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Vol. 7 No. 5 - May 5, 2007


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Late April blizzard hits the Tri-Lakes area

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Below: Trees throughout the Tri-Lakes area were damaged by the heavy snow April 23 and 24. Traffic came to a standstill as I-25 and Highway 83 were closed during the day and many motorists were stranded. Some residents were without power for many hours. Conditions improved quickly and temperatures were in the 70s and 80s by the end of the month. For more Tri-Lakes area weather information and photos see the April Weather Wrap. Photo of damage on Shady Lane in Palmer Lake provided by the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

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Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority, April 13: Board approves fee waiver for Timbers

By Jim Kendrick

On April 13, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) approved a waiver of any additional road use fees for an increase in the amount of commercial space being proposed for the Timbers at Monument development to twice the originally approved square footage of 352,000 square feet. THF Realty, which is in the due diligence phase of its option to purchase the property from ADK Monument Developers LLC, requested that BRRTA waive the road use fee on an additional 348,000 square feet of space that would result in a new total of 700,000 square feet.

Road use fees are still the only source of revenue for BRRTA at this time. The accumulated fees collected since BRRTA was created 10 years ago will pay for only about 5 percent of the $10.7 million cost for improvements to the county’s Baptist Road east of I-25. The road use fee must be paid before a construction permit is issued by Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

The separate voter-approved BRRTA sales tax, which is currently scheduled to begin on July 1, will be used only for revenue bond principal and interest payments. BRRTA is privately financing the expansion of the state’s I-25 Baptist Road interchange due to a lack of any budgeted Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) funds for interchange expansion. BRRTA sales tax and road use fees cannot be commingled or used for the same budget items.

Monument Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Dave Mertz voted for this unprecedented change in policy, along with County Commissioner Dennis Hisey. Commissioners Jim Bensberg and Wayne Williams were absent.

Glenn gives his own Baptist Road update

When neither Capital Programs Division Manager Andre Brackin nor project engineer Kem Reliford of the El Paso County Department of Transportation were present to give the "Baptist Road Update" agenda item, Glenn said: "I’m very disturbed and on the borderline of being disgusted with the progress of that job. I want it in these notes for Kem and Andre to understand that what is going on is unacceptable. Being a professional civil engineer, the mayor of a town, and the president of this board, I don’t see any excuse for that road being delayed the way it is. I’ve never witnessed a job that’s been constructed as poorly as this one. The contractor may say ‘It’s utilities,’ but there’s no reason that that north lane is not paved and in place by this date and not even ready for curb and gutter yet. So I want to make it known to the county and Commissioner Williams that I’m very disappointed with the progress of that job."

Triview Metropolitan District issues discussed

Glenn asked Triview Metropolitan District Manager Larry Bishop to summarize the fee increases the Triview board had approved at a special meeting on April 11. Bishop said Triview had not previously had commercial impact fees that were clearly defined. Local consultant firm Red Oak Associates was hired to develop a revised commercial impact fee schedule "to cover Triview’s liabilities."

Bishop added, "To make it short, we did approve new impact fees based on square footage with the understanding that there would be some development incentives in the form of sales tax rebates based upon certain targets. Essentially what it did, it actually lowered the drainage fee. It gives the developer over the next eight years – on drainage – about a $2 million break. It did increase the roads and bridges fees significantly but that’s why we have roads and bridges – that’s to serve the commercial – and so it’s an advantage to the developer."

The new Triview roads and bridges fee ranges from $2 to $50 per square foot depending on the type of commercial development and how many road trips are generated by each business. A "standard engineering manual for trip generation" will be used by Triview to determine the fee to be charged for each applicant, said Bishop. The increased roads and bridges fees went into effect on May 1. (See Triview article for more details.)

John Laing Homes Vice President Michael Scott gave a presentation on the timeline and expenses incurred by his company for the subcontract with Payton Construction "as the facilitator" of the installation of Triview’s sanitary sewer collection line for Promontory Pointe and Classic Homes Sanctuary Pointe from the beginning of November to the end of February. The two new westbound lanes of Baptist Road still remain under construction. The reopening of the Leather Chaps Drive intersection has been delayed for several months due to utility installation problems and may not be completed for another two to three months.

Scott said that John Laing Homes had to pay a consultant management fee to BRRTA’s general contractor, Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt. Scott said that Rocky Mountain had not fulfilled its obligations to John Laing under that consultant contract and he would dispute any claims for payment. In addition, Scott said Rocky Mountain would be billing John Laing $1,600 per day for traffic control that the county had already paid for. There was no response from the board members or the BRRTA staff.

Many Baptist Road interchange issues remain unresolved

Hammers Construction, Inc., has sold its share of ownership of the Timbers at Monument commercial and retail center parcel to the other ADK owner, Darel Tiegs. Phoenix-Bell, which owns most of the vacant land north of Baptist Road between I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail and most of the vacant land north of the YMCA parcel between I-25 and Jackson Creek Parkway, also owns the northwest portion of the Timbers parcel, behind the Home Depot next to Struthers Road.

Tiegs, Mike Watt, and Phoenix-Bell are negotiating separate sales to THF Realty. The THF proposal to double the commercial density has not been discussed at a Monument board meeting. No announcements have been made regarding possible financial incentives the town may offer to THF. Monument has already offered incentives to Team O2 for development of an indoor water park to be built southwest of the Baptist Road interchange.

The 73.5-acre L-shaped Timbers parcel is bordered by Monument Marketplace to the north, Jackson Creek Parkway to the east, Baptist Road to the southeast, the hardware store parcel to the southwest, and Struthers Road to the west. The Timbers property "wraps around" the north and east side of BRRTA resident Watt’s former Foxworth-Galbraith hardware and lumber store property.

Foxworth-Galbraith did not renew its lease for the hardware and lumber store after the preliminary Timbers plat and site plan were approved. The entrance to the hardware store’s parking lot and Struthers Road between Baptist Road and Higby Road will be abandoned when a construction contract for expanding the I-25 interchange is awarded. The frontage road portion of Struthers south of Baptist Road has already been abandoned, and this right-of-way will become the two new northbound I-25 off-ramps.

Monument owns Struthers Road between Baptist and Higby Roads, while the county owns the already abandoned portion of Struthers Road south of the Baptist Road intersection. However, the state controls the intersection and its existing traffic signals as it does the ramp intersections.

Watt’s parcel was not part of the Timbers preliminary plat and preliminary PD site plan that were unanimously approved by the Monument Board of Trustees on Feb. 21, 2006. The board required ADK to grant Watt a road easement within the Timbers parcel, because the town’s portion of Struthers Road, including Watt’s existing access, will be abandoned once a construction contract is awarded for the interchange expansion.

This road easement connects the east side of Watt’s parcel to the future Timbers Drive, which will run north from Baptist Road then east to Jackson Creek Parkway. The current private Blevins Buckle (formerly Rowdao) Drive intersection with Jackson Creek Parkway will be widened and become public right-of-way with full-motion traffic signals.

The Baptist Road access for Timbers Drive will be about 200 feet east of the southeast corner of the existing perimeter fence for Watt’s parcel. The southern portion of Watt’s existing fence will be within the future westbound lanes when Baptist Road is widened to eight lanes west of the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection. The existing Struthers Road lanes along the west side of the Watt property will become the two new northbound on-ramp lanes for I-25 when the interchange is expanded. Currently there are no plans for a traffic signal for the left-turn lane from eastbound Baptist Road onto northbound Timbers Drive.

Timbers’ right-of-way requirement may no longer apply

It was revealed at the April 13 BRRTA meeting that ADK Monument LLC has never recorded the approved preliminary plat and PD site plan for the Timbers property. During the Board of Trustees hearing on these applications, Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara said that ADK had already donated the right-of-way to CDOT in return for CDOT allowing the Timbers project to have the right-in/right-out-only Timbers Boulevard access on Baptist Road. The substantial right-of-way donation was a condition of approval that is listed in the approved site plan. Kassawara also stated at that 2006 board meeting that there would be no interchange improvements until the Timbers preliminary site plan and plat were recorded with the county.

In many circumstances, an approved plat must be recorded with the county clerk within one year or a board or town council approval may be voided. There has been no announcement regarding whether THF intends to record the approved ADK plat and site plan or initiate a new Monument application process integrating the Tiegs, Watt, and Phoenix-Bell properties into a single parcel.

Effects of interchange right-of-way delays discussed

Baptist Road interchange contract manager Bob Torres, of engineering consultant Carter Burgess, reported that no progress had been made in obtaining any right-of-way for the expansion of I-25 Exit 158.

CDOT will not allow the county to award a construction contract for expanding the interchange until the state owns all the right-of-way needed. Construction companies will often not bid for a project that has not been approved by CDOT because many construction material costs have been rising at rates of up to 40 percent per year. Bids often have a time limit of as little as two to three weeks to prevent rapidly escalating materials costs from causing road construction companies to lose too much money on their competitively priced bids if the award is delayed too long.

If condemnation is required to obtain the necessary right-of-way from THF, Torres said that would take a minimum of six to nine months and CDOT approval of the county’s construction contract award could be delayed about a year.

CDOT right-of-way specialists and a representative of engineering consultant PBS&J have met with Total Petroleum, the landowner of the Diamond Shamrock truck stop on the northwest corner of the interchange, to discuss circulation issues that may arise when the station’s driveway access to Baptist Road and the adjacent perimeter parking places are eliminated to create the new off-ramp and turn lanes to westbound Baptist Road, he said.

Torres said the biological opinion of the environmental assessment was approved by the Federal Highway Administration — a small but important step toward receiving a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 environmental clearance permit. However, the Corps of Engineers and El Paso County staff members still need to meet at one of the proposed wetland mitigation sites before any further progress can be made on approval of the final wetland mitigation plan required for the permit, Torres added. The mitigation plan issues should be completed in about four weeks.

Glenn asked if the right-of-way could be obtained by May 1. Torres replied that if the right-of-way and environmental issues could be solved in four weeks, and if four weeks of construction bid advertising could then begin as early as May 15, followed by the minimum time required by the state and county to award a construction contract, the earliest start date for construction would be early July. "I know we keep on talking about this and it slides every month. I’d like to bring it to closure as well."

BRRTA attorney James Hunsaker, of Grimshaw and Harring, P.C., said that Phoenix-Bell had requested that a previously approved BRRTA fee waiver for a Phoenix-Bell property east of the King Soopers center be applied to another Phoenix-Bell property. When BRRTA did not have the money two years ago to pay Phoenix-Bell $200,000 for the appraised value of a temporary BRRTA easement and the purchase of a small portion of this parcel for right-of-way, the board gave Phoenix-Bell a $200,000 credit against future road use fees. However, this credit was to apply only to that particular Phoenix-Bell parcel and was not transferable.

Subsequently, Phoenix-Bell sold part of the vacant parcel to Classic Homes for construction of the Carriages townhome development. Classic was unable to use any part of Phoenix-Bell’s credit. Classic has paid a road use fee on all the now- completed townhouses. Hunsaker reiterated that BRRTA had lost no fees on this parcel, nor had it paid for the Phoenix-Bell easements and right-of-way.

There is now a conservation easement on the remainder of this Phoenix-Bell property. The remainder is too steep to build on and is being used for drainage. BRRTA has not received a copy of the easement. Phoenix-Bell owner Greg Anderson has asked BRRTA to allow the fee waiver credit to be applied to one of the other Phoenix-Bell parcels within BRRTA since he cannot build on the remainder of this parcel.

Glenn said that he had told Anderson there would be no additional BRRTA fee waiver credits for any right-of-way donated by Phoenix-Bell on the west side of I-25 because there would be a tax break for the donations. Hunsaker said the board had three options: to deny the request for transfer of the credit, pay Anderson the $200,000, or allow Anderson to transfer the credit to another BRRTA property, perhaps with a specific time limit on its use before it is forfeited.

Hunsaker added that allowing the credit to be transferred from one parcel to another would become an issue in dealing with the pending THF Realty purchase of the three Timbers parcels. He stated that the transfer of the fee waiver credit for Phoenix-Bell would not be a precedent for THF, pointing out that Anderson and THF land planner Karen Blumenstein were in the audience and could not claim otherwise at a later date. Commissioner Hisey said that landowners and developers have always argued that such "case-by-case" exceptions set a precedent for their later requests for supposedly equivalent waivers.

There was agreement that BRRTA could still not afford to pay Phoenix-Bell and later recoup the sum when fees are paid for construction on other Phoenix-Bell properties. The board unanimously approved allowing Phoenix-Bell to transfer the $200,000 credit to another of its properties, but not to allow it to be transferred to THF if it buys the Phoenix-Bell lot within the Timbers project.

Interchange bond issue decisions delayed

Hunsaker noted that it is no longer possible to know the cost of the winning construction bid for the interchange before completing a bond sale by May 15. Notice must be given to the state by that date, if the temporary 20-year BRRTA 1 cent sales tax is to be initiated on July 1. BRRTA had promised voters before the November election that the exact amount of construction costs would be known prior to completion of the sale of the revenue transportation bonds to prevent borrowing more money than was needed (up to a maximum of $21.5 million) and incurring needless interest costs. The next time that the BRRTA sales tax can be initiated is Jan. 1.

Hunsaker said the board could decide that the engineering estimates provided by engineering consultant PBS&J are accurate enough to borrow a particular amount. Alternatively, the board can authorize a sale of the maximum amount, $21.5 million. Mike Lund, of bond agent firm Piper Jaffrey, said the unused portion of the $21.5 million could be put in an interest-bearing account, with Piper Jaffrey acting as trustee, to offset most, if not all, of the bond interest costs, until a construction contract is awarded and signed.

Hunsaker said another reason to close the bond sale by May 15 is that BRRTA has no cash to buy interchange right-of-way if any of it is not donated. If eminent domain actions are required to obtain right-of-way from THF, Phoenix-Bell, or any other affected landowners, about nine months is required for the condemnation to be approved by District Court, followed by three months for appraisals, and another month for final contract drafting, approval, and signing. In this case, construction would not begin until summer 2008.

Hunsaker stated that another option for "extraordinary call" of the BRRTA revenue bonds had to be added to the bond sale documents, in addition to the voter-approved condition for CDOT reimbursement of the contract cost sometime in the future. If the low bid for construction is too high to be paid by the maximum loan amount of $21.5 million, the bonds will be immediately liquidated. The temporary BRRTA sales tax would remain in place until all early termination costs for the bond issue have been paid.

The board unanimously approved a motion authorizing Piper Jaffrey to begin marketing of the bonds. The board also unanimously approved continuation of this meeting until May 4, when board members will vote on final approval for sale of the revenue bonds and sign the bond purchase agreement. This date will allow all the bond sale documentation to be completed and signed by three BRRTA board members by May 15, as well as notification of the Colorado Department of Revenue of sales tax initiation.

Hunsaker then introduced Blumenstein by saying that THF had asked the BRRTA staff for a fee credit. Before she began her presentation, Glenn said that BRRTA needed a right-of-way donation of 0.6 acre from THF and 0.3 acre from Watt, worth a total of about $80,000 at current average appraisal values, to build the interchange.

Blumenstein said that THF is not a land broker. Rather, THF has developed 110 shopping centers, seven in Colorado, with the intent of owning them. Only one center has been sold. The sellers offered THF a plan that would include 650,000 square feet of space, but THF believes that 600,000 square feet is more realistic. If alternative protected mouse habitat can be found, THF will add another 100,000 square feet of space.

Blumentstein said the impact fees and land originally proposed for the site in BRRTA’s economic study of the approved 352,000-square-foot site plan "are very reasonable in terms of what we’re willing to contribute to the extent that we’re able to maximize and on a quicker basis get to the 600,000 figure." She said THF was not willing to pay any more than that to BRRTA.

THF also wants to extend Lyons Tail Road west of Jackson Creek Parkway and turn it into a public road. Blumenstein said the Lyons Tail extension into the Timbers parcel would be a benefit to the town and Triview.

Glenn disputed that assertion, saying it only would benefit the developer, though it might improve internal circulation. "I resent having my interchange held hostage. The interchange is going to make the property more valuable than it is, and without it, speaking as the mayor of the town, we’re not going to approve any buildings." He acknowledged the recent increase in Triview fees was something to consider. He said a credit of $80,000 was acceptable.

Glenn said BRRTA is in a "Catch-22" situation, needing sales tax to pay for the revenue bonds. Hunsaker replied that the BRRTA economic study showed that the bonds would be paid off in just 10 years if the predicted development occurred as expected and noted that all risk of bond repayment belongs solely to the bondholders.

Lund said the existing BRRTA retail would pay off the bonds in 20 years even if no more commercial buildings are constructed within BRRTA. Manager Denise Denslow and Lund said the additional THF square footage would ensure early payoff of the bonds.

Commissioner Hisey said that someone else would buy the Timbers property if THF does not develop it. THF must close on the Timbers parcel and begin paying interest on the land by July 9, with one 30-day extension to Aug. 8 possible. The first building will be opened in 2009. Hisey said if THF sells the land, the BRRTA fee waiver should not apply to the next buyer.

Blumenstein said that ADK and Watt would be required to donate the right-of-way prior to THF closing on the purchase. Hunsaker said he would add a condition on the waiver approval documentation that says the fee waiver would go away if THF doesn’t donate it immediately and approve the waiver at the May 4 meeting. He added that the waiver fee would not set a precedent for demands of fee waivers for all future construction by Vision Development and Monument Marketplace.

The board unanimously approved a motion directing the BRRTA staff to prepare all required documents for a final vote on the THF waiver at the May 4 meeting.

The board unanimously approved payments totaling $33,692 including:

  • $3,453 to Carter & Burgess Inc. for construction contract management
  • $55 to Colorado Community Newspapers for miscellaneous expenses
  • $7,871 to Grimshaw & Harring for legal services
  • $2,405 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management

During public comment, Ridge at Fox Run resident Steve Waldmann asked what the estimated revenue from the BRRTA sales tax would be. Lund said that the study estimates that 2007 sales tax revenue would be about $454,000, based on a two-month lag for the state to forward checks to R.S. Wells.

The meeting was continued at 3:30 p.m. The continuation was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. May 4 at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St.

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On the Roads: Status of Baptist and Struthers road construction

By Andre Brackin
Capital Programs division manager
El Paso County DOT

Contracted work by Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt, Inc., is on schedule with respect to current phased work on Baptist and Struthers Roads. Weather impacts and utilities work beyond the contractor’s control have delayed the overall project completion to spring 2008 rather than November 2007. Most of the utility work is now well underway, and once finished, the grading and major roadwork can be completed.

There was little noticeable work performed on the Baptist Road mainline during the winter and up until just recently. The reason mainly is that the construction phasing plan identified Struthers Road for work during this period, due to environmental permitting requirements. The protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat and wetlands issues constrained certain work within and adjacent to habitat areas to conclude by April 30. Environmental agencies, after recent site meetings, have replied verbally that the April 30 deadline can be worked through for the remaining utility work and road grading. This portion of Struthers Road is within the county. Struthers Road north of Baptist Road, which extends to Higby Road, is within the Town of Monument and more specifically is within the I-25 right-of-way, so maintenance is a Colorado Department of Transportation responsibility.

Several months after the start of this project, the El Paso County Department of Transportation was notified of the approval of the Promontory Pointe site development within the Town of Monument and the pending need for extending a sewer line in Baptist Road to service the development. Typically, once a significant road project such as this is begun, the contractor has control of and responsibility for safe traffic operations and the project is the only work permitted in that part of the road right-of-way.

Though a significant impact to the road project schedule, it was decided that it would be less of an impact to the public to combine the timeline of the two projects rather than complete the road work only to have the new paving opened up later for the sewer line construction. Also, it was decided the contractor building the sewer line would work as subcontractor to the road improvements contractor. Coordination and phasing could also be better accomplished by integrating schedules.

The primary access to Promontory Pointe, once complete, will be the northerly extension of Gleneagle Drive. The intersection of Gleneagle Drive will be undergoing extensive construction involving completion of the box culvert for drainage as well as numerous utility relocations. The intersection will be closed from about mid-July through August, and a detour route for Baptist Road traffic will be in place.

County staff and its contractors were notified last week that this development has been identified as a Parade of Homes site, and representatives wished to gain access through the road construction activity, also at the Gleneagle Drive intersection. County staff is working with the development representatives to permit this operation as well on a limited basis.

The Baptist Road and Struthers Road construction projects, which are funded by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority sales tax, have challenging complexities, but all involved are dedicated to getting this work done as safely and efficiently as possible. Meetings are ongoing between the contractors of the two projects to better ensure their safe completion.

It is important to state that the safety of the traveling public remains our number one concern with the ongoing construction work. The county DOT appreciates all of the input from citizens and takes each of your calls and emails very seriously. Please continue to contact us at 520-6460 regarding any and all concerns about this project.

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Signal at Northgate and Struthers awaiting electrical connection

By Bill Carroll and Jim Kendrick

Drivers seeing red at the intersection of Northgate and Struthers roads will have to wait a little longer to see green, as delays in starting up the traffic light continue. Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) has been unable to get electrical power connected to the otherwise completed traffic signals at Northgate and Struthers Roads.

MVEA has been saturated with new construction and repairs caused by late-season snowstorms. The pace has outstripped the rural utility’s ability to keep up with the widening of overloaded roads in the Tri-Lakes region. One casualty in this delay is the traffic signal.

The situation was worsened by the heavy snowstorm on April 24 that caused widespread damage in eastern El Paso County. MVEA crews worked around the clock with hired help from several different utilities from surrounding states to restore power to homes in that area that been in the dark for several days. MVEA crews working on highway projects were redirected to this effort as well.

Although most of the hardware for the traffic signal at Northgate and Struthers Road has been installed, it may be several weeks before MVEA can install the power lines and transformer to make the full-motion stoplight operational. Tom Spitza of the Gleneagle Civic Association (GCA) has been making inquiries of the city and county transportation and traffic engineering departments to try to expedite the electrical connection.

The city of Colorado Springs required the installation of the signal as a condition of approval for a development being built by local developer Gary Erickson — comprised of two retail lots between Northgate Road and the Federal Express building on Voyager Drive. The portion of Northgate Road west of the new bridge by Struthers Road belongs to the county, but the city is responsible for installing the traffic signal. The installation was subcontracted to Erickson.

The county’s department of transportation will eventually accept ownership of the revamped intersection, including the traffic signal. Meanwhile, operation is the city’s responsibility.

As of OCN deadline, it was still unclear if the city or MVEA have a work order or contract from Erickson for installation of the required transformer and electrical lines to activate the traffic signal, although El Paso County has processed a payment order for this work.

The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office will provide increased enforcement and observation of the Struthers and Northgate roads intersection until the new signals are activated. Several accidents have already occurred since Northgate was widened and the bridge to the east was opened. Drivers need to be aware of their speed on the steep descent from westbound Northgate Road toward this intersection.

The Sheriff’s Office will also be enforcing the speed limit along Gleneagle Drive to help calm the traffic that has increased from drivers trying to avoid speed limit problems on Baptist Road. Officers will also be on the lookout for large trucks illegally using Gleneagle Drive as a "cut-through" roadway.

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 16: Third Street upgrades and water line extension approved

Below (L to R): During an open house April 16, Monument Water Foreman Tom Tharnish explains to Trustee Tommie Plank and Public Works Director Rich Landreth how the monitoring station tracks water treatment by the new equipment just installed in the town’s expanded Second Street water treatment plant . Members of the Board of Trustees and Town Staff attended the open house to see the new state-of-the-art treatment facilities that can now treat water from each of the aquifers town wells use. Each aquifer presents different technical challenges for Tharnish’s staff, requiring different processes and control systems for the plant operators to master. Photos by Jim Kendrick

Below: Monument Water operator Brian Warner explains how water is treated by the new equipment.

By Jim Kendrick

On April 16, the Monument Board of Trustees approved:

  • A pledge to provide financial support for a Tri-Lakes regional senior service center later in 2007.
  • A pledge to add a line item for financial support for senior services in future town budgets.
  • An extension of the town’s Old Denver Highway water main down to Baptist Road and over to the Diamond Shamrock truck stop.
  • An upgrade of Third Street with new paving, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, and drainage.

All board members were present.

Water treatment plant open house heralds new equipment start-up

Before the board meeting began, the town’s Public Works Department hosted an open house for the expansion of the water treatment facility at Second Street and Beacon Lite Road. The treatment plant building has been substantially enlarged with an upgraded façade and improved landscaping. There is room set aside within the larger building for additions of treatment equipment as the demands increase on the town system.

New and different state-of-the-art treatment equipment has been added for water drawn from the Arapahoe aquifer. The mineral content of Arapahoe water is significantly different from Denver and Dawson aquifer water and requires different processes to meet drinking water standards. The new equipment also has significantly upgraded automatic control and data collection systems that will streamline the work of the town’s certified water system operators.

Baptist Road update

At the start of the meeting, Mayor Byron Glenn reported that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) hopes to close on its bond sale to finance expansion of the state’s I-25 interchange on May 15, complete interchange right-of-way acquisition and wetlands mitigation by mid-June, and begin construction in mid-July. (See BRRTA article for more complete details on Baptist Road and interchange construction issues.)

Background: The county will administer the interchange expansion contract that will be paid for with BRRTA bond sale proceeds because the state has no funds for the needed interchange expansion. A 20-year BRRTA 1-cent sales tax will pay off the bond principal and interest. The Colorado Department of Transportation has promised to pay back BRRTA for the cost of the construction contract (about $16 million) if Senate Bill 1 funding becomes available in the next 12 years. The sales tax will be terminated when all principal, interest, and administrative costs for the bonds have been paid off.

Glenn, who is chair of the BRRTA board, also commented on construction progress under the separate county contract for widening Baptist Road east of I-25 to Desiree Drive. "I kind of pounded the county on the poor job they are doing on Baptist Road. I will write a letter to John McCarty, just telling him that it’s pretty much a disgrace on how that project’s going and something needs to be done with the contract or the people managing it. It’s bad." McCarty is the county’s Department of Transportation director.

The separate construction contracts for widening the county’s Baptist and Struthers Roads are paid for by sales tax revenue raised by the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority’s (PPRTA) 1-cent sales tax, $6.9 million and $2.5 million respectively. The costs for engineering design and purchase of right-of-way are paid by BRRTA road use fees on new construction of buildings, about $460,000. The county is managing the construction projects.

The Town of Monument has contributed about $555,000 from road use fees paid by the Monument Marketplace for repairs to Baptist Road that were never performed by the town. The Board of Trustees voted not to participate in the PPRTA sales tax ballot intitiative. The town’s unused taxing authority was subsequently tapped for the BRRTA sales-tax ballot intitiative, however. (See the county update report for the current status and most recent revisions to the schedule for phased construction.)

Senior center business plan presented to board

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, had asked the Monument Board of Trustees to commit to making large annual donations for a new Tri-Lakes senior center at its March 19 meeting. The board asked for the proposed center’s business plan before making any financial commitments.

Currently the town provides catered lunch service for seniors every Monday and Thursday at Town Hall, 166 Second St. The town’s annual budget for senior support is $60,000. The town has offered full use of Town Hall as an interim senior center when the staff moves to a new building that will be constructed on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road.

On April 3, Roberts e-mailed information on the business plan, which would make it financially feasible for Tony Garvin of Flying Buffalo, LLC, the new owner of the closed Palmer Lake Bowling Alley on Highway 105, to lease it to the alliance. The two Tri-Lakes groups are still negotiating with Flying Buffalo and need specific pledges of support from several public and private entities by July. Roberts said that others have offered existing buildings if plans to convert the bowling alley fall through.

Roberts said his group was now requesting that the Monument board pledge an affordable amount to support start-up and initial operation, with whatever conditions the board deems necessary and appropriate, followed by the actual donation in July. He also asked for a resolution to add a line item to future town budgets for senior programs.

A similar request was made to the Palmer Lake Town Council on April 18. Roberts told both boards that municipal support is critical to his group being able to effectively compete for grants from public and private entities. Roberts said he will also present the modified request for a 2007 contribution and future budget line items to the Board of County Commissioners as well.

Local residents Red Stevens and Alice Logan spoke in favor of the bowling alley proposal. Trustee Tim Miller said he would prefer that the alliance build a senior center in downtown Monument if Town Hall is too small, too limited in cooking facilities and available parking, and can’t be expanded by adding a floor.

The board agreed to pledge a contribution for 2007 and a line item for 2008. The current remaining balance in the board’s 2007 discretionary fund for donations is about $15,000. The town staff will draft wording for the next TABOR ballot question to enable the town to retain excess revenues that would be targeted to youth and senior programs. The amount that could be retained would average about $140,000 per year, assuming annual 3 percent TABOR increases and 10 percent tax revenue increases. The board’s consensus was to seek another four-year TABOR waiver.

Water line extension administrative contract approved

The board unanimously approved a contract to pay $96,838 from the water enterprise capital outlay fund to Stantec Consulting Inc. for design and construction contract administration services for the construction of a 6,000-foot, 12-inch water main extension to be installed along Old Denver Highway from Wagon Gap Trail south to Baptist Road.

Stantec is one of four engineering consultant firms awarded a continuing services agreement in January in order for the town to receive the company’s lowest preferred rates. Glenn recused himself from voting on the contract due to his professional relationship with Stantec as a developer and civil engineer.

The extension will provide potable water to the Diamond Shamrock truck stop immediately upon completion, as well as future service for development within the town on both sides of the highway. The contract also includes some survey work and development of a conceptual roadway design for future widening of Old Denver Highway to ensure proper water main installation planning so that the line will not have to be moved during future development construction along the highway.

When portions of the vacant land on both sides of the highway are developed in the future, the town may be able to recoup some of the expenses incurred for this water main installation. The contract includes an option for the town to renegotiate a reduction of the scope of the project with Stantec should circumstances arise that prevent complete installation of the water main all the way to Baptist Road.

Chris Day of Stantec said the project would take about five months with two months for design, one month for bids and contract award, and two months for construction. The separate construction contract cost is estimated to be about $629,000, including a 20 percent contingency fund.

The new water line will make it easier to create an interconnection with the Forest Lake Metropolitan District water system to the southwest. The town will be paying about $300,000 for its share of the cost of a larger-than-planned Forest Lake water tank (1.5 million gallons vs. 1 million gallons) rather spending twice as much money for a second Monument half-million gallon tank. The town owns one-third of the groundwater under the Forest Lakes district.

Third Street improvement project administrative contract approved

The board unanimously approved a contract for $210,249 — $123,849 from the traffic impact fee fund and $86,400 from the storm drainage impact fee fund — with Nolte Associates Inc. for design and construction contract administration services. Ayres Associates will be a subconsultant to Nolte for the design of the drainage portion of the project.

Nolte and Ayres are two of four engineering consultant firms awarded a continuing services agreement in January. Ayres is the primary consultant for the town’s stormwater master plan. Trustee Travis Easton recused himself from voting on the contract due to his employment by Nolte as a civil engineer.

The purpose of the Third Street project is to reduce the tendency for storm runoff to run across local streets and to eliminate ineffective Third Street roadside ditches. The project consists of:

  • Widening, milling, and resurfacing of the existing Third Street pavement
  • Addition of curb and gutter
  • Installation of new storm drainage piping and associated drainage inlets
  • Sidewalk improvements
  • Landscaping installation
  • Participation in two public information meetings with local business owners
  • Survey and geotechnical services
  • Location of existing utilities
  • Exploratory borings to determine existing pavement characteristics
  • Coordination with the landscape designer

Discounted water right fees approved for some downtown "village" land uses

The board unanimously approved a resolution to allow it to "highly discount" the cost of water rights sold to developers in the future, on a case-by-case basis, as an incentive to encourage higher densities that will conform to the land planning concept of a village center. The board already is authorized to approve the sale of portions of the town’s excess water rights to applicants who don’t have enough underground water to meet their proposed needs. The ability to discount the normal fee charged for water rights will be available for developers that have insufficient groundwater rights for the now favored high-density uses.

The "downtown" area for which the board can approve discounted water rights costs is bordered by Highway 105 and the southbound I-25 on-ramp to the north and east, Santa Fe Avenue to the south, and the railroad tracks to the west, plus two small areas west of the railroad tracks that may be used for developing a high-speed rail station.

Planning review fee schedule changes approved

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara proposed a revision of the Development Services Fee Schedule to add a new $350 fee for his department’s reviews of a sign variance, new retainer fees for all development application reviews, and an increase in the fee for a sign permit from $50 to $200. The board unanimously approved the changes.

The retainer fees help the town to recover the costs incurred during the review and approval process for consultants, attorneys, postage, printing, legal notices, and other requirements. The new retainer fees are:

  • $1,500 for a final site plan or final planned development (PD) site plan
  • $150 for a minor PD amendments
  • $150 for a rezoning
  • $150 for a minor plat or replat-subdivisions
  • $150 for a variance
  • $150 for a sign variance
  • $150 for an initial engineering review of construction plans and related documents

The board also unanimously approved:

  • A resolution designating that National Prayer Day would be observed in Monument on May 3.
  • A resolution re-appointing Don Smith to another term as a member of the Monument Board of Adjustment through January 2009.
  • A payment of $83,830 to Triview Metropolitan District for February sales tax and March motor vehicle tax revenue.
  • The March financial statement.

Home-rule ballot issue discussed

Town Manager Cathy Green and Town Attorney Gary Shupp led a discussion on the differences between statutory and home-rule towns and the procedures for creating a charter commission to develop a home-rule ballot issue proposal. Monument has had three elections to convert from statutory to home-rule status since 1989 and all were rejected by the voters. The town is currently controlled primarily by state statutes and nearly all would still apply if home rule were approved by the voters.

If Monument were to change from statutory to home-rule status, the differences would be:

  • The town could take over its own tax collections and avoid the current 4 percent Colorado Department of Revenue surcharge for statutory towns.
  • The town would not have to hire its own tax collectors immediately if voters favor home-rule status, but in many cases the extra revenue far exceeds the cost of the collectors’ pay and benefits.
  • The lodging tax could change from the current specific dollar amount per bed to a specific percentage of the bill.
  • The current statutory town maximum for combined city, county, and federal sales tax of 7 percent would no longer apply.
  • Higher total tax rates than 7 percent would have to be approved by the voters.
  • The mayor and trustees could be elected by districts or at-large, or some combination of the two.
  • Formal relationships could be established with special districts within the town boundary.
  • Home rule is typically rejected by some voters if they believe no change is needed, if the additional tax burden for the salary of a strong mayor would be a hardship, or if they want to continue to avoid paying local sales tax, which Colorado will not pursue.

The charter commission would propose one of these three forms of government to the voters in the home-rule election:

  • Weak mayor form of government – all appointments and legislative and executive actions by council vote.
  • Strong mayor form of government – all department heads appointed by and responsible only to the mayor, or council manager; a town manager position is optional.
  • Council-manager form of government – all appointments and legislative and executive actions by council vote; the mayor performs only ceremonial duties and presides over meetings; and a town manager is appointed by and responsible to the council for supervising daily operations.

Staff reports

Shupp said that a mediation meeting would be held on April 18 regarding the lawsuit filed a third time by Kalime Masse regarding her request for a business license renewal for the long-abandoned concrete batch plant on the northeast corner of Washington Street and Highway 105.

Green received permission from the board to hire a summer intern for "light" code enforcement to identify issues like watering on the wrong day or improper parking of recreational vehicles, and leaving notices of the infraction on the front door. The board approved Green initiating coordination of a quiet zone for train whistles, which would cost almost $10,000 and take about six months.

A climbing wall and soft-fall material will be purchased for installation in Limbach Park using a Great Outdoors Colorado grant.

Mayor Glenn instructed Public Works Director Rich Landreth to repair the numerous potholes in the county’s portion of Old Denver Highway, from Pastimes to Old Denver Highway, and send an invoice for the work to the county’s Department of Transportation.

The meeting adjourned at 8:49 p.m. The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on May 7 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, April 11: Commissioners take time to train

Below: On April 11, Monument Principal Planner Karen Griffith leads a discussion of planning Commission issues. Seated left to right are Planning Commissioners Patricia Mettler, Kathy Spence, Vince Hamm, Carl Armijo, Tom Martin, and Town Attorney Gary Shupp. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

Having approved all recent proposed annexations and plats, as well as all but one of the related planned development applications submitted to the town, the commissioners used the scheduled April 11 meeting date for training. They first approved the minutes of the March meeting and then adjourned. Planning Commission Chairman Ed Delaney, who has served on the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees for many years, did not attend.

Town Manager Cathy Green, Principal Planner Karen Griffith, and Town Attorney Gary Shupp presented briefings on commission responsibilities.

The presentation covered ethics, meeting conduct, and how to apply approval criteria. The staff also discussed notification and approval requirements for reviewing applications for annexation, zoning, and subdivision of parcels.

For proposals that do not change the existing zoning (commercial, industrial, or residential) of town parcels, the staff can approve final site plans if they fully comply with town regulations and ordinances. Uses by special review were also discussed.

Annexations have rules on time limits from initial requests to final Planning Commission and Board of Trustee hearings.

The stages for Planned Development (PD) applications are: sketch plan, preliminary PD site plan, final PD site plan, preliminary plat, and final plat.

Annexation of adjacent county land must precede these PD approval steps. Sometimes the sketch plan phase is skipped. The preliminary and final plat and PD site plan hearings may be combined to save time and advertising expenses for the applicant.

Requests for subdivisions of in-town parcels into several lots—ones that do not have to be annexed first—are reviewed and approved in a similar fashion. The staff can administratively approve a minor subdivision yielding up to four residential lots or up to 10 dwelling units, if the proposal fully complies with town regulations and ordinances. The staff may refer preliminary and final subdivision plan and plat requests to the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees if staff concludes that the changes are not minor.

The next planning commission meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 9 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017 or 481-2954.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, April 18: Council approves liquor license expansion for Inn

By Jim Kendrick

Meeting first on April 18 as the Palmer Lake Liquor Licensing Authority, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved a request from Mozaic, LLC, for "modification of premises" to expand the liquor control area for the inn’s existing liquor license for the main restaurant building. The absences of Trustees Coleman and Finan were excused.

Owner Al Fritts said the expanded area includes the newly constructed adjacent lodge building and its decks, as well as new walkways between the two buildings and two new patios. Liquor service will be provided to the guest rooms and the conference/reception rooms in the lodge building.

The Liquor Licensing Authority meeting was adjourned at 7:05 p.m.

Postponements lead to tight schedule

The Town Council workshop meeting scheduled for April 5 was postponed and combined with the regular council meeting scheduled for April 12; however, snow caused this combined council session to be postponed until April 18. The regular Palmer Lake Planning Commission meeting on April 18 was moved up one hour to 6 p.m., prior to the council meeting at 7 p.m., to allow the commissioners to vote their approval of a new sign permit for Stellar Styles Salon prior to the subsequent council hearing that same evening. (See Palmer Lake Planning Commission article.)

The council unanimously approved the permit for a new sign for Stellar Styles hair and nail salon at 790 Highway 105 Unit E, a proclamation for Arbor Day, and a statement of intent to financially support a regional senior center. There was also a lengthy discussion before the council voted down a request from the Awake the Lake Committee (1-4) to pay the $500 fee for the town’s water attorney to file for storage rights in Palmer Lake in water court.

Stellar Styles Salon roadside sign approved

Commissioner Gary Atkins briefed the council on discussions with Stellar Styles Salon owners Melissa Cowan and Cheryl Breeding at the April Planning Commission workshop and regular meetings. Atkins noted that there are two buildings in the commercial development where Cowan and Breeding have taken a lease, with six suites each. Each of the two side-by-side buildings will now have two approved roadside signs, 3 feet by 5 feet and 20 feet back from Highway 105, just outside the state’s right-of-way.

The town’s policy is that when 50 percent or more of the businesses in a particular commercial building want roadside signs, they must pool together and build a single marquee sign that includes all the individual signs for each business. For example, there is a stucco and wood marquee sign for the businesses in the West End Center building on the opposite side of Highway 105. The sign for Stellar Styles Salon will be the second roadside sign, along with one for the veterinarian in their building at 790 Highway 105.

Atkins told the council that Cowan and Breeding were made aware by staff and the commissioners that the salon’s and the veterinarian’s roadside signs would have to come down and be replaced by a single marquee with three signs if a third tenant in their building decided to apply for a roadside sign permit.

Committee reports

Mayor Max Parker said that El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa had reported at the April Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments meeting that the county’s expanded jail capacity was already becoming saturated. The county jail is the only facility for holding prisoners for all small county municipalities as well as Colorado Springs and may not be able to hold Palmer Lake prisoners when the "critical point is reached."

Parker also said that the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority engineering study on obtaining and distributing a renewable source of water from south of Colorado Springs is on schedule to be completed by early July.

Roads Trustee Richard Allen reported that the roads committee held a meeting with representatives of the Lake Shadows and Lake View Heights communities who want to form a special road improvement district to have their interior roads paved. The approved bid for repaving Lower Glenway with asphalt was $77,400, with the work to be completed by the end of June. The roads department will apply 4,500 gallons of magnesium chloride to help control dust on dirt roads, beginning in late May.

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department had 31 calls in March: 13 medical, 2 fire, 2 wildland fire, 3 traffic accident, 4 public assist, 3 public contact, and 4 others. Four of these were mutual aid calls. The department hosted a North Group controlled burn exercise using a donated house.

Parks and Recreation Trustee Trish Flake thanked Eileen Fascinelli, Jen Martin, and Kate Holly for their supervision of the town’s annual Easter egg hunt on April 7 and noted that the town had received its first royalty check from Martin’s Great Starts Sports Camp joint recreational program. Summer program registration is available at the Great Starts Web site. The parks committee will seek an equestrian access across the railroad tracks to connect Centennial Park with the Santa Fe Trailhead. The Columbine Festival will be held in front of Town Hall on June 9.

Water Trustee Jim Girlando noted that several resumes have been received for the vacant position of town water supervisor. Interviews will be scheduled after the resumes are screened. The cost to repair a retaining wall in the Willow Creek development that was broken when a town water line broke near Highway 105 will be about $800, which the council approved by acclimation.

Economic Development Trustee Susan Miner reported that she and Allen attended a meeting of committee members and representatives of the Colorado Department of Transportation to explore what options are available for using the state’s sidewalk grant that was recently awarded to the town.

The council approved a $500 donation requested by Fountain Creek Watershed Committee representative Bob Miner for the Fountain Creek Vision Task Force from the town’s drainage fund. The purpose of the task force is to promote planning for a "strong, resilient, and sustainable" Fountain Creek ecosystem. The Task Force had already received $43,800 in pledges and contributions from regional municipalities and a wide variety of public and private entities.

Fireworks Committee spokesman Jeff Hulsmann asked the council to once again waive the peddler’s license requirement for Fourth of July participants who donate at least $100 for fireworks; the council unanimously agreed. The cost of the event has risen from $17,000 in 2006 to $22,000. The council approved sending out a letter soliciting donations to the committee along with the town’s water bills.

A 32-page booklet will be published that lists all holiday events within the Tri-Lakes region. Some of the many daytime planned Palmer Lake activities discussed were a tractor pull, the traditional "old time games and events" at the baseball field, and performances by several bands.

Hulsmann also asked the council to consider lighting the Palmer Lake star just after the fireworks were completed for the many visitors to enjoy as they drive home. A decision on this request was deferred a month to allow Fire Trustee Gary Coleman to check with the volunteers of the fire department association who maintain and operate the star.

Lake storage rights pursued

There was a lengthy discussion about an Awake the Lake Committee request to initiate the process to acquire water storage rights for Palmer Lake. The committee offered to pay the filing fee of $500. Hulsmann said that the town will never get storage rights without initiating the process to determine the level of potential objections from downstream users of water from Monument Creek. Hulsmann suggested using wastewater credits to reduce the amount of well water that would have to be used for augmentation.

However, on several occasions, town water attorney Ronni Sperling has recommended that the town be cautious in spending too much money on such a junior water right that would often be out of priority for actually storing water. The town uses most if not all the annual allocation of 147.5 acre feet of surface water for the town’s drinking water system. Creek flows are typically only high enough to put the town in priority for taking water from the creek a few months each year. Any surface water used by the town in excess of 147.5 acre feet to fill the lake would have to be augmented by pumping an equal amount of well water into the creek. Legal costs for adjudicating the water storage right reportedly could run as high as $150,000 over a period of up to four years or as low as about $25,000 if there were no objections.

Town Attorney Larry Gaddis recommended that the council first formulate very specific instructions for Sperling so she could understand what the town wanted done and how much she could spend on those specific goals. Flake’s motion to direct Sperling to file for storage rights with the filing fee paid by the Awake the Lake committee was voted down by a 1-4 vote with only Flake voting in favor.

Aerial photos of downtown approved

The board unanimously approved spending up to $3,000 in accumulated interest from the Lucy Owen grant to the town for immediate aerial plotting of downtown Palmer Lake. The photographic data will be used for developing engineering plans for downtown streetscape and sidewalk improvements. Any further delays would have resulted in springtime blooming of trees blocking needed aerial views of critical infrastructure.

New senior center supported

The council unanimously approved two motions supporting a new senior center for the Tri-Lakes region. Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, provided copies of the current business plan for converting the Palmer Lake Bowling Alley into a senior center with a variety of spaces for medical, food, and recreational services. Council members were supportive of the proposal but noted that no money had been placed in the 2007 budget for this late-breaking proposal.

One motion stated that the council fully intends to pledge a donation for 2007 operations later this year once the town has a more complete picture regarding budget performance and what funds may be available for the senior center. The second motion promised that the council would add a line item to the 2008 budget for senior center operations.

The meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m. The next council workshop meeting was to be held on May 3; they are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. The next regular council meeting is on May 10 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission, April 11 and April 18: Projects along Highway 105 approved

Below (L to R): Applicants Mark Ennis, Guillermo Moratorio, Cheryl Breeding, and Melissa Cowan discussed their proposals for expanding office space at Mission Training International; site preparation for starting up the Alma Shed Kits business; and putting up a roadside sign for Stellar Styles Salon with the Palmer Lake Planning Commission on April 11. All three businesses are on Highway 105. Each of the three applications was approved. The Stellar Styles Salon sign permit was also approved by the Town Council on April 18. Town Council hearings for the two construction applications were scheduled for May 10. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Celeste E. Raine

At the Palmer Lake Planning Commission Workshop on April 11, Melissa Cowan and Cheryl Breeding were present to request a sign permit for their new business, Stellar Styles Salon. The salon is located in the strip mall across the street from West End Center, at 790 Highway 105, Suite E. The salon opened its doors to clients April 21.

Currently, there is one sign in front of the strip mall for The Palmer Lake Veterinary Clinic. Stellar would like to erect between the parking lot and Highway 105 a similar size and style sign as the veterinary clinic. Due to the line of sight for vehicles traveling along Highway 105 and aesthetics for the town, standards have been set for ground-mounted signs.

Commissioner Gary Atkins reminded the applicant, the town "is really supportive of businesses, but it’s important to follow whatever guidelines there are." One of the standards for signs is that a maximum of two ground-mounted signs are allowed in front of each commercial parcel along Highway 105. When a third sign is requested, a marquee will be required to house all of the signs. The new salon’s owners and the veterinarian understand that they may be required to place their signs in a marquee if a third applicant requests a sign in the same location.

In other business, Mark Ennis requested a change to the PUD of Mission Training International, 421 Highway 105. The building addition will be located underneath the existing deck on the south side of the building. Although the changes will be between the existing building and Highway 105, the changes will not be visible from Highway 105 due to the berm south of the building. Ennis does not anticipate that this change will increase the number people using the facility.

The exterior changes to the property total approximately 2,400 square feet and are as follows:

  • Two colored concrete patios will be placed directly south of the addition. The east patio will include an outdoor fire pit.
  • Patio lighting will be downcast to illuminate walkways.
  • A playground totaling approximately 300 to 400 square feet.

The interior additions to the property total approximately 1,200 square feet and are as follows:

  • The president’s office will move to the addition.
  • A workout room will be added to the building.
  • A classroom will be located adjacent to the workout room.

Also attending the Planning Commission Workshop was Guillermo Moratorio of Alma Construction Corp., who requested a conditional use in a CC (Convenience Commercial) Zone. Moratorio plans to place three to five sheds on the one-acre site along the east side of Highway 105. The sheds will serve as an advertisement for Alma Construction. Potential clients will be able to park on-site and take a leaflet for the company. The ground will be graded, and resemble the look of a garden. Commissioner Atkins noted that he would like to have an aesthetically pleasing fence such as a split-rail fence to improve the look of the area and define the property.

All three proposals were unanimously approved by the Planning Commission at its regular meeting on April 18. Commissioner Atkins asked for three conditions on the approval of the Alma Construction proposal, which the commissioners unanimously approved.

  1. The driveway to the property Moratorio is leasing from Cavalry Capital Management LLC must be regraded to be level with Highway 105, with an 18-inch culvert installed under it for drainage and widened to 24 feet.
  2. A split-rail fence must be installed along the frontage of the property to improve the lot’s appearance.
  3. The trash on the property must be removed.

The next workshop meeting is on May 9 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent. Workshop meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. The next regular meeting is on May 16 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall, 54 Valley Crescent. Workshop meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, May 2: Merger with Donala discussed

By Susan Hindman

Increasingly stringent state regulations that will drive up the costs of providing wastewater services are forcing the Academy Water and Sanitation District board to seriously consider a merger invitation from the Donala Water and Sanitation District.

(See the Donala Water and Sanitation District story.)

Academy, which serves 300 households in Pleasant View, mailed out postcards informing customers that the board would be investigating whether consolidation would be beneficial to the district. Ten district residents were in attendance at the May 2 meeting.

Though the district has prided itself on its efficiency and independence, the reality is that impending regulation changes will require the district to remove ammonia from its wastewater. Richard DuPont, board president, said, "We’ve never had to do that before, and wastewater ponds are notorious for not being able to process that product, particularly in the wintertime. That would cause us to have to either build our own (new) wastewater treatment plant" or build a lift station and tie in with Donala’s wasterwater collection system.

Either way, the district would have to hire an operator with higher certification to run the new treatment plant, another big expense, especially considering there is a shortage of certified operators, according to Jerry Jacobson, Academy’s manager/operator. "We need to look at what we’re going to gain from this (merger)."

Jacobson is the district’s sole operator, which worries director Ronald Curry. "We’ve got a fragile water district here," he said. "If anything happens to Jerry, we’d have to hire someone." He liked the security of belonging to a larger organization.

The other thing driving this, DuPont said, is that the Pikes Peak Water Authority (which the district is a member of) has a plan to eventually pipe surface water up from the southern part of the state. That process "has the potential to be extremely costly, and we’d have to come up with the funds to be part of that."

But the bigger immediate issue is wastewater treatment. Academy’s wastewater plant operating permit expires in 2010. The district will have to meet state standards in effect at that time regarding ammonia treatment. At that point, the district would probably have to have a new treatment plant in place or connect to somebody else’s.

A merger with Donala would not mean an immediate reduction in Academy’s mill levy, which at just over 27 mills is the highest in the northern El Paso County. That money is still needed for bond payments until 2014. After that, DuPont said, "we would assume Donala’s mill levy," which is around 16 mills.

A total merger isn’t the only option, but the district will spend the next four months looking at various options and shaping a service plan. Donala has created a preliminary service plan as well. Once the two districts reach agreement, the final plan will be taken to court for approval, and then voters of Academy and Donala would have to approve the merger. The Donala board would be dissolved and a new board elected, to include one member from the Academy district.

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board normally meets the first Wednesday of the month at 7 p.m., at the Fire Station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is June 6 and is open to the public.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 23: Consolidation with Academy district discussed

By Sue Wielgopolan

Several directors from the Academy Water and Sanitation District, as well as manager Jerry Jacobson and attorney Paul Murphy, attended Donala’s April board meeting to discuss consolidation. The Donala board of directors initiated talks by sending a letter to Academy proposing that the neighboring districts merge.

The Academy district provides water and sewer service to roughly 300 homes in and around Pleasant View Estates. The small development lies east of Gleneagle and south of Baptist Road. A water supply pipeline already connects the two districts; the control valve is kept closed except for emergencies.

Two Gleneagle residents, Warren Gerig and Gene Pfeffer, also attended the meeting. Pfeffer has written letters to The Gazette and Donala directors voicing his opposition to the district’s mandatory irrigation restrictions.

Before commencing its joint meeting with Academy, the Donala board presented operator Mike Lavin with the employee-of-the-quarter award for his work in maintaining high water quality and his efforts in keeping the district’s fleet running. Originally hired as temporary summer help, Lavin returned after finishing college, earned his water operator certification, and has worked for the district full-time for approximately two years. He was rewarded with a day off and a gift certificate to Chili’s.

Academy Water and Sanitation District history

President Richard DuPont, Secretary Gordon Rodden, Treasurer Walter Reiss, and Director Ronald Curry, along with Jacobson and Murphy, introduced themselves as representatives for the Academy Water and Sanitation District. All Donala’s board members, including President Ed Houle, Vice President Dennis Daugherty, Secretary-Treasurer Dale Schendzielos, and directors Dick Durham and Tim Murphy were present.

Also in attendance were Donala general manager Dana Duthie, bookkeeper Betsy Bray, office manager Jackie Sipes, and Donala’s attorney, Jim Petrock.

DuPont began with a brief history of the district, and concluded with information about its financial status and the physical condition of the infrastructure.

The Academy district was formed in 1965; water was adjudicated in June of the same year. The district operated for 32 years on one shallow Smith Creek alluvial well. Except for chlorination, the water was essentially untreated.

Academy district voters passed a bond issue in the early 1990s to raise funds to build the water treatment plant, and upgrade the water distribution system and the sewer collection system. The revenues acquired through the mill levy have been used to finance the construction of a water treatment plant, the drilling of two replacement wells, replacement of several sections of pipeline, and installation of a new automated pump delivery system that took the place of the old pump station.

Academy completed its water treatment plant in 1997. Shortly after the plant went online the district hired Jacobson, who has certifications in water treatment and distribution as well as in wastewater treatment and collection. Although a Denver/Dawson aquifer well had been drilled in 1989 and tested yearly, it could not be used as a drinking supply until after the treatment plant began operations.

Academy currently has three operating wells. During the winter, the two shallow Smith Creek alluvial wells presently supply the district with 60 percent of its potable water; the deeper Denver/Dawson supplies the remaining 40 percent. During irrigation season, the district pumps a little over 50 percent of its water from the Denver/Dawson well.

The district recently completed an augmentation plan, which has been accepted by the state. The two shallower wells must be augmented at 100 percent, meaning the same volume pumped from those wells must be returned to the stream. Water pumped from the deeper Denver/Dawson must still be augmented, but at a much lower percentage.(In a conversation after the meeting, Jacobson stated that by using return flows in the form of effluent and adjusting pumping rates among the three wells, he has avoided having to purchase augmentation water or pump raw water from the Denver/Dawson into Smith Creek to fulfill augmentation requirements.)

Academy owns two water storage tanks — one with a capacity of 200,000 gallons, the other with a capacity of 100,000 gallons. Both tanks were refurbished in 1995 and are inspected and cleaned about every five years.

The district’s wastewater treatment facility consists of a simple lagoon system. DuPont said portions of the sewer pipes are cleaned and video-inspected yearly. Academy recently replaced a 500-foot section of sewer pipe; the district intends to replace two more 10-foot sections in the near future.

As part of the infrastructure upgrades, the district also raised all existing manholes to street level, which took about two years.

Plans include more water line upgrades and sewer pipe replacement. The Academy district will also replace six old hydrants and add another hydrant in a new location.

DuPont told the Donala board that Academy has operated "in the black" since 1994. It currently carries a bond debt of approximately $980,000, which will be paid off in 2014. Academy’s total mill levy is just over 27 mills; 24.6 mills are earmarked to pay off the bond and will expire once the debt has been retired; the remaining 3 mills are used for operating and maintenance expenses. DuPont said the Academy district has several hundred thousand dollars in reserve.

Residents in the district pay a service fee of $10 for water and $15 for sewer service, plus charges for water use of $4 per 1,000 gallons up to 8,000 gallons, $6 per 1,000 gallons for 8,000 to 12,000 gallons, and a third tier of $10 per 1,000 gallons for any volume over 12,000 gallons.

DuPont pointed out to Duthie that Pleasant View Estates is heavily wooded and subsequently represents a significant fire risk. He stated that the Academy district has a maximum of only 300,000 gallons of water in storage at any given time, and asked if Donala could handle a fire emergency.

Duthie replied that Donala’s storage tanks in Fox Run Park could deliver water to Academy’s tank site at the high point of Pleasant View at a pressure of 74 pounds per square inch. Should the two districts decide on consolidation, he would want an additional looping connection between Academy and Donala off Stella or Becky Drive.

Duthie asked about the production levels of Academy’s three wells. Jacobson replied that one alluvial well produces about 100 gallons per minute and the other approximately 50 gallons per minute. The Denver/Dawson well consistently produces about 200 gallons per minute.

The two boards discussed the likely elimination of Academy’s waste plant should the two districts agree to consolidate. The facility is old and would need major upgrades to meet the more restrictive standards for effluent that the state is expected to impose.

Duthie told both boards that a new lift station would be needed, but he expects that 300 Donala homes will eventually use the same lift station, so Academy would share the cost. In addition, some homes will be able to gravity feed into Donala’s sewer lines; Academy would only have to pay for the capacity to service the number of homes that would need to use the lift station.

The two boards affirmed their mutual interest in consolidation and agreed to explore it further. But after Murphy and Petrock conferred, they agreed that only Donala would pass a resolution to that effect, and worked out a mutually satisfactory arrangement.

The Donala directors passed a resolution stating the district’s intention to move forward with legal consolidation and starting the due diligence process. Academy directors agreed to an Aug. 23 deadline to pass a similar resolution. Otherwise the resolution expires, and neither party is under any obligation to continue negotiations.

Murphy advised the Academy board that passing a "concurring" resolution at this time would begin a legal process, and the two districts would only have 30 days to file with the county their intent to consolidate. Both districts would like more time to exchange and examine each other’s financial statements and give engineers from both districts a chance to confer.

Murphy and the Academy board members also wanted to ensure that residents of both districts understand that no decision has been made at this point. Donala and Academy will look at consolidation in depth to verify that the proposal is in each district’s best interest. And each will seek its constituents’ input.

Many more legal steps will follow, including a public meeting, the filing of a service plan, approval of resolutions by the two boards, and ultimately a public election.

ET controller offered as option to restrictions

Duthie told the board that pamphlets explaining irrigation restrictions had been mailed to Donala residents.

Duthie and his staff researched several weather-based options to reduce water consumption and chose the Rainbird ET controller as the most customer-friendly.

Software hooked up to a weather station uses measurements of weather conditions including temperature, humidity, wind speed, and rainfall to estimate evapotranspiration (ET), and calculates the amount of moisture needed to maintain optimum root structure. The pager system then broadcasts a signal hourly to switch receiving ET controllers on or off.

Rainbird claims the controllers are especially effective for large users such as golf courses and parks, and reduces water consumption by 25 to 40 percent when compared with a standard timer-operated system.

The company also claims that "hands-off" homeowners who do not turn off the irrigation system to compensate for rain could experience water savings of 40 to 50 percent.

Duthie ordered the $8,000 software system and will install it at the Donala office, which already has its own weather station. The accompanying paging system costs $160 per month. Duthie was able to obtain a volume discount from the company. A limited number of ET controllers, which normally sell for $700, will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Donala office for $360. An optional rain tip cup, which provides site specific rainfall measurements, sells for $105.

Customers using the system are exempted from watering restrictions.

Duthie is trying to persuade large-volume users, including town home owners, to try the system. He may offer a discount on the top water rate for town home complexes that decrease the amount of irrigable property by 25 percent.

Donala will train two employees to program the controllers, which must be properly programmed for each homeowner’s individual system in order to be effective.

Waste plant building continues

The preliminary treatment and electrical buildings are fully enclosed at the treatment plant. Contractor Weaver construction will install roofs on both buildings in May. The influent pump was scheduled to be shipped that day.

Excavation for the sequencing batch reactor is nearly complete.

Buried "mystery" pipelines continue to cause problems: Duthie told members that the contractor continues to find undocumented pipelines while digging. "A Pumpback line that runs between the liquid disposal area and the north aeration basin must be moved. The line has filled with wastewater, but there is no valve below the aeration basin with which to turn off the flow and allow the line to empty."

A rotten pipeline below the influent pipeline drain broke while crews were digging it up to move it. Workers piped the influent temporarily into the hole for the new influent station, but overwhelmed the screen while pumping the wastewater back into the influent station, spraying "garbage everywhere." It was cleaned up by the operators and all "spill" was contained.

Meeting with Triview board on cost overruns: Duthie, GMS engineer Roger Sams, and Wes Weaver of Weaver construction attended the Triview board meeting April 25 to discuss cost overruns on the waste plant expansion. Members of the Triview board are concerned about the significant increase in the price of the expansion.

Duthie said Triview board members may not fully understand the concept of "design and build" or the reasons the expansion was contracted on that basis.

Unlike being able to design a plant from scratch, the contractor had to work around an operating facility and design around problems as they occurred. Because the as-built drawings are inaccurate and incomplete, the contractor frequently encountered unexpected complications, such as undocumented pipelines and conduits during excavation. In addition, the costs of concrete, copper and steel have skyrocketed. The owning partners have included add-ons such as an air line, which also drive the cost higher.

Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority

Duthie briefed the board on the topics of discussion at the April 19 Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) meeting.

Legislation: Duthie told board members that Douglas County was working on legislation to prevent the export of water out of the county, which would affect any authority plans to consider a satellite well field north of the Palmer Divide. Lobbyist Dick Brown will keep authority members posted.

Water infrastructure planning study: Managers and engineers recently met at the office of engineering consultant firm Bishop-Brogden Associates in Englewood to review progress on the water infrastructure planning (WIP) study, which will identify opportunities to interconnect and consolidate infrastructure among Pikes Peak authority members in order to maximize use of area groundwater and provide conveyance for future surface sources. Duthie said the study is on schedule and that the meeting was productive in that it opened the lines of communication among consulting engineers and managers. The next meeting was scheduled for May 3.

Reuse pipe upgrade considered: Triview and Forest Lakes Metro districts are planning to install a reuse pipe along a portion of the Old Denver Highway. The opportunity exists to upgrade the pipe from a 12-inch to an 18-inch line at a cost of approximately $125,000.

Duthie said that the authority may eventually consider capturing reuse water from below the Tri-Lakes wastewater plant and piping it north for release into Monument Creek above Monument Lake. He said that increasing the capacity of the pipe now would be more economical than possibly having to install a second pipe along the same route later.

Authority members have not decided whether reuse is an option and are hesitant to make the investment until more is known about the acceptability and feasibility of the idea.

Duthie told board members Donala might consider fronting the additional funds and seeking reimbursement later, as installation of the pipeline is on a schedule and the opportunity may disappear before the WIP study reaches a recommendation on reuse.

Water conservation plan: Duthie reiterated to Donala directors that development of an area-wide water conservation program was mandatory if the Pikes Peak authority wished to be considered for state funding for water projects. Donala’s irrigation restrictions are part of a region-wide effort. Consultant Rocky Wiley is applying for a state grant to help fund creation of a comprehensive conservation plan for the PPRWA.

PPRWA dues: As treasurer, Duthie distributed a memo to authority members listing options for future dues. He recommended equal dues and an equal vote irrespective of size for administrative issues, and weighted dues and a weighted vote for projects. In his memo, Duthie stated that while an equal dues/equal vote policy put small districts at a financial disadvantage, that option was preferable to a weighted dues/weighted vote, which would give very large districts the ability to singly determine authority direction.

No decisions have been made yet regarding the amount of dues or the dues structure.

Jumping mouse may be de-listed: Duthie told board members the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is planning to announce a "landmark decision" on de-listing the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse as a protected species in late June. He speculated on how the agency would word the announcement to minimize the risk of lawsuits.

PPRWA seeks private funding for water projects: Duthie told the board that Gary Barber characterized his trip to Toronto with developer Mark Morley to discuss funding for water projects with private investing firm Giffels Associates as a "good meeting."

Barber officially hired as PPRWA manager: Duthie announced that after several revisions, Barber’s letter of engagement as manager of the PPRWA had been accepted by Barber and approved by a vote of authority members.

El Paso County Water Authority update

Duthie informed board members of developments at the April 4 El Paso County Water Authority meeting:

  • The authority, along with other entities, will sponsor a conference in September on recharging alluvial aquifers. A bill to fund several aquifer recharge studies is making its way through the state legislature; one of those will be the upper Black Squirrel project. Hosting the conference will give authority members a chance to familiarize themselves with the subject, as well as get acquainted with professionals in the field.
  • Colorado HB07-1159 appears to be on its way to approval. The bill mandates that special district elections must be held in conjunction with other elections or conducted as a mail-in ballot.
  • Duthie said executive agent Barber, along with Colorado Springs and El Paso County attorneys, is researching how to form an enterprise to administer the transit loss program. Determining each entity’s share, mailing invoices, and keeping track of payments will be time-consuming; the authority will hire an accountant or bookkeeper. It has not yet been determined whether Barber or a contract person will act as manager.

New well work inside park nearly finished

Duthie told the board that Mountain View Electric Association had installed the transformer for new Well 14, located just off Stella Drive inside the southern boundary of Fox Run Park. The district is digging the hole for the vault and will bring a pipeline outside the park easement, after which Donala will "pretty up" the site.

Property that was removed or damaged during well digging operations, including a split-rail fence, power pole, and a grate, were repaired or replaced.

Duthie told board members that two homeowners living near the intersection of Becky and Stella Drives in Pleasant View Estates have built permanent structures on Donala’s water line easement. One is a concrete basketball court. The district planned to route the pipeline to the new well through the easement.

Although Donala has the right to remove any permanent structure encroaching on the easement, Duthie said the district may be able to work around the problem.

Miscellaneous notes of interest

  • El Paso County completed condemnation of the remaining strip of land that had prevented completion of the Struthers Road extension south of Baptist Road. Frazee construction can resume work at will.
  • All the equipment for Well 2A has been installed in the well hole. Donala expects to have the well operational within a month.
  • The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment inspected the Tri-Lakes facility and found no violations. The inspector did suggest that a "no trespassing" sign be installed.
  • Donala has started daily accounting for effluent sales. Each morning a spreadsheet recording effluent measurements must be filled out. Duthie has discovered that because accounting is done on a daily rather than monthly basis, he must release extra effluent to make sure that augmentation obligations for Jake’s Lake and golf course irrigation water have been met.
  • To encourage physical fitness and give employees incentive to lower body weight, Duthie initiated a weight loss challenge. The first four employees to lose at least 10 percent of their body weight in three months will receive a $125 gift certificate.

The meeting went into executive session at 3:36 p.m. to discuss the purchase, acquisition, lease or transfer of water, and personnel matters.

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, May 15 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

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Triview Metropolitan District, April 11: Board approves new impact fees

By Elizabeth Hacker

At a special meeting held on April 11, the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors approved new commercial, office, and industrial development impact fees that will be effective May 1. In other business, the board approved an increase in the price of construction water from $4 per 1,000 gallons to $7.25, and to sell construction water to the YMCA.

District Director Larry Bishop reported that he had called the meeting because it was important to have the impact fees approved before any new development plans were submitted. Because THF Realty was preparing to submit plans for The Timbers shopping center to the Town of Monument in May, it was important for the board to take immediate action.

Bishop reminded the board that currently there is a flat fee of $150 for all commercial, office, and industrial development, which is not sufficient to pay for the infrastructure needed to service businesses. He added that Triview was the only district that he was aware of that didn’t have a fee structure to cover the cost of infrastructure and urged the board to adopt the resolution.

Kevin Burnett of local consultant firm Red Oak Associates stated that often developers take on the task of building the infrastructure but that in this district, because Triview was responsible for it, the fees were needed. He noted that the proposed fee structure is based on proven methodology that has been tested in other rapidly developing Colorado communities to fund infrastructure.

The economic formula accounts for traffic generated by each business based on the most recent Colorado Department of Transportation trip generation manual. It then assesses a cost per square foot of building floor space that will cover funding the infrastructure. For instance, a gas station will generate more traffic than an electronics store, so the fee per square foot would be greater to cover its fair share of the infrastructure.

Bishop emphasized that this is a one-time fee imposed on commercial development and added that there would be an incentive rebate program for large retailers that generated sales tax revenue equal to the impact fee within a certain time, which has proven to be successful in other communities. He added that the $200 park and recreation fee would not be included in the impact fee. It could not be justified because residents, not businesses, benefit from parks.

The fees are shown in the table below.

Impact Fees  

Current

 

Proposed

 

Commercial

Office

Industrial

 

Commercial
/sqft

Office
/sqft

Industrial
 /sqft

                 
Drainage   $1,500 $1,500.00 $1,500.00   $0.41 $0.41 $0.41
                 
Roads & Bridges
 
Shopping Center   $150.00       $3.52
Speciality Retail   $150.00       $4.64
Electronics Superstore   $150.00       $4.23
Free-Standing Discount Store   $150.00       $5.18
Building Materials Lumber Store   $150.00       $4.84
Home Improvement Super Store   $150.00       $3.61
Supermarket   $150.00       $11.31
Hardware/Paint Store   $150.00       $4.46
Convenience Market   $150.00       $41.85
High Turnover (sit down) Restaurant   $150.00       $18.23
Fast Food Restraurant   $150.00       $46.42
Gas Station   $150.00       $91.39
Video Rental   $150.00       $12.79
Bank   $150.00       $39.53
Pharmacy   $150.00       $8.11
             
Office   $150.00         $1.40
Industrial   $150.00           $0.92

In response to the board’s concern that the fees were too high and would discourage development, attorney Peter Susemihl reported that he had not observed that such fees have discouraged development in other communities or districts that he works for. Burnett added that while developers might not like the fees, they generally agree that they are needed to fund roads and other infrastructure necessary to bring in and service their costumers.

Bishop noted that the proposed fee structure was less than other communities such as Fountain, that the board has been studying impact fees since August 2006, and now was the time to take action because the developer of The Timbers was planning to submit plans in May. With some reservation, the board unanimously approved the resolution.

Construction water fee increased

Construction water is sprayed over a construction site to reduce dust created when a site is graded. Bishop reported that he is only able to sell treated water and at $4 per 1,000 gallons, and that the district was rapidly reducing a finite resource that would one day have to be replaced by more expensive surface water. He noted that other water districts, such as Woodmoor, do not sell ground water for construction purposes. He reported that Promontory Pointe has requested construction water for several months during the summer.

Board member Steve Stephenson expressed concern over using treated water and asked why they couldn’t sell effluent water for construction. Bishop responded that he had looked into it but that it would have to be trucked up to the site and the road to the sewer treatment plant could not handle the traffic. Stephenson also expressed concern that the request for construction water came at the same time as summer irrigation and wondered if both demands could be met. Bishop responded that the district could meet both needs. The board approved the increase in the construction water fee.

Bishop also asked the board to allow him to sell construction water to the YMCA, which is actually located in the Woodmoor water district. Because that district doesn’t sell construction water, the YMCA had requested construction water from Triview. After much discussion, the board approved the sale of construction water to the YMCA.

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Triview Metropolitan District, April 25: Large shopping center planned; treatment plant costs soar

By Elizabeth Hacker

The board heard reports on a large shopping complex and waste treatment plant cost overruns at its regular scheduled monthly meeting April 25. Bob Eskridge was appointed to replace board member Martha Gurnick, and Julie Glenn’s absence was excused.

Developer describes shopping complex plan

Karen Blumenstein of THF Realty addressed the board to explain the initial plan for developing a 600,000-square-foot shopping complex at the corner of Jackson Creek and Baptist Road. Blumenstein explained that THF is a full-service development company that plans, builds and leases commercial properties, has developed 110 shopping centers, seven of which are in Colorado, and manages over 24 million square feet of commercial property.

THF’s shopping centers blend big retailers, such as Super Target, with smaller stores and chain restaurants. Blumenstein emphasized that THF is not a "cut-and-run" developer, and that because THF leases and manages most of its centers, its business commitment is for the long run, usually 20 years or more. Often, Blumenstein explained, the big anchor stores prefer to own their property, so they generally sell a property where the store sits after the construction is completed.The anchors attract traffic to the centers and benefit smaller franchises, she said.

Blumenstein explained that there were some issues that still had to be worked out before THF could finalize the purchase of the property. These issues included the status of the permit for the protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse, the property exchange for the Baptist Road interchange, bringing the Watt property into the district, and the cost of impact fees.

She noted that currently the Watt property, formerly Foxworth-Galbraith, had been annexed into Monument, and water and sewer service would have to be provided by Triview. She said that if these issues could be worked out and THF could get a handle on the cost, it would move ahead in the next 30 days, lot grading would begin in July, and in the latter part of 2009, revenue generated from sales tax could be expected to double.

Blumenstein added that if the project goes forward, THF would change the name from The Timbers and while she didn’t know what the new name would be, it would reflect the character and history of the area. She also said that the building that once housed Foxworth-Galbraith would be demolished.

Director Steve Stephenson said that the district had approved impact fees to pay for infrastructure that would benefit commercial development. Blumenstein replied that might be true if the fees were not exorbitantly high, making development too expensive. She noted that the impact from shopping centers on water and sewer was not significant and that they were working with the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority on the roads. She indicated that THF’s goal was to attract long-term tenants, so its lease agreement had to be competitive on the front end, which in the long run would benefit the district and the town.

Wastewater treatment plant $3.6 million over budget

At the invitation of the board, Dana Duthie of the Donala Water and Sanitation District, Roger Sams of GMS Engineering, and Wes Weaver of Weaver construction were in attendance to discuss cost overruns for phase one of the wastewater treatment facility. In August 2004, the cost for phase one of the treatment plant was estimated to be $8.4 million dollars. The cost has increased and is now estimated to be $12.1 million.

Duthie began by explaining why Donala elected to go with an open-ended design-build contract rather than a bottom-line contract. He noted that in addition to being faced with constructing a new treatment process, they were also faced with site limitations and an unfamiliar history.

Duthie explained that the original treatment plant had been built to service Forest Lakes, a development that went bankrupt in the 1980s. The treatment plant had sat in mothballs, and because of a payment dispute, the as-built drawings were never completed so they were not certain what they would encounter once construction began, which has proven to be an ongoing problem. He pointed out that just that day they had found a pipeline with no valve.

Duthie reported that while there were cost overruns, there were problems that were never anticipated, such as the need for additional backup generators and a way to fit the equalization basins on the small site. Due to federal regulations for Preble’s mouse habitat, the area where they could expand the plant had been reduced, which was a site constraint in determining where to locate the equalization ponds.

Duthie reported that three contractors with up-front experience were identified through the bidding process and Weaver was selected because it was head-and-shoulders above the others. He acknowledged overruns but said that Weaver had also saved them money on other items, and its experience was invaluable. Duthie stated that in his opinion, despite the overruns, it was a good partnership and that they were fortunate to have Weaver as the contractor.

Roger Sams of GMS explained that the 2004 cost estimate included a contingency that at the time was standard. But since then, the rise in costs for construction materials and equipment have risen to a level never before seen in the industry, and these steep increases have contributed to cost overruns for the treatment plant. As an example, Sams reported that between 2004 and 2006, the increased cost for copper alone translated into a 62 percent increase in the cost of electrical components for construction projects. That has had an effect on the bottom line for the treatment plant.

Sams reported that in addition to increases in construction prices, there was "scope creep," or items added that were not anticipated or things the districts wanted in addition to the original scope. He said that after the ground was broken, things became more complicated, and while they were anticipating surprises, they had no idea there would be so many. To enhance the on-site electrical needs, two generators were added at a cost of $500,000. After construction began, the state changed its ammonia standards, which meant beefing up the de-nitrification system. Sams reported the change in the cost estimate for phase one of the treatment plant expansion had increased from $7.4 million in August 2004 to $12.1 million now.

In response to the board’s question if there was anything it could do to reduce the cost, Duthie said there was, but they would run the risk of a sewer spill, which in the end might be even more costly due to hefty fines. Stephenson expressed concern about where the money would come from and asked Duthie if he was aware of other funding. Duthie replied that there were two other state loans that they might qualify for and that Donala also had funding capacity to provide financing, adding that as long as they had come this far along in the project, they needed to find a way to finish it so that it will serve the needs of district residents.

Bishop said that he would continue to attend the monthly meetings so he could more closely monitor the progress and expenses of the plant and keep the board updated on any concerns or changes.

Baptist Road concerns

Board members expressed concern about the slow progress being made on Baptist Road, saying they didn’t understand why, on nice days, a full crew wasn’t working. Bishop reported that weather had an effect but that there were other issues, the major one for Triview being to agree on a fair price for increasing the size of the pipeline. Bishop reported that Triview was willing to pay a fair price but that the contractor price was exorbitant and those negotiations were ongoing.

Monument Creek interceptor pipeline discussed

The representative from Nolte Engineering reported that he had attended the bid opening for the Monument Creek interceptor pipeline and that the Forest Lakes district was also represented. The low bidder was Pate Construction at $804,000.

The two issues that need to be addressed are who pays for what and the size of the pipe. The bid was for an 18- inch pipe, but now that housing is proposed on the west side of I-25 and the Pikes Peak Water Authority may need capacity in the future, Nolte suggested it would be prudent to increase the pipe’s size from 18 inches to 21 inches at a cost of $20,000. Stephenson suggested that it would be better to increase the pipe size now rather than finding a solution later, to which Bishop asked that further discussion be held in executive session.

Car wash plan still a problem

Bishop reported that the status of the Big Wave Carwash proposal had not changed. A month ago the developer had made a counter-offer that was refused and the Town of Monument might ask that the car wash be removed from Checker Auto’s development plan.

Bishop reported that there was interest from a developer for a Blue Sky Carwash to be placed in Monument Ridge that was more reasonable because they were only requesting 4.4 acre-feet per of water year and agreed to shut down if they exceeded 2 million gallons. He added that it was a long tunnel bay that used 60 percent reclaimed water, or one-eighth the amount requested in the Big Wave Carwash proposal.

New water tank

Bishop reported that Triview was preparing a legal description in order to close on a parcel of land for the water tank at Sanctuary Pointe, and although it was not the preferred site, it will work. The water will be piped to treatment plant B once it is operational.

Sanctuary Pointe negotiations

Bishop reported that negotiations for inclusion of Sanctuary Pointe are ongoing and that Classic Homes is pitting Donala against Triview in an effort to get the best deal.

Revenues sluggish

Dale Hill, office manager, reported that revenues were behind due to the sluggish housing market and that residents weren’t using as much water due to the time of year. She anticipated that once residents began irrigating, the revenue would come up to the projected levels.

The board adjourned into executive session at 6:30 p.m. to discuss a contract. The session lasted 15 minutes and no actions were taken.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, April 12: Woodmoor launches conservation program

By Sue Wielgopolan

The Woodmoor district will implement a mandatory watering schedule this summer, beginning June 1. Homeowners may irrigate three days each week; specific watering days will be assigned according to street address numbers. Woodmoor residents will receive fliers detailing the district’s conservation program with the billings for April. The enclosures include information on rebate offers on water-saving appliances and devices.

Manager Phil Steininger showed preliminary Web site information about Woodmoor’s conservation program to board members at their April 10 meeting, and asked for input, modification suggestions, and corrections. Detailed information should be accessible by the middle of May from the district’s home page at www.woodmoorwater.com under the tab "2007 summer water use program."

Operations manager Randy Gillette announced that residents had their first taste of surface water during March. While several glitches remain to be worked out before the surface system is consistently functional, operators were able to successfully treat and distribute surface water from Lake Woodmoor and Monument Creek for most of the month.

2007 summer water use program

Manager Phil Steininger displayed the proposed additional Web site pages engineering firm RTW created for Woodmoor’s 2007 summer water use program, and reviewed specifics with board members. The new pages include details of irrigation restrictions, a list of products eligible for rebates, rebate amounts and a downloadable rebate form, links to other useful websites, and information for customers on efficient irrigation practices.

Woodmoor customers will be mailed a pamphlet detailing the conservation program, including the mandatory watering schedule, the main points of which are summarized below:

  • Watering restrictions apply to hand-watering using hoses, manual sprinklers and irrigation systems
  • No watering on Mondays
  • Odd-numbered-address watering days — Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday
  • Even-numbered-address watering days — Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
  • Watering hours — Before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on assigned days

Requests for exceptions and exemptions must be submitted to the Woodmoor district office and will be considered case-by-case. Waivers for hardship or circumstances such as newly sodded lawns may be granted at the discretion of staff or the board.

Penalties for violations will include warnings and fines of up to $50, dependent upon the number of prior violations. If a homeowner or business fails to follow the irrigation schedule, the district reserves the option of installing a flow restrictor on the water supply line.

South treatment plant distributes surface water

Gillette told board members that most of the chemical problems involving the treatment of surface water at the south plant had been worked out, and water from Lake Woodmoor and Monument Creek had been successfully distributed to customers. While some mechanical issues remain, Gillette said that great progress had been made.

Surface water contains much higher amounts of suspended solids than groundwater. The district’s two surface water sources also differ significantly from each other. When switching between the three sources, the coagulants, polymers, and other chemicals used to pull suspended material from the water were often unsuccessful in removing enough solids to meet state standards. When that happened, water stored in the temporary holding tank within the plant, called a clear well, had to be dumped.

The problem had been ongoing for over a month. Chemical vendors and engineers were having great difficulty helping operators find a mixture that would work effectively on water from the different sources. RTW consulting engineer Mike Rothberg said that he had started several treatment plants, and that usually he was able to achieve satisfactory results after trying just two or three chemical blends. Operators at the south plant were on the fifth or sixth mixture.

On several occasions Rothberg brought engineers and technicians from his Denver office and spent time with plant operators manipulating the chemicals, eventually settling on a new product that appears to work well and is currently under trial use.

Gillette thanked Rothberg for his help, particularly since on the latest visit he and his team worked late into the evening with the Woodmoor operators, finally finishing around 10 p.m. Rothberg in turn complimented supervisor Gillette and his operators for their dedication. He said the conditions presented a real challenge, and that Gillette had acted as an innovator in developing methods to make quick changes in the chemical feeds.

Work slows on new well

Now that the south treatment facility’s surface system is almost fully operational, new Well 20 is no longer urgently needed, and the timetable for completion has been extended. District engineer Jessie Shaffer told the Woodmoor directors that design work on the well has slowed. He is presently working on the pumphouse design and the equipment that will be installed in the well hole.

The district is still waiting to learn if El Paso County will issue a variance enabling it to construct an access to the well off Fairplay. Woodmoor does not want to build an access off Higby, which it deems dangerous due to limited visibility and traffic speed. The district would also prefer not to access Ox Yoke Way, which is a residential street and the only other option presently available.

Steininger asked if work on the well will continue into 2008. Shaffer replied that Well 20 will be complete in 2007, although not in time for the summer irrigation season.

Board reviews rate schedule options

Steininger distributed a draft proposal for four options for new water and sewer rates that would not take effect until after the summer irrigation season.

Steininger told the board that Woodmoor staff had worked with utilities consultant Roger Hartman to simplify the rate structure as directed by the board. He outlined the goals the district was attempting to promote in establishing the new pricing schedule.

This year, as instructed by the board, the district reduced the number of volume use divisions, or "blocks." And as in past years, rates per thousand gallons for greater use are significantly higher.

After Steininger answered directors’ questions, the board voted to authorize Steininger to proceed in refining the preferred option for the new water and sewer rate schedule. The board will receive a final rate proposal in May. Steininger expects the new rates to take effect sometime in October or November.

Board allocates funds for tractor purchase

Gillette told board members that he would like to purchase a mini-loader to use when repairing mains or doing construction work. Woodmoor presently owns only one loader, which must be driven back and forth between the job site and the office to load and unload material into a dump truck for transport. The distance is often significant. Driving the loader is a time-consuming task, as the equipment moves at a very slow speed.

Gillette had initially asked for $35,000 for a new Bobcat tractor, but reduced the amount to $18,000, thinking he could find a used model. After investigating the local market, he realized he could buy a larger used mini-loader, which is more stable and also more suitable for Woodmoor’s needs, for the greater amount.

Steininger said the additional investment would not impact the overall budget. The board voted unanimously to allocate the additional funds.

New high school seeks reuse plan subsidy

The new high school would like to use raw water for irrigation, which would involve installing a new pump on Lake Woodmoor, as well as a separate pipeline, holding tank, and control system. RTW engineer Paul Gilbert estimated that the total cost for a non-potable irrigation system for the school at $1.25 million.

To help defray the cost, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 officials want to apply for a grant through the Energy and Mineral Assistance Program of the state Department of Local Affairs. They have requested that Woodmoor agree to be named as lead applicant, believing that the grant stands a better chance of gaining approval if the water provider is listed as the primary applicant.

Woodmoor attorney Erin Smith saw no problem in approving D-38’s request. Half of the grant money will come back to the district if the grant is approved, which could amount to about one-sixth of the total cost of the project.

Lewis-Palmer High School renovating fields

Shaffer told board members that Lewis-Palmer High School is currently working on renovations to its stadium. The school is constructing a new field house north of the existing fields and a concession building on the west side.

The high school will use a redundant potable tap that had previously been installed as irrigation backup to supply water to the new buildings. Shaffer said the high school is installing artificial turf, so Woodmoor will see a drop in water use.

Construction review

Shaffer gave a brief overview of construction activity in the district.

  • The new Tri-Lakes YMCA broke ground. Construction of utilities will start immediately.
  • Contractors were scheduled to begin tearing down the existing structures at the former Hunter Run Farms in preparation for construction of the new Palmer Ridge High School.
  • Village Center Filings 2 and 3 off Highway 105 are ongoing. The developer has not yet met all district requirements.
  • The district is still waiting to approve the final documents for Misty Acres Filing 1, which is located south of County Line Rod near the campground.

JUC update

Benny Nasser, Woodmoor’s delegate to the Joint Use Committee (JUC), reported that the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment facility is running well. The committee is composed of one member from each of the boards of the three owning entities, which includes Woodmoor, and Monument and Palmer Lake sanitation districts.

Nasser informed the Woodmoor board that the land affected by the facility’s planned bank stabilization project on Monument Creek does not belong to the plant but to private landowner Ramona Smith. Manager Bill Burks and Woodmoor engineer Jessie Shaffer are investigating the advantages, disadvantages, and economic feasibility of purchase and easement agreements.

The Army Corps of Engineers has not yet issued the 404 construction permit that is required before work can begin on the project. Since the area lies within Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, work must be completed before the May 1 deadline. Otherwise the project will be delayed until November.

Attorney Tad Foster will meet with state officials April 20 to discuss effluent copper limits. The Tri-Lakes facility applied for and obtained temporarily relaxed limits, pending the outcome of tests on the toxicity of copper to stream life. Recently, the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a new formula for "plugging in" data to the model being used; the new formula would likely have the effect of tightening, rather than relaxing, the amount of copper that could be released into streams. Foster will argue against the change.

The screen on the influent station, which removes large solids from incoming wastewater, broke twice during March. Plant manager Bill Burks said plastic plugs, which are created when contractors tap into sewer service lines, jammed in the rakes. Normally the plugs are captured and don’t wash into the sewer lines. Steininger told the board that on all new construction in Woodmoor, "Y" joints are required to be installed and capped at tap sites, eliminating the necessity of drilling into lines for access.

The public portion of the meeting concluded at 3 p.m. and the board went into executive session to discuss the purchase, acquisition, or sale of water rights; to consult with their attorney on specific legal questions related to negotiating positions; and to receive advice on negotiating strategies.

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The next regular meeting of the Woodmoor board will take place on May 10 at 1 p.m. at the Woodmoor office, 1845 Woodmoor Drive.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, April 23: Board approves merger agreement

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Below: At the TLMFRA meeting April 23, seated at the table (L to R) Battalion Chief Bryan Jack, Chief Robert Denboske (behind Jack), board members Rod Wilson, John Hildebrandt, Si Sibell, Charlie Pocock, Bob Hansen, John Hartling, Keith Duncan, and Rick Barnes. Photo by Susan Hindman

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By Susan Hindman

The Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection Districts moved one step closer to their goal of becoming one entity after the two boards voted for an "agreement for inclusion and service" and a related resolution at the April 23 meeting.

The meeting was intended to get comments from residents in the two districts, but of the 3,292 notices mailed out about the meeting, only nine residents attended. About half of those voiced complaints, criticisms, or suggestions.

Director Charlie Pocock began by giving an overview of the effort to get to this point in the process of joining the two districts. He said that since the Fire Authority was formed in 2005, "It has been successful beyond our expectations. We have improved significantly our ability to serve the residents of both districts."

He said that from a "user standpoint," there will be no visible difference: the stations, staff, and level of service would remain the same. The changes would be internal. Assuming the districts are merged starting Jan. 1, 2008, the board would remain the same until May, when the number of directors would permanently drop from 10 to seven. Future board members will be elected at large, not from any specific district.

The tax rate for Woodmoor-Monument residents would drop from 9.921 to 8.5 mills. Any future rate increases would have to be approved by election.

As for the districts operating as the Fire Authority for the past two years, "Think of it as living together before getting married," Pocock said. "Once it’s done (meaning the merger), neither of us can back out." He pointed to the fairness of both districts paying the same amount of taxes and the greater administrative efficiency the joining offers – no more need for three board meetings (the two districts and the authority), three budgets, three audits, etc.

Public comments

Woodmoor resident Bill Nealon wondered when the undated notices had been mailed and why no other information had been sent out to residents. Pocock responded that notices should have been received 20 to 30 days prior to the meeting, in accordance with Colorado statutes. Board members noted that OCN, the Tri-Lakes Tribune, and the Gazette have all run stories about the districts’ intent.

Nealon and some others in attendance were under the impression that the merger would change the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) ratings, which would affect homeowners’ insurance premiums. But Battalion Chief Bryan Jack said that those areas currently rated 5 would not change. Both districts are now rated 5 where there are hydrants; where there are not hydrants, the rating is 9. Those with a rating of 9 may be reclassified with a new rating number.

Board members also suggested people shop around for insurance, because not all companies base their premiums on the ISO rating.

One Woodmoor resident wondered why the authority strayed from its original wording that if a joint effort worked, the two districts would vote to dissolve and create a whole new district. Instead, she said, Woodmoor is being asked to dissolve and "include" into Tri-Lakes.

Pocock pointed to past efforts (in the Tri-Lakes area and elsewhere) at trying to get voters to approve two related ballot questions, only to have one of the issues pass and one fail. In addition, if they had "consolidated" instead of "included," it would have increased the cost of the election and created extra paperwork and relicensing. Consolidating would have also required starting over the process of obtaining a TABOR waiver (currently held by both districts) and redoing the impact fee that the Tri-Lakes district currently imposes on new building permits.

As a result of this change to "inclusion," only residents in the Woodmoor-Monument district will be voting on the issue. This elicited surprise from Tri-Lakes district resident Roger Lance, who said that until this meeting, "I didn’t know I couldn’t vote on it."

A Woodmoor resident wanted to know when there would be a fully staffed ambulance "24/7" at Station 3 on Woodmoor Drive, considering the high number of senior citizens and the six D-38 schools in the area. Treasurer John Hildebrandt emphasized that it’s not the ambulance but "the person who is the responder who is the important one." That person is the paramedic, and there are paramedics at all three stations 24/7, he said. They arrive on the fire trucks. "Staffing levels will stay the same or improve," he said.

All fire trucks have defibrillators, 12-lead EKG machines, and communication capability with emergency rooms, and can receive authority to administer drugs – so residents get "the same level of service with the engine, just not the ride," Pocock said.

In addition, he said, the Woodmoor Drive station "will stay."

In response to a question about what would happen to Woodmoor-Monument’s reserve funds, Pocock said that at the end of this year, Woodmoor-Monument should have $271,659 in reserves, and Tri-Lakes $362,396. Those amounts would be pooled when the districts merged. Tri-Lakes would also bring $255,000 in debt payments to the merger, but Pocock said that accounts for only 7 percent of the district’s current total budget.

Lance asked why Tri-Lakes is considering putting a station in the Jackson Creek area "when Wescott (fire district) is right across the street." He wondered if anyone had talked with Wescott about combining the districts.

Director Si Sibell said that "for 25 years and better, we have been trying to do exactly what we are doing now, combining districts, and it just didn’t work." So this is potentially a first step in that direction. Director Bob Hansen said if "we can do this to bring it all together," then "it naturally makes sense" to eventually bring in the others. "Then everybody up here could all be one."

Regarding adding that station, Director Rick Barnes said, "As densities increase … we still may need another station there (in Jackson Creek) in the future."

Lance commented that the issue sounded "political." Hildebrandt said the idea of adding Wescott "is a great one. We have talked about this. And Wescott right now, I would say they’re a little bit in a state of flux. They have Colorado Springs coming up from the south (they’re building a station on Northgate Road). The thought is, what is Colorado Springs’ intent with Wescott?" That district used to extend farther south than it currently does.

Though the boards haven’t discussed the issue together in over a year, and their relationship hasn’t always been smooth, it was emphasized that at the operational level, the districts’ firefighters all support one another, no matter how their boards are getting along.

In addition, Director Rod Wilson said the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument firefighters support combining the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument districts.

Woodmoor resident Jim Taylor complained that the board members "have been inconspicuous among local groups," and should think about speaking to groups like the Chamber of Commerce, Sertoma, and Tri-Lakes Women’s Club. "If you did, and you explained what you are doing, you would get more support in the community," he said.

Lance added that the board "needs to let the Tri-Lakes folks know they don’t have a vote in this – as a courtesy," he said. "Let people know who’s voting and who’s not and why."

Merger motions approved

Formalities followed the public comments. The Woodmoor-Monument board had to agree to dissolve and be included into the Tri-Lakes district. The Tri-Lakes board then had to agree to accept Woodmoor-Monument for inclusion. All motions passed unanimously.

What’s next

The Town of Monument has already weighed in and has no objections to the inclusion. The El Paso County Commissioners were expected to approve the inclusion as a consent item April 26 (Note: Commissioners unanimously approved it at that meeting.) Then the matter goes before the District Court, which will hold a public meeting and then choose an election date. Pocock noted the district hopes for an Oct. 2 election, with the goal of Jan. 1, 2008, as the effective date.

At that point, the two districts and the Fire Authority’s name would change to the Tri-Lakes-Monument Fire Protection District.

Financials

Because the usual monthly meetings of the two districts and Fire Authority (scheduled for two days after this public hearing) had been canceled, Hildebrandt gave a brief report on where things stood as of March 31.

Of the three main income sources – property taxes, specific ownership taxes, and ambulance revenue – the ambulance revenue was particularly noteworthy: Since January, $200,000 had been collected, more than 50 percent of the budgeted amount for the year. In addition, the state’s portion of the grant for the Tri-Lakes ambulance had been received.

"The administrative expenses are up, with early one-time expenses, but the remainder of the expense categories are in good shape," he said.

There was no news on the progress of solving water issues at Station 2.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month following the meetings of the boards of the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District. The next meeting will be May 23 at Tri-Lakes Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (near the bowling alley). For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, April 19: Board changes school boundaries; picks Gabel as Palmer Ridge High School Principal

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Click on the drawing to zoom in or download the map

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 Board of Education meeting April 19, the board unanimously approved the Orange Scenario as the school boundaries for the 2007-08 school year (see drawing). The board also unanimously approved Gary Gabel as principal of Palmer Ridge High School. Gabel’s background includes 11 years of administrative experience plus eight years of secondary teaching experience. He is currently an assistant principal at Smoky Hill High School in the Cherry Creek School District. Prior to that, he was assistant principal at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Citizen comments

Eric Rokke spoke on behalf of several parents in support of a teacher who had submitted a letter of resignation. Rokke asked that the board delay approval of her letter until it could be determined what prompted it. After consulting with Ted Belteau, executive director of Personnel & Student Services, board President Jes Raintree replied that the district’s staff evaluation tool had been used in determining which teachers would be retained. The teacher’s resignation was approved as part of the consent agenda.

Richard Nasby expressed concern about the effect of the elementary school boundary changes. He noted that his son’s travel time would increase about one half-hour as he is bused past Grace Best Elementary School (GBES), his current school, so he can attend Palmer Lake Elementary School. Nasby was encouraged to work with Superintendent Ray Blanch to mitigate the effects of the boundary change.

Shawn O’Toole and Susan Voyzy requested that the board consider improvements in the compensation of substitute teachers. Cheryl Wangeman, chief financial officer, noted that some increases are planned for the 2007-08 school year and offered to meet with them to discuss the issue.

Deborah Goth said she was disappointed by what she described as school board member Stephen Plank’s interference in the interviewing of candidates for Palmer Ridge High School principal. She also objected to the board picking a name for the school that was not on the list of those recommended by the naming committee. She said that Plank and board members Gail Wilson and Dee Dee Eaton had met with members of the group D38 Deserves Better, which opposed the district’s bond issue and mill levy override measures on the November ballot.

Later in the meeting, Wilson said there was never a time when more than two board members met together with the D38 Deserves Better group. Eaton added, "I supported Stephen Plank’s intervention because there were questions about the process. I am not involved with and don’t support (D38 Deserves Better)."

Construction project status

Jeffrey Chamberlin of RLH Engineering presented the status for the Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) project. Some highlights:

  • The ground-breaking is planned for May 5, 10 a.m., at 1680 Woodmoor Drive.
  • No structures remain on the site. Demolition of the foundations and slabs is underway.
  • Chamberlin is working on fire hazard mitigation and forestry issues with Jim Woodman of the Woodmoor Improvement Association.
  • Grants are being sought for the geothermal heating system and the raw water irrigation project.
  • The project is on schedule. Some work now being done was originally scheduled for May.

Chamberlin presented the status on the Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) work. Some highlights:

  • The formal design and bidding is completed and construction administration is beginning.
  • The project is on schedule.

Blanch complimented H+L Architects, RLH Engineering, and Saunders Construction for staying on schedule and within budget and for being sensitive to environmental issues.

The board unanimously approved $4,317,815 as the guaranteed maximum price from Saunders Construction for the LPHS stadium project; $100,000 for preparation of precast and joist and metal deck shop drawings for the PRHS project; $25,998 for construction and materials testing services by Terracon for the LPHS stadium project; and $27,059 for electrical service construction for the LPHS stadium project by Mountain View Electric Association.

District realizes energy savings

The results of the fourth year of the Siemens Building Technologies Energy Management and Performance Contract indicate the district’s annual savings continue in excess of the target. During the past year, the district saved $262,639 in energy costs, including electricity, natural gas, and water. The savings since the program began in 2002 total $897,376. These savings have also resulted in reductions in environmental impacts, including millions of pounds of greenhouse gases.

Other matters

  • All schools accredited – The board approved continued school district accreditation of all the district’s schools and the Monument Academy for the 2007-08 school year. In their annual reports to the District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC), all the schools reported meeting their improvement objectives for the year.
  • Student highlights – Melissa Savage, LPHS senior, discussed the opportunities that have opened for her as a result of her independent study of the basic principles of earth orbit calculation. This summer she will attend a summer internship program at the Cal Tech Jet Propulsion Labs and will provide instruction on the software she has been using. The software is produced by AGI. The company has agreed to pay for Melissa’s education in aerospace engineering at CU-Boulder and will offer her a job on graduation. She thanked her teachers, LPHS Principal Mark Brewer, and especially John Mann, who suggested the independent study project, for helping and encouraging her. She added that there are many Lewis-Palmer students with talent and many great teachers to inspire them.
  • LPHS Student Council report – Student Body Vice President Kristin Hughes updated the board on Prom (May 12), LP Spirit projects, and upcoming Student Council elections.
  • Trees picked as executive director of Elementary Education – The board unanimously approved the employment of Dr. Shirley Trees as the district’s new executive director of elementary education. Trees is currently the elementary education director in Littleton School District 6. She has been a resident of District 38 since 1985.
  • Employee health insurance premiums decrease – The board approved continuing health insurance through CEBT for 2007-08. Due to a decrease in the district’s claims this past year, there will be an overall 3 percent net decrease in premiums and a one-month premium "holiday" for employees.
  • School Volunteer Week recognized – The board recognized the great value of the district’s many volunteers who support its educational programs. They approved a resolution in honor of National Volunteer Week.
  • Policies regarding business practices approved – The board approved revisions to the following policies: GDBA, Educational Support Personnel Wage Schedules; Policy DJ/DJA, Purchasing/Purchasing Authority; and Policy DBJ, Budget Transfers. They adopted new Policy DD, Funding Proposals, Grants and Special Projects. They also approved the Spending Authority Approval List for 2007-08.
  • DAAC report – Co-chair Debbie Leasure reported all schools had completed their annual reports. Co-chairs for 2007-08 and 2008-09 will be Mary Perez and Betty Hutchinson. At the May 8, DAAC meeting, Wangeman will present the school district budget. At the May 17 board meeting, Leasure and her co-chair Becky Yoder will report to the board on the progress DAAC made this year.
  • Revised Policy Manual tabled – The board tabled adoption of the revised policy manual pending further review.
  • Board member comments – Wilson announced that Yoder will serve as the public member of the Audit Committee. She also noted that Battle of the Books at GBES was a great example of what kids can do and encouraged the public to visit student artwork at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts. Plank reminded the public the board meets with Chamberlin on the second Thursday of each month to discuss in detail the progress on the construction projects. He invited people to attend these workshops. He also invited people to phone him if they want to discuss issues. Board member LouAnn Dekleva thanked the volunteers who help at many levels within District 38 and encouraged the public to engage in positive ways to help the schools move forward. Raintree expressed her delight in watching the performances of students who participated in Battle of the Books at Colorado College and in the high school production, Beverly Hillbillies She also applauded the YMCA on their groundbreaking for the new Tri-Lakes facility and congratulated Dekleva for completing her coursework and receiving her certification in Volunteer Administration.

At the end of the meeting, the board held an executive session with Blanch regarding personnel matters.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center in the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next meeting is 7 p.m. May 17.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. Meeting highlights from the district’s Web site were used in preparing this article.

The Monument Academy Web site is at www.monumentacademy.net.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education Workshop, April 23: Board receives overview of policy governance

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Below: D-38 school board workshop April 23 in Superintendent Ray Blanch’s office. Clockwise from the left board members Stephen Plank and Gail Wilson, Blanch, CASB consultant Jim Weigel, board members Jes Raintree and LouAnn Dekleva. Photo by John Heiser

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By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board workshop April 23, Jim Weigel, a training consultant with the Colorado Association of School Boards, presented an overview of policy governance. Weigel explained that John and Miriam Carver developed policy governance to address the role and operation of boards, including corporate boards and school boards.

Defining terms

Weigel said the role of the board is to discern the expectations of the residents of the district, delegate authority to the superintendent and staff to meet those expectations, report the results to the residents, and be accountable to the residents for those results. He said, "The purpose of the board is to see to it on behalf of the residents that the district as a whole accomplishes worthwhile results for the students." He defined "governance" as "The process that makes decisions which define expectations, delegate authority, or verify performance." He defined "policy" as "A written statement of a value or perspective that underlies, controls, guides, or influences organizational conduct."

Principles

Weigel stated the following principles of policy governance:

  1. Boards should trust in their constituency. The focus should be on the residents’ expectations instead of issues inside the organization.
  2. Boards should speak with one voice or not at all. Only approved written motions count. Individual board members need to emphasize to residents that they do not speak for the entire board.
  3. Boards should formulate policy by setting the broadest principles first. Administrative procedures should be left to the superintendent and staff.
  4. Boards should define, delegate, and verify rather than react, ratify, or report.
  5. A board’s pivotal duty is to determine ends (i.e., goals, vision) related to the purpose of the district. The board is accountable for accomplishing those ends.
  6. Boards should control the means used by staff by limiting, not prescribing. The policies should identify what is not allowed, as was done in the Ten Commandments and the Bill of Rights, rather than specifying how things are to be done.
  7. Boards should first explicitly design its own products and processes.
  8. Boards should forge a relationship with staff that is empowering and safe.
  9. Boards should allow and require any reasonable interpretation of the policies.
  10. Boards should evaluate the superintendent’s performance against the policies.

An example: Hiring and promotion practices

Weigel suggested that an end of "attract and retain qualified staff" and a policy such as "be ethical, prudent, and follow the law" may be sufficient to guide the superintendent and his staff in developing hiring and promotion practices and then serve as the basis for evaluation of the superintendent’s performance.

The next step

Weigel said the next step would be to develop top-level policies starting with templates from other school boards. He estimated that would require about two days in a facilitated workshop.

The board decided to discuss it further in May and make a decision as to whether to adopt the policy governance model.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally holds a regular meeting on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center in the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson The next regular meeting is 7 p.m., May 17. Several workshops are held each month as well. For details consult the district’s Web site at www.lewispalmer.org.

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Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education, April 26: Board approves construction contracts, reviews boundary implementation plan

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Below: Superintendent Ray Blanch’s signs construction contracts April 26. (L to R): Board members Gail Wilson, Stephen Plank, LouAnn Dekleva, and Jes Raintree, Jeffery Chamberlin of RLH Engineering, Blanch, and district chief financial officer Cheryl Wangeman. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting April 26, the board approved bid packages representing about one-fourth of the total $44.9 million construction cost for Palmer Ridge High School.

Superintendent Ray Blanch then presented a plan for implementing the new school boundaries approved at the April 19 board meeting. He said there would be 26 elementary school students and 210 middle school students affected by the change. The district will provide an enrollment election window ending May 11, during which parents of those students can choose to have their child attend their previous school for the 2007-08 school year. During that transitional year, if they elect to have their child attend their previous school, the parents must provide transportation to and from the school. All families affected by the boundary change will receive information packets and enrollment election forms, and will be asked to indicate their enrollment election in writing by May 11.

Three positions on the school board are up for election in November. LouAnn Dekleva, Stephen Plank, and Jes Raintree occupy those positions. At the conclusion of the business meeting, Joanne Jenson, Blanch’s secretary, distributed information and discussed the requirements and laws regarding running for the school board. Board members then discussed various aspects of serving on the school board.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally holds its regular meeting on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center in the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, Second and Jefferson. The next regular meeting is 7 p.m. May 17. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org.

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El Paso County Planning Commission, April 17: Colorado Estates rezoning request denied

By Steve Sery

The El Paso County Planning Commission met only once in April. The slowdown in the market has reduced the pressure by developers to get projects through quickly. There were two projects in the OCN area of interest:

  • A request to rezone a lot in Colorado Estates, which is on the north side of Wakonda Way and west of I-25. The zoning is RR-3 (now RR-5), 5-acre minimum. The request was to rezone to RR-2 (now R-2.5), 2.5-acre minimum. Staff recommended approval, as this is on the extreme south end of Colorado Estates, and on the south side of Wakonda the zoning is RR-2/RR2.5. There was much opposition from residents in Colorado Estates with a concern that this would set a precedent and others would want to subdivide. After considerable discussion, the rezone was unanimously denied.
  • A variance of use request for residences at Benet Hill Monastery east of Highway 83 and north of Northgate Road. The zoning is RR-3/RR-5 but with an allowed "religious institution" special use. The proposal would include a stand-alone residence and a large facility that would house some residents and a chapel, library, and dining room. This facility would fall under the category of religious institution; only the residential portions required the variance. The primary objection of the residents, all of whom were very complimentary of the existing relationship with the monastery, was the size of the project. After many impassioned comments from the sisters, the project was approved unanimously.
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Woodmoor Improvement Association, April 24: Board hears plans for homes next to Lake Woodmoor

By Chris Pollard

At the April 24 meeting of the Woodmoor Improvement Association (WIA) Board of Directors, Bob Irwin of Colorado Lakeshore Holding LLC gave a brief presentation on plans for constructing a number of single-family homes on the eastern shore of Lake Woodmoor. The reason for the presentation was to notify the board that his company was seeking to change a sewer line easement that had previously been drawn up.

The easement, as originally routed, went through the middle of a number of the lots and would make them difficult to build on. Irwin thought that the easement description was mistaken and the sewer line placed incorrectly. A recent survey showed that the existing survey monuments were still in place and correct.

Residents asked for more details on his immediate plans. His response was that the developer would sell individual lots to builders, and the homes would be constructed to conform to existing Woodmoor covenants.

He added that their first action would be to raise the level of the lots at the lake edge and probably put in something similar to the rock rip-rap treatment that had been used around the lots adjacent to the proposed construction.

This brought up questions about the covenants that would be applied to this area, because those in Woodmoor proper control the amount of cut and fill. This concern had also been raised by Woodmoor Water and Sanitation, which did not want the lots to encroach on the lake and reduce its capacity. This had led to an agreement over the maximum height of the lake surface.

Construction of the sewer line would probably start in six months and take about a month to complete.

Residents also asked about the developer’s plans for the remaining land controlled by the holding company, much of which was platted for multi-family development. Irwin said that, currently, they had no plans for any development on the other portions. The current development climate suggested that only single-family home construction was viable.

Board declines request to extend hours limits for proposed Knollwood Village Center

At the WIA meeting in March, representatives from Copper Knoll Investments discussed their plans for the proposed development at the northeast corner of Knollwood Boulevard and State Highway 105. They also requested that the board consider a change to the agreed covenants to allow opening hours to extend beyond 9 p.m.

Hans Post, WIA president, said that subsequent to the earlier meeting the WIA had mailed out a survey to the 100 nearest homeowners asking whether they would prefer an extension of hours if the developer restricted the height of the buildings to one story or make no change and allow buildings up to the normal 30-foot height limit. Thirty-six residents responded, and just over half expressed a preference for a lower building height limit with longer hours.

Residents asked about screening the proposed buildings on the north side facing them. The developer had provided some simulated views of a single-story and a potential three-story office plan, both showing that buildings would be visible even with the screening. David Jones, the developer’s representative, said that initially 6-foot trees would be added to those already present and spaced at approximately 15-foot intervals. Some consideration was being given to planting piñon pines instead of the normal ponderosas, because piñons are shorter and have better sound-deadening properties.

Jones said was looking not for an extension of hours but unlimited hours so he could make the development attractive to national chains like Starbucks.

With residents and the board thinking that they were considering only a limited extension, considerable debate ensued as to the validity of the survey and the need for an extension. A.B. Tellez, a resident and local restaurant owner, asserted that nearly all local restaurants near residential areas usually closed around 9 p.m. because few people stayed out that late. Another resident suggested that a decision be delayed because of the apparent change in the request.

Bill Walters, vice president of the WIA, proposed a motion to maintain the original agreed-upon operating hours. With little further discussion, the motion passed.

**********

The WIA’s next meeting is scheduled for May 21, a change from the normal schedule.

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April Weather Wrap

Click here or on the photos to zoom in and view additional photos

Below: Photo by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the photo to zoom in and view additional photos

Below: Photo by Bill Kappel taken east of Highway 83 looking west along Walker Road/Highway 105 from Woodhaven Drive.

Click on the photo to zoom in and view additional photos

By Bill Kappel

Just as we’ve come to expect around the Tri-Lakes, we saw a little bit of everything thrown at us from Mother Nature in April. As is often the case, we went straight from winter to summer and skipped spring! For the month, temperatures were slightly below average and precipitation was above average, just about the best recipe we can have as we head into the growing season.

April started off on the quiet and mild side, but winter made a return at the end of the first week. Highs were a little above normal on the 1st and 2nd, soaring into the mid- and upper 60s under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies. A slight cool down moved in on the 3rd and 4th as highs dipped into the low 50s under partly cloudy skies, but this would be downright balmy compared to what we would see from the 6th through the 8th.

A shallow but powerful surge of cold, Canadian air banked up against the Front Range of the Rockies late on the 5th and stuck around through the morning of the 9th. This brought low clouds, fog, snow, and a beautiful coating of rime ice on all the exposed surfaces. Temperatures plummeted behind this cold airmass, with the high of 32 F reached at midnight on the 6th. Highs the next day stayed in the low 20s! A couple of inches of light snow also accumulated over this timeframe, but the heaviest snow held off until Sunday — of course, just in time for the Easter Bunny. Most areas only received around an inch of snow, but several locations along the east end of the Palmer Divide picked up a fresh 2-5 inches of Easter snow. Skies cleared quickly and warmer air returned on the 9th, and just about all the snow that had fallen was a distant memory adding beneficial moisture to the soil.

More active weather stuck around from the 9th through the 16th. After the very cold temperatures from the 6th through the 8th, the cold air cleared out on the 9th, and under the stronger April sun, temperatures jumped into the upper 50s and low 60s. But this was short-lived. A series of storms would begin to affect the region over the next week as the jetstream began to take aim at Colorado, bringing several storms directly out of the Gulf of Alaska, through the Desert Southwest, and into parts of Colorado.

The first of the storms moved by just to our north late on the 9th and brought a few snow showers to the area on the morning of the 10th. Temperatures dropped back below average on the 10th and the 11th with highs holding in the 40s. The next wave of this storm followed quickly, with cold air moving in with a vengeance on the 12th and 13th as highs stayed in the upper 20s both afternoons. This second wave of the storm had more moisture to work with as well, dropping 3-6 inches of snow across the region. This storm took a jog to the south by about 100 miles from the forecast track and spared us the worst of its weather. Otherwise, we would have been digging out from 1-2 feet of snow on the 13th instead of a few inches. But it was plenty cold, and as skies cleared out late on the 13th, temperatures plummeted overnight, hitting the single digits by the morning of the 14th. Hopefully, your early growing plants survived. Temperatures rebounded quickly again and afternoon highs hit the low 50s, with 60s the next afternoon, making for a nice weekend across the region.

The week of the 16th brought a little bit of everything to the region: sun, rain, snow, wind. The week started off with a wet system rolling through that brought rain, mixed with a little snow at times, late on the 16th. This round of weather also brought some strong thunderstorms to parts of the plains and El Paso County. We picked up a nice .50 inch to 1 inch of rain, giving our growing plants plenty of water. As this storm departed the region, we were hit with a quick shot of wet snow early on the 17th, and then skies cleared nicely over the next few days.

Sunshine was abundant on the 19th and 20th and temperatures were pleasant, reaching into the upper 50s and 60s. But it wasn’t long before the next series of storms began affecting the area. Light showers of rain and snow developed late on the 21st and continued into the morning of the 22nd. But this was just a prelude to the real excitement that slammed into the region starting on the 23rd as a strong area of low pressure wound itself up over the southeastern plains of Colorado.

This storm also had plenty of moisture to work with, and the combination of heavy, wet snow and strong winds produced blizzard conditions on Tuesday the 24th. Traffic came to a standstill as I-25 and Highway 83 were closed during the day and many motorists became stranded. Even worse, several trees in the area succumbed to the snow and wind, breaking in half and causing lots of headaches for area residents. Conditions improved quickly the next day, and a strong ridge of high pressure moved in from the southwest from the 26th through the end of the month. This brought the warmest weather of the season with highs hitting the 70s and low 80s on the 29th and 30th — quite a change in a few days. Most of the snow melted quickly under the strong April sun, with only a few patches left on the last day of the month, but as it did so, it released its 2-3 inches of water into the soil — good news for our plants.

A look ahead

May often experiences a wide variety of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms, and even some snow. The official monthly forecast for May 2007, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for a slight chance of above normal temperatures and equal chances of normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/ClimateSummary.htm.

April 2007 Weather Statistics

Average High 51.6°F (-5.4°)
Average Low 26.4°F (-1.8°)
Highest Temperature 78°F on the 29th
Lowest Temperature 8°F on the 14th
Monthly Precipitation 4.07" (+0.54")
Monthly Snowfall 29.0" (-2.3")
Season to Date Snow 190.4" (+58.4")
Season to Date Precip. 29.21" (+11.86")

For more detailed weather information and Climatology of the Palmer Divide and Tri-Lakes region, please visit Bill Kappel’s Weather Web page at http://users.adelphia.net/~billkappel/Weather.htm.

Remember, weather affects all of us everyday and is a very important part of life for us in the Tri-Lakes region, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact me at billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org.

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident

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Letters to Our Community

D38 board: It’s time to "fess up"

Well it certainly appears the Lewis-Palmer School Board will not be made to "fess up" for what appears to be a clandestine and veiled decision they don’t want to explain to their taxpayers. To further the insult, it also appears they want to hire a person or firm to help improve communications with the community. Hello there! Anybody home?

I don’t believe for a moment that any individual on that school board doesn’t believe he or she isn’t doing what is best for the students when they take any action. I do believe a decision was made that may or may not have been a correct decision, and I do believe it was a huge mistake not taking responsibility by dismissing it as a "gentlemen’s agreement" to not discuss it publicly.

Having been a school board member many years ago, I realize things change, but hopefully not the basic obligation to be fair, honest and open to the public. I have a hard time believing we can move forward to improve communication with the public until we "fess up" to what we have already done. I believe a vast majority of us are fair and if a mistake was made, we are willing to forgive. We just want to understand. With so much at stake, it doesn’t sound as if it’s asking too much to me.

Dwight A. Harrison

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Traffic lights present a danger

The traffic lights at the intersection of Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive do not function properly when visibility is low due to snow or sleet. The cameras do not sense cars and buses waiting to turn left or cross from Leather Chaps, forcing the drivers to dart out unprotected after several changes of the light give them no protected left turn or green light.

I have called and written to the Town of Monument about this several times in the past myself, and now the Monument police have reported the same problem, describing school buses having to break the law in bad weather just to get students to and from school.

This situation happens in the worst visibility conditions when it would be the most dangerous to do this, but because the cameras are "the cheapest such cameras you can buy," according to Monument Town Manager Cathy Green, quoted on page 4 of March 3, 2007, edition of OCN, drivers are left with no choice but to go through red lights as cautiously as they can in the most dangerous conditions possible. She goes on to say that fixing this "didn’t seem to be the first priority on Triview’s list."

Will it take a traffic fatality at this intersection, perhaps involving one of the many school buses or hundreds of cars that go through there every day, before upgrading these faulty traffic lights becomes a "priority" for Triview? What should other concerned residents do, I wonder? Pass the hat?

Lisa Hatfield

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Fix that stoplight

The worst stoplight is the one in front of the golden arches. That light seems to be red to Highway 105 traffic more than it is green, even at low-traffic hours. Traffic taking a wide turn entering McDonald’s trips the light unnecessarily, causing 105 traffic to stop for no reason. I believe that could be fixed.

Dave Sample

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Care and Share doesn’t play favorites

I have no title, I have no power job. I am only a volunteer at Care and Share Regional Food Bank in Colorado Springs. If I could have a wish fulfilled, it would be to have every adult in El Paso County spend time at Care and Share. You would see no ties to Democrats, Republicans, Independents, gays, lesbians, persons of one color or another, or those of any particular religious persuasion. You would see the faithful shoppers who come, rain or shine, to help feed the hungry, volunteers, people in many positions from the lowest paid right up to the president and CEO all working toward the same end.

To the lady in Monument who called on Good Friday, I believe you may attend a perfect church, have a lovely home, a nice family, and a good vehicle. I wish that you would venture out of your perfect world, look into the eyes of a child who is so terribly hungry, not for a day, but every day, and tell that child you would like her to get food but you won’t help her because some monetary or commodity donation was made by someone whose lifestyle you disapprove of, so you will never give anything to Care and Share again.

But even worse, you made it perfectly clear that your family is very Christian. What hypocrisy.

Care and Share doesn’t ask your affiliation, your gender preference, your income, your job, or any other such thing when you come to help, to donate, to shop. Hunger doesn’t care where the money and food comes from.

Care and Share thanks their donors from the bottoms of our hearts. Because Care and Share donors don’t withhold help based on any preference, approximately 85,000 desperately hungry people a year have access to food not otherwise available to them.

Nancy M. Siebern\

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YMCA Broke Ground April 12

Below: Organizers, contributors, and children alike braved the weather April 12 to enthusiastically break ground for the new Monument YMCA. Photo by Elizabeth Hacker

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Smiles & inspiration for grads & moms

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Welcome to the Happy Month! May brings uplifting thoughts of flowers, showers, graduation and new beginnings ­— and, of course, that special day to honor moms and all those involved in mothering. Following are some suggestions for the graduate or mom on your list:

The Secret
By Rhonda Byrne
Atria Books, $23.95

This centuries-old Secret has been passed down through the ages and understood by the most prominent people in history, such as Plato, Galileo, Beethoven and Einstein. Byrne‘s book helps the world understand how to use the Secret in every aspect of life, from money and health to relationships — and most of all for personal happiness. As one reader said, "It helps you look at life more positively."

What Happy Dogs Know
By Glenn Dromgoole
Sourcebooks, $9.95

This little gift book is packed with delightful photographs and gems of wisdom that can be learned from happy dogs. We teach our dogs to sit, roll over, and fetch; they teach us about loyalty, friendship, enthusiasm, joy, patience, and forgiveness. Happy dogs teach us about the world and getting the best out of life.

What Smart Cats Know
By Glenn Dromgoole
Sourcebooks, $9.95

Dromgoole’s cat book features funny and touching photos of the "philosophical feline," and includes lessons humans can learn from them. Cats, for example, can teach us to get more rest. "Cats sleep twice as much on the average as people. When they have a chance, smart cats take a nap. And why not?"

For One More Day
By Mitch Albom
Hyperion, $21.95

"If you had the chance, just one chance, to go back and fix what you did wrong in life, would you take it?" A fearless explorer of the wishful and magical, Mitch Albom is also a devout believer in the power of love. "This book will make you smile. It will make you wistful. It will make you blink back tears of nostalgia. But most of all, it will make you believe in the eternal power of a mother’s love." — James McBride, author of The Color of Water

Oh, the Places You’ll Go!
By Dr. Seuss
Random House, $17

Especially for the graduate—from nursery school, high school, or even medical school, these wise lessons are Dr. Seuss at his best. In his inimitable, humorous verse and pictures, he addresses the Great Balancing Act (life itself, and the ups and downs it presents) while encouraging us to find the success that lies within us. This joyous ode to personal fulfillment is inspired good fun for everyone.

Porch Stories: A Grandmother’s Guide to Happiness
By Jewell Parker Rhodes
Atria, $20

As a tribute to the beloved Grandmother Ernestine who helped raise her, Rhodes provides a real account of the love she received and the lessons she learned. Jewell would pass up a movie with her cousins to sit on Ernestine’s front stoop and listen to her stories and her words of comfort. "You never need an excuse for joy. Celebrate being alive," are just some of the many words of wisdom in this literary portrait of family love that speaks to readers from all walks of life.

A Cup of Comfort Devotional for Mothers
Edited by James Stuart Bell and Jeanette Gardner Littleton
Adams Media, $12.95

What busy mom couldn’t use a little inspiration to get through the day? This new padded hardcover offers the perfect respite through daily reflections from 100 real-life mothers, including several from our local area. The joys and sorrows of motherhood are explored with touching stories and biblical passages themed for each month of the year. The latest volume in the Cup of Comfort series, this attractive book makes a perfect gift.

Celebrate spring, life, and the joy of reading with the gift of a book — for yourself or for someone you love. Until next month, happy reading.

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High Country Highlights: Take steps to improve your lawn

By Woody Woodworth

Turf grasses are very prone to diseases when the snow persists for days on end. Snow mold on grasses is common with melting snow and cold, wet periods. It will attack the weaker grasses that have little or no disease resistance. Gray snow mold and pink snow mold can be found throughout lawns and may occur singly or side by side. Patches of snow mold will show up as roughly circular, bleached areas up to 24 inches in diameter. In the Tri-Lakes region, I have seen the whitish, thread-like mycelium of the fungus in patches where the snow was receding.

If you do see signs of snow mold in the lawn, don’t be too alarmed. This lawn disease will subside as the lawn dries out with warmer, sunny weather. In most healthy lawns planted on well-prepared soil, the areas infected with snow mold will come back to life. You can help to speed up the recovery by lightly raking the matted turf. This will increase air circulation around the grass plants and allow the grass to grow and fill in.

As soon as the soil begins to thaw, it is a good idea to core-aerate the lawn to encourage root and rhizome growth. If your lawn is older and thins out from a severe infection of snow mold, it will be necessary to replace the turf in those areas. You can reseed with disease-resistant lawn grasses or, for more immediate results, cut out the dead areas and resod with disease-resistant sod.

The weight of the recent spring snows has taken a toll on shrubs and trees. Now is a good time to lightly prune back damaged branches and rose canes to just past the broken areas. Winter conditions may not be over yet, so don’t prune rose canes back too hard. Freezing and fluctuating temperatures can kill the canes not covered by snow or mulch. If you save the final pruning for mid- to late spring, the new growth will help guide your pruning cuts.

The snow has been such a blessing as it slowly melts and the moisture percolates deeply into the ground. This free water is welcome to charge the soil profile with needed moisture for the roots of all our landscape plants.

No matter where you live in Colorado, it’s important to get your soil in shape. No matter what varieties of plants you grow, or how you water, fertilize, and pamper them, the secret to successful gardening is in your soil. And if your garden is like ours, a work in progress, the soil can stand improving each year.

To help know what kind of soil you have, do a general soil texture test. Take a handful of slightly moist soil and roll it between your palms until it forms a ribbon. If the soil feels gritty and breaks up immediately, it’s sandy or decomposed granite. If the soil feels smooth and holds its shape for a short time before breaking apart, it’s mostly silt. If it feels sticky and makes a smooth ribbon that holds together, then it’s mostly clay. Whether your soil is sand, silt, or clay, the way to make it better is to add a good source of organic matter.

If your plants are growing well, it may not be necessary to test your soil, but if your garden isn’t performing up to par, a soil test is one place to start. It won’t tell you everything about your soil or how to solve all your garden problems, but it will provide information on your soil’s mineral health. Contact the cooperative extension service or state university to find a laboratory that will test your soil. A basic soil test usually costs about $25 but can be more if you need tests for soluble salts and specific minor nutrients. A less expensive alternative is a soil test kit found at most nurseries and garden centers.

If you didn’t have a chance to add organic amendments such as compost to your soil last fall, spring is the time. Use a compost that is high quality (dark, with little obvious organic matter remaining, no smells) and weed free. If you work a generous amount into your soil in the spring, it will improve soil structure for this year’s garden. Add generous amounts of compost, but don’t overdo it. It’s possible to add too much to our clay soils, increasing the accumulation of soluble salts that can kill plant roots. Our rule of thumb is to add up to one-third compost by volume to the soil at any one time. If you’re working your soil to a depth of 6 inches, add a 2-inch layer of compost and blend it in thoroughly.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, April 19: Dizzy sits, stays

Below: Palmer Lake Historical Society board members at the dedication of "Dizzy" Oct. 21, 2006.

By Diane Sawatzki

He’s poised at the base of Sundance Mountain, ready to carry supplies to volunteers as they build the Palmer Lake Star. You can almost feel him nuzzling your hand. You can almost hear him barking.

Donna Arndt, creator of Dizzy, shared the challenges of making Palmer Lake’s first public sculpture at the April 19 Historical Society meeting. The society commissioned the artist to build the bronze German shepherd to commemorate its 50th anniversary and the Vaile Museum’s 25th. To build the armature, she made frequent visits to Home Depot for supplies, alarming some of the employees. "They were concerned the pipes I used wouldn’t be up to code," she said, "but I told them I was creating a sculpture, not a plumbing project."

She fashioned a larger-than-life clay model of Dizzy. When it came time to move him to the foundry in Berthoud, she rented a moving van, negotiated Denver traffic, and headed up into the mountains. The foundry made plaster molds lined with rubber for the lost-wax process of pouring bronze. When Dizzy was reassembled and welded together, he was given a final polish and a series of finished patinas.

Dizzy’s dedication was Oct. 21, 2006, and now he stands facing the star he helped build, honoring the volunteer spirit of Palmer Lake. Now he belongs to us all.

**********

The Palmer Lake Historical Society presents free programs and refreshments in the Town Hall on the third Thursday of most months. The 7 p.m. May 17 meeting is "Emily Griffith, a Visionary Educator," a portrayal by historian/author Debra Faulkner.

Membership in the society is $10 per year for individuals, $15 for families, and family membership comes with two mugs. (plhist@aol.com. or 559-0837) The society maintains the free Lucretia Vaile Museum in the basement beneath the Palmer Lake library across from the Town Hall. Winter hours are Saturday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs/

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Common Mallard

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Mallards. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

It’s springtime in the Rockies, and although some days are more telling of it than others, birds continue their migration northward to their summer home to mate, despite changes in the weather.

A few days ago, I saw a red bird fly across the road, which is unusual because pure reds are rare here. Unfortunately, in my brief encounter I was unable to specifically identify it but it looked about the size of a scarlet tanager and it had black wings. The scarlet tanager is not native to Colorado but sometimes, especially during spring and fall migrations, birds get blown off course and end up in a foreign habitat. Many years ago in early June, we were surprised to see a pileated woodpecker in our yard. It is such a large bird that it’s hard not to notice it. Other bird-watchers have shared similar surprising stories about unusual birds they’ve spotted due to a shift in weather patterns. That is why spring and fall are the best times to watch for birds, and while it’s exciting to see rare birds, I worry about their fate.

The best place to look for birds is near a body of water, and recently I’ve noticed water birds returning to the area’s lakes, ponds, streams, and wetlands. The best known and probably the most abundant wild bird in the Northern Hemisphere is the mallard, and it’s one bird my family never tires of watching. It is primarily a vegetarian, feeding on grass seeds, but it also consumes insects, snails, and small fish found near the water’s surface. Because it is a surface feeder, it dips or bobs its head rather than dives for its food. It can be found in any wet area but generally prefers shallow freshwater lakes and ponds. It ranges from 20 to 28 inches long with a wingspan of 30 to 40 inches. The male, or drake, is larger than the female, or hen.

The drake is easily recognizable by its glossy green head, white neck band, rusty-colored breast, curly tail, and bright orange feet. It is more colorful than the mottled gray-brown hen, but both share a blue side patch and a white bar on the wing where it joins the body.

Breeding begins in April or May when the drakes begin to aggressively pursue hens. Their persistence must be unnerving because I often see the hens hiding from the drakes. After they mate, the drake rejoins other males while the female builds a nest. She generally hides her nest among tall reeds and dried grasses or under a fallen tree. The hen lays 8 to 10 eggs in the spring, generally one egg a day, until there is a full clutch at which time incubation begins.

After 28 days, in late May or early June, the chicks hatch within hours of each other, and as soon as their downy feathers have dried, the hatchlings are led to water. I never tire of watching a proud hen waddling down to the water with a bunch of fuzzy chicks scurrying close behind her to take their first plunge. In late July, the ducklings begin to fly, at which time they are no longer dependent on the hen. The mallard is quick to mature and can begin to mate at 10 months. In captivity, the mallard has been known to live a long life, but in the wild, if it escapes predation and matures to an adult, the mallard’s average life span is 1 to 2 years.

The mallard’s three defenses against predators include flying, swimming, and camouflage. It is easy prey for mammals such as foxes and raccoons, rodents like muskrats, and raptors including hawks and eagles. But a bigger threat to the mallard, and water fowl in general, comes from pesticides used for lawns and crops, oil spills, and industrial wastes.

When my children were small, one of their favorite activities was feeding the ducks that live in the pond behind the Mine Shopping Center. Today this is still one of the best sites to see birds up close. If you visit the library and ask one of the people working at the counter if you can feed the ducks, you will be presented with a cup of seed and the fun will begin. I still smile when I remember how my children squealed with excitement when one of the big Chinese geese came up to them to get them to drop their handful of seed.

Speaking of that pond, yesterday I observed a great blue heron sunning itself next to the pond. It’s been long in coming, but spring is here and thankfully the birds are back!

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Art Matters: Enjoy paintings ‘en plein aire’

By Janet Sellers

Even with its highly revered art history, plein aire painting is very likely the simplest painting to do. Not that it is the easiest, but with some training and practice, it just may be one of the most satisfying art genres for you to get involved with next — to collect as well as to paint. Originally begun as a way to record visual notes to take back to the studio to complete as a painting, the plein aire genre took on a life of its own after the invention of the very mobile paint tubes at the end of the 19th century.

Time was, artists ground their own pigments and mixed them with the binder medium, such as egg yolk (very short-lived to paint with, albeit amazingly beautiful and long-lived as art works on panels) or oil. Honey was a popular medium for water colors, since it held its place in the paint pot and melted easily with water. When the grand invention of paint tubes arrived, artists no longer had to lug around their old containers of a pig’s bladder with a bone stopper or cork but could carry the simplest supplies possible and pack up their paint, easels and brushes and go off in the family horse buggy to a nice place to paint and picnic for a day. Monet often took his little rowboat out into his homemade pond (he stopped up the creek by his house so he could make his water lily pond) for his plein aire times. Obviously, when outdoors among nature, sunshine glare, bugs, and so on, the artist had to paint much faster and more efficiently than in the studio where all the wealth of supplies lay waiting. Thus, the simplified palette for working outdoors on one’s art on canvas was born, essentially an under-painting with color notes, and named "en plein aire," since the artists were out in the fresh or plain air to paint.

The style of limited palette of colors caught on as a genre in and of itself by the early 20th century, usually noted with the place such as "French Plein Aire" paintings or "Early California Plein Aire" paintings. The peculiar use of black, burnt sienna /brownish red, and yellow, blue, and red hues in this more or less shorthand of painting has come to have its own recognizable look, along with the dashing brushwork and color mixing on the spot.

Artists went on holiday to paint, enjoy nature, and record their fresh vision of nature for posterity. Then, as now, the art lived in the mind of the beholder as a special communication of the artist, nature, and the viewer. Lucky be the collector of such art in any era. We are so fortunate today to have the ease of travel, materials, and time to make a holiday of nature and put it into a work of art. Our community is most fortunate to have superb natural beauty all around us in every season. So, if you would like to take a morning or an afternoon nature holiday "en plein aire," I’ve assembled a list of my favorite painting places, all within a short ride (by car, bicycle or walking) right here where we live. I don’t have a horse or buggy to be able to guesstimate the art convenience, but if I can hike it, I do like it.

Plein aire vacations are for your inner artist’s wild side, and if you don’t paint, you could start, or just collect, your art at the next Monument Art Hop event!

Here is a list of painting locations for artists in our beautiful local Rockies area. These are suggestions to get you started, and I welcome yours. I’d be glad to list them for next month.

  • Palmer Lake: Palmer Lake trail head, the Gazebo at Palmer Lake; Estemere Mansion and grounds from outside the estate grounds; Palmer Lake Library and grounds; Palmer Lake Town Hall; Greenland Trail area; Santa Fe Trail.
  • Monument: Santa Fe Trail at the Beacon Lite and Second Street area; Monument Lake; the little parks dotted around Monument; Dirty Woman Park.
  • Woodmoor: Lake Woodmoor, Hidden Pond, Toboggan Hill, Twin Ponds, Monument Library — the Duck Pond — great duck and wetlands sketching.

The 2007 Alfresco Art Season continues in May

April saw our local Lewis-Palmer High School atrium transformed into a professional arts showcase for local and nationwide artists at "The Creative Crafters’ Showcase," which is held three times a year, and the venue continues to evolve into more fine — and fun — art availability. This year, craftspeople with glass, pottery, paintings, prints and sculptures fortified the eclectic mix.

Monument’s Second Street Mural: The new mural at Second Street and Beacon Lite will be a rendition of the old-time-y Monument ice harvest photos made by having the images reverse-painted onto transparent acrylic panels. The plan is to have them in three staggered levels, installed down from the roof line of the water building. The artists are working with an engineer to develop a longevity plan for the panels. Site installation is planned for September 2007. For information on more projects, visit www.trilakesviews.org or contact Karen Ball at kayzde@aol.com.

Monument Art Hop begins 5-8 p.m. May 17: An evening of art hopping offers many favorites, with some brand new venues and new faces at old venues. Drop in to the Gallery Center at Second Street and Beacon Lite Road for the map of where to go, or just begin your stroll through Historic Monument right around there and see what’s up. From the Second Street and Beacon Lite area, wander the Gallery Center, then head less than a block west to the next hop stop at the Monte Verde Building. The path of art, music and free-flowing libations goes among venues between Second Street and Third Street.

There are so many good things to see, hear, and taste that chances are you’ll spend a fair amount of time at each place that is open. New venues this year at the Art Hop include Yoga Pathways, 325 Second St., Suite W, in the Monte Verde Building, offering varied art themes monthly and introducing its classes and yoga store to more of the community. May at Yoga Pathways is devoted to an African theme and artworks that will support some women’s respite care centers there.

And so, May marks the beginning of the local outdoor fun for the art season, when our artists and galleries start up the art festivities. There is something new under the sun here in our lovely Tri-Lakes community, so stay on the lookout for new shows, events, and classes of all kinds. For a map and list to all this free or nearly free outdoor art fun, I’ve assembled a page for the month of May of zesty art opportunities for you online at this address: http://COMOCA.tripod.com.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

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.

Hodgen Road improvements meeting Wed., May 9 (not May 5 as printed in the paper)

El Paso County is planning major improvements to Hodgen Road so it can serve as a major east-west arterial road. The improvements involve the acquisition of an estimated $2.6 million in additional right of way. Use of eminent domain may be necessary to obtain some of this right of way from property owners along Hodgen Road.

Representatives from the El Paso County Department of Transportation will address the planned improvements to Hodgen Road at a public meeting on Wed., May 9 at the Black Forest Community Center, 12530 Black Forest Road (near the intersection of Black Forest Road and Shoup Road). An open house featuring displays on easels and one-on-one Q&A will begin at 6:30 p.m. A formal presentation and discussion will begin at 7:30 p.m. For more information, phone Phil Hosmer, 495-3948.

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Slash and mulch site opens this month

The Black Forest Slash and Mulch 2007 season gets underway on May 5. The site, located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest, will be open Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sundays from noon to 4 p.m., and every Tuesday and Thursday evening from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The final day of operation this season will be Sunday, Sept. 16. Free mulch will be available beginning June 2.

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash and Mulch Program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort. The purpose is to teach and encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures to reduce the spread of fire. For more information call the El Paso County Environmental Services Department, Solid Waste Management Division at 520-7878, Ruth Ann Steele at 495-3107 or visit http://bfslash.org.

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Gleneagle Sertoma presents "Spirits of Spring" May 11

Explore local history, spring wines, microbrews, and international beers at the Gleneagle Sertoma Club’s fundraiser event featuring wine and beer tasting and silent auction at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, May 11, 6 to 8:30 p.m.

Proceeds will benefit Tri-Lakes Cares and other local charities. Enjoy featured catering delights by Nita Faust of the Herb Garden Bistro, as well as food from The Place, Cunningham’s Catering, The Cookie Bakers, Domino’s Pizza, Big City Burrito, Buca di Beppo, California Pizza, Rotelli’s, Serrano’s Coffee, Rosie’s Diner, Bella Panini, and Casa Diego. Bristol Brewery will supply the beers.

Look for the Sertoma banner at the entrance to the museum, located at 225 Northgate Blvd., just off I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. The cost is $35 per person, $60 per couple. For ticket information or silent auction donations, phone 488-0653 or 488-8474 or visit www.trilakeschamber.com/sertoma.htm.

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WMMI Adult Lecture Series: Colorado’s Historic Railroads, May 12

In Colorado, the history of mining and railroads go together like drill steel and hard rock, and include names such as Loveland, Palmer, and Moffit. Come to the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI) May 12 at 3 p.m. for a presentation by Larry Dorsey, who is affiliated with the Colorado Railroad Museum, recognized as one of the best rail museums in the United States. With Dorsey’s expertise and his unique slide show, this will be an afternoon tour of Colorado’s rail history that includes virtual rides of the Durango & Silverton and Cumbres & Toltec tourist railroads. RSVP at 488-0880. Admission is free. Donations accepted. WMMI is located just off I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy.

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Gleneagle Spirit 5k Run/Walk for Fun May 19

The Third Annual Gleneagle Spirit 5k Run/Walk for Fun will take place Saturday, May 19, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Antelope Trails Elementary School, 15280 Jessie Drive.

The 5k course winds through the streets of scenic Gleneagle (east of I-25 between the Northgate and Baptist Road exits) and features a variety of elevations to provide a challenging course for all.

The event is organized by resident Realtor Mark Rudolph with all net proceeds going to Boy Scout Troop 194. The Gleneagle Spirit has raised over $2,000 for Troop 194.

Participants receive an event T-shirt, water bottle, and other sponsor goodies. All participants will be treated to a pasta feed, awards ceremony, live music, stretching, body, ankle and leg massages and a display of firefighting and emergency response equipment in a carnival-like atmosphere. For the runners, the race is professionally timed, and gold, silver, and bronze medals will be presented to the top male and female finishers in eight age divisions. The cost to participate is $23 per person pre-registered ($28 the day of the race). Children under 14 are free. To register, visit an official registration form pick-up location or look for the registration form boxes along Gleneagle Drive. For more information, call Mark Rudolph, 492-3974.

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Tri-Lakes Music Association is recruiting singers and musicians

The Tri-Lakes Music Association, a non-profit organization, is recruiting musicians, vocal and orchestral, for a July 4th concert prior to the fireworks display in Palmer Lake.

Anyone with a desire to sing and have fun is encouraged to come and join this group. There will be two identical vocal rehearsals each week at Trinity Lutheran Church, 17750 Knollwood; Sundays at 2 p.m. and Mondays at 6 p.m. Orchestra rehearsals will start in mid-May. For those who can’t make time for a weekly rehearsal, practice CDs are available that allow singers to practice the concert material in the comfort of their homes or automobiles. For further information about the adult choir and/or orchestra, phone Bob Manning, 481-3883; or e-mail rwgmanning@comcast.net.

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2007 Summer Reading Programs for children, May 26 to July 31

The Children’s Summer Reading Program at Pikes Peak Library District begins May 26. More than storytimes, the program offers delightful discoveries for kids of all ages. Pick up a game card at your library and begin reading! Win prizes, coupons and a chance for $100 in a grand prize drawing. Register at your library or online at ppld.org in May. For more information, call the Monument Branch, 488-2370, or the Palmer Lake Branch, 481-2587.

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Gleneagle Community Garage Sale, June 1 & 2

Start saving your treasures for the Gleneagle Community Garage Sale June 1 & 2 from approximately 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Neighborhood Clean-up Day is June 2, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call Bill Bristol at 481-3366, or Bill Carroll at 488-4288.

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Bands needed for Palmer Lake’s July 4 celebration

The Town of Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee is seeking bands interested in playing at the lake for thousands of people on the Fourth of July. Any interested bands can contact Jeff Hulsmann at 488-3134 to reserve their time slot on stage.

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Palmer Lake publisher’s book wins CIPA award

Joyce B. Lohse’s latest biography, Unsinkable: The Molly Brown Story, has received the Juvenile finalist EVVY award from the Colorado Independent Publishers Association (CIPA). It is Lohse’s third historical biography in the Now You Know Bio series, published by Filter Press of Palmer Lake. Written for young readers, the book sorts through the myths and legends surrounding the life of Colorado’s own Mrs. J. J. Brown, who was aboard the Titanic when it sank. She followed many adventurous paths, finding her niche as an activist, philanthropist, and scholar. Historical photographs and documents are interspersed with the text. Some of the graphics uncovered by Lohse have not been revealed since they were first published in the newspaper in 1912, concurrent with the Titanic disaster. The book is available from local bookstores, from the publisher at www.filterpressbooks.com, or through Lohse’s Web site, www.lohseworks.com.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale a great success

The 31st Annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale was a great success with over 2,100 in attendance and receipts of over $22,000! The Tri-Lakes Women’s Group-sponsored show was held April 21-22 at Lewis-Palmer High School in Monument, where 59 antique vendors from several states were pleased with one of the highest turnouts ever and brisk sales. One dealer jokingly complained, "There were too many people on Saturday…I never got a break!" Sunday afternoon the show’s newly-featured antiques appraisers boosted attendance as they assessed the value of patrons’ unique items ranging from jewelry to oil paintings. The Country Café sold out of its ever-popular steak soup, and eager show-goers scooped up all the geraniums and bake sale items as well.

Thanks to the great community support of the Pine Forest Antiques Show and this past fall’s Wine & Roses fundraiser, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club will be able to grant more than $40,000 this spring to public schools, police and fire departments and other nonprofit groups that provide services to residents in School District 38. Over 31 years, this non-profit club will have granted over $500,000 to the local community.

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Help for gardeners at Monument Library

The Colorado Master Gardeners and the Cooperative Extension, El Paso County will offer a help desk at the Monument Public Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Drive. Help will be available Wednesdays 2:30-8:30 p.m. throughout the growing season (April-August). Specific times and dates will be posted at the Monument Branch Library. Gardening can be difficult in our area. The Master Gardeners working at this help desk live and garden in our community and want to help answer questions from local gardeners about how, what, and when to plant. Walk-ins are welcome. Bring in examples of your insects or disease problems, or drop by to brag about your successes. For more information, phone 488-2370.

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The Library Channel

Tune into The Library Channel (Comcast 17) for live simulcasts of programs, videotaped presentations, or a schedule of library events. The Library Channel broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Programs include story times for children, an adult literacy program, El Paso County Commissioners meetings, and much more. A community bulletin board of library events is shown between and after programs. Find the schedule online by going to ppld.org, and then click on the link "Happenings @ Your Library." From there, click on the "Comcast 17" link to search the schedule.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Senior Alliance, have developed a new Senior Safety Program. The free service includes installing and maintaining smoke detectors, a fire department evaluation of seniors’ homes to identify and correct safety hazards and address seniors’ safety needs, and Vial of Life for in-home storage of medical information in case of emergency. For information, call Lisa Frasca, 488-3304, or e-mail lfrasca@tri-lakesfire.com.

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County now accepting batteries and electronics at waste facility

The El Paso County Household Chemical Waste Collection Facility will now accept household batteries (AA, AAA, C, D and 9-volt) and many types of electronic equipment including computers, printers, small televisions, stereo and video components, and VCRs. More than 40,000 tons of electronic waste is discarded yearly. Some electronics contain lead, cadmium, broken glass, and mercury and can threaten the environment if not recycled. The Household Chemical Waste Collection Facility is open year-round and accepts items such as paint, lawn and garden chemicals, automotive chemicals and products, and household products and cleaners. The facility is located at 3255 Akers Drive, and is open for drop-off 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more recycling information, please call 520-7878.

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