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Vol. 8 No. 11 - November 1, 2008


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Lawrence Construction picked for interchange work

Below: The final Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) contract with Lawrence Construction Co. for expansion of the I-25/Baptist Road interchange was unanimously approved at a special 8 a.m. BRRTA meeting on Oct. 27. Engineering consultant firm Jacobs Carter Burgess of Denver will manage the construction contract for BRRTA. Brenda Gordon, of the county Procurements and Contracts Department, who helped negotiate the $12,614,738 contract, awaits the signatures of Monument Trustee Travis Easton, County Commissioner Wayne Williams, and Monument Mayor Byron Glenn. County commissioners Amy Lathen and Dennis Hisey signed it later. The new 8-lane bridge, dual-lane ramps, and new lanes of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and Old Denver Highway are scheduled to be completed in January 2010. The final completion date for the project will be confirmed at a pre-construction meeting in Monument Town Hall November 5. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

During a special meeting Oct.3, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) voted unanimously to select the bid from Lawrence Construction Co., of Littleton, for the expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. Lawrence previously expanded the I-25 Highway 105 interchange. The board also considered whether to upgrade the median on Baptist Road between Gleneagle and Desiree Drives.

All five members of the BRRTA board were present:

  • County Commissioners Wayne Williams, Amy Lathen, and Dennis Hisey
  • Monument Mayor Byron Glenn
  • Monument Trustee Travis Easton

Interchange contract awarded

Background: In a mail-in election in November 2006, BRRTA voters approved a temporary 20-year 1-cent sales tax to pay for BRRTA bonds totaling $21.5 million. The approved bond issue covers the estimated construction cost of about $16 million plus administrative and interest costs for the bond issue. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) made the interchange expansion a top priority on its Transportation Improvement Plan but said it would have no funding available for six to10 years.

If the $16 million does become available, CDOT will pay BRRTA that amount. BRRTA would use these funds to help redeem the bonds at that time and then terminate the sales tax once all administrative costs for bond redemption have been paid. If CDOT funding is never available, the sales tax will pay off the BRRTA bonds within 20 years. Expected interest costs are $17 million, plus $21.5 million for the bond issue, for a total of $38.5 million if current interest rates hold. The approved ballot issue set a cap of $50 million for total costs.

All aspects of the expansion of the state’s interchange must be approved by CDOT even though the department is not paying for the bridge and ramp widening.

The state will not accept ownership for the new interchange bridge after construction is completed due to a lack of projected highway maintenance funds. While the state will continue to own and maintain the I-25 through-lanes and the widened interchange ramps, the county will become the owner of the new bridge over the interstate and have to pay for future maintenance of the two new four-lane spans. The state’s existing two-lane bridge will be demolished to make room for the county’s eastbound span after construction of the county’s westbound span is completed.

There have been numerous delays in initiating the bidding process to build the new eight-lane bridge over I-25 and the new dual-lane ramps. Initial delays were due to protected mouse habitat and flood plain issues. Compounding these problems was BRRTA’s inability to obtain needed right of way from adjacent landowners THF Realty, ADK Monument Developers, Valero Corporation, and Phoenix Bell.

The bonds were sold in June 2008 and the temporary 1-cent sales tax was initiated in July, even though the needed right of way had not been transferred to BRRTA. CDOT regulations prohibit advertising of the bid process until all the deeds for the required right of way have been given to the state.

BRRTA threatened to condemn the right of way as well as deny any access to Baptist Road in order to get THF and ADK to provide right of way on the northeast corner of the Baptist Road interchange, between the northbound on ramp and Jackson Creek Parkway. Otherwise, the only access to the THF hardware store property would have been from the intersection of Higby and Struthers Roads, while the only access to the adjacent ADK property to the north and east would have been at the intersection of Blevins Buckle Drive and Jackson Creek Parkway at the southeast corner of Monument Marketplace. These access restrictions would have significantly devalued both commercial properties.

BRRTA accepted bids beginning in September, once THF and ADK transferred their portions of the right of way to the state.

After an executive session to discuss negotiations and a subsequent open session discussion, the board awarded the construction contract to Lawrence for $12.6 million, based on what Williams stated was the advertised "best value process." Williams noted that this figure was well below the engineer’s estimate for the contract.

There were eight complete bids submitted, all of which met CDOT specifications. One bid was about $258,000 less than the Lawrence bid, while the six others were over $1 million higher than the Lawrence bid.

The members of the committee that made the final recommendation to the board for the contract award were:

  • Engineer Steve Sandvik of PBS&J who directed all engineering preparations for the bidding process
  • BRRTA manager Denise Denslow
  • County Engineer Andre Brackin of the Department of Transportation

The total cost, with engineering and contract management fees added in, is $16 million, well under the available amount of $17.6 million. The difference will become the 10 percent contingency budget. Two change orders for altered Baptist Road access have been proposed. The other $3.9 million of the $21.5 million bond issue is segregated as reserves that may be needed to pay administrative and interest costs not covered by the full 20 years of projected BRRTA sales tax revenue should CDOT be unable to pay for any portion of the interchange construction costs.

Williams said that Lawrence has done a number of projects in El Paso County, including the I-25 Highway 105 interchange expansion and Pikes Peak Regional Transportation Authority (PPRTA) projects. All got very good reviews and were finished ahead of schedule. Denslow added that "Lawrence did a better job evaluating the conditions and schedule for construction and more complete knowledge of the utility issues." Williams noted that Lawrence also stated that the project completion date could potentially be as early as 2009, even though the contracted completion date is May 2010.

Glenn agreed with the committee regarding Lawrence’s familiarity with utility issues based on its north county construction experience. Williams concurred, noting the utility delays BRRTA had to deal with in widening Baptist Road. Denslow noted that the notice to proceed could be issued by the end of October. The board unanimously approved the award to Lawrence and thanked Brenda Gordon of the county Transportation Department for her contract preparation.

A special meeting was later scheduled for Oct. 27 for final award of the contract to Lawrence.

Construction update

Brackin reported that the widening of Baptist Road from Jackson Creek Parkway to Tari Drive was 97 percent complete, except for final completion of the sound wall between Gleneagle and Desiree Drives, some seeding, and other clean-up.

Brackin stated that the final expense for relocating Mountain View Electric Association power lines was $90,000 less than the initial estimate of $1.3 million. Some developers with projects on Baptist Road participated in the cost of construction of the Gleneagle Drive traffic signal ($102,000) as a condition of town approval of their development proposals. The Board of County Commissioners will soon approve acceptance of this payment to the Baptist Road project. In addition, some other re-allocations of PPRTA funds to the project have resulted in about $400,000 remaining in the project budget.

Brackin said the county had received a lot of complaints due to the Baptist Road median not being as nicely finished as the new Struthers Road median. Early weather delays and change orders had increased the total cost of the Baptist Road widening project, leading to the board cutting the cost of the median to stay within the project budget. Primary contractor Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt offered to upgrade the Baptist median to match the Struthers median it had installed with similar red patterned concrete for about $600,000. Other options offered included a smooth red concrete finish that would cost about $450,000 and a gray smooth concrete finish that would cost about $350,000. There is no available irrigation in the Baptist Road median for planting trees, shrubs, or other landscaping.

The board asked Brackin to prepare final engineering cost estimates for these and other options to upgrade the Baptist median’s appearance, including available PPRTA and county funding sources, based on bidding the upgrade as a separate project. The board plans to choose one of these options and approve advertising for new bids at the next regular BRRTA meeting on Nov. 14.

Church sign easement continued

BRRTA attorney Jim Hunsaker and Brackin noted that the Family of Christ Lutheran Church had not agreed to Hunsaker’s proposed wording of the easement agreement for the church to build a sign in county right of way on the southwest corner of the intersection of Leather Chaps Drive and the new frontage road for the church along the south side of Baptist Road. The purpose of this sign is to block unwanted headlight illumination sweeping across Linda Silviera’s home, which is adjacent to the southwest corner of this intersection, as cars turn into the frontage road toward the church.

Brackin said about 30 feet of visual shielding is required. The church board said it had no funds for landscaping. There is no available irrigation for planting trees, shrubs, or other landscaping on either side of the sign for additional screening. The proposed easement agreement states that the church would pay for materials, construction, and maintenance of the proposed sign.

Silviera noted that the soil on the county right of way between her property and the frontage road is already eroding due to lack of landscaping or other means of stabilization.

The easement agreement was continued until the Nov. 14 meeting.

The board unanimously approved the following payments:

  • $15,881 to Carter & Burgess Inc. for construction
  • $3,500 to Dawn A. Schilling LLC for preparation and filing of the ratified final 2007 BRRTA audit
  • $24,731 to Grimshaw & Harring PC for legal services
  • $3,910 to R.S. Wells LLC for district management services
  • $30,813 to PBS&J Engineering for engineering services
  • $500 to BKD LLP for accounting services
  • $322 to McGraw-Hill for construction regulation publication
  • $150,000 to Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt for sound wall construction
  • $219 to The Gazette for publication expenses

The meeting adjourned at 3:39 p.m.

**********

The next regular meeting will be at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 14 at Monument’s Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings will now be held monthly at Town Hall on the second Friday of the month, for the time being, to address contract start-up issues. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake approves water rate hikes

By David Futey

At its Oct. 9 meeting, the Palmer Lake Town Council unanimously approved water rate increases for Palmer Lake residents and businesses. Water rates will be modified and a water capital improvement charge added.

Water Trustee Max Stafford listed the changes: a 10 percent increase in the base charge, an expected 10 percent increase in use, and 10 percent of the base fund to be used for capital improvements. The initial capital improvement funds will be used for the $35,000 in engineering and other fees related to design improvements for the water plant infrastructure. Water rates were increased by 9 percent last year.

There was no public comment on the residential rate increase. However, O’Malley’s Pub owner Jeff Hulsmann raised concern about the rates for over 15,000 gallons of use. He is concerned that businesses in Palmer Lake served by the town and not from a well are being penalized and not on the same playing field with businesses like MoZaic restaurant and other businesses on the west side of Palmer Lake. He made a request that commercial rates be unchanged. Information on the rate changes can be found at www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/docs/ord0508.shtml 

Budget ordinances approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved an ordinance to increase the amount of revenue in the 2008 General Fund budget for various departments to reflect the receipt of funds from state agencies.

The board also unanimously approved an ordinance for a transfer of funds to cover budget shortfalls. The town’s General Fund will be down as much as $37,000. The Police Department will be over budget by an estimated $90,000 at the end of 2008 and funds were transferred to cover this. The majority of the Police Department budget overage occurred prior to Chief Ferrin’s arrival. Town Clerk Della Gray stated that the Police Department seemed to have difficulty remaining within its budget over the past years.

There was also an overage in roads maintenance and fire department expenses primarily due to higher fuel costs. This was covered from the roads and fire department supplemental fund.

Roads Trustee Bryan Jack raised concerns about any reduction in the roads budget to help offset the $90,000 Police Department overage since the Roads Department has been fiscally responsible.

Included in the transfer was $75,000 from the General Emergency Reserve Fund to the General Fund and $45,000 from the Roads Supplemental Fund to the General Fund which was then divided into $37,000 to the police general fund and $8,000 to the police supplemental fund.

As part of the continuing discussion on the budget, Jack suggested that a citizen survey be performed in 2009 in order to seek an understanding from citizens of their expected service levels from town departments. The results of such a survey could be used to help guide the council on managing town services.

Mayor John Cressman suggested that the citizenry needs to be educated on the issues being faced by the council and the potential impacts on the town’s budget and services. Town attorney Larry Gaddis suggested quarterly budget reports be presented at council meetings in order to inform all trustees on the financial status of each particular department.

Preliminary budget for 2009 released

Gray presented a preliminary 2009 town budget for the council’s review. She pointed out the need to upgrade the town’s 7-year-old computers next year at a quoted price of $20,000. This $20,000 total amount is divided between the general, roads, roads supplemental, and water revenue funds.

Bob Kirby named to Planning Commission

By unanimous decision, the council approved the appointment of Bob Kirby to the Planning Commission. Kirby had been previously interviewed by the Planning Commission, has lived in town for six years, and is a volunteer firefighter.

Committee reports

Mayor Cressman stated that budget discussions are starting with revenues down. "All municipalities are struggling and we are no different."

Trustees Jan Bristol and Nikki McDonald attended the wrap-up meeting of the Fireworks Committee. A number of the original committee members are stepping down. Bristol and McDonald held a meet and greet on Oct. 21 to seek participation on the Fireworks Committee. The planning for the July 4, 2009, event will need to start in January, with a determination of how many activities can be assumed. The fireworks will take place, but a discussion on ancillary activities and the number of days the event takes place need to be resolved. There is a significant need for volunteers on site during the event. Anyone interested should contact Bristol or McDonald at info@palmer-lake.org or (719) 481-2953.

Fire Trustee Gary Coleman announced that the Annual Chili Supper and Star Lighting will be Saturday, Nov. 29, beginning at 5 p.m.

Stafford announced that water production from both wells is keeping up with present demand. He had met with Linda Firth of RTW, who said it will take two years to set up a loan for the infrastructure upgrades, which may total over $2 million, and that $35,000 is needed in upfront engineering and support for the loan. Since it is unlikely that the surface water plant will last the two or more years until the infrastructure upgrade is in place, the town will be moving forward with repairs, such as valves to enable shut off to parts of the water distribution system, and the media filters.

Stafford also requested that citizens not flush pharmaceuticals or dissolve them in a drain. It has been recommended that pharmaceuticals be placed in a bag with water and placed in the garbage.

Fireworks Committee: As part of his final report to council, Fireworks Committe Chair Jeff Hulsmann announced that he and others are stepping down from the committee. Hulsmann requested that funding for traffic and police be evaluated because that has become a major expense for the event. He suggested that traffic control staff might be used instead of police to help reduce costs. Hulsmann encouraged town members to take part on the committee because it is a prominent event for the town.

Awake the Lake Committee: As he suggested last month, Hulsmann requested that the council consider moving water from the reservoir to help refill Palmer Lake. The council needs to consult with the state to determine if the transfer would be legal, and they are seeking permission for the transfer. Hulsmann stated that "water from the reservoir can not be used anyway" due to issues with the surface water plant. The collection period will start in November with excess water going over the spillway to other communities downstream. Hulsmann suggested 25-30 acre-feet would fill the lake.

Portion of Alameda Avenue vacated

By unanimous decision, with Trustee Gary Coleman recusing himself from the vote, the council approved an ordinance to vacate a portion of Alameda Avenue while reserving an easement or right of way for utilities and drainage. David Wilson and Richard Kile presented the vacation request after a similar presentation was made to the Planning Commission and at the council workshop. No conditions were placed on the request at those meetings. The vacated land will be part of a subdivision for new housing.

Portions of Clio and El Moro Avenues vacated

By unanimous decision, the council approved vacating portions of Clio and El Moro Avenues while reserving a right of way for easement or right of way for drainage and utilities. Tom Day, representing Bob Nance, John Drew, Jeff Houchin, and Carrie Block, presented the request. Day met with the Roads Department staff to discuss a drainage problem where Clio meets Virginia Avenue.

Morgan’s Meadow vacated

By unanimous decision, the council approved a re-plat of the just-vacated Clio and El Moro Avenues land for creation of the new Morgan’s Meadow subdivision. A condition of approval for this Morgan’s Meadow re-plat is that Mayor Cressman needs to approve the final copy of the re-plat before it can be recorded with the county.

Safer Initiative supported

The council approved a resolution by a vote of 6-1 to support county tax initiative 1a. This "Safer Initiative" would raise about $75 million in revenue, through a new county 1-cent sales tax, that will be permanently dedicated to the county police, DA, coroner, and public health department budgets.

At the council workshop, citizens in attendance voted 14-5 in favor of supporting the initiative. The council had concerns with the wording of a resolution provided by Citizens for Effective Government and decided to vote on a motion to "support El Paso County ballot initiative 1a."

In citizen input on this vote, Hulsmann stated that there is no sunset provision and stated that the business community in general does not support this measure. It is also unclear how much money will be raised.

During the trustees’ discussion, Jack stated that he believes there are still inefficiencies that should be considered. He suggested merging the dispatch centers presently serving Colorado Springs and county emergency services.

Bristol raised concerns on language within the county initiative and the potential for bigger government.

Business license approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved a business license for Done Deals Publishing Inc., a company that develops software for the publishing industry.

Students make plea for deer-crossing signs

Palmer Lake Elementary School second-grader Sabryna Nussbaum, a few of her classmates, and their teacher, Linda Wilson, presented a letter to the council that requested more road signage about deer crossings. The students are concerned that "cars driving in the night can hit the deer." The second-graders initially wrote Police Chief Gene Ferrin, who then suggested they present their letter to the council. In the discussion Cressman pointed out that most deer are hit on Highway 105, managed by the Colorado Department of Transportation, and not on town roads. Cressman said he will follow up with the state regarding the request and inform students of any progress.

The council went into executive session at 9:12 p.m.

**********

The next council workshop meeting will be on Nov. 6, and the next regular council meeting will be on Nov. 13. Both meetings will be held at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Check the town’s Web site ( www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/index.shtml ) or call 481-2953 for any meeting changes.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 6: New members appointed to Board of Adjustment and Planning Commission

Below: On Oct. 6, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Brandy Evers to the Board of Adjustment for a term through July, 2011. Town Clerk swears her in after the vote. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

Below: On Oct. 6, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Bill Baker to the Planning Commission for a term through January, 2010. Town Clerk Scott Meszaros swore him in. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 6, the Monument Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Brandy Evers to the Board of Adjustment for a term through July 2011. The board also unanimously approved the appointment of Bill Baker to the Planning Commission for a term through January 2010. Town Clerk Scott Meszaros swore them in.

The board also unanimously approved a letter of engagement and contract with Gary Barber for water brokerage services. The board added a condition of approval that modified his contract to require full disclosure of his brokerage services that are being provided to other county municipalities and water districts to preclude any conflict of interest. Barber is the executive director for the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and the El Paso County Water Authority.

Trustee Gail Drumm was absent.

Service recognition award

Town Manager Cathy Green said that Patricia Mettler, who is leaving the Planning Commission and moving to Palmer Lake, "was one of the first Planning Commission members we swore in when I was new to this job. I think she was truly a breath of fresh air and brought so much to the Planning Commission." Green presented a certificate of appreciation to Mettler to a round of applause.

Trustees’ comments

Mayor Byron Glenn reported that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) had awarded a construction contract to Lawrence Construction Co. on Oct. 3 for expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The $12.6 million was about $3 million less than the BRRTA engineer’s cost estimate and $1.5 million under BRRTA’s total budget. (See article on contract award.)

Glenn also asked the trustees to provide suggestions for upgrading the Baptist Road median, noting that it is not a town project. Trustee Rafael Dominguez suggested planting of trees. Trustee Steve Samuels noted that no irrigation has been installed under the newly installed asphalt on this county road. The Struthers Road median is finished with formed red concrete only.

Glenn asked that Town Treasurer Pamela Smith draft two budgets for 2009 in case the county’s ballot initiatives fail and the county funding provided to the town for public safety is drastically reduced.

Glenn noted that Triview Metropolitan District board Vice President Robert Fisher had asked Green for a temporary delay in the town taking over management and operation of the district so that he could have more time to understand the budget, expenditures, and revenues before continuing discussions. Glenn said that he had agreed to a maximum delay of six months for Fisher to learn how Triview operates. The town then needs to take over district operations to begin projected savings of $400,000 to $1 million per year, "which is more important" than the Triview board operating the district separately.

The intergovernmental agreement between Triview and the town calls for the dissolution of the special district once Triview has built all the road, trails, and utility infrastructure so that developers can completely build out all developments within the district and paid off the district’s debt in about 30 years. The town’s Public Works Department is required to take overall responsibility for operations and maintenance of Triview services upon dissolution per the agreement. Currently, town staff operate Triview’s water and wastewater infrastructure under a contract with the district.

Glenn said that he recently met with Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Superintendent Ray Blanch to "ask if all kids in the district are treated equally" with regard to the new Palmer Ridge High School and the new Monument Academy. Glenn said Blanch replied, "No, but we’re working on it." Glenn noted that D-38 had saved $1 million on construction of the new high school, and its geothermal heating system would pay for itself in seven years.

Glenn reported that Colorado Springs would have to find an alternative site for the city’s new Southern Delivery System reservoir after spending $80 million on studies. Glenn added that municipalities should conduct studies on suitability before committing funds for a specific project design.

Dominguez asked for an update on the upgrade of the town’s Web site. Green said new software had been obtained and would be installed.

Senior project delays discussed

During public comments, Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance, gave a status report on the Arbor Mountain senior residence project that is supposed to be built on a 2.7-acre lot on Highway 105 that was donated by the town to developer Tim Irish. Roberts first endorsed Glenn’s compliments regarding Blanch, noting the benefits to seniors being able to use facilities at Palmer Ridge Senior High School as a community school.

Roberts said that he had toured the site and surrounding neighborhood with Irish on Oct. 3. "I was distressed by what I heard and saw. Mr. Irish continues to be burdened with added requirements from the Monument Planning Commission which are not required by applicable regulations. These added requirements continue to delay the project and add to its costs. These added costs must eventually be passed on to the residents, which defeat the whole purpose of the project, that purpose being to provide affordable residences for our senior citizens."

Roberts stated that the town was requiring Irish to hold a meeting with adjacent Woodmoor and Monument property owners specified by the planning commissioners. The purpose of the meeting is apparently for these neighboring residents to determine if Arbor Mountain will block their views of the Front Range and to gather their comments. Roberts said only 21 of the 41 residences could see the Arbor Mountain facility. None of these 21 homes would have their mountain views restricted. The other 20 homes already have their views restricted or blocked by trees, ridges, or the new Monument Academy school building.

Roberts said the additional landscaping required by the planning commissioners has more than doubled the cost of landscaping for the facility, while adding to the town’s current five-year delay of the project. "Irish has already invested $500,000 into this project, more than twice what he has to invest to start a project. If Irish abandons this project before the continuous flow of new requirements from the town, it would be tragic for the senior community and a big black mark against the town of Monument."

Roberts said the board should be pro-active in making the project succeed by having one or more trustees getting actively involved in planning this project. Roberts presented a petition with numerous signatures endorsing his prepared statement. He also noted that some seniors have died while waiting for this project and others can’t vacate their current leases.

Green responded by saying the town had "done quite a bit for this project, including donating the land." The staff "is being the biggest advocate of seniors" and has been conducting thorough project reviews in a manner that protects the seniors who will live in the facility. Green said the town staff asks all developers to hold community meetings in adjacent neighborhoods to describe the project ahead of hearings to prevent "a roomful of angry people saying I didn’t know" and asking numerous questions at public hearings.

Green said Principal Planner Karen Griffith wanted the community to be aware now that a three-story building was going to be built, rather than waiting until the hearing. Lack of knowledge typically "results in a room flooded with residents" and the boards deciding to "put off a decision and delaying a vote" until answers are prepared by the staff for every question that might be asked of the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees. It’s easier for everyone involved to have the citizens ask the questions directly to the developer in an informal community meeting.

The staff, not the commissioners, had asked for no more landscaping than the standard 10 percent required by the staff of every Planned Development project. The staff is "advocating for the seniors, ensuring a nicer project." Green said the project delays have been caused more by Irish than by the staff. Irish has not promptly responded to staff comments, she said.

Irish initially submitted plans that provided no kitchen or dining room, although including these facilities was a condition of Irish being given the land for free. The staff believes the kitchen and dining room added to the revised plans may not be large enough to provide three meals a day. Green stated there is no reason for any staff member or board member to slow down this project.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that any trustees who advocated for the project or reviewed plans would disqualify themselves, and they would have to recuse themselves from voting on the project. He recommended that the board not do as Roberts had requested.

Glenn noted that Irish had been in town but had not talked to anyone in Town Hall. Glenn said Irish should attend a board meeting and make his accusations of "our not doing our jobs to our face."

Roberts asked, "Why is this project taking so long? And to me it seems every time I come here and make this kind of announcement, there’s always a list of reasons and excuses and finger-pointing at Mr. Irish." He said the town doesn’t think it is as important as the new Town Hall project. "The town should call Mr. Irish to tell him what is needed." Shupp responded, "That has been done numerous times and I can suggest to you that I know a developer who could put together this project in about half the time that has been taken so far. So it isn’t the town that is the problem. It’s the developer."

Samuels noted that it already has taken over four years for planning and constructing the Town Hall project and that Irish is allowing the senior housing project to slide by not promptly responding to the town, taking "two months for something that takes 10 minutes to decide."

Glenn stated that a board goal is intergenerational cooperation. He asked Green to set up a conference call with himself, Green, and Irish for the developer to provide the town a schedule. Glenn asked Green to report to the board when schedule dates are missed. He told Roberts that as a developer and civil engineer, he is sure that there is "no way" this project could already have cost $500,000. Glenn told Roberts that he believed that Irish was attempting "to get to us through you, which is unfair to you." Glenn said it was time to stop "finger-pointing to get this thing done."

Green added that Irish took several years to turn his thoughts into plans after numerous pre-application meetings that are kept in the project log. Samuels said it was Irish’s job to complete the project and that Roberts should push Irish to finish the plan, because the board cannot push it.

Financial matters

The board unanimously approved annual liquor license renewals for King Soopers on Baptist Road and Tri-Lakes Liquor at 586 Highway 105.

The board unanimously approved payments of over $5,000 to:

  • $16,546 to Colorado Intergovernmental Risk-Sharing Agency (CIRSA) for quarterly workers’ compensation insurance coverage
  • $16,080 to CIRSA for quarterly property/casualty insurance coverage
  • $106,781 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of the town’s July sales tax
  • $5,284 to Triview for its share of the town’s August motor vehicle tax
  • $7,249 to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for the town’s share of the district’s water storage tank costs
  • $234,461 to Alexandher Building Co. for a monthly payment on construction of the new Town Hall at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105

The board unanimously accepted Smith’s monthly sales tax receipt report for the year to date and the monthly financial report for August. Sales tax is tracking the budget in general with some volatility month to month. General fund revenues are down 4.4 percent, interest income is down 33.5 percent, and general fund expenditures are down 18.5 percent. Year-to-date revenues exceed expenditures by $277,310. Water enterprise fund revenues are down 7.0 percent while expenditures are down 13.4 percent, producing a balance that is $172,000 higher than budgeted.

Staff reports

Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported that construction of the Forest Lakes Metro District water tank has been completed. The tank has been disinfected and is ready for leak testing.

Landreth also reported that a new, smaller pump was installed in Well 3 that should last about three years. "Its useful life is just about up," he said. At that point the well should be re-drilled, providing an opportunity to move it farther west, within a 75-foot radius—farther away from Beacon Lite Road. Well 3 is just south of Second Street. This Denver aquifer well is currently producing about 80 gallons per minute.

A new small park has been completed on Park Trail along the boundary between the Pastimes and Santa Fe Trails developments. The edging was installed as part of an Eagle Scout project. A contest will be held to name the new park. The board will pick the winning submission.

The board briefly discussed options for using, renting, or selling Town Hall when the new municipal building is completed in April. Some of the options discussed were use by the Senior Alliance (with and without a thrift shop), renting office space for Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District, or Triview Metropolitan District, renting the entire space as a community center or renting individual offices, as well as using part of the building for town storage space.

Green added that one office should be kept for the town’s downtown development director. Smith suggested using the building for Public Works staff offices.

However, the land for the current Town Hall was donated to the town by the Monument Homemakers club with the condition that the club could hold its meetings rent free in perpetuity. The legality of selling the building has not been analyzed. Green also noted that the building’s chronic sewer backup problems would need to be disclosed.

Green also advised the board that it should develop criteria regarding Town Hall for:

  • Leases—no charge, small charge, or market lease rate
  • Utilities—included or not included in the lease
  • Improvements—offer the building "as is" or use town funds to make improvements
  • Allowed uses—should Town Hall be used as a thrift shop or for private individual businesses

Trustee Tommie Plank said she thought the town would be foolish to sell the building. Green said she would solicit suggestions from the trustees and town department heads, then prepare a report on options and issues.

Roberts said that D-38 may provide some of its temporary buildings on vacant land between Lewis-Palmer High School and the YMCA building for a social center. However, the seniors will continue to need to use the Town Hall meeting room for noon meals on Mondays and Thursdays. D-38 provides noon meals in the "Big Red" headquarters building on Jefferson Street on Wednesdays. Roberts said his group would like to add meals in Town Hall on Mondays and Fridays after the new Town Hall is completed.

Roberts said the Saturday flea market booth his group sponsors has been inundated with donations and is running out of storage space. Roberts said the Police Department’s modular buildings would be better suited for thrift store storage than would Town Hall.

The board discussed reducing the speed limit on Old Denver Highway to 35 miles per hour to Wagon Gap Trail, to allow painting of new permanent crosswalks for residents of the adjacent housing areas to cross over to the Santa Fe Trail, and installing flashing yellow lights at each of these new crosswalks. Landreth said the requested traffic engineers report on the highway is not yet available.

Glenn said he would like the board to start the process for holding a home-rule election in 2009. Although home rule was defeated in previous elections, Glenn said the town has changed a great deal.

The meeting adjourned at 8:03 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, Oct. 20: Detective Mark Owens promoted to sergeant

By Jim Kendrick

The Oct. 20 Monument Board of Trustees meeting began with formal recognition of the achievements of two outstanding members of the Monument Police Department.

Chief Jake Shirk stated that Mark Owens was the first member of the department to be promoted during his tenure of 3 1/2 years. "He’s put his heart, his life, his blood, his sweat, and I can tell you many tears into doing a great job for the Monument Police Department." Shirk said Owens had brought forth the concept of the department’s tactical team, including the incorporation of Tri-Lakes firefighters as combat medics. Owens came out on top of the testing for this first promotion under the new department promotion system. His wife, Jennifer Owens, pinned on his new sergeant’s badge.

Shirk then presented Administrative Assistant and Court Clerk Mary Ellen Burk a chief’s commendation for "her many hours of dedication, hard work, and professional behavior that she displays on a daily basis. Without Mary Ellen’s driving force and enthusiasm, the Monument Police Department could not be as successful as it is now." Shirk noted that other police departments have adopted her "precise" process for promotions due to its professional, accurate, and well-documented procedures. "Mary Ellen is a very important part of a great team of professionals who I have the great pleasure to work with."

Trustee Gail Drumm was absent from the meeting.

2009 Preliminary Budget presented

Town Treasurer Pamela Smith provided trustees a two-part preliminary draft of the 2009 budget based on passage or rejection of the county’s sales tax initiative, Question 1A. The town will lose a significant amount of county road and bridge funding if Question 1A is not approved. The trustees were asked to review the budget options and prepare questions, suggestions, and/or changes in time for her to present the final budget at a hearing during the Nov. 17 board meeting.

The board unanimously approved a resolution for establishing a "Red Flag Policy" for an identity-theft prevention program. The policy also defines procedures for identifying suspicious activities that might lead to identity theft. The approved policy document identifies Smith as the "Senior Management Person responsible for this program."

The board unanimously approved a resolution recommended by Public Works Director Rich Landreth for revising the town fee schedule to:

  • Eliminate numerous fees that are no longer charged.
  • Change or delete fee titles that are incorrect or inaccurately named.
  • Raise the fee for business licenses from $50 to $75 (this revenue is placed in the business development fund and hasn’t been changed in over 15 years).
  • Raise the construction meter refundable deposit from $1,000 to $1,500 (new meters now cost more than $1,000).

The increases take effect on Jan. 1.

The board unanimously approved annual liquor license renewals for the Rotelli Pizza Pasta and Texas Roadhouse restaurants. Both are in the Monument Marketplace.

The board unanimously approved payments of over $5,000 to:

  • $107,023 to Triview Metropolitan District for its share of the town’s August sales tax.
  • $5,770 to Triview for its share of the town’s September motor vehicle tax.
  • $152,787 to Triview for its share of the town’s annual property tax.
  • $8,510 to Krassa & Miller LLC for professional services for water related legal issues.
  • $334,905 to Alexandher Building Co. for a monthly payment on construction of the new Town Hall at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105.

Staff reports

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported an increase in court cost fees from $10 to $30, a new $25 extension fee for failure to complete requirements for a deferred sentence, and a $25 fee for insufficient funds for a check given to the court.

Shupp noted that Kalima Masse was being evicted by the new owner of the Rockwell Ready-Mix concrete batch plant property on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street. She sold the property several months ago but has stayed in the house on this property. Masse recently asked the District Court for a preliminary injunction preventing her eviction. Shupp said he had testified during this Oct. 15 injunction hearing. The court "re-formed the contract" and gave her three weeks to vacate that property. The town may see some moves toward reclamation of the batch plant property once Masse is removed.

Development Services Director Tom Kassawara noted that there has been a significant increase in commercial development proposals that are now being reviewed by his staff. There is still no significant residential development.

Construction of Town Hall by Alexandher Construction Co. is going quite well with "no glitches," he said.

Town engineering consultant Nolte and Associates has had difficulty completing the renovation project on Third Street, Kassawara said. Most of the utilities have been moved underground. Drainage subcontractor Ayres Associates has had personnel changes. The engineer who originally drafted the drainage design has resigned. The revisions to this design are almost finished now. There have also been some problems getting permission from some affected landowners.

Landreth noted that the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District water tank was filled for its leak check. Some of the tens of thousands of bolts need to be tightened to eliminate the leaks.

Well contractor Amwest Inc. has made its final recommendations for a short-term fix of Well 3.

Chief Shirk reported that the first class of the community police academy has graduated. A highlight was a taser demonstration on a volunteer from the class. The department plans to offer the 27-hour academy program twice per year. Green said the graduates were highly supportive of the class, and she suggested that board members attend the classes because they "were so highly praised."

Shirk noted that the Police Department has started a reserve officer program for certified individuals who wish to volunteer part-time. These individuals will provide their own equipment. The town will pay for insuring them. The insurance cost for each reserve officer is under $1,000.

Shirk discussed a burglary that took place at Tri-Lakes Liquor. New Officer Keith Moreland observed a vehicle leaving the store at a high speed when he responded to the alarm. The vehicle was apprehended in Palmer Lake, and several occupants ran from the vehicle. Five individuals were arrested. Four were juveniles; they were released to their parents. The other suspect is an adult Colorado Springs resident.

Shirk also reported a burglary of car keys from inside a residence while the owners were asleep. The department recovered the stolen vehicle.

Officer Joe Lundy, formerly of the Palmer Lake Police Department, has been hired to fill the remaining Monument Police Department vacancy.

The department is working aggressively on local drug activities with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, Shirk said.

Green reported that Roger Davis of the Lucretia Vaile Museum has completed the plaque it wants to display in the foyer of the new Town Hall. It is available for viewing by the trustees.

Green said that she and Glenn spoke with Arbor Mountain developer Tim Irish in a conference call after the Oct. 6 board meeting to discuss complaints he had raised during a visit with members of the Senior Alliance on Oct. 3. Irish did not contact town staff during that visit. Irish agreed to return to Colorado to meet with the town staff on Oct. 30. They will discuss all aspects of the design for this senior residence facility.

Staff training will be available soon for the town’s new Web site software. The revision should be up and running by Nov. 1.

The Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce will be starting an economic development corporation, Green said.

A description of the proposed changes in the town’s relationship with Triview Metropolitan District is being drafted for the next town newsletter that will be published in the first week of December.

Green distributed a first draft of some of the factors the board should consider in determining priorities for future uses of the current Town Hall building after the staff moves out in April. An application form was included in the draft for agencies that may want to apply to use the building after it is vacated.

The staff’s priorities for the building were storage, revenue for the salary of the downtown development director as well as an office, and luncheon meetings for the Monument Homemakers on the first Thursday of the month. The town currently spends $900 per year for rented storage space.

The Senior Alliance wants to continue using the building for mid-day meals two to four days per week, but has turned down a lease of $1 per year for the entire building.

Alive at 25 and the Historic Monument Merchants Association want to continue their once-a-month meetings in the building. Tri-Lakes Fire and Triview Metro are interested in administrative office space in the building.

Trustees Easton and Drumm recommended that the building be sold. Smith noted that sale of the building would require an election. The plumbing, heating, and air conditioning systems need to be inspected and possibly replaced prior to offering it for sale.

Green said she would mail out booklets to the trustees on home-rule issues. She suggested having the first workshop meeting in January, due to the number of other issues the board must address in November and December.

During public comments, Colorado House District 20 Democratic candidate Jan Hejtmanek suggested that the board pass a resolution advocating green energy in response to plans to drill for natural gas in the state park at the west end of Mount Herman Road. Trustee Rafael Dominguez noted that he is a member of the energy committee of the Colorado Municipal League, which is aggressively addressing state energy needs and could give the board a presentation on the issue.

The meeting adjourned at 8 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, Oct. 8: New downtown design guidelines approved

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 8, the Monument Planning Commission approved a report prepared by the town’s Architectural Design Committee and recommended that the Board of Trustees adopt the committee’s downtown design guidelines. The commissioners also approved two town code amendments regarding zone districts and home-based occupations. Newly appointed Commissioner Bill Baker attended his first meeting, replacing former Commissioner Patricia Mettler. Commissioner Tom Martin was absent.

Proposed downtown design guidelines

The report and downtown guidelines had been requested by the Board of Trustees. Principal Planner Karen Griffith said that the purpose of the report is to recommend a vision of downtown Monument as well as a plan for achieving the vision. Downtown design recommendations were attached to the report. Once both recommendations are approved by the board, the staff intends to draft them into an ordinance that will go through public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees.

Some additional recommended strategies, in addition to those in the town’s Comprehensive Plan, were discussed. The town should provide funding or allocation of time for staff or consultants to identify and apply for funding such as grants or loans for:

  • Improvements, including developing the Second Street Streetscape and future side street drainage and streetscape projects.
  • Providing cash or low-cost loans to property owners for private improvements to downtown buildings and streetscapes.
  • Other recommended strategies were:
  • Development of a Second Street Streetscape design should be a high priority for enhancing the appearance and viability of Historic Downtown property.
  • Use of the recommended design guidelines for traditional neighborhood design as standards until they are incorporated in the town code.
  • Adoption of a "Form Based Code" component to the municipal code that includes a specific physical plan for downtown, with specifications for placement of buildings and standards for design in order to achieve the desired form. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Form-based_codes for a description of this type of regulation.)

After a lengthy discussion, the commissioners unanimously approved the two documents.

Zoning code amendments

Griffith reported that the staff had reviewed the town’s zoning code and subdivision regulations at the request of the Board of Trustees.

The staff suggested changing minimum lot size and width in R-1 single-family house areas from 15,000 square feet and 90 feet to 6,000 square feet and 50 feet to be more consistent with the original downtown plats. Griffith suggested that side setbacks be reduced from 7.5 feet to 5 feet and rear setbacks be reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet.

The staff suggested changing minimum lot size and width in R-2 single-family house areas from 9,000 square feet and 65 feet to 7,000 square feet and 50 feet. She suggested that side setbacks be reduced from 7.5 feet to 5 feet and rear setbacks be reduced from 25 feet to 20 feet.

The staff also suggested reductions in lot size and setbacks for R-3 multi-family housing to match requirements common in traditional zone districts throughout Colorado to encourage new multi-family development.

All these changes would lessen the need for variance applications to the Board of Adjustment for additions or new construction in downtown Monument and encourage more variety in house styles, Griffith said.

After a lengthy discussion, the board approved the amendment 4-1 with Commissioner Dave Gwisdalla opposed to smaller lot sizes and the possible increase in view restrictions for neighboring property owners.

Amendments for home occupations

The staff recommended these changes for accessory uses for home occupations in the zoning code and subdivision regulations:

  • Adding an exception to the 20 percent limit on the gross floor area and 300-square-foot size limit for accessory uses for day care, adult care homes, and foster care uses.
  • Creating Class I and Class II home occupation categories, where Class I uses have minimal impacts to surrounding neighbors and Class II would require public hearings before the Planning Commission and Board of Trustees on meeting criteria and compatibility with the adjacent neighborhood
  • Adding stricter performance standards to ensure minimal impact of authorized home occupations on the adjacent neighborhood, adding restrictions for noise, light, vibration, heat, and electrical interference to current restrictions on glare, fumes, odors, noise, and other "objectionable conditions" beyond the lot.
  • Allowing the outdoor play areas that are required by the state for licensed day care homes.
  • Clarifying that mail order businesses are an allowed home occupation.
  • Restricting parking of large vehicles in residential areas.
  • Restricting deliveries to normal daily deliveries by public and private mail carriers.
  • Limiting operating hours to 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
  • Adding a provision for annual inspections and additional inspections if a complaint is filed to determine if a Board of Trustees compliance hearing should be scheduled for license revocation.

After a lengthy discussion, the starting time limit for home business operating hours was changed from 8 a.m. to 6 a.m. and approved 3-2, with Commissioner Baker and Ed Delaney opposed.

The meeting adjourned at 9:32 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 12 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board, Oct. 9: Progress reported on Lake Woodmoor repairs

By Jim Kendrick

The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board heard on Oct. 9 that steady progress was being made on routine repairs to the Lake Woodmoor drainage system and that its cash reserves were safely invested.

All board members and department heads were present.

Collapsing soil problem

During opening public comments, Ginger Gillings, a Woodmoor homeowner who lives on the shoreline of Lake Woodmoor, inquired if the board had reached a decision on problems with collapsing soil on the edge of the lake that occurred once the draining operation began. The district owns the lake. District Manager Phil Steininger noted that the previous owner had declined the improvements Woodmoor had made to every other residential lot on the perimeter of the lake when it stabilized the shoreline in the past. Gillings is not responsible for that decision, he added.

This settling problem has never occurred on this unimproved residential lot or the district’s adjacent unimproved shoreline because the lake has never been drained since the improvements were installed.

The total cost for installing similar improvements on the Gillings lot and the adjacent Woodmoor shoreline now would be about $30,000, said district civil engineer Jessie Schaffer. About $10,000 of that would pay for the portion on the Gillings property. The rest of the sinking soil problem is occurring on the adjacent district’s portion of the shoreline.

Board President Benny Nasser told Gillings the board was just learning of her problem and would not have an answer for her at this meeting. Gillings said she wasn’t expecting an answer and just wanted to meet with the board. On the advice of the district’s attorney, Erin Smith, the board deferred further discussion of the issue until the executive session at the end of the meeting.

Operations Superintendent Randy Gillette reported that steady progress is being made on draining Lake Woodmoor to replace the slide-gate drainage valve and associated underdrain pipe network that would be used to rapidly drain the lake in the case of an emergency. The dam will be refurbished as required after the lake is drained.

Gillette noted a slight change in plans. Every bit of the existing water in the lake must be drained instead of leaving some available for construction purposes. This total draining will help ensure that there is no possible contamination when the state Department of Wildlife restocks the lake with a different kind of fish after the lake is refilled. The existing pike and walleyes in the lake are also predators of the new saugeye fish that will be used for restocking and must be completely removed.

Report on cash reserves

Investment banker Randy Rush of Integrity Bank reviewed the investment status of the district’s $7.875 million cash reserves. He said none were with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae. They are invested in a 2-year ladder of state-approved short-term investments:

  • 71 percent are in government agency instruments.
  • 25 percent are in small certificates of deposit that are all fully insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
  • 4 percent are in insured money market accounts.

The board went into executive session at 2:14 p.m.

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The next board meeting will include the 2009 budget hearing. It will be held at 1 p.m. on Nov. 22 in the district’s conference room, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 488-2525 or www.woodmoorwater.com

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Stallsmith's service recognized

Below: Former Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board President Kathleen Williams presents Director Joe Stallsmith with a plaque commemorating his cumulative total of 30 years of service as a board member at a reception held in his honor at the Inn at Palmer Divide on Oct. 17. District Manager Duane Hanson pointed out to the large audience in attendance that Stallsmith, who is currently a board member, was on the original board that created the district in 1972 and that he has been on the board for every major event throughout the district’s history. Stallsmith told numerous stories of amusing and serious problems the district has experienced. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Joint Use Committee, Oct. 14: Geological Survey won’t join in creek sampling

Below: Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Bill Burks received the 2008 Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association’s State of Colorado Plant Operation Merit Award "for accomplishing outstanding results in wastewater treatment." The Joint Use Committee members congratulating him on Oct. 14 are (L-R) Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District Board President Benny Nasser, Palmer Lake Sanitation District Board President Dale Platt, and Monument Sanitation District Vice-President Lowell Morgan. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Oct. 14, Tri-Lakes Wastewater Treatment Facility Manager Bill Burks advised the Joint Use Committee (JUC) that the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) had declined his request to conduct third-party sampling for trace quantities of heavy metals, total inorganic nitrogen, and phosphates in Monument Creek upstream and downstream from the facility.

Facility staff will conduct about a year of testing for these compounds to establish a water-quality baseline now that the creek has been redesignated from "use protected" status to "reviewable" by the state’s Water Quality Control Commission. USGS apparently has no additional staff or budget to pay for a share of this basic research on the current status of Monument Creek.

Burks received the 2008 Rocky Mountain Water Environment Association’s State of Colorado Plant Operation Merit Award "for accomplishing outstanding results in wastewater treatment."

Burks reported that the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had approved his annual self-certification compliance submittal on Sept. 19. Only 59 of 110 major facilities successfully completed the self-certification process.

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 of the JUC, the facility’s board, were present at this meeting: President Dale Platt from Palmer Lake, Vice President Lowell Morgan from Monument, and Secretary-Treasurer Benny Nasser. Several other directors and staff members from the three districts also attended.

2009 testing regime finalized

The members of the JUC concurred with the increases to the 2009 budget their districts will have to cover for the higher costs of the additional testing required in obtaining a discharge permit from the state Health Department for 2010 through 2014. The JUC agreed to the increase in testing during a budget discussion at the Sept. 9 meeting. The cost of the new five-year permit, due in July, is about $11,000.

The following hearing dates for the final versions of the JUC budget for 2009 and the supporting 2009 district budgets for the districts are:

  • Tri-Lakes – Nov. 11 at 10 a.m. (information: 481-4053)

  • Palmer Lake – Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. (481-2732)

  • Woodmoor – Nov. 13 at 1 p.m. (488-2525)

  • Monument – Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m. (481-4886)

The purpose of the testing regime is to define the current water quality in Monument Creek to determine the remaining assimilative capacity to absorb minute amounts of these metals and compounds. The state water commission ruled in June 2007 that it would start enforcing an "anti-degradation" policy for wastewater facilities discharging treated effluent to Monument Creek and Fountain Creek. Upstream samples for the facility will be taken just below the Monument Lake dam.

The facility has been operating under a waiver for the minuscule amount of dissolved copper in the facility’s effluent that allows an average maximum copper concentration in treated wastewater of 24.8 parts per billion (PPB), rather than the current permit limit of 8.7 PPB on average. The state has proposed dropping the average amount of copper allowed in the effluent to 8 parts per billion (PPB). Currently the plant averages a barely detectable 9-13 PPB of discharged copper and cannot meet this new standard. The testing methods approved by the EPA cannot detect copper levels less than 5 PPB. The copper level for September was 11.4 PPB.

The estimated cost to modify the $6 million facility by adding "tertiary reverse osmosis" treatment equipment to meet the proposed new standard of 8 PPB, or possibly even less under the as yet undefined anti-degradation policy, is $25 million to $30 million.

Burks noted that the state’s permit writers have indicated that the current temporary permit modification for copper waiver, a maximum average of 24.8 PPB and a maximum of 36.4 PPB per sample, may be extended for the new permit while the water quality sampling study is being conducted by his staff.

Monument District Manager Mike Wicklund noted that Monument had banned copper pipe for new and replacement construction. He added that Triview Metropolitan District would be adopting a similar ban.

Woodmoor will 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 Tri-Lakes 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. Woodmoor is currently renovating the dam, its emergency discharge slide-gate outlet valve, and under-drain pipe system in preparation for using Lake Woodmoor for storing the recycled effluent.

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.

In other matters, Nasser announced that Woodmoor District Manager Phil Steininger will retire on Dec. 31. He will be replaced by Woodmoor’s civil engineer Jessie Schaffer. Operations Superintendent Randy Gillette will gain a second title, assistant district manager.

The meeting adjourned at 10:45 a.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 10 a.m. on Nov. 11 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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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, October 15: Steininger to retire from the Woodmoor District; Cherokee metro district building aquifer recharge facility

Below: Artist’s rendering of Cherokee Metropolitan District’s percolation basins. Provided by the Cherokee district.

By John Heiser

At the October 15 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Phil Steininger, General Manager of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District announced that he is retiring January 3 to do volunteer work for his church. District engineer Jessie Shaffer will succeed Steininger as general manager of the Woodmoor district.

At the same meeting, Kip Petersen, General Manager of the Cherokee Metropolitan District, described his district’s $32 million project to recharge the southern part of the Upper Black Squirrel Groundwater basin.

Petersen said the project involves 11 unlined ponds with capacities ranging from 90,000 to 110,000 gallons. The ponds are located near the intersection of Henderson Road and Bar 10 Road near Ellicott. In rotation, the ponds will be filled to a depth of 2-3 feet with treated effluent from the district’s wastewater treatment plant, which is about 5 miles northwest of the recharge facility.

The water will percolate down to the alluvial aquifer. Petersen said tests demonstrated the high quality of the water delivered to the aquifer. The transfer time to the aquifer was about three months.

He said the district is within 18 months of starting operation. The facility will handle 1.2 million gallons per day, about 90 percent of the effluent produced by the district, which will extend the district’s water supply by about 3,000 acre-feet per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. Petersen said that with reuse, the district can extend its water supply about five times. He added that there is the potential for expansion to 5,000-7,000 acre-feet per year. He noted that it took two years to get site approval from the state agencies.

Draft 2009 budget discussed

Dana Duthie, General Manager of the Donala Water and Sanitation District and treasurer of the PPRWA, distributed copies of a draft 2009 budget based on a two-tier dues structure. Districts serving or with potential to serve 1,200 or more single family equivalents (SFE) would pay $15,000, down from $25,000 for 2008. Districts with fewer than 1,200 SFE actual or potential customers would pay $5,000 per year. In addition, associate membership would be offered at $1,000. After some discussion, the tiered dues structure was unanimously approved.

Duthie estimated total revenue for the year to be about $80,000. Projected administrative expenses and contingency funds total $134,000 leaving a $54,000 deficit and an estimated ending fund balance of about $46,000. Duthie noted that if the EPCWA is disbanded (see Donala article), the PPRWA might pick up additional members so the funding deficit would be reduced.

The costs of any projects undertaken by the authority would be divided among the participating districts.

The dues proposal and budget will be discussed at the authority’s November 19 meeting.

Other matters

  • Shaffer reported that the Northern Collaboration Committee has been meeting with representatives of the Colorado State Engineer’s office about seeking a water court decree covering exchanges for wastewater plant effluent. Brian Sutton, water commissioner for the local state water district 10, told the authority that members can continue to operate under administrative exchange approvals from his office but that operating without a decree opens the door for one of the members or others to obtain a priority position in water rights on Monument Creek. He recommended obtaining the decree. He said, "It may eliminate arguments later. It protects you guys from yourselves." Due to the estimated $25,000 to $40,000 in legal expenses involved, the authority decided to table the matter for now.
  • Rocky Wiley of Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor Engineering reported that after making additional revisions to the joint water conservation plan in response to requests from the state agency he learned that the agency does not have any remaining grant money. Duthie asked Wiley to present a bid to prepare a conservation plan for the authority.

Following the public meeting, the PPRWA went into an executive session to discuss negotiations and to receive legal advice.

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held November 19 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second Street in Monument. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month.

The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, October 15: District on schedule to complete purchase of $4.6 million ranch

Below: At the Donala board meeting Oct. 15: Wastewater operator Thom Waite (L) was named employee of the quarter. He is being congratulated by district president Dennis Daugherty. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting October 15, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported that the purchase of the Mt. Massive Ranch is on track 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 October 15 meeting. Board members Dick Durham, William George, Tim Murphy, and Dale Schendzielos were present.

Draft 2009 budget distributed

In the draft 2009 budget Duthie distributed, total projected annual revenue is $7.4 million. Some of the larger amounts are $2.5 million for the wastewater plant expansion, $1.7 million from water sales, $1.2 million from property taxes, and $860,000 from sewer service.

2009 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $4.3 million. Some of the larger amounts are $844,000 for repayment of loans, $675,000 for wastewater plant expenses, $518,000 for salaries, $500,000 for repairs and maintenance, and $290,000 for utilities.

Capital project expenses are estimated at $6.5 million including $2.5 million for the continuing wastewater treatment plant expansion and $2.5 million for the district’s pursuit of renewable water.

The projected ending total fund balance is $6.6 million, down $4.2 million from the projected ending fund balance for 2008.

A hearing on the budget will be held at the board’s November 24 meeting.

Water rate increases proposed

The draft budget was based on the following proposed 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 irrigation water rates match the above residential rates up to 40,000 gallons per month. Over 40,000 gallons, the irrigation 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.

A final decision on the rate proposal will be made at the November 24 board meeting.

Water returns project update

Duthie reported that the last training session was held September 27. Five of the nine participants attended. A sixth has completed his project and been reimbursed. Participants who attended the required number of training sessions have until December 15 to submit for reimbursement written estimates or receipts for expenses associated with their projects.

Duthie added that the district is considering sponsoring two or three local workshops next year to educate district residents on ways to reduce their use of water for landscape irrigation.

Other matters

  • Wastewater operator Thom Waite was named the employee of the quarter for his work in dealing with storm water infiltration problems that nearly overwhelmed the wastewater treatment plant.
  • During the three months from July 1 through September 30, the district’s $5.8 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 3.59 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 2.22 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 4.2 months.
  • Duthie reported that at its meeting October 1, the El Paso County Water Authority (EPCWA) received the final report and presentation on the potential to use the Upper Black Squirrel aquifer for water storage. He noted that legal issues remain as to who owns the water once it has been pumped into the aquifer.
  • Duthie distributed copies of a letter he wrote to the EPCWA, proposing that since the authority has completed its current projects, it should be disbanded, the EPCWA’s responsibilities for administrating the Transit Loss Model and coordinating with other entities should be transferred to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), and the EPCWA’s member districts should be encouraged to join the PPRWA. In his proposal, he requested that the matter be discussed at the EPCWA’s November 5 meeting.
  • Duthie reported that representatives of the PPRWA met with representatives of Aqua Capital Management and WestWater Research. He said Aqua is negotiating to buy rights to groundwater in south Douglas County. Aqua is interested in selling the water to local districts. Duthie added that the PPRWA representatives said there might be interest in purchasing up to 2,000 acre-feet per year if the water could be delivered to the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, Monument Creek, or to a point near Roller Coaster Road and Higby Road. Duthie also reported on the PPRWA October 15 meeting. See PPRWA article.
  • Duthie said the Donala district representatives met with TCB/AECOM, a company knowledgeable about small-scale alternative power projects such as the potential of adding hydroelectric power generation units at the pressure reducing valves in the district’s water system. TCB/AECOM said the turbines require constant flow with fairly high pressure. The conclusion was that it would generally not be cost effective for the district because most points in the system where the flow rates are constant and high enough, the pressure is insufficient and where the pressure is high enough, the flow rates are not constant. Duthie noted that district will continue to look at opportunities when installing new infrastructure. He added that the district is still considering adding solar electric panels at the wastewater treatment plant and on top of the district’s tanks.
  • He said start up of the sequencing batch reaction equipment at the wastewater treatment plant is now expected in December. The new biosolids press has been designed and is being submitted for permitting. The district would provide the funding and then seek to recover a share of the costs from the Triview Metropolitan District.
  • 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. 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 Mon., November 24 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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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, Oct. 22: Cut gas line leads to fire at construction site

Below: Oct. 16: A "ditch witch" cable trenching machine struck, ruptured, and ignited a buried natural gas line between Chase Bank and the new McDonald’s under construction in the Monument Ridge center on Baptist Road, opposite King Soopers. A strong westerly wind carried the flames to the wood framing of the McDonald’s building setting it ablaze. The trencher on the left was a total loss ($15,000) and about $80,000 in damage occurred to the framed walls and roof of the McDonald’s. The wood structure was demolished within two days and all new materials were used to re-build the restaurant building from the ground up. Photos by Wescott Assistant Chief Vinny Burns, the on-scene incident commander.

By Jim Kendrick

At the Oct. 22 Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board meeting, Assistant Chief Vinny Burns described a fire that occurred within the district on Oct. 16 at the construction site for the new McDonald’s in the Monument Ridge center at Struthers and Baptist Roads.

A gas line between the McDonald’s and Chase Bank buildings was cut by a trenching machine, causing flames that quickly engulfed the machine, then spread to the building site and nearby equipment. The fire was extinguished in less than 2 minutes, saving the majority of the structure. The fire damage was estimated to be around $80,000 for the building and another $15,000 for the destroyed "ditch witch" machine.

Burns noted that he was taking pictures at the McDonald’s site on Oct. 16 in preparation for a firefighting class he is teaching. He suddenly heard a hissing sound and observed people "bailing off the McDonald’s roof and running." He ran around the framed building and saw that the leaking gas line had ignited and set the machine on fire. Because it was a very windy day, it quickly set the adjacent new wood framing on fire as well.

Burns took incident command of the scene as Wescott, Tri-Lakes, and Palmer Lake firefighters arrived in accordance with the North Group mutual aid protocol. Larkspur Chief Jamie Bumgarner served as safety officer. A Black Forest engine and crew moved over to Wescott Station 1 throughout the McDonald’s incident in case there was another fire dispatch within the Wescott district.

The fire was extinguished in two minutes. A large crowd observed the incident from the King Soopers parking lot.

Every portion of the partially completed structure was demolished by the McDonald’s building contractor within two days after the fire. New materials were used to start construction all over again to ensure the safety of the new facility for workers and future patrons.

Overall expenses remain within budget

Treasurer Dennis Feltz reported that expenses for firefighting and expendable equipment have exceeded the line-item amounts in the 2008 budget. However, the budgeted amounts for the overall firefighting budget remain within the previously approved total expenditures for the year.

The number of wildland firefighting deployments to California has been larger than expected. The district will be reimbursed for these wildland deployment payroll, equipment, and fuel expenses.

Board President Kevin Gould noted that the revised format for the treasurer’s report makes it easier for the directors to track each line item from month to month. Further adjustments may be made to the monthly treasurer’s report format.

Chief Jeff Edwards, Recording Secretary Cheryl Marshall, and Burns identified the various line items that will exceed the 2008 budgeted amounts, such as fuel and payroll taxes. Edwards noted that the budget is based upon estimates. The board will file an amended budget with the state, as well as an amended appropriation if necessary, before the end of the year. There was a lengthy discussion of options for managing the budget as the end of the year approaches.

The board members requested that the staff notify them when a budget line is within 10 percent of the expected total. This will give the board sufficient time to address any problems or unforeseen contingencies before they become a financial crisis.

The treasurer’s report was accepted unanimously by the Board.

The board was also pleased with the new format developed for the draft 2009 annual budget. It now includes the amount of detail by line item that the board was seeking. The board decided to defer any decisions on firefighter salary increases for 2009 until the next board meeting to allow sufficient time to review options. Gould asked each board member to be prepared to discuss issues and capital projects.

Chief’s report

Chief Edwards reported 89 runs in September, for a total of 1,000 runs for the year, a 21 percent increase from the previous year.

Edwards informed the board that he had talked to the Sheriff’s Office about problems with the reverse 911 calls made by El Paso County during the recent manhunt that occurred in the Gleneagle area. These emergency calls produced an unidentifiable caller I.D. display that led numerous homeowners to ignore the calls. The county will be addressing the caller I.D. problem, he said.

The district received a thank you letter from the Muscular Dystrophy Association for its participation in the "Fill the Boot" campaign. The firefighters raised a Wescott district record of $14,349.

The district also received a thank you note from the Forward Air Controllers (FAC) Memorial Committee for providing medical support during the dedication ceremony for the new memorial structure. Over 1,200 people attended the event.

The Residential Fire Safety Institute presented a 2007 Life Safety Achievement Award to Wescott in recognition of keeping the community safe and having no fatalities occur during runs within the Wescott district for the entire year.

The district has received a set of building plans for a new strip mall that will be located in the Monument Ridge center behind the McDonald’s and Walgreen’s buildings, to the south .

Under Colorado’s Safe Haven Law enacted in 2001, all fire stations have been designated as a "Safe Haven" for mothers to surrender their newborns within the first 72 hours of life with no questions asked. The district has received two signs identifying the station as a Safe Haven. In Colorado, 27 babies have been safely relinquished to firefighters since this law’s inception.

The board entered into executive session to discuss negotiations at 8:24 p.m. It reconvened the regular meeting at 9:12 p.m. There were no other comments.

The meeting adjourned at 9:13 pm.

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The district’s Pension Board will hold its next semi-annual meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 19 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive, followed by the regular board meeting at 7 p.m. Regular board meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, October 16: D-38 receives $190,000 check for PRHS geothermal system

Below (L-R): D-38 Superintendent Ray Blanch Keith Emerson of Tri-State, D-38 Supervisor of Maintenance Services Jim Carter, MVEA board member Gary Martin, School Board Vice President John Mann. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting October 16, Gary Martin, board member of the Mountain View Electric Association (MVEA), presented an energy credit check in the amount of $190,161, consisting of $67,090 from MVEA and $132,071 from the Tri-­State Generation and Transmission Association, to the district for the geothermal system and other energy efficient features used in the construction of Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS). Attending the presentation were Darryl Edwards, Manager of MVEA’s Member Services Department; Ray Singmaster, MVEA master electrician; Debbie Skillicorn, MVEA member services specialist; and Keith Emerson of Tri­-State. John Mann, Board of Education Vice President, received the check on behalf of the district.

Martin, who lives in Woodmoor and has two children in the district, said the PRHS geothermal heat pump system is the largest in Colorado and is the greatest contributor to the 40 percent energy saving anticipated compared to a conventional high school building. He said PRHS will save about $22,000 per month in energy costs. He added that the CO2 savings is the equivalent to taking 80 cars off the road. He noted that the district also saved $225,000 in construction costs.

Mann presided at the meeting. President Dee Dee Eaton was absent due to illness.

Board discusses needs of special student populations

Board members and Superintendent Ray Blanch held a conversation with parents and students in Gifted and Talented (GT), English Language Learner (ELL), and Special Education programs. Board members asked a variety of questions to gain insight into the needs of these students and their families. The parents noted the importance of advocating for their children. They also voiced a common concern regarding their children being challenged to reach their potential.

Other matters

  • Citizen comments - Deborah Goth, mother of children at both district high schools, commented on the recent homecoming events held at each school. She stated both homecoming dances were fabulous, with 72 percent of Lewis­-Palmer High School (LPHS) students and 55 percent of the PRHS students in attendance. She thanked the district personnel who were involved in supporting the homecoming activities.
  • October student enrollment report – Cheryl Wangeman, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, presented the initial student count estimates for 2008-­09 indicating the district will be 26 full-time equivalent (FTE) students below budget. This will result in reduction in revenue from the state of $170,300. The decrease is in addition to the decline of 70 students previously anticipated. Wangeman noted that so far this year, the district reduced expenditures $244,000 through elimination of two positions in administration, five teaching positions, and two FTE in transportation. She stated that in these uncertain economic times, the district must closely monitor enrollment and react swiftly and responsibly to any changes. Student enrollment for 2008­-09, excluding Monument Academy, is estimated at 5,254.
  • Budget report – Wangeman presented the 2007­-08 audited general fund, capital reserve fund, and insurance fund balances. The district ended the 2007­-08 school year with reserves slightly above estimated levels. Increased energy costs were a major factor during the past year. Wangeman said the district will strive to build a $200,000 reserve to cover fluctuating costs of recurring expenditures such as fuel costs and provision for special needs students.
  • District Accountability Advisory Committee (DAAC) charge approved – Mirielle Bock, DAAC co­-chair, presented the proposed 2008-­09 charge for the committee. New responsibilities incorporated into the charge include participation on task forces created to pursue student learning ends related to the district strategic vision and reviewing and providing input to the board concerning the new charter school application. The board unanimously approved the charge, which will now be submitted to the Colorado Board of Education.
  • Updated Board of Education Policy Governance® document approved –Blanch presented recent updates and changes to the board’s Policy Governance® manual, which was initially adopted in March 2008. The revisions include updated information regarding the DAAC, the Facilities and Enrollment Committee, and the Audit Committee. Board members unanimously approved the changes to the policy manual.
  • PRHS contract completion – Fred Voseipka, of RLH Engineering, made a presentation detailing the completion of the PRHS construction project. The project entailing 217,000 square feet of space was completed within 21 months from board approval. He said the construction was completed on time and under budget. With a final Saunders Construction contract amount of $45,413,442, the bond program has a net surplus of $1.17 million. Remaining monies will be used to finance additional improvements at LPHS, including addressing security issues and improvements to the entry lobby. The board unanimously approved the final contract amount.
  • Operating Limitations Policy 2.0: General Operating Limitations –Blanch presented this monitoring report in accordance with the Policy Governance® model. The policy states, in part that the Superintendent shall neither cause nor allow organizational circumstances that are illegal, unethical, or imprudent. Blanch addressed comments and questions from board members, who suggested minor revisions to the report before formally voting to accept the report.
  • Consent agenda items - The board unanimously approved several matters concerning students, personnel, and finances.
  • Superintendent’s update –Blanch noted that the completion of the PRHS construction project required an impressive group of people including district staff members on the core team, students on the design committee, engineers and architects, construction workers, the Woodmoor Improvement Association, and many government officials. The district is planning an event to celebrate this accomplishment.
  • Board member comments - Mark Pfoff commented briefly about internet safety and asked how the district instructs students in this matter. Gail Wilson stated that she hopes district patrons support the Mill Levy Override (MLO) ballot measure. Mann thanked Blanch and the leadership team for coming together to do an outstanding job of leading the district after the MLO failed last November.

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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 November 19 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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Children participate in Walk and Bike to School Day

Photos by David Futey.

Below:  Planning Commissioner Jen Martin (far right) dressed as the Pied Piper to lead the participants of the Walk and Bike to School Day from the Palmer Lake village green to the school. 

Below: (L-R) Palmer Lake Mayor John Cressman, dressed as the Wizard of Oz, announces Pocahontas to the participants of the Walk and Bike to School Day on October 8.

Below: Palmer Lake Police Chief Gene Ferrin addresses the participants of the Walk and Bike to School Day at the end of their journey. Chief Ferrin spoke about the benefits of walking and biking to school and also safety precautions.

By David Futey

On Oct. 8, over 60 Palmer Lake schoolchildren of various ages participated in a walk and bike to school event as part of the 2008 International Walk and Bike to School Day. The event also recognized the town’s Safe Routes to School Grant, which will enable sidewalks to be built from the elementary school to Highway 105.

The children and their parents were accompanied on the walk from the village green to the elementary school by an array of storybook characters portrayed by Lewis-Palmer Middle School eighth-graders in the National Junior Honor Society. Carrie Locke, the eighth-graders’ teacher, stated that the students have a strong interest in becoming involved in the community and perform a community service activity each month during the school year.

The eighth-graders were dressed as Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, Alice in Wonderland, Raggedy Ann and Andy, Pocahontas, and the Big Bad Wolf, among other characters. Mayor John Cressman portrayed the Wizard of Oz and announced the characters as they exited from the Palmer Lake town hall onto the village green. Planning Commissioner Jen Martin, dressed as the Pied Piper, led the participants with flute in hand from the village green to the school, where muffins, juice, and coffee awaited them.

At the school, Police Chief Gene Ferrin addressed the children about the health benefits of walking and riding a bike to school and about safety precautions they should take along the way, like wearing a bicycle helmet when bike riding. Chief Ferrin indicated that bike helmets from the Oct. 4 Bike Rodeo were still available for children who did not have one.

Lewis-Palmer TV student staff Ryan Yoder and Jessie Martin videotaped the morning’s activities and interviewed the storybook characters and participants. Ivywild Costumes of Colorado Springs supplied the storybook char

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Oct. 8: Committee sets special education goals

By Harriet Halbig

At the Oct. 8 meeting of the School District 38 Special Education Advisory Committee, Special Education Director Julie O’Brien clarified the purpose of the committee. Attendance was much greater at this meeting than at the September meeting.

She stated that the purpose of the committee was to advise the district on how best to meet the needs of special-needs students, to provide a forum for parents and to provide support for parents. She said it was important to have representation from each school within the district. O’Brien emphasized that the committee was not about individual children’s experiences but about the system in place and how it is administered.

She said it would be valuable for those participating in this committee to also attend meetings of their individual building advisory committees to be a presence for special-needs students. Building advisory committees then report to the District Accountability Advisory Committee, which has direct access to the school board.

After all present introduced themselves, it was determined that every school was represented except for Grace Best Elementary and Monument Academy.

O’Brien then sought nominations for committee chairman. Chris Amenson, a representative from Palmer Lake Elementary, volunteered to serve as chair until February. The group agreed to have him serve in a temporary capacity.

Discussion then turned to the parent survey of last May. A number of those present did not recall receiving such a survey. A parent suggested that, rather than do such a survey at the end of the year, it would be useful to do it at the beginning of the year, or twice a year, to gauge progress of the individual student.

Alan Weaver, a representative from Creekside Middle School, suggested sending out the survey in mid-October, as parent conferences were scheduled for the 15th and 16th of the month. He suggested that parents be offered the option of completing the survey while at the school, using school computer terminals or laptops. He suggested giving parents the option of filling out the survey at the school, taking home a hard copy to return, or providing a way to respond online.

A Lewis Palmer Elementary representative said that school did a survey last May and followed up by assigning each parent a number as they spoke to a facilitator. The anonymity seemed to make people more willing to speak up.

When asked how surveys and other information are distributed, O’Brien said that when students are registered, they provide an e-mail address. The district can filter for children on Individualized Education Plans (IEP) and ensure that only one copy of each communication is sent to a single household. When it was pointed out that some households lack a computer, Weaver suggested offering the use of school or library computers.

O’Brien said that she would make the survey available to schools on Oct. 19 and let each school determine how to make it available.

Brent Burns, a representative from Kilmer Elementary, suggested that although a survey is valuable, it would be useful to have ongoing feedback from parents on an improved Web site for the program. He suggested creating a separate e-mail address within the site for comments and suggestions. Other possible features would be recognition of good results and a way for parents to post their comments through schools so that personal e-mail addresses would not appear.

Discussion then turned to the new report cards being used by the school district. The former report cards were five pages long and the new ones are only two. On the new card, a teacher indicates whether a student is being taught at, above, or below grade level. In this way a student with an IEP can receive a higher grade than in the former system, better representing his or her progress.

O’Brien then said that Parent Support Workshops could be held on the fourth Wednesday of each month and offered to schedule one on the subject of the new IEP form for Oct. 22.

One parent suggested it would be helpful to have suggestions on how to write individual goals for the form. In addition, she suggested training to teach what a parent should expect from staff in administering a plan.

The group then broke into three groups to brainstorm the subjects of the Web site, Parent Support Activities, and the Parent Survey.

The Web site group returned with suggestions to stress positive language on the site, offer recognition, currently update information available, and offer two-way communication.

The Parent Support Activity group stated priorities of sign language, social skills, ESY (extended school year), applied behavior analysis, and a commercial product called Picture Exchange Communication System.

The Parent Survey group said that teachers need to be informed of when a survey is coming, apply the survey at least twice in a school year, ensure that all IEP students’ families receive it, and track the number distributed in relation to the number returned.

Finally, a representative pointed out that an e-mail had been received from David Ervin of The Arc of the Pikes Peak Region promoting a rally in support of Amendment 51 the following week. This amendment, subtitled End Colorado Wait List, involves a redistribution of funding to provide services to those with special needs up to age 25 in such areas as social behaviors, occupational therapy, and other aids. The wait list for adults is several years at this time.

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

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The next meeting of the Special Education Advisory Committee will be held Nov. 5, 6-7:30 p.m., at the District Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The committee normally meets the Wednesday of each month to address topics of interest to parents and staff. For information call Ilanit Bennaim at 325-6979.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Director, Oct. 27: Third board member resigns; new members elected

Below (L to R): Three new WIA board members - Bill Brendemuhl, Mari Rollins, and James Wilson. Photo by Chris Pollard.

By Chris Pollard

At the previous board meeting, Steve Malfatti, president of the board, resigned mid-meeting citing disagreements with other board members. Following the meeting, Terry Holmes, vice president, resigned to spend more time on a new business he had started. At the Oct. 27 meeting, Kevin Weese, secretary of the board, resigned mid-meeting citing family reasons.

There were several candidates for the three open positions. Presentations were made by some of the candidates, and then an election was held by the remaining members of the board, including Weese. Bill Brendemuhl was elected first to fill Malfatti’s remaining term on the board of just over a year. Mari Rollins was then elected to fill the remaining three months of Terry Holme’s term, and James Wilson was elected to fill the remaining two years of Weese’s term.

Weese then vacated his seat on the board, and elections were held to assign directors to particular positions. George McFadden, previously the secretary, was elected president, James Wilson became the secretary, and Mari Rollins was named director of covenant control.

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October Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

Overall, the weather was pretty quiet during October, with lots of sunshine interrupted with a couple of stormy periods. Temperatures for the month were slightly below average and precipitation, including snow, was well below normal. We did get our first snowfall of the season and several mornings of hard freezes. A little unusual was the fact that the weather around Halloween was mild and quiet, although I don’t think trick-or-treaters were too unhappy.

October started off much the same as September ended—sunny and mild. Sunshine and warm temperatures were seen on the 1st with highs hitting the mid-70s. The next two afternoons were more reminiscent of August, with morning sunshine giving way to isolated afternoon thunder and brief rain as highs remained well above average in the 70s.

An organized area of low pressure finally began to affect the region on the 4th with cooler temperatures and increasing clouds. The full brunt of the system was felt on Sunday the 5th, with a steady band of rain moving through and a few thunderstorms during the afternoon. This band of showers and storms produced a quarter to a half-inch of rain. The storm quickly departed the region, leaving behind a fairly quiet start to the second week of the month.

Our first widespread hard freeze was felt across the region on the morning of the 7th when temperatures dropped into the 20s. This was about two weeks later than normal, and most (especially the tender plants) weren’t complaining. Quiet, sunny, and seasonal conditions stuck around for the next few days, with highs moving from the upper 50s on the 6th to the upper 60s and low 70s on the 10th.

This was all ahead of a complex weather system that affected the region from the afternoon of the 10th through the 13th as an area of low pressure set up shop over the Rocky Mountain region. This storm brought quite a variety of weather, including heavy snow to Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, and Montana. However, for us here around the Tri-Lakes, the moisture and cold air never came together at quite the same time. Instead, we had a chilly, soaking rain on the 11th with a quarter to a half-inch accumulating as temperatures hovered in the low 40s. Then the cold air arrived in earnest during the afternoon of the 11th, after the organized areas of moisture left. This left behind a foggy, cold day on Sunday the 12th.

The third week of the month was a dry week around the region with plenty of sunshine and some gusty afternoon winds from the 13th through the 19th. Temperatures fluctuated quite a bit throughout the week, starting off on the cold side and ending the week above average. High temperatures were only in the 40s on the13th and 14th, but steadily rose throughout the week, reaching into the low and mid-70s by the weekend.

Finally, our first taste of winter arrived as a strong cold front blasted through the area during the afternoon of the 21st. We were first greeted with showers and thunderstorms. Then as the colder air continued to filter in, rain mixed with and changed to snow. Most of us were accumulating snow by around 7 p.m. Snow continued to fall off and on through the early morning hours, and as winds picked up late on the 21st, some of the snow began to blow around. The next morning’s commute was a little icy, as much of the snow melted on the pavement initially and then froze into a layer of ice overnight.

Temperatures were chilly the next day as well, with highs barely reaching above freezing. Morning low temperatures were generally in the low 20s and upper teens for the next couple of mornings. Sunshine did return quickly after the system departed the region on the 22nd, with temperatures moderating through the 25th when highs reached all the way into the low 70s. A dry cold front did knock temperatures back down on the 26th, but this was short-lived, as mild and sunny weather returned for the rest of the month.

A look ahead

November can be an active weather month for the Tri-Lakes region with winter conditions often experienced during the month. However, the past six Novembers have all seen less than average snowfall, which may mean we are overdue for a big November storm—we’ll see. High temperatures average in the upper 40s early in the month to low 40s by the end with overnight lows often dipping into the teens and single digits.

Most years, the first sub-zero temperatures are recorded in November as well. The official monthly forecast for November 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

October 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 59.8° (-0.2°)
Average Low 29.1° (-0.6°) 
Highest Temperature 76° on the 1st
Lowest Temperature 18° on the 22nd and 23rd
Monthly Precipitation 0.96" (-.75" or 44% below normal)
Monthly Snowfall 2.9" (-12.7" or 81% below normal)
Season to Date Snow 2.9" (-13.2" or 82% below normal) (the snow season is July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip. 11.28" (+1.95" or 17% above normal) (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

Don’t bail out District 38

District 38 does not deserve a bailout from us. That is exactly what 3C funding is—a bailout for their mismanagement of our tax dollars. Now District 38 wants a permanent 13 percent property tax increase. Enough is enough. No to the Wall Street Bailout and No to the District 38 bailout. Congress should have voted No on the Wall Street Bailout and you should vote No on the 3C bailout.

Check the ballots out this election cycle. All government agencies—local, state and federal—want to increase your tax burden through property tax increases, sales tax increases, income tax increases, automobile "fee" increases; the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but I cannot afford all of these increases, and if the past is any indication, District 38 will continue to make poor decisions with your money.

Some parents in this school district only think locally and are spinning this permanent tax increase as a wonderful investment in our future, and if it does not pass then life as we know it will end. Hogwash. Don’t reward incompetence by giving District 38 more of your hard-earned money. Contrary to the spin-meisters at the district headquarters, the sky is not going to fall when 3C fails to pass. They will have to tighten their belts like everyone else in this downward economy. They will just have to think outside the box instead of asking the taxpayers to bail them out again.

I have a son in ninth grade at Palmer Ridge High School, and I am still voting no on 3C.

Lynn Feldmann

Investment in District 38 is worthwhile

After 16 years in the Tri-Lakes area, I (along with many of your readers) have experienced both evolutionary and fiscal change in our local school system. We are being asked to consider a funding measure that has the potential to increase our property taxes by approximately $14.50/month for the district’s average home value. The simple questions that we might consider are:

  1. Is this increase a worthwhile investment?
  2. Are the stewards of this incremental funding in a position to make prudent fiscal decisions with our tax dollars?

To both questions, I would argue … yes.

On question 1, the value of this investment, I would ask that we consider the following: We face a unique challenge in that our national educational system struggles with a pay for performance model. District 38 has maintained superior performance in terms of graduation rates, test scores, and college entrants. Our teacher compensation, however, is lagging a bit behind this power curve and we are risking further loss of top talent to other districts who offer better pay.

Additionally, there is a direct correlation between ranking/performance of a school district and its related property values. Experts have been quoted as defining the school district-to-property value ratio as 44 percent. In using a more conservative figure, 10 percent, this would indicate the (property value) increase on our average taxpayer’s investment for the passage of measure 3C would yield a return in excess of 20x over five years.

Lastly, most voters agree that we are entering a more competitive and global economic era. The more we can contribute to a quality educational experience, the better insurance policy we are providing for our children’s and our country’s long-term prosperity.

On question 2, I would ask that we think about these two points: District 38’s School Board has evolved significantly in terms of fiscal policy and accountability. The usage of funding granted via measure 3C is subject to an independent oversight board with the specific objective of funding teacher compensation and core educational programs, only.

This School Board has made significant changes to the district’s fiscal operating model and has driven in excess of 400K out of its central administrative expenses prior to reducing any "student facing" expenses. They have clearly recognized and invested in areas that are core to the mission of quality education in a competitive world. This new Board is working to restore any public confidence its predecessors have lost and deserves a bit of credit in terms of its fiscal progress.

These are challenging economic times, and while a tax increase is not considered timely, our investment in District 38 and its performance is one that makes sense from both a micro (individual students and local teacher benefit) and macro (delivering quality education to our next generation of adults) levels.

I urge you to consider these factors in thinking about measure 3C.

Ron Schwarz

Support the LPSD Mill Levy Override, vote yes on 3C

As an education-minded parent with children in Lewis-Palmer School District (LPSD) schools and as a Monument resident and property and business owner, I believe it is in the best interest of all Tri-Lakes community residents to support the Mill Levy Override, Measure 3C, in the Nov. 4 election.

We live in an amazing community, and we are lucky to have such good schools. LPSD has the second-highest test scores in the state, has the highest graduation rate in the state, provides an excellent offering of academic and sports programs, and produces outstanding graduates (2008 graduates were awarded $8.7 million in scholarships, including four Rotary champions, eight military academy appointments, and two "Mayor’s 100 Teens").

Measure 3C will benefit everyone in our community by keeping our schools strong. Our businesses and our property values are higher and our crime rates are lower because of our strong, high-performing schools.

The district is asking for voters to approve $2.7 million to increase teacher compensation to competitive levels and to preserve strong core academic programs—specifically, to preserve intervention support for struggling students, to preserve technology education to prepare students for the 21st century, and to maintain classroom sizes, K-12. This will cost homeowners $4.15 per month per $100,000 of assessed value ($14.53/month for the "average" priced home in the district).

LPSD has lost many top teachers to neighboring districts due to pay differentials. If Measure 3C passes, the district will be able to provide teachers a 7 percent (approx) salary increase to remain competitive with neighboring districts. If it fails, the district will face even more significant challenges retaining high-quality teachers (especially if Academy District 20 and other neighboring districts pass their measures to give their teachers pay raises—D-20, D-2, D-8, and D-11 are all asking voters for MLOs to "retain and hire quality staff," or "increase teacher salaries). Because of the higher cost of housing in LPSD, most of the LPSD teachers drive from their homes in other districts to get here. Teachers cite smaller classes and community support as reasons they make this drive. If Measure 3C passes, we will be sending a strong message of continued "community support" to our teachers. If it fails (for the third time in a row, now), we won’t.

LPSD classroom sizes are larger this year than last. To respond to state funding reductions (due to 1.5 percent reduced enrollment), increased expenses, and to shore up diminishing reserves, the district had to enact a $1.8 million budget cut in 2008-09, including a $400,000 cut in central administration. This resulted in the loss of 15 teachers and significantly larger classroom sizes district-wide. My middle-schoolers have seen their classroom sizes increase from 26 to 32 since last year. Peak elementary classroom sizes have risen from 26 to 29. If Measure 3C passes, the district will be able to hold the line at this level and prevent further growth in classroom size. But, if it fails, classroom sizes will grow substantially again next year, with the loss of 16-20 more teaching positions.

Currently, LPSD offers reading intervention for struggling students and important technology education K-12. If Measure 3C passes, the district will be able to maintain these offerings. If it fails, these programs will see significant impacts. In addition, other academic programs and some athletic programs will have to be cut.

Student fees have been increased 164 percent this year to help alleviate budget shortfalls. This increase brings LPSD fees in line with neighboring districts. If Measure 3C passes, the district will be able to avoid further increases, but if it does not pass, more and larger student fees (estimated $260/student) will have to be implemented next year.

A "Yes" vote on 3C is a vote to keep our schools strong, and strong schools equal strong community.

Ronald A. Grundman

Invest in the schools

I am writing to those of you who in recent years have voted no on measures to fund and operate schools in D-38. I don’t think you would vote no without good cause. You may have voted no on a financial basis, as a means of sending a message to the school board, or simply because you felt the district was good enough.

If you voted no because an additional $14.73 per month (just under $175 per year) in property taxes is too much to bear, then vote no again. If you voted no to get the school board’s attention, ask yourself this: Haven’t they gotten the message already? If you voted no because D-38 was "good enough," you may have been right then, but not now.

When my wife and I moved here four years ago, we did a lot of research into El Paso County schools. D-38 came up at the top of our list for many reasons. Class sizes and resources per student were two of them. Things change and these factors have as well. Because of the failure of past measures, second- and third-grade classes at our kids’ school have been cut and therefore class sizes have increased. This impairs a teacher’s ability to spend time with each student. Spending per pupil is down as well, so programs have been cut, and services—some to kids who need them most—have been pared to the point of overload for the associated staff.

Schools are investments—in our kids, in our community, and in the future of the community. I don’t think $14.73 per month is a bad investment for a homeowner, as there is a direct correlation between quality schools and the value of associated homes.

If measure 3C is rejected, it could be the end of D-38 being at the top of prospective home buyers’ relocation lists in El Paso County. On behalf of all of our students, I urge you to vote yes on 3C.

Rowdy Roma

A third choice in District 5

On Nov. 4, voters in congressional District 5 will see two names on their ballot: Republican incumbent Doug Lamborn and Democrat Hal Bidlack. However, there is a third choice for those willing to check the secretary of state’s Web site: write-in candidate Rich Hand, representing the unaffiliated voter.

In Colorado District 5, unaffiliated voters are over 90,000 strong and are the second-largest "party." These are voters like me, who have decided neither party deserves our support; voters that believe the two parties have become so obsessed with re-election, that they have forgotten who they represent.

ne of the many examples of this is the most recent "debate" on energy policy shut down by Nancy Pelosi, Democratic speaker of the House. She shut down debate because she and she alone did not want to consider any bipartisan approach to energy policy. Unfortunately, both parties have adopted this philosophy as an overall political strategy. Our representatives seem incapable of working together to create comprehensive policy for America; apparently it doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with a policy, it only matters which party gets the credit.

Sen. McCain recently encouraged concerned Americans to "get involved and stand up for America." His message was clear: When you see something wrong, get involved to fix it. I am getting involved by supporting Rich Hand in his offer of service to the voters of District 5. Though his candidacy is a long shot, so were the chances of our patriots in the American Revolution. Their longing for freedom guided their actions; Rich Hand’s actions are guided by his belief that we must fix our broken Congress and get back to true representational government.

If, like me, you are looking for a candidate that will represent you instead of a political party, please go to www.whoisrichhand.com to learn more. If you agree with me, write in Rich Hand on Nov. 4.

Kelly Kempf-Mobley

Many thanks from the Women’s Club

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club held our Wine and Roses 2008 wine-tasting and silent auction event on Oct. 18 at the Air Force Academy’s Stadium Press Box. We were able to raise over $9,000 from this event, which will be returned to the local D-38 community in the form of grants to deserving public service, educational and nonprofit organizations.

We would like to especially thank Dirk Stamp of The Wine Seller for arranging for all the wine vendors that participated in this event and the Air Force Academy staff at the Stadium Press Box for their assistance in the logistics and set-up of our venue. A very special thank you goes to the wonderful local restaurants that provided all our delicious food: Bella Panini/Bayou BBQ, Paravicini Italian Bistro, MoZaic at the Inn of Palmer Divide, Woodmoor Pines Golf and Country Club, Casa Diego, Chili’s of Monument Marketplace, Shashi’s House, and A New Taste Sensation Chocolate Fountains of Castle Rock.

We would also like to thank our Gold Sponsor, People’s Bank, and our Bronze Sponsors, First National Bank of Monument and Dr. Larry Adams, for their generous contributions to this event, our Women’s Club volunteers and local Serteens from both Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge High Schools, and the following individuals/community businesses and organizations for their support of and contributions to this show: Jim and Donna Maguire, Lee and Jan Vaughn, Marian Taylor, Dian Cram, Bobbie Spearel, Geth Gannon of Pilates for Health, Wells Fargo Bank, FirstBank, Pilates for Health, The Little Flower Shop of Monument, Tri-Lakes Printing, Major Mandolin (Charles Prignano), King Soopers, Dominos, Nick-N-Willy’s, It’s A Grind Coffee House, The Gazette, The Tribune, Our Community News, Tidbits, and Woodmoor/Gleneagle Monthly.

We also would like to express our deepest appreciation for all the local businesses that provided items for our Silent Auction: Luisa Graff Jewelers, Wal-Mart Monument Marketplace, The Love Shop, Premier Designs, Inc., High Fashion Jewelry, Petal Pushin’, Kelly Collier (Southern Living at Home), Jennifer Murray (Pampered Chef Consultant), Jennifer and Tim Koffman, What’s In Store, Inc., The Wine Seller, Stampin’ Up!, Girl of the Golden West, Patty Jewett Golf Course, The Club at Flying Horse, Bella Casa, TLC Computer Repair, Mountain Boy Sledworks, Eagle Wine & Spirits, B & E Restaurant, Kirkland Photography, The Vanity Box, Tri-Lakes Tribune, Hewlett-Packard Co., Monica Weberg (Beijo sales rep), Maria and Carl Tillberry, Expectations Salon and Spa, CertaPro Painters of Northern El Paso County, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection, Amuze Bistro Dining , Silpada Jewelry, Residence Inn by Marriott, and M-Tech.

And mostly we would like to thank the Tri-Lakes community for supporting this event. We could not have engineered such a successful evening without the support of all the above generous people and businesses.

We are very grateful for the continuing support of our local community that has enabled us to grant almost $550,000 back to the Tri-Lakes community.

Sherry Sieg and Mary Mills
Second vice presidents, Charitable Events
Wine and Roses 2008

Information on the Safer Communities Initiative from our county commissioner

Knowing that I am a conservative County Commissioner, a number of residents have asked me for information on the Safer Communities Initiative:

  • Question 1A funds critical public safety and health needs by establishing a one-cent sales tax. Some purchases (groceries, fuel, utilities, homes) are exempt. The tax is reduced after specific capital projects are completed.
  • There are ten large counties, and seven of these (including our neighbors Douglas and Pueblo) have budgets that are $800-$1,250 per person. Two fiscally conservative counties have budgets of $710 (Jefferson) and $610 (Arapahoe) per citizen. El Paso County’s budget is $376 per citizen – 38 percent lower than the next closest county.
  • If 1A is approved, El Paso County’s budget will be $460 per citizen, still $150 less the next closest county.
  • Half of the money is used to build a maximum-security jail with cash in the first two years. After that 1/10 of the money goes to complete a specific list of other capital projects and then this part of the tax ends.
  • During the first two years, half of the revenues go to public safety and health operating needs. After the jail is completed, operating needs receive 90 percent. These operation dollars are divided into two parts: (1) Regional public safety needs 52.5 percent that go to the regional jail operated by the county (17.5%), the public health department which prevents the spread of communicable diseases and assures safe water supplies and clean restaurants (20 percent). The other 15% is divided between the district attorney’s and coroner’s offices, emergency preparedness, and the prevention of child abuse and drug abuse. (2) Local public safety needs receive 47.5 percent that are distributed based on population for local law enforcement, fire departments, and other public safety and health operations. Sales taxes collected in Black Forest and other unincorporated areas will go to the County. Revenues from city residents will go to the city where they live. Both the County and the cities are required to use the funds only for the stated purposes.
  • Unlike the State’s Referendum C, Question 1A defines by law the exact percentages each area gets, assuring voters the money will go where promised.
  • Public safety is our first priority as a county. Growing needs in this area have forced us to cut other areas of county government. By addressing public safety needs separately, when other revenues grow we can restore funding to parks and address other critical county needs.
  • Residents of El Paso County won’t be paying all of the tax–some will be paid by people who don’t live here but come here as visitors, tourists and shoppers.
  • Sales taxes have less impact on those with fixed incomes, particularly since many necessities are exempt, and change with the economy. When times are tight, we buy less, so we pay less sales tax.

For the past six years, El Paso County leaders have tightened our belts, cut budgets, and eliminated programs. Lean is good, but anorexic is not. I will vote YES ON 1A because I support these important public safety programs and doing so will still make us the most fiscally conservative county in the state. I can be reached if there are questions at 439-1870.

Wayne Williams

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore:  When life gives you scraps, make quilts

By the staff at Covered Treasures

We’re all worried about the current economic situation, and while we wait for the "light at the end of the tunnel," there are books that can help with money management and dealing with stress. On the bright side, maybe this is the year to make holiday giving more personal while saving some money by creating your own gifts.

Smart Cookies’ Guide to Making More Dough: How Five Young Women Got Smart, Formed a Money Group, and Took Control of Their Finances
By Sandi Ault (Berkley Prime Crime), $24

Inspired by an episode of Oprah regarding paying down debt, a group of 20-something women formed a club and began educating themselves about spending (and saving), goals, and investments. Though all five were outwardly confident in their careers, they were drowning financially; between them, they had a combined $35,000 in credit card debt and no savings. Within a year, they’d added thousands to retirement accounts, paid off more than $15,000 in credit card debt, saved more than $15,000 and were well on their way to buying homes. The authors address goal-setting, negotiations for raises, debt management, and mortgages. Their plainspoken, encouraging style makes this the perfect gift for recent grads—or anyone who needs convincing that financial health is attainable.

Suze Orman’s Financial Guidebook; Put the 9 Steps to Work
By Suze Orman (Three Rivers Press) $13.95

With her national bestseller The 9 Steps to Financial Freedom, Suze Orman launched a personal finance revolution—with her message of understanding the psychology involved in our relationship with money. Now, with Suze Orman’s Financial Guidebook, you have all the tools you need to put the nine steps to work for you. This user-friendly workbook will help empower you to work through the nuts and bolts of personal finance, with Suze as your trusted adviser. Updated to reflect our quickly shifting economy, the book includes information on: tax codes, IRA rules and regulations; long-term care insurance; Social Security; the stock market; financial advisers; an in-depth analysis of monthly expenses; and an exercise regarding attitudes toward giving and spending money. Regardless of age and income, it is never too early, or too late, to take control of your money.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
By Pema Chodron (Shambhala Publications), $12.95

Pema Chodron has written the Tibetan Buddhist equivalent of Harold Kushner’s famous book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Chodron’s book is filled with useful advice about how Buddhism helps readers cope with the grim realities of modern life. She offers ways to use painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion and courage; ways to communicate that lead to openness and true intimacy with others; practices for reversing our negative habitual patterns; methods for working with chaotic situations; and ways to cultivate compassionate, energetic social action. Most importantly, Chodron demonstrates how effective the Buddhist point of view can be in bringing order into disordered lives.

Beaded Critters
By Sibak Bhatt (Sterling), $9.95

What glitters and looks great hanging from windows, dangling from backpacks, and decorating clothes? Beaded critters, from seahorses to puppies, are included in this book of 27 original kid-friendly projects. The technique is easy to learn, and the critters can also be used on ponytail holders, gift tags, key chains, ornaments, or as good luck charms. Beaded critters can be cute or creepy-crawly, but they’re all fun to make.

Vogue Knitting on the Go!
By Sixth & Spring Books and The Butterick Publishing Co., $12.95

These handy craft books could help relieve some stress while giving you the satisfaction of making some holiday gifts. Researchers have found that the repetitive movements of needlecraft can lower your blood pressure and heart rate and provide the peaceful feeling similar to that experienced in practicing yoga or meditation.

Each of these volumes: Crochet Basics, Beginner Basics, Crocheted Shawls, and Vintage Knits offer easy-to-follow instructions, color illustrations, and information about materials and supplies. Patterns for simple projects from scarves, hats and mittens, to handbags, socks and dresses are included, along with instructions for basic stitches.

This could be a good time to get back to basics, re-evaluate finances, relieve stress, and make some lasting gifts. Who knows? The scraps may turn into quilts and the lemons into lemonade. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: November tips for gardeners

By Woody Woodworth

We had a beautiful October, with a couple of hard freezes that took care of most of the annual plants. Snapdragons and Supertunias held on the longest, giving us flowers until the cold snap the week before Halloween.

It’s time now to rid your flower boxes, pots and gardens of those annuals by uprooting them and putting them on your compost pile. Empty the soil from your pots, turn them over and leave them inverted for the wintertime. That will help keep your pots from collecting too much moisture and cracking over the winter months.

The only perennials that look really good this late in the season are the ornamental grasses. I like the way the coffee-colored plumes sway in the breeze. The rest of the perennials are looking a bit weather-worn and they require a bit of care. I give the plants a good drink of water and apply 2 or 3 more inches of mulch around the general area of the flower beds. Mulch will help keep the ground cold and frozen, so the plant isn’t tricked by a warming trend into budding. Mulch also protects against moisture loss and gives perennials a better chance to survive through winter.

Many gardeners trim their perennials back right now and tidy up the beds for winter. I prefer to leave them alone and trim them in the spring. There is a lot of energy within the plants’ stem and foliage yet available to the root system and they will need that energy to survive the cold winter months. By cutting them back, you may deprive the plant of those resources. I also enjoy the natural beauty and winterscapes the gardens give me when we get a heavy frost or light snow.

Right now is a great time to harvest seeds. Most plants will have seed pods where the beautiful flowers used to be. Hold your hand or a collection bucket under each flower and gently rub and shake the flower head. Although Mother Nature drops and spreads the seeds now, I prefer to store the new seeds in a paper sack until next spring and plant them then.

Now is the time to plant spring bulbs, garlic, and horseradish. Crocus, daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths are easy to plant and make a naturalized stand of color anywhere in your gardens. Be sure to add bulb food when planting. Use any fertilizer with phosphate (the second letter in the N-P-K ratio) that is 10 or more. (i.e., 0-10-0). You should also add phosphate to any spring-blooming shrubs and trees like lilacs, forsythia, quince, and crabapple trees.

Rake the leaves off the turf areas to avoid mold and smothering of the grass, but keep the fallen leaves on the perennial beds to let them compost right there. In the early spring, break up soggy leaves even more and work them into the soil along with additional compost. I use the leaves I collect on the turf areas in the compost pile. The great brown matter helps add air and moisture to the compost bin and will keep the compost healthy.

A little housekeeping is always in order in the late fall. Drain and coil up the garden hose and keep it handy so you are prepared to water on one of those 55 degree days during November and December. Return all of the black pots you don’t need to your favorite garden center to get the clutter away from your potting bench. Most garden centers recycle the pots for another good use. Sweep leaves and debris away from the foundation of your house to ensure insects find their home elsewhere.

Fall in the Tri-Lakes area is a great time to enjoy the outside. Smell the leaves in the early morning and the wood stove fires at night. Watch the birds scurry around and gather seed from your gardens and enjoy the beautiful sunsets we get this time of year.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Sandhill crane

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing of Sandhill Cranes by Elizabeth Hacker. 

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

It’s pre-dawn as Randy and I slowly drive up to the gravel parking lot. We can see clearly in light of the full moon, so we’ve turned off our headlights before we arrive. The cold air condenses on our windshield and we have our binoculars in hand as we quietly open the car doors. We’ve come in to see the sandhill cranes lift off.

We see the outline of 2,000 cranes huddled together. If we hadn’t seen them land the previous evening, they might appear like bumps on the landscape. As the sun begins to rise in the east, its rays reflect off the top of Pikes Peak. The first crane points its beak skyward and issues a loud trumpet-like call, and more than 2,000 resting cranes begin to stir and clamor. Cranes utilize an elongated windpipe to produce "crane music." Their harmonious sounds are actually distinctive calls used to communicate with each other and can be heard a mile away.

One by one, the cranes point their beaks skyward and move about as they prepare for lift-off. The first flock of 20 or so birds walks around bobbing their heads like a chicken as they take steps to gain momentum. Taking off looks a little bit like organized chaos as multitudes of wings beat and beaks rise. As the cranes become airborne, their necks point straight ahead and their long black legs dangle behind them. They move into the familiar "V" formation and circle the area before turning south. Other flocks follow and in a matter of 30 minutes, they’re gone. Sandhill cranes fly up to 350 miles per day, at speeds of 14 to 51 miles per hour, at altitudes as high as 12,000 feet.

Sandhill cranes are truly emissaries from a distant age. Cranes are the oldest living bird species on Earth; they’ve been here about 60 million years. Today, there are 15 species of crane, but fossil records indicate 36 extinct species. Only sandhills and the federally endangered whooping cranes are native to North America.

Cranes are tall and stately-looking birds that are sometimes mistakenly called herons. In reality, cranes and herons are very different birds. Cranes are more closely related to chickens than herons. While cranes and herons are found near water, herons are colonial tree nesters while cranes are solitary ground nesters. Having no "thumb," it is impossible for cranes to roost in a tree. Also herons live only a few years while cranes average life span is 25 years.

The lesser sandhill stands about 3.5 feet tall and weighs 6 to 7 pounds and is noticeably smaller than the greater sandhill crane, which stands 4.5 to 5 feet tall and weighs 10 to 14 pounds. Migratory sub-species overlap and greater sandhills, and whooping cranes mingle with flocks of lesser sandhill cranes.

Cranes are wading birds with long legs, a long neck, and a bill that resembles a chisel and is probably as sharp. Bright red forehead feathers stand out from the ash-gray feathers on the adult’s body, but immature birds lack these red feathers. Adult cranes also have a "bustle" over their rump, which juveniles attain at about 2 years of age.

Cranes are opportunistic and scratch and grub for tubers, grains, mice, snakes, insects, and worms. Agricultural communities that once shunned migrating cranes have now found ways to cash in on this truly remarkable bird by hosting festivals that attract birders from around the world.

Each spring, crane festivals are held in Monte Vista, Colo., (early March), and Kearney, Neb. (mid-March). Tour guides lead groups of birders to blinds to get a birds-eye view of the cranes. It is estimated that 80 percent of the world’s sandhill crane population lay over for a couple of weeks in an 80-mile stretch of Nebraska’s Platte River Valley. In the evenings, flocks land near the river and settle in for the night after a day of feeding in farm fields. The cranes loudly chatter until dark and, for added entertainment, sometimes pairs perform a dance.

Cranes are social birds that dance, run, leap high into the air, and prance all year. During the spring migration they are especially animated. When looking for a mate, cranes vocalize in a behavior known as "unison calling," where they throw their heads back and unleash a passionate litany.

At about age 4, cranes choose a lifetime mate, and though the birds are highly social in winter, they become solitary and fiercely defend nesting territories from other sandhills in summer. Females lay two eggs that are incubated by both parents. Conditions are harsh, and it is rare for more than one hatchling to survive. Chicks begin to fly as early as 2 months but remain with their parents for about a year, long enough for them to learn the migratory routes of their ancestors.

Two hundred years of hunting, use of pesticides, and habitat alteration have contributed to the declining population of all cranes. Recovery is slow, because successful pairs generally produce one chick per year and young cranes do not mate until their fourth year.

In the fall, cranes do not congregate in Nebraska. Instead, flocks migrate along various flyways between Michigan and California where many communities host fall festivals to celebrate their return. During fall migration, cranes hasten to their winter habitat and spend very little time replenishing their energy reserves en route. As we watch them, we sit quietly and limit our movements because we know that if the cranes are agitated, one or more might break legs or wings, and that would indeed be unfortunate.

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: Art for the doctors is in

By Janet Sellers

Art in public education has historically tenuous support with schools, and Colorado is no exception. When budgets are cut, so are the art programs. The arts are often considered a luxury in public schools.

Many Colorado public schools include art in their curriculum as "manipulation of materials" and not much more. Hence, the role of art in the public schools is frequently relegated to a meaningless version of "manipulation of materials" that is without a qualifier, and tragically, without quality. Besides, the projects are often boring or the lesson so badly designed that students couldn’t follow a good thought if they tried.

So it is impressive to note that a recent report by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and the Colorado Council on the Arts offered information leading many to believe that schools that offered higher levels of art training produced students with better math, reading, and writing scores as well as higher graduation levels and lower drop-out rates.

In reference to the report, Colorado Board of Education Commissioner Dwight Jones called for a "complete education that includes the arts." As an artist and art teacher, I was excited about getting the report to read, and about the hope of the CDE to support the arts more in the schools.

While news of the report impressed the commissioner and the members of the Colorado Council on the Arts, when I researched the issue, I could not find solid data in the report. In researching for this column, I found endless praises for the "study," yet it was just a report on some schools’ anecdotal findings about art and student performance on standards tests.

In my experience, students with plenty of fine art in their lives do well in their academic subjects and often appear to have a better hold on their school-work skills than do other students. But I have found this high level of ability with students as it relates to other factors as well. Students whose parents read to them, regardless of the reading matter, tend to be easier to teach; and it seems they learn more easily. Students with many books available to peruse in the home tend to do better at school. Ditto for students who visit the library often and check out books to read. Students of affluent families tend to have a more well-rounded life: exposure to good things as well as the fact that they have their core subjects down so well that they have the time and space to take more electives such as art. These families demand more art in their schools, and they get it.

As an artist and educator, I don’t support the idea that the arts must be "helped" in stature to offer a supporting position of test scores. I consider the import to be the other way around: a genuinely creative person is a problem-solver who can do so visually, or with the three R’s, or with just about anything else a human needs for solving problems. Observing fine art first-hand and looking at it, giving scrutiny to ponder the art’s meaning and making sense of it, is an ongoing challenge to higher thinking and problem solving. Attention and observation are wonderful skills that are often best developed by the fine arts in fine arts practice as well as by just looking at the art.

Interestingly, research at Harvard Medical School shows that doctors who take art classes have better or improved diagnostic skills. The observation skills of doctors who took art classes were better than their art-challenged colleagues. Research released in August 2008 showed that studying art helped students "make up to 38 percent more accurate observations." It also proved that people can be trained to look, as opposed to assuming that they know how or they do not know how to look and assess.

The visual literacy factor has been known to artists and educators; the Harvard findings showed that when students missed a diagnosis, they hadn’t looked. Professors noticed that while the students are trained to be literate enough to talk to patients, they did not have a way to make them be visually literate. Enter the art class course. The art courses are taught by art educators, and the classes use local resources via a visit to the Boston Museum of Art to test their observation skills. There it is again, the first-hand observation opportunity.

The most fascinating and satisfying part of the Harvard study for me was that the doctors-to-be experienced the excellent fine art first hand, not from a book or secondary source such as online. Also, the med students created the artworks with hands-on experiences, not as passive onlookers. The report also stated that many of those in this study who went on to be doctors continue to enjoy art making and art collecting with enthusiasm as an avocation. Their intimate experiences with the fine art (and not "manipulation of materials") were the telling factor in the contribution of the visual fine arts to their diagnostic abilities. The medical students’ awareness was heightened by the practice of observing and pondering the art first hand.

In our community we have many, many artists and art venues available for our residents and visitors. First-hand experience of art is within walking distance throughout our community, especially at the art galleries and artists studios around town. Many of our banks and businesses support the arts with exhibits of art, and a walk through historic Monument or Palmer Lake will reveal all kinds of creative thinking available to experience in the shops or to bring home and own.

By owning the artworks, one shares their qualities with others in the family and guests and having them available at any time for one’s own pleasure and enrichment. That is the best part for us humans, that we can access the real deal when we want and need to do so. And it is so satisfying and enjoyable: For thousands of years, art has enriched us and relieved our stress by virtue of how it affects us, how it affects our awareness, and how it enriches our lives generation after generation.

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.

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Oct. 11: Two paths merge for one great sound

Below: (L-R) Tessa Perry and Liz Clark perform at the TLCA on October 11. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

Liz Clark and Tessa Perry, who performed at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) on Oct. 11, do not seem to have much in common at first glance. They come from different sides of the Atlantic Ocean, have different backgrounds and developed their own songwriting style through different life experiences. However, they somehow managed to find one another and have developed a complementary and beautiful sound.

Clark, from Parker, Colorado, received all the necessary encouragement to proceed with a musical career from her father. Clark said that during her early teens, her father recognized his daughter’s singing talent and songwriting potential, which led him to seek a stage where she could perform. Eventually he persuaded the owner of a local Irish pub to let Liz play at an open mic night. She was so well received that she got a regular Tuesday night gig that paid $15 a night, with her father in the audience to provide oversight. Not bad for a 14-year-old.

Clark’s main musical influence was The Beatles, but it was a Jewel Kilcher CD, which Clark felt epitomized the coffee house musician, that provided focus to her future as a musician. Clark sees herself as a songwriting geek because she enjoys breaking down song structures to understand the approach and mechanics behind it.

Tessa Perry’s path began in Baltimore, Ireland. She grew up in that town of 300 and worked in the family organic garden business until she decided it was time to explore the world. At the age of 18 and with a guitar and three songs in hand, she traveled across Europe to "educate herself on the ways of the world" and find her sound. She quickly became bored with playing those three songs and began writing her own material based on her life experiences unfolding before her. By refining her guitar playing and songwriting, she eventually played with headliners such as Ani DiFranco and the Indigo Girls.

Through intermediary friends, Clark and Perry met each other in New York City and, for the past three years, have shared the stage there and at other venues across North America and Europe. Their present tour will take them to Vermont, Chicago, Utah, locations along the West Coast including Seattle, plus Vancouver, Canada, and Colorado.

On this night, they played selections from each of their released CDs during their two-set performance, including selections from Perry’s "Weightless" and Clark’s recently released third album, "Pursuit." They demonstrated their strong vocals and guitar playing capabilities, with Perry on harmonica and Clark on keyboards for various selections. The TLCA audience was highly appreciative of the merging sound and insightful songwriting coming from these two very talented musicians.

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Information on Liz Clark is at www.lizclarkmusic.com and Tessa Perry at www.tessaperry.com. For information on the TLCA and how to contribute to its ongoing capital campaign, please go to www.trilakesarts.org

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Let the dogs out in Douglas County

 Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below: Monument’s Jennifer Sparks and her Lab Duke. 

Below: Rules for the dog park are clearly posted.

Below: When you reach this structure, turn left to park.

By Harriet Halbig

For Tri-Lakes dog lovers, there is a new place to go for their pets to play and exercise. A new off-leash dog park has opened in the Greenland Open Space area of Douglas County.

The 16.5-acre fenced space features a figure-eight-shaped path and double gates to aid traffic flow at the entrance. There is a great view of the mountains and gently rolling terrain.

Facilities include a portable bathroom for the people and clean-up facilities for the pooches.

The rules for the park are clearly posted at the entrance, as is the fact that the park was planned and executed by Lewis-Palmer High School senior Devon Theune to fulfill the requirements of her Girl Scout Gold Award.

To go the park, head north on I-25 to exit 167. Turn left under the highway and follow the signs to Greenland. After going through the gateway, turn left at the Mercantile structure. Parking is clearly marked.

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Empty Bowl brings community together to help those in need

Photos by David Futey.

Below Patrons browse the variety of bowls for their choosing at the 15th Annual Empty Bowl held at Lewis-Palmer High School. 

Below: Patrons sampled a variety soups and could browse the silent auction offerings on tables by the windows.

By David Futey

Tri-Lakes residents, artists, Lewis-Palmer D-38, and the Monument Hill Sertoma were among the many who demonstrated their support for those in need by attending and helping make the 15th annual Empty Bowl a tremendous success. More than $12,000 was donated and $5,000 more was raised in a silent auction at the event Oct. 15 at Lewis-Palmer High School.

The Empty Bowl is Tri-Lakes Cares’ largest fundraiser, but it has come to mean much more over the years. Judith Pettibone, director of Tri-Lakes Cares, stated that since the Empty Bowl’s inception, it has become "a unique event as it brings out the community." Pettibone also sees the event as a way for Tri-Lakes Cares to say "thanks" to the community for its generous support to the organization.

For those not familiar with it, the Empty Bowl is an international event (www.emptybowls.net ) that was started in 1990 and is usually held on or near World Food Day. Attendees select and get to keep a bowl and receive soup and bread as a meal in exchange for a donation. The bowl is a reminder to attendees that there is always an empty bowl, and thus someone hungry, somewhere in the world.

Locally, the Empty Bowl originally took place at the Mennonite Church on Highway 105 with Linda Pankratz, Anne Shimek, and other potters lending their talents to create the bowls with logistical support from the Monument Hill Sertoma. From that humble beginning, the Empty Bowl has grown in attendance and become a Tri-Lakes community-wide effort.

Support received for this year’s event came from D-38 Superintendent Dr. Ray Blanch, other school district administration and staff, the over 50 Monument Hill Sertoma members, led by Empty Bowl Chairman Chris Otto, who assisted with a variety of responsibilities for the event, Lewis-Palmer and Palmer Ridge Serteen Clubs, 26 potters and art organizations who created over 900 ceramic and wooden bowls, 16 local churches, and over 50 area businesses and individuals who provided financial support, food items, and other amenities.

Wayne Claybaugh, president-elect of the Monument Hill Sertoma summed up the community support this way: "The donations are amazing."

Though many come to sample the variety of soups and desserts, others come just for the bowls. Attendees this year started to line up at 3:30 p.m. for the 5 p.m. opening as they wanted first choice at the bowls or were looking for a specific bowl to make a set or continue their collection from a particular potter.

New this year to the Empty Bowl was a silent auction. Artists and local businesses donated over 150 works of art, goods, and services that patrons could bid on throughout the evening with all proceeds going to Tri-Lakes Cares.

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Information on Tri-Lakes Cares and its donation needs can be found at www.tri-lakescares.org. Information on the Monument Hill Sertoma can be found at www.monumenthillsertoma.org/

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Annual fair focuses on health

Below: The Black Forest Chapter of AARP offered a lot of information at the Tri-Lakes Annual Health Fair, Oct. 25. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

The Tri-Lakes Annual Health Fair, sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, was held on Oct. 25 at the YMCA on Jackson Creek Parkway.

Representatives of 62 vendors and service providers were present, including state insurance plans, AARP, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, medical practices, food providers, and such local entities as the fire and police departments. Outdoors, a Flight for Life helicopter was on the soccer field, and a fire engine and ambulance were available for tours.

In addition to information, the vendors provided a variety of free merchandise and samples. Some of the medical practices also offered screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, and melanoma.

The Visiting Nurses Association was on hand to provide flu shots, flu mist, and pneumonia shots. One of the VNA representatives said they were pleased with the community response and surprised at the number of patients who preferred the flu mist.

A blood drive was also under way.

Mark Ennis, president of the Health Advocacy Partnership, said that this is the eighth or ninth year of the fair. He said that it had been held in schools in the past but, because of the season, there were often scheduling conflicts due to testing or athletic events. Because the YMCA is a member of the partnership, this seemed a good solution. In addition to a large and attractive site, it gives members of the community a chance to see the facilities available. He found the only potential problem to be a shortage of parking.

Ennis said that some new services are now available in the community to help with health care during these difficult times. In the Tri-Lakes Cares building, there is now a nurse, and a retired doctor is now offering services two days a week.

He said that although this appears to be an affluent community, the Partnership is aware that an increasing number of people now lack health insurance. He said he has received a number of calls from such individuals in the past week and encouraged them to attend the fair to learn of options available to them.

Ennis said that he hopes the fair can be held at the same location each year. This fair is always held in the fall, corresponding with the beginning of flu season.

Helping with the logistics of the fair were Serteens from Palmer Ridge and Lewis-Palmer High Schools.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Palmer Lake Art Group Bazaar, Oct. 4

Below: On October 4, the Palmer Lake Art Group held its 35th annual Christmas Bazaar in the Palmer Lake town hall. A variety of holiday themed arts and crafts were available for purchase. Sales from a bake sale and donation table, with contributions from each of the artists and crafters, helped to fund the group’s Scholarship Fund that assists selected Lewis-Palmer students with furthering their art education. Photo by David Futey.

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PLVFD Open House, Oct. 4

Below: Sparky the Dog and Firefighter Greg Lokken pose in front of Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department vehicles, which include an American LaFrance fire engine, a 1,000 gallon water tender, brush truck, and medical truck. Sparky, Smokey the Bear, and PLVFD firefighters were on hand to inform visitors on home evacuation plans, how to prevent wildfires, and precautions to take regarding fire and other hazards. Visitors also toured the fire house, which has been used by the department since 1938, and picked up a wealth of information on fire prevention. Photo by David Futey.

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Shoo the Flu, Oct. 4

Below: Palmer Lake Fire Trustee and volunteer firefighter Gary Coleman receives a flu shot from Toni Foos, R.N. of Front Range Flu Shots, LLC. Coleman was one of many to take advantage of The Shoo the Flu and Pneumonia Too Shot Clinic that was held in the Palmer Lake Town Office on October 4. Photo by David Futey.

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DWFPD Open House, Oct. 11

Below: Jefferson McCamley and his parents Jeff and Laurie McCamely enjoy a briefing from Firefighter Shane Coyne of the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Wildland Fire Suppression Team on the equipment available on the team’s brush truck during the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Fire Prevention Week Open House Oct. 11. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club holds Wine and Roses event, Oct. 18

Photos by Bernard Minetti.

Below: Silent Auction Co-Chairs (L-R): Rae Jean Claybaugh, Nancy Iverson-Herbert, Lisa Simms, & Yvonne Jennings. 

Below: Monument Serteen Volunteers (L-R): Courtney Miller, Kathleen Boylen.

Below: At the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club Wine and Roses event, Oct. 18, potential bidders browse silent auction items. 

Below: (L-R) Major Mandolin (Maj. Charles M. Prignano USAF (Ret.)), Sharron Steffey, (in the background is Anita Snider of Baroness).

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October and November events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig.

Below:  Mary K. Jones prepares table for Friends of the Library Week.

Below: Angela Strecker and Syblle Krafft of the Friends of the Library at their reception, Oct. 25.

By Harriet Halbig

Activities throughout October centered on the All Pikes Peak Reads program, which featured books involving the Dust Bowl Era. For adults, the titles were The Grapes of Wrath and The Worst Hard Time. Additional titles were recommended for teen readers and younger.

Teens who read age-appropriate books were asked to write a brief note on their reaction to the book and were given a backpack with the All Pikes Peak Reads logo on it.

Programs at the branch level included a panel discussion among survivors of that era, including experiences with the Dust Bowl and the Civilian Conservation Corps. Programs that traveled throughout the district included a program by the Manitou Arts Theatre titled A Bowl of Dust.

The week of the 19th, the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library celebrated National Friends of the Library Month by offering refreshments daily and making available information on membership in the Friends and on library activities. On the 25th, a reception was held in the afternoon, giving interested patrons the chance to speak with the moderators of the major adult groups meeting regularly at the branch. These groups included Socrates Café, Senior Synergy, Literati and Beyond Writers Circle, and History Buffs.

Also on the 25th, the library was represented at the Tri-Lakes Health Fair held at the YMCA on Jackson Creek Parkway.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, after hours, the Monument Branch hosted Stories in the Dark. A similar program was offered at the Palmer Lake Town Hall on the 30th.

November begins with a teen Dance in Disguise open to teens in the seventh to ninth grades, held after hours at the Monument Branch.

Continuing until mid-November, the Monument Branch is sponsoring a food drive to benefit Tri-Lakes Cares. Please drop off nonperishable goods on the table inside the front door. The need is great.

On the evening of Nov. 7, many Monument Branch employees and their families and friends will attend a banquet at the Colorado Association of Libraries convention to receive the Colorado Library of the Year award. On Nov. 10, from 4 to 6 p.m., please join us to celebrate at the reception sponsored by the Tri-Lakes Friends of the Library. Further information about the award can be found in the September issue of Our Community News.

Also on Nov. 7, from 10:30 to 12:30 in Monument, a genealogy class will be offered. To attend, please register online in the Events Calendar or call 531-6333, extension 2315.

Nov. 8 at the Monument Branch, children are invited to attend Pirates Galore, a program including stories, magic, comedy and music.

The AARP Driver’s Safety course will be offered in Monument on Nov. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. A minimum enrollment of 10 is required. Those who complete the class will receive a certificate entitling them to a discount on auto insurance. The cost is $10. Please register on the Events Calendar or call the branch at 488-2370.

The November meeting of the Read it B4 You See It book club features Tale of Despereaux. Kids in the second through fifth grades are encouraged to read the book before the movie debuts in December. There will be a discussion of the book and a drawing for a free movie ticket. The book can be found with the Battle Books in the Juvenile Fiction section. The meeting is on Thursday, Nov. 20 from 4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m. Please register at the circulation desk or call 488-2370.

In the display case during November will be Tea Cups and Obis, a collection of Japanese dishes. On the walls will be Images of the Southwest, a collection of photographs of landscapes and buildings of the region.

At the Palmer Lake Branch, the book group will meet on Nov. 7 at 9 a.m. The book of the month is Pope Joan by Donna Woolfolk Cross.

On the 15th in Palmer Lake, the Family Fun program will feature projects from Home Depot. Registration is required at 481-2587. The program begins at 10:30 a.m.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, Oct. 16: Trombone Quintet entertains Historical Society

 Photos by Bernard Minetti

Below: Rod Claasen, Todd Ellis, Larry Tallanc, Dwight Hein and leader and coordinator, Doug Stroup.

Below: Phyllis Bonser (PLHS President), and Richard Cooper (Vice-President).

By Bernard Minetti

When a community organizes to protect and commemorate its heritage and locale, it forms a historical society. The Palmer Lake community has great pride in its surroundings, and so has formed its own preservation group called the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

This group was founded in 1956 by Marian McIntyre McDonough, who had so much pride in her community that she decided to do something to protect its culture and history.

The program at the October monthly meeting was a mini-concert by the Trombone Quintet from the Castle Rock Band. The presentation included explanations of the history of the various types of trombones and the pieces that the group played. They entertained with selections such as "O Shenandoah," "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor?" and other pieces representing true Americana.

Phyllis Bonser, society president, said the next meeting will be on Thursday, Nov. 20, at 7 p.m. in the Palmer Lake Town Hall. Members and non-members are invited. It will be an occasion to bone up on some local area history. Charles Halaska will talk about the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad Line.

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Western Museum of Mining and Industry, Oct. 11: Art and geology combine for fun experience at museum

 Photos by David Futey.

Below: Brianna Zubek adds her artistic talent to the mural created during the WMMI’s Art Rocks Family Exploration Day. 

Below: Kristy Cameron evaluates the marble art she created during the WMMI’s Art Rocks Family Exploration Day. Kristy and other children dipped marbles in various paint colors and rolled the marble on a piece of paper inside a shoe box.

By David Futey

When an artist views a landscape, he or she sees textures, contrasts, and form. A geologist sees stratigraphy shaped from geologic processes that reads as a chapter from Earth’s history. The Art Rocks Family Exploration Day on Oct. 11 at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry melded those two perspectives through some fun activities for all. Combined with the Farrar Collection on exhibit, the day enabled visitors to explore the elements of art and geology through a variety of activity stations.

The activity stations included mineral identification through the use of a microscope and other means; marble art using marbles, made from silica, with paints; discussion of the "iron sculptures" of mining equipment and art composition; and the elements of art compared to the elements in minerals. Visitors were also encouraged to lend their artistic talents to a mural using different mediums.

Special visitors to the event were participants in the International Sergeant Major School.

Kazakhstan, South Korea, Japan, Jamaica, Canada, Serbia, and Colombia were among the countries represented in the group that visited the museum as part their cultural introduction to the United States.

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Information on the museum and upcoming events can be found at www.wmmi.org

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Western Museum of Mining and Industry through Nov. 1: Haunted Mines offers thrills and chills to the adventurous

Below: Colton Grimmesey portrays The Deadman as he awakes from his coffin slumber to scare visitors to the Haunted Mines. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

"I need somebody in the coffin" is a phrase not commonly heard on a typical day. However, it fits right in if you happen to be touring one of scariest and best conceived haunted houses in the area during dress rehearsal.

The Haunted Mines, located on the grounds of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry, is in its second year of operation and has already garnered significant local acclaim. The concept and construction of the haunt is the result of friendships created by happenstance and a shared interest in how a haunt can be done bigger and better. Drew Sanford, Tim Wittwer, and Steve Roscio were all Hewlett-Packard employees at one time, but it was not until an intermediary at the company, who knew their shared interest in creating home haunts, introduced them to each other. Sanford, for example, did his first home haunt in 1984 while living in Salem, Mass.

The team’s first local effort, The Inferno, was in 2003 and based on Dante Alighieri’s work, "Dante’s Inferno." The haunt was a collaboration with the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs Theatreworks and was housed at the old terminal building in downtown Colorado Springs. After not being allowed to use the terminal building the following year due to safety concerns, they created Dread Manor inside Mr. Biggs Family Fun Center in 2005. Limited advertising, leading to less than expected turnout, and other concerns led Sanford to explore other locations in the area.

He approached the museum’s board of trustees and management about hosting a haunt and, after an agreement was reached, construction began in 2006 on the 1-acre site the museum made available for the haunt. The Haunted Mines opened in October 2007.

The Haunted Mines is an all-volunteer effort as friends, community members—one from as far away as Pueblo—and students from area high schools help to build and put the production together. The highly artistic graphic arts found throughout the haunt are the work of local air-brush artist Frank Dougherty. The Haunted Mines takes "victims" in groups of six over 25 minutes to negotiate through elevators, crawl spaces, and a variety of theme rooms and outdoor scenes. The areas include the Dynamite Room, Cemetery, the Catacombs, the Swamp, the Saw Mill, the Old Western Ghost Town, and the Hellevator.

The museum benefits from the haunt in a couple of ways. After construction materials and tools are purchased, the remaining proceeds go toward the museum to benefit its educational programming. From the construction effort, there is a permanent building that the museum can use for nine months of the year, with the haunt using it the remaining time. For Sanford, Wittwer, Roscio, and others who assist with the haunt, it is a creative outlet, a way to utilize their engineering skills, and the joy of hearing scream after scream on cool October nights.

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You have one more chance to go through the Haunted Mines, because its last day for the 2008 season is Nov. 1. Information on the Haunted Mines can be found at http://hauntedmines.org. Information on the WMMI and upcoming events can be found at www.wmmi.org

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Special Events and Notices

Singers and musicians needed for Christmas production

Tri-Lakes Music Association seeks singers, orchestra musicians, and anyone who would like to help in any way. Be a part of this exciting annual Tri-Lakes Christmas tradition in its tenth year. Performance dates are Dec. 19-20, 7 p.m., at Palmer Ridge High School. Vocal practices meet every Sunday, 1 p.m. (2 p.m. for orchestra), at The Church at Woodmoor, 18125 Furrow Rd. and every Monday, 6 p.m., at Trinity Lutheran Church, 17750 Knollwood Dr. For information contact Bob Manning, 481-3883, or e-mail rwgmanning@comcast.net.

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Volunteer to tutor English

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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Western Museum of Mining & Industry’s Fifth Annual Gold Party, Nov. 7

This year’s museum fundraiser, Nov. 7 at 6 p.m., will include a bourbon tasting, light appetizers, music, a guest speaker, and a silent auction! Tickets for the Gold Party are $50 per person. To donate prizes, call 487-3283. For general information, call 488-0880 or visit wmmi.org.

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Pine Creek Holiday Bazaar, Nov. 8

Crafter-artisans in 120 booth spaces offer creative holiday gifts Nov. 8, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at Pine Creek High School, 10750 Thunder Mountain Ave., Colorado Springs. This annual event is a fund-raiser for the Pine Creek High School band program. Enjoy live music, a bake sale, silent auction, and Grandma’s Kitchen! Admission is free. Take I-25 to Exit 151 (Briargate Parkway), continue straight (east) to Powers Blvd., then left (north) to Old Ranch Road. For information, visit www.geocities.com/pcbazaar.

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Veterans Day, Nov. 11

Here are some events honoring our veterans.

  • Lewis-Palmer Middle School (LPMS) Veterans Day Ceremony at 8 a.m. in the LPMS cafetorium, 1776 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. In honor of the 90th anniversary of Veterans Day, the LPMS Patriots invite all military veterans to a ceremony and reception. The LPMS television crew will record the event and any stories that veterans want to share about their experiences in the military. Please join the LPMS Patriots as they salute those who serve our country in the military. Info: 488-4776.
  • Monument Academy Charter School: "Take a Veteran to School Day" 10 a.m.-noon, 1150 Village Ridge Point, Monument. Veterans of all service branches are invited to share a special assembly at Monument Academy in their honor. Lunch will be provided for veterans following the assembly. For more information and to RSVP, call 481-1950 x1240.
  • Western Museum of Mining & Industry offers free admission Nov. 11 for all veterans and active duty military with ID. Tours begin at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

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Ladies Day at the YMCA, Nov. 12

The YMCA, 17250 Jackson Creek Parkway in Monument, is hosting a Ladies Day Celebration & Partners Campaign Fundraiser Nov. 12, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Admission is free. Enjoy a new hairstyle, massage, or reflexology. Get great ideas for Christmas, sample yummy foods, see and try on new fashions. Discuss current financial markets and investment options plus so much more! Free childcare is available for two hours (call ahead for a reservation). Booths rent for $50 for vendors and $25 for those providing a service. All proceeds go to the Partner Campaign, which helps the local community with before- and after-school childcare, and other YMCA programs. For more information, call Lisa Gray, 481-8728.

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"Guys and Dolls" at Palmer Ridge High School, Nov. 13-15

Don’t miss this D-38 combined high schools musical performance, Nov. 13 and 14; 7 p.m.; Nov. 15, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., at the Palmer Ridge High School Black Box Theater, 19255 Monument Hill Road, Monument. Tickets are $9 for adults and $6 for students and senior citizens. Online ticket sales begin Nov. 3 at www.seatyourself.biz/lewispalmer or buy tickets at box office day of show. For more information, call 867-8600.

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El Paso County needs volunteers

The El Paso County Board of Commissioners seeks community-minded citizen volunteers to serve on two of its boards. Applications for the open positions are due Nov. 14. Associate members who serve for one-year terms are needed for the Board of Adjustment. This board hears and decides on issues of physical variances related to the county zoning code. The El Paso County Emergency Services Agency (ESA) needs an individual who resides in El Paso County but outside the City of Colorado Springs and is a certified EMT or paramedic to serve for a three-year term. The ESA regulates and monitors private ambulance service contract compliance.

Additionally, the Park Fee Advisory Committee needs a land developer representative to serve for a three-year term. This board meets September-December each year to establish a fair and equitable park fee schedule. The application for this position is due Nov. 21.

The volunteer application is located at www.elpasoco.com and can be accessed by clicking on the "Volunteer Boards" link. Send completed applications and letters of interest and/or résumés to Board of County Commissioners, Attn: Frances St. Germain, County Administration Manager, 27 E. Vermijo Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80903-2208. Applications may also be faxed to 719-520-6397 or emailed to: webmaster@elpasoco.com. For more information, call 520-6436.

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Shakespeare off the Shelf at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Nov. 15

Tin Roof Productions brings "Shakespeare Off the Shelf" to the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) to perform abridged versions of "Romeo and Juliet" and "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" Nov. 15. Doors open at 5:30 for the 6 p.m. performance. Tin Roof Productions is a non-profit company promoting creativity and education. A cast of 10 local actors, ages 13-19, from Monument, Black Forest, Castle Rock, and Colorado Springs, play multiple roles in both plays. This is a fun, family-friendly show that lasts around an hour per play and hopefully leaves the audience wanting more Shakespeare rather than less! Tickets are $5 TLCA members, $7 non-members and $3 children under 12 years of age. Tickets are available at Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument, The Wine Seller (481-3019), and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is a non-profit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating community partnerships for demonstrating, teaching, exhibiting, and promoting the arts and humanities. It is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information visit www.trilakesarts.org or phone 481-0475.

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Monument unveils Christmas Banners, Nov. 21

Historic Downtown Monument presents the first "Banner Christmas" featuring 30 original Christmas art banners hand-painted by renowned local artists. The banners will be on display on Second Street and Front Street lampposts. Unveiling will be Nov. 21, and the banners will remain on display throughout the holiday season. Some of the banners will be available in a silent auction to raise funds for various local non-profit organizations. For more information, call 884-8016.

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Dotsero Concert, Nov. 22

Dotsero will kick off the holidays Nov. 22 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) with smooth jazz at its finest, playing some of their original selections as well as favorites from their holiday CD. Doors open at 7 for a 7:30 p.m. show. Tickets are $12 TLCA members and $15 non-members and are available at The Wine Seller (481-3019), Covered Treasures Bookstore (481-2665) in Monument and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. TLCA is located at 304 Colorado Highway 105, Palmer Lake. For more information, visit www.trilakesarts.org or phone 481-0475.

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Palmer Lake’s Chili Supper, Nov. 29

This popular annual fundraiser takes place Nov. 29, 5-8:30 p.m., at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent. All proceeds go toward maintenance of the Palmer Lake Star on the mountain, which will be lit at approximately 8 p.m. as part of the Chili Supper festivities. There will be door prizes and a bucket raffle. One lucky raffle winner will be the one to light the star! To donate prizes or for more information, phone the Palmer Lake Town Office at 481-2953.

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Yule Log Pot Luck Dinner, Dec. 2

Join with family and friends to prepare for the upcoming Yule Log celebration Dec. 2, 6 p.m., at Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Circle. Please bring a potluck dish to share and place settings for your family. For more information, call 481-2953.

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Historic Monument Small Town Christmas, Dec. 6

Holiday activities for the entire family in downtown Monument include:

  • Holiday crafts at Town Hall (166 Second St.) 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Miniature donkeys at Monumental Miniatures, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Hayrides and carolers at the Gallery Center (Second Street Art Market, Bella Art & Frame, and the Design Works), 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • A visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus at the Chapala Building, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Christmas Karaoke at High Country Home and Garden, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Reindeer at Front Street Square throughout the day
  • Refreshments and kids’ music at 2 Watts Creative and the Bead Corner throughout the day
  • A trunk show featuring Darlene Armstrong at Santa Fe Trail Jewelry
  • Other special events as Monument merchants celebrate a "Small Town Christmas"
  • Christmas Tree Lighting at Limbach Park at 4 p.m.

For more information, visit www.monumentmerchants.com or phone 884-8016.

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Project ChildSafe comes to Monument

500 firearm safety kits to be distributed locally. Monument Police Department will provide free firearm safety kits to local residents through a partnership with Project ChildSafe, the nationwide firearms safety education program. Each kit contains gun safety information and a cable-style gun lock that fits most types of handguns, rifles, and shotguns. The Monument Police Department administrative offices, 154 N. Washington St., are open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Feel free to drop by during those times to pick up a free gun-lock kit. For more information, phone 481-3253.

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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 federally-funded program, known as LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program), runs Nov. 1, 2008, to April 30, 2009. 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 if their monthly gross household income falls within the federal poverty guidelines set annually on Nov. 1. For more information, call 1-866-432-8435.

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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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