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Vol. 8 No. 10 - October 4, 2008


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9-11 remembered

Below: On Sept. 11, American Legion Post 9-11 and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District jointly sponsored a flag-raising ceremony at TLMFPD Station 1. Raising the flag are (L to R) firefighter Mo Ayala and Post Commander Mike Christensen. Photo by David Cruz.

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Interchange contract award Oct. 3

By Jim Kendrick

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) meeting scheduled for Oct. 10 was moved up a week to Oct. 3 so the long-anticipated contract for expanding the Baptist Road I-25 interchange could finally be awarded. The two-lane bridge over I-25 will be replaced by two four-lane spans, and the four ramps will each be widened to two lanes. Bob Torres of engineering consultant Jacobs Carter Burgess will manage the contract.

BRRTA Manager Denise Denslow, of R.S. Wells LLC, told OCN Sept. 26 that prospective bidders were given specific details for the project at a pre-bid meeting Sept. 11 at the El Paso County Department of Transportation training room. Bid packages were submitted by eight companies.

The bids, which were accepted beginning Aug. 27, were opened at a public meeting by BRRTA staff on Sept. 25. All the bids were less than the original Colorado Department of Transportation estimate of $16 million.

After the board members select the winning bid on Oct. 3, Torres will direct the preparation of the notice to proceed based on the elements of the winning bid. Construction must start no later than Nov. 1 to maximize the time available for construction on the east side of the interchange, which contains a significant amount of protected Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat. Construction is allowed only from Nov. 1 to April 1 within or near the habitat.

The Oct. 3 BRRTA meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. in Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake water treatment plant requires $1.9 million upgrade

By David Futey

At the Sept. 11 meeting of the Palmer Lake Town Council, Water Trustee Max Stafford provided an estimate exceeding $1.9 million to upgrade the existing water plant infrastructure to a micro filter system. If installed, the new system would meet the turbidity (cloudiness) standard of 0.3 nephelometric turbidity units (NTU) and enable the plant to operate for the next 20-30 years. When and if council proceeds with the approval of the upgrade, it will take up to a year before starting the project.

Stafford is investigating whether low-interest loans are available from the state to fund the project. Grants researched thus far are not available for the project since the town’s per capita income is above $45,000. A decision on whether to update the existing infrastructure or build a new water plant will need to occur in the next few months.

At the Aug. 14 council meeting, Stafford noted that at least $200,000 is needed to fix the existing media filter system. However, even if the media filter system is repaired, it would not be useable in the new micro filter system, nor would the repair enable the plant to meet the turbidity standard. There may be other issues that arise once and if repairs begin on the media filter system.

With the surface water plant’s continuing problems and its limited capacity, the town has lost redundancy in the water system for growth or other needs. The problems have also raised costs, as electricity is now over $7,000 a month from well pumping, and well use creates a draw-down situation. Mayor John Cressman stated that regardless of the course of action taken on the water facility, "citizens should anticipate water [cost] increases."

Community Wildfire Protection Plan updated

By unanimous decision, the council agreed to adopt a draft of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan document. Forestree Development LLC representatives Keith Worley and John Chapman provided the town with an update of the document initially presented at the August council meeting. He said it will be finalized in four to six weeks.

The plan will qualify the town for fire protection and mitigation grant funding from the state and federal funding in the future. It will also act as a guide for federal authorities to areas in and around the town in the event of an emergency as it will be one part of the town’s emergency preparedness planning documentation. Partners identified in the plan include the Larkspur Fire Department and Douglas County Open Space. Adoption of the plan also qualifies residents for a state tax deduction for fire reduction measures of up to 50 percent of the cost, up to $2,500.

Fire mitigation with the masticator

The masticator, which grinds and removes scrub oak and other growth, was used at five town residences as part of the education process in fire mitigation and managing fire danger around properties. The cost of the masticator was $165 per hour. Fire Trustee Gary Coleman had the masticator used on his property and said he was very pleased with the results.

Safer Community Initiative

The council received a presentation from District 3 County Commissioner Sallie Clark on the proposed 1-cent sales tax for health and safety programs. District 1 County Commissioner Wayne Williams was not available to perform the presentation. The commissioners are seeking support for the initiative from Palmer Lake and other county municipalities because, as Clark said, the county has been fiscally "conservative to the point of being at a tipping point."

Clark stated that the county is facing severe budget issues with a $34 million shortfall over the past three years. This has led to 24 staff layoffs, over 40 positions eliminated, reduced services, increases in response time from the Sheriff’s Office and other issues. The county is also having difficulty in maintaining mandated services, such as the courthouse, and the coroner facilities are in severe condition. Clark added that the parks budget has been cut to less than $1 million and is surviving only through alternative funding, such as the state Lottery.

The budget for gas at the Sheriff’s Office has climbed from $150,000 in 2000 to $800,000 in 2008 and is projected to be $1 million within the next couple of years, Clark said. Guards at the county jail are guarding twice the recommended number of prisoners, with one deputy per 65 prisoners. The sheriff is unable to hold misdemeanor offenders due to budget and manpower limitations.

The county commissioners are giving presentations throughout the county in order to seek regional cooperation and provide information on the initiative and the possible financial benefits to municipalities. The focus of the initiative is on public health, police, and fire backup. With property tax increases unpopular, though El Paso County has the lowest property tax in the state, and the need to raise a mill levy three times the present rate, a sales tax seemed the only viable option. The sales tax is exempted from food, fuels, groceries, medication, and construction materials by state law.

Commissioner Clark said estimates suggest that 30-40 percent of the tax received would be from tourists and visitors to the county and that the cost per citizen would be 33 cents per day. The state would collect the tax and would not charge a collection fee. The county would receive the funding and distribute it. The county would be audited to ensure the tax is used for the designated ballot purpose.

The tax should take the county 15-20 years into the future in funding the identified services. Municipalities would receive funding through the tax, with Palmer Lake estimated to receive $140,000 to be designated specifically for public safety operations or capital improvements.

Commissioner Clark said the county is preparing two budgets, with and without the tax. The budget cuts that would take place without the tax are estimated to be over $10 million, with $4 million in cuts projected at the county Sheriff’s Office.

Certificate for town teen

Trustee and Assistant Fire Chief Dan Reynolds presented a certificate of appreciation to Jacob Timby, who painted numerous town fire hydrants during the summer.

Roads update

Trustee Bryan Jack reported that 12,000 tons of millings, purchased at $4.50 per ton, which is well below the cost of asphalt, were used on roads in the community. In total, 2.5 miles of gravel road were improved out of the 26 miles in the town. A future goal is to repave County Line Road. The Roads Department is also addressing a sediment issue with the 36-inch culvert in Glen Park, which is causing water to wash into Lovers Lane.

Police Department receives donation and grant

Reynolds reported that the Police Department received a donation of two laptops from Pikes Peak Regional Building. Police Chief Gene Ferrin thanked the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club for its $3,600 grant. This grant enabled the department to purchase a new portable radio.

Police Department changes

Ferrin reported that due to budget shortfalls, a vacant patrol position will be temporarily filled with part-time help. Ferrin will reassess the vacancy early next year. Ferrin was also informed that Officer Joe Lundy will be taking a position with the Monument Police Department effective Oct. 15. This position will be filled once the resignation is officially received. Ferrin noted that officers are receiving more financial incentive for leaving than the town can presently offer. A salary review may need to be performed to determine how the town can remain competitive in officer pay.

Fireworks Committee

Jeff Hulsmann presented an update on the July 4 fireworks celebration. He noted that $4,600 was paid for additional police officers. Due to this and other costs, such as $15,000 for fireworks, Hulsmann suggested that the town may not be able to afford the fireworks show in the future unless funding and volunteer efforts are addressed. Hulsmann stated that there was a need for additional volunteers and changes to the makeup of the Fireworks Committee.

Awake the Lake

Hulsmann suggested using the reservoir to fill the lake, since the reservoir is not being fully used due to issues with the water plant filtration system. He also noted that the reservoir fill time is approaching. He suggested moving 10-15 acre-feet from the reservoir to the lake. The legality of such a move would need advisement from the state engineer. A pipe exists between the reservoir and the lake so physically moving the water would not be an issue.

Walk/Bike to School Day

Mayor Cressman read a proclamation in support of Colorado Pedestrian month in October. Oct. 8 has been designated Walk/Bike to School Day in order to demonstrate the benefits to exercising, the environment, and reducing traffic. Palmer Lake Elementary School children will walk from Town Hall to the school that morning. The event will start at 8 a.m. at the Palmer Lake Village Green in front of Town Hall.

Tri-Lakes Senior Citizen program

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance (TLSA), provided an update on the organization’s activities. Palmer Lake released another $10,000 from the Lucy Owen donation to the program. Among activities over the past year, the TLSA served seniors 1,500 Wednesday lunches, offered day tours, and kept seniors informed with a monthly newsletter, the Tri-Lakes Senior Beat. The TLSA is also looking into operating a year-round thrift store, possibly in Palmer Lake.

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Monument Board of Trustees, September 2: Sheriff asks board to support sales tax for public safety

By Jim Kendrick

On Sept. 2, El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa asked the Monument Board of Trustees to support a permanent sales tax increase to fund county public health and safety agencies. (This meeting occurred after deadline for the Sept. 6 issue of OCN.) Trustees Gail Drumm and Tim Miller were absent.

The regular board meeting scheduled for Sept. 15 was cancelled during the following week.

Kyle Blakely of Citizens for Effective Government asked the board to endorse the Safer Community Initiative that proposes a new county 1-cent sales tax for additional revenue for the county Sheriff’s Office, district attorney’s office, coroner, and public health departments and county municipalities as well.

Sheriff Maketa gave a 35-minute presentation on the specific issues raised by a number of unfunded state mandates that the directed sales tax would help pay for if approved by the voters. Since 1997, the county’s property assessment has gone up 267 percent, but the sheriff’s budget has only gone up about 47 percent. The new tax revenue, if this ballot issue is approved in the November election, is estimated to be about $74 million for 2009.

Maketa said that growth has outstripped the county’s ability to provide adequate levels of service for major crimes, high-risk SWAT-type operations, and direct costs for operation of the jail as well as prisoner transportation and extradition. The coroner building was designed for 400 autopsies per year, while the actual number ranges from 850 to 900 annually, requiring the staff to move to a modular building recently. The number of cases per deputy for the district attorney is 70 percent higher than any other county along the Front Range, requiring new hires of 70-120 additional deputies.

Noting that there couldn’t be a worse time to ask for a tax increase, Maketa stated that the ever-increasing demand for services cannot be met even with the previously planned 2008-09 revenues, much less the reduced tax revenues during the current economic slowdown. He added that he had proposed $12 million in cuts in the Sheriff’s Office budget three years ago to adjust for declining revenue. All these cuts have already been implemented, including reductions in capital projects and postponed maintenance on buildings and information technology infrastructure.

The plan proposed by the Citizens for Effective Government was developed during an 18-month study of unfunded county and municipality law enforcement and public health needs, Maketa said. During the first two years, 50 percent of the new revenue will go to 12 specific capital projects with 10 percent allocated in subsequent years until all these capital projects are completed. After 2025, all capital revenues will then be directed toward maintenance.

The revenues designated for each county municipality must also be used for police and public safety. Maketa said, "It’s a challenging time." Trustee Tommie Plank replied, "It’s always a challenging time in El Paso County."

There was a lengthy discussion regarding specific capital projects and other needs to meet the surge in crimes, parole violations, and jail sentence lengths, now 80-180 percent longer for various crimes. The cost for rented cell space is going up dramatically as well, now that the jail expansion has already been outstripped by the number of additional prisoners.

For more information on the issues the board and Maketa discussed, see the "Safer Community Initiative" PowerPoint presentation and frequently asked questions links on the www.csceg.org home page.

Two liquor licenses approved

The board unanimously approved a new liquor license requested by Monument resident Jason Vanderpool, owner of J Squared LLC, doing business as Wild Wings N Things. Vanderpool is also the manager of this new family restaurant, which is located in the Tuscan Hills Center at 1415 Cipriani Loop, just east of the intersection of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive. The space was previously occupied by Il Fratello’s restaurant.

The board also unanimously renewed the annual liquor license for the Circle K convenience store and gas station in the King Soopers shopping center at Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved one payment over $5,000 for $30,019 to Recreation Creations Inc. for playground equipment to be installed in a pocket park in the Trails End development on Old Denver Highway.

Treasurer Pamela Smith reported that net sales tax revenues received from the state for the first half of 2008 were $178 less than her very conservative budgeted amount, though the amount of revenue reported through the end of August is about 4 percent above budget. "We still need to closely watch the budgeted sales tax revenue and comparisons for downward trends that will adversely affect revenues for 2008," Smith said.

Smith also reported in the July financial report that the town’s general fund expenditures are 16.2 percent ($712,000) less than the amount budgeted while general fund revenue is only down 0.2 percent ($8,000). Water fund revenues are down 6.8 percent ($101,000) while expenditures are down 15.4 percent ($315,000.)

Staff reports

Town Manager Cathy Green led a lengthy discussion on a town mission and vision statement asking the board to review copies of the Buena Vista mission statement as not typical. Trustee Rafael Dominguez volunteered to take the lead on writing the first drafts of these town statements. He said, "Defining who we are is fundamental to leadership in this community," emphasizing that the statements are the town’s not the board’s.

Green reported that she had discussed potential savings of about $400,000 or more with the Triview Metropolitan District board on Aug. 26, should the town take over daily operations. The town would keep the two front office and operations personnel on the payroll, while eliminating the district manager, district administrator, and district attorney positions. She said she would distribute the draft intergovernmental agreement to board members when the attorneys have completed it.

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported on progress in developing plans for a water quality and detention pond for Third Street storm water that will be channeled to Monument Lake across private property on the west side of Mitchell Avenue at the intersection with Second Street. He also discussed the progress on the construction of the new Town Hall building on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported continuing difficulty in filling two officer vacancies. There were 40 applications in response to the department’s recent advertisements. Shirk made 13 job offers, but only one offer was accepted. He said it’s hard to find officers in this "fiercely competitive environment" to fill the other vacancy.

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported that there will be some high costs associated with getting new town water rights and Monument Lake storage rights approved through the multi-year water court process in addition to the basic cost of purchasing the additional water rights from the current owners. Water is no longer flowing over the spillway of the Monument Lake dam due to lower flows in Monument Creek, but the level is only 5 inches below the spillway.

The Forest Lakes water tank is nearing completion. The town leases a third of its capacity from the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, using it to store town water produced within the Forest Lakes district.

Trustees’ comments

Trustee Plank asked the board, staff, and Town Attorney Gary Shupp to review a document presented by Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Superintendent Ray Blanch proposing "A New Compact" between the school district and the Tri-Lakes community. Plank asked that the staff prepare a resolution for the next trustees meeting endorsing the D-38 compact, which calls for building "a school system that focuses on three foundational themes: student learning, the whole child, and community engagement."

Trustee Steve Samuels asked the staff to repaint the existing crosswalks on Old Denver Highway between the residential communities and the Santa Fe Trail now that the town has annexed the road from the county. Landreth suggested a review of lowering the speed limit, currently 40 mph, and placing signs instructing vehicle drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalks. Mayor Byron Glenn asked Landreth to get cost estimates for solar-powered flashing lights for the crosswalks.

Glenn noted his visit earlier in the day to the new Monument Academy charter school on Highway 105 east of Knollwood Drive, calling it "an outstanding building."

The meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.

**********

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

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee meeting, Sept. 9: Additional testing for stream contaminants included in 2009 draft budget

By Jim Kendrick

Facility manager Bill Burks presented his first draft of the 2009 budget to the Trilakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee (JUC) on Sept. 9. All Colorado special districts must begin budget preparation by Oct. 15 per state statutes and adopt an approved budget for the following calendar year not later than Dec. 31.

The Tri-Lakes facility operates as a separate public utility and is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by Monument Sanitation District, Palmer Lake Sanitation District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District. All three primary representatives were present: President Dale Platt from Palmer Lake, Vice President Lowell Morgan from Monument, Secretary-Treasurer Benny Nasser. Several other directors, district managers, and staff members from the three districts also attended the meeting.

The Palmer Lake board appointed director Virgil Watkins on Aug. 12 to replace director Kathleen Williams as the Palmer Lake alternate representative to the JUC.

2009 Budget

There was a lengthy discussion of the 2009 draft budget. Burks proposed having all three employees work a full schedule Monday through Friday next year to improve the performance of the plant. Briefer checks on the plant on Saturdays and Sundays would be paid as overtime. Currently, weekend shifts are part of the normal workweek with employees taking a weekday off.

Burks also discussed the need to upgrade computer equipment to provide better automated control of the operation of the plant for better performance.

There was agreement on increasing the amount budgeted for 2009 so that there could be more samples and tests on the concentration of regulated effluent components such as metals, ammonia, and total inorganic nitrogen to provide a baseline for stream quality above and below the facility. Upstream testing would be performed below the Monument Lake dam. Downstream sampling would be performed before the confluence of Beaver Creek and Monument Creek. This baseline is critical to negotiations on the facility’s new five-year permit for 2010 to 2014 with the Water Quality Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Nasser stated that Woodmoor should pay the additional cost of sampling and testing water in Monument Creek above Monument Lake to establish a baseline for stream quality for its proposed new facility discharge location. Woodmoor intends to pump some of its share of treated wastewater from the Trilakes facility back upstream to be dumped into Monument Creek above Monument Lake in the near future. This pumped effluent would then be stored in Monument Lake until Woodmoor would pump it uphill to be stored in Lake Woodmoor for subsequent treatment to add to Woodmoor’s drinking water supply. Some testing of Monument Lake may also be necessary to characterize how it acts as a water quality pond while holding water until it is discharged below the dam. Limits will be set for this new discharge in the new permit before the end of 2009 by the state health department

There was also a discussion of relative costs for these additional testing regimes if they were performed by Trilakes facility employees or by employees of the U.S. Geological Survey. Also discussed was the possible use of different approved manual and automated procedures as well as different approved methods for producing the required composite samples.

Manager’s report

Burks reported that the copper concentration in the facility’s treated wastewater for August was 9.4 parts per billion. The state health department has initially proposed a limit of 8 parts per billion on average for the next discharge permit. This limit is subject to negotiation based on the results of increased stream sampling in new locations.

Monument district manager Mike Wicklund told the committee that the district board would be voting on a resolution on Sept. 25 to ask the town of Monument to pass an ordinance banning the use of copper water pipes in the future to help reduce Monument’s contribution of dissolved copper to the facility.

The town is also installing a system that will inject caustic soda into the drinking water at the town’s water treatment plant that should reduce the amount of dissolved copper in the drinking water and the copper loading from the town on the Trilakes facility. The district is paying half the cost for the addition of the injection system.

Wicklund also reported that he had visited the Monument Marketplace Home Depot to ask them once again to stop selling copper sulfate for killing tree roots. The store manager immediately removed all the jars and tore off the bar code labels so they could not be sold, in accordance with the written agreement between the district and corporate headquarters. One jar of this compound contains several pounds of copper. It is very ineffective in killing roots, while creating potentially disastrous testing results at the facility leading to a violation and heavy fines. Copper sulfate may have caused the spikes of copper concentration in the facility’s effluent in the past that resulted in two violations of the current discharge permit a few years ago.

The meeting adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

**********

The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Oct. 14 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District, September 17: Board to close in November on ranch purchase; hears concerns about proposed golf course development

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting September 17, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported that the purchase of the Mt. Massive Ranch is scheduled to close November 19. The ranch is approximately 681 acres and is about 7 miles southwest of Leadville. The purchase price is $4.6 million with $100,000 in earnest money and the balance due at closing. The contract was signed September 11. The district has 65 days to conduct research on the property and its water rights.

Duthie noted that the ranch owner, Ronald Strich, approached the district not the other way around. The deal would provide rights to at least 225 acre-feet per year of surface water rights. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. According to Duthie, 225 acre-feet represents about 20 percent of the district’s yearly total water use. A water court ruling will be needed to convert the water rights from agricultural uses to district use. Duthie said the district expects the final adjudicated amount to be closer to 300 acre-feet per year. If as a result of the water court case, the district receives rights to more than 225 acre-feet, the district would pay Strich an additional $8,000 per acre-foot with an escalation clause if the water court case is not resolved within two years.

Duthie noted that in the interest of avoiding potential opposition during the water court case, district representatives plan to meet with Lake County officials to determine whether they would prefer that the land be developed or kept as open space.

Board president Dennis Daugherty presided at the September 17 meeting. Board members Dick Durham, William George, Tim Murphy, and Dale Schendzielos were present.

Gleneagle group presents concerns about golf course development

Doug Jenkins, communications lead for the Gleneagle Residents Environmental Advocacy Team (GREAT), presented a series of charts summarizing some of the group’s objections to the proposed construction of 47 townhomes on about 10 acres adjacent to Eagle Villas. The driving range currently occupies the space.

Jenkins said GREAT is convinced the proposed development’s need for allocation of up to 54 acre-feet per year is an unwise use of the district’s water resources especially in light of the district’s decision to implement irrigation rationing.

He urged the district to withdraw its support for the project’s request for a waiver of the county’s requirement for 300 years of water availability. If the waiver were granted, the development would require a commitment from the district for about 18 acre-feet of water per year. If the county does not grant the waiver, Jenkins said the developer would be obligated to obtain a commitment from the district for an additional 36 acre-feet per year. In that event, he urged the board to seek community input before setting the price for the additional water allocation.

Daugherty said the district and its board must remain neutral in land use matters and must be consistent in supporting every landowner equally.

Duthie noted that the district has consistently supported waivers from the 300-year rule for projects in and around Gleneagle. He added that projects such as Eagle Villas received waivers because the water under those projects was deeded to the district prior to 1986 when the 300-year rule was adopted. In the case of the waiver that was granted for the Struthers Ranch project, an important factor was that the cone of influence of the district’s wells covers much of that project.

10 percent rate increase proposed

Duthie distributed a proposal recommending the following residential water rates for 2009:

Water

Rate per 1,000 gallons/month

Range (gallons)

Old rate

New rate

Increase

0-10,000  $     2.75  $    3.00 9%
10,001-20,000  $     3.60  $    3.90 8%
20,001-30,000  $     4.00  $    4.40 10%
30,001-40,000  $     5.00  $    5.50 10%
40,001-50,000  $     7.00  $    7.70 10%
Above 50,000  $     8.00  $    8.80 10%

The proposed townhome water rates match the above residential rates up to 40,000 gallons per month. Over 40,000 gallons, the rate would be $7.00 per 1,000 gallons per month, or $6.00 per 1,000 gallons per month for those townhome projects that have made significant reductions in their irrigated landscaping.

The rate for reuse water for the golf course is proposed to cost $2.36 per 1,000 gallons per month, up from $2.25 per 1,000 gallons per month. Untreated water from the district’s wells is proposed to cost the golf course $3.30 per 1,000 gallons per month, up from $3.00 per 1,000 gallons per month.

The residential water development fee charged developers is proposed to increase from $4,500 per lot to $5,000 per lot. The residential sewer development fee is proposed to increase from $1,000 per lot to $2,000 per lot.

Residential water and sewer tap fees would remain unchanged at $6,000 each. Availability of service fees charged owners of vacant lots would be unchanged at $300 per year. Commercial tap fees and development fees would remain unchanged as well.

Based on the board’s favorable comments about the proposed rate increase, Duthie will develop the district 2009 budget. A final decision on the rate proposal will be made at the November board meeting.

Water returns project and irrigation rationing update

Duthie reported that several of the district’s participants in the Water Returns project have completed their projects. Nine certificates have been awarded to participants. Duthie added that the Water Returns project is looking at developing a statewide program.

The irrigation rationing program runs May 26 through September 1. Under the program, odd numbered addresses may irrigate only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Even numbered addresses may irrigate only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Additional information including the schedule for commercial and multi-unit buildings is posted at www.donalawater.org/Rationing.html

Duthie presented an analysis of water use in August 2008 compared to August 2007 and August 2006. The rationing program was started in 2007. He noted that August 2008, with 13 rainy days and 4.67 inches of rain, was similar to August 2007, which had 14 rainy days and 3.19 inches of rain. August 2006 had 20 rainy days but only 1.95 inches of rain. Overall, the district with 5 more customers in 2008 than in 2007 used 2 percent more water than in 2007. With 45 more customers in 2008 than in 2006, the district used 7 percent less water than in 2006.

During August 2008, 138 residential customers (7 percent) used more than 40,000 gallons and 1 percent used more than 50,000 gallons. Three customers used more than 60,000 gallons. One customer used over 100,000.

Comparing the 23 single family customers who have Evapo-Transporation (ET) controllers that use a variety of data to optimize irrigation of Kentucky Bluegrass, 16 used less water in August 2008 than they used in August 2006, 7 used more. Total water usage by customers with ET controllers was 12 percent less in August 2008 than in August 2006; however, looking at a 12-14 month period before installation of the controllers and comparing it to an equivalent period after installation, Duthie concluded the controllers saved water during wet periods but used substantially more water during dry periods. Since the area has more dry periods than wet periods, Duthie said the overall results were disappointing in that those residential customers with the controllers used about 18 percent more water than they used before the controllers were installed. He recommended no further promotion or distribution of the controllers by the district.

Duthie said most customers without ET controllers are following the rationing program rules; however, the district has issued 125 warning letters and 4 fines.

Duthie noted that the rationing program has reduced water use about 8 percent. He added that the district’s goal is a 15 percent reduction. He said the proposed rate increases and xeriscaping projects that are underway may help the district get closer to its goal.

Other matters

  • Duthie reported that at its meeting September 10, the El Paso County Water Authority discussed the effects of oil and gas drilling on the local water supply. He noted that chemical run-off into the water supply is a major concern. He said the authority’s study about recharging the Upper Black Squirrel aquifer is nearing completion. Legal issues remain as to who owns the water once it has been pumped into the aquifer. Due to budget problems, the county has said it can no longer afford to pay the authority’s annual membership dues.
  • Duthie reported that representatives of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) met with representatives of the Arkansas Valley Super Ditch group. He said the Super Ditch group is seeking customers to lease water available from rotating fallowing of agricultural lands.
  • PPRWA, Colorado Recycles, the Colorado Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association, and House District 20 Rep. Amy Stephens hosted a symposium, Rx in the Watershed, Sept. 26. See article.
  • He said start up of the sequencing batch reaction equipment at the wastewater treatment plant is now expected in November. The new biosolids press is being designed. The district would provide the funding and then seek to recover a share of the costs from the Triview Metropolitan District.
  • Well 14, which cost more than $1 million to construct and equip, has been shut down due to the level of radioactivity in the water. He said this type of problem with radium leaching out of the underground granite is occurring all over the state. Treatment options are being considered.
  • Duthie reported that additional discussions have been held with the regulatory agencies that control Monument Creek water quality. The agencies are tightening the standards for effluent discharged into the creek. Duthie said, "It could be extremely expensive." For more information, see the Joint Use Committee article.

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 Wed., October 15 at 1:30 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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Triview Metropolitan District board, Sept. 23: Board starts conversion of $47 million in variable-rate bond debt to 30-year fixed-rate bonds

By Jim Kendrick

The Triview Metropolitan District board unanimously approved one of three options proposed by district bond agent Sam Sharp, of investment banker D.A. Davidson, to try to refinance the district’s bond debt at a fixed rate for 30 years. Currently bonds are annually renewed and refinanced on Nov. 1 at the existing current rate through a letter of credit from Compass Bank.

The board postponed the next regularly scheduled meeting until Oct. 29 so that Sharp would have more complete information on the long-term rate available at the time of the bond offering, which would close in mid-November.

The board unanimously approved the final redesign of the district park on Misty Creek Drive in southeast Jackson Creek next to Baptist Road. Consultant engineer Mike Hussey of Nolte Associates Inc. incorporated the changes recommended to him at the Aug. 27 board meeting. Hussey said he could prepare the final bid specification package for bidders in a few days. A contract can now be awarded by the end of October. Construction will likely begin in March or April.

The board also reviewed the first draft of the 2009 budget presented by acting District Manager Ron Simpson and District Administrator Dale Hill. All Colorado special district budget officers must present a budget to the governing board by Oct. 15, and the governing board must publish a "Notice of Budget" upon receiving a proposed budget, per state statutes. If the district is levying property tax, it must adopt the budget, appropriate funds, and certify the mill levy for the following calendar year no later than Dec. 15. Districts not levying property tax must adopt their budgets no later than Dec. 31.

Director Julie Glenn’s absence was excused. In 2009, regular meetings will probably be scheduled on the fourth Wednesday of the month. Glenn can no longer attend meetings on Tuesday or Thursday.

Board considers three options for debt financing

Sharp gave an overview of the recent history leading to the district’s current bond situation before proposing three options for Davidson to underwrite the refinancing of about $47 million in outstanding bond debt at the end of October.

In 2003, Davidson coordinated a $15 million bond issue for new debt. These annually renewable bonds "are secured" by a Compass Bank letter of credit. The proceeds were used in part for paying off some existing developer bond debt and constructing new capital infrastructure that included construction of Jackson Creek Parkway between Lyons Tail Road and Higby Road. The amounts originally designated for the proceeds were:

  • Roughly $7 million for construction of infrastructure.
  • About $1.5 million was used to retire existing utility bonds held by Mountain View Electric and Qwest.
  • Approximately $4.5 million was allocated to retire all but $1.5 million of the outstanding developer bonds that were lent at 9 percent interest per year. However, the older outstanding 12 percent interest rate bonds were not affected.
  • The remainder of the proceeds paid for the bond sale costs.

The initial debt service on the new 2003 bonds was 3 percent during the first year, composed of 1.325 percent interest and 1.625 percent to pay for the letter of credit from Compass Bank. The district was unrated at the time and could not find buyers for the debt without the letter of credit that gave the bond offering an A rating. The new term for each set of one-year bonds begins on Nov. 1.(See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v3n9.htm for more details.)

There was another bond issue of $32.6 million—again guaranteed by a Compass Bank letter of credit—that refinanced all the other older district debt, substantially lowering the high interest rate of the outstanding older bonds. The new bonds were issued by Compass Bank at 3.7 percent. The older developer bonds that were retired, about $26.6 million in principal, had been issued from 1987 through 2003 at 9-12 percent interest. Total bond debt for Triview increased to about $47.6 million. After paying the closing costs for the bond issue, the district had about $3.2 million left for new district capital projects. The term for each set of these additional one-year bonds also begins on Nov. 1. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v6n10.htm#tmd for more details.)

These two bond issues are currently being repaid with revenue from 35 mills of property tax. The board raised the district’s mill levy from 25 mills to 35 mills on Dec. 11, 2007, to qualify for the first $2 million in Colorado Water and Power Authority loans to pay for Triview’s share of expansion costs for the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n1.htm#tmd for more details.)

None of Triview’s enterprise revenues are currently being used to subsidize the mill levy revenue for bond payments. Another $2 million loan was just issued to Triview by the Water and Power Authority to cover Triview’s share of cost overruns for the expansion.

A bond payment of about $250,000 is due to Compass Bank on Nov. 1.

District assessed value and credit quality up sharply

Sharp said the district’s total assessed value, used to calculate annual individual property taxes, had increased from about $18 million in 2003 to $24.96 million in 2006. He stated that the estimated assessed value of Triview for 2009 taxes should be about $54 million due to significant commercial construction over the past few years, increasing the district’s "credit quality." Because of the lower valuations in 2003 and 2006, the district’s only borrowing options were:

  • Continue to pay off the originally issued very high interest developer bonds.
  • Issue non-rated bonds at 8 percent.
  • Issue lower interest variable-rate bonds secured by a letter of credit from Compass Bank.

The board chose the third option in 2003 and 2006.

Due to the recent increase in district assessed value, Sharp said that replacing these variable rate bonds with new fixed-rate bonds appeared to be a good option until the national credit crisis that developed a few days before this board meeting. Recently, the one-year variable-rate bonds had been issued at an interest rate of about 3 percent with Compass Bank charging 1.5 percent for its letter of credit and Davidson charging 0.25 percent for each annual variable-rate bond sale, a total of about 4.75 percent.

In 2007 the variable rate increased to about 4 percent, while Compass Bank charged 1.4 percent, with other fee increases upping the total to about 5.75 percent. However, the current credit crisis will likely make one-year refinancing even more costly. The current letter of credit from Compass Bank extends through November 2012.

Sharp listed several options for the board to consider, noting that the choices for different terms of variable- or fixed-rate bonds that he had prepared two weeks prior to this meeting were no longer applicable due to the sudden credit crisis. His new list of options in this very uncertain lending market, now that Triview had transitioned from "sub-prime" to "high credit score" status, were:

  • Commit to continue with another year of one-year bonds with Compass Bank at a total interest cost now likely to be about 6.75 percent.
  • Switch to weekly variable-rate bonds on Nov. 1 for a brief interval to determine which way the market is headed, then pick between one-year bonds or 30-year bonds.
  • Cover the first two to three weeks in November with weekly bonds to bridge the gap needed to conclude a 30-year fixed-rate bond sale, "locking in" at roughly 6 percent, to refinance all of the debt before the end of November, eliminating the risk of volatile interest rates for renewable short-term bonds and avoiding the possibility of having to go up to a 45-mill levy.

District Manager Simpson noted that Davidson does about 70 percent of the bond work in Colorado and that Sharp had done a lot of hard work to get the Compass Bank letter of credit in the previous two bond sales. He asked Sharp for a specific recommendation.

Sharp recommended a six-month bond renewal to give the market time to settle down to make a better decision regarding future conversion to 30-year bonds. Conversion to fixed-rate long-term bonds takes about six weeks. The up-front overhead cost for issuing municipal bond insurance on about $47 million of 30-year bonds would be about $1 million, at about 100 basis points on principal and interest. Sharp added that this proposal assumed that money market funds would be insured in an analogous method, like personal bank accounts under $100,000 are now insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., making capital available again for the bond sale.

After another hour of technical discussion on the pros and cons of numerous options for various lengths of short-term bonds and conversion dates to 30-year bonds, the board decided that future uncertainty of escalating interest rates dictated as quick a conversion as possible. The board directed Sharp to immediately move forward on refinancing all $47 million of the current bond debt with 30-year bonds. The board will make a final decision on the conversion at the Oct. 29 meeting. Sharp said the actual interest rate on the bonds cannot be locked in until after the finalized offering document "is in the market," after the Oct. 29 decision.

Flood damage reimbursement request discussed

Jackson Creek resident John Paolino discussed his letter of Sept. 19 to the district regarding flooding that had occurred Aug. 17-20 in the basement of his home in Jackson Creek. His letter stated that there was a problem with a Triview underdrain pipe that runs through a common area adjacent to his property. He noted that the water in his window wells drained immediately once Triview found, exposed, and began draining the clogged underdrain pipe. He also noted that less significant amounts of water had also entered the basements of two neighboring houses. These three houses are on Oxbow Drive and Talus Road.

Board President Bob Eskridge told Paolino the district would work with him to resolve his request for reimbursement for expenses caused by the water damage to his home as quickly as possible, once the district concludes its first step of discussing the incident with its insurance company. Once the "insurance folks come back to us we’ll make a decision" and "we’ll make that happen as quickly as we can." Eskridge added, "I can’t make promises but we feel for you and what I can promise you is that we won’t hold it up. We’ll do everything we can to move this thing forward."

Paolino told the board he was doing everything he could to minimize the cost of the repairs, and he still was negotiating to get an even lower price for removal and replacement of his carpeting after negotiating an initial reduction of $125. His estimated cost of repairs was $9,939. Riders for homeowner insurance policies for flooded basements are recommended by all local municipalities and water and sanitation districts.

Simpson said the underdrain pipe, which serves about 30 homes and delivers ground water to a drainage ditch, or "trickle channel," to the south of Paolino’s house, appeared to have been buried at some point during construction on an access road. The district was still working on the "tricky issue" of determining which of a variety of possible causes resulted in the flooding. Simpson added, "We can’t say it’s fixed either."

Other matters

Consultant engineer Will Koger of Nolte Associates reported on construction progress at the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. The board unanimously approved a contract of about $24,000 for upgrading filter media at the facility.

Simpson gave a short summary of his first draft of the district’s 2009 budget. After a short preliminary discussion with the directors, Simpson asked that they review the draft as soon as possible and e-mail questions and comments to the staff so that responses could be prepared for the next board meeting on Oct. 29.

The board went into executive session at 7 p.m. to discuss negotiations and later adjourned without further public discussions or votes.

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The next meeting will be held at 5 p.m. on Oct. 29 at the district conference room, 174 N. Washington St. The dates for the November and December meetings will be determined at that meeting. Information: 488-6868.

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Monument Sanitation District Board meeting, September 25: Board bans installation of copper water pipes

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Sanitation District Board unanimously approved a resolution to ban the installation of copper pipe within the district. The town’s drinking water is aggressive in leeching copper from the inside of water pipes, as shown by the results of testing for dissolved copper concentrations in water from several new and older homes throughout the district over the past year. The town has already banned the use of copper water pipes between its water mains and town buildings.

This dissolved copper is a principal cause of the copper concentrations in the district’s wastewater being much higher than the amount of dissolved copper found in the wastewater of the adjacent Palmer Lake Sanitation District and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation Districts.

The Tri-Lakes wastewater facility operates as a separate public utility that is jointly owned, in equal one-third shares, by the Monument, Palmer Lake, and Woodmoor districts.

Elevated levels of influent copper have made it difficult for the Trilakes Wastewater Treatment Facility to always remove a sufficient amount of this dissolved copper to be able to meet the currently proposed state discharge limits for dissolved copper in the facility’s next five-year discharge permit for Monument Creek. The new permit will go into effect at the beginning of 2010.

The Monument water department is installing a system that will inject small amounts of caustic soda into the drinking water which should reduce the amount of copper leeched from existing copper water pipes, lowering the amount of dissolved copper in the district’s wastewater over a period of a year or two. The caustic soda lines the inside of the copper pipes, preventing the water from attacking them. The town and the district are splitting the cost of installation.

Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District has been injecting caustic soda in its drinking water for many years. The level of dissolved copper in Woodmoor’s wastewater is significantly lower on average than that of the Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts.

Passage of this copper ban resolution is a necessary precursor to the Monument Board of Trustees passing an ordinance banning copper pipe within the district. The town is a member of Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments (PPACG) which will enforce the new town ordinance. The PPACG’s Regional Building Department performs all on-site building permit inspections for the towns, cities, and counties that are members of the PPACG. The district will still have no authority to conduct inspections for copper pipe within a building after the town passes the ordinance.

The new ban on copper pipe shows the state health department and the EPA that the district and town are doing what they can to reduce the amount of dissolved copper delivered to the Trilakes facility.

2009 budget proposal reviewed

District Manager Mike Wicklund gave a brief overview of his first draft of the district’s 2009 budget. Board members were asked to review the draft prior to the next board meeting.

All Colorado special districts must begin budget preparation by Oct. 15 per state statutes and adopt an approved budget for the following calendar year not later than Dec. 31.

The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 16 in the district conference room, 130 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the third Thursday of the month. Information: 481-4886.

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Medications in the Water Supply: Symposium on Policy Options, September 26: Experts study issue of pharmaceuticals in the water supply

By Jim Kendrick

Amy Stephens, District 20 State Representative, moderated this symposium on medications in the water supply that was held at the Rampart Range Campus of Pikes Peak Community College on Sept. 26. It was attended by experts from the pharmaceutical community and representatives of local water and wastewater utilities.

Dick Brown, Executive Director of Colorado Recycles (www.colorado-recycles.org) , opened the session. He said he and Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority Executive Director Gary Barber (www.pprwa.org) had received a lot of questions on how to address the discovery of tiny but measurable amounts of medications and mercury in estuaries and water supplies in the Colorado Springs region. In April, they produced a white paper on proper disposal of drugs and medical devices and paraphernalia. Their goal was to help prevent environmental damage caused by flushing drugs down toilets or sinks. As the population grows and ages, more and more medications are being introduced into the wastewater system.

Stephens introduced Dr. H.C. Liang, of Tetra Tech RTW in Denver, who gave a presentation on "Prescription Medications in the Watershed." Liang noted the Associated Press (AP) article that was published on March 12 reporting "Low levels of a range of drugs including antibiotics, birth control and anti-convulsants, are present in the drinking water supplies of 24 major cities." On September 11, AP updated the report saying "trace amounts of pharmaceuticals in drinking water supplies has shown that more Americans are affected by the problem than previously thought—at least 46 million."

Liang listed the following pharmaceuticals found in Colorado Springs drinking water:

  • Valium (diazepam) – anxiety, insomnia
  • Methadone – addiction, pain
  • Meprobamate – anxiety
  • Carbamazepine – epilepsy, bipolar disorder
  • Testosterone – natural and synthetic hormone

There were 12 different pharmaceuticals found in Denver drinking water. The drugs of most concern are endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs), which are hormonally active and can disrupt the endocrine system. Also of concern are pharmaceuticals and personal care products.

Typically the drug concentrations are measured in parts per trillion – a half a drop dissolved in an Olympic-sized pool 2 meters by 25 meters by 50 meters.

Liang said the perceived danger from these discoveries is often based on new abilities to detect their presence instead of on the actual relative concentrations. There currently are no answers to the questions about what is an acceptable concentration for contaminants or what is an acceptable risk. Also, there is currently no data suggesting that ingestion of water contaminated by trace amounts of these chemicals is safe or unsafe for human health.

Consensus: Don’t flush them - Dispose of unneeded medications in a plastic bag in the trash

There was consensus from all of the experts who also spoke at the symposium that the best way to dispose of unused or out of date pharmaceuticals is to seal them in plastic refrigerator zip-lock bags and put them in landfills. Pour medications into the plastic bag. If the medication is a solid, crush it or add water to dissolve it. Add kitty litter, sawdust, or coffee grounds to the plastic bag. Seal the plastic bag and dispose in the trash. A properly designed and maintained landfill has physical barriers that prevent any contact with a water supply by the disposed trash. See www.SMARxTDISPOSAL.net for more info.

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For more information on how to educate yourself on this issue or to participate in developing strategies to solve the problem see www.AmyStephens4HD20.com or contact her at (303)-866-2924 or Amy.Stephens@earthlink.net

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board meeting, Sept. 24: Board considers options in first draft of 2009 budget

By Jim Kendrick

Chief Jeff Edwards presented the first draft of the 2009 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District budget to the board on Sept. 24. All Colorado special districts must begin budget preparation by Oct. 15 per state statutes and submit an approved budget for the following calendar year to the state not later than Dec. 15.

There was a lengthy discussion of redesigning the monthly financial reports to make the various categories of reimbursement funding for wildland fire training in California easier to understand.

There was also a board request to provide more detail in the worksheets used by the board members for the 2009 budget review. The board scheduled a budget workshop for Oct. 8 at 7 p.m.

Edwards asked the board to consider a budget option to purchase a ladder truck in 2009 for the increasing number of taller buildings in the district’s service area. The board agreed to consider the option, but expressed concern that all the various new funding initiatives in the draft budget be given thorough consideration as well.

The board rescheduled the second volunteer pension fund meeting originally scheduled for the November board meeting to 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 22. The next regular board meeting will also be postponed until Oct. 22 and will begin at 7 p.m. The budget hearing for the final 2009 budget was tentatively scheduled for Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. The remaining regular board meetings for 2008 will still be held on Nov. 19 and Dec. 17.

Flight for Life award

Four Wescott firefighters were presented a plaque on Sept. 19 by Flight for Life, the Penrose-St. Francis Health Services helicopter ambulance, "in recognition of their selfless and courageous actions in rendering aid on December 9, 2007 during the shooting incident at New Life Church. The recipients were Capt. Scott Ridings, firefighter/EMTs Roger Lance and Curt Leonhardt, and volunteer Jim Rackl.

They, along with American Medical Response paramedic Douglas McIntyre, were the first emergency medical services providers at the unsecured site. The crews of Wescott Engine 1 and the Wescott AMR Medic 18 ambulance knowingly entered a dangerous and unknown situation to provide rapid medical triage, patient care, and transport of the victims to a Level 2 trauma facility at Penrose Hospital.

David Works and his daughters Stephanie and Rachel were gunned down by Matthew Murray in the parking lot at New Life Church. David was shot while trying, unsuccessfully, to reach Rachel, 16, after hearing the first shot. The mother, Marie Works, was trying to help Stephanie, 18. Stephanie died before she could be transported. The Wescott personnel treated David and Rachel and transported Rachel to Penrose Hospital. Rachel also died.

There were 121 runs in August bringing the total for 2008 up to 911, an increase of 22 percent over this period in 2007. There was one minor knee injury during August. The firefighter’s rehabilitation and physical therapy are almost completed.

Fire Prevention Week activities announced

There will be a volunteer benefit concert by Kyler England at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 5 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680 and www.wescottfire.org

This concert will be followed by the open house on Oct. 11 at Station 1, starting at 10 a.m. There will be many displays, including the Flight for Life helicopter and the Lowes "Prevent Home Fires" safety trailer, as well as information booths from Farmer’s Insurance and Home Depot.

Wescott is still working on getting a grant for automatic external defibrillators to distribute to six large public facilities within the district’s coverage area. Previous plans to distribute them to District 20 schools are in limbo due to the school district’s concerns about liability if the defibrillators are misused.

The board unanimously approved the finalized cost of the annual renewal of the district’s liability and loss policy from long-time insurer VFIS. Although the rates did not increase, the cost went up $253 due to aging of the full-time employees and the increased number of runs over the past year.

The meeting adjourned at 9:28 p.m.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, Sept. 24: Fire truck heavily damaged in accident

By Susan Hindman

After delays caused by an insurance adjustor, the fire truck that was damaged in a July accident may be fixed by around the beginning of December, Chief Rob Denboske told the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board at the Sept. 24 meeting. The rescue truck had responded to an accident on Interstate 25 near the weigh station, along with an ambulance and a state trooper. The highway was wet from rain, and while responders were on the scene, a car hydroplaned into the fire truck, causing significant damage to the truck. But because it blocked the accident scene, "It saved the trooper’s life," Denboske said. "The truck did its job."

The entire right passenger side of the fire truck was damaged, from the windshield all the way back, including the pump housing and rear compartment. Denboske said they have been unable to lift the cab to see if anything else is damaged. The fire truck was only 1 year old. The driver of the car was uninsured.

SDA conference wasn’t worthwhile

Denboske and five of the board members attended the Special District Association (SDA) conference Sept. 17-19 in Breckenridge and came home disappointed. The bulk of the conference was "of little use" to our district, said President Tim Miller. Although there were a few breakout sessions that were very useful, he added, he was concerned about the cost involved in sending six people there.

Director Charlie Pocock said, "I think they (the conferences) are getting worse." He said he believes the "tremendous growth in special districts" has led to more classes "that don’t apply to us." Conferences once addressed more issues of interest to fire, water, and sewer districts. Now there are more metropolitan districts and park and recreation districts—"they run the gamut," Miller said.

Because the board had a similar experience at last year’s conference, members agreed that next year, they will review the conference agenda well in advance for speakers and workshops related to fire districts before deciding to spend the money to attend. This year’s conference cost around $2,700, according to Denboske. Board members are going to compile their reactions and send the feedback to the SDA.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley). The next meeting is Oct. 22. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 266-3367 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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MA holds ribbon-cutting ceremony, Sept. 13

Below: Monument Academy Senior Administrator Jane Lundeen and School Board President Mike Wong hold the long-awaited ceremonial key to the new school building on Sept. 13 moments after the ribbon was cut. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Academy school board held a formal ribbon cutting on Sept. 13, after completing the first week of classes in its new school building on Highway 105, to honor and thank all those who played a part in completing nearly all construction for the 3-story 78-room combined elementary and middle school in less than a year. The building has a capacity of 956 students with 581 currently enrolled. About 100 people filled the cafeteria as Matt Vineyard of building contractor JE Dunn Construction presented the "key to the building" to the academy’s owner representative Dana Murphree. School board president Mike Wong was master of ceremonies for the emotional and happy ceremony.

Some of the people and firms Wong thanked were:

  • Bill Herebic, who served as a project consultant after selling the land to the school.
  • The teachers, staff, and parents, who overcame numerous challenges and ups and downs during construction.
  • Russ Caldwell, bond agent for D.A. Davidson, and Tom Peltz and Hester Parrot of bond attorney Kutak Rock, who provided the experience needed to finance the construction with the proceeds from two bond issues.
  • Paul Hutton and Tom Vandenberg of Hutton Architectural Studio who designed in numerous cost savings to meet tight fiscal constraints and time lines.
  • Matt Vineyard and Kevin O’Garrett of JE Dunn Construction.
  • Attorney Brad Miller for his outstanding legal and business advice.
  • Preceding board president Laura Gipson and Murphree for their tireless work in support of the academy and the construction project.

Fifth grade teacher Kathy King discussed the history of the school. King and Cindy Sabol are the only teachers who have taught all 12 years since the academy was founded.

Gipson discussed "How this building came to be" noting that all the 8th graders signed the beams during construction in May. She spoke passionately about how cooperative Hutton, JE Dunn, and all the subcontractors had been in finding cooperative solutions to meet the goal of opening the school Sept. 8.

Senior Administrator Jane Lundeen thanked the companies that sponsored and catered the ceremony, then spoke of her plans for the school’s future, including the new pre-school program.

Murphree discussed how she and Dunn project superintendent Tony Pacheco had found discounted building materials on the internet, and recycled materials from regional businesses and Habitat for Humanity, as well as direct donations. Some of the examples she noted were:

  • T. Rowe Price donated all the building’s laminate cabinets ($10,000) and carpeting ($149,000).
  • Lockheed Martin donated the library shelving and several computer desks.
  • Stainless steel sinks and wood cabinets were bought at great discount on Craig’s list (over $14,000).
  • Buying doorknobs from Habitat for Humanity saved $40,000.
  • The Velten family donated kitchen appliances.

The ceremony closed with a formal ribbon cutting, reception, and tours of the building.

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Monument Academy Board of Education, Sept. 16: Bond sale closed; new school building opens on schedule

Below: At the MA board meeting Sept. 16: Diana Ramirez (on the left at the front) received a certificate of commendation from Senior Administrator Jane Lundeen recognizing Ramirez’ leadership as float coordinator in organizing and directing the activities for the Monument Academy float that participated in Monument’s Fourth of July parade. The float received the town’s "Best Representation of a Theme" ribbon. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Academy Board of Education returned to routine matters on Sept. 16, having opened its new school for inspection by parents and students on Sept. 5. The first regular board meeting was held in the new library. Senior Administrator Jane Lundeen was exuberant about how well the academic year had begun on Sept. 8, and how quickly startup problems had been rectified.

All board members were present.

Second bond sale closed

Although all of the second set of parity bonds had been sold prior to this meeting, the bond sale had not yet been closed. The bond sale of $1.62 million is to cover the additional costs of construction not covered by the first bond sale of $12 million.

Board President Mike Wong said Lewis-Palmer School District 38 had not sent an "intercept letter" to the state. This intercept letter states that D-38 agrees to allow the state to send the academy’s portion of tax revenue directly to the Monument Academy. D-38 had not yet signed off on some year-end academy financial statements from June 30 and also wanted the Monument Academy Building Corp. board to be reorganized. Wong said both issues had already been resolved, the intercept letter was to be approved at the regular D-38 school board meeting on Sept. 18, and the bond sale was scheduled to close on Sept. 24. Board Treasurer Laura Hannon said the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority (CECFA), which is issuing both sets of bonds, will receive interest payments on its bonds directly from the state.

After this Academy board meeting, the intercept letter was approved by the D-38 board as scheduled and forwarded to the state. The academy’s second bond sale was then closed on Sept. 24 as scheduled.

Board commendations

At the start of the meeting, senior administrator Jane Lundeen presented student parent Diana Ramirez a certificate of commendation recognizing her leadership as float coordinator in organizing and directing the activities for the Monument Academy float that participated in the town’s Fourth of July parade. The float received the town’s "Best Representation of a Theme" ribbon.

Student parent Sonia Cantleberry was also presented a board certificate of commendation recognizing her many hours of work on planning, setting up, serving, and cleaning up for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony held on Sept. 13.

Committee reports

Director Bob Bowker presented the final draft of the pre-school handbook, which was unanimously approved. He also noted that Monument Academy board members will be attending training for charter school board members on Oct. 10 in Jefferson County. Staff members Maribeth Muhonen (business manager), Sherry Buzzell (Human Resources), and Laura Hannon (board treasurer) were scheduled to attend state financial training on Sept. 26.

Student parent Amy Herebic reported that all Parent Teacher Organization activities, particularly fundraisers, were off to a good start.

Lundeen reported that Back to School Day on Sept. 5 was "an overwhelming success" and "a real emotional time for many of our teachers." She displayed the ceremonial "key to the building" presented to the school by contractor JE Dunn. The key will be hung in the main entrance. She stated that there were 581 students in classes, with 70 names on the waiting list for first and third grades.

Great progress was made on organizing carpool traffic during the first week of school. Lundeen quoted from an e-mail to her from Hal Garland, director of transportation for D-38, who wrote, "Wow. You solved your carpool problem in one day. We have been working on ours for years." Lundeen added that Deputy Travis Katowski of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office said in his debrief of traffic flow to Lundeen, "It’s ugly but it works." An additional crosswalk will be painted per his suggestion.

Lisa Bartilotta, middle school assistant principal, said the carpool arrival queue had been cut from an hour to 30 minutes, and should drop to 20-25 minutes soon.

The school will use a "squeegee mix" for traction on the winding downhill driveway during icy days.

Hannon reported that, through the end of August, the academy had received 15 percent of its budgeted revenue, $535,000, and had spent 8 percent of budgeted expenditures, $340,000. "We have $693,000 in the bank as of today."

There was a lengthy discussion on how to keep e-mail mailing lists current and complete for all parents and students. Parents must provide their e-mail addresses and written permission to be sent e-mails by filling out D-38 forms in person at the D-38 Big Red headquarters building on Jefferson Street in downtown Monument.

Owner’s representative Dana Murphree gave an update on remaining construction details such as gym striping, gravel in the play areas, curb and gutter on Highway 105, irrigation and sod installation, and clean-up items performed after the end of the school day into the evening. A traffic signal will be installed at the intersection for the adjacent church driveway on the southeast corner of the school property. Removal of the berm next to the highway prior to installation of highway curb and gutter has caused some erosion on the slope between the highway and the school. This should be corrected by the installation of the highway curb and gutter.

Hannon praised Murphree for opening the school on time, "proving that the Sept. 8 date was not unattainable." Murphree replied, "I had no idea how many people, my own close friends, did not believe that we could open on Sept. 8."

Hannon and Muhonen reported no problems or disputes remaining for terminating the leases for the former north and south Academy campus locations off of Woodmoor Drive.

Diana Helffenstein, board vice president, gave a final report on the ribbon-cutting ceremony. She noted that the building was quite a mess on the previous evening as subcontractors rushed to finish all the items that were needed for the ceremony. Former Director Laura Gipson asked that a scrapbook-type record be compiled of the presentations made at the ceremony, since there has already been a lot of turnover in the past 12 years.

The board went into an executive session on negotiations at 8:10 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14 in the new building, 1150 Village Ridge Point. Information: Phone: (719) 481-1950.

Academy board meetings are announced on the home page of the Academy’s Web site ( www.monumentacademy.net ), or on the master calendar that can be found under the "Calendar" link on the home page.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, September 18: Pike sworn in to fill board vacancy; Options 38 students and their parents discuss the program

Below: Robb Pike was appointed Sept. 11 to fill the director district 5 vacancy on the school board. Photo by D-38.

By John Heiser

Board of Education President Dee Dee Eaton administered the oath of office to Robb Pike, the newly appointed board member representing director district 5. After being interviewed by board members, Pike was selected September 11 to fill the vacancy created by Jeff Cantlebary’s resignation. Cantlebary has taken a job in California. Pike is a parent in the district and graduated from Lewis-Palmer High School. He has more than ten years of experience in non-profit management and development. Pike has also volunteered in leadership positions for several community service organizations. Pike says his primary motivation for wanting to serve on the school board is to help students. He urged community members to contact district leadership when questions arise. Pike said, "The district is working towards the right goals and with the proper resources and support of the community those goals will be achieved." Pike will serve the remainder of the current term for director district 5, which ends November 2009.

Options 38 program offers alternatives

Board members held a conversation with Options 38 students and their parents. This program provides up to 75 high school students with a variety of options for learning. Through the program, students are able to fulfill their graduation requirements within a different format and structure from the traditional setting. Students can take two six-week classes at a time, which helps some students focus better on the material. The students and their parents addressed such questions as: "Why did you apply for the Options program?" "Do you feel prepared for whatever comes next?" "Do you feel you are treated differently than the rest of the student body at the school?" The students and their parents said they were generally satisfied with the program but did offer some suggestions for improvements including the possibility of making the program available to middle school students. Board members commented that this was one of the most informative, beneficial discussions they have had since incorporating the community engagement sessions as part of the regular monthly board meetings.

Caution urged regarded weighted grades

During citizen comments, Mary Koehler addressed the issue of weighted grades that assign more grade points to advanced placement classes. She gave examples of how weighted grades can positively or negatively affect a student’s grade point average depending on which classes students take and in what order they take those classes during their schooling. She said the program can have unintended consequences and raises equity issues as some students may be better at taking advantage of the rules. She urged the district to proceed with caution in implementing any changes.

Eaton noted that policies regarding weighted grades are being set by Superintendent Ray Blanch and his staff and have not been addressed by the board.

Other matters

  • FEC (Facilities and Enrollment Committee) quarterly bond expenditure report – The FEC makes recommendations to the board on the utilization and remodeling of existing facilities, construction of new facilities, assistance in planning for capital reserve projects, and review of bond issue expenditures. Carl Janssen presented the committee’s quarterly update regarding bond expenditures. He explained that the original amount of $65 million approved by the voters in November of 2006 has increased to nearly $69 million due to accrued interest. The FEC has been monitoring the expenditures on the construction of Palmer Ridge High School and improvements to Lewis­-Palmer High School. Also, Janssen said that the committee, in light of its broadened role, has recommended that it be renamed the Operations Advisory Committee. He said that as part of the board adoption of policy governance, the committee could review the administration’s plans, objectives, and performance in achieving the ends specified by the board. Eaton said the board would discuss the recommendation at a future workshop.
  • Update regarding Monument Academy construction and financial status – Blanch reported that Monument Academy has addressed the remaining areas of concern regarding the financial status of the charter school and the construction of the new building. The board directed Cheryl Wangeman, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, to sign a statement of good standing allowing Monument Academy to proceed with the sale of bonds to cover the shortfall in funding for the new building. The board also discussed the possibility of Blanch and Wangeman meeting quarterly with Monument Academy school board members and staff to promote open and timely communication.
  • Operating Limitations Policy 2.5: Emergency Superintendent Succession – Blanch presented this monitoring report in accordance with the policy governance model. The policy states, in part: "The Superintendent shall not fail to protect the District from loss of its Superintendent or other key staff." The board requested that the report be modified to designate specific individuals to succeed the superintendent. Blanch said he would make a determination and revise the report. The board then unanimously voted to accept the report.
  • Consent agenda items – The board unanimously approved several matters concerning students, personnel, and finances.
  • Superintendent’s update – Blanch explained the purpose and membership of the Superintendent Teacher Advisory Council and the Superintendent Parent Advisory Council. These two committees meet periodically throughout the school year to facilitate staff and parent communication with the superintendent. He also noted that the district has received only one formal statement regarding the mill levy override (MLO) ballot measure. That comment, and any other comments received by September 19, will be published in the ballot notice distributed by the El Paso County Election Department to area residents prior to the November 4 election.
  • Board member comments – Mark Pfoff addressed the upcoming MLO ballot measure, stating that even though the district trimmed $1.8 million from the budget for this school year, if the MLO does not pass, budget cuts for next year will likely impact students more directly. Gail Wilson complimented Blanch, Assistant Superintendent of Student Learning Shirley Trees, and principals on the smooth start to the school year. She also observed that the Cherry Creek School District has three lobbyists working on its behalf while El Paso County through the Pikes Peak Alliance lobbying organization has one part-­time lobbyist working on behalf of all area school districts. The board designated Wilson as the district delegate to the Colorado Association of School Boards’ Fall Conference October 24-25. Pike said he is pleased to be serving on the school board and that district 38 is a great district with great kids, parents, and staff. Eaton said how pleased she is to have Lewis­-Palmer graduate Pike serving on the board. John Mann responded to several recent rumors about the MLO that he said have been circulating through e-mails and editorials. He noted Palmer Ridge High School was built frugally and with an eye to reducing operating costs. He also displayed a financial spreadsheet showing that the district is one of only 14 school districts out of Colorado’s 178 districts that receive the minimum per pupil funding from the state. Six of the floor-funded districts are in El Paso County. Mann noted that districts with similar demographics, including the Cherry Creek district, receive as much as $300 more per pupil per year. He commented that such an increased level of funding would be a significant source of added revenue for the district. The spreadsheet, provided by the Colorado Department of Education, is posted on the district’s website.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the board will be held October 16 at 5:30 p.m. with a reception at 5:00 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. for those receiving commendations.

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

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

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District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Sept. 10: D-38 special education programs discussed

By Harriet Halbig

The School District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee met on Sept. 10 with Julie O’Brien, the district’s director of special education, presiding.

O’Brien announced that the offices of chair and secretary were open for nominations and stated that a goal of the group was to involve representatives of all schools in the district, interested parents, and members of the public.

The group discussed a list of potential workshops sponsored by the PEAK Parent Center on such subjects as bullying, acceptance of special-education students, the whys and hows of behavior, transitioning from one level of education to the next, and dispute resolution. It was agreed that the members would narrow down the areas of interest to select areas of training.

O’Brien also sought volunteers to seek speakers regarding specific disabilities. In the past, the largest attendance has been at workshops or lectures addressing dyslexia or other reading disorders. When a workshop or lecture is arranged, only parents whose children are recognized as having special needs will be automatically notified, but the information will be available to all.

The next subject addressed was changes in Individual Education Plans (IEPs). These plans include 20 indicators regarding each child. Once an IEP is in place, it is re-evaluated at least once a year. The evaluation meeting is attended by one or both parents of the child, a teacher in a class where intervention was required, a special-education professional, and a representative of an administrative unit who is qualified to provide or supervise the provision of special education.

One attendee commented that two situations where evaluation of a student may be problematical are when a student’s problem is lack of proficiency in English rather than a learning problem, and when a student is intellectually gifted but has a severe learning disability.

O’Brien then commented that the Comprehensive Plan for district services is now under revision for the first time since 2002. These revisions will include the manner in which IEPs are written and possible changes in job descriptions within the program.

Following was the subject of the scope of center-based programs, those programs that are defined as an educational setting outside of the general classroom where special needs students will receive instruction or support for part or all of their school day.

These programs are for those with Significant Identifiable Emotional Disability and Significant Support Needs (regarding functional skills in communication, behavior, self-help, and community access), and those with a diagnosed Autism Spectrum Disorder (Spectrum of Autism Resources for Children).

O’Brien then introduced the Matrix of Services Guidelines by which students are evaluated in the areas of Curriculum and Learning Environment, Social/Emotional Behavior, Independent Functioning, Healthcare (including those who require monitoring of medication, administration of medication, communication with physician, and assistance with referrals), Communication (including hearing problems and help with instruction in sign language), and Special Considerations.

Within each area, the services needed are rated from 0 (not an area of concern) to 4 (continuous and extensive services required).

Once an evaluation has been made and a plan put in place, a monitoring device called a Response to Intervention form comes into play. Through this form, the amount of intervention is determined (whether pulling a student aside for a brief period or spending a portion of each day in a center). The value of this form is that monitoring occurs on a regular basis. Staff members note whether an intervention was successful—whether the student’s behavior has changed to the point that the intervention might end, or whether without further intervention the student returns to former habits.

O’Brien stressed that Special Education Services are available to those from age 3 to age 21. She stressed that it is critical to inform parents of those 15 and older within the system that the services will be available until age 21 to aid in transitioning from the school environment to the community.

Finally, O’Brien spoke of a Parent Survey distributed at the end of last school year.

Most of the questions involved the IEP meeting attended by the parents. They were asked whether they were given timely notice of the meeting, whether they were advised of any testing, whether they were advised about their child’s participation in CSAP testing, whether they received regular advice on their child’s progress, whether they were offered training by the district, and whether they were generally satisfied with the information they received. O’Brien was generally satisfied with the results of the survey, with an 85 percent or greater positive response.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

**********

The D-38 Special Education Advisory Committee normally meets the second Wednesday of each month. The next meeting is Oct. 8 at 6 p.m.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, Sept. 22: Residents express concern over firing of lawyer; president resigns

By Chris Pollard

At the previous month’s meeting, the Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors voted, with a slim majority, to terminate the use of WIA lawyer Lenard Rioth for any new actions. Lenard had worked with the WIA for over a decade and was working with many homeowners associations throughout the state.

Bud Sterling and John Ottino, two previous members of the WIA board, expressed concern over the firing and believed that Rioth had been very successful in his work for the WIA. They noted that he had driven legislation at the state level to resolve a double taxation issue with El Paso County and that he had won every legal case for the WIA.

Ottino said that he thought that Rioth had the highest credentials of any HOA attorney. He wondered if a cost analysis had been done and whether there was a plan for a replacement, noting that there would probably need to be a transition plan in place to cover 15 years of work.

President resigns

After briefly revisiting the issue of trying to restrict the board from trying to bring in an outside management group to run the WIA, President Steve Malfatti read out his letter of resignation.

He stated that he felt that a majority of the board was blocking his and other board members attempts to make improvements to Woodmoor. He believed that some members of the board were spreading inaccurate and incomplete information to selected residents and that this had expanded to the point that information from executive sessions, which was to be treated as confidential, had also been provided. He believed that this had led to unwarranted personal attacks on members of the WIA staff and other board members.

Malfatti added that in his opinion this coalition was placing the property values of homeowners at risk and was injuring the harmony of the community. He said he had devoted time and effort on what he thought was the correct path for Woodmoor but had concluded that these actions seemed to be contrary to the wishes of the majority of the board.

Drilling proposal

Chris Amenson, president of the Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition (FRERC), gave a 20-minute presentation on Dyad Petroleum’s proposal to drill two wells on the side of Mount Herman. New material included a report that between 2002 and 2006 there were 900-plus spills related to the oil and gas drilling in Colorado, and of those, 182 had effects on adjacent water wells. They had also managed to get more background information on proposals for drilling elsewhere. Currently, 350 people have registered with FRERC and as many as 250 have attended their presentations.

Public Safety report

Kevin Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, said that he had finally got the WPS speed measuring trailer repaired and had started to take some measurements of traffic volume and speeds. In the most critical area near Lewis-Palmer High School, results seem to show a small decrease of around 15 percent in the number of vehicles going through South Woodmoor. He thought that some of this was probably due to the addition of the Palmer Ridge High School.

There was an incident near Northgate Road that resulted in the activation of the reverse 911 system within a 3-mile radius of that area. He suggested that local residents note that they can now sign up to receive these reverse 911 calls on their cell phones by going to the local 911 Web site at www.elpasoteller911.org 

Nielsen added that he had also received reports of a black helicopter flying over the area. This was in fact a utility inspection helicopter and would be in the area for the next few days.

His staff had been doing a review of the condition of roads in Woodmoor for potholes and sight-lines at junctions. The El Paso County Roads Department has started work on the potholes, and he expected to be able to send them his complete list later in the week.

he number of calls for service in August was, at 127, down from June and July. Out of these there were eight calls regarding criminal mischief involving driveway lamps and mailboxes.

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September Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Overall, September was a fairly quiet month around the region, with precipitation about average and temperatures below average. Most of the rain for the month accumulated from the 10th through the 12th; otherwise the majority of the days were mostly sunny. No snow was recorded, which is a little unusual as about one of every two Septembers receives at least a trace of snow sometime during the month.

Also noteworthy is the fact that we didn’t record our first sub-freezing low temperature. This normally occurs by the third week of the month. Even though no lows were below freezing, the overall average low temperature for the month was below average because we had so many clear nights, which allowed for strong radiation cooling to drop overnight lows into the 30s on 20 mornings.

The month started off quiet and dry with high temperatures ranging from the upper 70s on the 1st to low 50s on the 8th. We did have two cold fronts slide into the area, one on the 5th that dropped high temperatures to the 50s and one on the 8th that produced areas of low clouds, fog, and drizzle. Otherwise, no significant weather was seen during the first week.

This quickly changed as an unusually strong area of low pressure moved through the region during the second week of the month. This storm brought another round of heavy rain to the region. As has been the case since July, when it rains it pours. Most of our moisture since July has come in the form of heavy rain during four events, while the rest of the time it has been fairly dry.

This latest storm brought 1-2 inches of rain to the region, but that doesn’t tell the complete story. Much heavier rain fell in Colorado Springs, where an all-time 24-hour rain record was established at the official recording station for Colorado Springs (at the airport). There, 4.97 inches of rain fell from Thursday evening into Friday evening. This again illustrates how widely varying the rain can be during the summer months when convection is the primary process for producing precipitation.

Remember back in July when the Colorado Springs airport recorded the driest July on record (only .29 of an inch for the month), while we were hit with flash flooding and heavy rain and ended up with above-average precipitation totals. This type of extreme variability in rain amounts makes it almost useless to use a single station’s precipitation values and say they apply to the entire region.

In other words, those who would have you believe that because the Colorado Springs airport official station is showing below-average (or above-average) precipitation for the year means that we are all in a drought (or are all wet) don’t understand. Again, this points out the need for more volunteers in the area to report their precipitation to CoCoRaHs, www.cocorahs.org, so we can get a clear picture of the spatial variability of rain throughout the region.

High pressure dominated the weather pattern throughout the last full week of summer and the beginning of fall, resulting in sunny, quiet, and mild weather. High temperatures were in the 70s most afternoons, with overnight lows dropping to average levels, in the mid-30s to low 40s. A quick moving band of showers did move through during the late afternoon and early evening hours on Saturday the 20th. Then in the afternoons and early evenings of the 26th, 27th, and 28th thunderstorms and brief showers developed, bringing a little change to the region. The last two days of the month were sunny, breezy, and cool behind a dry cold front, a fitting end to an overall quiet weather month.

A look ahead

October can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region with winter conditions often experienced during the month. In fact, for three of the past four years, weather around Halloween has been cold and snowy. Remember the 6-15 inches of snow that fell in 2004 from Halloween night through Nov. 1, then over 20 inches of snow fell from October 9-10 in 2005. In 2006 over 24 inches of snow fell in less than 24 hours on Oct. 26, and last year the trend continued with 11.7 inches falling from late on the 20th through the 21st. Of course, the weather can also be very dry and mild, so enjoy those days when you can.

The official monthly forecast for October 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures, normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

September 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High: 69.9° (-1.6)
Average Low: 39.0° (-0.6)
Highest Temperature: 79° on the 25th
Lowest Temperature: 33° on the 13th
Monthly Precip.: 1.72" (+.10") 6% > norm.
Monthly Snowfall: 0.0" (-0.8")
Season to Date Snow: 0.0" (-0.8") (the snow season is July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip.: 10.32" (+2.64") (the precip season is July 1 to June 30)

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Vote for our future in education

My husband and I are like most in the Tri-Lakes community—we came here from somewhere else. In our case, our military lifestyle entailed seven moves in 20 years, happily landing us in Woodmoor in 1988. Our house was perfect for our family of four and the dog. We quickly fell in love with the schools and our community. As the years passed, like so many of our neighbors, we realized that improvements were needed and so we invested: a roof one year, energy-saving windows another, regular exterior painting—nothing extravagant, just necessary improvements that kept pace with our neighbors and added homeowner value. The investments stretched us financially, but fit our needs as a family and deepened our commitment to the wonderful Tri-Lakes community.

Just as we made a family decision to maintain and hopefully grow the value of our home, a similar decision point is now before the Tri-Lakes community. D-38 still enjoys an excellent reputation in the region, but we’ve reached a tipping point. Teacher salaries are slipping relative to our neighbors, class sizes are increasing, technology for effective 21st-century education is lagging ... you get the picture. Our educational "home" is still functional. It’s performing adequately, and it’s comfortable, but we’re in danger of losing its community value if improvements aren’t made. Just like a homeowner, we realize that our community can no longer postpone the decision to make a necessary and prudent investment in our district.

My husband and I wrestled with investing in our home improvements, but eventually realized that realistic investments were the best course, knowing that we would benefit today and in the future. Community-wide, I believe the vast majority of us support our D-38 schools, our dedicated professional staff, and the dynamic and proactive leadership team. For our family, our investment has proven its value. For our Tri-Lakes community, the benefits and value of an excellent school system accrue to all.

Today, our D-38 "home" is painfully struggling financially. The time for a much needed investment in our educational future is now. Vote "yes" on the mill levy override.

Barb Betzler

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Split up ballot proposals to give us a real choice

I was saddened and frustrated to see the latest D-38 schools ballot measure. As I understand it, the district has combined 1) a measure to increase teacher salaries with 2) an operating budget increase to ensure small class sizes, into a single ballot item. Both pieces are seemingly very worthy proposals—until you look under the covers.

I firmly support paying our teachers more, but combined with a wide-open proposal to reduce class size makes me wonder what the authors were really thinking. You can drive a school bus through the second proposal’s ambiguity. Please read it. The second proposal is so ridiculously worded that just about any school capital expense could be justified to keep class sizes small. This measure is a real slap in the face to our D-38 teachers and voters alike.

Why not separate these proposals and give voters a real choice, or perhaps that was the intent—to limit our choices?

Voice your concerns and recommend that D-38 separate these two proposals into separate ballot measures and let them stand or fall on their own merits. I know we can do better than this.

David Hollenbach

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District 38 now deserves our support

Over the past two years, I and a number of others joined together in a group called D38 Deserves Better to oppose the district’s 2006 and 2007 mill levy override (MLO) requests for more tax money because its then-sitting Board of Education seemed to us to be out of touch, out of control, and lacking fiscal responsibility. A majority of voters agreed.

This year, a new board has been seated, the district has taken on new vitality in adopting a vision and strategy going forward; and the superintendent and administrative staff have instituted logical planning, multi-year budgeting, and aggressive reviews of existing expenditures—all with a view toward business efficiency and cost cutting without degrading the educational product. As important, all concerned have stepped up efforts to communicate with, and listen to, district parents, employees and taxpayers. In short, while more needs to be done—and the board and the district staff are committed to doing it—D38 has gotten better—much better!

Even so, there remains what almost everyone accepts as a critical need—that of increasing compensation for professional staff so that quality teachers and other professionals earn what they deserve, and so that D38 can stay competitive with adjoining school districts, reversing the exodus of quality teachers which began several years ago. In today’s economy, however, the funds just aren’t there. That is, making up for reductions in state funding and absorbing increased food and fuel costs have eaten up the excess reserves and other funds the district’s laudable cost cutting have been able to generate. Bottom line: The district must make another MLO request.

So, do we say "tighten your belt" or do we remember that, this year, the facts are different? I think the latter. District leadership has changed; and the new board and superintendent have taken dramatic steps to regain voter confidence. As a result, I believe that the district, its outstanding professional staff, and the value it provides to the entire community—students, parents, property owners and taxpayers—merit our confidence and support in considering this year’s request. So even in these unsettled economic times, please give D38 a priority among the various taxing entities on the ballot this year; dig deep; and vote YES on Issue 3C.

Russ Broshous

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Message from a school board member

When I joined the District 38 school board last November, I was both nervous and overwhelmed. I had two main goals; restore the community’s confidence in the school board and establish fiscal responsibility. I found the others on the board felt the same way I did.

We knew we had to cut the budget by a sizeable amount. Working with the administration, we cut the budget by 1.5 million ($400,000 from administration). The results were slightly larger classroom sizes. Unfortunately our energy costs have gone up over $200,000. The district is feeling the same economic impacts as everyone in the community.

A little known fact is that District 38 receives the lowest level of per-student state funding. This is controlled by the state and needs to be addressed. If we received the same as Boulder County, we would have more than $1.5 million in additional funding.

Another issue affecting the district is teacher compensation. We are ranked around fourth in our area. Some teachers actually drive through higher-paying districts to get to work. I’m not suggesting we have the highest salaries, just competitive. We have great teachers that deserve fair pay.

After many hours of discussion, with community involvement, we decided to allow the community to decide on a mill levy override (MLO). The board could have asked for up to $3.6 million, but chose only $2.7 million. We are not asking for a "blank check," just a little help.

If the MLO does not pass, we will need to cut next year’s budget by at least $1.5 million. You can choose to provide the school district a little more funding (under $15 a month for the average home in the area) or you can direct the school board to cut the budget. It’s your choice. Either way we will continue to trim the budget and try to spend your money wisely.

The important thing is that the community understands what a Yes or No vote means. A Yes vote will help allow the district to maintain its current level of educational excellence and provide our teachers competitive wages. A No vote means the school board will be directed to cut the budget. Teachers and programs (to include athletics and arts), will be affected. Classroom sizes will continue to grow and, unfortunately, a few more students might slip through the cracks.

Leading up to the election, you will hear many "Statements" about District 38 and the MLO. Some will be less accurate than others. I encourage you to get the facts and then decide. I will support this community whichever direction it decides to go this November.

If you have any questions or suggestions, contact me at MPfoff@lewispalmer.org 

Mark Pfoff

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Pass the MLO or face tough decisions

No one wants to spend more money than they have to on anything, and certainly not on taxes. But if we are realistic about the proposed District 38 mill levy override (MLO), we must see that this money has to be spent. The proposed $2.7 million MLO is the bare minimum the district needs. If it fails, our district will begin going down a path of decline, and I believe turning back from that path would be nearly impossible.

The district lost some trust with residents several years ago, when the previous superintendent left, arguments were taking place over the new high school’s location, and the board seemed to want to operate free from public input or oversight. Fortunately, the new leadership has worked very hard to turn things around. They have been meeting with community groups, laid bare district finances, and scoured the budget to make every reasonable cut possible. They cut $1.8 million, eliminated a number of full-time positions, and implemented new student fees.

District leaders have done all they can with the resources they have to ensure that D-38 remains an excellent school district with motivated teachers, a responsive and effective curriculum, and small classroom sizes. If we don’t pass the MLO, that will have to change.

Colorado Springs and El Paso County are also dealing with a budget crunch, and they’re asking, "Which services do you want to give up?" If the MLO fails, we will have to ask similar questions.

Are we willing to give up what we have? Are we willing to tell teachers that if they want good teaching conditions and reasonable salaries, they have to leave D-38? Are we willing to tell our children they can get by with a substandard education? Are we willing to face the day when realtors tell buyers they’re better off looking elsewhere for a place to raise their kids?

I say absolutely not.

Sue Ross

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Monument mayor supports D-38 ballot measure

This last financial quarter has been devastating for all. News that the U.S. economy is in crisis—coupled with a barrage of political promises, constitutional amendments, and local ballot issues—has all of our heads spinning and looking for the light at the end of the tunnel. The only thing we look forward to is the future and what tomorrow may bring.

School District 38 has a proposal on the November ballot, Issue 3C, which asks voters to approve a $2.7 million Mill Levy Override (MLO) to help fund current student programs and teacher salaries. As a community and group of Americans, we need to be responsible for the future of our children, nation, and economy. What better investment can there be but in the lives of today’s children, who will become our political and business leaders tomorrow.

District 38 has proven its fiduciary responsibility by cutting $1.8 million from the budget last year, $400,000 of that for central administration, saving over $1 million in the construction of the new Palmer Ridge High School as well as future savings by the energy-efficient and environmentally sensitive building design. They also have a proven scholastic record as one of the top academic school districts in the state.

We need to create our future today and support D-38 by voting yes on Issue 3C.

Byron Glenn

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Thanks to those who made Palmer Ridge possible

The new school year has begun for Lewis-Palmer, and Palmer Ridge High School opened on schedule. It is time to recognize and thank those that began this project in 2006-07, setting the stage for the success we celebrate today. Thanks go to:

  • Superintendent Dave Dilley, for recommending an aggressive design/build schedule with strong financial controls and guaranteed maximum price built into the front end of the process.
  • Ian Griffis, who provided valuable land acquisition and development expertise to D-38. His work with Mr. Dilley allowed for authentic conversations with local landowners willing to sell properties for fair market value.
  • The Architect Selection Committee made up of community members, staff and board members for their recommendation of H+L Architecture.
  • The Design Advisory Group (Ray Blanch, Keith Jacobus, Hal Garland, Jim Carter, Tracy Lehman, Cheryl Wangeman, Dee Dee Eaton, Peggy Schreyer, George Shields, Peggy Ritchey, Sean O’Connor, David Bedia, Denee Child, Craig Ketels, Marie Haney, Deena Bennett, Terry Toppins, Donna Wood, Laura Brown, John Magerko and Eric Uribe) for providing ideas that H+L incorporated in the creation of the building.
  • The 2006 Bond Campaign Committee (John Magerko, Deborah Goth, Leslie Lobban, Hugh Eaton, Steve Plank, Amy O’Dair, LouAnn Dekleva, Terry Casey (RSB Dain Rausher), who successfully passed the bond measure which made the project possible.
  • Thanks to fellow board members LouAnn Dekleva, Steve Plank, Gail Wilson and Dee Dee Eaton for being there to move this important project from discussion to solution, even in the face of community opposition and criticism.
  • Facility and Enrollment Committee members (Carl Hanssen, Karen Shuman, Deborah Goth, Marilynn Edwards, Jeffrey Bodily, Roy Graves, Jim Carter, Cheryl Wangeman, and David Goebel) , for working with Jeff Chamberlin and Fred Vosiepka of RLH Engineering. Their oversight ensured the project was on time, under budget, and bond dollars were spent on projects approved by voters.
  • PRHS Core Team of staff, committed to best practices for a 21st-century curriculum and delivery model for students.
  • And finally to our community for supporting a second high school in our District.

It was an honor to be a participant in such a magnificent project and is a joy to see students embracing PRHS as their own.

Many hands and minds touched this project. We, as a community, in a collaborative effort, were successful.

Jes Raintree
Former D-38 president, 2004-08

Stranger’s generosity appreciated

As an active member of the Armed Forces (25-plus years), I wish to express my awe and humble thanks to a very generous and patriotic citizen whose identity is unknown to me.

My son was enjoying his 10th birthday at a party we’d held for his classmates at Pinz Bowling Center in Palmer Lake this past week, and my wife had asked me to help oversee the group of excited 10-year-olds. To assist in a timely way, I had to come straight from work, so I hadn’t had time to change from my duty uniform.

As the party neared its conclusion amid balloons, pizza, and cake, the proprietor informed me that an individual had seen our group and, as a gesture of thanks for my service in the military, had paid for the entire party, including a tip for the service staff—a small fortune.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to persuade the owner to reveal the identity of this individual, who had insisted on anonymity and who I had every intention of reimbursing for his very unnecessary, but touching gesture.

While it is true that the military lifestyle involves family hardships, including, in my own case, a 2 1/2-year family separation with only temporary visits back home, it has been my delight and my privilege to serve my country and the people of this great land.

Many military folks have sacrificed much more than I have in my career; but I am one of thousands who have the privilege of wearing our country’s uniform, who hold ourselves to a higher standard in the nation’s defense, and who are gratified by the support from wonderful citizens such as this unknown benefactor.

To sir, whoever you are: If you won’t let me reimburse you, know that you touched my family and me beyond my capacity to reciprocate, other than to recommit myself to sterling service on behalf of wonderful citizens like you, so many others in the communities of the Pikes Peak Region, and to the citizens and Constitution of this great land. We will always remember your kind gesture, and strive to be worthy of your sentiments.

C. K. Brooks

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Ready, Set, Vote!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

If you need more information before you step into the voting booth, there are numerous books on the candidates. If you’ve already made your choice, it’s a good time to learn more about the political process and the future of our country as seen through the eyes of those on the inside.

Presidential Elections and Other Cool Facts
By Syl Sobel, J.D. (Barron’s) $6.95

Young readers can learn about unusual presidential elections and find answers to many election questions, such as: Who can run for president? Who can vote? What is the Electoral College? What is a third-party candidate? What if something happens to the president? The book includes a list of presidents and a glossary of election terms.

Worth the Fighting For
By John McCain with Mark Salter (Random House) $14.95

After 5 1/2 years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, naval aviator John McCain returned home a changed man. Regaining his health, he resumed his military career, commanding carrier pilots and serving as the Navy’s liaison to the United States Senate. From there to his election to the U.S. House and eventually the Senate, this is the story of McCain’s American odyssey, and the values he learned from an intriguing array of heroes.

The Audacity of Hope
By Barack Obama (Three Rivers Press) $14.95

The Audacity of Hope is Barack Obama’s call for a new kind of politics—a politics that builds upon those shared understandings that pull us together as Americans. Obama describes his vision of America’s place in the world, his family life and his time in the Senate. He sets out his political convictions and encourages us to trust in the dogged optimism that has long defined us and that is our best hope for the future.

Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned Alaska’s Political Establishment Upside Down
By Kaylene Johnson (Tyndale Publishing) $15.95

Sarah Palin, a tough former small-town mayor, became a long-shot candidate for Alaska governor by demanding a higher ethical standard in state government. Surprising everyone, she won the general election to become Alaska’s first female chief executive, and is now the Republican vice-presidential nominee. The notion that people could take government back into their own hands renewed the author’s faith in the democratic process. In describing how Palin upset the good old boys network, Johnson offers a brief character sketch of a fascinating woman.

Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics
By Sen. Joseph Biden (Random House) $15

Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joseph Biden, a U.S. senator from Delaware since 1973, has been an intimate witness to the major events of the past four decades and a leader in trying to shape recent American history. This is the story of a man who overcame personal challenges and tragedy to become one of the nation’s most powerful and influential voices on foreign relations, terrorism, drug policy and crime prevention. It is also an intimate series of reflections from a public servant who refuses to be cynical about political leadership.

America: Our Next Chapter
By Chuck Hagel with Peter Kaminsky (Harper Collins) $25.95

Nebraska’s senior senator asks tough questions and delivers straight answers to America’s most pressing problems, in domestic and foreign policy issues. Basing his suggestions on thorough research and careful thought, as well as on personal insight from his years as a political insider, successful businessman and decorated war hero, Hagel offers meaningful proposals that can guide America back onto the right path. The book is a serious, honest, and, ultimately, optimistic look at our nation’s future.

A Time to Fight
By Jim Webb (Broadway Books) $24.95

Jim Webb—the best-selling author and now the celebrated outspoken U.S. senator from Virginia—presents a clear-eyed, hard-hitting plan of attack for putting government to work for the people, rather than for special interests, and for restoring the country’s standing around the world. A Time to Fight provides specific viable ideas for restoring fairness to our economic system, correcting the direction of national security efforts, ending American’s military occupation of Iraq, and developing greater government accountability.

Becoming an informed citizen can be enlightening, and even enjoyable, with all the available books to choose from. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: More fall gardening tips

By Woody Woodworth

It’s time to start thinking about transitioning your pots and gardens into a new season. Before you begin, it’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate what performed great, and what were the duds.

When spring comes, you may be convinced that you’ll remember what you planted last year, and what did well, but I think when spring excitement starts, most people forget what was going on in the garden two seasons ago.

If you have a camera, take some pictures of your containers, your annual beds, and your perennials. If you know the names of the plants and want to track them on a spreadsheet, I can show you how to make a simple inventory spreadsheet where you can keep notes. You’ll be amazed at how much time you’ll save next year by filling it out.

It all starts by naming the flower in column one, then a brief description in the next column. The location is important, so we added that. Then rate it by using a number 0 for worst and 5 as best. Add brief comments in another column and then ask yourself if you would use that plant again. The best way to remember the plant is through a picture. Use a photo editing program to ensure the picture will fit.

Plant Name

Description

Location

Rating

Comments

Use again?

Picture

Example:
Petunia Raspberry Splash

Two-tone pinkish flower

Front porch

3

Went out of bloom early – need to fertilize more

maybe

Put flowers that bloom at different times in your garden to enjoy color all season long. The late bloomers are the showstoppers this time of year: rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), echinacea (purple coneflower), aster, ornamental grass plumes, penstemen, and garden mums. Statistics show that 68 percent of gardeners put mums in pots and 27 percent put them in the ground. The other 5 percent use them as a table decoration and throw them on the compost pile when they’re finished blooming.

Want flowers in early spring? Try planting bulbs. The biggest challenge for home gardeners seems to be in remembering to plant them in fall so they’ll bloom the following spring. When it comes to accenting gardens with bulbs, more is always more. Don’t skimp! And for some unknown reason, many gardeners become regimented when they plant bulbs, arranging them in precise lines and grids. If you don’t want your garden to look like a display in a municipal garden, gently throw the bulbs on the ground and plant them where they lie. Random clumps and drifts suit bulbs well, resulting in a natural-looking garden.

As far as planting depth is concerned, here are the general rules: Plant large bulbs at a depth about twice the height of the bulb; plant small bulbs slightly deeper than twice their height. In regions with extremely cold winters like Monument, plant them a little deeper than normal. After planting, lightly apply a complete, dry fertilizer over the bed. Use a fertilizer low in nitrogen and high in phosphate. Bone meal has a 0-10-0 formula and super phosphate has a 0-18-0, and both are perfect for bulbs. Once the bulbs are planted and fertilized, thoroughly water the bed to settle the soil. Cover the bed with a 1-inch layer of organic mulch to deter future weeds and improve the soil.

Now is a good time to fertilize your spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs, forsythia and quince. Sprinkle super phosphate around the base of the shrubs or flowering crab trees, water it in and watch the blooms explode in the spring. You will drastically increase your blooms by applying fertilizer now.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Burrowing owl

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of burrowing owls by Elizabeth Hacker.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

On Sept. 22 the fall equinox equalized the hours between the night and day. As the night of ghoulish terror (Halloween) approaches, the days give way to longer nights. Owls are the ultimate creature of the night. Most owls are nocturnal hunters with big eyes. Colorado’s most common owl is the sizable great horned, aptly named for the ornamental tufts of feathers that appear as horns on top of its head. Many Monument residents were fortunate to see a family of great horned owls nesting at Home Depot this past summer. It was truly a remarkable experience for those of us who witnessed it.

Unlike the gargantuan great horned, the pint-size burrowing owl is diurnal, that is, it hunts during the day and at night, which is unusual for most owl species. It averages 9 inches in height with a wingspan of 21 inches and is one of the smallest owls. The burrowing owl has a rounded head and lacks the ear tufts of the more familiar woodland owls. Its face is accented with bright yellow eyes, a distinctive eye ridge, and a white chin. Its long legs give this owl an appearance uncharacteristic of other owls. Long legs allow this ground-dwelling owl to see its prey and watch for predators. It’s amusing to watch the burrowing owl hop and run on the ground chasing a grasshopper trying to escape its powerful talons.

True to its name, the burrowing owl lives and nests in holes in the ground. Imagine my surprise when I saw an owl spring out of a prairie dog hole this past spring. While it is entirely capable of digging its own burrow, similar to other owls, the burrowing owl is an opportunist and tends to favor the pre-engineered holes of prairie dogs or other burrowing animals. During the day, owls stand erect at the mouth of a burrow. Often burrow openings are lined with cow dung to attract beetles, a nutritional source of food. Because a burrowing owl must eat half its weight each day, a nearby food source is important.

The burrowing owl is found on short-grass prairies or in deserts with wide-open spaces more typical of the Western United States. It migrates from Mexico and the Gulf Coast states as far north as Canada, where it nests in early spring. In April, while birding near the Big Johnson Reservoir south of Colorado Springs, I observed a colony of nesting burrowing owls. Other birders estimated as many as 50 owls and were surprised to see them at this location, so I assume burrowing owls are not commonly found here.

We first spotted them with a powerful scope at a great distance. Once the owls spotted us birders, they began bobbing their heads in unison and chattering as if to warn us to stay away. Once we intruded into their comfort zone, the owls disappeared into prairie dog holes. Oddly, the prairie dogs still occupied many of the burrows. Reportedly, burrowing owls live as single breeding pairs or in loose colonies consisting of two or more families so the large number of them at Big Johnson may have been two or three nesting families.

In early March, breeding females will lay 6 to 20 eggs during a one- or two-week period. Eggs are incubated from 21 to 28 days. At hatching, young owls are covered with white downy feathers. Most birds of prey are born with opened eyes, but owls are born with closed eyes.

The chicks emerge from the burrow at around 2 weeks, and at 4 weeks of age the chicks will be the same size as the adult but will still have downy feathers mixed in with flight feathers. The chicks begin to test their wings in the following weeks but don’t actually fly until 6 weeks. At 12 weeks, the fledglings leave the burrow and hunt on their own until the colony begins its southerly migration, which may take several weeks.

Rather than following the straight-lined flight pattern of many migratory birds, the burrowing owl typically undulates as if dodging invisible obstacles, which slows its forward momentum. This flight pattern may have evolved as a way to avoid the clutches of faster swooping raptors such as the falcons, hawks, and eagles.

Predators include snakes, raccoons, skunks, hawks, eagles, and domestic cats and dogs. Mowing and clearing large areas for development have also had a dire effect on burrowing owl habitat.

Sadly, these odd-looking long-legged owls are declining at an alarming rate. The burrowing owl is one of only 11 species of birds identified for joint protection by an international environmental agreement by the United States, Canada, and Mexico. It is listed as endangered in Canada and threatened in Mexico. In the United States, after completing a formal review of the population status of this species, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified the burrowing owl as a "Species of Conservation Concern."

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 habitat preservation. Contact her at www.elizabethhackerart.com with your questions and bird stories.

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Art Matters: Is the art market world unfair?

By Janet Sellers

Is being rich unfair? Not to the ones who enjoy it. Is buying low in the undervalued stock market unfair? Not to buyers like Warren Buffet. He recently bought a whopping share of undervalued Goldman Sachs when most investors were running away. He expects it to go up again. A lot. But then, he does that, a lot. He does what he calls "Snowballing" with money. He even has a book coming out soon with that title. Seeing as how he is the richest man on our planet, he may have something there.

Is the art market world unfair? It is, according to the highest-paid living artist, Damien Hirst of the United Kingdom. Hirst recently shunned the gallery world and set up sales with auctions at none other than the great Sotheby’s in London. The London Times recently reported, "… the artist’s manager Frank Dunphy said Hirst was worth $1 billion and the ‘biggest dollar earner in the history of art.’’’ This power move will also have a trickle-down effect worldwide—even in our town—on art markets and how sales are carried out. This time, it will be in favor of the artists. Sotheby’s will not even be taking a fee for this auction.

In autumn, the beginning of the art world’s "big sales time" of the year, Hirst decided to wake up the art market (some have said "shake up") by going to the auction house and not a commercial gallery. So go the reports of ArtTactics’ Art Market Confidence Indicator (yes, it’s real, and they are the first to publish one for this huge commodity cache), which have been available since 2005. Their pool of art pros is modeled after the CEO confidence survey that has been around since 1976 and is used as a marker for providing insight into the otherwise invisible forces upon the art market.

Hirst says, "Artists are traditionally afraid of money, which is a bad thing. They can be drip-fed cash for booze and gambling and in the background you can cream millions off them, because they’re stupid sometimes.’’ Bloomberg’s (the financial news platform ) Scott Reyburn reports that, "Hirst, a teetotaler who never gambles, said that he nonetheless admired the work of artists such as Francis Bacon, Van Gogh and Chaim Soutine who ‘didn’t want to deal’ with money." Hirst knew and appreciated Bacon when Hirst was a student. He bolted right past Bacon on his way to his goals: art and money.

Old myths abound that if an artist is interested in commercial value, the art is not good. Some would go so far as to say that artists think having money contaminates their art, their purity. I disagree. Money and commerce are vital to survival of the artist and thereby the art market. I think that myth has been perpetrated by the uninformed following a word spin for the greedy and short-sighted. In fact, the gallery practice of taking 50 percent of the purchase price would be considered extortionate in any other business.

The art market world trades in the billions of dollars per year. Chinese ceramics are historically stronger on the art market compared to, say, gold on the gold market. It is not a regulated market, but it still goes on swimmingly. ArtTactics’ Art Market Confidence Indicator studies and then reports on the flow of art interest that cash follows. The tides of cash may flow in and out, but the financial waters remain in upward movement and improvement. The art pros plan it that way. Their job is to keep their wealth—and grow it— as they move it around.

For many of us, it is a wonder that art fetches such amazing differences in prices. While some believe that money is hard won, the truth is that wisdom and understanding are even harder. Just ask Warren Buffet; he combines both and wins big. Art also requires both to make, sell, and collect. It is the last, unregulated commodity of financial import.

With Hirst out front fanning the flames of change, it looks like artists are finally opening up to taking great interest in their money as well as their art. Hirst has always planned for his success, and then acted on his plans. I can go for that. If Buffett’s wealth planning secrets can snowball 2 cents and turn it into $62 billion, then I’ll take my 2 cents and snowball it, too. We have tons of snow here in our town!

It is interesting to note that when the economy is "down," local artists’ offerings are "up." More art is available at this time, so it could be an optimal time to buy it. Speaking of going for it, here are some news bits on recent and ongoing artist-created events in our area:

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts

The Pike’s Peak Watercolor Society annual fall show opened here on Sept. 12 for the members. This group began in 1997 from a small group of 10 artists to a blossoming society of 100 members (50 signature members and 50 associate members) all through the ins and outs of the boom, bust, and boom of the "markets" of the Pikes Peak area in the past decade. Artists become signature members through a juried selection process that evaluates the artist’s work and a qualified exhibition record.

The Whitfield duo, Paul and Rebecca, had their first-ever co-venue exhibition the same night at TLCA. Paul is an artist with photography, using the "pin-hole" camera. This is one of my absolute favorites of the photographic arts. Because there is no lens, the images are created in a slow speed, soft focus method that looks very dream-like when developed. Paul has taught many workshops on building pinhole cameras and photography techniques in Arkansas. I hope he will offer some here in Tri-Lakes soon. Rebecca has been working with and exhibiting her abstract paintings since graduate school, with "childhood as the origin and stimulus for my paintings." Among her awards is the Arkansas Governor’s award as the Arkansas Artist of the Year.

2008 Art Hops are over

The last of the Monument Art Hops happened in September, but the galleries and art shops all over town have some fun plans for the fall and winter seasons as well. They have told us to stay tuned as they plan this next exciting art season in our town.

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter, sculptor and writer working in the mediums of canvas, concrete/mixed media and paper. Her work supports natural habitat for rural and urban wild (and human) life. Her sculptures in Colorado celebrate the power of nature and the importance of water conservation: www.janetsellers.org 

Below: Pinhole photographer Paul Douglas Whitfield and mixed media painter Rebecca Warvin Whitfield are shown with two of their works from the TLCA art exhibit, A Marriage of Contrasts. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Landscape and wedding photographer Ray McCoy ( www.lifelongphotography.com ) displays some of his works at the Covered Treasures Bookstore during the last Art Hop of the season Sept. 18. Photo by David Cruz.

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, September 6: Rebecca Folsom performs and instructs at arts center

Below: (L-R) Liz Barnez accompanies Rebecca Folsom during their September 6 performance at the TLCA. Photo by David Futey.

Below: During her Art of Vocal Freedom workshop, Rebecca Folsom, back to the camera, leads (L-R) Bob Henderson, Eva Alabaugh, Kelly Feeley, and Christine Kelly in a vocal exercise at the TLCA. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On Sept. 6, Rebecca Folsom provided the patrons of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts with a vocal workshop and an evening musical performance that demonstrated her vocal range. During the day, Folsom offered The Art of Vocal Freedom workshop to the four attendees of the session.

A key point Folsom made to the attendees was learning how to use the whole body and enable your voice to flow through it. To demonstrate this, she led the attendees through a variety of physical and vocal exercises to wake up different parts of the body and show how voice can be generated beyond the diaphragm.

In the evening, Folsom, who was accompanied by Liz Barnez in this acoustic performance, showed a vocal range demonstrating the value of those exercises. During Folsom’s performance, her musical influences of Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Janis Joplin were readily apparent to those in attendance. Folsom’s songwriting was also on display as she and Barnez went through a list of songs authored by each.

Folsom’s musical career started while in elementary school as she performed in school musicals and eventually competed for Star Search. After a few years away from music, she picked up her career in 1991 and has since performed regularly at clubs, festivals, and in concert at a variety of venues. Besides performing these acoustic sets, Folsom also incorporates a five-piece band on stage in the recording studio. Their latest effort, Water on Stone, became available in the spring 2008. Besides songwriting and performing, Folsom is also a painter, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting, and has also released two books of her poetry. The books are titled Silver and Your Life is a Masterpiece. Folsom read poems from the latter during her TLCA performance.

**********

Information about Folsom can be found at www.rebeccafolsom.com. Information on upcoming events at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts can be found at www.trilakesarts.org 

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, September 27: Oktoberfest serves bratwurst and, yes, polkas

Below: Richard Hart (seated), TLCA Resident Pottery Instructor, demonstrates the process of making a bowl from a ball of clay to (L-R) Mike Rutkowski, Linda Hoover, and Rich Smoski during the TLCA’s Oktoberfest celebration. The bowls made that evening will be donated to the Empty Bowl fundraiser. Photo by David Futey.

Below: Dancers young and old polkaed to the sounds of the Continentals at the TLCA Oktoberfest celebration on September 27. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) version of Oktoberfest had food, music, and then some to create a festive occasion for the more than 80 attendees. This is the second time the TLCA has held this fundraising event. Those who attended on Sept. 27 were treated to bratwurst, potato salad, sauerkraut, soft pretzels, and an array of desserts.

The Continentals entertained the assembled with a variety of polka and Oktoberfest music, which included favorites such as "Chicken Dance," and many took advantage of the floor space to dance a polka or two. The feel of the evening was almost like that of a wedding reception without the bride and groom.

Oktoberfest attendees were offered a change-of-pace activity during the evening to help out a good cause. Richard Hart, TLCA resident pottery instructor, provided those interested with an opportunity to throw a bowl and create pottery to be fired and made available for the Empty Bowl fundraiser on Oct. 15 at Palmer Lake High School. Under Hart’s and other TLCA artists’ instruction, a number of attendees learned how to make a bowl from a ball of clay, from centering the clay on the wheel to finishing off the edging and removing the work from the wheel.

As those in attendance that evening along with others who have recently visited the TLCA can attest, steady progress is being made on capital improvements to the building. Readily noticeable this evening was the new front and back entry ways and window replacements. However, the capital campaign is still short on funds necessary to complete the overall project and thus the TLCA continues to seek the community’s support of the campaign. In particular, funds are still needed to stucco the exterior of the building and to resurface the main parking lot.

**********

Information regarding the TLCA, its upcoming events and how to support the capital campaign can be found at www.trilakesarts.org

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An artistic outlet for those with developmental disabilities

Below: Mary Brannaman (standing left) assists workers in the Creations Unlimited program in bead selection and finishing off their creations. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

Elaine Teevens, owner of The Bead Corner and Front Range Jewelry, had an idea that has come to offer opportunity and income for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Tri-Lakes and Colorado Springs areas who have an artistic interest. While working with special-needs students at Lewis-Palmer High School, Teevens noticed that there was neither a program nor readily available employment for those students once they transitioned out of the high school support program.

After researching for models in line with her idea, such as a weaver studio in Colorado Springs that employs developmentally disabled individuals, Teevens approached the Carmel Community Living Corp. ( www.carmelcorp.com ) about partnering on a program. Carmel provides "services to adults and children who have developmental disabilities."

The partnership has resulted in the nonprofit organization Creations Unlimited that produces jewelry and soy candles made by workers with developmental disabilities. Carmel provides the work force and Teevens provides the work environment and materials.

To date Creations Unlimited has sold over $5,000 in products since its inception in April. After paying for materials, salaries, and other expenses, the remainder is sent to Carmel to support its programs.

The benefits to those working for Creations Unlimited are many. They learn job skills and responsibilities while working their four-hour shifts, receive industry-rate pay for piece work, earning $20 or more per shift, build a sense of pride in producing their creations, and, once proficient, have the opportunity to design the jewelry with the selection of bead colors and patterns. Staff from Carmel and Teevens’ store, who have expertise in working with the developmentally disabled, assist the workers in the creation process. For example, Mary Brannaman, who volunteers at The Bead Corner and is also an employee with Carmel, assists the program participants with finishing the jewelry.

The jewelry is sold under the Creations Unlimited brand at The Bead Shop, located on Front Street in Monument, and other locations in the area. The works can be seen at The Bead Shop’s grand opening on Oct. 18 from 1 to 7 p.m.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Chili Cookoff, September 13

Below: Shawn Morris, owner of La Casa Fiesta restaurant at the Chili Cookoff Sept. 13. The event is in its 4th year and attracted more than 100 people. Photo by David Cruz.

Below: Woody and Cathy Woodworth, who founded the event are still winning awards in this year’s event, which is now sponsored by the Historic Monument Merchants Association. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Sailing on Monument Lake, Sept. 1

Below: Paul Fisher and his family spent two days of the Labor day weekend sailing a catamaran on Monument Lake. Photo by Colton Fisher.

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Tie-Dyed walk, Sept. 26

Below: More than 80 Creekside Middle School students wearing tie-dyed t-shirts walked from the trailhead on Baptist Road to Palmer Lake. Students dedicated funds raised at the event to the Nancy Fritzsche memorial scholarship fund. Fritzsche was a counseling secretary at Lewis-Palmer High School and was an integral part of the daily lives of hundreds of students each year. She passed away suddenly at the start of the school year this fall. Photo by David Cruz.

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LPHS Homecoming, Sept. 26

Below: (L-R) Beck Fritzsche and Morgan Braaten were selected as the 2008 Lewis-Palmer Homecoming King and Queen during halftime of the Sept.r 26 Lewis-Palmer football game with the Cheyenne Mountain Indians. The Rangers beat the Indians 19-13. Photo by David Futey.

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TLCA receives TLWC grant

Below: Gail Wilson (center), president of the board for Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) accepts a check from Donna Wagner (L), Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) grant committee chair and Candyce Sylling (R), grant committee member. Last winter, TLCA submitted a successful grant proposal to the TLWC for audio-visual equipment. Wagner said, "The TLCA is one of those organizations that make entertainment and art education and related activities available to everyone in the community that wants to take part in them. Therefore the TLWC is very excited to have contributed to these efforts." According to Wilson, this audio-visual equipment will allow for a broader range of musical activities and programs and assist in presentations to large groups. The TLCA hosts numerous concerts, classes and art shows throughout the year. Their concerts frequently fill the house.

The TLWC awarded over $31,000 in grants to Tri-Lakes area organizations this year and over a half million dollars since inception. This was possible through the volunteer efforts of the club’s 200 members who sponsored the Pine Forest Antique Show and Sale in May and Wine and Roses, a wine tasting event in October. The club is extremely grateful to the Tri-Lakes Community for its support of these events. Photo and information provided by the TLWC.

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September and October events at the library

American Girl Tea held at the Palmer Lake Town Hall on Sept. 20

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Isabella and Daniella Mendoza and their dolls.

Below: Jodi Brown of Grace Best Elementary was moderator for the fashion show

By Harriet Halbig

With the arrival of September, the library returned to its function of assisting with school projects and home schooling.

Many patrons carrying book lists and assignments are seen in the library, seeking information on specific subjects and placing holds on resources. High school civics students are volunteering their time to fulfill a class obligation.

One special event during the month was the American Girl Tea held at the Palmer Lake Town Hall on Sept. 20. American Girl is a line of dolls representing different times in history. Each doll is supported by a series of books describing life in her time. The doll featured this year is Kit Kittredge, who lived during the Depression era.

Girls who attended the tea were encouraged to dress up and bring their dolls. The event was so popular that a second seating was required, involving over 100 girls and moms. Refreshments were served, and there was a fashion show moderated by Library Specialist Jodi Brown of Grace Best Elementary. Jodi was formerly the children’s specialist at the Monument and Palmer Lake Branch libraries.

On Sept. 21, All Pikes Peak Reads began for the year. All Pikes Peak Reads is a community-wide program that features specific titles. The community is encouraged to check out and read these books, and related events support the effort. This year’s titles for adults are The Grapes of Wrath, The Worst Hard Time, and Obscene in the Extreme. All books are about the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.

The Grapes of Wrath chronicles a family’s travels from Oklahoma to California. The Worst Hard Time tells of the lives of those who remained in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas and Colorado throughout the period. Obscene in the Extreme, a new book released a few weeks ago, tells of a California town that feels its reputation was damaged by The Grapes of Wrath, and tries to destroy the book.

There are additional titles on the subject for students of all ages. They are listed on a free bookmark available at the library, or can be found on our Web site, PPLD.org.

All Pikes Peak Reads will continue through Oct. 21.

Additional related events include a dramatization of The Grapes of Wrath by Theatreworks, lectures by the authors of The Worst Hard Time and Obscene in the Extreme, and programs in many of the branches.

Two of these programs will take place at the Monument Branch. The first is a panel discussion called "The Dirty Thirties," featuring patrons and friends who survived the era and will tell of their experiences. The discussion will take place Saturday, Oct. 4 at 2 p.m. On the 11th at 1:30 will be A Bowl of Dust, a dramatization by Birgitta De Pree and Benjamin Pratt of the Manitou Arts Theatre. The story involves a young time traveler who travels back to the time of the Great Depression to learn of his family’s past. The program takes place on Saturday, Oct. 11, at 1:30 p.m.

Throughout October on Thursdays from 11:30-12:30 in Monument, a free yoga class will be offered by Dawn Schreckenghaust. Bring your own mat or towel. The class will continue until Nov. 20.

Oct. 19 through 25 is National Friends of the Library Week, and refreshments will be available each day from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. On Saturday the 25th there will be a Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library Reception from 1 until 4 p.m. Please come and help us thank these valuable volunteers in our library community.

With the approach of Halloween, there will also be a few seasonal offerings.

Stories in the Dark will be held at Monument on Saturday the 25th and at Palmer Lake Town Hall on Thursday the 30th. In a dark room, lit only by candlelight, stories and special effects will be offered. This program is suggested only for those brave souls over 8 years of age.

On Nov. 1 from 6:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. will be Dance in Disguise, open to those in the seventh to ninth grades.

The Palmer Lake Reading Group always welcomes new members. This month’s book is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross. The meeting is at 9 a.m. on Nov. 7. Call the branch for information or to request a copy.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, September 18: Historical Society presents saga of "Italians in Colorado"

By Donna Hartley

On the evening of Sept. 18, the Palmer Lake Historical Society hosted one of its former presidents, Sam De Felice, for a presentation at the Palmer Lake Town Hall. De Felice is a fifth-generation American, whose ancestors emigrated from Sicily to Colorado. He shared some of the stories of his extensive research into the lives of the early Sicilians who began to arrive in New Orleans around 1850, before Ellis Island was built in New York.

The immigrants came to work in the sugar cane industry, but De Felice said they didn’t care for this so they drifted westward to work in the coal mines. Many, like his own family, finally settled in Pueblo and all along the Front Range. He passed around a copy of the largest Italian newspaper printed in the United States from the 1930s. It was printed in Pueblo and was called La Voce del Popolo (The Voice of the People). He touched on the many business interests and inventions of these immigrants who contributed things such as tire pressure gauges and pneumatic valves. He added that he had discovered that there were Italians who fought in the Civil War and then came west to settle in Larkspur.

Everyone had a still during the years of prohibition and quarrels arose over liquor. All of the Italians formed "lodges" for security and even the women formed a group called the "Ladies Fidelity Lodge" in 1920. The churches formed a huge and well-known group, still existing today, named "The Sons of Italy." Some of these lodges saved for the retirement of indigent Italians or other philanthropic purposes.

De Felice went on to explain the origins of the Black Hand and its eventual transition into the Mafia. The Black Hand Society, he explained, was paid for protection and safety but it was also intimidating. It was a way to get rid of bad neighbors, troublemakers, anyone who "messed" with your daughter or did anything else that wasn’t socially acceptable.

The evening ended with hot pizza and refreshments while the attendees got the opportunity to talk with De Felice about his study of these colorful people who came to settle and contribute to life on the Front Range.

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The Historical Society will present a performance of the Low Brass Ensemble of Castle Rock Band on Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. They will play classical, jazz, and novelty pieces.

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Western Museum of Mining and Industry, September 18: Farrar Art Collection on display at mining museum

Below: (L-R) WMMI visitors Tamara and Erik Mendoza along with WMMI Director of Education Brad Paulson, admire Creek with Cattle, one of the many Harvey Otis Young paintings on display for the Lure of the West art exhibit at the museum. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On Sept. 18, the Western Museum of Mining and Industry held an opening reception for the art exhibit Lure of the West: The Katherine and Frederick Farrar Collection. As reported in an Aug. 2, 2008 Our Community News article, the museum recently celebrated its 26th anniversary with the Farrars noted as being instrumental in the founding of the museum and in collecting mining artifacts for the museum. The collected artifacts included not only heavy mining machinery but also fine works of art.

The Lure of the West art exhibit features three artists from late 19th and 20th century whose works focused on mining and Western themes. The artists are Charles Partridge Adams, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Harvey Otis Young. Adams is known for Colorado landscapes. He lived in Denver and Estes Park for 45 years before moving to California in 1920, where he transitioned to painting marine subject matter. Sharp reached acclaim in part as being the "Spiritual Father" of the Taos Society of Artists in Taos, N.M. His portraitures, landscapes, and depictions of Native American life in the Taos and New Mexico area chronicled and provided insight into that culture.

Of the three, Young had perhaps the most colorful and certainly most historically sketchy life. David Carroll, executive director of the museum, presented a history of Young’s life and imparted information on Young’s influences as seen through his paintings. Carroll pointed out during his talk that artists are influenced by the politics, technology, and thinkers of their day, and Young was no different. Young held a lifelong interest in mining, from that of a "luckless" prospector to attempts in partial ownership of mining operations, where he failed miserably and fell into debt. Originally from Vermont, Young prospected in Oregon and California in the 1860s.

In 1866, Young moved to San Francisco where he studied composition, established a studio, and entered art fairs of the Mechanics Institute. He traveled to Europe several times, and his works reflect these ventures. Among others, Young was influenced by the Barbizon School of Painters, with their back-to-nature approach, and Jean Francois Millet, whose painting subjects included French peasantry and had a tendency toward a nostalgic look back from the time of the Industrial Revolution. Though he had gained a reputation as an artist, the lure of mining was too great.

In the 1880s he came to Colorado for the silver boom. For a number of years, he made but mostly lost money in various and questionable mining business ventures. Many of the works he painted during this time were used to repay debt. During this time he lived in Manitou Springs, Aspen, Denver, and, for the final three years of his life, Colorado Springs. Young is known for his paintings of the Rocky Mountains and mining scenes, many of which include the prospector’s iconic partner, the burro.

After Carroll’s presentation, Judy Von Ahlefeldt presented the museum with the first copy of her book, Thunder, Sun, and Snow: The History of Colorado’s Black Forest. The Farrars were instrumental in funding her book project, and she had presented them with this copy upon its publication in 1979. The Lure of the West exhibit will run through December 2008. For information, please go to the museum Web site, www.wmmi.org 

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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.

Fall Festival in Monument, Oct. 1-31

Monument celebrates its history and the changing of the seasons in this series of special events throughout the month of October including a Celebration of Scarecrows, Historic Monument Potato Festival, and other activities. For more information, call 884-8016 or visit www.monumentmerchants.com

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Palmer Lake Art Group Christmas Crafts Fair, Oct. 4-5

Palmer Lake Art Group will hold its 35th Annual Christmas Crafts Fair Oct. 4, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Oct. 5, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, just off Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. A wide variety of unique handmade items will be available for purchase including small paintings, pottery, glass, wood, metal, jewelry, basketry, pinecone and fabric items, plus a selection of baked goods. Proceeds fund art scholarships for Tri-Lakes-area students. For more information contact Margarete Seagraves, 487-1329, or e-mail seagml@msn.com.

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A busy Saturday in Palmer Lake, Oct.4

There’s a lot going on in Palmer Lake Oct. 4. In addition to the crafts fair, there’s a police-sponsored bike rodeo for kids, 10 a.m.-noon at the elementary school; a flu and pneumonia shot clinic, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at the town offices (42 Valley Crescent); and a fire station open house, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. For more information, see the Community Calendar listings under Special Events or phone 481-2953.

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Wescott Volunteer Firefighter Benefit Concert, Oct. 5

The annual fundraiser for the volunteer firefighters of Donald Wescott Fire Protection District will feature a concert by Kyler England at 5 p.m. on Oct. 5 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Tickets are $5 for children and $10 for adults. Hot dogs will be served! Info: 488-8680 and www.wescottfire.org.

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Creative Crafters Showcase, Oct. 11-12

Shop more than 100 booths for original items handmade by local artists at this annual fine art and craft show Oct. 11, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Oct. 12, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Road, Monument. For more information call 488-3046.

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Donald Wescott Fire Prevention Week Open House, Oct. 11

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District will hold its annual open house from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Oct. 11 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. There will be many fire engines, ambulances, brush trucks, and wildland fire apparatus to inspect, plus many displays, including the Flight for Life helicopter and the Lowes "Prevent Home Fires" safety trailer, as well as information booths from Farmer’s Insurance and Home Depot. Hot dogs will be served! Info: 488-8680 and www.wescottfire.org .

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Mill Levy Override Community Informational Meeting, Oct. 13

The all-volunteer citizens’ committee working to support Lewis-Palmer School District will hold an informational community meeting about the upcoming mill levy override ballot issue Oct. 13, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at Tri-Lakes YMCA Community Room, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway. The public is welcome to attend, ask questions, and learn more. For more information, contact Cathy Wilcox at cfishwil@comcast.net or 229-8113.

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Empty Bowl Dinner, Oct. 15

Monument Hill Sertoma and Monument Serteens Clubs present the Empty Bowl Dinner and Silent Auction Oct. 15, 5-7:30 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School Commons Area, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. This popular annual fundraiser for Tri-Lakes Cares features home-cooked soup, bread, and dessert. Bowls are handcrafted by local artists and art classes, and you get to keep yours! The evening also includes entertainment and more than 130 silent auction items. Tickets, $20, must be purchased in advance: in Monument at Covered Treasures Bookstore, Second and Washington Streets; High Country Home & Garden, 243 Washington St.; Second Street Art Gallery, 366 Second St.; Tri-Lakes Printing, Woodmoor Center; in Palmer Lake at The Rock House, 24 Highway 105; or call Bonnie Biggs at 651-1946.

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Wine & Roses 2008, "The Event to Attend," Oct. 18

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) presents its annual wine tasting benefit, Wine and Roses 2008, Oct. 18, 5-8 p.m., at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Blue and Silver Club. The evening will be highlighted by dozens of fine domestic and international wines arranged by Dirk Stamp from The Wine Seller. Delicious hors d’oeuvres and decadent desserts will be presented from local chefs and restaurants while guests enjoy the opportunity to bid on unique silent auction items and are entertained by a strolling mandolin player.

Tickets are sold only in advance for $50 per person. No tickets will be sold at the door. Reservations are limited, so purchase your tickets early. You may order tickets by mailing a check to TLWC, Attn: Wine & Roses 2008, PO Box 669, Monument, CO 80132. Ticket requests received after Oct. 1 will be held at Will Call the evening of the event. Tickets are also available at Covered Treasures at Second and Washington Streets in downtown Monument, and at The Wine Seller on Highway 105 and Roberts Drive, between Monument and Palmer Lake. For more information, visit the Web site at www.tlwc.net or call Ann at 877-230-6288. Directions: Take exit 156 B toward North Entrance Air Force Academy, merge onto North Gate Boulevard, and turn left at Stadium Boulevard. Signs will be posted along the way.

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club currently has over 200 members and is a nonprofit organization set up exclusively for charitable and educational purposes in the community. In the past 32 years it has granted $550,000 to schools, fire and police departments, and other nonprofit 501 (c) (3) organizations that provide services to residents within the boundaries of School District 38.

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Tri-Lakes Health Fair, Oct. 25

The Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership and Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce will present the Tri-Lakes Annual Health Fair Oct. 25, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., at Tri-Lakes Family YMCA, 17250 Jackson Creek Pkwy, Monument. The event features various health screenings and evaluations and wellness information. Free childhood vaccinations will be available for eligible children. Flu shots will be offered for $25, flu mist is $30. For more information, call 481-3282.

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Stories in the Dark in Monument and Palmer Lake, Oct. 25 & 30

Come if you dare! In a dark, dark room, lit only by candlelight, hear spooky stories that will send chills and shivers up your spine and tickle your funny bone from time to time. Suggested for the very brave, ages eight and older. Oct. 25, 7 p.m., at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. Info: 488-2370. Oct. 30, 7 p.m. at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. Info: 481-2587.

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Safe Trick or Treat, Oct. 31

Bring the kids downtown Oct. 31, 4-6 p.m., for a night of safe trick-or-treating as Monument merchants provide treats, activities and show off their creative costumes. The Monument Police Department patrols the streets to help ensure the safety of your goblins. For more information, call 884-8016 or visit www.monumentmerchants.com

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LPTV receives grant award

Below: LPTV receives grant award from MVEA: (left to right): Charles Hawker (Director, MVEA Round-Up Fund), Dan Marcus (LPTV Sponsor), Jake Mortensen (LPTV Student, 08-09), Lynn Mortensen (LPTV Parent), Laura Watt (LPTV Parent), Darby Watt (LPTV Student, 07-08), Becky Yoder (LPTV Parent), Alex Turner (LPTV Student, 07-08), Ryan Yoder (LPTV Student, 08-09), Reese Watt (LPTV 08 Summer Camp). Courtesy photo.

Lewis-Palmer Middle School’s in house TV "station," LPTV, received a $5,000 grant award in September from Mountain View Electric Association’s Round-Up Fund. Round-Up is a non-profit fund, generated by and benefiting customers of MVEA. Organizations that demonstrate how they provide services that are beneficial to the public interest, within MVEA’s service territory, are eligible for these grants. The grant award money will be used to purchase new camcorders, tripods, microphones, media storage hard drives, a DVD Duplicator, and other items needed for the LPTV class.

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Volunteer tutors needed!

Share your love of reading. Tutor an adult once a week for two hours. Work one-to-one with an adult to improve his or her English language skills. No teaching experience required; free training is provided. Call 531-6333, x2223, with questions or for application information. Training is Saturdays, Nov. 1, 8, and 15, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs.

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Low-Income Energy Assistance Program

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has approved the Department of Human Services’ contract with Goodwill Industries of Colorado Springs to assist low-income households with their winter home heating costs and non-fuel emergencies such as heating system repairs and window replacement. This program, known as LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program), is totally funded by the federal government and administered locally by state and county governments. The program runs Nov. 1, 2008 to April 30, 2009. Questions about applications and other LEAP information may be obtained by calling 1-866-432-8435. Any U.S. citizen or legal resident of Colorado who pays heating costs directly to an energy provider, or whose heating costs are included with their monthly rent may qualify for LEAP. Monthly gross household income must fall within the federal poverty guidelines set annually on Nov. 1.

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Handbell choir ringers needed

The Tri-Lakes Community Handbell Choir has openings for experienced adult handbell ringers. Opportunities exist also for youth ringers, fourth grade and above, in the Tri-Lakes Youth Community Handbell Choir. Rehearsals begin this fall on Monday evenings. If interested, please call Betty Jenik, 488-3853, or e-mail ljenik@comcast.net.

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Senior Safety Program

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Authority and Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, Senior Alliance, have developed a 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.

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The Library Channel

Tune in to 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. 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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Library District’s new Kids Web

Pikes Peak Library District now has an exciting new Web site for children. To access the new site, go to ppld.org and click on Kids Web. Kids Web features a wealth of resources for school reports and homework, as well as links to local historical information and biographies of people of interest in the Colorado Springs area.

Kids Web also has links to Tumblebooks, free online read-along books; a children’s blog; YouTube videos of storytellers; library program and event information; and book reading lists. On the site’s Fun & Games link, children can access a variety of free online games and learning activities, coloring book pages, and Summer Reading Program information. Parents and teachers will find the new site helpful as well—a "grown-ups" link provides information about local school districts, home-schooling, and more.

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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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