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Vol. 8 No. 2 - February 2, 2008


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Wescott firefighters receive Medal of Valor

Below (L to R): The audience at the Donald Wescott Fire Department awards ceremony gives a standing ovation to Capt. Scott Ridings, Firefighter/EMT Curt Leonhardt, Firefighter/EMT Roger Lance, Driver/Engineer James Rackl, and AMR paramedic Douglas McIntyre moments after they received the Donald Wescott Medal of Valor on Jan. 22. Photo provided by Valerie Marshal of Wescott Fire Department.

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 22, the Donald Wescott Fire Department awarded the Donald Wescott Medal of Valor to Capt. Scott Ridings, firefighter/EMT Curt Leonhardt, firefighter/EMT Roger Lance, volunteer driver/engineer James Rackl, and AMR paramedic Douglas McIntyre. This is the first time this award has been given in the 27-year history of the department.

The medal is named after El Paso County volunteer firefighter Donald Wescott, who tragically lost his life while fighting an apartment fire on May 7, 1976. Wescott is the last firefighter in the county to die in the line of duty.

The five men were recognized for their actions during the New Life Church shooting incident of Dec. 9, 2007. They were the first emergency medical services providers at the unsecured site. The crews of Wescott Engine 1 and AMR Medic 18 knowingly entered a dangerous and unknown situation to provide rapid medical triage, patient care, and transport of the victims to a Level 2 trauma facility at Penrose Hospital.

The citation given to the men reads, in part: "For their courage in an extremely dangerous situation with total disregard to their personal safety and for acting within the Donald Wescott Fire Department’s mission statement of risking a life for a known life. Their actions bring great credit upon themselves and exemplify the values and mission of the Donald Wescott Fire Department and the fire service."

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

Judy Purcell, 40, was shot in the shoulder. Larry Bourbonnais, 59, was wounded in the left arm. Purcell and Bourbonnais were treated and released.

The shooting incident was stopped when Murray was wounded by Jeanne Assam, a volunteer security guard. Murray then took his own life. After an extensive search to secure the scene, no other shooters were found. Wescott and other emergency personnel stayed on scene for about eight hours.

After the Wescott awards ceremony, David Works said to the medal winners, "Thank you." He added, "They did what they were trained to do and they did it perfectly. These kinds of acts need to be rewarded and honored and respected. We needed to be here."

The award ceremonies took place on Jan, 22 at Wescott Station 1 on Gleneagle Drive. Dignitaries and guests present included Pastor Garvin McCarroll, Pastor Ted Whaley, Pastor Justin Spicer, and Wanda Moore of New Life Church, as well as David and Marie Works. Operations Manager Ted Sayer represented American Medical Response.

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Access roads approved across Santa Fe Trail

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Below: A portion of the Future Land Use Map from the 2003 Monument Comprehensive Plan shows the area immediately west of I-25 as Business Park (BP), Open Space (OS), or, near Baptist Road, Regional Commercial (RC).

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By Susan Hindman

A new agreement between El Paso County and the owner of property west of Interstate 25 may be good for the new interchange but will create up to six access roads crossing the Santa Fe Trail from Old Denver Highway, between Baptist Road and Highway 105. The crossings could be at-grade, meaning that neither the trail nor the proposed roads crossing the hiking and bicycling trail would be elevated at those access points.

A Memorandum of Understanding between the El Paso County Commissioners and Phoenix Bell Associates regarding the acquisition of right-of-way for the Baptist Road and I-25 interchange—and granting access across the trail—was approved 4-0 at the Jan. 14 Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) meeting. Commissioner Doug Bruce was considered absent by his fellow commissioners since he had not yet submitted a letter of resignation.

Phoenix Bell owns the stretch of land from Baptist north to Highway 105 and between the interstate and the Santa Fe Trail, on the east side of Old Denver Highway. It is divided into six parcels that are currently zoned industrial. To develop it, however, each lot must have access to the Old Denver Highway, which can only be obtained by crossing the trail, which sits in between the property and the road. The trail right-of-way is county property.

A residential development called The Meadows has been proposed, with 891 dwelling units on 750 acres on portions of that land.

Lori Seago, assistant county attorney, told the commissioners that in exchange for receiving up to six access points across the county’s trail, Phoenix Bell is dedicating two parcels and two easements that are necessary to complete the improvements to the interchange.

Commissioner Wayne Williams said the two parcels are for widening Baptist Road. The two easements provide a new access for the Diamond Shamrock fuel station from the west, which lies within the Phoenix Bell property.

The current Baptist Road access for the fuel station will be eliminated when the new southbound I-25 dual lane off-ramps are constructed, leaving the station landlocked without this new access.

Williams said, "What this provides is an ability for the county to work with the developer and the Town of Monument in locating those accesses appropriately and designing them appropriately so that both the trail can function and the folks who own the property on the right can get into their property. …There’s no other way to get to those parcels."

He added, "We were going to have to provide the access anyways. This simply recognizes that but also provides a donation of what would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars possibly." He said he was not aware of any appraisals of these parcels and easements.

Safety issues concerning the access points were not addressed at the BOCC meeting, nor was there any discussion about improvements to the Old Denver Highway in anticipation of the extra traffic that would be generated by the development.

When asked if there was any opposition to the agreement, Tim Wolken, director of the county Parks Department, said, "There were certainly some concerns from trail users about the number of crossings…. Within the agreement, we talk about below-grade and above-grade (crossings) as well, and we should share in the cost of that if we elect to do those. But we’ve assured the trails community that we’ll hold public meetings and get their feedback."

Wolken noted, "There has been some discussion of moving part of the trail next to I-25 to eliminate some of the crossings" and that "we’re really at the beginning stages of discussion on how the trail’s going to be impacted by the development."

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On the Roads: Status of Baptist Road construction

By André Brackin
Capital Programs division manager
El Paso County DOT

The Board of County Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Phoenix Bell Associates on Jan. 14 for dedication of right-of-way on the north side of Baptist Road, west of I-25, between the Diamond Shamrock fuel station and the Santa Fe Trailhead. This right-of-way will be used as part of a second westbound Baptist lane between I-25 and Old Denver Highway.

The commissioners also approved the donation of two easements from Phoenix Bell to provide a new access on the west side of the Diamond Shamrock station. The current access on the southwest corner to the station will be eliminated by construction of two additional westbound lanes of Baptist Road along the south frontage of the fuel station. The new through lane, as well as the new acceleration lane for cars turning right onto Baptist from the new dual lane southbound I-25 off ramp, will block the current station entrance. Without the easements donated by Phoenix Bell, the Diamond Shamrock station would become landlocked. (See article above for more details on the agreement.)

Right-of-way has not yet been obtained from Valero Corp., owner of the Diamond Shamrock station, for the new southbound off-ramp and westbound acceleration lane. This negotiation should be concluded soon, now that an alternative access has been secured for Valero.

The Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) and the county can now go ahead with advertising for construction contracts for expanding the west side of the I-25 interchange now that the Phoenix Bell parcel has been dedicated, even though the Valero parcel is still needed. If the interchange construction contract can be awarded in the next few months, this project will get started about the time the county is finishing up work on widening Baptist Road eastward from Jackson Creek Parkway past Desiree Drive. The remaining widening improvements to Baptist Road west of the interstate would be accomplished through development interests in the Town of Monument through the annexation process or by a combination of contracting and funding through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority in the next five years.

Work continues on the Family of Christ Church retaining wall on the south side of Baptist Road. When work on that wall is completed, work can proceed on the final grading and installation of the remaining pipe culverts and drainage systems in the eastbound lanes between the parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. As weather permits, Rocky Mountain Materials & Asphalt, Inc., can resume paving the bottom layers of asphalt, perhaps as early as March or April. The top layers of paving will be installed in the May to June time frame and all elements of the contract should be completed by the end of June, weather permitting.

Some issues regarding ownership and maintenance of the noise wall to be installed on the south side of Baptist between Gleneagle and Desiree Drives have not been resolved. The original tract owned by the Gleneagle HOA, where the noise wall is proposed to be built, has been apparently deeded back to the lot owners, meaning that an additional easement or permission should be obtained from each lot owner prior to work on private property.

The height of the manhole covers that are currently below or above the grade of the base layer of asphalt on Baptist Road will be adjusted with new rings to match the final layer of asphalt when it is installed along the full length of the project. Many residents have complained about the temporary manhole levels. The posted speed limit in these areas of concern has been kept at 25 mph for driver and worker safety as drivers maneuver around the manholes. The key is to adhere to the posted limit for everyone’s safety.

The payment total for contracted work invoiced to date is $7,580,331of a $10,157,435 contract, or about 75 percent. There are 182 contract working days remaining.

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, January 22: District reviews draft water infrastructure study results

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Below: Donala board president Ed Houle (left) congratulates Troy Vialpando, Maintenance Operator, on being named Employee of the Quarter. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting January 22, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, distributed copies of portions of the draft Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) report funded by the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA). Some highlights:

  • The WIPS participants were the Academy Water and Sanitation District, Donala Water and Sanitation District, Town of Monument, Town of Palmer Lake, Triview Metropolitan District, and Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.
  • The study assumed that a renewable water supply would be available locally by 2020 so the existing and interim water supplies would need to meet projected demand until at least that time.
  • Current demand by the WIPS participants is approximately 4,200 acre-feet per year. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons. By 2020, the projected demand is approximately 7,500 acre-feet per year. At full build-out, the anticipated demand would be approximately 8,200 acre-feet per year.
  • Without substantial improvements in conservation and efficiency, the modeling shows a projected shortfall by 2020 of about 2,100 acre-feet per year.
  • Currently, approximately 65 percent of the WIPS participants’ water comes from wells in the Arapahoe aquifer. The remainder comes from the Dawson aquifer, the Denver aquifer, and from reuse of water from the wastewater treatment plants. Continued declines in the water levels in the Arapahoe aquifer will reduce well yields and affect peak well pumping capacity.
  • Interim ways to address the anticipated shortages include optimization of the use of the existing wells to reduce interaction between adjacent wells, construction of a satellite well field, and implementation of indirect potable reuse (IPR). The report notes that a satellite well field uses non-renewable water while IPR can help stretch non-renewable water supplies in the interim and then more efficiently use water from renewable sources when that becomes available.
  • The study also considered locations and sizes for a local reservoir. It noted that implementing IPR would reduce the local storage requirement from about 6,100 acre-feet to about 3,800 acre-feet. Of the seven reservoir sites considered, the estimated costs ranged from $2,400 to $10,100 per acre-foot. Due to the time needed for planning, design, land acquisition, permitting, and construction, the study recommended that work on the reservoir begin during 2008.
  • The study recommended that a large capacity backbone water line is needed to interconnect the local water providers and distribute water whether from renewable or non-renewable sources. The recommended alignment essentially follows the I-25 corridor.

Recommendations from the report:

  • All water providers should immediately implement conservation programs to reduce overall demand.
  • Each water provider should look at ways to optimize their use of existing wells. Each provider should coordinate well operations with surrounding providers.
  • Start implementation of a backbone pipeline to interconnect the local water providers. The estimated cost is $15 million to $21 million depending on the alignment chosen.
  • Start implementation of an IPR system. The estimated cost is about $48 million. In the event an IPR system proves to be impractical, the local providers should pursue construction of a satellite well field. The cost for a satellite well field in Douglas County is estimated at about $35 million. One in El Paso County is estimated at about $22 million.
  • Start implementation of a local reservoir. The estimated cost is about $18 million to $30 million depending on the size and location.
  • Aggressively pursue sources of renewable water.
  • Conduct a follow-on study (WIPS II) to refine the design of the backbone pipeline; refine the IPR system design; refine the evaluation of potential reservoir sites; evaluate cost and yield for additional development of the Dawson, Denver, and Laramie-Fox Hills aquifers; evaluate the cost and yield of potential satellite well field locations; and identify further efficiencies that could be achieved by coordination of the local providers.

Duthie noted that the report should be revised to reflect current growth rate projections, which are less than when the WIPS study was started, increased conservation, and implementation of the backbone pipeline. Even so, Duthie noted that water supply shortfalls could become a problem by 2013.

The final report is scheduled for release in February.

2007 financial results

Total revenue for 2007 was $1.6 million from water sales, $780,000 from sewer service, and $1.0 million from property taxes.

Donala’s 2007 expenses for operations and administration were $3.2 million.

Capital project expenses were $2 million.

Revised 2008 budget appropriated

The board unanimously approved the revised 2008 budget and appropriated the funds.

Total projected annual revenue for 2008 is $11.6 million including $1.5 million from water sales, $870,000 from sewer service, $1.2 million from property taxes, and $7 million from Colorado Water and Power Authority loans to fund the ongoing wastewater plant construction project.

Donala’s 2008 expenses for operations and administration are projected at $3.7 million.

Capital project expenses are projected at $7.75 million of which $7 million is for the continuing wastewater treatment plant expansion.

With the required $113,577 TABOR reserve and an additional $100,000 in contingency, the ending total fund balance at the end of 2008 is projected at $10.8 million, about the same as in prior years.

Other matters

  • Troy Vialpando, Maintenance Operator, received the Employee of the Quarter award.
  • Duthie reported that maintenance and administration of the El Paso County Water Authority’s transit loss model is costing Donala about $12,000 per year. He noted that Donala does not currently have a customer for its excess effluent although PPRWA manager, Gary Barber, is working on identifying a customer.
  • Duthie reported that State Representative Kathleen Curry of Gunnison, Chair of the Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bill requiring developers to identify a sustainable water supply prior to getting approval for their developments. Duthie said, "I agree with what she’s doing although there would be a burden on the state engineer’s office for policing." He added, "We need a state policy for water and growth."

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

After executive session, the board reconvened in open session. The board unanimously approved offering the Academy district $1,200 per acre foot for their Arapahoe aquifer water in excess of the amount of water needed to serve the Academy district customers. Duthie was directed to prepare a letter giving that and other conditions to be part of an agreement to include the Academy district into the Donala district.

Duthie was also directed to prepare a letter to the Triview Metropolitan District offering a way to accelerate the consolidation of districts in the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and to lessen the immediate fiscal impacts on the Triview district.

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

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Triview Metropolitan District, January 22: Board appoints Fisher to fill vacancy

Below (L to R): Robert Fisher, newly appointed board member; Tom Repp, the district’s engineer; temporary disrict manager Ron Simpson; board members Mark Veenendaal, Bob Eskridge, Julie Glenn, and Joe Martin; district administrator Dale Hill; Peter Susemihl, the district’s attorney; and Monument Mayor Byron Glenn. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors meeting January 22, Robert Fisher was appointed to fill the vacancy created by Joe Belzer’s resignation.

Board president Bob Eskridge and members Julie Glenn, Joe Martin, and Mark Veenendaal were present.

All the members are up for election in May except Glenn. Self-nominations must be submitted to the district by February 29.

District manager Larry Bishop resigned last month. Former district manager Ron Simpson has been hired to work two days a week until a full-time manager is hired.

Other matters

  • Simpson reported that he is working with property owners and SWCA Environmental consultants to implement actions required under the district’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404 environmental clearance permit regarding Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat conservation.
  • Simpson reported that the additional water tank proposed as part of the Sanctuary Pointe project is on hold along with that project
  • The district’s latest application to state government for $2 million to pay the district’s share in the wastewater plant expansion is being reviewed. The prior application was denied.
  • Board members asked Eskridge to request a written explanation of the cost increases on the wastewater plant expansion project.
  • Tom Repp, Triview’s engineer and a project manager with Nolte, reported that a subcontractor over-excavated. He said he is monitoring the situation.
  • Monument Mayor Byron Glenn speaking as a resident expressed concern about the dips in the northbound right-hand lane of Jackson Creek Parkway.
  • The mayor noted that work is underway on revising the district’s 1987 intergovernmental agreement with the town. He asked about plans to revise the district’s service plan approved by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners. Peter Susemihl, the district’s attorney, said the district does not have any immediate plans to revise the service plan but agreed to review the document with the mayor.

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The Triview Metropolitan District Board of Directors normally meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be held February 26 at 5 p.m. in the district conference room, 174 Washington St. in downtown Monument. For information, phone 488-6868.

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Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board, January 10: Positive year-end financial and staff reports presented

By Jim Kendrick

Reports with good news on the district’s accomplishments and investments in 2007 were presented to the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District board on Jan. 10. The staff has made several upgrades to operating systems and equipment. Long-term investments will be re-evaluated to ensure additional liquidity in the coming year.

All board members were present.

Construction work extended

District Manager Phil Steininger noted that a substantial amount of the construction work that had been planned and budgeted for in 2007 has been extended into 2008. The costs that have been rolled over to 2008 are about $1.7 million. This rollover will require the board to formally amend the 2008 budget at the end of this year once the exact costs are known.

Joint Use Committee report

Director Jim Whitelaw reported that the Monument Sanitation District had another comparatively very high dissolved copper concentration in one of its weekly samples in the district’s south vault.

Whitelaw added that Home Depot is still selling root removal products that use large concentrations of copper sulfate. Since the Home Depot is in the Triview Metropolitan District, "There’s nothing we can do about it and Triview is struggling."

Board Chair Jim Taylor asked if the Town of Monument, or just the Monument Sanitation District, was concerned about copper in water samples. Whitelaw said it was just the district. Director Benny Nasser said the town should be more concerned. Steininger confirmed that Home Depot was still selling copper sulfate products and said the Monument district was working with the town to adjust the pH of town drinking water. He noted that Triview’s wastewater is treated at Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater.

Steininger noted that the Joint Use Agreement for the Tri-Lakes facilities’ operations and cost sharing should be amended to deal with issues more logically. He added that this might increase costs to Monument and Palmer Lake Sanitation Districts.

Nasser asked Steininger to inquire whether consultant environmental lawyer Tad Foster could obtain help from the state to prohibit the sale of copper sulfate products for killing tree roots.

Manager’s report

Operations Manager Randy Gillette reported a couple of water line breaks to start the new year. The level of the water in Lake Woodmoor is being lowered at a satisfactory rate.

Civil Engineer Jessie Shaffer reported good progress on construction of new Well 20. Also, the contractor’s final design proposal for renovations of the Lake Woodmoor project was to be completed by the end of January and submitted to the state’s review authority in Pueblo. The state will take 30-45 days to approve the design.

The district gave conditional acceptance to Lennar Homes for the installation of water and wastewater infrastructure in filing 1 of the Misty Acres development just north of Palmer Ridge High School.

The water line for the commercial project on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Knollwood Drive is about 50 percent complete.

The developer of the Arbor Mountain senior citizen residence has not obtained the additional water he needs to build such a high-density residence.

The Colorado Department of Wildlife has proposed a draft agreement for removing and replacing the fish in Lake Woodmoor that are necessary for water quality. The cost is about $6,000. The department would like to raise breeding fish, a mix of sawger and walleye, in the lake. Attorney Erin Smith was given the draft to review.

Steininger recommended against a one-time fishing event on this private property to remove the current fish because fishing will again be prohibited when the lake is refilled after the emergency drain hardware is replaced and the dam is reinforced. There was a lengthy discussion about the loss of goodwill versus the difficulty that would be encountered to reinstate the prohibition of fishing on others’ property. No final decision was made. Steininger said he would obtain additional information.

The board unanimously approved continuation of the policy on current watering restrictions and rebates for low-use appliances in 2008. The board will formally approve a resolution on the continuation at a future meeting.

Investment report

Randy Rush of Integrity Bank gave a lengthy year-end summary and described 2008 goals for investment of the district’s cash reserves. Integrity Bank has been performing investment services for two years. He emphasized the safety of the various investment categories, the dispersal of money over several institutions, and the availability of funds with short-term investments for any financial emergencies the district might encounter. A synopsis of Rush’s presentation will be distributed in the February billing to the district’s 3,500 homeowners.

Members of the staff then took turns giving a detailed presentation on their 35-page year-end report for 2007.

The meeting adjourned at 3:45 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 1 p.m. on Feb. 14 at the district conference room, 1845 Woodmoor Drive. Meetings are normally held on the second Thursday of the month. Information: 488-2525.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, January 16: New firefighter and board member sworn in

On Jan. 16, Board Chairman Brian Ritz swore in Wayne Krzemien (above) and Greg Gent. Photos by Bryan Ackerman.

By Jim Kendrick

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board Chairman Brian Ritz swore in Wayne Krzemien as a full-time firefighter and emergency medical technician Krzemien was one of three new employees who started working full-time Dec. 27. Volunteer firefighter Derek Townsend will be sworn in at the next meeting on Feb. 20. Townsend was attending wildland fire training in Sterling. Firefighter Jonathan Urban was sworn in at the Dec. 19 board meeting.

Ritz also swore in newly appointed Director Greg Gent to fill the vacant board seat. Gent was one of four candidates. Gent’s position will be up for election on May 6.

The board unanimously approved a new Policy and Procedures Manual after a year of discussion and review.

All four sitting board members were present: Ritz, Treasurer Dave Cross, and Directors Kevin Gould and Joe Potter. Chief Jeff Edwards and Assistant Chief Vinny Burns were on vacation. Capt. Mike Whiting represented them.

New board member selected

Four district residents submitted letters of interest for the four-month appointment to the vacant board position. They are: Gent, Scott Campbell, and former Wescott board members Dennis Feltz and Bill Lowes. Ritz said that he had asked each of the four to attend the meeting if possible or submit a letter detailing their background. Campbell was unable to attend, and board members noted that they had read the letter he had sent them.

Gent, Feltz, and Lowes told the board why they were interested in volunteering for the short-term appointment. After noting that they had four well-qualified candidates, the board discussed whether it would be preferable to have a new community member or an experienced board member for this short-term situation. Gent received three votes and Feltz got one vote. Gent was then sworn in by Ritz.

Treasurer’s report

Cross advised the board that the department has enough cash reserves carried over from 2007 to pay current operating expenses until 2008 property tax revenues begin to be forwarded by the county. Cross noted that the final payments for the lease-purchase agreements for the 2001 pumper engine and the 2001 water tank engine (called a tender); as well the addition for the third engine bay, staff offices, and conference room to Station 1 would be paid off in 2008.

Wescott received over $20,000 for deployments of its brush truck and several firefighters to California to fight wildland fires last year.

The district also received a workers’ compensation group dividend check in the amount of $4,667 at the end of 2007, a benefit of having an accident-free year. The dividend will be used to help pay for the purchase of the eight new Kevlar vests and individual Kevlar helmets for all paid staff. The equipment was added to the 2007 budget by the board at the December meeting. The body armor has been ordered and is due at the end of February. The helmets are on back order. The invoices will be paid in 2008 but will be part of the amended 2007 budget.

Operational report

Whiting reported 93 runs in the month of December. The total runs for 2007 were 1,113, a 2 percent decrease from 2006. There were 11 more calls in the district in 2007.

Wescott had a fire loss in the district in December. There was only $10,000 worth of damage at a $400,000 town house off Struthers Road due to the quick response. The owner set a box on the stove, accidentally turned on the stove, and then went outside for awhile before it was discovered. A previous district fire loss of about $2,000 occurred during an apartment fire in May 2007, for a total loss of $12,000 for the year.

Whiting reported his attendance at an after-incident debrief on Jan. 9 for the New Life Church shooting. He noted that the five Wescott members who responded to the New Life incident would receive the Medal of Valor award at a special ceremony on Jan. 22. The crews in Wescott’s American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance were AMR paramedic Doug McIntyre and Wescott firefighter Roger Lance. The Wescott firefighters in Engine 1 were Capt. Scott Ridings, Curt Leonhardt, and volunteer Jim Rackl. (See article on page 1 for details.)

Wescott will be placed on the regional board in Pueblo for wildland deployments. Administrative Assistant and board Secretary Ginnette Ritz will receive training on wildland fire participation finances. Nine firefighters were in Sterling attending a wildland academy at the time of this board meeting. Five firefighters attended a hazardous materials operations class.

Five personnel will also attend an Emergency Vehicle Operations Course and an intravenous injections class in February. These classes are sponsored by AMR, the district’s ambulance services provider.

The board asked that the 2001 pumper engine be driven more often as part of a rotation of the new and older pumpers. When a sufficient number of volunteers are on duty, both pumpers respond to calls where a second pumper is appropriate.

Policy and procedure manual update

Cross advised that he had met with directors Ritz, Gould, and Potter, and with department personnel within the past month, going over remaining issues on the extensively revised district Policy and Procedure Manual. Cross said he felt that there was a consensus among the members of the board on all but one portion of the manual regarding paid time off for holidays. The two remaining pay issues were inclusion of Colorado Day as a recognized holiday in which employees get paid time-and-a-half for working and paid time-off on holidays for executive staff and administrative staff.

The consensus of board members was to eliminate Colorado Day from the list of paid holidays. There was some discussion of the amounts of paid time-off allowed for regular paid personnel and executive staff. The board decided to allow executive staff to take off recognized holidays, but if they do not take a holiday as a paid day off, they cannot take another day in its place.

The sole unresolved policy issue was whether to reimburse staff for travel and training through flat per diem rates or reimbursement for submitted receipts. The board determined that the firefighters who worked on New Year’s Day would not receive retroactive pay for that holiday, subject to a specific request for additional pay from Chief Edwards. The board will clarify these two issues with Edwards at a later board meeting.

The board unanimously approved the new Policy and Procedure Manual.

Cross asked that the next Volunteer Pension board meeting, which is currently set for May 21, be held sooner to discuss current developments regarding the Volunteer Pension Fund.

The board went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter at 9:05 p.m. The executive session ended at 9:30 p.m. The board announced that they would like to discuss a revision of the Policy and Procedure Manual regarding board eligibility at the February meeting. No decisions or votes were made prior to adjournment at 9:31 p.m.

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The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Feb. 20 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Information: 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, January 23: Miller elected president of new district’s board

By Susan Hindman

Board Vice President Rick Barnes welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, which has replaced the former Fire Authority and the two districts that comprised it (the Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District and the Woodmoor/Monument Fire Protection District). It was a full house, as nearly the entire crew of firefighters was present. Only Directors John Hartling and Charlie Pocock were absent.

After board members were sworn into office, there was discussion about whether to keep the same officers that had held positions on the Fire Authority board. Tim Miller was nominated to be president and was voted in, replacing Pocock, who had been the Fire Authority president. Barnes was elected vice president, the position Miller had held. Treasurer John Hildebrandt and Secretary Rod Wilson retained their former positions. After the May election for two board positions, new officers will be selected again. Chief Rob Denboske was approved as the election official for 2008.

Also because of the recent merger, 22 members of the Fire Department were sworn in to the new fire district. Denboske announced later that Curtis Kauffmann was promoted to fire marshal.

Ham radio group says thanks

Doug Neilsen, president of the Pikes Peak Radio Amateur Association, and Mike Anderson, the group’s event coordinator, presented the department with a plaque in appreciation for its support of the annual Amateur Radio Field Day, held at Station 1 in June 2007. The event is a contest for ham radio operators, and the local group wound up placing first in the state and 21st nationally.

The event "has become one of the largest emergency exercises in the world as far as communications goes," said firefighter Elliot Linke, who coordinated the event from the Fire Department side.

Neilsen said that Field Day gets the radio operators "out of our houses, out of our normal radio rooms, and we take our equipment out into the field." They’ll set up "in an emergency operations center environment … and get the opportunity to interface with emergency services folks."

In return, Linke said, the group "brought a great pool of resources to the communications program up here. They’ve been a tremendous help to the community." Neilsen and Anderson expressed their gratitude to Linke for his efforts.

Equipment update

The older ladder truck has been delivered to Cripple Creek and a down payment has been received. Battalion Chief Mike Dooley said because of a "change in management" in Cripple Creek, the Town Council "is trying to get us the rest of the money" (around $290,000). Tri-Lakes Monument’s newer ladder truck is being repaired and should be back in service in a few weeks.

The new water tender will not be ready until the middle or end of March, leaving the district without a tender. Formerly a construction tender, the new one is being retrofitted for Fire Department use. The department is saving money, he said, and "for what we’re getting, a little bit of time is worth it." When Director Bill Ingram expressed concern about not having a tender, Dooley said, "We’ve depended on outside organizations anyway" for a tender.

Dooley is also researching options for selling the Pierce engine, which is currently in "reserved status" at Station 3. He is hoping to replace it with a brush truck. He said he would have a proposal with numbers for the next meeting.

Treasurer’s report

Hildebrandt noted that as of Dec. 31, 2007, 99.69 percent of the property tax revenues ($2.6 million) had been received. The rest is expected to arrive in January. The Specific Ownership taxes collected were short by $25,062 (6.54 percent). Ambulance revenues, on the other hand, were over budget by 14.51 percent, bringing in $59,403 more than budgeted.

"There’s always a stickler in the budget somewhere," Hildebrandt said, and Station 2 (on Roller Coaster Road) was it, with various maintenance and supply costs running higher than planned. But overall, the district revenues were higher than budgeted by $25,369 (0.64 percent).

Pioneer discussions on hold

Wilson and Director Harv Simms recommended postponing, for cost reasons, any discussion of using Pioneer Lookout Water District supply water for Station 1. Wilson was told it would cost $50,000 to tie in to Pioneer’s water system.

Before adjourning, Miller said he wanted "to recognize all the hard work done by numerous individuals, perhaps first and foremost Charlie Pocock, for all the hard work and a lot of the drive behind the move to get it all done, over a number of years." He commended the fire chief and board members as well.

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The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District meets the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105 (next to the bowling alley). The next meeting is Feb. 27. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com.

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Monument Board of Trustees, January 7: Police officers awarded Distinguished Service Cross

Below: On Jan. 7, Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk (center) presented Officers Michael Wolf (left) and Steve Lontz the department’s Distinguished Service Cross for exceptional bravery during an incident Aug. 31, 2007. Photos by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On a night when the Monument Town Hall meeting room was packed with family, friends, and fellow police officers, Police Chief Jake Shirk presented Officers Michael Wolfe and Steve Lontz the department’s Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award presented to police officers, for exceptional bravery in disarming a suicidal father during a physical struggle with his son.

Town Manager Cathy Green presented Trustee and Mayor Pro Tem Dave Mertz a Spirit of Monument Award for 2007 for his work as chairman of the Monument Planning Commission in developing the town’s Comprehensive Plan as well as his years of service as a trustee and a member of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority board.

Mayor Byron Glenn also announced that former Mayor Si Sibell and his wife, Dorothy, had also been selected to receive Spirit of Monument Awards.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros received his Colorado Certified Municipal Clerk Designation certificate from Green recognizing his years of education, experience, and participation in numerous state activities.

All seven board members were present.

Heroism honored

In presenting Wolfe and Lontz with their Distinguished Service Crosses, Shirk said it was an honor to share the stage with people who exhibit courage and bravery in the face of danger, then explained in great detail the selfless actions they took on Aug. 31, 2007:

Officers Wolfe and Lontz were dispatched to a Monument residence for a man attempting suicide with a gun. At the home, a female told officers that her father was in the house with a loaded gun pointed at his chin. This female also said that her mother and brother were in the house and that they would not leave.

Through a window, Officer Lontz observed a physical struggle between the father and son and both officers immediately entered the home. Both officers identified themselves and repeatedly ordered the man to drop the gun. As the struggle ended, officers could see that the son had removed one gun from his father’s possession. The father refused to comply with officers’ orders and he was shot with a Taser.

After the first handgun was secured, two other guns were found within immediate reach of where the father had been sitting and later struggling with his son. An additional three handguns and two rifles were found throughout the home, and all weapons were temporarily seized by the police for safekeeping. The father was taken to Memorial Hospital for a mental health evaluation and detoxification.

Officer Wolfe and Officer Lontz are awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second-highest award presented to police officers, as they demonstrated exceptional bravery despite an imminent risk of serious injury or death. Acting without hesitation, they successfully brought this potentially deadly confrontation to a safe conclusion without any injury or loss of life.

Wolfe and Lontz also received pins to wear on their uniforms to note the awards.

Lamer receives Chief’s Commendation

Shirk presented a Chief’s Commendation award from all the officers to Leonard L. Lamer, Wal-Mart’s asset protection coordinator for Monument, for his outstanding work for the community of Monument and Colorado Springs in prevention of theft, fraud, and robbery. Shirk noted that Lamer had carefully and thoroughly analyzed a multi-state theft ring that was stealing baby formula from regional Wal-Mart, Kmart, Albertson’s, Safeway, King Soopers, and Walgreen’s stores.

Lamer’s remarkably accurate predictions and the department’s quick response time led to the nationally recognized felony arrests of three members of the criminal gang. Seizure of their vehicle led to numerous arrests of their "Mexican Mafia associates" in several other states. Lamer has since been assigned to other Wal-Mart stores in Colorado Springs that need his crime and loss prevention skills. Shirk said Lamer’s work protected the safety and security of retail personnel and customers and led to the felony arrests in Monument and related arrests in Colorado Springs.

Summerfield’s volunteer work recognized

Shirk presented Monument Police Explorer Cadet Jason Summerfield with a Certificate of Appreciation for his 516 volunteer hours of service to the department in the previous two years. Summerfield performed 258 ride-along hours, 132 training hours, and 126 community service hours. In addition to his mother, several fellow police cadets attended the award presentation.

Other matters

The board conducted the following routine business prior to presenting awards and having a reception for those being honored.

The board unanimously approved a resolution designating the official posting places for town notices during 2008 as the bulletin boards at Town Hall and the Monument Post Office on Third Street.

The board approved a liquor license renewal for Rotelli Pizza Pasta owner Rotelli Store Partners No. 2, LLC, 15910 Jackson Creek Blvd. The vote was 6-0-1 with Trustee Tim Miller abstaining.

The board unanimously approved a liquor license renewal for Hikari Japanese Restaurant owner Roka Family Restaurants, Inc., 271 Highway 105.

Trustee Travis Easton was unanimously appointed to represent the Town of Monument on the Monument Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors.

The board unanimously approved the following payments over $5,000:

  • $35,414 to Mountain Peak Controls, Inc., for repairs to Town Well 8
  • $5,508 to Mountain States Pipe and Supply for well supplies
  • $10,000 to Rocky Mountain Rail Authority for 2008 annual dues
  • $20,866 to Forest Lakes Metropolitan District for the town’s share of the Forest Lakes water tank engineering expenses from Bosco Construction, Inc.

Following the reception for the recipients of the evening’s awards, the board unanimously approved a motion to go into executive session to discuss contract and real estate negotiations at 7:15 p.m. The board came out of executive session at 7:35 p.m. and immediately adjourned with no further votes or actions taken.

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Monument Board of Trustees, January 22: Progress announced on starting Baptist interchange work

By Jim Kendrick

At the Monument Board of Trustees on Jan. 22, Mayor Byron Glenn announced donations of some of the right-of-way needed for expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. Trustees Gail Drumm, Dave Mertz, and Steve Samuels were absent.

Baptist Road update

Mayor Glenn reported that all the paperwork had been completed by Tim Holman of Valero Corp. for donation of right-of-way from the Diamond Shamrock fuel station property for expansion of the northwest corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange. The new Baptist Road bridge will be eight lanes wide. The Valero right-of-way is needed for the new dual lane southbound off-ramps and the additional lanes for bridge traffic.

Though not discussed by Glenn, a memorandum of understanding with Phoenix Bell Associates was unanimously approved by the Board of County Commissioners on Jan. 14 for obtaining the rest of the needed right-of-way and easements on the northwest corner of the interchange. (See article on page 1 for more details on this agreement.)

Glenn said that Allen Brown of ADK Monument Developers LLC would complete the paperwork to donate right-of-way on the south side of the vacant Timbers at Monument parcel by Jan. 25. The ADK property is on the northwest corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway.

THF Realty has not donated any of the former Foxworth-Galbraith property on the northeast corner of Baptist and the old Struthers Road to the county for interchange right-of-way. THF bought the now-vacant hardware store parcel on July 9 from former owner Mike Watt. THF Realty has not yet concluded its planned purchase of the adjacent vacant Timbers at Monument property. The boundary between the THF and ADK properties is the former Foxworth-Galbraith storage yard fence to the east and north of the vacant hardware building.

Donation of right-of-way by THF Realty to the county is necessary because the portion of Struthers Road south and west of the THF parcel, from the Baptist Road intersection up to the existing entrance to the closed hardware store, will be used to build the new dual lane northbound I-25 on-ramp.

Advertisement for bids on interchange contract pending

Glenn noted that Bob Torres, the county’s consultant for managing the interchange contract, had said the county may be able to advertise for contract bids in February, despite not having received any right-of-way from THF Realty. Glenn said this may mean that interchange construction could begin in April. Torres recently retired from the Colorado Department of Transportation, where he was the director of Region 2, which includes this section of I-25.

Torres will give another update on the status of advertising for contract bids at the next meeting of the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority on Feb. 8 at 2:30 p.m. in Monument’s Town Hall, 166 Second St. (See article on page 5 for an update from the county Transportation Department on construction progress on Baptist Road.)

Glenn stated that Pikes Peak Area Council of Government’s Highway Economic Resource System rated Monument-area roads drivability as:

  • Good – 24 percent
  • Fair – 51 percent
  • Poor – 26 percent

The council’s Military Impact Report stated that by 2012, it anticipates 48,000 new individuals for a total Fort Carson population of 77,500, including dependents. This will require lots of new infrastructure construction and may affect funding for projects in Monument.

Trustee Tim Miller asked if the town could coordinate repainting of white lines on Baptist Road with the county as well. Miller asked that the town’s Public Works Department apply more sand on westbound Lyons Tail Road, particularly on the slope just uphill from the intersection with Jackson Creek Parkway. Miller noted he had seen a recent accident at the parkway intersection.

Two citizens attending the meeting who did not identify themselves asked that the town coordinate with the county to eliminate the double yellow line in the eastbound lanes of Baptist Road between Gleneagle Drive and Desiree Drive and to use more sand on Furrow Road near the intersection with Highway 105.

Car show road closure approved

Event coordinator Dick Cissell asked the board to approve a resolution for closure of portions of Second, Washington, Front, and Third Streets from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. on June 8. The requested closure is for the annual Tri-Lakes Cruiser Club Car Show.

Town Clerk Scott Meszaros told the board Cissell had submitted all the required forms, including a certificate of insurance and a traffic plan. One off-duty police officer will be assigned to the show. The officer’s overtime pay will be paid for by the car club. If there are vendors for goods or services, it is the organizer’s responsibility to control such vendors and to take care of appropriate tax information and coordination as part of the event. Food will be provided by Shani’s Café, the Coffee Cup, and La Casa Fiesta.

The resolution was unanimously approved, (4-0).

Membership in Internet crime task force approved

Below:  Colorado Springs Detective Sgt. Bill Dehart and Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk. Photo by John Heiser.

The board unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement with the City of Colorado Springs to join the regional Internet crimes against children task force. Detective Sgt. Bill Dehart of the Colorado Springs Police Department gave a brief summary of the benefits of task force membership. As a member of the task force, the Monument Police Department will be eligible to receive free training, money for overtime pay, computers, and other equipment designed to specifically investigate these crimes.

Town to negotiate new construction contract for Town Hall/Police Department building

Tom Kassawara, director of Development Services, reported that Centennial Services, Inc., would not be able to complete its contract with the town to design and construct the new Town Hall/Police Department building on the southwest corner of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road. Currently, John P. Nelson Associates is the architect and Alexandher Building Co., Inc., is the contractor for the project. Town staff proposed that Centennial Services conclude the design phase of the project and that Development Services contract directly with Nelson and Alexandher for the construction phase.

Kassawara said that construction time should be approximately 10 to 12 months, once commenced. Nelson and Alexandher have significant local experience in building design and construction and have excellent references. They have worked together on a number of projects in the area and are familiar with each other’s work. The board unanimously approved a resolution that amends the original 2004 resolution that reassigns construction from Centennial Services to town staff.

Wisdom Tea House gets new liquor license

Meszaros stated that Thomas and Diane Wisdom were seeking approval for a new beer and wine liquor license for the Wisdom Tea House at 65 Washington St. Joel B. Pinson will be the manager. All fees have been collected and proper notice and publication requirements have been met. Their fingerprints and backgrounds had been filed. Issuance of the license is contingent upon clear Colorado Bureau of Investigation checks on the owners and manager.

The State Liquor Enforcement Division informed Meszaros that a separate retail warehouse alcohol storage permit was necessary for using a garage instead of an area inside the main establishment. Meszaros will process the separate storage permit.

Thomas Wisdom said their intent is to have musical events, film showings, and art in a relaxed artistic environment where desserts, savory foods and hors d’oeuvres will be sold. They wish to complement this theme with tea, beer and wine products. Lunch, and eventually dinner, may be served. During winter and inclement weather, patio festivities will be conducted inside. They plan to open for business by the end of February.

Police Chief Jake Shirk said the storage facility doorjambs and locking systems should be upgraded to industrial quality. He stated that additional security systems and upgrades would be a good idea and his staff would be happy to provide a security check and recommendations to the owners.

The board unanimously approved the new liquor license with the additional condition that the Police Department inspect and make recommendations on the additional retail storage warehouse for security issues.

The board unanimously approved a payment of $102,323 to Triview Metropolitan District for November sales taxes and December motor vehicle taxes. Payments of $25,000 to the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority and $21,332 for Monument Creek flow measurements by the El Paso County Water Authority were tabled at Glenn’s request, pending analysis of the authorities’ studies currently being conducted by Public Works Director Rich Landreth.

Joint use of church parking lot explored

Town Attorney Gary Shupp reported that he had researched how Colorado towns have contracted for joint use of church parking lots. Shupp said that St. Peter Church attorney Scott Mickalekee had learned that the Town of Woodland Park helped pay for a church parking lot and is paying annual maintenance and insurance costs as well. The board instructed Shupp to investigate what an appropriate town contribution would be for use of the church lot next to Town Hall.

Oral arguments before the District Court will be held on Feb. 8 regarding Kalima Masse’s latest lawsuit to renew a long-expired business license for the abandoned concrete batch plant on the northeast corner of Highway 105 and Washington Street. (For details on the lawsuit’s specifics, see: www.ourcommunitynews.org/v3n6.htm#rockwell)

Kassawara reported that Walgreen’s is considering building a store on Highway 105 between the 7-Eleven and Rocky Mountain Oil Change and Carwash. Walgreen’s would demolish the two existing buildings on these two commercial lots. Unresolved issues are access to the site and likely elimination of part of the alley west of these four existing buildings. Walgreen’s has firm plans to build a store in Monument Ridge, across Baptist Road from the King Soopers center.

The town has met with Mountain View Electric Association and engineering consultant Nolte Associates regarding the town’s request to have the association’s overhead electric lines along Third Street buried before the Fourth of July parade.

Kassawara noted that the board will be considering the serial annexation of two filings in the Willow Springs Ranch development between the Synthes plant and the west end of Baptist Road. If they are annexed, the board will then consider a request for town Planned Development zoning and approval of a Sketch PD Plan. The Planning Commission had voted 4-2 to recommend approval of all three items. Patricia Mettler and Glenda Smith voted against all three requests due to issues regarding potential traffic problems on Mitchell Avenue. There is a long-term plan to extend Mitchell Avenue south to connect to Baptist Road via Forest Lakes Drive.

Trustee Travis Easton asked Landreth if Public Works was having issues with the service and maintenance of Triview Metropolitan District’s water system. Triview District Manager Larry Bishop resigned in early January. Landreth said his staff has had quite a few issues that it has been dealing with, but staff members are able to handle the system.

Glenn inquired about the status of the intergovernmental agreement with Triview. He asked that the staff re-initiate discussions with Triview on revising the existing agreements or creating replacements.

Landreth reported that work on Wells 8 and 9 has been completed. Well 7 is still down, waiting for delivery of new filter media.

The staff is working directly with the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District to start up the district’s water system. The town is also providing construction inspection services to the district.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that the town will hold a polling place election in April at Town Hall and Creekside Middle School.

Green said signage is being installed at Monument Lake that prohibits swimming. If the lake is used for storage, swimming would not be permitted, though fishing and use of non-motorized boats could continue.

The on- and off-ramps at Highway 105 are not illuminated because the copper has been stolen from the light poles. Landreth has called the state many times to complain about the lighting because of safety concerns.

Glenn suggested creation of a town flag. He asked the board members to determine whether to use the flag designed in 1892 or use the new town logo.

Public comments

County resident John Sarkisian of Doolittle Road commented on his perception of new safety and traffic issues at the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and Arnold Road. He complained about patron parking on the west side across from the Colorado Juniors Volleyball facility harming sight lines for drivers turning from Arnold to go north on Mitchell. He also questioned the legality and utility of the stop sign at the corner of Synthes Avenue and Mitchell Avenue, and stated that he believes that the Town of Monument sign on northbound Arnold Road is not in the town’s right-of-way or on town property.

The board went into executive session at 7:35 to discuss real estate and contract negotiations. After returning to regular session, the board unanimously approved a motion to have staff notify the owners of the vacant property between the current south end of Mitchell Avenue and the current north end of Forest Lakes Drive that the town wants to begin negotiations to obtain right-of-way to connect the two roads. The board adjourned after passing the motion.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 4 in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, January 9: Willow Springs plans narrowly approved

Below: Planning Commissioners Patricia Mettler and Tom Martin were sworn in by Town Attorney Gary Shupp (left). Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On Jan. 9, the Monument Planning Commission approved the serial annexation of two filings in the 259-acre Willow Springs Ranch development just west of the railroad tracks, between the Synthes plant and the west end of Baptist Road. Also approved were requests for town Planned Development zoning and the requested densities for a maximum of 450 houses in the sketch PD plan.

This development is part of the original Watt family ranch with driveways that access Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway. However, the portion of the Watt property east of the railroad tracks, between the hockey rinks and the Trail’s End development, is not included.

The Planning Commission voted 4-2 to recommend approval of all three items. Patricia Mettler and Glenda Smith voted against all three requests, primarily due to issues regarding the potential of worsening existing traffic congestion problems on Mitchell Avenue at the Second Street railroad crossing.

Officers appointed for 2008

Commissioner Ed Delaney was unanimously elected to be the chair for 2008. Commissioner Kathy Spence was unanimously elected to be vice chair. Commissioners Tom Martin and Patricia Mettler were sworn in by Town Attorney Gary Shupp for another two years. Commissioner David Gwisdalla was absent.

Willow Springs Ranch hearings

Monument Principal Planner Karen Griffith asked that the staff and applicant presentations for all the Willow Springs proposals be combined prior to four separate votes on annexation of each of the two filings, the town’s Planned Development (PD) zoning, and the PD sketch plan.

The applicants are land owners MHW, LLC and Paul Howard, Todd Evans, and Charley Williams of Infinity Land Corp. of Colorado Springs. The applicants’ consultants are:

  • Land planning – John Maynard and Tasha Howard of NES Inc.
  • Civil engineering – Tim McConnell of M&S Civil Consultants Inc.
  • Environmental – Walsh Environmental Scientists and Engineers Inc.
  • Traffic – Jeff Hodsdon of LSC Transportation Consultants Inc.
  • Legal – Steve Mulliken of Mulliken, Gleason, Weiner P.C.

Griffith said extensive details on PD zoning and residential PD site plans will not be available at this first stage of development but will be available at the next stage. There are extensive wetlands on the parcel. The applicants plan to include two parks.

Annexation comments: Each annexation meets the requirements of the Colorado Revised Statutes, lies within Priority Area 1 of the Urban Growth Area specified in the Monument Comprehensive Plan, and conforms to each of the comprehensive plan’s annexation policies.

The project can be readily served by existing roads. The town will provide water, and Monument Sanitation District will provide sanitary sewer.

The applicants will form a metropolitan district to provide storm drainage, road improvements, and maintenance of parks, trails and open spaces. All of these will be dedicated to the town. The town will maintain the roads.

A development agreement between the town and the landowner will detail the rights and obligations of each.

Town water consultant Bruce Lytle of Lytle Water Solutions determined that there is a deficit in available water rights for the project of 67.05 acre-feet, assuming construction of 433 houses. Forest Lakes Metropolitan District is willing to sell the applicants the needed additional water rights. The town asked the applicants to provide a letter of intent from Forest Lakes and recommended that the commissioners approve a condition lowering the proposed maximum number of houses from 450 to 433.

PD zoning comments: Griffith reported the following land use breakdown:

  • 11 acres of single family residential at 1-3 dwelling units per acre (4 percent)
  • 17 acres of single family residential at 2-4 dwelling units per acre (7 percent)
  • 66 acres of single family residential at 3-5 dwelling units per acre (25 percent)
  • 20 acres of patio home residential at 4-7 dwelling units per acre (8 percent)
  • 116 acres of open space (45 percent)
  • 12.5 acres of parks (5 percent)
  • 17 acres of right-of-way (6 percent)

The proposed zoning conforms to the comprehensive plan’s recommendations for growth and land use. The zoning will protect floodplains, Preble’s meadow jumping mouse habitat, and drainage way. A trail system will be incorporated in the development.

There were no major comments or concerns from referral agencies on the proposed PD zoning.

PD sketch plan comments: Griffith reported that the plan gives the town and the applicants’ assurances that the land uses, densities, and major road configurations are acceptable. The overall density for 450 homes is 1.73 dwelling units per acre. The sketch plan complies with the town’s comprehensive plan’s land use principles and policies.

Right-of-way will be provided to extend Mitchell Avenue southward, though not far enough to connect with the existing north end of Forest Lakes Drive. The land that would be needed to connect the two dead-ends lies in El Paso County and is largely protected mouse habitat that would require construction of a long and expensive bridge. Initially, the project will be divided into two unconnected segments, with the north portion using Mitchell Avenue and Second Street for access to I-25 and the south portion using Baptist Road.

Public Works wants the potable water supplies for the north and south residential areas to be connected through the mouse habitat and wetlands surrounding Monument Creek as a condition of approval.

The county and Forest Lakes Metro District have asked the town to ensure that equitable cost-sharing agreements for all required infrastructure improvements, including necessary road improvements to Mitchell Avenue, Forest Lakes Drive, Baptist Road, and the proposed county bridge over the railroad tracks, are part of the town’s annexation agreement with the applicants.

The county also asked the town to ensure that internal development trails have adequate connections to the county’s existing and proposed trails.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 has expressed concerns that town approval of the Willow Springs Ranch development far exceeds the district’s ability to pay for building additional school capacity needed for the children that would live there. There is no existing school capacity to serve them. The district is at its statutory limit for bonding and cannot bond for additional facilities to serve the development. The district is asking for usable land within the development for building a school.

This lack of capacity could be partially mitigated if the county were to agree to donate the proposed county school site within the adjacent Forest Lakes development to D-38. However, if the county were to donate the site, the town would still have to require a substantial increase in the currently required cash-in-lieu amount payment from the applicants to D-38. That cash payment would have to be equal to the actual market value of land within the district for a school site. The current town policy for the amount of cash-in-lieu vs. donated land does not provide enough money to the school district to pay for the necessary additional facilities for new developments within Monument.

(Note: The district has had problems obtaining sufficient usable land from the landowner to build an elementary school within the currently stalled Home Place Ranch development on Higby Road.)

The other additional conditions for the PD sketch plan proposed by staff are:

  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife must provide written documentation that they approve the construction of the 10-acre park on the northeast corner of the parcel and construction of the extensive proposed trail system because they are to be built in wetlands and mouse habitat.
  • The 2.5-acre park must have sufficient playground equipment and playing fields to serve the needs of the development’s residents.
  • A sledding hill will be provided, if possible.

Applicants’ comments: Maynard and Tasha Norman of NES gave the applicant’s presentation. Much of the presentation was summarized in Griffith’s reports to the commissioners summarized above. Some of the other main points made by Maynard were:

  • There will be no direct access across the railroad tracks for residents to access Old Denver Highway.
  • There will be an easement for a secondary emergency access by fire apparatus at the request of Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Rescue to use the existing driveway from Old Denver Highway, which may not be available on occasions during flooding caused by stormwater.
  • The existing concrete bridge across Monument Creek to Baptist Road is sturdy enough for emergency use by brush fire truck, but will not be part of the road network for daily use by residents.
  • The preliminary traffic study shows that the sole access to the northern residential area via Mitchell Avenue and Second Street is adequate, as is the access of the southern area to Baptist Road.
  • One or two lift stations will be constructed to deliver wastewater uphill to the Tri-Lakes Wastewater Facility adjacent to the northwest portion of the development.
  • New homeowners will have to sign a disclosure form acknowledging that they know their homes are next to a wastewater facility and the railroad tracks.
  • The proposed densities in each area of the development were based on a land suitability analysis and adjacent county housing densities.
  • If the Preble’s mouse is de-listed as an endangered species, the town cannot sell the mouse habitat that will be dedicated by the applicants – it must be preserved as open space per the annexation agreement.
  • The town could construct extensive playing fields in the habitat in the future, if the mouse is de-listed.
  • The 10-acre park will be for picnic tables and trails only.
  • The applicants will pay for a lengthy northbound right-turn lane at the intersection of Mitchell Avenue and Second Street to hold cars when trains block Second Street, allowing cars to proceed northward past the intersection.
  • No traffic lights are needed at the Mitchell Avenue or Baptist Road entrances to the development.

Commissioners’ comments: Smith expressed several concerns about the traffic loading on Mitchell Avenue and doubts about Mitchell being extended southward to Baptist Road. Griffith said the extension is part of the town’s five-year capital improvement plan but is very expensive.

Smith, Spence, and Mettler asked numerous questions about why there could be no access to Old Denver Highway. Maynard said that the applicant does not own the Watt property east of the railroad tracks and had only proposed an easement for a secondary emergency response at the request of the Tri-Lakes Fire Department. There are no plans to reinforce the concrete bridge over Monument Creek for pumper and water fire engines.

They also expressed concerns about the lack of parking for the 2.5-acre park and access solely through residential areas. The park would not be easily accessed by other town residents.

Mettler also expressed concerns about proposed trails next to adjacent county horse pastures due to potential problems that might be created for horse owners.

Spence expressed concerns about creating yet another metropolitan district and the large number of conditions before any detailed plans have been developed.

Public comments: Cheryl Wangeman, chief operations officer for D-38, reinforced the district’s concerns reported by Griffith, that the district cannot provide school services to the project. She noted that Grace Best Elementary School is at capacity and will already be forced to use temporary classrooms in the near future. The district hopes to get voter approval for new general obligation bonds in 2012-14 if the tax base has grown sufficiently by then.

Town Attorney Shupp noted that these D-38 issues cannot be legally considered by the commissioners or the board of trustees at this stage of preliminary development plan review and approval, if annexation is approved.

Several county residents expressed concerns about the much higher densities approved next to the property and potential problems they will have with their horses if the various regional trail systems are connected next to their fences.

There were two votes for annexation, one for each filing, in a serial manner due to the 1/6 contiguity rule, followed by the zoning and sketch plan votes. Each of the four motions was approved by a (4-2) vote with Mettler and Smith opposed.

The meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 13 in Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, January 17: Decision deferred on girls’ gymnastics program

Below: Jan. 17, Superintendent Ray Blanch and Director of Special Education Julie O’Brien receive Knights of Columbus check from Jim Taylor (center). Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

At the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board meeting January 17, Seann O’Connor, athletic director, presented a brief summary of the proposal to add girls’ gymnastics to the district’s varsity sports offerings. O’Connor said the cost of this program can be absorbed within the current athletic budget and a local gymnastics/dance studio has agreed to rent space to the district at a very reasonable cost. Last school year, over 400 student athletes participated in Lewis-Palmer sports programs. O’Connor said the impact of adding a 12­-18 member gymnastics team would be minimal. Board members questioned the board’s role in approving athletics and other co­-curricular/extra-curricular activities, as currently required by school board policy. A decision on the gymnastics proposal was postponed pending research by Superintendent Ray Blanch into district policies and regulations that pertain to student activities and investigation into the possibility of changing policy so board approval is no longer required for such activities.

Citizen comments

Resident Chris Pollard remarked on the lack of notification of Monument Academy school board meetings. He stressed the importance of maintaining positive relationships and open communication between the charter school and neighborhood residents.

Tim Nolan, a teacher with the district, addressed the issue of teacher morale and teacher compensation as a result of the failure of the mill levy override ballot measure last November. He stressed that teachers are indeed concerned about compensation not just job security. Superintendent Blanch responded that the district administration wants to assure teachers they do have job security and that ongoing efforts are being made to address increased teacher compensation.

Deborah Goth, parent and district volunteer, noted that course catalogs for both high schools are now posted online, noting that counseling staff at both schools worked very hard to accomplish this in time for open enrollment.

High school construction project update

Jeff Chamberlin of RLH Engineering reviewed this month’s progress on Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS). Some highlights:

  • The project continues to be on schedule and within budget.
  • Of the $68 million in bond proceeds, interest, and other revenues, $36.7 million in invoices have been paid, $4 million in invoices have been processed during the latest month, and $20.8 million have been committed on current contracts leaving $6.6 million not yet committed.
  • Based on a meeting with the neighbors bordering PRHS on the east, two styles of fencing will be used.
  • Roofing installation has been completed with the exception of the green roof areas that will be installed next month.
  • Glazing is approximately 40 percent complete.
  • The buildings are now enclosed and protected from the weather as needed for finish work to proceed.
  • Ceramic tile flooring is being installed. Stains are being tested for the polished concrete flooring areas. Carpeting has been ordered.
  • Upper seating riser sections have been installed in the auditorium. With the extensive lighting, finishes, sound system, and controls, the auditorium is scheduled to be the last area completed.
  • Finish painting is underway in the art classrooms, vocal and band classrooms, locker rooms, and kitchen.
  • Interior wall framing is proceeding in all areas of the academic wing.
  • The district received over 80 phone calls requesting information on the public tour conducted January 20.

Knights of Columbus present check for special education

Jim Taylor, charter Grand Knight of the St. Peter’s Council of the Knights of Columbus, presented $1,866 to the district’s special education program. The Knights of Columbus have been donating funds collected from the annual tootsie roll drive for many years. Julie O’Brien, director of special education, said the funds will be used for the adaptive physical education therapeutic riding program.

Other matters

  • Open enrollment policy – The board discussed district policies and procedures pertaining to intra­district and inter­district open enrollment. The board considered revising the regulations to indicate that the district’s practice is to allow students to remain in their current school without having to open enroll every year as long as expectations are met and capacity and staffing are adequate. The superintendent, with guidance from legal council, will implement an open enrollment policy in accordance with the capacity of the school district.
  • District Audit report accepted – Cheryl Wangeman, Chief Operations Officer, introduced Dean Johnson, one of the founders of the district’s audit firm Johnson, Holscher & Company, to discuss the recent external financial audit. This report is required by the state and has been submitted to the Colorado Department of Education and the State Auditor. The report audits general accounting practices and also tests compliance with federal accounting controls. Johnson noted that the audit, conducted last August, received an unqualified opinion, the highest rating auditors give. He thanked the district for its cooperation. The complete report is on file in the district finance office.
  • Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC) report – Terri­Ann Snediker, parent and SEAC member, presented an inspirational video clip about a father and his special needs son. She reviewed the focus of the committee, which includes bylaws, Continuous Improvement Monitoring Plan, goals, and, monthly meetings to discuss current issues. In addition, she addressed three areas that require immediate attention: conducting a program survey of families of special needs students, addressing staffing allocations to determine fair and equitable ratios between the number of staff and students, and establishing a center­-based program advisory committee to identify the philosophy and entrance/exit criteria for center­-based programs.
  • Special education report – O’Brien noted that even though total student enrollment in the district has declined from 6,001 in 2006-2007 to 5,886 in 2007-2008, the number of students receiving special services has increased from 529 to 537 and now comprises 9.1 percent of the total district enrollment. The number of students with learning disabilities has increased from 132 to 144 and the number of students with autism has increased from 33 to 36. The Colorado Department of Education has established a method of determining compliance with requirements of the federal law governing special education. This state performance plan has been completed for the 2005­-06 school year and the district met the requirements on the four indicators evaluated. In addition, Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) results for the district’s special education students indicate these students perform above average in all categories of tests.
  • Beacon Lite/Grace Best Fields report – Hal Garland, director of transportation, presented the status of this project to evaluate the feasibility of developing a regional play field complex using approximately 12­-18 acres of land east/southeast of Grace Best Elementary School and west of Beacon Lite Road. Funding options being considered include grant monies, donations, and /or assistance from the Town of Monument. The complex could be developed in phases to include outdoor classroom/cognitive play areas; running/walking trails; all-purpose fields for soccer, lacrosse, etc.; and two Little League baseball fields. H & L Architecture, Saunders Construction, RLH Engineering, and various grant writers have donated preliminary planning work. Additional meetings are being planned to refine cost estimates, explore funding opportunities, and develop multi­phase planning.
  • Annual Accreditation Report – Blanch summarized the annual Accreditation Report for 2006-20­07 in which the Colorado Department of Education determined the district will continue to be accredited. The report noted the district received five John Irwin Schools of Excellence awards for 2007. These schools are ranked in the top 8 percent of the state based on overall academic performance. Also, the district was the only Pikes Peak area school district to make Annual Yearly Progress, meeting over 80 required targets. In addition to addressing CSAP data, the report included information about School Accountability Reports, the Annual Report to the Public, the Safe School Act, and the Colorado Basic Literacy Act.
  • Superintendent’s update – Blanch shared the strategic vision document, highlighting the three focus areas of student learning, the whole child, and community engagement. While developing this vision, the superintendent sought input from senior citizens, the district teaching staff, and many other individuals. Community input stressed the importance of a solid foundation of academics, including instruction in the arts and world languages. Currently, schools are creating individual goals within the strategic vision and are developing three-­year plans to implement these goals, especially in the areas of the whole child and community engagement.
  • Board member comments – Board member Gail Wilson thanked Snediker for presenting the SEAC report, noting that the committee has "moved mountains" as far as getting organized, creating the parent survey, and working on extremely critical issues. Board member John Mann responded to a recent article published in the Gazette. He emphasized the desire of the board members to be open, honest, and transparent in establishing relationships with the community. Board president Dee Dee Eaton commented on the challenge of integrating the strategic vision and the current budget. She stated that the district must strive to be fiscally and educationally responsible.

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

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the Learning Center in the Lewis-Palmer Administration Building, 2nd and Jefferson. The next regular monthly meeting of the Board will be held February 21 at 7 pm.

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

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

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NEPCO meeting, January 12: Schueler presents information on special districts

By John Heiser

At the Northern El Paso County Coalition of Community Associations (NEPCO) meeting Jan. 12, Carl Schueler, Long Range Planning Division Manager with the El Paso County Development Services Department, made a presentation and answered questions regarding special districts. Some highlights:

  • The county population stands at around 585,000. There are about 255,000 individual tax parcels in the county. There are about 250 active taxing entities in the county. About 40 more were added during the past year. There are about 1,000 unique geographic tax combinations.
  • Title 32 in the Colorado state statutes governs special districts. Title 32 special districts have existed for about 50 years. Special districts provide essential services including fire protection and water and sewer services. They are also used as a financing mechanism for the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. By issuing tax-exempt debt, special districts shift the costs from the developers to the district’s residents or end users.
  • There are about 110 special districts in the unincorporated county. About 75 of those are primary districts. The rest are subsidiary districts related to the primary districts. About 24 of the 110 total were new or amended in 2006. There are about 60 special districts within municipalities. Special districts within municipalities typically build or finance infrastructure and then transfer it to the city. Colorado Springs is planning to form 10 more special districts within the city next year.
  • Special districts have estimated total outstanding debt of more than $145 million with total authorized general obligation debt of more than $1.27 billion. The developers who set up the districts typically approve large initial debt authorizations to minimize the need to hold TABOR elections once there are residents in the district.
  • One of the trends is toward the formation of metropolitan districts that perform a variety of services including water, sewer, road maintenance, mosquito control, etc. Few if any recently formed districts restrict themselves to just supplying water and sewer service like the Donala Water and Sanitation District or the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District.
  • Another trend is toward groups of related districts like the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District with a developer-controlled master district that directs the operation of the district and then a set of subsidiary taxing special districts that provide funding to the master district. Even though their districts are supplying the funding, the boards of directors of the taxing districts have very little control over the decisions of the master district board.
  • Districts are being set up with higher property tax mill levy rates and caps. The need for caps came out of the 1980’s savings and loan crisis during which development within some special districts did not occur as quickly as projected and so the tax burden on the initial residents became so high that it drove the residents out of their homes and they defaulted on their home loans.
  • The following formula can be used to calculate the dollar cost of a mill levy rate: tax = (house market value) x 7.96 percent x (mill levy rate) / 1000. For example, on a house with a market value of $300,000, a rate of 100 mills would result in a tax bill of $2,388. The 7.96 percent figure is the result of the Gallagher amendment to the Colorado Constitution. That figure has declined significantly over the years. The Gallagher Amendment was passed in the 1980’s.
  • Even with mill levy rate caps, due to overlapping special districts, the cumulative tax burden can become quite high. In the Meridian Ranch development on Meridian Road near Woodman Road, residents are paying a total of about 99 mills to several overlapping special districts. Of that total, 35.8 mills are going to two road improvement districts that are financing improvements to Meridian Road and Woodman Road. Based on their service plans, those two road improvement districts could increase their portion to a total of 75 mills. One of the county’s concerns is that such high tax burdens may lead residents to vote against additional debt such as school district bond issues.
  • The county’s current policy is that full service districts cannot impose more that 50 mills for debt service subject to adjustment upward to counteract the effect of the Gallagher amendment, 10 mills for operational costs, 15 mills for fire protection services, and 5 mills for covenant enforcement in those instances where the special district has that obligation. A district that performed all those services could currently charge as much as 80 mills.
  • The county is working to increase the amount of information available to potential homebuyers regarding taxing entities and potential tax liabilities.

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NEPCO is a coalition of homeowners’ associations and typically meets every other month on the second Saturday of the month. The next meeting is scheduled for March 8. There is additional information on NEPCO at www.nepco.org.

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Annual General Meeting, January 28: Election procedure scrutinized

By Chris Pollard

Because of a number of resident comments prior to the annual general meeting about the procedure for the election, Lenard Rioth, the Woodmoor Improvement Association attorney who has been serving the association for around 15 years, gave a detailed presentation on the election procedures and requirements. He noted that he would normally discuss legal matters regarding covenants later in the meeting, but this year there had been no lawsuits.

WIA is a nonprofit that works under several sets of regulations. There is a declaration of covenants, which is very brief, and articles of incorporation, which are filed with the secretary of state. In addition, there are bylaws, which provide controls related to the rules for the election and within that are adopted Robert’s Rules of Order.

There are two controversial aspects regarding the voting and proxies, Rioth said. Bylaws state that the Board of Directors is responsible for the framework for the elections. To ensure the process does not contain any improprieties, rules set out the procedure for the nomination and election of directors. There is a nomination committee, which considers volunteers from the community and then makes a report to the Board of Directors with a list of candidates.

With a deadline for applications set for Dec. 1, the WIA office staff can then mail information on the candidates to residents of Woodmoor in December. The committee has discretion in deciding whom to nominate and is not required to nominate all people who apply. It will review them for interest, experience, and other aspects. Even when the committee has selected a slate of candidates, there is still the option of a resident being nominated from the floor of the annual meeting.

The election process must be based on votes cast at the meeting. By state law and the association bylaws, people are allowed to vote by proxy, and Rioth said that further detail in the bylaws governed the way that proxies are voted.

The proxy represents a designation as to how a resident would want to vote at the meeting if other business were voted on, and this proxy can be revoked any time prior to the closing of the election. If the proxy is revoked, then the ballot is also revoked. Because the proxy has been stapled to the sealed ballot, this process is reversible. The ballots are then filed by one employee and stored in a locked room until the meeting. For those who didn’t designate votes for a particular candidate, the board determines how the open proxies will be voted.

Rioth went into great detail to show pictures of the received ballots, the invoice for copies, the mailing receipt showing mailing of 2,900 ballots, and how they were stored as received. Six past officers of the WIA would act as the election judges, and the WIA accounting firm, Waugh and Goodwin LLP, would be responsible for providing the audited election results.

Residents suggested that the WIA was not taking the election seriously, but Rioth said that, relative to the many years he had been involved with the association, he had seen no distinction in the way it was handled relative to previous years.

One resident questioned how applications made after Dec. 1 were handled. Rioth said that he didn’t think there was any obligation for the committee to put all applicants onto the ballot. This would, even then, not restrict a candidate from being nominated at the annual meeting.

Another resident said that she had concerns over how ballots were handled within the WIA office. She noted that, having brought the subject to the board’s attention at its previous meeting on Jan.14, the board added extra measures to prevent impropriety. Rioth responded by noting that he had never heard of any questions about the propriety of any of the previous elections. The auditing company had added steps to ensure ballots were properly accounted for.

Prior to the formal vote and counting, the candidates gave short summaries of their previous experience and reasons for wanting to be elected. One question from the audience that was asked of all those present concerned the suggestion that the WIA be run by a management company instead of the current, directly employed staff. Most candidates said that this might be looked into in the future, but the majority were happy with the way things were being run at the moment.

President cites communication

President Hans Post, noting that this would be his final meeting as president and board member, thanked members of the WIA office staff for their support in his time as president and, previously, director of Public Safety. He said that an important part of the agenda over the past year had been communication. This involved improving the welcoming package for new residents, contacting current residents to inform them of issues affecting particular neighborhoods, and working with local organizations. In particular, a lot of work had been done with School District 38 and NEPCO, the local organization of homeowner associations. He had also represented the WIA at the school district’s Key Communicators meetings.

Post noted that in addition to the ongoing build-out of townhomes at Woodmoor Park, there was new construction of commercial buildings at Knollwood Village and the new Monument Academy building immediately adjacent to it on Highway 105. There were still concerns over traffic issues with the Academy location, and the WIA and NEPCO had written letters to El Paso County officials. In addition, the WIA was also talking to the Academy directly with regard to screening and external lighting issues. He also said that he had heard that there might be some progress on the old motel building on Woodmoor Drive. Negotiations were in progress for the potential purchase by a hotel chain with the intent to renovate the building and reopen it as a hotel.

Income higher than expected

Treasurer Terry Holmes noted that Woodmoor was still, in his opinion, a beautiful place to live and was now home to around 8,000 residents on nearly 3,000 lots. WIA income had been $73,000 higher than expected, at just over $740,000. Expenses were $12,433 higher than projected. Part of the increase in income was due to unanticipated income from gaining new residents at the Pulte town homes and interest income from investments.

While the WIA seemed to have a high cash balance, a large proportion of this was refundable deposits from Pulte for landscaping and construction compliance at its town home development.

Income for 2008 was budgeted to be marginally higher at $764,403, with expenses of $763,740. 2007 had included a fairly large contribution to the reserve fund which would cover future repairs and replacements. WIA assets, like the Barn, required ongoing maintenance, and $8,000 had been budgeted for 2008 for replacement of the wiring. There would be a need to replace one of the Public Safety vehicles and to spend $16,000 on pond repairs. While the reserve fund was funded at 101 percent of the goal for the year, Holmes noted that it was important to remember that income from new construction had slowed and that there was still a 3 percent limit on dues increases. With uncertainty in the economy, he said it was important to maintain adequate reserves going forward.

More homes built in 2007

Architectural Control Director Liz Miller noted that this would be her last meeting as chairman of the Architectural Control Committee but emphasized that she intended to stay on the committee. The ACC had continued to work in identifying acceptable new materials for roofing and construction. For the year, 6 new single-family houses and 53 townhomes had been constructed, and 21 major modifications and additions had been made. There were also 473 miscellaneous projects approved, which include reroofing, repainting and changes to decks. There had also been a complete revision of the design standards manual.

For 2008, Pulte plans to build an additional 26 townhomes and complete the project in 2009. Among other construction projects, the adjacent YMCA expects to open in April. The ACC had not received any plans for building around Woodmoor Lake but suggested that residents make themselves aware of progress in this area.

Cleanup, repairs accomplished

Common Areas Director Gary Marner said the regular Great American Cleanup of Woodmoor had gone well again this year and there was some thought to combining this with a chipping session. Hidden and Twin ponds were stocked with fish this year and this had also worked well. Greg’s Pond’s dam had undergone moderate repairs.

For the future, given the high level of residents’ negative comments, there would be no more work done to add parking at Toboggan Hill. Plans are in place to remove cattails from Wild Duck Pond sometime in the winter 2008. Marner acknowledged problems with mowing some of the open space last year but said that contractors had tried several times and had encountered ground that was too soft. This was probably due to the wet spring and possibly the appearance of new springs.

Covenants report

Covenants Director Steve Malfatti said one of the major problems this year had been the accumulation of slash from beetle-kill trees and trees and branches brought down in the early snow storms. Covenant violations were down overall, but exterior maintenance violations had gone up. As the buildings in Woodmoor age, people will have to pay increasing attention to the outside of their homes, he said. There had been a few more problems with oversized and wrongly placed signs, but there were also fewer problems with dead trees.

Education on forestry continues

Forestry Director Amy Smith said that for 2007, her goals had been to advise and educate residents on forest management for control of insects and disease. She had also coordinated tree removal and thinning in a number of the common areas and some other items as part of the recently implemented Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Because of the importance of communicating information about forestry problems to residents, a major revamp of the forestry section of the WIA Web site had occurred to make it more user-friendly, with links to other Web sites to help diagnose diseases and other problems. Also, as part of the same plan, the Forestry Department had worked to form neighborhood committees in those areas with the greatest fire hazard ratings.

Smith said she plans to have more education sessions from the state Forest Service and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire authority. The first Firewize community day had been held in 2007, with over 120 people attending. There was good representation from suppliers of building materials related to the Firewize program and local fire departments.

Forestry volunteers had performed around 170 lot evaluations during the year, and Smith reminded those present that this is a free service to help identify disease and fire safety problems. A fair number of trees had been tagged for thinning and there were pine beetle problems. Residents were becoming more aware of fire safety issues and were starting to remove scrub oak from areas adjacent to their houses. Tree thinning in six common areas and storm damage in 13 common areas meant that there was a lot more cleanup work this year. The two chipping events had been very popular last year, with over 400 loads of slash for the first and over 100 for the follow-up event in September. The Forestry Department had obtained $53,000 in grants in 2007, with $38,000 of that going to residents to help with fire mitigation. The remainder had been spent in work on the common areas.

Smith said she expected to work on getting more grants for forestry work and to extend the knowledge of the trained volunteers. As part of the Firewize program, they would be trained not only in forestry aspects but in protection of buildings through such things as adequate house numbering and driveway access for the Fire Department.

Public Safety report

Jake Shirk, director of Public Safety, said that having been in law enforcement over 30 years, he was appreciative of the experience and support of the current employees of the Public Safety Department. He noted that Kevin Nielsen, the chief, has been working for the WIA for nearly 18 years. The goal of the department was to promote a safe environment and to protect the property and welfare of the residents, and in general this was working well.

The department had logged 12,000 patrol hours and 64,000 miles. It had performed 16,000 vacation checks for 450 residents and 1,527 calls for service, which was up 10 percent from last year. Burglaries were down 33 percent—there were only four during the year and Public Safety had stopped some of these while they were in progress. Vehicle break-ins were down 36% to only 7. One negative was in the area of vandalism, which was up 25 percent. Shirk said he was pleased with what had been achieved over the year and the fact that the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office considered Woodmoor a low-problem area.

Shirk said his objectives are to optimize security and safety for residents, and he said he intended to work with the Sheriff’s Office to control traffic speeding problems. Public Safety would work to consistently monitor speeds and road conditions and report problems with the latter to the county.

Residents’ questions

One resident asked about the impact of the new high school now under construction. Kevin Nielsen, chief of Public Safety, said that Woodmoor Public Safety currently patrols three District 38 schools under an outside contract. The department has had no discussions regarding the new school. If they were to provide security, this would entail additional charges.

The board was asked if it would consider eliminating Woodmoor Public Safety. The questioner said it would be easy to replace WPS with sheriff’s deputies working regular shifts or as extra duty. He thought that this would be better because the deputies were authorized to enforce traffic and parking laws. In response to this and another similar question, Shirk said that he prefers the current situation, where residents have control, and this would not be possible through the county.

When there was a disturbance recently in the new townhomes at Woodmoor Park, Public Safety was not among those who showed up, a resident said, and asked what services Woodmoor provides. Nielsen said that Public Safety had spent many hours monitoring parking in that area after complaints about students from the high school parking there. This was an ongoing problem. They have started doing vacation checks and have responded to noise complaints three times in the last few weeks, Nielsen said.

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Top Weather Events of 2007 in the Tri-Lakes area

By Bill Kappel

Heavy snow in April and May

Two large snowfalls hammered the region from the latter half of April through the middle of May. The first storm brought heavy snow and strong winds starting on the 23rd as a strong area of low pressure wound itself up over the southeastern plains of Colorado. This storm also had plenty of moisture to work with and the combination of heavy, wet snow and strong winds produced blizzard conditions on Tuesday, April 24, as 18-24 inches of snow accumulated. Traffic came to a standstill as I-25 and Highway 83 were closed during the day and many motorists were stranded. Several trees throughout the area succumbed to the snow and wind, breaking in half.

Rain and rain mixed with snow began to fall at times during the morning and early afternoon of May 6. Then as temperatures continued to fall and the precipitation intensity picked up, snow began to fall heavily. From around 6 p.m. on the 6th through the early hours of the 7th, heavy, wet snow accumulated. Snow piled up at rates of over 2 inches per hour at times, with most areas in the region above 7,000 feet picking up 6-14 inches of the white stuff. This was a wet snow with high moisture content, producing 1-2 inches of liquid equivalent for our growing plants. Unfortunately, the weight of a foot a fresh snow stuck on the trees didn’t help, and several trees and large branches were again taken down. Temperatures during the event were never extremely cold, so the amount of accumulating snow dropped off very quickly from the higher areas of the region to the edge of the tree line.

Dry late summer through fall

After starting the year off on the wet side, the weather pattern took a shift toward dry conditions from August through the first week of December. November was especially dry and warm around the region, with only a few inches of snow falling during the month. From Oct. 22 through Nov. 21, no accumulating precipitation reached the ground. Conditions were warm enough on the first day of December for a few raindrops to reach the ground. This is pretty unusual for liquid precipitation to fall over the Tri-Lakes region, as the moisture that comes our way in December is almost always in the form of snow.

Cold and snowy December

After starting off on the mild and dry side, the weather pattern made a dramatic shift starting on the 6th of December. The storm track began to take direct aim at Colorado, bringing a series of storms and surges of cold air into the region. By the time the month had finished, most of us had accumulated over 2 feet of snow and temperatures were 3°F below average.

The table below gives the 2007 yearly weather summary for the Tri-Lakes region. Note that the weather station is located one-half mile east Highway 83 off Walker Road at an elevation of 7,371 feet. Be sure to check out the weather section of my Web page at http://www.thekappels.com/Weather.htm for more fun and facts on the weather in our region.

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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January Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

For the second month in a row, temperatures were below normal and we had a nice amount of fresh snow. Our typical January thaw didn’t materialize until the end of the month, when warm, southwesterly winds blew in ahead of a strong West Coast storm system on the 26th and 27th. Overall, temperatures were below normal and precipitation was right around normal. Ten mornings during the month saw low temperatures dip to zero or below, bottoming out in the teens below zero on the 16th and 17th.

The first day of the year was very cold, starting off well below zero and only reaching to around 20°F during the afternoon. Temperatures moderated over the next few days reaching all the way to the upper 40s and low 50s from the 3rd to the 5th. However, this warm-up was short-lived as more cold air and unsettled conditions moved in on the 6th. Varying amounts of snow fell from the 6th through the 9th, with 5-8 inches accumulating around the region.

Conditions dried out over the next week, but temperatures never warmed much. Under mostly clear skies, morning lows often dipped below zero, with afternoon highs remaining in the 30s from the 10th through the 14th. This allowed plenty of snow to remain on the ground through the period as well.

Cold and wintry weather stuck around from the 14th through the 21st. We did manage to reach into the low 40s for high temperatures on the afternoon of the 15th, but again another surge of arctic air moved in quickly on the evening of the 15th. Temperatures tumbled behind this cold front, with highs during the day on the 16th only reaching into the single digits. Making things feel even wintrier was the fact that 2-4 inches of fresh snow fell throughout the morning and afternoon. Skies quickly cleared out that evening and with the fresh snow and cold air mass, it got downright cold. Low temperatures on the morning of the 17th were in the teens below zero for most of us.

Temperatures did manage to rebound to the 20s during the afternoon, but another cold front was headed our way. This one brought another round of light snow, dropping around 3 inches of very fluffy snow on the 18th. Conditions quieted down over the next couple of days, with temperatures again rebounding above freezing on the 20th. Once again however, more cold air was just waiting to rush in as another surge of arctic air moved into the region during the late afternoon of the 20th. This one was again accompanied by some very light snow, freezing fog, and plenty of beautiful rime ice.

Cold temperatures and areas of very light snow stuck around through the 25th as highs moved from the teens on the 21st to the 30s by the 24th. Mild and windy conditions then moved in ahead of a strong storm system moving out of the southwestern United States. This type of storm pattern keeps us dry, mild, and windy, but brings lots of snow to the mountains. This storm moved over the area during the night of the 28th into the morning of the 29th. This brought much colder air back to the region, but the northwesterly winds kept any accumulating snow from falling around the area. Temperatures remained below normal through the end of the month as another cold front moved through on the 30th.

A look ahead

February is often a dry and cold month for the Tri-Lakes area as we move toward the snowy and unsettled conditions of March and April. Precipitation averages only around .75 inch, with average high temperatures in the 30s. It can get very cold in February with arctic air making strong pushes into the region, however, days begin to get a little longer, which leads to some nice, sunny days. February 2005 was right around normal temperature-wise, while February 2006 and 2007 were cooler than average. It looks like February 2008 will start off colder than normal as well. The official monthly forecast for February 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for better than normal chances of above-normal temperatures and better than average chances of below normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit http://www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm.

January 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 34.3° (-7.1°)
Average Low 8.4° (-5.0°)
Highest Temperature 52° on the 27th
Lowest Temperature -17° on the 17th
Monthly Precipitation 1.02" (+0.11")
Monthly Snowfall 18.8" (+2.7")
Season to Date Snow 61.5" (+1.3") (the snow season is from July 1 to June 30)
Season to Date Precip 11.18" (+0.46") (the precip season is from 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 on the Palmer Divide, and we want to hear from you. If you see a unique weather event or have a weather question, please contact us at billkappel@ourcommunitynews.org.

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Re: Chewy

Regarding the article and picture, "Chewy finds a new home" (Our Community News, Jan. 5, 2008): Blessings on the people of the Jackson Creek Wells Fargo Bank for rescuing the pup. The monsters who abuse children and/or animals should be disclosed to the public. We have a right to know who among us is deserving of our respect and neighborliness. We need to know who cannot be trusted near our children and pets.

Anna Paul

Thanks for supporting the local American Legion

The American Legion Tri-Lakes Post 9-11 wishes to extend our gratitude for providing readers with our monthly meeting time and place and for the advertisement to our Veterans Benefit Information Night on Dec. 3, 2007. We had 34 veterans and Legionnaires in the local community come to The Place in Gleneagle to receive veterans benefit information from Michael Stone, the American Legion Department of Colorado Service Officer to the Veterans Administration.

Thank you for supporting your local American Legion Post, and we look forward to the continued support of Our Community News in the future.

Mike Christensen
Tri-Lakes Post 9-11 commander

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Books that created lively discussions in 2007

By the staff at Covered Treasures

The number of book clubs in the area, and across the country, is growing. People like the regularity of getting together to discuss a particular book: clarifying points of confusion, what they liked, what they didn’t, and sometimes disagreeing completely. Here are some of the favorite books read by book clubs in our area in 2007:

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace … One School at a Time
By Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (Penguin), $15

Gripping from its opening paragraphs, as Mortenson faces a near-death experience in the Himalayas, this book is part adventure story and part spiritual manual. It chronicles one man’s struggle to fulfill his dream to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the land of the Taliban. In pursuit of his goal, Mortenson survived kidnapping, fatwas issued by enraged mullahs, repeated death threats, and lengthy separations from his wife and children. But his determination speaks for itself: at last count his Central Asia Institute had built 55 schools.

Award-winning journalist Relin collaborated on the book, and some criticize his reportorial and, at times, tedious writing style. But it is nevertheless an inspiring story of a true present-day hero.

Water for Elephants
By Sara Gruen (Algonquin), $13.95

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable, until he discovers a way to reach her.

This immensely popular book is not for those who cannot bear to read about abuse of animals or people, which were often facts of circus life during the Depression.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir
By Jeannette Walls (Scribner), $15

No punches are pulled in this account of a hardscrabble upbringing. Dragged from one dismal town to another by their irresponsible parents—free spirits who ended up as squatters on New York’s Lower East Side—Walls and her three siblings endured a catalog of nightmares. The instances are chilling: Walls relates the time when she was 13 that her father used her as sexual bait to distract a man he was hustling at pool. But even as the family’s circumstances degenerate, the narrative remains evenhanded and non-judgmental. The magic of Walls’ writing turns a book that could be a bitter reflection on a life of sadness and abuse into a sometimes-humorous tale, an amazing example of the human strength to survive.

Eat, Pray, Love
By Elizabeth Gilbert (Penguin), $15

Is this book an irresistible, candid, and eloquent account of one woman’s pursuit of worldly pleasure, spiritual devotion, and the serious quest to discover what she really wants out of life? Or is it a whining and self-serving memoir of a financially secure woman who, going through a life crisis, decides to take a year off and "find herself" in Italy, India, and Bali? Readers are divided. Several think, "Oh, sure; if I didn’t have to work, pay bills, and care for the kids, I could find myself in (fill in your exotic destination) too!" But it was the best-selling non-fiction book for the holidays and has been published in over 20 languages; her inner journey obviously speaks to many.

East of Eden
By John Steinbeck (Penguin), $16

Classic literary works are often selected by clubs as a means of moving their reading to a higher plane, and Steinbeck is an author whose novels of human struggle inspire thoughtful discussion. This saga of two families examines the theme of good vs. evil as the story of Cain and Abel is retold through two generations of the Trask family. Strength and human frailty are found in equal measure in the characters as they experience joy and heartache while wrestling with life in the Salinas Valley.

Its length might deter some clubs from choosing this book, but Steinbeck is a master at making the reader lose oneself in the story; the pages float away in this saga of humanity in its glory and its ugliness

Astrid & Veronika
By Linda Olsson (Penguin), $14

With extraordinary emotional power, Linda Olsson’s stunningly well-crafted debut novel recounts the unusual and unexpected friendship that develops between two women. Set against a haunting Swedish landscape, Astrid & Veronika is a lyrical and meditative novel of love and loss, and a story that will remain with readers long after the characters’ secrets are revealed. The writing is spare, echoing the coldness of the setting as well as the emotional withdrawal of the two women. "This book is a knock-out. But what a gentle punch."— Powells.com.

Book clubs can be an excellent way to enjoy books on a deeper level and challenge your mind. They can also encourage you to read more, or to read books that you might not normally choose. Check with your local library or at Covered Treasures for book clubs with openings. Until next month, happy reading!

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Common house finch

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of Common House Finches.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

According to a recent survey by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 51.3 million Americans watch birds. It is a healthy activity that all ages can enjoy, it’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s good for the environment. Many birders venture outdoors, while others sit at a window or on their deck. Some birders explore new trails to search for local birds, while others travel the country to find birds unique to a specific region.

With more than 800 species of birds in North America, one can usually find at least 100 species in most regions. Some birders don’t limit their search for birds in North America, and I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m always a bit envious when fellow birders travel to a distant country to add a rare species to their bird list. But like most birders, I enjoy watching all birds, even the most common ones.

The most common bird species in North America is the chatty house finch, a year-round resident on the Palmer Divide. But this diminutive bird wasn’t always as common or prolific as it is today. Once native only to the southwestern United States and Mexico, in the 1940s the popular trend of owning caged song birds fostered the illegal sale of the house finch marketed as the "Hollywood Finch" in pet shops in New York. Whether as a way to avoid prosecution or because the fad ended, a pet shop on Long Island freed the finches; they bred, naturalized, and established a flock. As the finch population increased, their territory expanded westward until now they are found in most areas of North America. In the East, the house finch is referred to as the purple finch.

At 5 to 5.75 inches in length, the house finch is a small, slender songbird, about the size of a sparrow, with a stubby conical bill used to crack seeds. It is social and has a rapid, cheerful song. Its diet consists of weed seeds including dandelion and thistle, berries, and small insects. It is drawn to feeders, particularly those stocked with sunflower and nyger thistle seed.

With a red head, the male is showier than the drab female. Its wing and tail feathers are brown, and there is brown streaking on its belly and under its tail, which also may be tinged with red. The intensity of red depends on the quantity of berries consumed, as the color is derived from the carotene found in fruit. The red color intensifies as spring approaches and the male begins to seek a mate. It is thought that a female is attracted to the male with the reddest head because the color intensity ensures that he will bring her food while she incubates the eggs.

The female is similar in size to the male but has muted brown feathers with dark streaking on her wings and belly. An immature male is easily mistaken for a female, as he does not develop the distinctive red plumage until preparing to mate, usually in his second year.

Depending on regional climatic conditions, the house finch may begin courting as early as January. The male initiates the courtship by bringing a choice bit of food to the female and if she coyly imitates the posture of a hungry chick, he feeds her. Once a pair has formed, they mate, and the female lays 2 to 6 small, light blue eggs with black spots. The female incubates the eggs for about 14 days and the young leave the nest about 2 weeks after hatching. Depending on the weather, the eggs are laid between February and August, and it is common for the pair to parent 2 or 3 broods per year. The number of broods along with this finch’s unique ability to naturalize is the reason it is now the most common bird in North America.

Because the house finch is not bothered by human activity, it will often nest on or near a house. I enjoy watching nesting finches but always dispose of the nest after the chicks have fledged. This is because the house finch is less fastidious than most other birds that eat or dispose of its chicks’ fecal sacks, thus allowing the sacks to build up on its nest. Fecal remains will become infested with insects that can work their way into homes, and I’ve heard of more than one instance where these insects have infested mattresses. This may have in part been the cause of a devastating eye disease that has reduced the population of the eastern purple finch by more than half.

Often fellow birders share stories, and I learn a lot from listening. I sometimes sell my bird prints at art shows and it is not unusual for one or two people to stop by to talk. At a recent show, however, as one person would stop a few more would gather to listen or add to the discussion. As more bird enthusiasts gathered, it didn’t occur to me that we were blocking the view of other artists’ work, who after awhile rightfully objected. I apologized for unintentionally blocking their art and the birders moved on. Problem solved, or so I thought until a new group formed and the adjacent artist again objected. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife survey indicated that bird watching has become the fastest- growing outdoor activity but if the people gathering in front of my booth are any indication, birding may be rapidly growing as an indoor activity as well.

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

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Art Matters: Jeanne Claude and Cristo

Artists weaving a tale of love in the fabric
of our imaginations
By Janet Sellers

"We believe in love and tenderness. We create with love and tenderness."

Cristo and Jeanne Claude, or Jeanne Claude and Cristo, the art pair par excellence, were visiting well-wishers near our community very recently, discussing their global projects and looking to generate as much moral support as possible for their upcoming 2012 Southern Colorado project named "Over the River." They met with any and every interested people at Colorado College on Jan. 23 in Packard Hall for a lecture and presentation of their upcoming projects.

They specifically came here to our Pikes Peak area to speak about their next project, which is practically in our own backyard in terms of where it will be on the planet, (between Salida and the Royal Gorge on the Arkansas River) and will have quite an impact on cultural tourism for us as Front Range communities over the next decade. It is a big deal in the art world and a big deal for us locally as well. So, it was rather nice to have them close by and share their joy in the project.

Each of their projects is global in stature, and while the timeline of preparation per project can span decades and cost millions and millions of dollars, the artwork is only up for a few days, at most two weeks. Most of their colossal artworks deal with zillions of yards of specially created fabrics that waft and billow with the natural breezes in the areas where they are installed. One could say that their artwork shows the air, breeze or atmosphere of its habitat. They have skirted Biscayne Bay island shores in a silky pink, curtained canyons, wrapped a million square feet of Australian coast, and wafted fabric for miles in Sonoma County, Calif., of an imaginative "fence" in a silky, silvery mist of fabric. For their first fiber project in 1968, they packaged an entire art museum, the Kunsthalle in Bern, Switzerland, in billowy, silky polypropylene. The projects have an aura of joy, light, freedom, and intimate experience despite their size.

They consider their works entire environments, whether urban or rural. By using one part of an environment, they maintain that the whole place "gives us new eyes and new consciousness." Cost is no object (often in the $20 million range), and the artists use only their own resources to fund them, keeping the integrity of their dream while "borrowing" an environment for a brief time.

All project workers are paid out of the artists’ own pockets, and their staff per project includes engineering firms, environmental impact study firms, writers, project managers, hundreds — even thousands — of labor/workers, and thousands of pages of reports to submit to local and national authorities for permissions. An often-asked question seems to be: Why do they do it?

"All our work is about freedom," say Christo and Jeanne-Claude. "Nobody can buy our projects, nobody can sell tickets to experience our projects. Freedom is the enemy of possession and possession is equal to permanence. That is why our projects cannot remain and must go away forever. Our projects are ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ and ‘once upon a time’."

The artists’ collaborations unify their imagination for each project, hence the artists’ projects go by both their names, and they do not use a last name. Details including upcoming employment participation with the Colorado project can be found at: ChristoJeanneClaude.net.

Speaking of fabric, fibers and freedom

Our local art fiber and quilt shop, Wild Heather, has some events and projects immediately available for us all to enjoy in its Just For Beginners Free Lecture Series

In an effort to get all of the new quilters out there off to a good start, they’ve decided to offer a series of free lectures to get us all going. Nothing beats good skills, and skill-building starts with knowing how to use the tools of the trade. Each lecture is offered twice per quarter, once in the daytime and once in the evening. Please call ahead to let them know you will be coming. Space is limited to 12 participants. The store phone number is 481-4887, 341 Front St. (at Third Street). Web site: www.wildheatherdesigns.com

The Candy Box n Gallery will have plenty of artisan chocolates and candies available for you and your sweetie this month, and every month, along with art to buy. Owner/artist Sharon De Weese offers you a free sample of the art of sweets and the art as eye candy at her gallery on 125 Second St. at Jefferson Street, in the Chapala Building.

Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts opens the annual show of the Palmer Lake Art Group exhibition Feb. 4-29, while the opening reception is Feb. 9, 5-8 p.m., with refreshments provided. Also opening that evening in the Lucy Owens Gallery at TCLA will be the oil paintings of John De Francesco. This show runs Feb 5-March 1. TLCA is located at 304 Hwy. 105 in Palmer Lake, 719-481-0475; admission to the galleries is free.

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Monument Library events for January and February

By Harriet Halbig

The year 2008 began at the Monument Library with two events for its younger patrons.

The Teen Refuge from Parental Units was the evening of Jan.3. Planned by teen coordinator Diane Sawatzki and a teen advisory group, the event was a great success.

Twenty-eight teens gathered for an evening of games, food and talk and the chance to get out of the house for a while. Especially popular was the new video game Guitar Hero with its realistic, guitar-shaped controllers. One wide-screen television was set up for two players, while another offered a chance for solo play. Board games such as Guesstures and Cranium were also available.

After snacks and pizza, a Stupid Gift Exchange was offered, with such prizes as an Etch A Sketch, whoopee cushion, and a vintage wide tie.

Departing teens were heard to say the event was "excellent." Those interested in planning or helping set up future events are invited to call the library. Also sought are businesses that might be interested in donating food or prizes for future programs.

An activity for younger patrons was on Jan. 12, when a pair of dancing dogs from All Breed Rescue and Training joined their trainers for some canine freestyle, followed by questions about the organization and dogs in general. The children then crafted dog-themed bookmarks and action figures.

Later in the afternoon, two special dogs, golden retrievers Lacey and Mike, were honored for their service as Paws to Read dogs. The Paws to Read program offers the chance for kids to read to dogs for a few hours each week to increase the children’s confidence. Lacey and Mike were retiring from their service, and arrived freshly groomed to receive the affection of their fans.

A new program for second- to fifth-graders is the Read It B4 You See It Book Club. Several movies based on children’s books are due to be released in the next few months, and this club offers the chance to read the book first, gather for a discussion, and enter a drawing for a free movie ticket. The first film is based on the Spiderwick Chronicles, with the film to premiere on Feb. 15. The discussion group was held on Jan. 31.

The next title will be Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss, with the discussion on Feb. 28 at 4 p.m. Registration is required.

Of interest to teens in February is the Teen Art Program sponsored by the Pikes Peak Library District. All media are accepted, with a maximum of three pieces per teen. Entrants must be 13-19 years of age in February 2008. Deadline for submission is Feb. 20, and awards will be made. Pick up a flier and application at any library.

On Feb. 20, there will be a program for adults featuring a video about a Colorado Springs woman without athletic experience who set out to compete in the Senior Olympics. The video chronicles her training program and her success at the competition. The video will be shown, followed by discussion with the athlete and those involved in producing the film. Admission is free and the program will begin at 11 a.m.

Displays in the library during February include Carnival Depression Glass and William Wysong’s photographs of the built and natural environments.

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For more information, contact the library at 488-2370.

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Art group schedules winter show

By David Futey

Have you been staring at a blank wall all winter, not able to find that perfect piece of art to liven up the wall and room? Well, here is your chance to fill that void in your life while supporting a worthy cause.

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) invites you to its Winter Art Show at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA), located on Highway 105 in Palmer Lake, Feb. 5-29. An opening reception will convene on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Over 30 members of PLAG will display their works of art in a variety of media including oil, watercolor, acrylic and pastel paintings, photography, mixed media, and dimensional art.

Gardenscape, landscape, and townscape oil paintings by John DeFrancesco, a PLAG member, will be featured in the TLCA Lucy Owens Gallery in an exhibit titled "Reflections." Regarding the show, DeFrancesco noted that it "offers collectors a wide selection of art at attractive prices. A portion of all sales supports PLAG’s scholarship program for District 38 high school art students."

Here is a little history for those of you not familiar with PLAG. Conceptualized in the early 1960s by a small group of Palmer Lake residents, the Palmer Lake Little Art Group, later shortened to the Palmer Lake Art Group, was eventually incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1969. Their goal was to further the arts in the Palmer Lake community and develop scholarships for local art students. Home for PLAG is its gallery, once the summer home of Lucretia Vaile, which was willed upon her death to the Town of Palmer Lake with the provision that it be used exclusively by the group. The town eventually transferred ownership of the house to PLAG, and it will remain in its custody as long as the group exists.

Hours and information regarding the PLAG Winter Art Show and TLCA can be found on the TLCA Web site (www.trilakesarts.org/) or by calling (719) 481-0475. Information regarding the Palmer Lake Art Group is available on its Web site (www.table-rock.com/plag.htm).

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Palmer Lake Historical Society Feb. 21: History of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail

There will be a presentation at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, 7 pm, Thursday, Feb. 21, by Jack Anthony. Colonel Anthony, a resident of the Tri-Lakes area, has retired from the USAF, and is currently a member of the Northrop Grumman team supporting military space programs. His passion is the history of our area, and he will speak on the historical development of the New Santa Fe Trail. There is no charge for the event; anyone interested is cordially invited to attend.

Below: Jack Anthony, who will make a presentation Feb. 21 on the history of the New Santa Fe Trail. Photos provided by the Palmer Lake Historical Society.

 Below: Teachout Ranch 

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Snapshots of Our Community

Limbach Trail

These photos were taken not far from where Dyad Petroleum has proposed drilling for natural gas. Photos by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

Below: Limbaugh trail off Mt. Herman Road, aspen grove and rocks beyond the first saddle headed into Limbaugh Canyon.

Below: Limbaugh Canyon looking east, aspen grove, pines and rocks.

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PLVFD Ice Rescue Training

Below: Palmer Lake Firefighter Troy Oliver (right) rescues Chief Phillip Beckman during PLVFD Ice Rescue Training at Palmer Lake on January 13th. 19 Palmer Lake Firefighters were certified as Ice Rescue Specialists. Larkspur Fire Lieutenant Chad Campagnola (left) led the training. Photo provided by the Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department.

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Special Events and Notices

By Judy Barnes, Editor Emeritus

Although we strive for accuracy in these listings, dates or times are often changed after publication. Please double-check the time and place of any event you wish to attend by calling the info number for that event.

Free tutoring in reading at Monument Library

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

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Valentines for Vets and Troops, Feb. 9

Our military servicemen and women in Iraq can’t see your ribbon or the flag at your front door, but they can hold a card in their hands and feel connected to those at home. Show your support by sending a thank-you card or a valentine to a U.S. service person in Iraq. Join students and friends of Monument School of Fine Arts at their annual "Thanks, Troops!" card-making event Feb. 9, 1 to 3 p.m., at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Woodmoor Dr., Monument. Even if you’re not feeling creative, drop in and sign a card. This small act of kindness can make a big difference for someone far from home. For more information, call 488-8280.

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Stroke and heart attack recognition and response class, Feb. 13

A stroke and heart attack recognition and response class will be conducted Feb. 13, 9 to 11 a.m., at the Black Forest Lutheran Church, 12455 Black Forest Rd., Black Forest. Learn how to quickly detect and respond to potential stroke and heart attack situations. This class is free and open to the public. Please make reservations at 495-2176 or 596-6787. The class will be conducted by personnel from the Black Forest Fire and Rescue who are co-sponsoring the event with the Black Forest Lutheran Church and the Black Forest AARP Chapter. The February Black Forest AARP chapter meeting and potluck lunch will follow at noon.

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Uranium exhibit opening, Feb. 21

Western Museum of Mining and Industry (WMMI) is celebrating a new exhibit, Back to the Future–Uranium, with an opening event Feb. 21, 5 p.m. Guest speaker Matt Mathisen will talk about his early uranium prospecting experiences. The exhibit opening is free and includes light appetizers, beverages, and music. The exhibit, which runs until Apr. 26, focuses on the history of uranium mining in Colorado. RSVP for the opening by Feb. 14 to 488-0880. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, #156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Reservations and info: phone 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org.

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Dakota Blonde concert, Feb. 23

Dakota Blonde will perform at Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) Feb. 23. Doors open at 7 for a 7:30 p.m. show. The acoustic trio plays a unique combination of folk, bluegrass, and country with a Celtic tinge. Tickets are $12 TLCA members, $15 non-members. Buy tickets at The Wine Seller (481-3019) in Monument and TLCA (481-0475) in Palmer Lake. Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information visit the Web site at www.trilakesarts.org.

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New writers’ group forming Feb. 27

If you have a passion for writing and want to join others to learn, teach, and enjoy the experiences of sharing the writer’s life with others, The Literati and Beyond Writers Circle may be for you! This new group for writers is being formed in cooperation with the Friends of the Tri-Lakes Libraries under the leadership of Nancy Jurka, a published poet and writing teacher, assisted by Mary K. Jones, a travel writer, and Chuck Robinove, a scientific writer. All writers, published or unpublished, amateur or professional, young or old, writers of novels, short stories, poetry, fiction, non-fiction, or other genres are welcome to join. If you are interested, come to the first organizational meeting Feb. 27, 7 p.m., at the Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr. For more information, call Nancy, 481-4352.

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Women’s Flash Fiction Contest ends March 1

The annual Flash Fiction Contest offers cash prizes for the top three complete, but very short stories of 100 words or less (titles not included in word count). All genres are welcome. This year’s theme is "Beneath the bed." Entries must be postmarked by Mar. 1. All entries will receive helpful feedback by members of the Pikes Peak Branch of National League of American Pen Women. For more information, call Pamela Cosel, 481-8044.

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D-38 chess tournament, March 8

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is sponsoring a free chess tournament March 8 at Lewis-Palmer Elementary School, 1315 Lake Woodmoor Dr., Monument. The tournament is open to all D-38 students, from kindergarten through grade 12. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and the first round starts at 9 a.m. There will be four rounds and the tournament should end by 1 p.m. Parents are invited to remain at the tournament or they can return to the school near the end of the tournament. Chess sets will be provided, but children should bring their own snacks. Pizza and sodas will be available for purchase, with proceeds paying for trophies and medals. Each student will receive a trophy or a medal, so please contact Steve Waldmann, the Creekside Middle School Chess Club Coach, at 488-9887 or huskerco@gmail.com and tell him that you will be coming to the tournament so that he knows how many trophies and medals to order.

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Tri-Lakes Women’s Club grant applications due March 15

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club (TLWC) will accept grant applications until March 15. Qualified organizations that provide significant services to residents within the geographic boundaries of School District 38 are encouraged to apply. Submissions that relate to the new Tri-Lakes Senior Initiative are invited. Qualified organizations include 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations, public service organizations, and public schools. Grants will be awarded in late May.

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

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

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Ceol Céilí at the TLCA, Mar. 15

Come dressed in green and enjoy some good music and a Scottish Ale as Ceol Céilí performs at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts on Sat., Mar. 15 in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. Doors open at 7:00 PM for a 7:30 PM show. Tickets are $12 TLCA members, $15 non-members. Complimentary appetizers and desserts and cash bar available. Tickets are available at The Wine Seller (719-481-3019) in Monument and TLCA (719-481-0475) in Palmer Lake. The Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts is located at 304 Highway 105 in Palmer Lake. For more information visit the website at ww w.trilakesarts.org.

Ceol Céilí (pronounced ‘keol kaylee’) comes from the Gaelic ‘Ceol’, meaning music, and ‘Céilí’, meaning gathering or hoolie. A Ceol Céilí performance takes you from traditional Irish and Scottish dance music through Ireland’s favorite ballads. Since the group formed over five years ago, they have gained much popularity in the Pikes Peak area.

Ron Sommers (fiddle, mandolin, banjo), HeidiMcClure (hammered dulcimer, mandolin and bodhran), Kari Walker (vocals, tin whistle, flute and bodhran) and Steve Hart (guitar, vocals and bodhran) comprise the group. They have appeared at the Pikes Peak Folk Festival, The Pikes Peak Highland Game and Celtic Festival The Colorado Irish Festival, The Scottish Festival, The Gaelic Highland Festival in Canyon City, Snake River Brewery in Lander Wyoming and Red Lodge Montana, Black Rose Acoustic Society and Mountain Acoustic Music Association concerts, and regularly perform at Jack Quinn’s Irish Pub and Ale House in Colorado Springs. Ceol Céilí released their second CD in 2007, "Made Behind the Bar". Their first CD released in 2004 is titled "The Pig Faire Collection". Check the website for details at www.ceolceili.com

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Girls’ fast-pitch players needed

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

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Local author makes the grade

Local author and teacher Bret R. Wright’s P.I. novel, NASTY, is competing in the semi-finals of the 2007 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. The 836 semi-finalists were chosen by top Amazon and Publishers Weekly reviewers from a field of 5,000 initial entries from around the globe. In its second year, the competition pits new and veteran authors’ works against each other for a top prize including a publishing contract for the work and a large advance. Wright teaches 8th-grade language arts at Discovery Canyon Campus in District 20.

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Make new friends at the Gleneagle Women’s Club

Gleneagle Women’s Club is a social club composed of residents in the Gleneagle and Monument area. From September to May the club combines charity work with fun get-togethers. Each month the club brings food and/or clothing to the luncheon to be distributed to various local charities that are in need. In May, whatever money is not spent by various committees is donated to local charities.

The Gleneagle Women’s Club has special groups within the club such as horseback riding, hiking, investing, gourmet, book club, bridge, and mahjongg. Each month the group goes on a "Fun with Friends" adventure in the Denver or Colorado Springs areas. A great way to meet club members and their husbands is to attend a TGIF affair held each month at someone’s home. For more information, call the membership chairman, Joan Miranda, at 488-3831.

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Volunteer to help an adult learn English

Help make a very special difference in the life of a new resident in our community. There is a growing need in the Tri-Lakes community for one-to-one tutoring of adults who want to improve their basic English language skills. If there is enough interest, a new class for tutors will begin in the Tri-Lakes area through the LitSource Office of the Pikes Peak Library District. The tutor instruction course is five weeks long, about 3½ hours each week. Tutors are asked to make a six-month commitment to work with adults for two hours each week to improve their reading, writing, and English comprehension. No foreign language or teaching experience is required. The tutor training is provided for free. Contact Stephanie Kemp locally at 481-4355 or Sherrill Wyeth (PPLD) at 531-6333 x223 for more information.

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Mining museum seeks volunteers

The Western Museum of Mining and Industry is seeking volunteers to lead tours and programs, help with special events, maintain the grounds, and staff the front desk. The museum is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, 156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Call 488-0880 for more information.

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County launches new online mapping service

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

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IRS starts free e-newsletter for small businesses

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

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Help for gardeners at Monument Library

Bring your yard, plant, and insect questions to the pros. Master Gardeners are available Mondays, 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. and Wednesdays, 2:30 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, phone 488-2370.

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The Library Channel

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

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Senior Safety Program

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

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County now accepting batteries and electronics at waste facility

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

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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

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

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