JDS-Hydro, Remington, and Cichocki, unanimously recommended the board accept the $147,150 bid from Golder and Associates. After extensive discussion, the board unanimously accepted the recommendation.
During the discussion, McGinn explained that while all three companies that submitted bids were competent and capable of doing the work, Golder and Associates’ package best met the district’s requirements. In cost, Golder was the middle bid. However, Golder stood out in three important areas:
• They provided a much more complete and well-thought-out approach to Triview’s comprehensive "master-planning" needs.
• The proposal was much more complete and thorough on the elements required at both treatment plants.
• Golder’s cyber-security package was by far the most defined and industry standardized. Cichocki highlighted that the current system was a "hodgepodge of obsolete and antiquated systems" and that the new SCADA would create a real cyber firewall compared to what Triview has now.
Director Jim Otis expressed concern about the possible use of proprietary software, and McGinn said that in the Request for Proposal they specified no proprietary software be used. McGinn emphasized part of the intent of the new design is to have equipment that any water system company could work on, so if/when there is a problem in the future, multiple companies could provide assistance to Triview.
Vice President Reid Bolander commented that the district was expanding its system and asked if any components will be sized such that they will need to be replaced in three to five years due to growth. McGinn responded that the Sanctuary Point pumping station is designed to accommodate growth and that they don’t see the other system areas growing extensively.
Bolander noted that Golder’s bid was less than the $200,000 budgeted for this phase of the project. Remington clarified that as they get into the project, there will likely be additional costs uncovered and they expected the full budgeted amount to be spent. Remington also said the panel has discussed change order and cost containment strategies and that "the budget will drive spending." Once the budget cap is reached, any additional costs will have to be considered for future planning.
It was also noted that the new SCADA will have a recurring annual software subscription cost estimated at about $1,500. Cichocki said that in the past, Triview had let software updates lapse on the current system for eight years, costing more in penalties, and that all software devices require regular updates.
Remington explained the new SCADA equipment will make the system more efficient, allow for faster response times, assist in troubleshooting, and enable water pumping to occur more effectively during times of cheaper electric rates. Cichocki explained the new SCADA system will increase the number of sensors in the water system from about 45 to around 200 when the project is complete.
Renewable water shares leased
Remington explained to the board that one-time fees associated with their recent purchase of Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co. (FMIC) totaled $10,500. She explained there is an annual fee of $75 per water share totaling $37,500, but that cost will be reimbursed by the lessees of the water.
Remington told the board that three entities applied to lease 480 of the 500 shares Triview just purchased from FMIC, leaving 20 shares yet to be leased. The income from the leases for the district totaled $102,000. Chris Cummins of Monson, Cummins & Shohet LLC, Triview’s water attorney, had ideas on how to earn income from the remaining shares, too. The board unanimously approved the leases. President Reid Bolander estimated about 40 percent of Triview’s monthly bond payments would be offset by the lease income.
Bolander indicated 2017 will be a tough year to meet payments, but it is also the last year for payments on the Northgate groundwater purchased a few years ago. He said that in 2018 about $450,000 will be freed from the completion of that obligation that can be used to help make the FMIC payments.
Triview’s water supplies summarized
Cummins provided the board with a "Summary of Legal Water Entitlements" and his view on the status of the district’s legal water supplies. He clarified the difference between "legal" water, which is water the district has a right to, and "actual" water, which is the district having the infrastructure to physically use the legally available water. Triview’s legal water rights have grown five-fold over the last four years, he said.
Cummins said it was "encouraging" that Triview has "almost double what the forecasted buildout supply would need to be in the form of Denver Water Basin legal rights." He qualified the statement by emphasizing the Denver Water Basin is a finite water supply and that available water is based on the Colorado state engineer’s model of the Denver Water Basin. The model might or might not accurately model the water geology, and it doesn’t take into account excessive growth or excessive pumping. "However," he said, "the district should feel good that we have this in our pocket as we plan for the future."
He also liked that Triview was discussing water reuse and working on "purple pipe" water reuse for district open space irrigation in 2018. He stated that while reuse doesn’t add water to the system, it prolongs the 100-year forecasted water supply beyond that window. Finally, he felt Triview’s purchase of FMIC renewable water supplies was a "big step for the district" and an important part of the planning "equation."
2016 year-end unaudited financial summary
• District fund expenditures $4.9 million, 94 percent of the budgeted amount
• District fund revenues $5.2 million, 105 percent
• Enterprise fund expenditures $2.6 million, 98 percent
• Enterprise fund revenues $2.4 million, 89 percent
• Capital projects fund expenditures $8.6 million, 445 percent
• Capital projects fund revenues $807,704, 46 percent
The consensus of the board was that they had overestimated what water fund revenue would be in 2016 but that the 2017 budget was more conservative. Repair and maintenance was 952 percent of the budgeted amount due to the water leak in June and July. The $6.5 million FMIC water purchase was not in the budget for 2016, but the directors agreed it was important to take advantage of the opportunity to purchase rights to renewable water.
Bolander said that the district would receive about $400,000 less in revenue next year due to the reduction in property tax valuation that just occurred.
Checks over $5,000
• National Meter & Automation, meter kits − $7,961
• Schmueser & Associates, Sanctuary Pointe booster pump station December 2016 ¬− $143,430
• Schmueser & Associates, Sanctuary Pointe booster pump station January 2017 ¬− $139,795
• DRC Construction Services Inc., CCTV pipe inspection − $20,610
• Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., 2017 assessment fee − $37,500
• Fountain Mutual Irrigation Co., augmentation station access − $10,500
Communication with the Town of Monument
Bolander concluded the meeting with a discussion on how to work better with the Town of Monument. He said that in multiple forums and discussions, the town and Triview have agreed to work together better but he wasn’t sure exactly what Triview and the town could cooperate on. See related Feb. 21 Monument Board of Trustees article on page 10.
Bolander proposed working with the Town of Monument on a bike path along Jackson Creek Parkway. He felt it was a public safety issue, particularly between the storage facility and Lewis-Palmer High School.
Bolander clarified that he misspoke at the Jan. 17 Monument Board of Trustees meeting about the Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA) planning on partnering on the Jackson Creek Parkway expansion and that it was actually the Pikes Pike Area Council of Governments (PPACG). He stated that plan had been delayed by PPACG for another year and for safety’s sake recommended they find out the cost of a bike path to assess the feasibility of doing one "on our own or with the Town of Monument." See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#mbot0117.
The meeting adjourned at 7:04 p.m.
The next Triview meeting will be held March 14 at 5 p.m. at the Fairfield Inn, Mt. Herman Conference Room, 15275 Struthers Road, Colorado Springs. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868 or see www.colorado.gov/triviewmetro. See also "Triview Metropolitan District" on Facebook, or Twitter.com/@TriviewMetro.
Jason Gross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
Caption: On Feb. 15, Triview District Manager Valerie Remington displayed photos of a temporary wooden flume installed at Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF). The replacement permanent flume will be a precisely engineered and calibrated device used to measure the Triview’s share of influent flow volume into UMCRWWTF, as the state requires. This temporary flume was designed by JDS-Hydro Engineers, built by Steve Remington, and installed by Triview staff to fill in until the new permanent replacement flume arrived. Photo courtesy of Triview Metropolitan District.
By Jim Kendrick
On Feb. 16, District General Manager Kip Petersen briefed the Donala Water and Sanitation District board on his ongoing efforts to build consensus on regional and watershed level cooperation to meet daunting future potable water, wastewater, and reuse issues through his work with the Arkansas Basin Roundtable, Arkansas River Forum, and Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority. The amount of renewable surface water produced from the district’s Willow Creek Ranch adjacent to Leadville in January was 3.7 million gallons, while its groundwater wells produced 8.7 million gallons.
The out-of-town absence of Director Dennis Snyder was excused.
Petersen summarized early results from an Arkansas Basin Roundtable grant-funded Upper Black Squirrel Creek Groundwater Study regarding the potential for urban and agricultural contamination of the "very shallow" groundwater aquifers (50 to 175 feet deep) in the basin south of Calhan where some 5,000 to 8,000 individual wells have been drilled. Several of these wells have higher than allowable nitrate levels. The nitrate can be traced back to fertilizers and septic systems. Nitrates and other contaminants become more concentrated downstream, north to south. (http://coloradogeologicalsurvey.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Black_Squirrel_All_Figures.pdf)
Petersen also noted the Catlin Lease-Fallow Pilot Project that allows farmers to lease up to 25 percent of their acreage for irrigation water to Fountain, Security, and other entities.
He noted that this is preferable to the ongoing "buying and drying" of farms occurring elsewhere in the Arkansas River Basin.
Petersen, in his Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority update, reported that lower levels of state funding for all kinds of state initiatives will occur during the coming state fiscal year that starts in July, while the state makes substantial repayments of excessive severance taxes taken from the gas and oil industries. However, Donala will still be moving forward with hiring a new water operator in a new full-time position this year.
A new Donala accountant will be hired to replace Donala’s Sharon Samek, who is moving out of state in March. Petersen and the directors thanked her for her hard work and dedication. Samek attends these board meetings to answer directors’ questions about financial matters.
Petersen gave an update on Triview Metropolitan District Manager Valerie Remington’s "State of the District" presentation to the Monument Board of Trustees on Jan. 17. The consensus of the Donala board members and Petersen was that there should be more cross-talk and cooperative efforts between the Donala and Triview boards and staffs.
Petersen included a printed copy of OCN’s Jan. 17 BOT meeting article in the Donala directors’ board packets for this Feb. 19 regular meeting. (www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#mbot0117)
Operations and projects
Petersen stated that Donala will undertake a major $775,000 water main replacement in the area of Doral Way of 3,250 feet of 8-inch pipes that are about 50 years old. Also, the district will replace service lines between the mains and the curb stops for homes, primarily within county right-of-way, but within private property in some cases. Residents will receive notices from Donala, and the district will hold an open house before this construction begins in May.
The Parshall flume used to measure Triview wastewater influent at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility (UMCRWWTF) has been removed and replaced. This replacement, which requires significant precise concrete work, happened to overlap a Dec. 21, 2016 state compliance inspection and the temporary flume that was installed between the removal and replacement was noted in the facility’s inspection report. However, Triview owns and maintains the flume, and its staff conducted the repair, not the UMCRWWTF staff. (See photo on page 16)
Petersen included the Feb. 3 state Health Department’s nine-page inspection report in the board’s meeting packet. There were no major findings in the state’s report about the facility, although the report did note the temporary loss of some flow data during the flume’s removal and replacement.
During public comments, Donala residents Michael O’Hare, Barb Inlow-Childress, and Brian Scott asked about the district’s long-standing voter-approved mill levies, five tiers of water rates, and current/forecast capital reserve planning requirements. Office Manager Betsy Bray, Director Ed Houle, and Petersen led a half-hour response.
Bray stated that there were two Donala mill levy measures on the May 4, 2010 ballot. They were both approved by a two-thirds majority of Donala voters to ensure reliable long-term water and wastewater services:
• An increase in the existing 16.296 mill levy to 21.296 mills, which was exercised in 2013, and an increase Donala’s debt limit to $20 million
• Allowing the district board to convert its bond debt mill levy’s tax revenue when the existing construction bonds were paid off to revenue to be used to pay for either existing water/wastewater capital debt or current operations/maintenance each year at the board’s discretion
Note: As a point of comparison, the adjacent Triview Metropolitan District’s debt has been three times higher than Donala’s for over a decade. See "Background on Steve Remington’s comments" at www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#tvmd1108. Donala lent Triview $1 million when Triview was not credit worthy and could not qualify for a supplemental loan for its cost share of the expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional WWTF. Donala paid off that loan on Oct. 22, 2014.
Houle and Petersen both said that Donala voters approve mill levy changes, not the board or the staff. The three higher Donala water rate tiers were designed to provide a negative cost dis-incentive to conserve water use by the large lot properties.
They also explained the Donala board’s goal of having water fees pay for all current operations and maintenance costs with a goal of 100 percent renewable water, and having mill levy revenues pay for long-term capital funding requirements to replace 50-year-old water and wastewater infrastructure that is reaching the end of its expected service life at the same time tap fee revenues will be diminishing to zero.
The district is nearing complete buildout. Petersen noted that there will only be about $2.5 million in future tap fees from 76 vacant home lots remaining in Donala, which is 99 percent built out. Permanent mill levy revenues from property taxes are necessary for maintaining a capital reserve to pay for future water and sewer capital upgrades and pipe replacement projects in a fully developed special district in an alpine desert area "when things break." The revenues also pay for expanding Donala’s renewable water rights portfolio to replace groundwater wells in the next 100 years.
Petersen also reviewed the wide array of new, very costly federal and state regulations that are now being imposed for the first time and very high utility rate increases that have occurred in the past two years and will drive future capital construction long after no more homes are being built.
The meeting went into executive session at 2:25 p.m. for determining positions relative to matters that may be the subject of negotiations, developing strategies for negotiations, and instructing negotiators.
The next board meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m. on March 16 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 Lisa Hatfield
At the Feb. 21 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) meeting, the directors announced two more public steering committee dates, hired a financial consulting group to assist with the upcoming mill levy election, and put out a call for volunteers to replace Director John Fredell, who just resigned his board position.
For the second month in a row, the meeting was held in the truck bay of Station 1, since in addition to the board, there were about 18 people in attendance, and they would not all fit in the regular meeting room.
Chief Vinny Burns’ absence was excused.
Public comments agenda format changed
At the beginning of the meeting, Gent announced that starting at the March 21 meeting, public comments would be accepted for 10 minutes at both the beginning and end of meetings instead of for each agenda item, "because it has become a little too disruptive." He asked residents to be as concise as possible with their comments at those times to allow others to speak as well.
However, no public comments were presented during the opening public comments agenda item at the start of this meeting.
November mill levy election plans include public steering committee
In his opening remarks, President Greg Gent summarized that the district was facing a serious impact to its budget, a result of losing half of its current territory to Colorado Springs through annexation. He said a steering committee was formed in the past month to discuss the level of service options for the future and to make recommendations to the board about what amount of mill levy increase residents might vote on in November.
Note: Colorado Springs annexed the area from Interquest Parkway to Old Northgate Road in 2003. By 2019, Wescott’s total revenue will be reduced by 66 percent. For background, see www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#dwfpd1115.
March steering committee meetings:
• March 8, 7 p.m., Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr.—special meeting for district homeowners’ associations (HOAs) that were not represented at earlier steering committee meetings and need to be caught up.
• March 15, 7 p.m., possible location Antelope Trails Elementary School—regular steering committee.
Later in the meeting, resident and past board Treasurer Dennis Feltz asked why all the board members did not attend the steering committee meetings and how all the homeowners’ associations (HOAs) in the district had been notified about them, since many HOAs did not send representatives. Gent said he had attended the steering committee meetings to answer questions about the board matters, while letting Ridings answer questions about staffing and operations.
Gleneagle North Homeowners’ Association representative Gary Rusnak, who is former board president, said he had shared with Assistant Chief Scott Ridings the idea of using Northern El Paso Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) as a resource.
Note: A first batch of steering committee meetings was held last June. See www.ocn.me/v16n6.htm#dwfpd0517.
Election and financial consulting group hired
Ridings explained that Pinnacle Consulting Group Inc. could do a financial assessment of the district to confirm its current situation and outline the needs that could be met with a mill levy increase. It could also handle the entire election, ensuring that statutes and other legal requirements would be met. Ridings said both he and Chief Vinny Burns recommended engaging this support. The directors voted unanimously to sign the $13,600 contract with Pinnacle Consulting.
During public comments at the end of the meeting, residents including Rusnak and Louise Link questioned this decision, saying it did not go out for a competitive bid. Gleneagle Civic Association representative Bill Lowes, who is a past Wescott board president, asked Gent to verify that between this contract and the up-to-$15,000 contract signed last month with public education consultant Webb Strategic Communications, up to $28,600 has already been committed. Resident Jim Nelson mentioned that the district has $50,000 allocated for the mill levy election. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#dwfpd.
The January and February financial report was postponed until the March meeting since Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich was excused. Residents should be able to see the 2016 year-end financial summary then.
Director’s position in search of applicants
Gent said that Director John Fredell had resigned from the board, effective immediately, due to a new job that required a lot of travel.
Gent said that any district resident who was interested in applying for this vacant board position should submit a letter of intent to the district before the March 21 meeting. Director Bo McAllister said that the vacancy "shall be filled by appointment of the remaining directors within 60 days" and that Fredell’s term would have expired in 2020, so the new board member would serve until that time.
Note: The regularly scheduled Special District Election is held every two years in May in even numbered years, so this pending director appointment should end in May 2018. However, the appointee could run for election for two years in May 2018 to be in office through May 2020 or for four years to be in office through May 2022.
Gent said this appointment information would also be posted in all the official district posting locations as well as on the district’s Facebook page.
TLMFPD options, social gathering questioned
Rusnak asked if the board planned to give a report on the options that Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) had outlined at its Jan. 25 regular board meeting regarding DWFPD’s request for payment for certain automatic aid calls that Wescott provides to TLMFPD, since there is an imbalance in call volume between the two districts. See related TLMFPD article on page 19.
Ridings said he is waiting for a response from TLMFPD Chief Chris Truty to set up a meeting at the end of February to discuss the options, which Ridings had not seen until they were printed in Our Community News on Feb. 4. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#tlmfpd.
Feltz asked, as he had last month, why the special dinner meeting between DWFPD and TLMFPD board members and staff in January had not been officially posted by Wescott, since it had been posted by TLMFPD.
McAllister said it was "just dinner and talking," and that it was not intended to be a board meeting where any joint business was conducted. Ridings said, "If they post it as a meeting, we should post it as a meeting," but DWFPD had not been aware that TLMFPD was going to post their meeting. Gent said Wescott has other informal, non-business gatherings for district board members and staff that are not posted.
Lowes said the reason residents asked about this before the special meeting was "to prevent a situation occurring that would put you in jeopardy. Anytime more than two board members are present, it is considered a board meeting by statute. We are trying to look out for your best interests."
Note: The state "Sunshine" law says that any meeting between three or more directors of a special district, town, city, or county board constitutes a quorum, and such a meeting must be noticed by posting an announcement at all the district’s posting locations with three days’ notice. Emergency meetings require a minimum posting of notices of at least 24 hours in advance.
As a result of residents’ concerns voiced Jan. 17, Wescott opted to send only two board members to the Jan. 18 dinner meeting.
Ridings said there was a 20 percent increase in calls from January 2016, with 216 calls, to January 2017, with 260 calls. One call was a mutual aid structure fire assisting TLMFPD. A total of 145 calls were rescue and Emergency Medical Service incidents, and 89 were dispatched and canceled en route.
Ridings’ comments included:
• Fire danger is increasing due to warm, dry weather. El Paso County does not yet have fire restrictions, but five neighboring counties do. Be careful!
• Firefighter Curt Leonhardt received a Letter of Appreciation for taking his off-duty time to represent first responders and Wescott at the first Safety Fair for the Alpine Autism Center.
• Three new volunteers will start training in March.
• The district received thank-you notes from the Haunted Mines and from Boy Scout and Cub Scout troops for supporting their endeavors.
Discussion of Station 3 delayed
Gent said that the discussion about the future status of Station 3 at 15000 Sun Hills Drive would be delayed until after the mill levy vote is conducted in November. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#dwfpd.
The meeting went into executive session at 7:50 p.m. to determine positions relative to matters that may be subject to negotiations, developing strategy for negotiations, and instructing negotiators. After the meeting, Ridings told OCN that no announcements were made, and no votes were taken, after the executive session.
The next Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board of Directors meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. March 21 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr. Meetings are usually on the third Tuesday of each month. For information, call Executive Administrator Stacey Popovich at 488-8680 or see www.wescottfire.org. The district is also on Facebook.
Thank you to OCN volunteers Joyce Witte and Jennifer Kaylor for recording and taking notes at this meeting. Lisa Hatfield can be reached at email@example.com.
By Lisa Hatfield
On Feb. 22, the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD) Board of Directors hired a consultant to guide the district through the mill levy process and discussed progress with the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District (DWFPD) about its recent request for payments for some automatic aid calls into TLMFPD.
Fire Chief Chris Truty administered the oath of office to Engineer Mike Smith in his promotion ceremony, saying, "I am very proud of you."
November 2017 mill levy election consultant hired
In 2012, voters approved an increase from 8.5 to 11.5 mills for the district. Truty summarized that the district is "functioning at a bare-minimum financial level," as he has explained beginning in 2014, because the amount of the 2012 increase was insufficient since it was calculated without complete information. In August 2015, the district considered putting a mill levy measure on the ballot, but decided not to proceed with the vote then. See www.ocn.me/v14n9.htm#tlmfpd-0827 and www.ocn.me/v15n9.htm#tlmfpd0826.
Now, the district has decided to pursue a mill levy increase in November 2017 to deal with long-term financial challenges. Truty said the mill levy committee’s philosophy was to identify what the district needed to sustain service to the community today and plan for both growth and changing demographics.
After a detailed presentation by Paul A. Hanley, senior vice president of George K. Baum & Co. (GKB), the directors voted unanimously to accept a letter of engagement with GKB to provide public policy guidance on the November election.
Truty said the entire election budget for 2017 is $65,000, and the contract with GKB is for $35,000. Hanley will guide the district through the mill levy process, interact with the community, involve taxpayers to build public support, and calculate the mill levy amount to put on the ballot.
Hanley said the first order of business would be for citizens to create an action committee to generate feedback from a wide range of residents. The action committee would also run the final phase of the campaign including advertising, since the fire district would not be allowed to do that type of advocacy.
Truty said he has already begun searching for residents willing to serve on the action committee to figure out what level of service they are willing to pay for. Hanley recommended speaking with business, civic, and senior citizen community leaders; major property taxpayers; the healthcare community; homeowners association representatives; and "movers and shakers." However, no elected officials should be on the committee.
Truty asked that all interested action committee members should contact the district as soon as possible.
Truty said he met with DWFPD Chief Vinny Burns the week before this meeting, and Truty communicated the TLMFPD board’s position regarding Wescott’s request that TLMFPD pay fees for certain situations when DWFPD assists with calls in Tri-Lakes’ area, since there was a noticeable disparity between the two districts. See www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#tlmfpd/.
Truty said Burns was "open to working with us," perhaps removing the fee if TLMFPD could reduce the disparity in the number of automatic aid calls DWFPD responded to in TLFMPD.
Truty said the CAD system for dispatching is not as customizable as he would like. This generated a technical discussion about the best way to get Wescott’s help on just the most serious calls, such as cardiac or respiratory arrests, in TLMFPD’s southern area.
The consensus of the board was that this could be worked out, but they were still concerned about whether Wescott would have a unit with a paramedic, and not just an EMT, for those life-threatening calls. Secretary Mike Smaldino asked if Truty and Burns had discussed Wescott’s daily staffing issues (in light of Wescott’s freeze on almost all overtime pay), but Truty said they didn’t discuss this. See www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#dwfpd1115.
"Sounds like they are willing keep discussing this," Smaldino said to Truty. "So thank Wescott for hanging with us while we figure out our side."
Truty’s report included:
• Firefighter Nate Snyder applied for a grant from the Firefighters Charitable Foundation, and he earned $300 for the district. The award might be used for public fire education materials.
• The county wants to standardize the impact fee approval process for fire districts, so a committee is being formed to develop a plan to bring to the commissioners.
• He is concerned how the 1982 Gallagher Amendment could negatively affect the district budget in 2018.
The mention of the Gallagher Amendment generated a discussion about possible new fees the district could charge to offset that loss, since the amount of revenue from property taxes will also be reduced next year.
Deputy Chief Randy Trost said that the two new senior living centers coming to Monument soon will affect the district’s call volume, and TLMFPD needed to evaluate various situations, such as if an ambulance responds to assist someone but does not transport them, should a different kind of fee be assessed. Office Administrator Jennifer Martin said that billing is different for residents of assisted living facilities than for those in skilled care facilities. The consensus of the board was to direct Truty to present them with some fee options they could consider.
Note: The district’s fee schedule was last updated in November. See www.ocn.me/v16n12.htm#tlmfpd1115.
Trost’s comments included:
• TLMFPD’s new hires are at firefighter academy in west metro Denver, and one of them was interviewed by a Denver news station. Their first live burn exercise was scheduled for Feb. 23.
• TLMFPD’s Kevin Richmond is one of the instructors at the academy.
• Trost commended Battalion Chief Mike Keough, Lt. Micah Coyle, and Engineer Jody Thorpe for creating the first-ever engineer promotion process, developing a written test, practical exam, and evaluation of candidates.
The meeting adjourned at 8:52 p.m.
Above: Engineer Mike Smith’s wife, Brittany, pinned on his new badge on Feb. 22, while Fire Chief Chris Truty (right) looked on. "This guy is a clear example of what happens when you put your mind to it and decide what you want to accomplish in the organization," Truty said about Smith’s promotion to driver/engineer. Photo by Lisa Hatfield.
Meetings are usually held the fourth Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 22 at TLMFPD Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. For information, contact Jennifer Martin at 719-484-0911 or see www.tlmfire.org.
Lisa Hatfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Helen Walklett
The El Paso Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) considered several issues related to the Tri-Lakes area recently, including two projects to carry out emergency watershed protection measures and a request for approval of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) amendment within the Cherry Creek Crossing development. The BOCC also approved the 2017 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Black Forest Slash and Mulch Committee (SAMCOM).
Emergency watershed protection measures
The BOCC unanimously approved forms related to pending grant agreements with the National Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). These relate to emergency watershed protection measures for two major projects, one concerning Gleneagle Homeowners Association properties on Gleneagle Drive and the other involving the Puskas property on Monument Lake Road.
Both areas had sustained major damage due to substantial rain and flooding in May and June of 2015, which was a Presidentially Declared Disaster. The NRCS conducted damage survey reports that resulted in funding being made available to the county to install emergency watershed protection measures. The county Department of Public Works identified required work including pond outlet repair and sediment and debris removal in the Gleneagle Homeowners Association area. The work at the Puskas property will involve removing debris and re-establishing pre-flood hydraulic capacity to reduce flood hazards.
Cherry Creek Crossing PUD amendment
A quasi-judicial matter seeking approval of a request for an amended PUD development plan within the Cherry Creek Crossing development came before the BOCC and received unanimous approval. This area is at the northwest corner of Highway 83 and Hodgen Road.
The amended plan specifically identifies allowed land uses and adds specific less-intensive uses associated with a greenhouse for the 8.5-acre commercial parcel of land within the development. Specific land uses had not been identified previously.
The proposed uses associated with a greenhouse include the sale of greenhouse products, a farmer’s market, a restaurant serving food produced in the greenhouse, living quarters for employees, and a classroom space where food cultivation and preparation could be taught.
The Cherry Creek Crossing development also contains 110 single-family lots. The Planning and Community Development Department notified 10 adjoining property owners of the application coming before the BOCC. One written objection was received from Eli and Lacy Miranda, whose property is located directly across from the PUD, stating that they did not know this property was zoned PUD and that they probably would not have purchased the land had they known.
Black Forest slash and mulch program
SAMCOM Director Jeff DeWitt gave an end-of-season report to the BOCC meeting on Feb. 9 ahead of the commissioners voting unanimously to approve the 2017 MOU with SAMCOM.
This wildfire mitigation and recycling program began in 1994 and accepts slash (tree debris including branches, leaves, needles, etc.) from local residents and grinds the slash into mulch that is available free of charge.
Kathy Andrew, Environmental Division manager, Community Services Department, explained that, under the MOU, the county contributes $35,000 toward grinding costs and some staff time. She described the program as truly the best of recycling and said it "represents the best of El Paso County."
The Black Forest Slash and Mulch site’s Annual Meeting will be held on Saturday, April 22 at 9 a.m. in The Black Forest Community Hall. The site reopens for slash drop-off on Saturday, April 29 through Sept. 10. There is a $2 drop-off fee for slash; a loyalty card allows drop-off of 12 loads for $20, and credit for a load of slash is given when a load of mulch is taken. Free mulch will be available for self-loading from May 13 through Sept. 23. For large quantities of mulch, an end loader is available only on Saturdays, 7 a.m.-4 p.m., charging $5 for two cubic yards. Normal business hours are Saturdays 7 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sundays, noon-4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5-7:30 p.m. For more information visit bfslash.org or call Carolyn, 495-3127, Chuck, 495-8675, Jeff, 495-8024, or the county Environmental Division, 520-7878.
Other items unanimously approved by the commissioners:
• Jan. 31—acceptance of a Special Warranty Deed from the Brookmoor Homeowner’s Association regarding the purchase of a portion of Tract A, Brookmoor Filing No. 3, for $91,500.
• Jan. 31—an application for Preliminary Acceptance of Lindenmere Drive within the Misty Acres development into the El Paso County road maintenance system following completion and inspection of the public improvements in this subdivision.
• Feb. 21—the final release of letter of credit for public improvements of the Tri-Lakes Church of Christ site development plan for $4,564 following completion and inspection of all of the public improvements in this subdivision.
Helen Walklett can be reached at email@example.com.
By Helen Walklett
"Be the hardest target you can!" was the message from Cary Johnson, the speaker at the identity theft seminar held Feb. 10 at the Tri-Lakes Senior Center on the Lewis-Palmer High School campus. Johnson, of the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office, explained that identity theft is an escalating crime but that there are several practical steps you can take to protect your wealth and identity.
Johnson explained that 5 percent of Americans are victims of identity theft every year. That equates to 10 million victims annually, and it is a crime that is on the increase with 14 million reported cases last year. Over 10 years, the statistics say that 50 percent of Americans will fall victim to this crime, he said. It is the only crime where the victim is left to sort out the consequences themselves.
Johnson said, "Most of our identity theft is committed by methamphetamine addicts.… Identity theft is a very easy crime to commit and it’s a very difficult crime to catch." He explained that meth addicts "have chosen this low-hanging fruit of crime to fund and fuel their drug habit." They want people’s purses, wallets, credit cards, and checks, because they can turn them into cash. Johnson warned that these criminals are everywhere, actively watching and targeting people, and "watching older adults prominently."
He said that Colorado has some of the highest numbers of methamphetamine-related identity theft in the U.S. and usually ranks about fifth in the country, despite its smaller population. Since Colorado laws have virtually eradicated home meth labs, a better and cheaper supply is now coming into the country from Mexico. Denver’s central location and good north-south and east-west highway system has made it the methamphetamine hub of the U.S. Johnson said, "We have a disproportionate rate concerning identity theft crime."
Johnson described how identity thieves work in pairs and target grocery stores. One will distract a shopper while the other takes their wallet. They then act very quickly to maximize credit card spending online. Johnson recommends keeping a copy of your credit card company’s contact details on hand so that, should this happen to you, you can quickly contact the company to cancel the cards.
What to do to protect yourself
Johnson’s advice included:
• Carry personal financial information in a small wallet in a front pocket so it is less likely to be stolen.
• Reduce the items you carry, ideally, to your driver’s license, one check, and one debit or credit card.
• Keep your credit card company’s contact details to hand so that you can contact them quickly if your card is stolen.
• Do not carry your Social Security number, checkbook, or numerous credit cards in public.
• Try to use alternative ways of paying bills rather than writing checks because your personal checking account number is printed on every check. Banks and credit unions will set up an automatic bill pay service free of charge for seniors.
• Place mail with bills to be paid at the Post Office, not in your mailbox with the flag up.
• Request that new boxes of checks be held at your bank or credit union rather than mailed to you.
• Call the credit reporting agencies’ "opt out line" to be taken off mailing lists for unsolicited preapproved credit card offers: 1-888-567-8688 or www.optoutprescreen.com.
• Call your bank or credit union and ask to opt out of its marketing programs.
• Call the customer service numbers for your credit cards and ask to opt out of all marketing programs, including "convenience checks."
• Do not let your credit card out of your sight as often happens at restaurants. Consider taking out cash in advance for payment instead.
• Check your bank and credit card statements regularly. Federal law gives you 30 days to alert your bank of fraudulent charges and 60 days to contact credit card companies. In both cases, you can only be held responsible for a maximum of $50.
• Arrange for a credit card security freeze to be put on your credit reports so that, even if someone has your name and Social Security number, they will not be able to get credit in your name. To place a freeze, you should send a request in writing by certified mail (because you must include personal financial information) to each of the three major consumer credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. The initial freeze is free of charge. There can be a charge of up to $10 per agency to permanently or temporarily unlock a freeze that would have to happen to allow you to apply for new credit.
Johnson ended by saying "The goal is ‘be safe’ because even with all of this I can’t keep you from becoming a victim of identity theft, but we have made you a harder target."
Further information on this subject is contained in the brochure "Power Against Fraud: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft" produced by the 1st Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Hard and electronic copies are available from Johnson (contact details below).
Cary Johnson can be contacted at csjohnso@Jeffco.us. To report fraud, call 303-271-6980.
The seminar was sponsored by Brad Lundberg, financial advisor at Edward Jones, Monument.
Helen Walklett can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Land Use and Transportation Committee of the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) presented information on the following projects at the Jan. 7 meeting:
• North Bay at the north end of Lake Woodmoor is an infill development that will have 28 townhomes.
• Sanctuary Pointe, originally proposed in 2004-05, has three phases that range from single-family lots in paired lots to larger lots with a variety of terrain that includes green space and rocky outcroppings. It is currently in phase 2. There is some protected Preble’s mouse habitat in this area, and discussion of creating a reservoir to hold water and coordinating with other water districts. A meeting was held on Jan. 23 to solicit community input.
• The Colorado Department of Transportation held meetings in Library 21C on expediting the I-25 widening project, focusing on "The Gap" between Monument and Castle Rock. For more information on this meeting, see the article at http://www.ocn.me/v17n2.htm#cdot.
• John Maynard of NES Landscape Engineering spoke about the Academy Gateway commercial center at Northgate Road. This area is zoned commercially and has been under review for three years, with the subdivision plan before the county now. Maynard noted there is a process underway to look at a roundabout at Gleneagle and Struthers vs. a signalized intersection as originally conceived.
El Paso County Planning and Community Development
Mark Gebhardt, deputy director, and Craig Dossey, executive director of El Paso County Planning and Community Development, spoke on changes and goals of the department. 2016 was a very active year for the county, with an 18 percent increase over 2015 in the number of permits. Staff review of projects has increased 8 percent. Planning, engineering, inspection, and code enforcement are all in the same department, and the name has changed to better reflect the county’s focus and be more forward thinking. They have started working on a new process to allow builders to submit documents online and have them reviewed and signed off on electronically. This change requires coordinating different computer systems both internally and externally.
In 2017 there will be two new commissioners and a drive to provide electronic information on land use projects. Submissions and questions should come through Planning and Community Development to avoid ex parte communication and maintain the fairness of this quasi-judicial process. Other challenges include the retirement of code enforcement for the northern part of the county, sidewalk construction responsibility issues in urban areas, developing a water master plan, and dealing with marijuana issues and group homes.
Monument Principal Planner Larry Manning spoke informally about his tenure of just over a year with the Town of Monument. He came in just after the methadone clinic issue and had to rebuild the Planning Department, and he faced a steep learning curve. He is acclimating to the process and the different zoning classifications in the town as well as the much longer development plans that he was used to. Because of staffing and meeting frequency, reviews take longer than he’s accustomed to. He is also still learning about the different metro districts and the different utility supplier districts as well as the Preble’s mouse habitat issues. He noted that the town’s comprehensive plan has been updated and put on the town website.
In 2017, NEPCO will meet every other month with the following tentative programs that will mix forums and speakers:
• March 11 – District Fire Chiefs’ Forum
• May 13 – Homeowners Association (HOA) Attorney Lenard Rioth
• Jul. 15 – Water Districts’ General Manager Forum
• Sep. 9 – County Commissioner Darryl Glenn
• Nov. 18 – Energy Providers Forum
NEPCO’s mission is to promote communication and interaction among HOAs of northern El Paso County in order to exchange ideas on topics of common interest and to develop collective responses to the county on issues affecting the quality of life of NEPCO member associations. NEPCO meets every other month on the second Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon in the Monument Town Hall conference room, located at 645 Beacon Lite Rd. off Highway 105. The next meeting is scheduled for March 11.
All formal and informal HOAs in northern El Paso County are invited to join NEPCO and should call Bob Swedenburg at 481-2723 or see www.nepco.org.
Jackie Burhans can be reached at email@example.com.
By Jennifer Kaylor
The Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG), the sponsoring organization for the Colorado Springs Regional Joint Land Use Study (JLUS), invited the public to an open house Feb. 23 to examine local land use issues and topics of interest to neighborhoods specifically around the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA).
The event was conducted in an open forum at Pikes Peak Library 21c and included two goals: 1. to provide information about the progress of JLUS efforts related to the USAFA and 2. to get public feedback on the draft strategies identified by the working groups and on other topics. More than 60 attendees visited information stations that focused on issues such as trails, compatible land use, flight training at the Academy, storm water management, and wildfires.
What is a joint land use study?
PPACG states that the "Colorado Springs Regional JLUS will help our region plan for the successful growth and economic health of our community and the continued military operations for the region’s five military installations."
JLUS goals include:
• Promote land use compatibility between the installations and surrounding communities.
• Help protect the health and safety of residents and military personnel living or working in and around military installations.
• Encourage cooperative action among military personnel, local community officials, and citizens.
The Colorado Springs Regional JLUS is funded by a two-year grant, awarded to PPACG by the Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, as well as state and local governments. Thus far, PPACG has contacted over 23,000 residents for telephone town hall meetings, conducted presentations for 21 local government and civic groups, and received 681 online surveys.
Participating at the open house
Each of the stations at the open house provided detailed information regarding a particular issue, as well as the corresponding core values of that issue (go to http://www.ppacg.org/jlus-library/319-jlus-information-slides/file for the JLUS information boards). Colored stickers provided participants a means to prioritize potential strategies developed by the specific working group assigned to the issue.
Representatives of the working groups answered questions and encouraged feedback, and comment/discussion boards accompanied each station (go to http://www.ppacg.org/military/jlus/jlus-public-input-meeting-materials to access the open house materials and submit input).
Additional JLUS topics that PPACG would like to address include transportation network, anti-terrorism/security, vibration, dust/smoke/steam, light and glare, frequency spectrum, cultural resources, water supply, air quality, and noxious weeds. On the more positive side, PPACG also asked what people like most about having the USAFA as a neighbor.
Jennifer Kaylor can be reached at JenniferKaylor@ocn.me.
By Chrystie Hopkins
On Feb. 6, a community information meeting was held by land developer James Barash of Academy Gateway and John Maynard of N.E.S. Inc. to discuss the proposed roundabout at Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive. Barash said the El Paso County Planning and Community Development Department has begun the design process to construct a roundabout.
Barash, one of the original developers of Gleneagle, described how Struthers Road was originally built with the plan for a traffic light at the intersection in question. He cited the current four-lane design and inclusion of turn lanes as two reasons that a traffic light would be better for the community.
Barash and Maynard believe that community input is needed and wanted to share the information they have with the community.
A lively crowd of about 50 people gathered in the gym of Antelope Trails Elementary School for the meeting. The developers presented three displays with proposed schematics of the roads and land that will be developed west of Struthers Road and north of North Gate Boulevard. The 18 acres has 11 lots available for development. Three of the lots have already been designated for development of a convenience store, coffee shop, and 64-room hotel. Work will begin on those lots starting in the spring/summer of 2017. They are hoping to bring restaurants and shops to the area in the future.
Jeff Hodsdon, a traffic engineer consultant for LSC Transportation Consultants Inc., presented the schematic drawings and some of the pros and cons of a roundabout versus a traffic signal. Hodsdon detailed some of the issues surrounding roundabout construction, multi-lane roundabouts versus traffic lights and pedestrian traffic. When Hodsdon discussed how roundabouts, when designed well, keep traffic flowing, he was met with jeering of "Wrong, wrong, wrong!" from the boisterous crowd.
About 15 citizens asked questions and voiced concerns about pedestrian safety, emergency vehicles in a roundabout, large delivery trucks, congestion with high traffic volume and the ability of citizens to safely navigate the roundabout. They were concerned about the roundabout but also the development of the land. One citizen did vocalize support of the roundabout and wondered if adequate traffic studies had been done.
The final decision on whether a roundabout will be developed is ultimately up to the county. However, meeting-goers were asked to fill out a form and designate whether they are for or against a roundabout. Barash plans to share the community feedback and comments with the county. Barash and Maynard hope that the county will have a public meeting to discuss the roundabout and encouraged citizens to contact the county and share their opinions on the matter.
Background: No county officials attended this meeting. See comments from former County Engineer Andre Brackin regarding the county’s plan to build a roundabout at the Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive intersection at www.ocn.me/v14n10.htm#Glenn0927 and www.ocn.me/v15n12.htm#nepco.
Caption: Citizens of the Gleneagle neighborhood gathered in the Antelope Trails Elementary School gym to hear a presentation by land developers on the proposed roundabout. Photo by Chrystie Hopkins.
Chrystie Hopkins can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jackie Burhans
The Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) board met on Feb. 22 with its new board members to hear from candidates for the director of Forestry and to make changes to the description of the board secretary in the bylaws. New board Director Lee Hanson was out of town but attended by phone.
2017 board members
The meeting was started with the currently assigned board roles:
• Peter Bille, president
• Brian Bush, vice president
• Lee Hanson, treasurer
• Robert Benjamin, Architectural Control
• Jennifer Cunningham, secretary/Community Outreach
• Brad Gleason, Public Safety
• Per Suhr, Covenants
• Rich Wretschko, Common Areas
Candidates for Forestry director speak
President Bille explained that the new Forestry director would be appointed by the board to a one-year term. The process included each candidate speaking for a few moments and giving their background. After the meeting, the board would meet in executive session to pick the new forestry director and then notify the candidates individually. The candidates expressed an interest in maintaining the quality of life in Woodmoor, putting on programs, presenting pragmatic solutions, applying fiscal responsibility, and maintaining forest and tree health.
Four candidates spoke and gave their background and qualifications. They ranged from fairly new residents wishing to get involved to residents who have been here for decades. They had a wide range of backgrounds and skills including theater, engineering, forestry science, and art.
Changes to bylaws’ description of secretary position
The board discussed some changes to the association bylaws to reflect the current duties of the board secretary. The duties are described in Article IX, Section 8, item c on page 6 of the document at http://bit.ly/wia-bylaws. The board primarily wanted to add the new role of Community Outreach that the current secretary performs to the official duties including community relations liaison, social media, and other duties as required. To change the bylaws requires a vote of the board in open session with all board members and residents in attendance voting. The vote was unanimous in favor of the changes.
Board report highlights
• All of the 30 projects submitted in January were approved either by the administrator or the Architectural Control Committee. Most were new construction followed by treehouses, sheds, and fences.
• Mountain View Electric Association will be patrolling in Woodmoor to review the infrastructure. Employees will be in uniform and have identification with them. Residents can call MVEA or WPS to confirm identities. There have been three "diversion robberies" in Woodmoor in the past three months where a homeowner is distracted by someone posing as a worker or contractor.
• The board is working on a redraft of the comprehensive five-year common area plan and is looking for input from residents. Please contact Bob Pearsall or Wretschko. They are considering a playground in The Meadows area, with pavilions, benches, and trails.
• Woodmoor Public Safety (WPS) officers looked for coyote dens in the common areas and were unable to find any evidence. They continue to monitor the area but request that residents call WPS at (719) 499-9771 or submit sightings through the website at http://bit.ly/wps-wild-report.
• WIA has processed 19 homeowners association checks at the request of title companies. This indicates the level of home sales. Anyone thinking of selling a house can contact WIA to do a pre-check to ensure there is no delay.
• In the last month there were two complaints about the use of drones, one of which involved someone who is not a resident of the area. That complaint was referred to the Sheriff’s Office as a harassment concern. The other report did not represent a covenant violation.
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 March 22. 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
Relatively warm and generally dry weather conditions were the story for February around the region. Temperatures were at near record levels during several periods, with several all-time monthly records set during the peak of the warm period on the afternoon of Feb. 10. For the month overall, the high temperatures were greater than the 100-year recurrence interval. In other words, there was less than a 1 percent chance that any given February would have average monthly high temperatures this warm. Hopefully you enjoyed the warmth, because it will even out at some point and we’ll make up for the warmth by being just as anomalously cold.
Not surprisingly, the first two weeks of February were generally warm and dry, with two brief periods of cold air and a little snow. The coldest air moved in early on Feb. 1, with low clouds developing by mid-afternoon. The shallow cold air stuck around for the next few days, with a heavy coating of rime ice developing on all exposed surfaces. Snow showers developed at times, but never accumulated more than a half-inch. This shallow cold air was quickly pushed to our east and replaced by mild air under a strong ridge of high pressure from the west. Along with this already mild air mass, westerly winds kicked in at times and helped to further warm the atmosphere. Temperatures rose from the 20s and low 30s on the 2nd and 3rd to the low to mid-50s from the 4th through the 8th.
Even warmer air moved in over the next couple of days, with high temperatures reaching well into the 60s on the Palmer Divide and 70s in Colorado Springs and Denver. The warmest readings were on the afternoon of the 10th. The temperatures not only set new daily record highs, but also new monthly record highs all along the Front Range. During this period, most locations were above freezing from around 10:30 p.m. on the 5th through the evening of the 11th with only a brief period during the morning of the 8th that reached the upper 20s.
Normally during the entire month of February, we get below freezing every day at some point, so again this points to how unusually warm this period was. Not only was the warmth unusual, but the fact that it occurred early in the month was also unusual. A cool front moved in around noon the next day, knocking temperatures back to about normal, although it felt colder after the extended warm spell. Snow developed late that evening and continued off and on through the next morning. Anywhere from a trace to 4 inches accumulated. The storm was more like an April event, where a lot of the snow melted because the ground had been so warm previously and elevation was the biggest difference in who got snow and who didn’t.
Record warmth and dry weather continued for most of the week of Feb. 13. Temperatures started off right around normal on the 13th and 14th, as the fresh snow from the previous few days kept things on the cool side. Highs were only in the 30s and low 40s both afternoons, with mostly cloudy skies on the 13th, then plenty of Colorado blue on the 14th. However, right on the heels of this brief taste of winter, another strong and warm ridge of high pressure moved in from the west. This allowed temperatures to warm again to well above normal levels. Highs peaked with another round of record highs for many locations along the Front Range on the 16th. Highs reached the mid-50s to low 60s on the Palmer Divide each afternoon from the 15th through the 18th, 10-15 degrees warmer than normal. Skies were mostly sunny during the period with high and mid-level clouds at times, but otherwise dry weather continued.
The third week of February started off mild, windy, and dry as the ridge of high pressure that had been dominating the weather for most of the month continued to hold firm. This blocked storms and cold air from reaching the region and, when combined with the gusty downslope winds, allowed temperatures to reach the upper 50s to low 60s from the 20th through the 22nd. These temperatures were again about 10-15 degrees warmer than normal. The persistent wind also kept overnight lows up, with readings only dropping to the low 40’s on the 21st. But, as is so often the case in our region, the gusty west/southwesterly winds were ahead of a storm system that was finally above to break through the ridge of high pressure to our west. This storm brought a shift in the pattern with an initial intrusion of cool air at around 6 p.m. on the 22nd. This shut off the westerly winds and allowed a moist, easterly flow to predominate.
Stratus clouds quickly formed by the next morning, with snow developing during the mid-morning of the 23rd. Snow showers continued off and on at times, then a stronger surge of colder air and northerly winds pushed in late that afternoon. This was accompanied by another round of snow and blowing snow. It caused the roads in the region to ice up quickly, making for a treacherous commute that afternoon/evening. Temperature remained cool that afternoon, with highs only reaching the freezing mark. Cold air continued to filter in that evening. Also, light snow and flurries continued off and on during the 24th. These combined with the mostly cloudy skies to keep temperatures on the cold side, with highs barely reaching 20 degrees.
Temperatures stayed cold through the remainder of the weekend with highs only reaching the low to mid-30s on the 25th and mid- to upper 30s on the 26th even with mostly sunny skies. Temperatures warmed briefly on the 27th, as gusty west/southwest winds kicked in that afternoon and highs warmed into the 40s. But this didn’t last long as a cold front moved in the morning of the 28th. Snow and wind developed along this front, bringing brief taste of winter to the region on the 28th. Let’s hope this is a sign of what is to come during March, as we have a lot of snow to make up after a very dry fall and winter period.
A look ahead
March is known for a wide range of weather conditions in the region. We can see 70° temperatures one afternoon and blizzard conditions the next. Many of us remember the blizzard of March 2003 when we received 30-50 inches of snowfall that shut down the region. However, snow that does fall begins to melt quickly this time of the year, providing beneficial moisture for our plants and limited inconvenience for us.
February 2016 Weather Statistics
Average High 45.8° (+5.8°)
100-year return frequency value max 51.9° min 32.8°
Average Low 22.6° (+9.6°)
100-year return frequency value max 21.9° min 3.7°
Highest Temperature 66° on the 10th
Lowest Temperature 2° on the 25th
Monthly Precipitation 0.53" (-0.41" 44% below normal)
100-year return frequency value max 2.10" min 0.02"
Monthly Snowfall 9.4" (-8.3", 47% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 35.7" (-33.4", 49% below normal)
(the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 8.02" (-4.94", 39% below normal)
(the precip season is from July 1 to June 30)
Heating Degree Days 828 (-268)
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.
Why Is District 38 promoting globalism?
There were two major candidates on the ballot last November. One of them ran as a full-throated supporter of globalism. The other ran as the enemy of globalism. The enemy of globalism won. Some say he won by a landslide, others say he didn’t. But what cannot be disputed is that the anti-globalist won by a landslide—here.
Election results on Colorado’s Secretary of State website show that every voting precinct in our area overwhelmingly voted for the patriotic nationalist, Donald Trump. The average of votes by precinct was 67 percent patriot, 25 percent globalist. Trump the patriot reached past 70 percent in some precincts. It may surprise some that even our progressive Palmer Lake precinct voted against globalism, giving Trump 56 percent and Hillary 32 percent.
Now keep these results in mind as you read District 38’s official mission statement: "We believe in local, national, and global stewardship to create strong citizens who will secure a better world. This is why we educate."
Please tell me, just who is this "we" that believes in global stewardship, and why do they get to force their belief onto the rest of us, and our kids? Why are they allowed to use this community’s resources to promote an agenda that requires America to sacrifice itself to the rest of the world?
The mission statement of a school district is its highest policy. It guides everything else, shaping what children are taught. On behalf of the patriotic super-majority in District 38, I formally request that district leaders show this community its due respect by removing "global stewardship" from our mission statement. We are a community of patriots, not globalists. Our schools’ mission statement should say so.
Teachers’ union determining D38 direction
Is our conservative Tri-Lakes community aware that the teachers’ union is taking control of our schools?
Union tactics have significantly increased in D-38 since Superintendent Karen Brofft was hired. In 2015, for the first time ever, D-38 invited Colorado Education Association (CEA) President Kerrie Dallman from Denver to campaign in Palmer Lake for its slate of board candidates. The union-approved slate quietly accepted an excessive $12,000 from CEA and held off reporting the contribution to the secretary of state until after the election. Three of the four union candidates were elected.
Then bizarre behavior surrounded Superintendent Brofft’s contract renewal. Last year, the union-backed board president posted on D-38’s website a meeting agenda announcing the upcoming vote on a one-year renewal of Brofft’s contract. But the actual plan was to vote on a three-year contract renewal, not one-year. The union-backed board president claimed the misstatement was a typo. Conservative Director Sarah Sampayo expressed concern for the discrepancy between the notice given to the public and the actual agenda. She asked her fellow board members to postpone the renewal vote to give the public legitimate legal notice, but not one of them agreed. To the dismay of underpaid teachers district-wide, Brofft was awarded a significant raise that night, increasing her salary to $180,000 with another $40,000 in annual benefits.
Another strange occurrence happened when the local union president, supposedly representing the interests of teachers, copied union members on an email congratulating Brofft on her contract renewal. How odd for a labor leader to celebrate such excess given to management.
Now that the district wants to raise property taxes, we see them staging elaborate, dishonest attacks on Director Sampayo to intimidate her into complying. Tri-Lakes community, beware: The teachers’ union is taking over. And they are silencing the conservative voices.
Stand up to bullying
Thank you, D-38 administrators for standing up and saying the inappropriate and bullying behavior at board meetings and online by a few individuals needs to stop. Our school community doesn’t allow bullying among students; we need to tell adults to stop bullying too. I hope as adults we would model positive behaviors for our children.
The people participating in the inappropriate behavior, Derek Araje, Traci Burnett, Tammy John, Gordon Reichal and Michael O’Hare, have been identified in public documents. John was Sarah Sampayo’s campaign manager, and Derek Araje was a campaign advisor. Sampayo’s supporters are the individuals bullying the district and individual teachers. She has done nothing to stop their behavior; she must condone it.
A citizen called for Sarah’s resignation. She should resign because she is an ineffective board member, not just because her supporters are bullying the district. Teachers, administrators, and other board members do not trust her; she is consistently adversarial. She does not represent the community; she only represents her supporters who are not in step with the values of our community or the values of our high-performing, highly-rated school district.
If she does not resign and the bullying behavior of her group continues, should the community consider a recall?
Group attacks D-38 on social media
There is a very small group in the community who is unscrupulous in attacking the D-38 board, central office, building administration, counselors, and teachers. To that end, they created a Facebook page and "invited" parents, community members, and taxpayers to participate on the page. The description of the site says: "(Group name) is a group of parents, teachers and community members in the Lewis-Palmer School District or D-38. We want to hold the school board accountable … all in the best interests of the D-38 community…. While we do request you be polite and factual in your posts and comments, we do value and welcome diverse viewpoints and critical discussions. No value or practice is more central to American civilization than democracy—the rule "of the people, by the people, for the people," in the words of President Abraham Lincoln."
These words apparently gave them the right to harass, bully, intimidate, and create a hostile environment via social media, including personal and professional attacks on board members and administrators. It also gave them the "right" to look at teachers’ personal Facebook pages and use that information to attack teachers on their group Facebook page. However, it does not give someone the right to disagree.
I responded to the group to hold them accountable for their bullying and harassment. The description for their page regarding diverse viewpoints and democracy apparently only applies to them because, after two weeks, I was blocked from their page. Honesty and integrity will not stand in their way. I am confident they do not represent the community in any way. But as a previous employee of D-38 and a D-38 taxpayer, it is dismaying that fringe elements take advantage of social media to promote such a hostile environment.
Conservative D-38 board member attacked by self-described anti-bullying advocates
Last year, a Facebook war broke out between District 38 administration loyalists and administration watchdogs. One of the watchdogs is an outspoken father who complained about the size of administrators’ raises and the district’s handling of its mass exposure of student login credentials. D-38 officials had the father investigated by Monument Police Department, who found no wrongdoing and dropped the investigation. Undeterred, the school board president and district supporters advertised the investigation on Facebook and insisted that the father had committed a crime anyway. Outraged, the father and other skeptics became more outspoken. The two sides have been fighting ever since.
Things reached a boiling point when the skeptics posted a public document from a pending lawsuit against the district online. The complaint alleges that administrators mistreated a special-needs child who was being bullied at school. Facebook went ablaze with comments, pro and con, debating D-38’s new anti-bullying program.
Administrators, board members, and the teachers’ union responded at Feb. 16’s meeting with a coordinated display. They decried the bullying tactics of an entire group of named people, mostly parents—some of whom have never appeared to bully anyone. They stood to show unity as one administrator read a letter theatrically claiming that board meetings are no longer safe for children to attend because there is so much "yelling" that goes on.
I watch board meetings. There is no yelling. More tellingly, however, I have never seen uncivil or disrespectful behavior from D-38’s conservative board member, Sarah Sampayo. But that didn’t matter to the mob. She sat, alone, while they presented no evidence but accused her by name of "attacking a teacher," held her responsible for the behavior of others, and told her to resign.
To those who keep insisting this district is great I say, on the contrary, it is sadly typical.
By the staff at Covered Treasures
Colorado has no shortage of talented authors. From general and historical fiction to self-help, biography, and time travel, the imagination of these talented people is in high gear! Here is a sampling:
Barn Dance: Nickers, Brays, Bleats, Howls, and Quacks: Tales from the Herd
By Anna Blake (Prairie Moon Press) $15.95
A collection of essays on horse play, donkey ethics, and the fine art of mucking, from a small Colorado horse farm and the diverse assortment of animals who live there, including llamas, goats, and Edgar Rice Burro, a long-eared sage and the farm’s moral compass.
The Lucky Hat Mine
By J.v.L. Bell, (Hansen Publishing Group) $16
Mail-order bride Millie Virginia arrives in Idaho Springs to find her husband-to-be is dead— murdered, according to her almost brother-in-law. The two team up to find the killer and protect the dead man’s gold mine. Bell interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore, making for an arousing historical murder mystery.
The Conversationalist: Building Life-Defining Relationships One Conversation at a Time
By Russell Verhey (BroadStreet Publishing Group) $16.99
The Conversationalist will help you to develop your heart, ask the questions, and engage your relationships—leading yourself and others into life-changing discovery. In an age driven by social media and virtual reality, we need practical tools to help take our relationships to the next level of trust, transparency, and real change for the good. An adventure is waiting for those willing to step forward courageously as conversationalists.
But I Do Believe in God’s Country
By Jeffrey Morris (Green Ivy Publishing) $22.99
When Conrad Kerr, a prestigious lawyer, sees the obituary of childhood friend, college roommate and draft dodger, Deacon Thomas, he begins a geographical and emotional journey introducing him to a people and landscape that will ultimately transform his predictable, upper class life.
By Heather Buchman (Heather A. Buchman)
The story of Annabella Merlino and FBI Special Agent Prescott continues. Is she a suspect in the case involving arson and attempted murder? Will he believe her? Can she trust him? The answers are in this third and final book of the East Aurora Linger saga, scheduled for release in April.
By John Bryan (Published by John Bryan) $12.99
Al and Molly move back to their small hometown for the birth of their first child. The couple can’t realize they are on a collision course with a long-buried scandal from the town’s history. Al must wage the battle of his life in a clash between past and present, good and evil, and life and death.
Maestro Satriano: The First Musician to Perform at Red Rocks
By LeAnna DeAngelo (LeAnna DeAngelo) $15
Based on a true story, Maestro Satriano is about Pietro Satriano, a musical child prodigy and a musician to royalty prior to moving to America in 1885. Through the years, the story unfolds about Pietro’s father’s drinking problem, Pietro’s passionate personality and angry outbursts, his love of teaching children about music, a clandestine affair, and his amazing talent, which ultimately won him national recognition as a bandleader and musical personality in the early 1900s.
A Series of Red Carpets: From Believing to Knowing, A Memoir
By Theresa Diaz (A Red Carpet Ministry) $12
When steered off course by a life-threatening hurdle in her 30s, Theresa remained determined to find her way back. She circled the globe in her 40s. A surprise encounter in 2015 would reveal an answer that would navigate her compass in yet another direction.
Once Upon another Time
By Diane Sawatzki (Palmer Divide Productions) $11.95
Kate rushes home to Colorado when her grandfather suffers a heart attack. She has decisions to make. While out snowshoeing, a bear startles her and she falls down a passage into another time, where a Ute Indian befriends her. As this intriguing story unfolds, Kate struggles to survive in the dangerous world of territorial Colorado while she tries to return to the 21st Century.
Always thought you had a story to tell that others would want to read? Check out some of these selections for inspiration! Until next month, happy reading.
The staff at Covered Treasures can be reached at email@example.com.
By Harriet Halbig
March is National Quilting Month, and the Monument Library features a display of quilts by the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers throughout the library and the display cases. Also, there will be a variety of quilting books on display and a Second Thursday Craft program on English Paper Piecing.
The March Family Fun program on Saturday, March 11 at 2:30 is Cool Science for the Family, a program about sound waves followed by several hands-on activities. March Straub, from Cool Science, will demonstrate how sound waves are created and travel through the air. No registration required.
The Lego Build Club will meet from 10 to 11:30 on Saturday, March 18. We provide the Legos and you bring your creativity.
There will be three special programs during spring break:
• On Monday, March 27 from 1:30 to 2:30, alpacas will be the topic, including how they came to this country and what family of animals they belong to. Learn about their fiber and items made with it.
• On Tuesday, March 28 from 10:30 to 11, join Denise and Sienna as they act out some of their favorite Dr. Seuss books. No regular story time today.
• On Thursday, March 30 from 1:30 to 2:30, join Kids on Bikes to learn about cycling safety. There will be a presentation on the ABC quick check, helmet fit, rules of the road and some basic bike maintenance.
An intergenerational knitting group will meet from 3 to 4:30 Wednesday, March 15. Practice materials are provided, but attendees are encouraged to bring their own materials. Some instruction provided for beginners. This group meets the first and third Wednesdays of each month.
Every Monday (except when the library or schools are closed) come to the library between 3:30 and 7 p.m. to receive free tutoring from experienced tutors. No appointment necessary. AfterMath will not be offered during spring break on March 27.
The Teens Arts and Crafts Open Studio will be offered from 4 to 6 on Wednesday, March 29. Use our meeting room as a space to create. Supplies will be provided as available; however, feel free to bring whatever materials you are currently using and use the space. No registration required.
See the Teen section for information on the intergenerational knitting program.
Learn about acupuncture in a program on Saturday, March 4 from 10:30 to noon. Randy Johnson, certified Seitai Shinpo practitioner from the Manitou Springs Clinic of Acupuncture, will explain basic techniques, show equipment, and answer questions about this time-honored medical practice. Everyone is welcome and no registration is required.
Second Thursday craft (March 9): English paper piecing—Learn the craft of English paper piecing, which involves basting fabric to accurately cut shapes and then stitching them together. Two motifs will be shown—the Grandmother’s Flower Garden made entirely of hexagons, and a different flower made with three different shapes. All materials are provided, but please bring small scissors if you have them. Registration is required and opens a week before the class.
Join the Pikes Peak Library District’s (PPLD) first established yoga group each Thursday from noon to 1. Classes are held following the school calendar.
The Monumental Readers will meet from 10 to noon on Friday, March 17 to discuss The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. All patrons are welcome to attend this monthly book group.
Linda Smith, PPLD’s Maker in Residence will offer a program on image transfer: making art out of photographs from 2 to 4 p.m. on Friday, March 17. Students will learn to create photo transfers using simple materials such as hand sanitizer and gel medium. Each participant is encouraged to bring personal photographs to work with during class. Registration is required and open to patrons 16 years of age and older.
On the first Friday of each month, patrons of all ages are welcome to Coloring for Everyone. The next meeting will be on Friday, April 7 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. The theme for April is Wild Animal Fun. Research shows that coloring is good for your health and a great way for all ages to enjoy time together. We will provide a selection of coloring pages, pencils, gel pens and crayons. You are also welcome to bring your own supplies. Drop in any time between 3 and 5:30. No registration necessary.
Quilts and related items by the Palmer Divide Quiltmakers will be on display during March.
Palmer Lake Library Events
The Palmer Lake Elementary School Art Club will present a sun-themed project on Saturday, March 18 at 10:30. Come to the library to make a sun catcher for your window.
During spring break, on Wednesday, March 29 at 10:30, the Pikes Peak Children’s Museum offers a makerspace workshop, which uses everyday recycled materials and craft supplies to allow imaginations to invent, build, tinker, and create by making everyday objects into works of art.
The Palmer Lake Book Group meets at 9 a.m. on the first Friday of each month. Please call 481-2587 for the current selection. All patrons are welcome to attend this group.
For questions on Palmer Lake Library programs, please call 481-2587.
Harriet Halbig may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Sigi Walker
On Feb. 16, spring-like weather brought a "full house" for the Palmer Lake Historical Society’s presentation of "John C. Osgood: Colorado Coal Baron." Mike and Sigi Walker presented the story of this not-so-well-known 19th-century "robber baron," one of the nation’s wealthiest (variously reported at No. 5 and No. 6) but least-known entrepreneurs, who made his money from Colorado coal.
When Gen. William J. Palmer’s Colorado Coal and Iron Co. collapsed, Osgood (portrait at right) merged it with his Colorado Fuel Co. to create the Colorado Fuel & Iron Co. (CF&I), headquartered in Pueblo. Osgood built coking facilities near his coal mines to turn coal into coke, which was used in his steel mills. Of the 249 coke ovens built at Redstone, Colo., (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) 90 remain and four have been fully restored.
Experimenting with welfare capitalism, Osgood built Redstone as a model community with attractive worker cottages, a 40-room bachelor dormitory, schoolhouse, recreational facilities, company doctor, and a washroom for the workers to clean up before going home. He built his 42-room Tudor mansion just south of the town. But in 1913, his unshakable anti-union stance and his dominance of the joint committee of the three largest coal companies in Colorado resulted in a strike.
At Ludlow, the miners were evicted from company housing and relocated by the United Mine Workers of America to a tent colony. The coal companies hired "goons" and asked for the deployment of the Colorado National Guard to control the miners and their families. This led to the tragic events of April 20, 1914, now known as the Ludlow Massacre, when fire swept through the camp and killed 17 people.
At the end of the program, there was a surprise for attendees: Black Forest residents Pam Faler, the great grandniece of John Osgood, and her husband Rick were introduced. Pam displayed mementos from her grandmother and gave a brief overview of the family history.
Caption: (left) Rick and Pam Faler (right) John C. Osgood. Photos by Mike Walker.
Mark your calendars for Thursday, March 16, when Bob Easterly will tell the story of Lewis Henry Easterly, his great-grandfather, who became a teacher in his home state of Illinois and then in 1878 followed his cousin west to Colorado. He taught school in Borst, Pratt, and Spring Valley. In 1883, he homesteaded in the Ohio Creek Valley, raised his family, and lived the rest of his 90 years there. Find out why it took an "Act of Congress" for Lewis Henry Easterly to receive a certain treasured piece of paper.
Bob Easterly is a fourth-generation Coloradoan, retired from banking and the U.S. Naval Reserve, and the author of By an Act of Congress. This program is free and open to all. Venue is the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the program begins at 7. Light refreshments are served after the presentation. For information on the Palmer Lake Historical Society visit www.palmerdividehistory.org.
By Janet Sellers
This time of year, with our weather predictably unpredictable, snow and cold thankfully change quickly to warm, sunny days. That can be hard on our health and our outlook, though. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to feel our best. One of our go-to remedies is often the arts, especially viewing and making visual art. Here in Tri-Lakes, we have a number of venues that promote the arts, and a variety of places and events where we can be in the art spirit for ourselves and with friends.
One the greatest values in art is that it inspires awe and wonder with the curiosity of inquiry to the moment at hand. Being in the moment is almost a requirement to take in the art and the artist’s intentions and impulse. And it can have a very good outcome for more than just entertainment. Awe and wonder help keep out stress and inflammation, which deters or eliminates disease opportunities. So, going to an art show, art museum, art gallery, outdoor public art place, or art class is not only educationally and culturally powerful, it also adds health power.
"Awe, wonder, and beauty promote healthier levels of cytokines, and this suggests that the things we do to experience these emotions—a walk in nature, losing oneself in music, beholding art—have a direct influence on health and life expectancy," said researcher Dacher Keltner, a psychologist at University of California at Berkeley.
In photos here, I’ve included what my students and I found recently on our local art hikes. Similar arborglyphs, or tree pictures, have been discovered in forests by interested citizens—and researchers—at local parks and federal lands in Colorado and the U.S. Southwest, and interest in arborglyph history is growing worldwide.
Perhaps our local forest arborglyphs were created centuries ago by our area’s earliest Native American inhabitants—I’d like to think so. We all can try out our imagination and visual abilities to ponder our trees and the possible images found in them. Let’s go out and see what we can discover on a walk, a hike, or in town. Our local art is outdoors in our forests, in our public art, and indoors at our brick and mortar art venues.
March art events
Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts: fine art photography show, Visions of Light, open through March 24. 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake.
Call for Entries—Kids! Conservation through the arts with the Federal Junior Duck Stamp Conservation Program art contest: Colorado deadline is March 15. K-12 kids create a design for the habitat stamp per the criteria. Entry forms and information online: www.fws.gov/juniorduck. Colorado state coordinator is Seth Beres: email@example.com.
Tri-Lakes Views’ Artsites 2017, a yearlong outdoor public art exhibit. Entry due date is April 30.
For questions please contact firstname.lastname@example.org; entries can be emailed or mailed to: Tri-Lakes Views, P.O. Box 2564, Monument, CO 80132.
Caption: While looking for some culturally modified trees to draw and paint, thinking of the interesting bends and peeled bark, the author and her art students began to find actual imagery in the bark of the trees. It is not currently known how these were made, but by investigating further via books, videos, and local informative presentations, the artists discovered it is quite possible such arborglyphs, or tree pictures, may be some of the living art or historic artifacts within our forests. Photo by Janet Sellers.
Janet Sellers is a local fine artist, writer and art teacher. She has paintings and public art sculptures in many Colorado cities, local drawing and painting classes for all ages. She can be reached at email@example.com.
By Janet Sellers
Remember when you heard fairy tales as a kid about plants and forests that are alive and could talk? Well, we can now prove there is more to the forest than we see on top of the ground, more under its floor than you might expect, and more friendship between our trees and plants and us than we ever imagined!
Intermittent warm days are nodding to springtime. March outdoors isn’t reliable enough for flowers and veggies because they’re imports to our ancient forest area and need a greenhouse climate. So, it’s indoors for now. Seeds to start indoors are nightshades (tomato, pepper, eggplant) and tomatillos, and cold weather greens in or outdoors (snow peas, kale, chard, romaines). Local wisdom says, "sow seeds on Mother’s Day, but sow plants after Memorial Day," and raised beds get optimal results.
Looking outdoors, Mother Nature seems asleep! But underneath the blanket of snow, and underneath the blanket of forest-floor protections, there are high levels of activity and communication via electrical and fungi magic. The secret communicator is fungi. Plants talk with an internet of fungi, a superhighway of communication. The fungi’s thin threads, mycelium, act as an underground internet, linking interspecies plants. And the atomic activity on the cellular level is so powerful, it can sprout seeds, grow plants, and even power up a cell phone.
During photosynthesis, plants use sunlight to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, producing electrons. The Spanish company Bioo.tech has a potted plant system out this year that can charge cell phones and more. The system uses a pot: just add soil, water and a plant for a whopping 5 watts. The portable technology allows up to two charges per day with a power of 5.0v, 1.0A—enough to charge a cell phone—from a 25-by-15-by-15-inch pot. They’re successfully developing outdoor garden plots for harvesting electricity to power homes.
Interspecies communication occurs with all our plants, forest and garden, but is at its zenith with wild plants that evolve in their aged, restorative habitat. In his book, The Hidden Life of Trees, Peter Wohlleber declares that our cultivated fruit trees and agriculture have become deaf and blind due to lack of communication from so-called modern planting methods, and they also miss the full vitality and immune system capacity that the wild plants have.
Even houseplants have amazing communication ability. On a whim in 1966, former C.I.A. polygraph expert Cleve Backster hooked up a galvanometer to the leaf of a plant he kept in his office. By simply imagining the plant being set on fire, he could make it rouse the needle of the polygraph machine through a surge of electrical activity. A story in The New Yorker states that "Backster found that a plant that had witnessed the murder (by stomping) of another plant could pick out the killer from a lineup of six suspects, registering a surge of electrical activity when the murderer was brought before it, and he documented this and other plant phenomena for the International Journal of Parapsychology, in 1968."
That said, I suppose we had better be careful about garden secrets, and I’ve heard that whenever the enchanted forest wants to have a great time, it always invites the fungi.
Janet Sellers welcomes your tips for a healthy forest and happy gardens. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CERT Training, Feb. 6
Each Monday night in February, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) classes were held at Palmer Ridge High School, coordinated by Robin Adair of the El Paso County Office of Emergency Management. This class helps prepare and train volunteers to respond to emergency situations and disasters that could hit the Tri-Lakes area. Instructors with professional experience educate volunteers about sanitation, fire safety, search and rescue, and other useful topics with hands-on exercises. Thirty-one people enrolled in the class and learned how to establish treatment sites as well as examine, assess, and help treat patients with burns, broken bones, open wounds, hypothermia, and more. These lessons give them the necessary skills to help those in need until first responders arrive. To register or learn more about CERT, go to www.epccert.org or contact Adair at email@example.com or (719) 575-8858. Caption: Robin Adair, left, demonstrated how to correctly apply a tourniquet with the help of John Rickman of the Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church Emergency Preparedness Group. Caption: Greg Thorn taught volunteers how to treat an open wound. Photos by Lauren Jones.
Wastewater plant tour, Feb. 6
Did you know that treatment of wastewater using microorganisms has a biological oxygen demand (BOD), and the stronger the BOD the higher the cost to treat the water? Tri-Lakes Waste Water Treatment Facility (TLWWTF) Facility Manager Bill Burks discussed the treatment process with a handful of OCN reporters and curious citizens during a tour on Feb. 6. Influent or raw wastewater flows from the Monument, Woodmoor, and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts into a screening process that removes inorganic materials, sand, and large objects. After being screened, the water progresses to aeration basins where sophisticated oxygen diffusers are regularly adjusted to meet the differing metabolic needs of various bacteria that consume about 99 percent of the waste constituents. The complex, high-maintenance process ends with the water passing through an ultraviolet disinfection unit to kill remaining microorganisms before being discharged into Monument Creek as treated effluent. TLWWTF invites the public to take a tour and learn what happens after the flush. For tour information, call Burks at 481-4053. Caption: Pictured from left are Monument Community Liaison Specialist Madeline VanDenHoek, Monument Sanitation District board member John Howe, Burks, and OCN reporter Lisa Hatfield. Photos by Jennifer Kaylor
Chamber seminar, Feb. 8
Caption: From left are Dustin Kowkle, program manager, speaker Glenn Plagens of North Metro Denver Colorado Small Business Development Center (SBDC), and an intern for the local SBDC. Plagens taught a morning seminar Feb. 8 at the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce on learning a relatively new and more visually based business planning methodology. This allows business owners to describe, design, challenge, invent, and pivot their business model. It was also helpful for writing business plans and documenting and describing existing business models. Photo by Janet Sellers.
RMMA Concert, Feb. 25
Caption: On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Rocky Mountain Music Alliance (RMMA) provided a piano concert held at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church. This concert featured Dr. Michael Schneider and Dr. Zahari Metchkov, who performed Brahms’ Piano Concerto No. 1 and Massenet’s Piano Concerto. RMMA is a nonprofit organization with the purpose of bringing fine classical music to the Tri-Lakes area and promoting the study of classical music. It does this by bringing highly distinguished musicians to perform in the area as well as teach master classes free of charge. Also, RMMA offers scholarships for local students. The next RMMA concert will take place on May 6 at 7 p.m. and will feature Filip Fenrych on the violin, Gina Ford on the oboe, and Metchkov on the piano. For more information about RMMA, go to www.rmmaonline.org or contact RMMA President Coleen Abeyta at Coleen.Abeyta@gmail.com or 630-8165. Photo by Lauren Jones.
Value Up, Feb. 12
Caption: "You matter! We want you to know how beautiful and valuable you are." Monument resident Mike Donahue, left, and Columbine High School shooting survivor Craig Scott are among those sharing this message through the El Paso County Value Up initiative. Organizers hope to present an assembly called "Walk a Mile in Their Shoes" to the 50,000 middle and high school students in El Paso County. Over the next several years, they hope to reach the thousands of students who may be dying on the inside. "Never give up on your dream. Get back up!" is Donahue’s message to teenagers. Kids face so much pressure and feel the need to act like everything is OK when really they are in pain and terribly lonely. They act like they don’t care when, actually, they are scared to fail. The world is shallow, and because of social media, kids never get a break from relentless judgment. "They are not apathetic toward school. It is fear!" The Value Up nonprofit organization works with kids in middle and high school to help them deal with pressure in other ways than self-medicating by using drugs or alcohol, cutting themselves, bullying, entering bad relationships, or committing suicide. "When kids experience success toward their dream, they will value and respect themselves," Donahue said to over 100 people at a community meeting at Tri-Lakes United Methodist Church on Feb. 12. "I will be a person who shines a light and doesn’t just curse the darkness," he said. "Speak life into them! Take the time to speak vision and value into people’s lives!" For information or to donate, see https://value-up.org/ or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Caption by Lisa Hatfield. Photo by Charlie Searle.
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.
MVEA warns members about recent scamming attempts
Scammers are pretending to work for or represent area utilities. In one case, a scammer requested that an MVEA member pay their bill using a pre-paid Visa card. When the member said they felt like the call was a scam, the caller threatened to shut off their power. MVEA will never request a pre-paid payment card over the phone for an account balance. If a member wants to pay their balance with a payment card over the phone, the member will be transfered to an automated-pay-by-phone system so the payment and information remain secure.
In a second incident, an MVEA member reported that two men came to his door and stated they were contracted through MVEA and needed to check his electrical panel inside the home. MVEA does not require access to electrical panels inside members’ homes. Any MVEA employee who would require access to a members’ outside property would have an MVEA identification badge, MVEA clothing, and an MVEA vehicle. If you are ever in doubt, call MVEA immediately at 1-800-388-9881.
Scammers can be very convincing, and MVEA wants their members to protect themselves with the following tips:
• Do not assume the name and number on your caller ID are legitimate. Caller IDs can be spoofed.
• Never share your personal information if someone if threatening to disconnect your service, including date of birth, Social Security number or banking account information.
• Never wire money to someone you do not know.
• Do not click links or call numbers in unexpected emails or texts, especially those asking for your account information.
• MVEA accepts many forms of payment, but will NOT require a specific type of payment for account balances.
• If you receive a call, or in-person visit, that you believe is a scam, call the police and also report the incident to MVEA at 1-800-388-9881.
Tri-Lakes Y Youth Spring Sports, register now
Practices begin March 27 for outdoor soccer, volleyball, and flag football; April 8 for indoor soccer. Financial assistance is available. Register at www.ppymca.org or at the Y, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway, Monument.
Tri-Lakes Little League, register now
Boys and girls ages 4-14 can sign up for baseball and softball. Register online, www.trilakeslittleleague.com.
ACT II thrift shop now open
ACT II is a unique community thrift shop to benefit Tri-Lakes area nonprofits. The shop is located at 245 Jefferson St., next to Tri-Lakes Cares and across the street from Northland Community Church. Act II is now open for donations and sales Tue.-Fri., 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sat., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Volunteers and donations of gently used articles and money are needed. For more information, visit the website, www.mynorthlandchurch.org/act-ii, or contact Executive Director Cara Vanderkolk, email@example.com or 487-3268.
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club announces 2017 grant process, apply by March 15
The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club’s (TLWC) grant application for 2017 will be available through March 15 on the TLWC website, www.tlwc.net. Eligible organizations include nonprofit and public service organizations and public schools that serve the Tri-Lakes area. Special program and project requests are welcomed. The application package includes the instructions as well as other important qualifying information. Completed applications can be mailed to Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, Attn: Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, 80132 with a postmark no later than March 15. For more information, contact the committee chair, Barbara Betzler, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers needed for Groundwater Quality Study Committee, apply by March 24
The El Paso County Board of Commissioners is seeking community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on Groundwater Quality Study Committee. Applications are due by March 24. 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.
Free income tax help
Through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, Pikes Peak United Way, in partnership with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), provides free income tax preparation assistance to individuals and families with a household income of $52,000 a year or less. To find out if you qualify or to schedule an appointment, call 2-1-1 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; or visit www.ppunitedway.org/vitaeitc.html.
MVEA Board Nominations, apply by April 6
Are you are interested in being a candidate from District 7 (Monument, Woodmoor, and a portion of the surrounding areas)? If so, contact Erik Stensland, 963-2285; or the board nomination information line, 494-2528; or email@example.com. For more information and the required candidate questionnaire, visit www.mvea.coop, click on "Community," then "Community Events," then "Annual Meeting."
Silver Alliance Fund Raising Event, April 29
Silver Alliance is planning a fundraising event April 29 at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake. This will be a benefit for the seniors of the Tri-Lakes region. Sponsors, donations, and volunteers are needed. Watch for more details next month. For more information, call Melissa Bagnall, 313-3033.
41st Annual Pine Forest Spring Show & Sale, May 6-7
The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club presents its annual spring show and sale May 6-7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. This popular fundraiser features antiques, home decor, garden exhibits, gourmet food trucks, "The Bakery," raffle, glass repair, and MOPS Kid’s Corner. Admission is $6. Bring in ad or a can of food for Tri-Lakes Cares for $1 off admission. All proceeds benefit nonprofit service organizations and public schools in the Tri-Lakes community. For more information visit www.tlwc.net.
Become a host family in July
Host a student from Spain, France, Germany, or Italy this July. Family will receive a stipend to support activities. For details, contact 481-4412, www.xploreUSA.org.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Thrift Store needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed to work a three-hour shift once a week in the store, to move items from storage into the store, or to pick up donated items. To volunteer, call 488-3495.
LEAP—Help for heating bills
The Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) is a federally funded program that provides cash assistance to help families and individuals pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The eligibility period for LEAP runs through April 30. Application packets were automatically mailed to residents who received LEAP assistance last year at their address at that time. To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call 1-866 HEAT-HELP (1-866-432-8435) or visit www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap.
St. Peter Catholic School now enrolling for the 2016-17 school year
The school offers full and half-day preschool, Core Knowledge Curriculum with small class sizes, Christ-centered education, athletics, and more for preschool-eighth grade. Call or visit: 124 First St., Monument; 481-1855; www.petertherock.org.
Become a CASA volunteer
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
CSU Extension launches "Your Energy" website and blog
The Colorado State University Extension now has a "Your Energy" website to help Coloradans make more informed energy decisions. The site includes decision tools, fact sheets, and a blog. The decision tools can help you figure out energy savings from using more efficient lighting, low-flow showerheads, heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and more. Other tools can help you understand how much you spend on heating, cooling, and baseload electricity and your bottom line if you install a wind turbine or solar array. Visit the site at http://yourenergy.extension.colostate.edu.
El Paso County expands services to veterans
Three El Paso County agencies providing services to veterans now have satellite offices at the Mount Carmel Center of Excellence, 530 Communications Circle, Colorado Springs. The Veterans Service office at Mount Carmel is open Mon.-Fri., 8 a.m.-4 p.m., and closes noon-1 p.m. for lunch. Call 667-3816 for an appointment. The Pikes Peak Workforce Center Mount Carmel office is open Tuesdays, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (closed for lunch noon-1 p.m.), and is staffed with two Workforce Center employees who help veterans with their employment needs. Call 667-3729 for an appointment. The county Department of Human Services also has a Mount Carmel office open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Help the Black Forest Animal Sanctuary (BFAS) rescue animals
Southern Colorado Animal Rescue BFAS is an animal rescue and rehab farm that has been helping animals since 1994. The all-volunteer organization has rescued thousands of horses, farm animals, dogs, cats, and various small wild animals and birds. BFAS provides rescue operations, adoption programs, foster and sponsorship programs, a student/horse education program, service dogs to veterans, and local and national rescue efforts. They also work with local schools and scouts. Donations are needed for supplies, and volunteers are needed for day-to-day operations. To find out how you can help, call 494-0158, email BFASFarm@gmail.com, or visit www.bfasfarm.org.
Free transportation and safety services for seniors
Mountain Community Senior Services offers free transportation and safety services to Tri-Lakes seniors. If you need a ride to a medical appointment, grocery shopping, or the local senior lunches, a volunteer driver will be happy to help you. Call 488-0076 to leave a message for the dispatcher. If you need grab bars in the bathroom, a ramp to your door, or repair of stairs or railings, please call Cindy Rush, 488-0076, and leave a message. For more information, visit www.TriLakes-mcts-sshs.org.
Volunteer drivers needed for seniors’ transportation service
Mountain Community Transportation for Seniors is a nonprofit, grant-funded organization that provides free transportation to Tri-Lakes seniors 60 years old and over. The program needs additional volunteer drivers. For information, email MCSS at email@example.com or call the MCSS dispatch hotline at 488-0076.
Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Center programs
The Tri-Lakes Silver Alliance Senior Citizens Center is next to the Lewis-Palmer High School Stadium (across from the YMCA) and is open 1-4 p.m., Tue.-Fri., and earlier for scheduled activities. The facility has a lounge, craft room, game room, and multipurpose room. Programs include bridge, pinochle, National Mah-jongg, line dancing, tea time, bingo, and more. Ping-pong, Wii video games, puzzles and board games, refreshments, a lending library, computers with Internet connections, and an information table are also available. For information about programs for seniors, visit www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
Senior Beat newsletter—subscribe for free
Each monthly Senior Beat newsletter is full of information for local seniors, including the daily menu of the senior lunches offered Mon.-Fri. at the Mountain Community Mennonite Church, 643 Hwy. 105, Palmer Lake. It also contains the schedule of the classes and events for the month at the Senior Citizens Center. To subscribe, send an email with your name and mailing address to SeniorBeat@TriLakesSeniors.org. Senior Beat can also be viewed online at www.TriLakesSeniors.org.
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
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.
This page was last modified on April 04, 2017. Home page: www.ocn.me.
Copyright © 2001-2016 Our Community News, Inc. All Rights Reserved.