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Vol. 8 No. 1 - January 5, 2008


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the PDF file. This is a 18 Mbyte file and will take about 104 minutes to download at 28.8. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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SERTOMA honors Ted Bauman and Linda and Richard Pankratz

Below (L to R): Linda Pankratz, Richard Pankratz, Monument Hill SERTOMA Club President Robert Tuggle, and Ted Bauman. Photo by Mike Wicklund.

 

By Jim Kendrick

On December 29, the Monument Hill SERTOMA club named past president Ted Bauman its SERTOMAN of the Year for 2007/2008. The 2007/2008 Service to Mankind Award, the highest honor Sertoma can bestow on a non-member, was given to Richard and Linda Pankratz for their outstanding contributions to our community and their unselfish service to mankind.

Bauman joined the Monument Hill SERTOMA Club in 1994 and has been extremely active in supporting his club and its activities. The club previously selected Bauman for its G.E.M., Centurion, and Tribune awards along with recognition for three years of perfect attendance. He was appointed club president in 2005 and led the second largest SERTOMA Club to even higher membership numbers. Bauman’s accomplishments that were listed in the Dec. 1 letter nominating him for this award filled four full pages.

The club stated it was especially grateful for the role the Pankratz’s played in developing and supporting the annual Empty Bowl Dinner for the benefit of those less fortunate. For fifteen years since the event’s inception in 1992, they have donated at least 100 bowls each year, handmade at their own Pankratz Gallery – a total of more than 1,500 bowls.

"Linda and Richard Pankratz are outstanding examples of living lives representing the very best qualities of Christian principles and American values. As Americans, we value the determination to follow your own road, the ability to see opportunity where others see obstacles, the internal fortitude to keep faith with your beliefs in times of difficulty and uncertainty, and to stay with your dreams and obligations year after year."

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Water for the future

Click here or on the drawing or photo to zoom in Below: . Static water elevations in Donala’s 7 wells in the Arapahoe aquifer. The levels have shown declines, some as much as 400 feet since 1996. Other Arapahoe wells in the area have shown similar or greater water level declines. 

  Click on the drawing to zoom in 

Below: Donala board member Dennis Daugherty welcomes residents to the Dec. 5 meeting. Photo by John Heiser.

  Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

On December 4 and 5, the Donala Water and Sanitation District held community meetings to address current and future sources of water for the Tri-Lakes area. At each meeting Dana Duthie, Donala’s General Manager, made the same presentation and then answered residents’ questions. Below are highlights of Duthie’s presentation and the subsequent discussion:

Background

  • Donala serves approximately 2,500 acres including Gleneagle, developments along Struthers Road from the northern edge of Struthers Ranch south to Northgate Road, the Ridge at Fox Run, Fox Pines, High Meadow at Fox Run, and the currently undeveloped 180-acre Brown Ranch on Roller Coaster Road near Higby Road. The district also has the right to pump water from the Fox Run regional park even though the park is not in the district. El Paso County granted the Fox Run park water rights in exchange for wastewater treatment plant effluent needed to satisfy a water augmentation plan for another park. The district’s latest well was drilled in Fox Run Park and can produce up to about 700 gallons per minute.
  • The district pumps water from aquifers in the underground formation called the Denver Basin that extends from northern Colorado Springs to Greeley and from the Front Range about half way to Kansas. The four aquifers in the Denver Basin, from shallowest to deepest, are the Dawson, Denver, Arapahoe, and Laramie-Fox Hills.
  • The district has obtained legal rights to 2,907 acre-feet of water per year in the Denver Basin aquifers. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Of the total, 453 acre-feet per year are in the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer, the deepest of the four aquifers in the Denver Basin, in some cases up to 3,000 feet below the surface. That water is not currently used because it is expensive to pump and difficult to treat. Another 254 acre-feet per year are from tributary aquifers, meaning they are connected to the surface water system. Water must be supplied to local streams to wholly or partially replace water pumped from tributary aquifers. That leaves about 2,200 acre-feet per year of useable water of which 200 acre-feet per year is reserved for the golf course leaving 2,000 acre-feet per year for customer use.
  • The district currently operates 15 wells, 13 of those wells produce water that is treated for drinking and the other two produce water for golf course irrigation.
  • At build-out, the district anticipates 3,000 single-family house equivalents (SFE) up from the current total of 2,700 SFE. With 2,000 acre-feet per year, that allows 217,000 gallons per year per SFE. During 2006, customer use averaged 140,000 gallons per SFE.
  • The district currently pumps from the Denver and Arapahoe aquifers. While the static levels in the district’s five Denver wells have remained fairly constant over the years, the levels in the district’s seven Arapahoe wells have shown declines, some as much as 400 feet since 1996. Other Arapahoe wells in the area have shown similar or greater water level declines. The declines result in reductions in the subterranean water pressure that assists bringing the water to the surface. When the water pressure drops to significantly, the aquifer is termed "unconfined" which increases pumping costs and reduces water production. The Denver aquifer in much of the Front Range is unconfined. The Arapahoe is about to become unconfined in parts of southern Douglas County and has become unconfined in the Highlands Ranch/Centennial area of northern Douglas County.
  • Although the Donala and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts can possibly meet the anticipated demand through build-out in roughly 2030, the Triview Metropolitan District, which serves the Jackson Creek area and currently has about 1,000 SFE and a demand of about 600 acre-feet per year, is projected at build-out to need about 3,100 acre-feet per year, which is almost as much water as the Donala and Woodmoor districts combined. As a result, it is anticipated that by about 2020, the Arapahoe aquifer in the Triview/south Woodmoor area will become 80 percent unsaturated; meaning only 20 percent of the water is left.
  • For the past 15 years or longer, it has been understood that Denver Basin water is a depleting resource, not a renewable source. Since the problem is area-wide, about 4 years ago, the local water districts formed the Palmer Divide Water Group. In 2007, that organization was reorganized as the Pike Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). The current PPRWA members are the Cherokee Metropolitan District, City of Fountain, Donala, Town of Monument, Town of Palmer Lake, Triview, and Woodmoor. As one of its first projects, the PPRWA funded a Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS), which will be completed by the end of the 2007. Among other things, the study is expected to identify infrastructure needed to interconnect the local districts so water can be moved to where it is needed.
  • Using the initial results from the WIPS project, Donala has set forth a four-part solution: conservation, maximum use of existing resources, sustainability, and renewable water supply.

Conservation

  • "It simply makes sense." The American public uses 120 gallons per person per day in house. The British use 36 gallons per person per day. The Australians use 31. It is a political hot potato. Water districts on the Western Slope of Colorado oppose efforts to pump water to the Front Range because they think we are abusing what we have. In order to receive state funding, the state is now requiring written conservation plans with stated goals and specifics about how those goals will be reached.
  • Donala’s irrigation rationing program initiated in 2007 has a goal of a 15 percent reduction in irrigation use. Donala customers actually used 5 percent more during the summer of 2007 than during the corresponding period in 2006; however, there were more rain days during the summer 2006 than in 2007. Comparing hot and dry June 2006 to hot and dry June 2007, Donala customers overall used 11 percent less water in 2007 under the irrigation rationing program. Some customers have defeated the purpose of the program by increasing their watering on the allowed days. In June 2007, over 600 customers used more than 40,000 gallons.
  • 26 customers have installed Evapo-Transporation (ET) controllers that use a variety of data to optimize irrigation. Even though the ET controller program offers the potential of about 20 percent water savings over a year, it can result in a perception of abuse and unfairness because it may irrigate on days not allowed under the rationing program. The ET controllers are designed for optimum root structure for Kentucky Bluegrass. So instead of encouraging a decrease in use of the water-intensive bluegrass, the ET controller program can be viewed as facilitating more bluegrass use. Before recommending additional ET controller installations, the district plans to analyze the data for the 2008 irrigation season.
  • Starting January 1, the district is offering rebates to customers for conservation measures such as sprinkler system rain sensors and water saving appliances and fixtures.
  • The district is encouraging residents to implement xeriscaping. Although redoing landscaping can be expensive, substantial savings on water bills and maintenance costs and time can offset those expenses. There is more information on the Donala web site and at www.csu.org/environment/xeriscape and www.cwcb.state.co.us/conservation.

Maximizing use of existing resources

  • Donala currently maximizes use of existing resources by making sure it has enough wells to pump all the water needed, using reuse water from the wastewater treatment plant for golf course irrigation, and using water from Jake’s Lake on Gleneagle Drive across from Antelope Trails Elementary School. Jake’s Lake is fed by springs near Holbein Drive. That water is piped to the upper pond at the golf course. Any water used from that source must be offset by effluent sent downstream from the wastewater plant.
  • The cone of influence of the district’s fifteen wells overlap although a couple more wells could be added in the north and east corner of the district. "We have pretty much maxed out the number of wells we need for the build-out that we have. We have kept well ahead of it. We have enough wells that we could lose two or three at a time and still provide the supply we need."
  • Although effluent from the wastewater treatment plant is being used for golf course irrigation and to replace water from tributary sources, there are still about 350 acre-feet per year (114 million gallons) being released down Monument Creek. Processing that effluent so it can be included in the water sources for local districts is called "indirect potable reuse." This would involve additional treatment of the water, pumping the water upstream, and releasing it about one mile north of Monument Lake where it would mix with the existing surface water flows. After the water is drawn from Monument Lake, it would be pumped to Lake Woodmoor where additional treatment would be done before the water would be introduced into the local water supply systems. A similar process is being used in Florida and California and has been used in Australia for years. There are many regulations, health concerns, and public perception issues that must be addressed.
  • As a point of reference, the effluent presently being released from the wastewater treatment plant goes down Monument Creek to the Colorado Springs Utilities plant on Austin Bluffs Boulevard where it is treated and provided to Colorado Springs customers. The process is repeated with effluent from the Colorado Springs wastewater plant flowing down to Pueblo and so on to La Junta, Lamar, Kansas, and all the other cities and towns along the Arkansas River from here to New Orleans. It is undefined when indirect potable reuse water becomes indistinguishable from surface water. Aurora is currently implementing a $755 million indirect potable reuse project. The PPRWA project is estimated to cost about $47 million.

Sustainability

  • Each local district independently manages their well operations. One of the proposed improvements would be to coordinate well field operations so as to extend the life of the aquifers by minimizing simultaneous use of the same aquifers by neighboring wells.
  • Another plan is to implement satellite well fields where pumping would have less effect on the operation of the local wells. One proposed location would be the Spruce Mountain Ranch about 5 miles north of Palmer Lake. It was the well field location for the planned INVenergy project, which was recently cancelled by Xcel Energy. The Greenland Open Space area from County Line Road halfway to Castle Rock is another possible location. Exporting any water from Douglas County could face political and bureaucratic obstacles.

Renewable water

  • Renewable water in Colorado is West Slope snowmelt. According to the Colorado Constitution, water in Colorado belongs to all of Colorado. The right to use water from a specific source such as pumping water from West Slope rivers is determined through a network of water courts.
  • Various projects have been proposed including Aaron Million’s Green River project that, if successful, would bring about 265,000 acre-feet per year to the Front Range. A project being proposed by the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District would dam the Yampa River near Dinosaur National Park and pump about 300,000 acre-feet per year to the Front Range. The combined demand from the PPRWA members is about 25,000 acre-feet per year. Areas to the north of the Tri-Lakes area have anticipated shortfalls of about 400,000 acre-feet per year so it is unlikely that there will be water left over from any of the proposed projects to service the local area.
  • Farmers in Colorado own or use 85 percent of the water. The soil in this high plains area is not optimized for farming. The farmers can often make more money selling their water than selling crops. Rotating fallowing is a way to retain part of the farmland in production while converting part of the water for residential use. The PPRWA is looking at the so-called "Super Ditch" project that would collect Arkansas River agricultural water and sell or lease it to local water providers such as the PPRWA members. There are many political issues to be addressed, considerable competition for the water from others including Colorado Springs and Aurora, and the infrastructure to transport the water will be very expensive. Despite those concerns, a study is underway to assess the feasibility and costs of the project.
  • Some form of consolidation or coordination of the local districts will be needed to oversee the operation of local storage facilities, well fields, treatment plants, and distribution systems.

Costs and schedule

  • When it is completed, the WIPS study will include an estimate of the costs for changes needed to the local infrastructure.
  • The initial figure for the indirect potable reuse project is $47 million.
  • The Super Ditch study will estimate costs for that project.
  • Indirect potable reuse and a satellite well field projects could be implemented by about 2012.
  • The target for access to renewable water is 2020.
  • Conservation is needed now to reduce the rate of aquifer depletion.

What about limiting growth?

  • Growth is a political decision made by town and county elected officials. The local water providers do not have control over what projects are approved; however, there have been discussions held with Monument that approving 3,400 houses in Jackson Creek would be ridiculous given the amount of water available.
  • The current economic slowdown is beneficial in that it is giving local water providers more time to solve the problem. The Promontory Pointe and Sanctuary Pointe projects have been put on hold. The Home Place Ranch project is for sale.
  • Taxes and tap fees from the growth and especially industrial and commercial growth are needed to help fund the additional infrastructure.

Summary

  • Donala will not run out of water any time in the near future but the water is not going to last forever.
  • Other local districts are in worse shape.
  • The local water providers must work together to solve the problem.
  • Residents need to conserve water in any way they can.

Q&A

  • What about year-round rationing? There have been areas that do that and impose very high rates on those whose usage exceeds specified levels.
  • Plans have been presented to build a water park in the area. Shouldn’t residents have priority over that kind of use? Basically the project is a hotel and a swimming pool with a winding canal going indoors and outdoors. On the other hand, it does not make a lot of sense to put a year-round outdoor swimming pool at 7,000 feet.
  • What role does the state or county government have in financing water projects? Quite a bit of state funding is available. We have gotten state funding for some of the studies we have done. The state loan for the wastewater treatment plant expansion is at a rate of 3.2 percent. There is federal funding available. The county has no funding. A public-private partnership with someone like Bechtel can also work.
  • Why did Donala support a waiver of the 300-year water availability rule for the golf course townhome development? The part of the golf course proposed for the townhome development came to Donala under the 100-year rule. The 300-year rule was created in 1986 as a growth control measure. It does not apply to towns and cities so it does not apply to Monument or Jackson Creek. All of Donala except the Struthers Ranch was platted and in Donala before 1986. The 19 acre-feet of water per year estimated to be used by the townhome development is about the same if not less than that allocated to that area of the existing golf course. It does not change the maximum allocation of 200 acre-feet for the golf course. The golf course has spent a lot of money installing the irrigation system using reuse water that has been a benefit to the district and its customers.
  • Growth could take 5 years or more to recover. Isn’t this the time to plan rather than to start implementation? Water rights and land for water storage need to be acquired whenever they are available before the costs become prohibitive. Having access to renewable water would give us the best of both worlds with river water during wet years and aquifer water during times of drought.
  • What about recharging the aquifers? Colorado Springs is doing some of that now but you have to have very good quality water to pump into the wells. The state engineer and health department are not going to let us contaminate the aquifers. Colorado Springs has good quality surface water. Donala does not have any surface water. The Cherokee Metropolitan District has a project to recharge the Upper Black Squirrel alluvial aquifer with reuse water but in that case the water is filtered through surface soil before it reaches the aquifer.

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, January 22 at 2 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, December 13: Authority looks at bringing agricultural water to the Tri-Lakes area

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Below (seated at table L to R): Gary Barber, PPRWA manager; Rick Fendel, PPRWA attorney; Dick Brown, PPRWA lobbyist; Kip Petersen, Cherokee Metropolitan District; Larry Bishop, Triview Metropolitan District; Phil Steininger, Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District; Rich Landreth, Town of Monument; Dana Duthie, Donala Water and Sanitation District; Max Parker, Town of Palmer Lake; Jerry Jacobson, Academy Water and Sanitation District; Sue Wielgopolan, PPRWA recording secretary. Steve Price of Boyle Engineering (standing) presents a report on Boyle’s engineering study for the project proposed to transport water north to the Tri-Lakes area from fallowed fields on farms along the lower Arkansas River. Photo by John Heiser

Click on the photo to zoom in

By John Heiser

At the December 13 monthly meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Steve Price of Boyle Engineering presented a report on Boyle’s engineering study for the project proposed to transport water north to the Tri-Lakes area from fallowed fields on farms along the lower Arkansas River. In addition, Daniel Niemela of Bishop-Brogden Associates reported on the nearly completed Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) project, and Dick Brown, the PPRWA’s lobbyist, reported on the meeting held November 30 with Colorado legislators.

The members of the authority as of January 1:

  • Cherokee Metropolitan District
  • City of Fountain
  • Donala Water & Sanitation District
  • Town of Monument
  • Town of Palmer Lake
  • Triview Metropolitan District
  • Woodmoor Water & Sanitation District

Phil Steininger, manager of the Woodmoor district and president of the authority, presided at the meeting.

Lower Arkansas agricultural water project

Price reviewed the assumptions to be used in conducting the engineering study. He noted that the study assumes 50,000 acre-feet will be supplied each year. The assumed timing of the availability of the water will be based on a similar project in the Arkansas Valley. The assumed timing of demand for the water will be based on data developed during the WIPS project.

According to Price, three supply/demand scenarios will be evaluated:

  • Delivery of water as it is available from the irrigation companies: No storage would be provided at either end other than two weeks of operational storage. This scenario would result in high-end costs for pumps and pipes.
  • Constant delivery spread over 12 months: This would result in low-end costs for pumps and pipes and would impose costs for seasonal storage.
  • Seasonal delivery: More water would be delivered during run-off months but water would still be delivered year-round. This would result in medium costs for pumps and pipes and would impose costs for seasonal storage.

Water treatment will be assumed to be near the Arkansas River so treatment waste will not need to be pumped/piped. The study will look at ways to ensure that the final water quality will match the current best quality of the participating utilities. Various types of treatment will be evaluated. Reverse osmosis will be considered the least desirable treatment option due to the need for and difficulty of concentrate disposal.

Price said preliminary results of the study will be ready by the end of January or early February and will be presented at the PPRWA meeting February 20. The final report is scheduled for early to mid-March.

Tri-Lakes area infrastructure study nearly complete

Neimela reported that the WIPS study of Tri-Lakes area water infrastructure and what improvements are needed is nearly complete. He said the last technical meeting will be held January 9 and final bound reports will be available January 25.

Dana Duthie, General Manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District, raised concerns about some of the data and conclusions in the preliminary report.

Expenditures during 2007 for the WIPS study totaled $211,711.

Legislative briefing

Brown reported on the meeting they had with Colorado legislators November 30. The purpose of the meeting was to solicit the legislators’ support for legislation helpful in solving PPRWA member districts’ water supply issues. Brown noted that many pieces of water legislation are expected this year.

Bishop resigns from Triview

Larry Bishop, manager of the Triview Metropolitan District announced that he is resigning. His last day is January 11.

In his parting remarks, Bishop said, "I have watched this group come together through a lot of meetings and become a cohesive group, which still respects a variety of viewpoints. The future of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is bright and because of that the future of northern El Paso County is also bright."

2008 Budget approved

The PPRWA approved its 2008 budget totaling $384,000. Some of the expenditures were $148,000 for consultant fees, $180,000 for projects, and $30,000 for public relations. Membership dues of $25,000 per member organization provide $175,000 in revenue. Most of the other revenue comes from grants and members’ share of project costs.

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The next meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority will be on January 16 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street. The meetings are held on the third Wednesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Most of the meetings will be held at Monument Town Hall; however, the meetings on March 19 and October 15 will be held at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office, 6250 Palmer Park Boulevard in Colorado Springs, and the meeting June 18 will held at the City of Fountain office, 116 S. Main in Fountain.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, December 5: Board leaning toward merger with Donala

By Susan Hindman

Merging with Donala Water and Sanitation District is looking like more of a reality after the Dec. 5 Academy board meeting. Donala had given Academy a "Bullet Paper," detailing the advantages and conditions of an inclusion. Board members considered it more acceptable than previous correspondences.

Discussion focused on a possible counter proposal that would deal with points of contention, the main ones being acceptable compensation for Academy’s assets and up-front money Donala is asking for. The original amount Donala wanted, $800,000, has increased because of inflation, since the offer was first made in the late spring, and because of more realistic numbers received from the engineers. The figure is now closer to $1.16 million.

Because of changing state regulations regarding the monitoring of ammonia in the wastewater, the district is faced with two options: build a new wastewater treatment facility or merge with Donala, which would link its wastewater system to Academy’s. A new facility would run Academy at least $800,000 and likely more, considering ongoing increases in construction material and the cost of hiring experienced facility operators. In addition, state and federal regulations are likely to increase over the years, costing more in upgrades.

The board acknowledged that an expected increase in wastewater regulations and growing regional concerns over water sources make it a difficult time to be a small, independent district. Academy’s water supplies are very strong, making water one of the district’s biggest assets.

But water concerns have heightened the importance of membership in the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, a group of area water providers that addresses water supply issues. But Academy can’t afford the increased membership fees of $25,000. Board members seemed painfully aware of the difficulties of "going it alone" and said their first concern is doing what’s best for the district’s residents in the long run.

Counterproposal thoughts

Board members and the district’s lawyer, Paul Murphy, objected to the lack of consideration Donala has given to the value of the Academy district’s assets. Assets include water and sewer pipe in the ground, water tanks, the pumping station, the lift station, the water plant, the sewer lagoon, three wells, the property, money in the bank, and other more minor equipment.

Treasurer Walter Reiss said he felt the district was being asked to pay for everything and insisted there be more in this for Academy than is currently being offered.

"From our current audit report, our net capital assets are $2,310,600," he said, which would include assets that can be depreciated such as land, easements, and facilities. It is "what we own and our people have paid for." Reiss suggested that Donala buy Academy’s capital assets, and Academy would take care of its current outstanding liabilities, keeping all cash assets. Once the bond was paid off (in 2014), "then whatever’s left will be equally distributed among the total district (residents)…. To me this is more equitable," he said.

Though this view wasn’t shared by all, a counterproposal was deemed a good idea.

President Richard DuPont quoted from an article written by Donala’s general manager Dana Duthie in the recent Donala Times, in which Duthie talks about the benefits of the merger, including access to Academy’s water supply. DuPont noted it was the first time Donala had admitted that water is a benefit, "even though they’ve never talked to the Academy board about it." In fact, Donala’s "Bullet Paper" plays down the importance of Academy’s water.

Although the immediate issue is wastewater treatment, DuPont feels that the bigger issue in the long run is water. "Everything I’m reading and (Operator Jerry Jacobsen) is being exposed to … (is that) in 10 years, this little district will be in trouble," he said.

At the time talk of a merger first began in the spring, the Academy board preferred to explore outside options, and DuPont said he took responsibility for delaying direct action toward a merger. Now, he said, it was time to make a decision about what avenue to pursue: "We have enough information to do that."

Each board member in turn offered his thoughts. The majority were inclined to present a counterproposal to Donala that would make a merger more "financially agreeable."

Director Ron Curry, who said he has been leaning toward consolidation from the start, said he was appreciative of the expertise of Academy’s board members and pointed out that going it alone would be especially difficult as the years go by and the board membership changes. "If we pursue our own path, it will cost us a tremendous amount of money, and we won’t have the people here to run it," he said.

Director Jim Weilbrenner is solidly for consolidation, saying the expenses of running a wastewater facility and all the other anticipated costs "just scares me. And we lose out because we can’t (afford to) be a member of the Pikes Peak Water Authority, and that’s the future." He added that once the current bond is paid off in 2014, there may be more bonds needed.

Jacobsen said, "I think the issues facing Academy are increasing regulations, increasing energy costs, and increasing operation and management costs." Another issue is the shrinking labor pool for state-certified operators, so "the competition is steep." He said, "I see these as major hurdles."

He added that "our main asset would be our water, but that isn’t included" in the Donala point list.

Three board members will be working on a counterproposal over the next month, focusing on how the district’s assets are to be treated. Murphy said, "We need to tell them our assets do have some value, some of which don’t show up on (the ‘Bullet Paper’)." Reiss said, "I’m just looking for a level playing field."

Resident Sue Wielgopolan thanked the board for its hard work in this matter. She said she believes a merger with Donala is the only solution. She also said the board did the right thing in raising rates, noting Academy’s rates had been very low.

Miscellaneous

The board will be putting liens on three properties currently in foreclosure. Those properties owe several hundred dollars each, and payment has been repeatedly requested.

*********

The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is Jan. 2.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, January 2: Another step taken toward merger

By Susan Hindman

After meeting with a few members of the Donala Water and Sanitation District board, Academy’s board president Richard DuPont said, "We’ve opened the door" to merging operations with Donala.

DuPont said he told them that his board has decided to proceed with a merger but that there are several items of concern. He said to them, "We’re trying to figure out with you how we can adjust the cost because the cost to us is prohibitive and a burden to our people."

He said Donala asked when Academy might be ready to get this under way. DuPont said because of complicated election requirements — involving voter approval of the merger and approval to release money in reserves, which are bound by TABOR laws — it would probably not be until January, following a November election. If the merger was approved, Donala would start water hookup "almost immediately," he said.

Discussion at Academy’s board meeting turned to determining value for its assets. DuPont said the augmentation plan shows the district has 600 acre-feet of water per year available from four aquifers. The district uses only 70 acre-feet per year, so the value of that excess water needs to be determined for negotiations. DuPont said he would talk with a water engineer the following day about determining an estimate as well as a cost for that estimate.

Academy also has its alluvial wells, which aren’t included in the acre-feet numbers, and the 5½ acres that the district’s operations sit on, some of which could potentially be sold.

Because Academy would continue to collect money from residents to pay down the current bond, the board would have to remain intact until 2014, the year the bond would be paid off. During that time, the district would need money to pay for things like audits, insurance, and board elections (Academy would need to maintain a five-member board), requiring a revenue source.

Curry and Weilbrenner will work out a proposal to address the district’s assets, mainly the water.

Meanwhile, board members plan on attending Donala’s next meeting in January.

May election

Unrelated to the merger, Academy will hold an election in May for three board positions, currently held by DuPont, Ronald Curry, and James Weilbrenner. Board secretary Gordon Rodden was designated the election official.

Wastewater system update

Operator Jerry Jacobson said that the wastewater test results are not in compliance for the 30-day average. The CBOD, which is the oxygen demand of the effluent, was 34 mg/L; the 30-day average limit is 25 mg/L. In addition, the total suspended solids (TSS) were 48 mg/L, which is higher than the average, normally "in the 30s." He didn’t consider these to be a serious violation and said, "We’ll see how it works out this month."

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The Academy Water and Sanitation District board meets at 7 p.m. the first Wednesday of every month at the fire station on Sun Hills Drive. The next meeting is Feb. 6.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, November 29: District increases rates; mill levies unchanged

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting November 29, the board unanimously approved the rates and fees proposed by Dana Duthie, general manager of the district. Included were increases in the water rates and creation of a new higher rate category for residential customers using more than 50,000 gallons per month. As reported in the October issue of OCN, the residential water rate changes are:

Water Rate per 1,000 gallons/month
Range (gallons) Old rate New rate Increase
0-10,000  $     2.60  $    2.75 6%
10,001-20,000  $     3.45  $    3.60 4%
20,001-30,000  $     3.70  $    4.00 8%
30,001-40,000  $     4.50  $    5.00 11%
40,001-50,000  $     6.00  $    7.00 17%
Above 50,000  $     6.00  $    8.00 33%

Duthie noted that in June 2008, more than 600 customers used in excess of 40,000 gallons.

For townhome developments, a new special rate was approved of $6.50 per 1,000 gallons for all usage over 40,000 gallons per month. Since townhome developments provide water to multiple residences, their usage would otherwise put them into the new highest rate category. A top rate of $5.50 per 1,000 gallons applies to townhome developments that have eliminated at least 25 percent of their water-intensive landscaping

The availability of service fee for undeveloped lots was increased from $250 to $300 per year. This fee has not been increased in 10 years.

Mill levies and budget approved

The board unanimously approved no changes to the property tax mill levies of 16.296 mills for those customers receiving water and sewer service and 8.148 mills for those customers who receive only water service. Duthie noted that the latter category currently includes only properties in Chaparral Hills but will also include the Brown Ranch on Roller Coaster Road near Higby if it is developed as 2.5-acre parcels.

Duthie presented the proposed 2008 budget for the district. Total projected annual revenue is $11.5 million including $1.5 million from water sales, $790,000 from sewer service, $1.2 million from property taxes, and $7 million from Colorado Water and Power Authority loans to fund the ongoing wastewater plant construction project.

Donala’s 2008 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $3.6 million.

Capital project expenses are projected at $7.75 million of which $7 million are for the continuing wastewater treatment plant expansion. Duthie noted that in the next few years, some of the district’s wells will have to be redrilled. He said although the wells have an expected life of about 20 years, "We have been getting more than that."

With the required $113,577 TABOR reserve and an additional $100,000 in contingency, the ending total fund balance at the end of 2008 is projected at $10.4 million, about the same as in prior years.

Duthie noted that a board action to appropriate the funds will be requested in January after the final figures for 2007 are known.

Aurora implementing indirect potable reuse

Duthie reported on a presentation by the City of Aurora about their $755 million indirect potable reuse project that will add about 50 million gallons per day to Aurora’s water supply. He noted that the project will pump water from a point 30 miles downstream from the Denver Metropolitan Wastewater treatment plant and deliver it to an alluvial aquifer system. The water will subsequently be treated and pumped 30 miles to the Aurora reservoir. The water will be treated to meet regulations and match the taste of Aurora’s water from other sources. Property taxes and water fees fund the project. Duthie observed that the Aurora project has set a high standard for such projects. He added, "We don’t have the geography" to create a similar project and that the estimated $46.5 million cost for a much smaller Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) indirect potable reuse project "may not be enough."

Other matters

  • Duthie reported that the PPRWA has learned that Xcel Energy, the customer for INVenergy’s Spruce Mountain well field project, has cancelled the project and is concentrating on other projects such as converting an old coal-fired plant near St. Vrain to wind power. He added that INVenergy will likely lose $400,000 in earnest money it had invested in the project.
  • Duthie said the final report from PPRWA’s engineering study on local infrastructure needs should be released by the end of the year.
  • Cracks appeared when some of the new walls at the wastewater treatment plant were leak tested. The problem was traced to errors made by a structural engineering subcontractor. The subcontractor will pay roughly $40,000 to fix the problem.
  • Donala has received approval and signed the loan documents for an additional $2.2 million loan to cover its portion of the costs of the wastewater plant expansion.

Following the public meeting, the board went into an executive session to discuss personnel, negotiations, and water purchase issues.

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Tuesday, January 22 at 2 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility Joint Use Committee, December 11: 2008 budget approved for wastewater facility

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 11, the Joint Use Committee, which serves as the board of directors for the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility, approved the final draft of the 2008 budget. The final payments for the Monument Creek bank stabilization project were also approved. The biannual sludge removal operation performed by contractor Parker AG was terminated earlier than planned due to freezing weather. Only half of the sludge was removed. The remainder will be removed in 2009.

The three-member Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee consists of one director each from the boards of the three special districts that own the facility in equal one-third shares: the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts, and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.

However, operations costs are divided proportionally between the three districts based on the amount of total wastewater flow each district delivers to the plant each month. Woodmoor’s operational costs are currently about three times those of Monument and Palmer Lake.

The Woodmoor district was represented by Director Jim Whitelaw, the alternate for Woodmoor Director Benny Nasser, who could not attend this meeting. Palmer Lake Sanitation District’s JUC member, Director Todd Bell, participated in the meeting via speakerphone. Bell’s alternate, Palmer Lake Director Dale Platt, attended the meeting in person to ensure district representation in case there were phone problems.

2008 budget approved with condition from Monument

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks had left the $39,965 line item for sandblasting and recoating the facility’s three clarifiers as a repairs and maintenance item instead of changing it to a capital item as Monument had requested at the previous JUC meetings. Monument believes the cost should be split in thirds, which would mean a higher cost for Monument and Palmer Lake and a lower cost for Woodmoor.

Woodmoor District Manager Phil Steininger, Palmer Lake District Manager Duane Hanson, and Wicklund will meet in January to discuss wording to further amend the joint-use agreement for operating the Tri-Lakes facility to try to reach a compromise on creating new wording regarding allocation of large maintenance costs above $2,500 among the three districts. Currently the agreement includes no policy regarding maintenance costs. Repair costs above $2,500 are automatically designated as capital costs.

Wicklund said that Monument would vote in favor of the proposed budget, with the recoating cost divided as an operational cost, while asking Woodmoor and Palmer Lake to "pass resolutions saying that they’ll basically hold Monument harmless against any future lawsuits that could result if there is ever a dispute over that particular line item, or any particular line item that should have been billed in thirds but was billed by flow." Wicklund noted, as he had done at previous JUC meetings, that Monument’s accountant, Ray Russell of Haynie and company, PC, advised the Monument board that any maintenance that significantly extends the life of a capital item for an extended period, 11 years in this case, then it is a capital item and should be billed as a capital item. Recorder Sue Wielgopolan said that Monument’s condition would be noted in the minutes for this meeting. (Note: The Palmer Lake and Woodmoor boards did not pass the requested resolutions at their subsequent December board meetings.)

There were no citizen comments during the public hearing. The JUC unanimously approved resolutions for the 2008 budget and appropriation.

The committee unanimously approved a resolution for a revision to the 2007 budget for sludge removal. The actual cost for services by sludge removal contractor Parker AG was $49,500 rather than the full contract price of $100,815. The unspent funds will be added back to the 2007 budget to pay for the cost overrun on the bank stabilization project as part of a final 2007 budget amendment.

The amount of sludge to be removed in 2009 will be much higher than normal. Burks will start the removal process much earlier in the year to complete it before the sludge lagoon freezes over.

Tri-Lakes Facility Manager Bill Burks reported that each district had to pay $28,668, a total of $86,004, to make an interim payment to contractor High Country Pipeline for the Monument Creek bank stabilization project for work completed to date.

Two other payments will have to be made on the project in 2008. A final payment on the project of $9,500 will have to be made to High Country Pipeline as well as a separate payment of $2,300 for reseeding the stabilized bank when the weather gets warmer.

Burks noted that all test results were good, though the copper concentration in the plant’s discharged effluent listed in the facility’s November Discharge Monitoring Report was up slightly to 11 parts per billion (PPB). Whitelaw asked, "Are there any more guesses on why" the reading went up slightly from the previous month. Burks said, "No." Burks noted that one Monument wastewater test sample from the district’s south vault had a concentration of 335 PPB. Burks had the sample retested and the result was the same.

Wicklund said he would advise Rick Koplitz of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment of this high copper reading. Koplitz is Monument’s pretreatment coordinator and would help investigate dumping violations if required. Wicklund said that all the homes that feed Monument’s south vault are less than 3 years old, with relatively new copper water pipes.

Burks noted that Synthes Corp. can legally dump up to 2,070 micrograms of copper into its Monument sewer tap per month. Synthes cannot dump harmful liquids such as the solvents used for manufacturing stainless steel instruments and must haul these wastes away in 55 gallon drums to be treated elsewhere.

Burks noted that Home Depot was again selling root-killing chemicals that include copper sulfate. Wicklund noted that the Home Depot store is not in the Monument Sanitation District.

All three JUC districts have passed resolutions prohibiting the use of products containing copper sulfate to kill tree roots in sewer pipes.

Burks said the Colorado Attorney General’s Office was giving facility attorney Mike Cuculla "the runaround" on participation in Colorado’s Public Employee Retirement Association for the facility’s three employees’ retirement. The JUC authorized Burks to find and engage a lawyer that specializes in PERA matters. The Attorney General’s position is that the three employees should be part of the Social Security System.

The JUC unanimously approved a motion to allow the Town of Monument to make automatic electronic fund withdrawals to pay the facility’s water bill of about $20 per month.

The meeting adjourned at 11 a.m.

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The next meeting of the Joint Use Committee will be at 10 a.m. Jan. 8 at the facility conference room, 16510 Mitchell Ave. Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of the month. Information: 481-4053.

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Monument Sanitation District board, December 20: District mill levy eliminated; all debt paid off

Below: Monument Sanitation District Board celebrates certifying a zero property tax mill levy on Dec. 20 after paying off all district debt. Left to right: Secretary Glenda Smith, District Manager Mike Wicklund, President Lowell Morgan; Accounts Administrator Marna Kennedy; Director Kristi Schutz; Director Chuck Robinove. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

 

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 20, the Monument Sanitation District board unanimously approved a resolution re-setting its mill levy to 0 mills. All district debt has been paid off. District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that the district has never used mill levy revenue to pay for operational expenses. The district will not receive specific ownership taxes from motor vehicle sales in 2008 because it is debt free.

Director Bob Kuchek’s absence was excused.

The board also approved resolutions for the 2008 budget and appropriation after a public hearing. Total operating expenditures for 2008 are $425,285 and total capital improvement expenses are $171,198. Debt service is 0. The district will refund $40 to each customer with an active tap in 2008, a cost of $46,000. In the past few years, the district had refunded $60, but the source of unbudgeted revenue, specific ownership tax, will no longer be available now that the district has reset the mill levy to zero. Total expenditures are $645,483. Total operating revenues exceed total operating expenditures by $415.

Wicklund reported a surge in district tap fee revenues in early December of $51,000, increasing total tap fees for the year to date to $192,500.

The board approved a line item amendment to the district’s 2007 budget that increased the contingency fund $6,000, from $2,000 to $8,000. The amendment does not change the bottom line expenditures for 2007. However, Wicklund noted that there is no expectation of needing the additional $6,000 at this time and the change is a precaution in case some unforeseen operating expense occurs before the end of the year. The current estimate for the end of year fund balance has increased to $39,041.

The meeting adjourned at 7 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the district office, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Triview Metropolitan District Board meeting, December 11: 2008 budget approved, property taxes increased without an election

Below (L to R): Kip Petersen, from the Cherokee Metropolitan District; Larry Bishop, from the Triview Metropolitan District; and Phil Steininger, from the Woodmoor Monument Water and Sanitation District at the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority Meeting Dec. 13. Bishop announced his resignation as manager of Triview. Photo by John Heiser.

 

by Jim Kendrick

The board of the Triview Metropolitan District took steps at its meeting on Dec. 11 to ensure that it would have a balanced budget in 2008. The board also approved resolutions that authorized the 2008 budget and the 2008 appropriation as a resolution raising the property tax mill levy to 35 mills. All members of the board were present.

The motion to increase the mill levy followed a lengthy discussion by board members on its options to create a balanced budget. The motion was approved by a vote of 4-0-1, with Director Julie Glenn abstaining. The district does not plan to hold an election on the property tax increase.

After holding an open public hearing, the board unanimously approved resolutions that authorized the 2008 budget and the 2008 appropriation. The board also unanimously approved a resolution that amended the 2007 budget. During the discussion, District Manager Larry Bishop noted that the planned cleanup of stained sidewalks within Jackson Creek would be deferred until the completion of the water treatment plant expansion and termination of the use of raw water for irrigation.

The district’s engineering consultant, Tom Repp of Nolte Associates, gave the board an update on the project to connect the Triview and Donala Water and Sanitation District water systems. An interconnect will be installed that will allow for a temporary exchange of water if either of the districts has a drinking water emergency.

Before the meeting was adjourned at 6:15 p.m., Director Joe Belzer announced his resignation from the board, effective Jan. 22.

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The next meeting is at 5 p.m. on Jan. 22 at the district offices, 174 Washington St. Meetings are normally held the fourth Tuesday of the month. Information: 488-6868.

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Board Vacancy

The board is soliciting volunteers to formally submit a letter of intent for appointment to the vacant seat not later than January 18. State statutes require that the vacant seat be filled within 60 days after Jan. 22. The appointment would run through the end of April. If the appointee wishes to continue to be a member of the board, he or she must become a candidate for the May election. Any interested eligible Triview district elector can apply at 174 Washington St, in downtown Monument. Information: Dale Hill at 488-6868.

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Note: Bishop has announced his resignation, effective Jan. 4. He will be taking a position with the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District on Jan. 7.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board, December 13: 2008 budget and rate increase approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 13, the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board unanimously approved a resolution that authorized the district’s 2008 budget and appropriation, and also certified the 2008 district property tax of 7.25 mills. A public hearing on the budget was held at the previous board meeting on Nov. 8.

The board informed Tim Irish — developer of the proposed high-density Arbor Mountain senior citizen residence facility on Highway 105 — that the district had no excess water that it could sell to him, after he requested a purchase of 6.7 acre-feet per year. They advised Irish to obtain excess water rights from owners of nearby properties.

All board members were present.

Budget discussion

Some of the items District Manager Phil Steininger noted were:

  • The bulk water and non-potable irrigation rates had been adjusted to parallel the previously approved change in rates for commercial and residential as he had been directed to do by the board at the Nov. 8 meeting.
  • The projected bulk water and non-potable irrigation revenues for these two categories are high enough to match the district’s revenue requirements for these two services.
  • The district’s 2003 bonds will be paid off in four years; previously issued bonds have been paid off.
  • Employee health insurance costs for 2008 went up 9.5 percent.
  • The district’s 2008 mill levy dropped 14.7 percent; the assessed value of the district increased 17.5 percent.
  • The base rate for water and sewer for a standard residential tap, including up to 6,000 gallons of water per month, went up 2.2 percent.
  • Woodmoor’s total annual costs for its residential customers are lower than average for the Tri-Lakes region.

Arbor Mountain discussion

Irish, of Senior Living Solutions, and his consultant engineer, Dianne Phillips, discussed progress to date for the Arbor Mountain senior living residence proposal. Some of the things they noted about their project were:

  • Arbor Mountain has already received 28 confirmed reservations for the 57 planned living units.
  • A full set of the project’s plans, which are 95 percent complete, were provided to the district.
  • Copies of recent calculations of estimated water use by the senior residents using the Denver water department’s methodologies showed that the water requirement would be about 7.7 acre-feet per year.
  • The Villages at Woodmoor developer, WED LLC, dedicated 4.07 acres to the town of Monument, with a water allocation of about 2 acre-feet of water per year.
  • Subsequently, the town donated the land and the 2 acre-foot water allocation to Irish in return for guaranteed reduced rates for lower-income seniors for 10 percent of the living units.
  • Irish requested the purchase of an additional 6.7 acre-feet of water per year from the district for a total allocation of 8.7 acre-feet per year for the residential and outside irrigation requirements of the facility.
  • Each additional acre-foot of water used in excess of a property’s annual allocation has cost $25,000; this incremental cost increases to $32,500 in 2008.
  • The maximum number of Arbor Mountain residents is expected to be 100 seniors.
  • Construction will take about 12 months, accounting for expected weather delays.
  • Each residence will have its own washer, dryer, and kitchen.
  • Daily food service will consist of a light lunch and full supper, with about 30 percent of the residents eating prepared meals at the commercial dining facility each day.

District civil engineer Jessie Shaffer said that the standard Woodmoor water use tables showed that Arbor Mountain will require 15.39 to 20.28 acre-feet of allocated water per year. Irish and Phillips reiterated that their historical data from nearly identical facilities they currently own and operate elsewhere show that the total water requirement will not exceed 8.7 acre-feet.

Shaffer also noted that WED had already purchased supplemental water service for the entire 140-acre Wahlborg addition in conjunction with district inclusion and Town of Monument annexation. WED purchased 110 acre-feet of supplemental water. The WED property was also granted the standard 70 acre-feet of water for the 140 acres that were conveyed to the district when the parcel was included. None of the supplemental water was conveyed to Irish with the 4.07-acre donation, however. Shaffer said that Woodmoor has no remaining supplemental water reserves to sell to Irish.

Irish noted that his industry has a difficult time differentiating probable water use by independent, assisted, skilled, and nursing facilities. Arbor Mountain would be an independent living facility, drastically reducing the amount of water required for food preparation and medical assistance. In addition, there would be no more than one or two people living in each residence, unlike standard multi-family apartment complexes, which were the basis for Shaffer’s calculations.

Steininger replied that if the facility were to exceed its proposed allocation several years in a row, the high cost for excessive use could lead to the senior residents exerting pressure on the board to sell more supplemental water to the project. He added that the board should consider whether it should allocate any additional water to the Arbor Mountain project and, if so, how much. He noted that the price of supplemental water would increase to $32,500 per acre-foot in 2008. Also, the district may obtain additional surface water resources sometime in the future, but most likely not before 2020.

Steininger recommended that the board not approve the supplemental allocation request and said the staff could not support Irish’s estimate of only 8.7 acre-feet of water being used each year.

Director Elizabeth Hacker said that the proposal was a good project that should be supported by the district if possible.

After further lengthy discussion, the board determined that the district had no remaining supplemental water it could sell after selling the 110 acre-feet to WED. The board rejected the request, then suggested that Irish try to arrange a transfer of supplemental water rights from another Woodmoor landowner and consider the purchase of excess effluent from the Town of Monument. Steininger offered to assist Irish and Phillips in obtaining useable "demand available" water allocations from other landowners.

Joint Use Committee report

Copper problems discussed: Director Benny Nasser is Woodmoor’s representative on the Joint Use Committee (JUC) that oversees operations of the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility, which is jointly owned by Woodmoor, Monument Sanitation District, and Palmer Lake Sanitation District. However, Director Jim Whitelaw attended the Dec. 11 JUC meeting, as Nasser’s alternate.

Whitelaw stated that Monument had a single "extremely high" copper concentration reading of 335 parts per billion (PPB) in one of its two wastewater collection lines during one week in October. "They are blaming it, and Phil you were there, they’re blaming it on pipes and new buildings," Whitelaw said. "I think that’s a crock. It’s there someplace and they’re going to have to find it." He added that the plant is doing very well in treating wastewater.

Note: The maximum copper concentration that will be allowed under the next five-year facility discharge permit (2010-14) in any sample of discharged treated effluent will be lowered to 11.7 PPB from the current waiver allowing 36.4 PPB, unless the facility receives another waiver. The maximum average under the next permit will be 8.0 parts per billion. The plant cannot meet that new standard because the typical copper reading for treated effluent over the past two years is 10-11 parts per billion. Current estimates for installing additional equipment to remove copper by the end of 2009 are about $2 million, with annual additional operating costs of $500,000 per year.

Whitelaw also noted that the 2008 facility budget was approved by the JUC and that only half of the planned amount of sludge had been removed before the sludge lagoon froze. The rest of the sludge will be removed in 2009.

Steininger, who also attended the JUC meeting, noted that the Monument and Palmer Lake districts passed resolutions similar to the one Woodmoor passed prohibiting the addition of copper sulfate to any wastewater, particularly to kill tree roots that had penetrated sanitary sewer lines.

Cost-sharing issue discussed: Steininger also discussed a request at the JUC meeting from the Monument Sanitation District that the Woodmoor board pass a resolution holding Monument legally harmless for not paying a one-third share of the $39,000 cost in the facility’s 2008 budget to recoat the steel structures within the three clarifiers with coal tar epoxy after 11 years of operation since the last recoating.

Costs for operations are divided proportionally between the three districts based on the fraction of the total water and wastes the districts deliver to the plant. Capital costs are divided equally, in one-third shares for capital costs. Currently Woodmoor pays about 60 percent of operational costs due to its much higher flow rates. Monument and Palmer Lake pay roughly 20 percent each. The $39,935 cost was determined to be an operational rather than a capital cost by facility manager, Bill Burks when he drafted the 2008 budget.

Consultant Mike Rothberg, of RTW Engineering, stated that the joint-use agreement currently defines any unit expenditure that costs more than $2,500 as a capital cost and that the concept of maintenance costs was excluded in the agreement. He said that a $39,935 cost cannot be defined as anything other than a capital cost under the existing terms of the agreement. Rothberg participated in the very lengthy and controversial negotiations in 1996 that created the current joint-use agreement.

Woodmoor’s attorney, Erin Smith, agreed with Rothberg after reading to board members the pertinent wording of the agreement on repair and operational costs. There was considerable discussion on the difference between common usage of the words "repair" and "maintenance" and the very narrow and restrictive legal definitions in the joint use agreement.

Nasser noted that Monument had brought up what it considered to be an incorrect allocation of the $39,935 cost among the three districts before the draft 2008 JUC budget was finalized and asked to pay a greater share of the cost as it believed was required to avoid future legal conflicts on how maintenance costs would be divided under the language of the current version of the joint-use agreement. Palmer Lake disagreed, saying it preferred to pay a one-fifth rather than one-third share.

Board President Jim Taylor said that Monument wanted a promise that Woodmoor would not sue Monument to recover the budgeted overpayment in three years. The board determined that it would not pass the resolution requested by Monument and may ask for a revision in the 2008 facility budget later in 2008.

Steininger informed the board that Triview Metropolitan District Manager Larry Bishop had announced his resignation at another regional district meeting at Monument Town Hall that took place earlier in the day.

Construction contract for well 20 awarded

Shaffer reported that consultant RTW Engineering had recommended that the district award a construction contract to Aztec General Contractors in the amount of $445,000 for construction of Well 20. A 4.5 percent contingency totaling $20,000 for possible change orders was also recommended. Construction engineering services by RTW were estimated to cost another $50,000, for a total cost of $515,000. Shaffer noted that the other five construction bids ranged as high as $650,000. The "engineer’s estimate" for the construction contract was $484,000. The board unanimously approved the RTW recommendations, including the contract award to Aztec.

The Well 20 pipeline contractor was reported to be making good progress on its installation project.

Shaffer also reported that:

  • Woodmoor received environmental permits for the district’s Monument Creek Exchange Improvements. Approvals have been received from Monument, Colorado Springs, and landowner Bob Delacroce, who have more senior water rights to proceed with construction.
  • Repair and replacement of Lake Woodmoor infrastructure is on schedule and on cost.
  • The board unanimously approved a resolution to adopt a new personnel manual. The board had reviewed and amended each chapter over the course of about a year.

At 4 p.m., the board went into executive session to discuss negotiations on water purchases.

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The next meeting will be held at 1 p.m. on Jan. 10 at the district offices, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 488-2525.

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Monument Board of Trustees, December 3: Board approves 2008 budget, expansion of church campus

Below:
Dec. 3, Monument’s Principal Planner Karen Griffith (next to carved statute) briefs the Board of Trustees on plans to expand the parish’s church and elementary school buildings. The plans were unanimously approved. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

 

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the 2008 budget, appropriation, and mill levy for 2008 on Dec. 3. The board approved the St. Peter Catholic Church proposal to expand the church, parish education center, and parking lots during the next four years, as well as a vacation of the alley between the church and education center to eliminate traffic from First Street to Lincoln Avenue.

A hearing on the proposed major revision of the town’s commercial sign ordinance was continued until February because a large number of business owners in attendance said they were unaware of the proposal and had not had time to determine if the many new restrictions might harm their operations.

Trustees Dave Mertz and Steve Samuels were absent.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Tommie Plank, a member of the Historic Monument Merchants Association, said that its Small Town Christmas event, held on Dec. 1, had a "fantastic turnout. We had people all over town. Santa saw about 275 children. Some of them cried and some of them didn’t and many brought their lists for him." She added that the town Christmas tree was lit in Limbach Park later that afternoon.

Mayor Byron Glenn announced that landowner Phoenix-Bell was to complete the paperwork to donate right-of-way on the northwest corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange to widen the north side of Baptist between the southbound off-ramp and Old Denver Highway. He added that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority hopes to start the bidding process for the construction contract in February.

Citizens’ comments

Monument resident Richard Metro asked the board about two issues the board had considered recently: a donation of $1,500 in town funds to Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and plans to issue bonds for purchasing land for expansion of the privately owned Colorado Sports Center hockey rink facility on Old Denver Highway.

Glenn said that Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, had asked the board for financial support to convert the former Palmer Lake Bowling Alley on Highway 105 in Palmer Lake into a new Tri-Lakes Senior Center. Roberts made that request on March 19. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n4.htm#bot0319 for details.)

Glenn noted that the board had told Roberts at that time that the trustees would defer a decision on any donation until the end of 2007 to see if it had any remaining discretionary funds and that the board intended to target excess revenues toward senior programs in 2008 should the voters approve a ballot question for another four-year extension of the TABOR tax refund waiver in November.

Glenn said the Colorado Hockey Club bought the former Soc-N-Roll building a few years ago to expand and convert it to hockey rinks. The Colorado Youth Foundation has proposed a second expansion onto 15 acres of vacant land to the north for youth programs. The foundation cannot issue bonds for the purchase of the land from the Watt family, so it asked the town to issue the bonds in a manner similar to an art museum construction project that used bonds issued by the city of Colorado Springs. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said the town would assume no obligation or risks for repayment of the bonds by the nonprofit foundation, and merely "act as a conduit" for the process. There will be public Board of Trustee hearings on the bond issue once the contracts are drafted.

Metro thanked the board for both answers and departed the meeting.

2008 budget and mill levy approved

Deputy Treasurer Julie Maddux presented ordinances to enact the 2008 budget and required appropriations of money for each of the town funds. She also presented a resolution for a 2008 tax mill levy of 6.289 mills – down from 6.458 mills – that would raise $599,522. Treasurer Pamela Smith was absent, recuperating from injuries she sustained during a recent horse riding accident. All three proposals were approved unanimously without discussion.

The amounts appropriated were:

  • General Fund — $3,734,199
  • Community Development Fund — $ 17,924
  • Conservation Trust Fund — $34,937
  • Debt Service Fund — $157,438
  • Storm Drainage Impact Fee Fund — $29,144
  • Traffic Impact Fee Fund — $47,754
  • Water Enterprise Fund — $1,388,458
  • Capital Projects Building Fund — $675,208

The projected General Fund end-of-year balance drops from $657,130 for 2007 to $11,179 at the end of 2008. The projected Water Fund end-of-year balance increases from $1,039,912 for 2007 to $1,136,699 at the end of 2008. All the other fund balances are projected to be zero at the end of both years.

St. Peter campus upgrade approved

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, gave a brief overview of the three proposals from St. Peter Catholic Church, 55 Jefferson St., at the start of the 90-minute hearing. Kassawara noted that there would be a unified presentation by the staff and applicant before the board voted on each of the three separate proposals for replat, vacation of easements and an alley right-of-way, and use by special review site plan.

Karen Griffith, town principal planner, noted that all three proposals to consolidate all the various church properties into a single lot met each requirement of the town Comprehensive Plan and town code and that the Planning Commission had unanimously approved all three at public hearings Nov. 14. She said the vacation of the alley would benefit the town by eliminating costs for maintenance and snow plowing and that there were no comments from any of the agencies routinely queried for this type of proposal.

Applicant’s proposal: Architect Brian Bucher of Bucher Design Studios, Palmer Lake, presented two separate proposals for the landowner of the St. Peter campus, the Diocese of Colorado Springs. Bucher is a parishioner. The proposals conclude the master plan first presented to the town in 1999. The parish hopes to complete the master plan with all proposed improvements by the 100-year anniversary of the church in 2011.

The church building would be expanded to the north to relocate office and meeting space to allow for increased seating space for up to 900 to 1,000 people during services.

Bucher stated that the proposed addition to the parish education center will house a new parish hall, a cafeteria and new rooms for meetings. The new rooms will be a community resource that can be used by other charitable organizations. Father Bob Jaeger reiterated the statement in the church’s letter of intent to the board that "The St. Peter school will remain as a pre-kindergarten to fifth-grade facility, as designed." Kassawara added that public hearings would be required if the church decided it wanted to add grades to the school in the future due to the restriction imposed by the pending use by special review decision.

Bucher noted that the St. Peter property is composed of three separate adjacent pieces of land. The largest piece is the city block bordered by First Street to the north, Jefferson Street to the east, Lincoln Avenue to the south, and Washington Street to the west. There is an existing large asphalt parking lot on the northwest corner of Jefferson and First that extends up to the southern boundary of the Toys 4 Fun lot on Jefferson; the toy store was the original St. Peter church. The third piece is a vacant lot on the southwest corner of Jefferson and Lincoln.

Combining all three lots and removing the three houses owned by the diocese would allow "turning the campus structures inward, toward an enhanced alley/plaza." The three houses will be donated and moved to new locations.

Public comment: About 30 parishioners attended the hearings. Half of them spoke in favor of the proposals during the public comment portion of the hearing. Several speakers said they were not Monument residents, but spent time in Monument shops before or after church functions. There were no public comments in opposition, though one resident who said he was a career construction contractor expressed concerns about the adequacy of the detention ponds and rip-rap drainage ways.

Replat details: The proposed replat would eliminate all the remaining lot lines for lots 6-16 within the city block to create a single 3.3-acre lot within the existing city block. Lots 1-5 were previously combined into a single lot for construction of the Parish Education Center on the southeast corner of Washington and First.

Vacation details: The proposal asked that the town’s north-south alley 30-foot right-of-way through the center of the city block be vacated so the church could convert it to an interior pedestrian walkway. Removable steel bollards would prevent routine traffic from traversing the walkway. These roadblocks could be removed to provide emergency medical or utility vehicle access to the center of the new campus.

The proposal also called for vacation of the unused perimeter utility easements for all the eliminated lots to allow building expansions to be built on top of the unused easements. However, all the utilities would retain their existing easement access rights for their lines under the vacated 30-foot-wide right-of-way. The utilities may dig up the pavers for the walkway and the proposed adjacent concrete curbs to repair or replace their equipment.

The replat and both vacations were unanimously approved with three conditions:

  • Any necessary technical corrections to the documentation will be made prior to recording it with the county.
  • The civil engineering drawings will be sent to Mountain View Electric Association, and any additional required easements will be dedicated before recording.
  • The final drainage plan and drainage report must be approved by town staff before recording.

Use by special review details: The proposal calls for adding 16,631 square feet of space to the existing education center and 9,025 square feet to the church. Two-tone plaster and brickwork are to be used to better integrate the architecture with the surrounding community. Improvements for accessibility and safety issues have all been addressed and incorporated in the design.

An annual water use analysis showed that there is a sufficient existing water appropriation for the church’s property to support the new uses if only drip irrigation is used for the proposed landscaping. However, the report did not address problems that might occur during "dry years" or if drip irrigation is replaced with a system that would use more water.

The staff reported that the proposed use by special review meets all requirements of the municipal zoning code for an R-2 downtown zone.

There was a lengthy discussion among board members, staff, and Bucher regarding specific questions about drainage, traffic, landscaping, liability issues from sharing of the church’s parking lot, lack of "softscape" for outdoor playground space, and existing and future increased air conditioning noise from the school building.

This third proposal was unanimously approved with two proposed conditions from the staff plus conditions proposed by Plank and Glenn:

  • Any necessary technical corrections to the documentation will be made prior to recording with the county.
  • The final drainage plan and drainage report must be approved by town staff prior to recording.
  • Bucher is to meet with town staff to determine if there are options to provide a grass field for play and parking, as well as to provide better acoustic isolation of roof air conditioning for the parish education center.

Sign code revision decision deferred

Background: Earlier this year, Plank complained about the signs on the recently upgraded Rocky Mountain Oil Change and Car Wash Center on the northwest corner of Second Street and Highway 105. Owner John Savage then complained to the board about how hard it had been to get his building and then signs approved by Kassawara. Kassawara acknowledged at that meeting that the sign ordinance was vague and unfair to Savage with regard to his car wash bay. Savage was required to create an entirely separate business in order to be able to display a single car wash sign. Savage also said his business was treated very differently than all the other businesses on Highway 105, most of which have far larger and uglier signs than his small signs that Plank was complaining about. The board directed Kassawara to rewrite the sign code.

The staff had invited a few of the owners of the 450 town businesses to a luncheon on Sept. 27, four from Highway 105 and four from Second Street. Banner and "sandwich" signs generated the most discussion. The staff also had invited all members of the Historic Monument Merchants Association to a "sparsely attended" second meeting held on Oct. 25. The staff included the suggestions from both meetings in the draft revision.

Griffith gave a lengthy presentation, which she called "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," that showed good and bad examples of signage from Monument and Castle Rock, where she worked in her last job as a town planner. She and Kassawara noted that the code as currently written is so vague that it is largely unenforceable. She added that the numerous additions and revisions provide more clarity and will improve the overall appearance of commercial areas on both sides of the interstate as well as adding character and appeal to the downtown business area.

Some of the proposed changes that would increase the length of the sign regulations from 4 to 25 pages were:

  • Signs must be in harmony with the building, the site, and the surrounding neighborhood and made of quality materials.
  • Many new rules for temporary banner signs and "sandwich" signs as well as many new rules for permanent banner signs.
  • New rules for permanent and temporary sign permit applications, reviews, and approvals.
  • The maximum area of window signs is reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent of the area of the windows for improved safety and aesthetics.
  • Definitions are created for monument-style and subdivision identification signs.
  • Landscaping around the base of monument-style or free-standing signs will be required.
  • Monument-style signs, but not free-standing signs, are now allowed in residential and business zones.
  • Master sign plans must be submitted for multi-tenant centers to create more uniformity of signage and be coordinated with the center’s design.
  • "Canopy signs" – shop names on awnings – are now defined.
  • An additional wall sign is to be allowed on free-standing buildings.
  • Each tenant in a multi-tenant building can have a separate wall sign in addition to a separate sign within the building’s directory sign.
  • Single tenant buildings could have three signs instead of two.
  • Changes are made to the allowed sizes and setbacks for signs.
  • Projecting signs and under-canopy signs are authorized for downtown businesses.

Business owners protest: Steve Marks, owner of the Monument Plaza shopping center on the west side of Highway 105, said that neither he nor any of his tenants received any notice from the staff about the proposed changes, much less the hearing date. The town has not provided the 450 businesses with copies of the new sign code. The owners could not determine how they might be affected and couldn’t comment at this hearing, Marks said.

Kassawara said the town had depended on business owners to notify each other after the Sept. 27 meeting. Green said that no business would have to take down an existing permanent sign because they would all be "grandfathered" as legally non-conforming signs even though they would violate the new code. She added that the town is specifically targeting banner signs.

Glenn said, "I’m going to end this." He directed the staff to distribute copies of the new code to interested business owners. A motion to postpone the public hearing until Feb. 19 was unanimously approved.

2008 meeting schedule approved

Board of Trustees meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. There are three Tuesday meetings in the approved 2008 schedule due to holidays the day before: Jan. 22, Feb. 19, and Sept. 2. The meeting schedule for 2008 was unanimously approved and will be posted.

Plan review fees increased for 2008

Kassawara presented a revised Department of Development Services fee schedule that raises fees approximately 20 percent. Fees have not been increased in three years and are not high enough to cover actual expenses incurred by the staffs to complete their reviews and on-site inspections, which are as much five times the fees charged to the larger developers. Kassawara said the additional new per-acre fees on larger developments reflect the actual average costs that have been incurred. These fee increases do not affect smaller projects.

New fees for additional review and comment cycles were added to the fee schedule due to large developers failing to promptly make complete corrections and revisions to draft submissions, requiring as many as eight cycles of staff rejections and re-submissions with no additional fees being charged for all the additional staff time under the existing schedule. Kassawara added that large developers will now be required to attend meetings in Town Hall when their re-submissions are incomplete, because even large fees will not prevent them from ignoring staff comments.

During public comments, Monument Plaza owner Marks complained that a tenant moved 15 feet from an 800-square-foot bay to a 1,600-square-foot bay and had to pay a $600 sign permit fee to move her sign on the same building after recently paying $50 for the original sign permit. Kassawara said the sign fee is only $200 and would be reduced to $150 under the new code revision. Green said the remainder of the cost was a Regional Building Department fee added on the town’s $200 amount because it was an electric sign.

Ernie Biggs, a county resident, also complained about the fee increase, saying businesses don’t increase prices when their total sales decrease. Glenn said that the town’s policy is, and has been for some time, that developers will pay for the entire cost of the town staff’s reviews of development paperwork. Glenn noted that he is a developer, and then said that the town’s fees are less than 25 percent of what the city of Colorado Springs charges for the same reviews and approvals. Taxpayers should not be required to subsidize developer application reviews, Glenn said.

Trustee Tim Miller said that he did not understand how the proposed changes in the fees were determined by Kassawara and Green. After a lengthy discussion of the various costs, Miller said he still didn’t understand. Kassawara said that the costs for getting a small development site plan approved would go from $1,000 to $1,200. Trustee Gail Drumm said that this increase would drive away small developers and there was insufficient reason for the increase.

Glenn then said, "I’d like to table this and I’d like a motion to table this. You can do the work and spend the time you need to do and prove that your fees are legitimate with the hours you spend and there are no questions about the increases." A motion to table the change in the fee was unanimously approved.

The meeting adjourned at 9:13 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, December 17: Five planning commissioners appointed

Below: New Planning Commissioner David Gwisdalla and incumbents Ed Delaney and Kathy Spence were sworn in by Town Clerk Scott Meszaros on Dec. 17 for new two-year terms after election by the Board of Trustees. Incumbent Commissioners Tom Martin and Patricia Mettler were also re-elected. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Dec. 17, the Monument Board of Trustees noted that the town still has no direct control of dangerous traffic problems at the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The board elected five planning commissioners to serve two-year terms in 2008-09. The board approved an agreement with Mountain View Electric Association to bury all the overhead electric power lines that run along Third Street, prior to the annual Fourth of July parade in 2008. The board also approved an ordinance that will allow the town to take over regulation from El Paso County of stormwater discharge and erosion control within the town boundaries.

Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Dave Mertz, who is mayor pro tem, were absent. The trustees unanimously agreed that Trustee Gail Drumm would preside.

Trustee comments

Trustee Tim Miller asked Steve Meyer, the Monument representative to the county Department of Transportation Highway Advisory Commission, to report a recurring traffic problem at the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. Miller said that traffic is once again backing all the way down the off-ramps and onto the shoulders of the through lanes of the highway. Vehicles are again forced to stand still on the shoulders of the interstate as other vehicles pass within a few feet of them at 75 mph. Meyer said he would bring up the issue at the commission’s December meeting.

Background: Since the opening of the new extension of Struthers Road, there has been increased backup of traffic because of the timing of the traffic signals for the two off-ramp intersections at each end of the state’s bridge over I-25, as well as the changed sequencing for left turns at the intersection of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway.

Before Struthers Road was connected with Jackson Creek Parkway, there was a simultaneous green light for eastbound vehicles when the left-turn light was green for vehicles turning north onto the parkway. This allowed eastbound and northbound cars to get through the intersection at the same time, slightly reducing backups on the I-25 off-ramps. Now eastbound cars have a red light because of the new left-turn signal for westbound vehicles on Baptist Road turning south onto Struthers Road.

Eastbound and westbound cars cannot pass the cars waiting in the single through lanes of Baptist Road to enter the short left-turn lanes when the left-turn light is red. There is only enough room in this short left-turn lane to accommodate a small fraction of the many cars waiting to make left turns, particularly during rush hour.

Furthermore, many southbound cars on Jackson Creek Parkway turn "right on red" onto westbound Baptist Road during the short time the Baptist Road left-turn signals are green. These "right on red" vehicles fill the available space in the single westbound Baptist Road lane between the Parkway and the northbound frontage section of old Struthers Road before the light turns green for westbound Baptist Road traffic stopped in front of the King Soopers shopping center. Then there is no room for the vehicles waiting in front of the King Soopers center to advance past the Jackson Creek Parkway traffic signal despite having a green light. Some of these westbound drivers enter the intersection even if there is no room to get all the way through to the single westbound lane. Then they are confronted by aggressive southbound drivers who challenge them for the right of way when they want to turn right with a green light.

In addition, some frustrated southbound parkway drivers turn right, without stopping for a red light, in front of westbound drivers who have a green light, setting up an equally dangerous confrontation.

A separate long-standing problem that contributes to backups onto I-25 is that frustrated drivers turn right from southbound Struthers Road onto westbound Baptist when the large "No Right-Turn" light is red. As they illegally proceed west, they nearly collide with cars that are legally turning west with a green light from the northbound off-ramp to go westbound over the interchange bridge, further backing up traffic onto the through lanes of I-25. There is no traffic signal at the northbound off-ramp intersection for westbound traffic, hence no red light to stop these illegally westbound vehicles from Struthers Road before they enter the intersection and confront vehicles legally turning left onto the bridge with a green light.

Responsibility for the configuration and timing of interchange traffic signals belongs to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) rather than the town of Monument, because the state owns the interchange. The timing and configuration of the traffic signals at the King Soopers intersection is the responsibility of the county Transportation Department rather than the town of Monument, because Baptist Road is a county road. The town can only request coordinated changes from both departments to reduce these problems.

Both sides of Baptist Road between the King Soopers center and the I-25 interchange are protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat and wetlands. The responsibility for the deteriorating condition of this short two-lane segment of Baptist Road is also divided due to the split in ownership between the state and county. No construction permit has been issued over the past several years to the state or county by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for working in habitat or the Army Corps of Engineers for working in wetlands that would allow temporary lane widening and elimination of these dangerous and frustrating backups.

A condition of approval by the Board of Trustees for construction of the Home Depot store was that a certificate of occupancy would not be issued until this section of Baptist Road between the parkway and the interchange had been widened to at least four lanes at the expense of the Marketplace owners. The board has not enforced the condition on the opening of the Home Depot or any other store built in the Marketplace since then because neither of its requests for environmental permits for construction of the additional lanes has been approved. As more new houses are built in Jackson Creek, there is even more left-turn traffic at the troubled King Soopers center intersection, which further compounds the backup problems on Baptist Road and the through lanes of I-25.

No firm date for beginning the expansion of the interchange and widening of the adjacent segment of Baptist Road has been announced by the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority. The authority will pay for the improvements with revenue generated by its new 1-cent sales tax because there are no state funds available to pay for the construction.

Five planning commissioners appointed

Five of the seven town planning commissioners’ terms expire in January 2008. All five — Chair Ed Delaney, Vice Chair Kathy Spence, and Commissioners Vince Hamm, Tom Martin, and Patricia Mettler — applied for two-year reappointments. Resident David Gwisdalla also applied for a two-year appointment, leading to the requirement for an election by the trustees. All six were invited to speak to the board about why they wanted to serve. Hamm and Mettler were absent.

The four candidates in attendance each explained why they wanted to serve and the qualifications they had. Delaney, Spence, and Martin each noted their ability to provide continuity and experience in providing sound long-term advice to the board. Gwisdalla noted that he had been a civil engineer in the Air Force for 11 years and had worked on similar planning issues in that capacity. These candidates also answered general questions from the board.

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, described the contributions of Hamm and Mettler during their terms on the Planning Commission.

The trustees elected Delaney, Spence, Martin, Mettler and Gwisdalla. All but Mettler were sworn in for the next two years by Town Clerk Scott Meszaros. Mettler will be sworn in at a later meeting.

The board also unanimously approved a resolution naming former Monument Mayor Betty Konarski as the town’s primary representative for 2008 to the El Paso County Water Authority. Public Works Director Rich Landreth was named as the alternate in the resolution. A companion resolution named Landreth as Monument’s primary representative to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority for 2008, and Konarski as his alternate.

Regional Building fee increases approved

Three members of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department, Henry Yankowski, Bob Croft, and Curtis Martinell, presented the department’s proposed fee schedule for 2008. The department is asking all the municipalities in El Paso and Teller Counties that use Regional Building for construction reviews, approvals, and enforcement of building codes to pass resolutions that approve the numerous increases in the revised fee schedule. Service fees for plan review, enumeration, testing, and re-inspections will go up 12-20 percent. Permit fees for commercial construction valued at more than $50,000 will increase 12-18 percent. Permit fees for residential construction will rise 6-22 percent for houses over 2,000 square feet. However, fees for some houses smaller than 2,000 square feet will slightly decrease.

Yankowski said that the number and complexity of inspections for houses over 3,000 square feet are dramatically higher than those for entry-level homes due to higher system content such as dual heating and air conditioning systems. In addition, there will be fewer homes built in 2008, about 1,750 units compared to the 2,700 built to date in 2007. The department’s policy is to have total fee revenue cover total costs of operation. The required revenue from each of the smaller number of new homes to be built in 2008 must go up significantly if development is to pay its own way.

The board unanimously approved the new fees.

Construction agreement with Mountain View Electric approved

The board unanimously approved an agreement to immediately pay Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) $289,558. This "payment in full" covers the MVEA’s entire estimated cost, in advance, for a joint construction project to move existing electrical power lines installed above ground on power poles along the full length of Third Street to new underground trenches that will be excavated along the right-of-way. Third Street, like most downtown streets, is subject to dangerous flooding during heavy thunderstorms. The board recently approved a long-term stormwater master plan to upgrade all downtown drainage.

Part of this full payment is a $15,000 refundable contingency deposit to cover any costs for unexpected problems encountered during burial of the power lines and associated transformers and connections for services to individual buildings. The town previously paid a separate $3,000 engineering fee to MVEA to initiate the preparation of the cost estimate letter and the construction contract.

Kassawara noted that the original MVEA estimate for the utility’s share of the work, which the town must pay for, was $650,000 to $750,000. Town engineering consultant Nolte Associates prepared detailed construction plans for MVEA, which led to reducing the utility’s cost estimate to $274,558. If cost estimates turn out to exceed the approved amount, MVEA will cease work until the board approves and the town forwards a supplementary payment to cover the entire increase. The town will separately pay for its staff, consultants, and contractors to perform much of the work required by MVEA such as:

  • Trenching
  • Construction staking
  • Reconnection of electrical lines after they are moved off the power poles
  • Excavation and replacement of asphalt at road intersections
  • Removal and replacement of all vegetation and fences
  • Relocation of any other utility’s infrastructure

No cost estimate for the town’s share of this work was given. If underground boring is required to move the power lines underground, the MVEA contract states that "this contract is null and void."

Kassawara noted that if the costs of services to be performed by consultants or contractors were to exceed his approval authority, he would immediately seek board approval for the required expenditures. The total payment will be made from the 2007 Public Works Department Capital Outlay budget, though most of the work will be performed by MVEA in the first half of 2008.

Kassawara noted that construction should begin within 60 days of MVEA receiving the town’s check, weather permitting. If there are no unforeseen contingencies, construction should be completed in 60 days, weather permitting. The contract notes that there may also be delays in obtaining construction materials. Nonetheless, Kassawara said that this phase of the improvement project should be completed before Third Street is to be used for the annual Fourth of July parade. He said the staff will arrange for contractors to begin the rest of the Third Street renovation with construction of new underground storm sewer collection lines, curb, gutter, and sidewalks beginning "as soon as possible" after the parade.

Grant agreement with D-38 conditionally approved

The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with Lewis-Palmer School District 38 for the town to apply for a grant from Greater Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) to help pay for proposed improvements to the D-38 playing fields adjacent to Grace Best Elementary School. D-38 is ineligible to apply for GOCO grants. The town has tentatively agreed to help pay for maintenance of the improved fields by D-38 personnel with excess tax revenue that it will be able to retain after the voters approved another four-year TABOR waiver ballot question in November. The ballot question required that these excess revenues be used for senior and youth programs.

The intergovernmental agreement for applying for the GOCO grant calls for D-38 to perform all administrative tasks and responsibilities for the grant. The agreement does not bind the town in any way for future funding or other participation in the project at this time. The separate grant implementation agreement had not been completed before this board meeting.

Trustee Steve Samuels, who is chief operating officer for a large landscaping corporation in Colorado Springs, asked that the board stipulate that D-38 must agree that the fields will be upgraded with artificial turf before the town applies for the GOCO grant. He said sod fields cannot be adequately sustained in Monument’s climate based on his many years of experience as a landscaper and a regional football official. Also, the town does not have enough water to irrigate any large areas of sod.

Public Works Director Landreth, who would be responsible for spending the GOCO grant funds, said that the proposed stipulation on artificial turf would have to be reported in the town’s letter of support for the GOCO grant application, which required the board to make a decision on Samuels’ proposed condition of approval. The board unanimously approved the intergovernmental agreement and Samuels’ condition on artificial turf.

Willow Springs annexation petition accepted

The board approved a resolution that stated that the annexation petition from landowner James Morley for the proposed Willow Springs Ranch development is in substantial compliance with state statutes. Trustee Travis Easton, a civil engineer for Nolte Associates, abstained from the vote because Nolte is the engineering consultant for the Willow Springs development.

The resolution set a Planning Commission hearing date of Jan. 9 and a Board of Trustees hearing date of Feb. 4 for the requested annexation. The Willow Springs Ranch development is a portion of the former Watt family’s property. It is bordered by the railroad tracks to the east, Baptist Road to the south, the Forest Lakes development to the west, and the town’s Synthes Avenue industrial zone to the north. Because the configuration of the parcel does not meet the one-sixth contiguity requirement on the border with the industrial zone, Morley will divide the property into two separate parcels. Addition 1 (the northern half) and Addition 2 (the southern half) will be considered for annexation in turn at the two scheduled hearings.

Erosion control ordinance approved

The board unanimously approved an ordinance creating stormwater discharge and erosion control regulations so that the town can take over control of these issues from the county. Kassawara reported that the town has not been able to adequately inhibit or prevent excessive stormwater runoff and pollutants from exiting privately owned sites within the town boundaries and entering town rights-of-way and drainage facilities. The town cannot comply with federal mandates to regulate erosion and pollution that affects federally protected waters without approval of this new ordinance. Kassawara said that passage of the ordinance would enable the town to take violators to court and prevail.

This deficiency was brought to a head when excessive drainage and sediment from the recently annexed Villages at Monument development on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive and adjacent county properties to the east on Bowstring Road led to substantial erosion problems on the east side of Jackson Creek Parkway north of Higby Road. The town was unable to obtain voluntary compliance to improve detention and water quality control ponds from the Villages at Woodmoor developer, WED LLC, or the county properties for over a year. The excessive flows and sedimentation created costly damage to the town’s drainage along the parkway.

This ordinance will regulate all land within the town boundaries, including the properties within Triview Metropolitan District. The Department of Development Services will administer the erosion and pollution control programs, conduct site inspections, notify developers and landowners of violations, impose fees for re-inspections and liens for failure to pay these fees, issue emergency orders for abatement, impose daily fines and stop-work orders, and have summonses issued for hearings in Monument’s municipal court in the case of failures to comply with town directives.

Three road improvement special district resolutions amended

The board unanimously approved three resolutions amending town resolutions that approved the individual service plans for three special road construction districts for the recently annexed Homeplace Ranch, Village at Woodmoor, and Sanctuary Pointe developments. The amended resolutions were requested by the bond attorney for all the districts, Sherman & Howard. Though properly documented in each district’s service plan, the service plan resolutions did not include the phrase "but shall be Gallagher adjusted" after the phrases that capped the maximum mill levy for each of the districts at 35 mills. The amendments also corrected minor typographical errors.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported that his department had successfully responded to the shooting incident Dec. 9 at New Life Church and had assisted El Paso County Sheriff’s Office personnel during a recent lockdown at Lewis-Palmer High School. He noted that the extensive training for these contingencies that members of his department have received resulted in the effective responses.

The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Mondays of the month. Information: 481-2954 or 884-8117.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, December 13: Town approves water rate increase, 3 new hires

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved resolutions for the 2008 budget, appropriation, and certification mill levies on Dec. 13. The bond mill levy will be 5.624 mills and the general property tax mill levy will be 9.716 mills. Three new employees will be hired in 2008 for the police, water, and roads departments. Trustee Trish Flake’s absence was excused.

The board unanimously approved an ordinance increasing all water rates 9 percent. The ordinance tasks the council to review the solvency of the water fund every May and November to determine if the rates are high enough to cover Water Department operating expenses.

A payment of $2,870 was unanimously approved to cover the shortfall in contributions to the Palmer Lake Fireworks Committee, used to pay for police overtime for traffic control and emergency services during the 2007 Fourth of July fireworks display. The payment was covered with money transferred from the town’s general, economic development, and police funds.

Regional Building fee increases for 2008 unanimously approved

Curtis Martinell and Bob Croft of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department presented the department’s proposed fee schedule for 2008. The department is asking all the municipalities in El Paso and Teller Counties that use Regional Building for construction reviews, approvals, and enforcement of building codes to pass resolutions that approve the numerous increases in the revised fee schedule.

Croft said there were no "drastic changes" to the fee schedule. Fees will go up for larger homes and down for smaller ones. The Regional Advisory Board and Building Commission analyzed and verified the cost of service figures for the various services provided by the Regional Building Department and their correlation to national tables for inspection costs. Each inspection requires 35-37 hours of work by department staff.

The board unanimously approved ratification of the new fee schedule.

The board also unanimously approved new business licenses for Caring Hands Therapeutic Massage, 755 Highway 105, and Classroom 121, LLC, which provides physics teaching support for parents who home-school their children, as well as a new sign permit for Moss Sportswear & Embroidery, 677 Highway 105.

Tim Irish of Design Properties described plans to build the Arbor Mountain senior living property on the south side of Highway 105 east of the Knollwood Drive intersection. He noted that he had received 28 reservations for the planned 57 living units. Living units will range from 850 square feet to 1,400 square feet. He said there will be full services for those residents, 55 and up, who don’t want to leave the residence very often.

Irish has built 16 rental facilities of this type and has four more in development. He added that his market study shows a demand for about 400 units of this type. He hopes to build two more residential buildings with about 60 units each in the Tri-Lakes region on five acres each as soon as possible. Irish said he was looking for "reasonably priced" land to build another affordable residence for middle-income seniors ($50,000 per year) in Palmer Lake. Irish added that state and federal subsidies may be available for lower-income seniors on a "case-by-case basis."

The land for the Monument residence was donated by the Town of Monument to Irish in return for having 10 percent of the rental units discounted for lower-income seniors.

The council unanimously approved a resolution amending its existing franchise agreement with Aquila Gas, which will undergo a corporate name change to Black Hills Corp. An update of a separate franchise agreement with the Independent Rural Electric Association is expected to be approved in the near future.

The meeting adjourned at 8:38 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Jan. 9 at Town Hall, 42 Valley Crescent. Workshops are normally held on the first Thursday of the month. Regular meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 481-2953.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board, December 19: Shooting response leads to emergency purchase of body armor

Below (L to R): Board president Brian Ritz, Johnathan Urban, Chief Jeff Edwards, and board member Kevin Gould. Urban was sworn in at the beginning of the Dec. 19 meeting as one of the three additional full-time firefighters who will begin work at the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District on Dec. 27. Urban will be assigned to the C shift. His parents, John and Kris Urban attended the ceremony. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

Following the district’s involvement in the New Life Church shooting incident on Dec. 9, the board of the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District on Dec. 19 authorized $25,000 for immediate purchase of eight sets of Kevlar body armor for firefighters and ambulance drivers. The board also approved the long-term purchase of Kevlar helmets for all full-time personnel. Director Kraig Sullivan was absent.

Although it was not acknowledged at the time by Colorado Springs police public information officers or the media, Wescott personnel were the first emergency crews to arrive on the scene at New Life Church. Wescott’s AMR ambulance treated and transported two of the shooting victims to the hospital. One victim was pronounced dead at the scene and the fourth victim refused treatment or transport. Wescott crews remained on the scene for eight hours.

The crews in Wescott’s AMR ambulance were AMR paramedic Doug McIntyre and Wescott firefighter Roger Lance. The Wescott firefighters in Engine 1 were Capt. Scott Ridings, Curt Leonhardt, and volunteer Jim Rackl.

Chief Jeff Edwards said the Wescott crews had no protection from firearms "in a pretty dangerous situation with a lot of unknowns" while they performed a rapid triage and prepared the victims for immediate extrication and transport. Edwards said he appreciated the protection provided by members of the Colorado Springs Police Department, who surrounded them "with their guns drawn" in a "surreal situation." Edwards added that the Wescott crews are "trained to handle trauma but not specifically trained to enter a scene like that" with a suspected second shooter still at large and suspected improvised explosive devices that had not yet been found or disarmed. Triage and extrication took only 8 minutes and transport to Penrose in downtown Colorado Springs took only 11 minutes "for this level 2 trauma."

Wescott board President Brian Ritz, who is a lieutenant in the Colorado Springs Police Department, noted that his regular job required him to be working inside the church building that day to sweep for other shooters and explosive devices. Ritz said that Wescott’s performance "was 100 percent appropriate."

Edwards reported that he researched several sources and prices for purchasing seven sets of ballistic vests and helmets using the same specifications as those used by the Colorado Springs Police SWAT team. Edwards had also coordinated with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office for training to perform emergency medical treatment in conjunction with a tactical or SWAT team in the future. He acknowledged that there was no money listed in the 2007 equipment budget for this type of purchase and asked that the $25,000 for the lowest quote he had obtained be re-allocated from as yet unspent money in the other district funds before the end of the year.

The board unanimously approved an emergency expenditure of $25,000. The board determined that every full-time firefighter will be provided a properly fitted personal helmet.

Board Treasurer Dave Cross reported that the district had just received a check for $45,000 in state matching funds for the volunteer firefighter pension fund and that all budget items were on track with the 2007 budget.

Capt. Mike Whiting noted that the monthly run reports now have an additional listing for runs that are cancelled en route, before the responding vehicles arrive at the scene. There were 9 cancellations en route out of 72 district calls and 10 cancellations of 34 mutual aid calls in November. There had been no firefighter injuries in 2007 in 1,020 calls through the end of November. The district has qualified for a discount on its insurance rates as a result.

The board unanimously approved a meeting schedule for 2008 in which meetings will continue to be held on the third Wednesday of the month.

Johnathan Urban was sworn in as one of the three additional full-time firefighters scheduled to begin work at the district on Dec. 27.

The board unanimously approved a resolution appointing district employee Ginnette Ritz as the District Election Official for the upcoming election in May. Ritz noted that any election that includes TABOR issues must be a mail-in election from now on. The board unanimously approved a polling place election for the new board members, as Wescott will have no TABOR issues in the May election.

Volunteer sought for vacant seat on the board

The board unanimously approved a motion to remove Sullivan from the board without prejudice, in accordance with a Colorado statute, due to three unexcused board meeting absences in a row and declare a vacant seat.

The board is soliciting volunteers to formally submit not later than Jan. 15 a letter of application for appointment to the vacant seat . State statutes require that the vacant seat be filled within 60 days. The appointment would run through the May meeting. If the appointee wishes to continue to be a member of the board, he or she must become a candidate for the May election. Any interested Wescott elector can contact Ginnette Ritz or Chief Jeff Edwards at 488-8680.

New personnel manual discussed

The latest draft of the revised personnel manual was distributed to the shift captains before the meeting, and they presented their comments to the board to read after the meeting. The board asked the captains to discuss the draft manual with all the other employees and obtain their comments. Cross and Edwards will go over all the other comments before the next board meeting to prepare a final draft for a vote by the board.

The board went into executive session at 8:17 p.m. to discuss a personnel matter.

**********

The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Jan. 16 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority, December 12: A little nostalgia, a lot of paperwork mark authority’s last meeting

By Susan Hindman

The Dec. 12 meeting marked the last time board members would meet as the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue Authority and be referred to by their separate districts. The authority includes the Woodmoor-Monument Fire Protection District, which formed in 1975, and the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District, which formed in 1977. Voters overwhelmingly approved merging the two in October, and on Jan. 1, 2008, the Woodmoor-Monument district would be dissolved and incorporated into the Tri-Lakes district, and the name changed to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District.

Several board members paused during the meeting to reflect on the occasion. "It has been a long, long road," said Treasurer John Hildebrandt, who has been the Tri-Lakes district’s treasurer since 1997. "We have come so far. And if you look at where we are at this time and where we’re headed, it’s amazing. Chief Navarro (of the Colorado Springs Fire Department) would like to see our model used for the rest of the county. That speaks volumes."

Director Rod Wilson extended his thanks to the current and past boards and the district employees. "It’s been a tough row to hoe. We couldn’t have done it without the employees, both boards, and the previous boards…. I’ve been involved for 20 years, and I thought I’d never see the day."

Authority President Charlie Pocock called the moment "historic."

Treasurer’s report

"We are sitting quite well at this point in time for the year," Hildebrandt said. As of Nov. 30, 99.41 percent of the budgeted property tax revenue had been received. Specific ownership taxes were down 5 percent, and he anticipated finishing the year with a $21,207 deficit in these taxes. (Denboske, however, said that additional monies had come in since the November report was compiled, so the deficit number is lower.) Hildebrandt anticipated ambulance revenues would offset any deficit, with an excess of $45,000 projected for the year; fire inspection fees and interest on deposits would also boost the totals. Bottom line, he said, there would not be a shortfall in revenue.

"There’s always something in the budget that’s just a thorn in our sides, and this year it was station supplies and maintenance for stations 1 and 2," he said. Other than that, he said "this year has gone very well." The district will enter the new year with enough funds to support itself for three to four months before property taxes start coming in.

2008 budget

Denboske said that all board members’ questions about the budget had been answered and "everything balances from top to bottom." After the board approved the budget, Hildebrandt congratulated Denboske and the other officers for their role in the ‘08 budget.

Merger paperwork

The board was read a "resolution appropriating sums of money," a set of forms required by the state Department of Local Affairs and the county treasurer that addresses the issues of mill levy certifications and the merging of funds from both districts.

The Woodmoor-Monument district’s mill levy has been 9.92 mills; the Tri-Lakes district’s is 8.5 mills. As of Jan. 1, the mill levy for the merged districts will be 8.5 mills.

The new district will begin the year with a total general fund of $4,784,435, which includes the reserve funds. Each district’s board had to vote to approve its portion being added to the fund.

In addition, a "budget summary message" form noted the dissolution of the Woodmoor-Monument district and the official name change of the Tri-Lakes district to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District. The summary message notes the "real property" that lies in the service area; what the fire district does; past budgets and actual expenses for 2007; the SAFER grant monies expected next year ($140,000); major acquisitions by the authority; and the results of the election.

Equipment update

The new tender (water truck) is having storage space built on and will be ready after Jan. 1. Denboske said if this truck works out, he’d like to get a second tender from the same seller, who indicated he could locate another one.

The proposed sale of the Woodmoor ladder truck to Cripple Creek is in limbo, awaiting paperwork from that fire department.

Ken Cox, the authority’s firefighter/maintenance manager, gave a report as to what happened to the ladder truck, which is currently out of service. He called the damage to the ladder "a training issue and an oversight on the driver’s part. … The issue has been addressed, the training has been addressed," he said, but it will cost $10,000 to $15,000 to fix the ladder. Cox said the truck itself is still in "great shape" and recommends keeping it. It will need to go to Castle Rock to be worked on and then be retested and recertified by the state before it can return to use.

The Woodmoor ladder truck is in "reserve capacity, since we don’t want to damage it or put any more miles on it," which might affect the sale to Cripple Creek, Cox said. Board members expressed concern about not having a ladder truck available. But Cox said the district has made arrangements with other districts in case a ladder truck is needed. Denboske added that the truck is there if it’s needed, "but our goal is to not compromise that vehicle…. It’s not going out as the first-response vehicle."

Director Harv Sims asked how a training mistake can be prevented from happening in a real situation. "Education," Denboske responded. "We need to go back and start from the beginning. This is a good learning experience for us, but a costly learning experience for us monetarily. But if we go back to the beginning and start fresh and go through all the processes again," he said, "we can lessen the chance of it happening."

Potential water provider

The board is exploring the possibility of getting its water service from Pioneer Lookout Water District, a small local water provider that serves about 50 homes and businesses and will be supplying water to a new development across the street from Station 1. Wilson has asked Pioneer if it would be able to provide service to the fire district, and they said it was doable.

Board President Charlie Pocock said that the station’s well is fine, but all the other users went to their own wells. "We’re the only ones left on this well. If it goes bad, it’s up to us to fix it. So I think we need a more reliable source."

Wilson will explore the options and details of going with Pioneer Lookout.

The board went into executive session to discuss updates to the personnel manual. After returning to the regular meeting, they voted to approve the manual.

**********

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District will hold its first meeting as a new district on Jan. 23. The board normally meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley). For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, December 20: Board reaffirms plan to open PRHS in Fall 2008

Below (L to R)
D-38 CFO Cheryl Wangeman and Superintendent Ray Blanch present budget alternatives to the Lewis-Palmer School Board Dec. 20. The board members are Mark Pfoff, Dee Dee Eaton, Jeff Cantlebary, Gail Wilson, and John Mann. Photo by John Heiser.

 

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting December 20, Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman presented a budget realignment for the 2007-2008 fiscal year, including a $250,000 budget reduction, a hiring freeze, and the possibility of increasing student fees. These recommendations were in response to the board’s direction to reduce the budget in light of the failed mill levy override (MLO) ballot measure, reduced student enrollment growth, and the need to phase out deficit spending.

Wangeman presented the budgetary impact of opening Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS), based in part upon recommendations supplied by the MLO Fact Finding Committee. Board members discussed the pros and cons of opening PRHS for the 2008-2009 school year. Options considered included completing the construction of PRHS, but leaving the building empty for 1-3 years or absorbing the cost of opening PRHS for the 2008-09 school year. The board directed the superintendent to create a budget for the 2008-09 school year that includes opening PRHS and reduction of $1.8 million in district annual expenditures.

Blanch emphasized that the proposed near-term budget cuts are manageable but if an MLO is not passed in 2008, the future budget cuts required would seriously impact the district’s ability to maintain excellence and support student achievement.

Citizen comments

Lewis-Palmer substitute teacher Shawn O’Toole said his employment with the district was recently terminated because he violated district policy restricting substitute teachers’ access to the district’s computer network. He said computer network access is needed in order for substitute teachers to do their jobs and requested reinstatement. Many adults and students were present in the audience to show support for O’Toole. Several of these individuals addressed the board, spoke highly of O’Toole, and encouraged the district to reconsider the policy and reinstate O’Toole.

Deb Goth, parent and District Accountability Advisory Committee member, commended Lewis Palmer Middle School for being named a John Irwin School of Excellence, noting that Principal Terry Miller has assembled a team that has been effective in bringing about positive change at the school.

Ilanit Bennaim, parent and Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) member, noted that the Colorado Department of Education made a presentation at the December SEAC meeting regarding legal requirements for special education services. She encouraged the district to place more emphasis on its special education programs.

High school construction project update

Jeff Chamberlin of RLH Engineering reviewed this month’s progress at the high school construction sites. Some highlights:

  • Construction on the new high school is continuing on schedule, with a public tour of the construction site planned for January 20.
  • Of the $68 million in bond proceeds, interest, and other revenues, $31.2 million in invoices have been paid, $5.5 million in invoices have been processed during the latest month, and $24.8 million have been committed on current contracts leaving $6.6 million not yet committed.
  • At the Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) site, drilling for the geothermal field is on schedule with over 100 wells drilled. A second drill rig has been added to assist the effort.
  • The bridge linking the academic building with the arts building has been framed with the roof deck installed.
  • Roofing work is planned for completion in early January.
  • Based on the progress, Phase 3 covering grounds and athletic fields including artificial turf and restrooms/field house is recommended for release. That will add $1.1 million to the guaranteed maximum price (GMP) bringing it to $44,984,501. The GMP includes approximately $930,000 in contractor contingencies and allowances. If not needed to complete the project, those funds would come back to the district.
  • Furnishings, equipment, start-up supplies, and technology are due for bidding in late January. The total allocated for these items is about $4.5 million.
  • Work has been completed at the Lewis-Palmer High School (LPHS) stadium with fencing and landscaping. The two-year warranty is in effect. The final contract price including five change orders is $4.6 million.

The board approved the adjustment to the contract for PRHS for grounds and athletic fields including artificial turf and restrooms/field house, adding $1.1 million to the total contract amount. The board also approved the final closeout contract price for the LPHS stadium project.

Other matters

  • Annual Stakeholders’ Report approved – Blanch presented a summary of the 2006-07 annual Stakeholders’ Report that will be distributed to all district residents by the end of January. This report includes a compilation of data on student performance and additional information about the district’s schools, students, and operations.
  • Open enrollment window in January – Robin Adair, Community Relations Manager, and Blanch discussed the procedure for open enrollment. Students entering ninth and tenth grades next fall can apply for open enrollment at either of the two Lewis-Palmer high schools. This change in procedure came in response to the district’s current financial challenges and public input. The open enrollment period for grades K-12 begins January 8 and ends February 1.
  • District Audit report accepted–Wangeman presented a brief review of the District Audit report for the 2006-2007 fiscal year. She stated everything seems to be in accordance with all state and federal laws, and the management letter supplied by the audit firm indicates favorable results. The board directed Wangeman to submit the report to the State Auditor’s Office, as required by law.
  • Facilities and Enrollment Committee (FEC) report –Wangeman introduced Alisa McGrath, who presented the FEC report. The FEC was established over a year ago to oversee and review the implementation of MLO and bond ballot issues.
  • Superintendent’s update – Blanch reported on the recently distributed school accountability reports, which are just one indicator of the performance of the school district. Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) data is weighted heavily in this report, which also includes school environment and safety information, a district taxpayer’s report, and data about district staff.
  • Belteau to retire – Ted Belteau, director of secondary education, has announced that he will retire at the end of the contract year. Belteau has served in many capacities during his 18 years with the district. He expressed appreciation to the people in the district. Blanch thanked Belteau for his help "as a friend and a colleague."

Following the end of the public session, the board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.

**********

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, 2nd and Jefferson. The next regular monthly meeting of the Board will be held January 17 at 7 pm. On January 10, the board will hold a work session to discuss budgetary issues.

A public tour of the PRHS site is being planned for January 20.

The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org

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

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Woodmoor Improvement Association board, December 17: Toboggan Hill parking concerns debated

By Chris Pollard

After the previous meeting of the WIA board where concerns were raised by residents living near Toboggan Hill about adding extra parking, Gary Marner, director of Open Space, met with about 20 of the residents. He said that there was now a better atmosphere in the discussions and he had asked them for suggestions for solving the problem.

For most of the residents, adding another parking lot or enlarging the current one was unacceptable. One popular suggestion was that parking should be found somewhere else. Kevin Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, noted that the Tri-Lakes Chapel had offered the use of its parking lot in the past, and some people had used it.

Suggestions were made that signs be put out on heavy snow days to direct parking elsewhere. This could include a banner on the fence adjacent to the hill.

While the previous meeting had brought many residents who lived adjacent to the hill, this meeting brought another contingent: those who normally drive past Toboggan Hill. These residents were dissatisfied with the proposed signs because the WIA normally only informs local residents of any proposed changes. They said their main concern was with safety. Because the road is shaded by trees, snow and ice remain on it, and the motorists have learned to drive very slowly there. They believe that the proposed site is at the worst point on the road and would be just as bad as a crossing place for children to get to the slope.

Bill Walters, vice president, said that there was still a problem with illegal parking at the site and he had discussed the possibilities of towing offenders as well as adding more "no parking" signs.

George McFadden, secretary, said that he had talked to the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office about the matter, and it had suggested that they put boulders along the side of the road. This would have to be discussed with the county Transportation Department.

Nielsen reminded the board that there were other issues not related to the roads. Previously, his officers had to close the hill because it had become too crowded. Three people were injured within the space of 10 minutes or so and things were out of control. Walters noted a few other problems, such as sanding on the sloped part of the road, night parking and night skiing.

Marner said that he was pretty much convinced that more no-parking signs would be posted. Nielsen said that he would contact the county Department of Transportation regarding the parking signs and the possibility of an additional sand barrel.

Directors then turned to other possibilities, with suggestions of finding an additional location for sledding, placing limits on the number of people per resident in the group and even charging for the use of the hill. No final decisions were made.

WIA will hold its Annual Meeting Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. in the Lewis-Palmer Middle School Cafeteria, 1776 Woodmoor Drive.

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On the Roads: Baptist Rd. and Struthers Rd. project construction update

By André P. Brackin, P.E.
Capital Programs Division Manager
El Paso County
Department of Transportation

General contractor Rocky Mountain Materials and Asphalt (RMMA) project progress:

  • The contracted work is just over 75% complete to date
  • Pay estimate #19 for December was $389,851.75 with $2,585,586.90 left on the original $ 10 million contract
  • The Gleneagle Drive signal was activated in December
  • Leather Chaps intersection opened, signal work to be completed in January
  • Final design and shop drawings are completed for the wall to be constructed on the northeast corner or Baptist and Struthers Rd.
  • Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA) has completed its relocations
  • Work on Struthers Road is 98% complete, but is still considered a construction zone
  • The 4 lanes east of Leather Chaps have been opened to traffic, with a change in access to the frontage road for the Family of Christ Lutheran Church and adjacent residential lots
  • Snow plowing in inclement weather is being provided by El Paso County Department of Transportation and will include the frontage road as a priority one route
  • Meeting held with Gleneagle property owners/representatives for input on noise wall prior to finalizing plans for wall installation
  • On schedule for April completion pending weather

Utility issues

  • MVEA has removed the transformer and hot power lines in the eastbound lanes of Baptist Rd. by the Struthers intersection
  • Paving of the eastbound lanes between Struthers Road and Leather Chaps can now be completed, weather permitting - the specifications for paving temperatures are a critical issue
  • Aquila gas installation of valves on the northwest corner of Leather Chaps is in progress
  • All Qwest relocations have been completed
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December Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Much like the past few months, December started off mild and dry with temperatures above average each of the first few days, but winter soon made an appearance that brought several bouts of cold and snow to the region from the second week of the month through New Year’s Eve. During that period, temperatures were below normal on 22 out of 24 days and over 2 feet of snow fell. The month, overall, received above-normal snowfall, although not nearly as much as last year, and was below normal for temperatures. This was definitely a nice combination after a couple of warm and dry months.

Highs hit the 50s on the 1st, dropped to the 40s on the 2nd and jumped way up into the 60s on the 3rd and 4th and, amazingly, low temperatures didn’t fall below freezing on the morning of the 4th. Hopefully you had a chance to enjoy it, as big changes soon swept in as the weather finally took a turn toward winter.

The first in a series of cold fronts moved through on the 5th, keeping highs in the mid-40s. However, this first surge of cold air had no moisture to work with, so we remained mostly sunny. A second surge soon followed late on the 6th, and this time some light snow fell as fog and low clouds settled in. Temperatures continued to cool as well, with highs only reaching the upper 20s and low 30s on the 7th as around an inch of snow accumulated. Another surge of cold air moved in during the early hours of the 8th, again bringing another round of light snow. Highs on the 8th were reached at midnight with daytime temperatures holding in the teens as 2-4 inches of snow accumulated.

Winter held its grip on the region for the second week of December. Monday the 10th saw a strong cold front move through late in the afternoon. Soon after the front passed, snow began to fall during the early evening hours and continued into the morning of the 11th. Most of us received 3-6 inches of fresh snow and temperatures remained cold. Highs on the 11th struggled to reach the low 20s, and with some gusty winds it felt even colder.

Sunshine returned for the next two days, and we managed to break above the freezing mark just barely on the afternoon of the 12th as highs reached into the low 30s. However, this was short-lived, as more cold air pushed into the region in two separate surges, the first on the 13th and the next on the 14th. Neither brought much moisture, as we were only able to squeeze out 1-2 inches of snow on the 14th, but temperatures sure did plummet. Highs on the 13th only reached the mid 20s, and then we struggled to reach the upper teens on the 14th. Finally, as skies cleared overnight on the 14th into the morning of the 15th, temperatures tumbled, reaching well below zero. Temperatures did rebound nicely over the next couple of days under sunny skies, going through the 30s on the 16th to the 40s on the 17th.

Wintry weather stuck around for much of Christmas week as well, with three separate storm systems racing through the region from the 21st through the 27th. The first storm brought snow and wind from the afternoon of the 21st to the early morning of the 22nd. Most of us received 4-6 inches of snow, which caused some travel headaches around the region. A brief respite between storms allowed temperatures to jump into the 30s and 40s over the next couple of days, but just in time for Christmas the next storm moved in. Snow and wind again blanketed the region all day on Christmas, providing for a very nice holiday feel. This storm again deposited 4-6 inches across the area. The final of the three systems was the coldest, but also the driest. This storm dropped 2-4 inches across the area on the 27th, and by the morning of the 28th as skies cleared, temperatures again dropped well below zero. A final cold front moved through just before the New Year, but only a few light snow showers developed, although this front did bring a reinforcing shot of cold air for New Year’s Eve.

It’s been quite an eventful year, with near record heavy snow, rain, and long dry spells. It’ll be interesting to see what "fun" Mother Nature has in store for us as we head into 2008.

A look ahead

January sees the coldest temperatures of the year, but precipitation is on the low side, with average amounts of less than an inch. The month generally sees numerous sunny and windy days, with quick shots of snow in between. The last few Januarys have generally been warmer than normal, with near normal precipitation and snowfall, with the exception of last January when we saw more snow than normal. The official monthly forecast for January 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for better than average chances of above normal temperatures and normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

December 2007 Weather Statistics

Average High 34.7° (-5.2°)
Average Low 11.9° -0.8°)
Highest Temperature 64° on the 4th
Lowest Temperature -11° on the 15th
Monthly Precipitation 0.90" (-0.45)
Monthly Snowfall 26.1" (+6.1)
Season to Date Snow 42.7" (-4.1)
Season to Date Precip 10.16" (+0.20)

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Sertoma Red Kettle Campaign rings up donations

The Tri-Lakes community contributed $36,226.30 to the 2007 Monument Hill Sertoma Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. Of that amount, the Lewis-Palmer Serteens collected $5,813.78 and the Boy Scouts of America collected $2,007.62. Ninety Sertoma members, the Lewis-Palmer Serteens, and the local Boy Scouts of America provided 1,008 hours of volunteer bell ringing and administrative organization and oversight in 32 days.

Monument Hill Sertoma thanks all those in the Tri-Lakes community who contributed to the Red Kettles and for those who volunteer their time to the Red Kettle campaign during the holiday season. Your sacrifices realized a successful 2007 Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign!

Mike Wicklund
Chairman,
Monument Hill Sertoma Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign

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D38 response to Farmers Market letter

Due to a misleading letter to the editor in your previous issue regarding the future of the Monument Farmers Market, the Lewis-Palmer School District is compelled to offer clarification on this issue. The school district acknowledges the value of the market as an event supported by the community and is happy to allow the public to use district facilities to provide this worthwhile activity. Such an activity is an example of one of the many uses of school resources under the L-P "community schools" philosophy. LPSD is committed to supporting the continuation of a community market in the future.

The market has been held on LPSD property under a contractual agreement with the market owner. The district intends to discuss the land use contract for the market, as it does every year. The discussion of this issue to date is as follows:

For several years, the school district has provided dedicated space for the Farmers Market. The district has had a rental agreement (without fee) with Diana Dickson on behalf of her business (Monument Farmers Market) for at least the past four years. Typically, the contracts have been signed in April or May of the applicable year. When district officials discussed the 2008 rental agreement with Dickson in September of 2007, she was advised that although we support and recognize the benefits of the market, it was premature to sign the contract for next year.

We are currently reviewing/revising district building and field use policies, working on future field initiatives for property near Grace Best Elementary, determining the future need for modular buildings, and finalizing our insurance requirements for next year. Additionally, we have discussed the need to charge a rental fee if we continue to rent the area and we indicated that this fee may be used for enhancements or improvements. These enhancements could include park benches. We requested Dickson contact us in January since we believe that at that time, we will have answers to these open questions. As a member of the community, the district appreciates the contribution that the Farmers Market has made to the area and is pleased that we have been part of it.

Robin Adair
Community relations manager, Lewis-Palmer School District 38

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Punish the innocent. Reward the guilty.

The world seems to be turning upside-down and D-38 schools seem to be keeping right in step with this trend.

Recently, disciplinary action was brought against D-38 substitute teacher Shawn O’Toole for logging into the school’s computer network with another user’s network credentials. Mr. O’Toole is a D-38 substitute teacher who needed to get access to the network to perform his job, standing in for another teacher on maternity leave. He had requested network access multiple times from the D-38 IT Department in order to get access to the software he needed to do his job. The access was never granted for whatever reason, so to do his job, he broke the rules. For that offense, he has been recommended for dismissal.

Mr. O’Toole did not access illicit Web sites, use the school network for personal gain, or do anything to offend anyone. Instead, he used Microsoft Office tools to work on a lesson or project for his class. I agree wholeheartedly that rules are put in place for a good reason, but Coach O’Toole put the mission of kid’s education ahead of the roadblocks D-38 put in front of him, breaking a minor rule to accomplish the mission. If only there were more dedicated people like Shawn O’Toole in the world.

In my opinion, we ought to be rewarding guys like Mr. O’Toole and firing the bureaucrats who put up road blocks, stymie progress and cannot spell "proactive" if their lives depended on it. Coach O’Toole is an upstanding citizen, a generous and prayerful man who only has others’ wellbeing at heart. Had he used the network for unlawful use, I would feel differently, but he didn’t. He has done lots of great things for the community and my family, especially his steadfast commitment to bring the great game of basketball and the spirit of sportsmanship to the gyms of D-38 and to the new Monument YMCA.

So, c’mon, let’s give Mr. O’Toole a break and fix the problems (and people) that prevent teachers from getting the tools they need to do their job and reward those who go above and beyond to make a positive difference. As a community, we can do better than this.

David Hollenbach

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Monument Police State

I was startled to read that we have 19 police employees and "need" five more police employees, including a commander. Within 100 yards of the police department is the water payment slot of the Monument Town Hall, which cannot be used now due to recent thefts from that same slot. I’d like to know where the cops were when that theft happened. I’d like to know why my Monument tax dollars are being used to chase trucks for safety inspections when that is a duty for the State of Colorado. In essence, I am being taxed twice for the same task. I am being taxed twice when the Monument Police pursue tactical training, when the Sheriff Department already has such training and equipment and a proven record of timely response. Rather than militarize and expand our police force, I think it would be far more prudent to hire an additional Water Department employee to make sure our water supply is safe and handled correctly as our aging and growing water infrastructure shows the strains of time and growth.

Steve Work

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: A new you for the new year

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Happy New You! No, that’s not a typo. Isn’t January all about renewing and reinventing yourself, working toward being all you can be? If you’d like to shape up for the New Year, there are many good books to help you along.

Kim Lyons’ Your Body, Your Life
By Kim Lyons and Lara McGlashan (Sterling), $17.95

In this "12-Week Program to Optimum Physical, Mental & Emotional Fitness," Lyons shares the gift of health with her readers. The book deals with exercise and nutrition in an understandable, color-coded, easy-to-follow format for three different levels. Lyons, a personal trainer, life coach, and Red Team trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser, is a graduate of Lewis-Palmer High School and Colorado State University who has made a name for herself in the fitness world. It’s your body and your life, and Lyons encourages you to take charge of both.

YOU: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty
By Michael F. Roizen, M.D., and Mehmet C. Oz, M.D. (Free Press), $26

In the latest volume of this best-selling series, the doctors explain many of the causes of aging and how to fight the effects. The climax of the book is a 14-day plan to help you along the path to staying young. Other titles in the series are YOU: The Owner’s Manual, YOU: On a Diet, and YOU: The Smart Patient.

The Best Life Diet
By Bob Greene (Simon & Schuster), $26

Bob Greene helped Oprah achieve her dramatic weight loss, and he says he can help you, too. His plan, easily tailored to an array of tastes, lifestyles, and activity levels, acts as your personal trainer and private nutritionist. Green is an exercise physiologist and certified personal trainer, specializing in fitness, metabolism and weight loss. The Best Life Diet Journal is also available for $15.95.

Yoga Over 50
By Mary Stewart (Simon & Schuster), $16

As our bodies begin to show the signs of daily wear and tear, workout programs that once seemed effective no longer meet our changing needs, and yoga can be the ideal exercise. This book includes step-by-step descriptions of yoga positions for active and resting poses, programs suited to varying degrees of fitness, experience, and flexibility, and exercises to relieve specific problems, including headache, stiffness, and insomnia.

Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money
By Bert Whitehead (Sterling), $15.95

If you’d like to shape up financially in 2008, Whitehead explains the five fundamentals of fiscal fitness: saving enough, having sufficient liquidity, fully funding pensions, buying the right-size house, and paying off consumer debt. His unique approach pays special attention to what is, for most people, their largest investment—real estate—and provides concrete formulas for particulars. Exercises, tables and graphs are included to guide you toward financial freedom.

Deceptively Delicious
By Jessica Seinfeld (Collins), $24.95

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get your children to eat healthier, this may be just the book you’ve been waiting for. When Seinfeld stirred some of the baby’s pureed butternut squash into the macaroni and cheese she was making for the other two children, and they happily ate it, she was on her way to finally enjoying mealtimes again. She has become an expert at hiding vegetable purees and other healthful additions in all of her children’s favorite dishes. Through trial and error and the help of kid-friendly chef Jennifer Iserloh, she has compiled a book of healthy, familiar foods kids love with recipes designed for speed and ease. All have been tested relentlessly on the three Seinfeld children and other families with young children.

The Success Principles
By Jack Canfield (Collins), $15.95

Filled with memorable stories of CEOs, world-class athletes, celebrities, and everyday people, The Success Principles gives you a proven blueprint to achieve a goal. It teaches you how to increase your confidence, tackle daily challenges, live with passion and purpose, and realize your ambitions. Canfield is the co-creator of the best-selling Chicken Soup for the Soul series.

Happy New Year, Happy New You, and until next month — happy reading!

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Pine siskin

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in  

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Pine Siskins.

  Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

A few weeks ago I ran into Ethel Engle (mother of Janine Engle, owner of the Rock House in Palmer Lake), and she told me that her husband, George, who was confined to a wheelchair for many years, took great pleasure in watching birds that came to the feeders outside their home. It then dawned on me that bird watching can be therapeutic, not just for those who have a disability, but for many people, me included.

Randy and I always look forward to the winter months in hopes of seeing the tiny gregarious pine siskin, a member of the finch family. It is an irregular migrant that sometimes flocks here in winter. Its range is erratic, and some years we see them in large numbers while other years we don’t see them at all.

The pine siskin resides and nests at the edge of coniferous forests, where it feeds on hemlock and cedar berries, pine seeds, aspen catkins, flower buds, and aphids. I first observed the pine siskin while skiing in Alaska on a day so cold the lifts were closed and not even the locals ventured out. Randy and I were sipping on something warm and noticed these little birds flitting about the feeder outside the lodge’s big picture window. We were amazed that they could endure the extremely cold conditions and yet seem so happy. It seemed apparent that climate wasn’t an issue for them as long as there was enough food. If seed production is low or the food supply in an area will not sustain the flock, they find another area. In the early 1900s when the winters were colder, large flocks were reported in Florida and Louisiana, but with the recent milder winters there have been no reported sightings in those states.

The pine siskin looks a lot like other birds, so I often have to take a closer look to identify it. Like the nuthatch, the pine siskin will hang upside down to extract seeds from pine cones. I’ve also mistaken it for a sparrow, because its upper feathers are brown with heavy streaking and its breast is lighter with subtle brown streaks. It has a yellow cast to it, and upon closer examination there are two yellow wing bars and a single yellow tail feather that becomes more visible as spring approaches. At 4.25 to 5 inches, its body length is smaller than that of most birds and it is slimmer and more streamlined, that is, unless it plumps up its feathers to stay warm. Its small conical bill is quite different from that of a sparrow, and its behavior is subtly different from that of other birds.

The pine siskin is a social bird, and like other finches it’s chatty, but its song is more like a buzz than a chirp. It competes for space at the feeder by flying to an opening and flapping, pushing, and pecking its way to the food. It will go to any feeder but it seems to prefer niger thistle seed in tube-type feeders. Once it feels welcomed in a yard, the siskin can even be hand-fed. Several years ago a small flock competed to take food from husband Randy’s hand and followed him as he walked around the yard to fill up our feeders.

It breeds in northern Mexico, the western United States, and in Canada’s coniferous forests. It begins courting in January and February when the male forages for food to give to the female. If she accepts his offering he excitedly leaves his perch and flies up in circles, fluttering his wings as if to say, "Oh, be still my heart."

The female pine siskin builds a plate-shaped nest in a coniferous tree on a limb in the outer part of the branch. Adjacent nests are spaced just a few feet apart, often on the same branch. The plate-shaped nest is constructed of twigs and lined with feathers, moss, and fur. The female lays up to five small spotted pale blue eggs, and she alone incubates the clutch for about 13 days while the male feeds her. After the eggs hatch, the male and female feed the chicks for about 14 days, when the chicks begin to fledge the nest and join the flock.

The pine siskin is very entertaining to watch, and the enjoyment these little birds bring to bird enthusiasts is immeasurable.

In closing, Randy and I wish you a Happy New Year. I feel fortunate to share my interest in birds with many Tri-Lakes’ residents. I’m thankful for the OCN board of directors and publisher John Heiser for their ongoing support of Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide, OCN copyeditor Gary Houy for masterfully editing my column, and most of all to the readers who share their stories with me. In 2008, I look forward to continue to explore and write about the many species of birds that fly to this beautiful area.

Elizabeth Hacker is an artist in the Tri-Lakes area. Her bird prints are available at the gift shop in the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts in Palmer Lake, with proceeds benefiting environmental causes. E-mail her at OCN with your questions and bird finds.

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Art Matters: Enjoy the great indoors

By Janet Sellers

One of the joys of January is new beginnings. Starting an art class puts your creativity in motion and your resolutions into satisfaction. Grab a friend and sign up for a weekend or two of art to get your new art habit going. Having the time and place defined will ensure that your art begins, and there is momentum to continue with a plan in place. Of course, this goes for most human habits, but the artist in us commonly takes a back seat to other pressing issues unless nurtured with a strong intention and firmly putting art class plans in place.

As many artists will admit, having their art habit and art in a learning place keeps them motivated in the face of the demanding schedules of life. Given that the pursuit of art is a pursuit of happiness, one’s art efforts give back tenfold what one puts into the activities. Enjoying art shows and visiting art museums and galleries is enriching and sparks interest in an artist’s intent and technical skill. It is also a necessity. Viewing many kinds of art finds the place in our hearts that only art can fill. Taking art home is a joy as well, but enjoying it every way possible is the point.

Science says that art is good for your health in spirit, mind, and body. Viewing and making art for health is proving a successful influence in education, recreation, and even on patient health recovery. Taking art classes and using art in our lives reduces stress via the creative circuits we live by. The state of Colorado is moving forward in its plans to put much more art in its educational curriculum. The creative touch in art develops creative thinking and problem- solving for students of all ages, so the art impulse is coming back manifold to our schools as well. Could our recent exploitation in a narrow math/science focus have short-circuited our education efforts without the creative art side to move it to experience and better retention?

In its January newsletter, the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade reported the following:

"The Colorado Council on the Arts announced that the online application for the 2009 Grants to Artists and Organizations (GAO) will be available January 4, 2008. The deadline for submitting GAO applications is Thursday, March 13, 2008. This will also be the deadline for the new StART Schools grant program for schools and school districts that want to use the arts as a strategy for student success.

The new StART Schools (Success Through Art) grant program for schools and districts derives from the recognition that, in a global economy, creativity and innovation are the keys to competitiveness. Learning in and through the arts stimulates creative and analytical capabilities, and is therefore fundamental to ensuring that today’s students are prepared for tomorrow’s jobs. This new program will help schools and districts create an arts rich curriculum, where students not only acquire knowledge and skills in the basic arts disciplines, but also apply that understanding to learning in other core subject areas, ultimately increasing the relevance of their education and supporting their academic success."

Hooray for art and recognition in each era! Most of us have always known that art is a most relevant human need to satisfy (with thousands of years of art-making to show for it). For everyone who’d like to move with the idea, join us for art in our local galleries, art classes, and some of the following art enrichment for January.

"A Touch of Italy," oil paintings by Monument artist John De Francesco will be exhibited through Feb. 27 at Bella Panini, 4 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For hours, contact 719-481-3244.

Bella Art and Frame

What! Hello and Goodbye?! The good news is that Bella Art and Frame will continue its superb local arts venue here in our town with new owner, Maggie Williamson. On Jan. 12, from noon to 4 p.m., the community is invited to say a fond farewell to Sabrina Culley as she begins a new direction in her life pursuits, and welcome the new owners of the gallery.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

The ongoing members’ show continues through mid-January. Now is the time to go out and get some art for the New Year: The art is great and the prices are just right for all levels of collectors. Enjoy an afternoon at the center this week filled with art. TLCA galleries and gift shop, Highway 105, Palmer Lake, open noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday.

Nearby art events

While these events are not quite in our town — they’re just down the road — they are expected to have a positive, major impact on the art venues and public interest all along the Front Range, so I have included them for your interest.

Jan. 23 Colorado College lecture: Christo and Jeanne-Claude — Renowned artists and collaborators Christo and Jeanne-Claude will present a free lecture about their collaborative public art installations. The talk will specifically address two current projects, "Over the River: Project for the Arkansas River, Colorado," and "The Mastaba: Project for the United Arab Emirates." In their 47 years as collaborators, Christo and Jeanne-Claude have challenged and transformed definitions of public art with their ephemeral, environmentally based exhibited installations. Monumental in scale, and almost always controversial, their projects have vexed, fascinated and thrilled audiences worldwide.

In their talk at Colorado College, the artists will discuss the current status of the two projects. Tentatively scheduled for 2012, "Over the River" will consist of fabric panels suspended horizontally over the Arkansas River. Originally conceived in 1977 and still in the planning stages, "The Mastaba" is a structure created from recycled oil barrels that will be larger than the pyramids at Giza. Sponsored by the office of the president and the art department.3:30 p.m., Packard Hall, 5 W. Cache La Poudre St., free.

Calls for artists

The Pikes Peak Library District Art Evaluation Committee will be jurying art (all art is for wall hanging and must be presented framed, matted, and ready to hang) to exhibit in the branch library galleries. Artists, please drop off five completely prepared works from 8 a.m. to noon Jan.30 at the East Library. Pick up your artwork the same day and place between 4:30 and 6 p.m., when jurying is completed. Applicants receive a letter in the following two weeks with exhibition approval information. For details, contact Cathy Genato: cgenato@ppld.org or call her at 531-6333 x2338.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Rocky Mountain Music Alliance Concert, Dec. 1

Below: Pianist Michael Baron performs with the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, Thomas Wilson, Music Director, at the RMMA concert Dec. 1. Photo by Susan Hindman.

   

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Small Town Christmas, Dec. 1

Below: Brian and Andrew Converse enjoy the reindeer during Small Town Christmas, Dec. 1. Andrew is 2. Photo by Lisa Converse.

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Taekwondo Center holds board break-a-thon to benefit Tri-Lakes YMCA, Dec. 1

Below (L to R): Charles & Joey Day and Kim Gilbertson receive recognition for their work organizing and promoting the event. Photos by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com.

Below: Cindy Brandt, YMCA Board Member, breaks her board with much helpful cheering and support. 

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Handbell Concert, Dec. 8

Below: Betty Jenik Directs the combined choirs of the Tri-Lakes Community Adult Handbell Choir and the Monument Community Presbyterian Handbell Choir for the opening song of "Fanfare for Christmas." Photos by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com.

   

Right: Tri-Lakes Community Youth Handbell members (R-L) Kenndy Sobezak, Josie Lopez, Amy Richardson, Marybeth Miller, Renee Wall, and Emily Gorder perform their first song of "Wassail Wassail."

   

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Yule Log Ceremony rekindles Christmas tradition, Dec. 9

Below: The hunters await the signal to begin the hunt. Photos by Dave Futey.

 

Below: The finders from front to back: Max Piercefield, Makeenin Piercefield, and Wayde Krueger. 

 

By David Futey

Since 1933, the Palmer Lake Yule Log Ceremony has marked the beginning of the Christmas holiday for members of the Palmer Lake community and those who join in on this festive tradition. Orchestrated by the Palmer Lake Yule Log Association, the ceremony is marked with bagpipers and musicians, caroling, hooded "hunters" of the log, and the drinking of wassail, a mix of apple cider, spices and other ingredients. However the centerpiece of the ceremony is the finding of the Yule Log.

The log, about 5-6 feet long, is notched, tied with a ribbon, then hidden in the woods with the utmost of secrecy the day before or up to a week prior to the ceremony. The hunters, some draped in red or green hooded capes, parade from Palmer Lake Town Hall to Glen Park where they are given the perimeters of the search area. Upon a signal the hunters fan out in search of the log. Once the log is discovered, a whistle is blown to alert the unsuccessful hunters, a rope is tied around the log’s notch, and it is then pulled back to Town Hall. Children of all ages are given a chance to ride on it along the way.

Once the Yule Log arrives at Town Hall, it is cut and a portion of it is burned in the Town Hall fireplace with the remainder of last year’s Yule Log. The other portion of the log is saved, to be burned with a portion of next year’s Yule Log, giving continuity and history to the tradition.

The finders of the 2007 Yule Log were Wayde Krueger and Max and Makeenin Piercefield. This was Krueger’s second time in locating the log. Tim Watkins was this year’s log cutter and hider of the log. The finders and Watkins were served the first drink of wassail, and then all the thirsty hunters partook in the warm and comforting holiday beverage to end the festivities.

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Chuck Pyle and John Fielder at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Dec. 12

Below: Chuck Pyle performs on stage at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts while, in the foreground, renouned photographer John Fielder enjoys the music. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com. 

 

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Local AARP chapter celebrates the Holidays, Dec. 12

Below: Kay Zvonkovich leads the Poka Club Singers in a holiday carol sing at the December Black Forest AARP meeting. Photos and information provided by the Black Forest AARP Chapter.  

 

Below (L to R): Joe Aronowitz, Black Forest AARP Chapter President, receives a donation check on behalf of the Black Forest AARP Chapter from Kay Zvonkovich, Edna Eaton and Chuck Eaton.

 

The Black Forest AARP Chapter celebrated the holiday season on Dec. 12 with a meeting featuring several special events. A delicious catered buffet dinner for all members and guests was provided after the customary pledge to the flag, the introduction of guests and an invocation. Each table, and the buffet, was gaily decorated with large centerpieces which were given away to eleven lucky recipients at the end of the meeting.

When the meal was complete, the Colorado Springs Poka Club Singers, led by Kay Zvonkovich, entertained. Music was provided to the 44 attending chapter members and guests and all participated in the singing of holiday carols.

The business meeting that followed included the election of chapter officers for calendar year 2008. Those elected were:Bruce Berner, President; Stan Beckner, 1st Vice-President; Howard Pease, 2nd Vice-President; Kathleen Carroll, Treasurer; Electa Beckner, Secretary; four board members; Joe Aronowitz, Catherine Arnold, Helen Von Gunden, and Kay Zvonkovich. Three Nominating Committee members were also elected.They were: Don Von Gunden,Janet Ferguson and Margaret Bailey. These elected chapter officers will be installed at the January 9 chapter meeting.

In addition to several other business items, the chapter was presented with a generous check by the organizers of a recent bus trip to Branson, Missouri. The check represented the compensation by the bus line for the work done on the project by Kay Zvonkovich, Edna and Chuck Eaton. The chapter gave a big round of applause to these three for their generous donation.

Before adjournment, the Chapter President, Joe Aronowitz, reminded the membership of the chapter initiative to cosponsor a local Stroke and Heart Attack Response class on Feb. 13 and a Document Shredding Event in the Black Forest community on May 17. The public is urged to attend both of these free community events. Details will be provided at a later date.

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Annual Tri-Lakes Cares ham drive a great success, Dec. 15

Below: Dec. 15, Tri-Lakes Cares was able to meet their goal of 163 families who will receive hams with additional bags of holiday groceries. Photos by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com.  

 

Below: Hams, hams and more hams, past Tri-Lakes Cares President Jerry Lasey opens boxes of hams for sharing with families.

   

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Travis Book and the Play Boys in concert, Dec. 16

Below: At their concert at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts Dec. 16, Travis Book and The Play Boys (L to R): John Frazer, Travis Book, John Stickley, and Andy Thorn. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com.

   

Below: Teri Evel of CS (L) and Su Ketchmark of Palmer Lake (R) purchase several CD’s each for themselves and for gifts.

   

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PRHS is taking shape, Dec. 20

Below: Photo of Palmer Ridge High School presented by Jeff Chamberlain of RLH Engineering at the Lewis-Palmer School Board meeting Dec. 20. It shows the administration building on the left, the arts building on the right and the bridge connecting the two.

   

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D-38 receives donation from Staples

Below (L to R): Dec. 5, Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Financial Officer Cheryl Wangeman receive a $1,500 donation to the D-38 Education Foundation from Staples Jackson Creek store general manager Sheila Baca. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

   

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Chewy finds a new home

Below: Jackson Creek Wells Fargo Bank employees heard that a puppy was being abused by his current owners .The dog was taken away from it’s owners by law enforcement and given back to the breeder Dec. 6. A Wells Fargo managers decided to adopt the puppy. Chewy was in such bad shape when she picked him up Dec. 9, that she consulted with a vet and was told the most important thing that she could do was to make sure he was fed every four hours, was warm, and had constant affection. It was decided that Chewy would come to work with her everyday for the next couple of weeks. He is now the bank’s mascot and there are customers who come into the bank every day to see how he is doing. He has made remarkable progress in a short time. Little Chewy has gained physical health and trust in life. Photo by Rodney O’Maley.

   

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Local team works to makes wish come true

The Colorado Wildcats, a competitive baseball team composed of Tri-Lakes area boys ages 11 and under, are doing something no other baseball team has done. They are partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Colorado to raise money to grant a wish for a Colorado child. And they’re doing it in what is their inaugural year with the Pikes Peak Competitive Baseball Association.

The team’s season begins in April, and a total of 36 games will be played. The team will get 25 cents a run for every run scored, and they need to score enough runs to reach their goal of $6,000. Once the team reaches that goal, the money will be presented to the foundation. The team is going to choose a child — a boy or girl in the Pikes Peak region — to grant a wish for. The selected child will become the team’s "13th player" and get a uniform and jacket.

The team is currently seeking pledges. Anyone wanting to donate can visit the Web site, www.leaguelineup.com/coloradowildcats, or call Dimas or Melissa Nunez, 637-3862. Dimas Nunez is the team’s coach. Once the season is under way, people can stop by and donate during the games as well. The team’s Web site will be updated regularly to show scores and track the fund-raising progress.

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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.

Recycle your Christmas tree

Be environmentally responsible and support the community by recycling Christmas trees at one of the seven convenient locations throughout El Paso County. The program runs Jan. 5 and 6, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A suggested tax-deductible donation of $5 per tree goes to support youth sports programs throughout the county. In the Tri-Lakes area, take your tree to the Baptist Road trailhead, Baptist Road and Old Denver Road. In Colorado Springs, the locations are Cottonwood Creek Park, Dublin Boulevard & Montarbor Drive; Verizon Complex, 30th Street and Garden of the Gods Road; Memorial Park, Union Boulevard & Pikes Peak Avenue; Sky Sox Stadium, Barnes Road & Charlotte Parkway; Falcon Trailhead, southwest of Woodmen Road & McLaughlin Road; and Rocky Top Resources, 1755 E. Las Vegas St. Rocky Top will be open through Jan. 31, Monday-Saturday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sundays.

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Volunteer reading tutors needed

Share your love of reading. Tutor an adult once a week for two hours to improve his or her reading, writing, comprehension and/or English language skills. No teaching experience is required. Free training will be provided Jan. 3, 10, 17, 24, and Feb. 7 5:30-9 p.m. at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs. Call 531-6333, x2223 for information.

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Opening day for park reservations, Jan. 8

El Paso County Parks will begin accepting facility reservations Jan. 8, 8 a.m., for the 2008 calendar year. Reservations on Jan. 8 must be made in person at the El Paso County Parks Administrative Office, 2002 Creek Crossing, near the corner of Rio Grande and 21st Street.

The pavilions that can be reserved are located in Bear Creek, Black Forest, Fountain Creek, Fox Run, and Palmer Lake Regional Parks. Individuals are strongly encouraged to have alternate dates in mind, as space fills quickly. Also available for reservations are the Fox Run Regional Park Gazebo and athletic fields in various parks.

Groups wishing to reserve pavilions for special events may submit a Special Event Request Form prior to Jan. 8. Additional fees will apply based on the size of the group and activities planned. Pavilion fees are: $28 for small pavilions, $94 for medium-sized pavilions and $193 for the large pavilions. The Gazebo at Fox Run Park rents for $110 per hour, with a two-hour minimum.

Beginning Jan. 9 both in-person and phone reservations will be accepted from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The phone number to call for reservations is (719) 520-PLAY (7529).

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Volunteers needed for the Supervised Exchange and Parenting Time program

Want to make a difference in a child’s life? The Supervised Exchange and Parenting Time program (SEPT), with its flexible schedule, may be ideal for you! Volunteers for the SEPT program protect children from witnessing parental disputes and experiencing emotional trauma. They oversee court-ordered parenting time (supervised visits) and facilitate exchanges of the children from one parent to another, keeping the children safe from conflict.

The SEPT program is administered by Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Pikes Peak Region. CASA serves as "a child’s voice in court" for children who are victims of abuse, neglect or domestic conflict and promotes community awareness of these issues to ensure safe and permanent homes.

Training begins Feb. 2. Deadline for registration is Jan. 11. For more information, visit www.casappr.org or call 447-9898, ext.1020.

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Community meeting on special districts, Jan. 12

NEPCO (Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations) will hold a meeting on special districts Jan. 12, 10 a.m. to noon, at the Family of Christ Lutheran Church, 675 Baptist Road (across from King Soopers). The meeting is open to the public. NEPCO is a coalition of Northern El Paso County homeowners’ associations (HOAs). To learn more about NEPCO and the benefits of NEPCO membership for your HOA, visit www.nepco.org or call Bob Swedenburg, NEPCO secretary, at 481-2723.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will accept grant applications Jan. 15 to March 15. Qualified organizations that provide significant services to residents within the geographic boundaries of School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Submissions that relate to the new Tri-Lakes Senior Initiative are invited.

Qualified organizations include 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations, public service organizations and public schools. Grants will be awarded in late May.

The TLWC sponsors two major fund-raising events, Wine and Roses, a wine-tasting event in October, and the Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale in April. Over the last 35 years, TLWC has awarded over a half million dollars to Tri-Lakes community organizations.

Grant applications, instructions and guidelines can be downloaded from the TLWC website, www.TLWC.net, or by sending a request with a stamped, self-addressed envelope to TLWC Grant Committee, P.O. Box 669, Monument, CO 80132

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Monument business owner to hold sign ordinance meeting, Jan. 17

A meeting for Monument business owners will be held on Thu., Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m., at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St., to gather their comments on the extensive revision of the town ordinance regarding commercial signs. Copies of the new ordinance are available for pick-up at Town Hall. Business owners are asked to provide a list of their comments that also includes name of the business, business address, as well as the business owner’s name, contact phone number, and current email address. The comments will be forwarded to town staff and trustees prior to the public hearing on the ordinance on Tues., Feb. 19. For more information, phone Karen Evans at 648-3070 or email karen@thetenantrep.com.

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Historical Society potluck, Jan. 17

The Palmer Lake Historical Society (PLHS) holds its annual potluck dinner and membership drive Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. This free event, open to all, features Joe Bohler, acclaimed local talent, who will play piano (honky-tonk!) and present his paintings, "Past and Present," along with stories about his experiences while painting on location. Bring a dish of your favorite food to share. PLHS provides a platter of meats, coffee, and hot water for tea. If you are new to the area, this is a wonderful way to meet neighbors and colorful local characters. Bohler is an extraordinary talent whose paintings grace the cover of the local telephone directory each year. For more information, phone 559-0837 or e-mail plhist@aol.com.

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Art show and silent art auction ends Jan. 19

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) is holding its Annual Artist Member Show and Silent Art Auction through Jan. 19. Douglas Buchman, artist and owner of the Second Street Art Market, will judge the exhibit for first-, second-, and third-place awards in addition to a People’s Choice Award. The TLCA is open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. and is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information, phone 481-0475 or visit the Website at www.trilakesarts.org.

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Free tutoring in reading at Monument Library

Children’s Literacy Center creates opportunities for children to improve their reading skills through access to free one-on-one tutoring. If your child is reading below grade level, call 471-8672 to find out how to get your child enrolled in the Peak Reader program. Tutoring meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6-7 p.m., beginning Feb. 5, at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Contact Sue Kana, 337-3430.

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Girls’ fast-pitch players needed

The Thunderstruck 14U girls’ fast-pitch softball team based in northern El Paso County has openings for pitchers and players for the 2008 season. To schedule a tryout, call Vern Bagley, 282-2883.

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Free fine art show, Feb. 1-29

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) will present its annual Winter Fine Art Show Feb. 1 through Feb. 29 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. The extensive exhibit includes varied works in different media by PLAG member artists. The exhibit will be open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free. Funds raised from the show will be used to award scholarships to senior students at Lewis-Palmer High School who plan to continue their studies in art. The opening reception will be held Feb. 9. For more information call Jana Towery, 487-9853, or Sue Jenkins, 481-9149.

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Free tutoring in reading

Children’s Literacy Center offers free one-to-one tutoring for children reading below grade level. Children are matched with trained volunteer tutors and meet twice a week for an hour each session. Find out if your child is eligible to enroll by contacting Pamela Polke at 471-8672 or send an e-mail to Pamela@peakreader.org for more information.

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Mining Musem seeks volunteers

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry is seeking volunteers to lead tours and programs, help with special events, maintain the grounds, and staff the front desk. The museum appreciates the people who give so much of their time and energy to help enhance visitor enjoyment, educational experiences, and overall appreciation of the museum’s activities, programs, and facilities. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Call 488-0880 for more information.

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County launches new on-line mapping service

El Paso County recently launched a new Geographic Information System (GIS) Web site that provides mapping and data download services. The site allows the public to conduct parcel and precinct searches, download GIS data, view a zoning map book, and receive information on custom mapping and analysis products. For more information, visit the new Web page at www.elpasoco.com/gis/. The Web page can also be accessed by going to www.elpasoco.com and clicking on the link under Popular Pages or Online Services.

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IRS starts free e-newsletter for small businesses

The IRS has designed an online newsletter, e-News for Small Businesses, to help small- business owners, self-employed individuals, accounting professionals, and tax practitioners better understand and meet their tax obligations. The weekly newsletter delivers timely, useful tax information right to your computer every Wednesday. To start your free subscription to e-News, just go to http://www.irs.gov/businesses/small/content/0,,id=154826,00.html, type in your e-mail address, and submit.

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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 nine-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 facility is open year-round and accepts items such as 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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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

Do you wonder how to keep the deer from munching your freshly planted garden, how to get the skunk out from under your deck without getting sprayed, or how to get the squirrels out of the attic? Colorado State University Cooperative Extension in El Paso County has a staff of trained Wildlife Masters to help you. Call the Master Gardener Help Desk, 636-8921, and you will be called promptly with an answer. A fact sheet will be sent to you by e-mail or regular mail. For information, call 636-8921 or e-mail csumg2@elpasoco.com

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