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Vol. 8 No. 5 - May 3, 2008


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Palmer Lake community comes together

Photos by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com.  

Below: At Palmer Lake Elementary School April 25, Evan Tharnish places a ribbon on the tree planted 10 years ago in memory of Josh Eaton. David Lochridge and Mario Facinelli prepare to decorate the tree for the 3 p.m. ceremony. All three boys are in Mrs. Wilson’s second grade class and she was also Josh Eaton’s teacher.

Below: At Palmer Lake Elementary School April 25, NeTanya Hart unloads a pallet of pavers, passing them back to Bertie Nielson of the Home Depot team of volunteers. 

Below: At Palmer Lake Elementary School April 25, 4 year old Alex Powell, son of Home Depot Assistant Store manager Bret Powell, joins the pavers relay team breaking-in a new pair of donated gloves.

By Raymond McCoy

Who would have thought that on a cold morning you could get children, parents, and volunteers together to do a work project? Well, it happened throughout the Palmer Lake community and at the entrance to Palmer Lake Elementary School on Friday, April 25.

The activities celebrated Arbor Day and Earth Day, created a Memorial Garden for Steve Weiss, and brought to a close the remembrance of Josh Eaton, who would have graduated from high school this year. An evergreen tree planted by Dee Dee and Hugh Eaton 10 years ago to remember their young son was embellished with yellow ribbons.

The Project Green Panthers conceived by Shawn Cash spearheaded the activity of redeveloping the front of the elementary school. This is a group of youngsters from kindergarten through fifth grade involved in recycling and environmental education. They eagerly undertook their task with the tremendous support of Home Depot, which provided 15 volunteers and skids full of landscaping, patio supplies, and fencing.

While this activity was under way at the school, other children from all grades canvassed numerous areas around Palmer Lake, proudly collecting litter.

During a 3 p.m. ceremony to celebrate and recognize all the accomplishments of the day, several high school seniors who knew and would have celebrated graduation with Josh Eaton stopped by to place yellow ribbons in his remembrance.

That day was one of those unique moments when regardless of the conditions, people coming together in a community can demonstrate just what is important in their lives and enrich their neighbors and the place they call home.

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Fire ban issued

The Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District has banned all outdoor fires, including campfires, trash, brush, and agricultural burning within the district. This is due to the very dry conditions, low humidity, and wind.

Exceptions are propane or charcoal barbecue grills and any other outdoor container approved by the district’s fire marshal. El Paso County fire bans will override this notice.

For information, contact Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman, 266-3382.

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Monument Board of Trustees, April 7: Board takes over highway

Below: From right to left, Town Clerk Scott Meszaros (far right) swears in (L to R) incumbents Trustee Gail Drumm, Trustee Tommie Plank, and Mayor Byron Glenn; and new trustee Rafael Dominguez at the start of the Apr. 7 Monument Board of Trustees meeting. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustees Gail Drumm and Tommie Plank began new four-year terms on the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) when they were sworn in by Town Clerk Scott Meszaros on April 7. Former Planning Commissioner Rafael Dominguez was also sworn in to start his first term, which will also be for four years. Each ran uncontested and no election was held.

Dominguez succeeds former Trustee and Mayor Pro-Tem Dave Mertz, who chose not to run for a second four-year term. Mertz had previously served as Planning Commission chairman.

Trustees Steve Samuels, Travis Easton, and Tim Miller were also present.

Town takes ownership of south end of Old Denver Highway

Glenn stated five reasons that the town should accept the county’s offer to transfer the county’s title to Old Denver Highway right-of-way:

  • The highway is an entrance to the town that is very visible.
  • The highway is used by many Monument residents as well as patrons of the Colorado Sports Authority skating rink.
  • The town already plows snow from the highway and has repaved significant portions of it in the past few years.
  • The town now owns the land on both sides of the highway and should have control of access decisions.
  • Taking over the highway provides "good will and credibility" in return for the county’s participation in improving Baptist Road.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp noted that the Board of County Commissioners had already approved a Bargain and Sale Deed (on March 10) to convey the right-of-way to the town, and the board was merely approving final acceptance of the deed to the road. He noted that the town would also be accepting the obligation to fund all future snow removal, drainage, maintenance, and repair costs.

The length of the conveyed road is 1.6 miles with a total of 12.9 acres of right-of-way. The portion of the road acquired extends north from Baptist Road to just south of the Woodfield Drive intersection in the Pastimes development.

Drumm objected to the town taking ownership, stating that the county had agreed to fix the road before it transferred ownership. He said the road is in serious disrepair and the town has allocated no funds to remove and replace the portions that have been seriously damaged.

Drumm said the county should completely repair the highway, including removal and replacement of the failed portions of asphalt caused by heavy county truck traffic. He said the county should also transfer the sales tax revenue from the owners of these trucks as a source of revenue for repairing future damage these heavy trucks will cause. Drumm stated that one heavy gravel truck trip does the same damage as 7,000 car trips and that he was tired of offering the county good will that would not be reciprocated. "This road is not going to stand up."

Drumm suggested that the board table the issue until Public Works Director Rich Landreth could provide an accurate estimate of total costs for removal and replacement of failed roadway, as well as the cost for adding lanes for new developments. "We have no idea what this is going to cost to upgrade it" or maintain it. Miller concurred on getting repair cost estimates before taking control of the highway after noting that the "county gets to off-load it."

Note: The most severe asphalt damage is apparent at the access to the R-Rockyard landscaping business, where delivery trucks make 90-degree turns on Old Denver Highway with very heavy loads creating very high shear forces that crack the surface. This company’s access is just south of the town’s boundary with the county. Other asphalt damage is apparent in both lanes south of this access, particularly in the southbound braking area in front of the Santa Fe Trailhead by the Baptist Road intersection.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara had talked to Andre Brackin, Capital Programs Division manager of the county Department of Transportation. Brackin told Kassawara earlier in the day that the county had no funds available for repair or upgrade of Old Denver Highway for a minimum of the next three years, there was "absolutely" no agreement for the county to fix the road prior to transfer, and improvements by the county are "virtually impossible."

Landreth estimated that the cost of a temporary repair of the three worst portions of the highway to make the road "drivable" would cost about $15,000 from the department’s contingency fund, $5,000 for each.

Shupp said that some town police officers have been trained to enforce restrictions on overweight trucks using the highway and enforcement could be increased after the town takes ownership, to partially mitigate further destruction.

Glenn said that the town needed to take over the road sooner rather than later because the county will do nothing for the foreseeable future, particularly near the "county’s own trailhead." Town utilities will have to be installed in the roadway, and the town should directly supervise their installation as well as the road’s maintenance.

Samuels, Plank, and Easton agreed. Samuels said that having town residents pay for repairs is not fair, but no improvements will occur unless the town takes over this road. Easton said the board needs to improve the situation. Plank noted that most residents think the board is responsible for Old Denver Highway already.

There was further lengthy and occasionally testy discussion between Glenn and Drumm. They each accused the other of being "short-sighted" about the factors affecting the town’s decision.

Miller offered a motion to table the acceptance of the county’s deed until Drumm could negotiate with the county for funds to repair the road, which failed by a 2-5 vote with only Miller and Drumm in favor. The board then voted to accept the county’s offer of a Bargain and Sale Deed for Old Denver Highway by a 6-1 vote, with Drumm opposed.

Accusation of illegal town-county meeting refuted

County resident Sarah Nasby said that a March meeting Glenn and Green had with County Commissioner Wayne Williams and El Paso County Department of Transportation Director John McCarty regarding options for extending Mitchell Avenue to connect with Baptist Road had violated Colorado and El Paso open/public meeting statutes. Nasby said that Colorado Rep. Amy Stephens, District 20, "also believes that meeting was illegal." (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n4.htm#bot0317 for a report on Glenn’s previous discussion of this meeting at the March 17 BOT meeting, under "Trustee comments.")

Note: Nasby lives at the intersection of Spaatz Road and Rickenbacker Avenue, just west of the planned connection of the Mitchell Avenue extension to Forest Lakes Drive. Nasby had objected to the extension of Mitchell Avenue along this route at previous BOT hearings on the matter. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n4.htm#bot0303 for maps and details of the Mitchell Avenue extension issue that were discussed during the Willow Springs land use hearing at the March 3 BOT meeting.)

Nasby stated that Stephens had advised her to send a letter of complaint requesting a "thorough investigation" of the Mitchell Avenue extension to Colorado Attorney General John Suthers and acting El Paso County Attorney William Louis. Nasby asked the board to halt any discussions of the Mitchell Avenue extension until the findings of the alleged "investigation" of her formal complaint had concluded. She also asked that any development construction within the Willow Springs Ranch annexation by Infinity Land Corp. be halted until a "legal determination" of her request that the Mitchell Avenue extension be constructed through the center of that now-annexed parcel is "fully considered" in light of this alleged "illegal" meeting.

Glenn asked Town Attorney Shupp to respond to Nasby’s assertion. Shupp said, "Totally incorrect. It was not an illegal meeting. There was nothing to do with what she suggested. The state statute requires that it be a public open meeting if three or more trustees meet. That did not occur. The statute does not apply to staff members such as Cathy Green or John McCarty." He added that Stephens "is also incorrect" in concluding that the meeting was illegal.

Glenn said that if the town "goes further" with road construction for an extension of Mitchell Avenue through the county as proposed, the board would first go to the county Planning Commission for a recommendation. "It doesn’t matter if they vote yes or no. It’s a town project and the town has the authority" to go forward with construction of this town road through county property, including eminent domain condemnation if required.

Note: There are no funds available for construction of a Mitchell Avenue extension in the town’s 2008 budget or in the town’s five-year capital improvement plan.

Colorado Springs’ proposed water project

Glenn reported on three factors that affect the status of town efforts to obtain surface water rights and delivery systems to supplement the town’s groundwater supply. He said he had held discussions with the mayor and members of the Colorado Springs City Council on Monument’s possible participation in the proposed Southern Delivery System as well as future exchanges of groundwater during droughts.

Glenn stated that a recently discovered prohibition in the city’s charter prevents Colorado Springs Utilities from serving areas outside of the city limits. Any future city water-sharing agreements with any town or special district outside of Colorado Springs would require that a ballot question on such an agreement be passed by city voters.

The second possible problem Glenn noted is that the Environmental Impact Study being performed for the Southern Delivery System is restricted to supplemental water service for Colorado Springs residents only. If any other entities are to be served with water rights owned by Colorado Springs in the Pueblo Reservoir, the entire impact study would have to be redone. The City Council opposes starting the study over again to amend it for more widespread service that would include surrounding areas.

The third problem Glenn discussed was the Springs City Council’s concerns about Monument and other northern county entities separately purchasing water rights from private water rights owners as well as those purchased from Colorado Springs Utilities. Glenn said the city attorney has advised the City Council that any purchase of private water rights by northern county entities in competition with Utilities’ services "undermines Colorado Springs’ position tying water service with cooperation on stormwater, land use, and related matters with entities within El Paso County. In other words, they want to control everything we do here if they give us water."

Glenn also said that the city’s environmental impact study may have failed to address the regional impact of the Southern Delivery System as required. Colorado Springs may attempt to resolve that "regional" shortcoming by negotiating "agreements with outside entities such as Monument." Any future water agreements proposed to Monument by the city will have to be closely scrutinized from a legal standpoint and the town must avoid "huge participation fees."

In other trustees’ comments, Easton noted that he had attended his first session of the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce as the board’s representative and looked forward to improving the board’s communications with the business community.

Drumm reported that the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority was considering two candidates to conduct a study of regional rail needs.

Land values updated for D-38 dedication and construction fee calculations

An amendment to the town code that raised the average value for an acre of residential land within the town from $19,234 to $83,160 was continued until April 21. The maximum number of students and size of lots for elementary, middle, and high schools were also revised in the amended ordinance. The D-38 appraisals for land within the town boundaries show that the average value is double this amount, which will require further fee increases over the next few years to catch up with land value increases.

Cash-in-lieu fees typically apply to newly constructed homes in developments that are too small to be required to dedicate a full school site as part of the town’s 20 percent open space dedication requirement. The fees are paid by the developer for each lot to the town, which then transfers the revenue to Lewis-Palmer School District 38.

The new D-38 cash-in-lieu fees are:

  • Single-family detached—$1,350 (up from $291)
  • Single-family attached and mobile homes—$762
  • Townhome—$309
  • Multi-family—$154

Senior residence apartments are exempt from the fee since no children are allowed to live in them.

The revised school standards are:

  • Elementary school—450 students (down from 570) on 10 acres
  • Middle school—900 students (down from 1,152) on 25 acres (up from 20)
  • High school—1,900 students (up from 1,536) on 50 acres (up from 45)

Kassawara said that he believed that the fees were last increased in 1997. D-38 Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Wangeman thanked the board and staff for amending the code to increase the fees. They explained that the fees for attached/town homes and multi-family units are significantly less than $1,350, because these units typically have far fewer school-age children.

Homebuilders’ objections cause delay in implementation

The Colorado Springs Homebuilders Association objected by letter—two hours before this board meeting—to what appeared to be a mathematical error in an example showing the methods of calculation for the fee increase. The association’s letter also stated that the D-38 calculation methods differ significantly from methods used by other nearby school districts and expressed concerns about the revenues being used for purposes other than school construction. The association asked for a 60-day delay in implementation to allow for full disclosure of the $1,000 increase in fees required at closings for newly constructed homes.

Green stated that the town has no authority to determine the amount of money or acreage per student that D-38 requires. The amount agreed to as being necessary was $4,500 per home, but the town limited the increase to $1,350 during negotiations with the school district and homebuilders constructing new homes in Monument at this time to keep the jump from being too high all at once in a tight real estate market. Further increases over the next few years will be required. The change will not go into effect for 45 days.

Wangeman said that consultant Danny Hill, who performed the valuation study for D-38, also performs the same kind of survey for 30 other school districts in the Front Range area. The valuations for lots within the Town of Monument were twice the average value of $83,160 per acre. The cash-in-lieu fees must be increased again over the next few years until this discrepancy is resolved.

Wangeman also noted that the cash-in-lieu fees that the town collects for D-38 are segregated in a specific capital account used solely for new school construction, in accordance with Colorado statutes. This segregated capital fund account is audited every year.

Wangeman added that the land-per-student figures that are used in surrounding school districts had not been updated since 1992 and should not be used for comparisons by the association. She added that some nearby school districts are starting to revise their land requirement figures.

Blanch supported Wangeman, saying that the initial fee increase to $1,350 per home will not generate "nearly enough revenue" to purchase land within D-38 for new schools. The developments that are being approved by the town and county rarely are large enough to be required to donate enough land for a school site, so sites will have to be purchased in the future.

County resident Nasby said that the estimate of the average value of an acre of land at $83,160 in the Monument area was too low.

Glenn, who is also a developer, said that D-38 had been slow in seeking an increase in the fee. "An increase from $291 to $4,500 is huge. I think $1,350 is extremely generous on both sides. It’s a start. We’ll have to do it again soon." Glenn then asked Kassawara to address the accuracy of the complaints in the homebuilders’ letter. The board unanimously continued the fee amendment until the April 21 BOT meeting.

Insufficient water available for Highway 105 senior housing project

Developer Tim Irish had requested to be put on the agenda to make a presentation on water requirements for the Arbor Mountain senior living facility to be built on 2.7 acres of town land on Highway 105, east of Knollwood Drive. The land was donated to Irish in exchange for a perpetual guarantee of reduced rates for poor seniors in 10 percent of the available residence units. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District has no supplemental water rights within the 140-acre Villages at Woodmoor that it can sell to Irish for the extremely high-density project. The available water rights for this lot would only support five single-family homes. Water rights are needed for more than 40 apartments.

However, Irish did not attend the meeting. When asked if Irish’s project was going to go forward, Green stated, "At this point, it’s not looking good."

Shirk praised by Palmer Lake mayor

Glenn read a letter from Palmer Lake Mayor Max Parker saying how grateful that town was for the assistance received from Monument Police Chief Jake Shirk and his staff in immediately helping Palmer Lake’s Police Department after the untimely and unexpected death of Chief Dan Gilliana on Jan. 4. "No request from the Town of Palmer Lake has gone unanswered."

Some of the other types of town assistance that Parker noted were:

  • Shirk’s advice, counseling, and mentoring of Palmer Lake’s acting chief and Police Trustee Richard Allen.
  • Thoroughly professional assistance from Monument’s police chaplain Mitch O’Reilly.
  • An operational evaluation of the Palmer Lake department’s programs by Monument Chief Shirk, Sgt. Steven Burk, and Shirk’s administrative assistant Mary Ellen Burk.
  • Shirk’s assistance in selecting a replacement chief and his plans to assist the new chief during the initial transition.

Shirk, who received an enthusiastic round of applause, said, "I’m sweatin’. I’d rather face a man with a gun than this."

Hull subdivision granted supplemental water rights

Green gave an overview of the resolution on how to calculate the excess water demand for the proposed Hull subdivision on the 16-lot vacant downtown city block between Grace Best Elementary School and Beacon Lite Road, south of First Street. She said an incentive should be offered to Hull to promote a high-density mixed-use "downtown village concept" with shops, restaurants, and lofts with a higher than normal water demand. Each of the 16 50-by-150-foot lots has rights to 0.5 acre-feet of water per year, but the project requires 27.14 acre-feet per year.

Consultant Westworks Engineering provided the specific uses in its estimate of the annual water requirement in the Hull development:

  • 46 residential units at .375 acre-foot each ––17.25 acre-feet
  • 9,000 square feet of office space –– 1.71 acre-feet
  • 25,000 square feet of retail space –– 2.25 acre-feet
  • 3,000 square feet of restaurant space –– 4.68 acre-feet
  • 0.5 acre of irrigated landscaping –– 1.25 acre-feet

Green reported that unless additional water is sold to Hull, the vacant parcel will revert to an ordinary traditional residential development rather than promote the village concept to start revitalization of downtown Monument. The town has excess rights that total 384 acre-feet of water per year. The town staff recommends setting aside 84 acre-feet for future approved growth and 100 acre-feet for a reserve.

The resolution would approve the sale of additional town water to Hull at a cost not to exceed $2,000 per acre-foot. The staff would track water use during construction of the Hull project and for two more years after completion. Green also said that Gary Barber, director of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, had suggested a discounted selling price of $1,250 per acre-foot. The resolution was unanimously approved.

Green also noted that a public meeting was held in Town Hall on April 1 to discuss a proposed exploratory horizontal test natural gas well in the county near Mount Herman Road by Dyad Petroleum. Citizens who attended that meeting expressed concerns about the materials used during drilling of these and any future wells contaminating the aquifers in the Tri-Lakes region, as well as declining property values and excessive heavy truck traffic through town and up to the drilling site on unimproved dirt roads.

The board authorized the expense to have town water engineer Bruce Lytle analyze the Dyad’s environmental impact statement once it is released.

Other matters

The board also:

  • Unanimously approved incorporation of the International Plumbing Code into the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department Code.
  • Tabled a code amendment to increase the cash-in-lieu school district fee that is charged by D-38 for newly constructed houses.
  • Accepted El Paso County’s offer to transfer ownership of the county’s 1.6-mile section of Old Denver Highway to Monument for $10.
  • Elected Samuels to be mayor pro-tem for the next two years.
  • Approved the sale of about 19 acre-feet per year of additional town water rights at a discounted rate not to exceed $2,000 per acre-foot as an incentive to developer Jamie Hull for the high-density Hull subdivision on Beacon Lite Road.
  • Approved replacement contracts with Alexandher Building Co. ($2.9 million) and architect John Nelson ($52,500) for the new Town Hall still to be built at Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road after the original developer, Lee Kilbourn, could not complete his contract.
  • Approved a liquor license renewal for Columbine Gardens Restaurant, 481 Highway 105.
  • Approved five payments over $5,000, a total of $56,339 for water line and street sweeper repairs, legal fees, and insurance payments for property/casual and worker compensation coverage.
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Monument Board of Trustees, April 21: Wakonda Meadows hearings postponed; Board approves increase in D-38 fees for new homes

Below: Monument Chief Jake Shirk shows the Board of Trustees and town staff his department’s new state of the art night vision camera, which was paid for entirely by a federal grant he had applied for. The camera has a separate remote viewing screen, allowing police officers to see what the camera is observing from a distance without betraying their presence at the scene. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

The Monument Town Hall board room was filled with folks on April 21, many from Wakonda Hills who were there to comment on the annexation of 84.5 acres of the Wakonda Meadows development, rezoning to Planned Development (PD), and the proposed Planned Development (PD) sketch plan. Then Mayor Byron Glenn announced that applicant Ken Barber of Zonta Partnership LTD had asked at the last minute that these four hearings be postponed until May 5. The Board of Trustees unanimously approved the request.

As the board moved on to approve a resolution declaring May 1 National Prayer Day in Monument, other Wakonda Hills residents continued to arrive, unaware that the hearings had been postponed. Trustees Gail Drumm and Tommie Plank were absent.

Wakonda Meadows hearings postponed

Four agenda items were scheduled for this vacant parcel north of the Century Park Development on Highway 105, between Beacon Lite Road and the railroad tracks:

  • A resolution finding Barber’s petition for annexation of the 84.5 acres to be eligible because it meets all the requirements of state statutes.
  • An ordinance to approve annexation of the northern 84.5 acres.
  • An ordinance that would grant the development PD zoning.
  • An ordinance that would approve the proposed sketch PD plan for the 98.9-acre project.

However, Barber had advised the staff just before the meeting that he had not yet completed negotiations with the Colorado Department of Transportation regarding the state’s requirement that the Zonta Partnership pay for new turn lanes and a traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 105 and Beacon Lite Road and was not ready to move forward with the scheduled hearings. The Monument Planning Commission had unanimously approved all four of these agenda items on March 12.

D-38 fee and land dedication increases approved

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara reported that an error had been found in the example calculation in his staff report for how much land would be subject to dedication to Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in future Monument developments based on a proposed amendment to the Town Code. The Colorado Springs Housing and Building Association (CSHBA) had complained at the April 7 hearing that the published formula required too much land to be dedicated by developers for new schools. The board had continued the vote on the ordinance amendment so staff could resolve the complaint. However, there was no error in the proposed land dedication ordinance amendment. (For more details see the article on the Apr. 7 BOT hearing.)

Kassawara reported that his staff had consulted with the homebuilders on the correction staff had made in its report. The association "withdrew its objections" in a letter dated April 17 from its representative John A. Kisiel to Town Manager Cathy Green. The D-38 cash-in-lieu fee paid by a homebuilder for a new single-family house in Monument will still increase from $291 to $1,350, as previously negotiated by the staff with the association.

The staff also revised the wording in the proposed ordinance to explicitly state the difference between the actual current average value of land in Monument –– about $155,000 per acre –– and the substantially reduced value town staff negotiated with the homebuilders as the basis for the increased cash-in-lieu fee. "Land value: $83,160 per acre" in the revised heading for the table listing the increased cash-in-lieu payments for different types of residences was changed to "Land value: $155,000 per acre—$3,558 per square foot (used forced value at $83,160 per acre)." The $1,350 fee is based on the reduced $83,160 per acre figure.

At the April 7 meeting, D-38 Superintendent Ray Blanch and Chief Operating Officer Cheryl Wangeman said that the cash-in-lieu fee for each new single-family home that the district needs to purchase land in Monument is $4,500, not $1,350. They also said they had agreed to the compromise of $1,350 per new house, based on the compromise $83,160 per acre figure that the homebuilders had agreed to pay. On April 7, Glenn stated that the $1,350 fee was "generous," and then acknowledged that it would have to be increased.

Marla Novak, who said she was attending this meeting as a representative of the homebuilders association, stated that the group now supports the revised amendment to Monument’s land dedication ordinance for D-38. Wangeman confirmed that the figures in the draft ordinance presented on April 7 had been correct and the new staff report was now accurate.

The board unanimously approved the correction to the amendment to the town code.

Trustees’ comments

Glenn reported that Carter Burgess, the consultant contract manager for the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority’s (BRRTA) expansion of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange, may be able to advertise a construction contract bidding process as early as April 30. It is being financed by 20-year BRRTA transportation bonds paid for by the temporary voter-approved 1-cent BRRTA sales tax.

Glenn also noted that the numerous potholes in Baptist Road and on the bridge over I-25 had not yet been repaired by the county and state respectively due to continuing freezing weather. Some are too shallow to repair.

Revenue picture still bleak

Now that these fee increases have finally been approved, D-38 will still be collecting very little money to buy land for its new schools. New home sales in Monument have plummeted, which is causing a shortfall in cash-in-lieu revenue for D-38 school construction. No homes have been sold in the vacant Promontory Pointe, Sanctuary Pointe, and Home Place Ranch developments since they were annexed by the town and rezoned for urban density Planned Development. Home Place Ranch was supposed to have a new D-38 elementary school site in the middle of the project.

Pulte Homes pulled out of two previously approved residential developments in north Jackson Creek and stopped work on its Promontory Pointe annexation after it was approved.

This stagnant real estate market has also resulted in a severe revenue shortage for Triview Metropolitan District, which had to raise property taxes in late 2007 to balance its budget for 2008 after voters rejected all four of the district’s mill levy override ballot questions in November. Triview depends primarily on new home construction fees in already approved subdivisions to finance infrastructure construction –– roads, water, sewer, parks, trails, open space –– in annexed areas as well as maintenance of all infrastructure. It cannot issue any more debt due to its financial condition. (See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n4.htm#tmd for details)

After the April 21 BOT meeting, acting Triview District Manager Ron Simpson reported at the Triview board meeting April 22 that the state will not consider approving a second low-cost $2 million loan to Triview until the final 2007 Triview audit is available for review in June or July (sentence revised from printed version). The loan is needed to pay for its 50 percent share of the cost overruns in the state-mandated expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Wastewater Treatment Facility. Donala Water and Sanitation District may have to cover this additional cost for Triview if the latter cannot qualify for this extra loan.

In addition, Triview now has insufficient revenue to build the roads and utilities it must provide to developers as a "developer district" at district expense. The dearth of home sales forced Triview to reduce its road and bridge impact fees last month, further reducing its ability to generate revenue to repair failing roads and other infrastructure in Jackson Creek.

Monument Ridge and Villani Industrial Park proposals unanimously approved

Kassawara and the applicants for the Fairfield Inn, McDonald’s, and Blue Kona projects gave the same presentations that were presented to the Planning Commission on April 9 prior to unanimous approval by the board. Graeme and Martha Aston presented the same objections to the Villani project’s stormwater drainage onto the northeast corner of the Aston’s Electric Propulsion parcel. (See the Monument Planning Commission article for details of all these presentations.)

Several homeowners who live near the Blue Kona building between the railroad tracks and Old Denver Highway expressed concerns about the new building blocking their views of the Front Range and reflected train noise from the rear of the new building.

Applicant Steve Hammers presented illustrations that showed how the rear of the building would be screened with replanted ponderosa pine trees from the site. The drawings also showed that the top of the Blue Kona roof would be below the homeowner’s sight lines to the entire Synthes plant and would have no effect on their current views.

Trustee Steve Samuels said the train noise reflected from the rear of the Blue Kona building would be blocked by the trains from reaching these houses.

New night-vision equipment available

Police Chief Jake Shirk showed the board the Monument Police Department’s new state-of-the-art night vision camera, which was paid for entirely by a federal grant. The cost for training all the department’s staff to use the camera is also paid for by the federal grant.

Shirk stated that this camera will dramatically improve the department’s ability to conduct surreptitious investigations of all types. He emphasized that the camera will also be available for use by other county, state, and federal agencies conducting investigations throughout the northern county region.

Shirk stated that parents should be aware of a troubling new Web site called "Miss Bimbo," which preys on young children. Members of the Monument Police Department are coordinating with D-38 to give presentations to area schools to make students more aware of the hazards these types of sites present if children reveal too much information about themselves or their families.

Shirk announced that St. Peter Catholic Church, located at Jefferson and First Streets, had just been certified by the Red Cross as an emergency/hazard shelter. The Police Department will be coordinating county-provided CERT (civilian emergency response team) training for area residents to be conducted at St. Peter on May 29-31 to support this program. Area residents can register for the training on a first-come, first-served basis, at St Peter, 481-3511, or the Monument Police Department, 481-3253.

Other matters

The board also:

  • Unanimously approved an amendment to the design guidelines for the Monument Ridge mixed-use development that allows new colors of asphalt roof shingles, decorative bricks, and awnings.
  • Unanimously approved an amendment to the final Planned Development site plan for the Monument Ridge Fairfield Inn to swap a brown shingle roof for a brown metal roof and to delete some of the previously required expensive decorative masonry from the hotel’s stucco exterior to make the project financially viable again.
  • Unanimously approved the final PD site plan for Monument Ridge McDonald’s including incorporation of the new decorative brick and awning colors.
  • Unanimously approved a final Planned Industrial Development site plan for the Blue Kona office/warehouse, the first of six commercial buildings to be constructed in the Villani Industrial Park on Synthes Avenue.

The board unanimously approved three payments over $5,000:

  • $78,119 to Triview Metropolitan District for March vehicle tax and February sales tax
  • $27,509 to John P. Nelson Associates for architect services for the new Town Hall building
  • $24,007 to Nolte Associates Inc. for engineering services for the Third Street Improvement Project

Trustee Travis Easton, a civil engineer who works for Nolte, recused himself from the vote on the Nolte payment.

The meeting adjourned at 7:45.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 5 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Planning Commission, April 9: Blue Kona building plan approved

By Jim Kendrick

On April 9, the Monument Planning Commission unanimously approved the final Planned Development (PD) site plan for the Blue Kona office/warehouse building, the first of six commercial buildings to be constructed in the Villani Industrial Park project on Synthes Avenue, east of Mitchell Avenue, along the railroad tracks.

The drainage plan for the Villani parcel was questioned by Graeme and Martha Aston, owners of the adjacent Electric Propulsion property to the south. The Astons did not want the stormwater from the proposed Villani detention pond on the southernmost of the seven Villani lots to be released onto the northeast corner of their Aston Industrial Park parcel as shown in the drainage portion of the final Villani Industrial Park site plan.

The commission also unanimously approved an amendment to the long-approved design guidelines for the Monument Ridge mixed-use development on the southeast corner of Baptist and Struthers Roads, opposite the King Soopers center. These minor color and material changes were based on requests for external appearance changes for the Fairfield Inn and MacDonald’s that are about to be constructed. The commission then approved changes to these same requested materials for the individual hotel and restaurant final PD site plans.

Commissioners Dave Gwisdalla and Rafael Dominguez were absent. Chairman Ed Delaney was delayed by traffic. Vice Chair Kathy Spence presided over the start of the Blue Kona hearing.

Blue Kona preliminary/final PD plan approved

As has become customary at Planning Commission hearings, Principal Planner Karen Griffith gave a brief summary of the Kona proposal, followed by a presentation of the design features of the building by the applicant, in this case Steve Hammers of Hammers Construction Co.

Griffith noted that the office/warehouse building is 14,000 square feet with offices in the front façade and large garage doors in the rear façade for truck deliveries. There will be about 9,800 square feet of landscaping and 21,000 square feet of parking on lot 4 of the Villani parcel. The Blue Kona lot is about 1.03 acres. The Villani parcel has been zoned for Planned Industrial Development for several decades.

Griffith noted that the applicant will relocate most of the existing ponderosa pine trees to provide a rear visual screen for the existing houses across the railroad tracks in Santa Fe Trails and Villages at Monument. Some of the trees will be replanted on the adjacent vacant lot to the north for the same purpose. Dirt from the rear of the lot will be moved to the front of the lot to lower the profile of the building so that it does not interfere with existing views of the Front Range for the homes between the railroad tracks and Old Denver Highway.

Referral comments: Griffith reported the following comments from other agencies regarding the Blue Kona and/or Villani projects:

  • Mountain View Electric Association noted that it may need additional easements if drainage turns out to be a problem. Most of the currently vacant project will be covered with an impervious roof and parking lot.
  • El Paso County Enumerations requested that the town require recording of the Blue Kona plat before approving the final plat for the Villani subdivision.
  • After initially determining that there were insufficient water rights available on lot 4, town water engineer Bruce Lytle amended his position and recommended approval of the Blue Kona building.
  • Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District informed the town staff that a fire hydrant would have to be added to the Blue Kona lot to meet the district’s code requirements.
  • Monument Sanitation District advised the town that Villani Partnership LLC had not yet built a sanitary sewer collections system to serve any portion of the Villani Industrial Park property. Villani Partnership is responsible for building the sanitary sewer system in accordance with the district’s regulations and transferring ownership of an operational system prior to the town issuing a certificate of occupancy for the Blue Kona office/warehouse.

Griffith also reported that the Blue Kona final PD site plan meets all town code and comprehensive plan approval criteria. Griffith recommended four conditions of approval:

  1. Any necessary technical corrections shall be made by the applicant and approved by the staff.
  2. Any necessary utility easements shall be dedicated by separate instrument upon request by the utility provider.
  3. The final plat for the Villani Industrial Park must be recorded before recording of the Blue Kona final PD site plan.
  4. The final drainage plan for the Villani Industrial Park must be recorded before recording of the Blue Kona final PD site plan.

Hammers noted that there are no planned loading docks in the Blue Kona building. It will be served once a day at the close of business by a delivery truck.

There will be about 30-40 trips per day on Synthes and Mitchell Avenues generated by the 13 employees and delivery vehicles. There will be no weekend or evening deliveries. The total number of employees for this sunglasses business will grow to a maximum of 24 people over time with a trip generation that may go as high as 70 trips on occasion. Hammers added that his company would replace any replanted pine trees that die.

Drainage objections raised: During public comments, the Astons stated that there is no evidence of any historical drainage from the Villani property onto the Aston property and they don’t want any changes. They distributed aerial photos of the Synthes Avenue parcels that they said confirmed that there are no patterns of drainage onto their property. They added that their Electric Propulsion employees use the vacant portions of the Aston parcel for walks and playing golf.

They specifically objected to the depiction of a new Villani stormwater drainage pipe system that would intrude onto their land in the Villani –– rather than the Blue Kona –– drainage plan. The Astons said they had not granted an easement for that drainage way and had no intention of doing so. They added that the town staff should talk to their lawyer to resolve this issue, since it had reached a stalemate with the Villani Partnership.

There was a lengthy discussion in which several of the commissioners questioned the completeness and currency of the traffic study, as well as how the Villani drainage plan should affect their votes on the Blue Kona proposal.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara, a registered professional civil engineer, would review and certify the final stormwater drainage plan for the entire subdivision before Blue Kona construction is initiated. The Astons reiterated their adamant objections to the depicted stormwater drainage pipe that would open into the wetlands area of their property without a granted easement.

The Blue Kona preliminary/final PD site plan was unanimously approved with an additional condition that the traffic study had to be updated to account for the recent annexation and sketch plan approvals of the Willow Springs Ranch project at the south end of Mitchell Avenue.

Fairfield Inn and McDonald’s requests approved

The commissioners unanimously approved three design guideline amendments for the Monument Ridge development. The first amendment, requested by the Fairfield Inn owners, allows the substitution of brown asphalt shingles for brown metal roofing. The other amendments were requested by McDonald’s. The second amendment allows two additional complementary colors of decorative accent bricks. The third amendment, which will only apply to the McDonald’s lot, allows a trademarked vertically striped awning with two unique alternating colors to be hung over the two McDonald’s drive-through windows. This type of awning and the two colors will not be authorized for any other lot on the parcel.

The commissioners then approved an amendment to the Fairfield Inn final PD site plan for two changes to the hotel’s exterior to restore economic viability to the project. The applicant reported that construction prices have soared over 25 percent since the preliminary PD site plan was approved. The proposed brown metal roof will be replaced by brown asphalt shingles, saving $90,000. Some of the proposed decorative masonry accents on the sides of the hotel will be replaced by stucco to save $30,000. No changes were made to the front or rear façade.

The commissioners also approved the final PD site plan for the McDonald’s restaurant, which will incorporate the newly approved colors of decorative brick and the trademarked awnings.

The meeting adjourned at 8:20 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 14 at Town Hall, 166 Second St. Meetings are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, April 14: Group presents concerns about drilling

By David Futey

At the April 14 meeting, the Palmer Lake Town Council heard concerns from Chris Amenson, president of Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition (FRERC), about the proposal submitted to the U.S. Forest Service by Dyad Petroleum Co. of Midland, Texas, for two exploratory gas wells on Mount Herman and Mount Raspberry.

Amenson presented the council with an overview of FRERC and the potential hazards involved should the drilling proceed. FRERC is a volunteer organization that holds 501(c)3 status and, at the time of the council meeting, had over 200 members, primarily from the Palmer Lake and Monument communities.

Amenson noted that besides the impact of the drilling process, known as "fracing," would have on housing developments adjacent to the area, a broader concern is the possible effects on air and above and below ground water quality in the region. Amenson stated that the Forest Service is conducting an environmental assessment review at this time. Once that report is released, there will be 30 days to respond to the assessment findings.

FRERC has contracted with a firm to perform an independent study of the drilling proposal and possible environmental effects. This independent assessment is projected to cost $35,000 to $40,000. Amenson noted that Colorado communities such as Walsenburg and Leadville have experienced severe negative environmental impacts from this drilling process.

Two citizens of Palmer Lake also expressed concerns about the drilling and the possible environmental impact on the community. News Channel 13 (KRDO) was present to cover Amenson’s presentation and follow-up discussion with the council.

New mayor sworn in

Former Planning Commission Chair John Cressman was officially sworn in as mayor of Palmer Lake, replacing Max Parker who chose not to run for re-election. Former Mayor Nikki McDonald and Dan Reynolds replaced Trustees Trish Flake and Susan Miner since Flake and Miner chose not to run for re-election. Trustees Gary Coleman, Bryan Jack, and Max Stafford were re-elected. Jack and Stafford were recently appointed to the council to fill vacant seats, and this was their first opportunity to run for election. However, the number of candidates equaled the number of vacant seats, so the election was cancelled.

Meadow Lane Extension approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved the Meadow Lane Extension project with adjustments. During the March 13 council meeting, a discussion occurred regarding local developer Randy Jones’ request to have council waive the requirement for an 8-inch concrete slab and allow the gravel road he had already installed to remain in place. The concrete slab was determined to be unnecessary. However, a 4-inch asphalt flare will be installed at either end, with 25 feet of the present gravel road to remain in the middle as recommended by the town engineer. Jones now needs to submit the approved design to the flood plain engineer of the Pikes Peak Regional Building Department.

Conservation easement approved

By unanimous decision, the council approved the conservation easement for Lot 9 of the Babyshoe subdivision, totaling 4.8 acres. This easement proposal and parcel was provided by the developer to the town with the provision that development would not occur on the lot. However, it could be used for recreational purposes such as trails and open space.

Two new hires

Daniel Orcutt was hired as an additional road technician. Kathleen Chacon was selected from among 35 applicants for the vacant police records technician position.

Personnel manual updated and approved

By unanimous decision, an update to the town’s personnel manual was approved. Trustee Bryan Jack and Town Clerk Della Gray performed much of the review and suggested text changes. The manual had not been updated since 1994.

Agreement with Rocky Mountain Rail Authority approved

By unanimous decision, council approved entering into an intergovernmental agreement with the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority. This will enable the town to take part in the feasibility study for passenger rail service along the Front Range from Cheyenne, Wyo., to, potentially, Albuquerque, N.M. Trustee Miner recommended that the town be a part of this agreement as it might lead to a rail station and stopover for visitors. The town also approved a payment of $500 for membership and representation on the authority.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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The next Town Council workshop is scheduled for May 1 at 7 p.m. The next regular council meeting will be on May 8 at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be held in the Town Hall. The workshops are normally held the first Thursday of the month. The regular council meetings are normally held the second Thursday of the month. The next Planning Commission workshop will be held on May 14. These workshops are normally held on the second Wednesday of the month. The next regular Planning Commission meeting will be held on May 21. These regular meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 381-2953.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, April 16: Authority expresses concerns about proposed gas drilling

By John Heiser

At the April 16 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Monument Public Works Director Rich Landreth noted that the town has concerns about Dyad Petroleum’s proposed gas drilling on Mt. Herman.

He said some big issues are potential pollution of Monument Creek and potential aquifer contamination. He added, "I come from an area that has a substantial amount of drilling, and I can tell you there are definitely going to be some impacts." He suggested that once the environmental assessment has been released, the PPRWA might want to provide comments.

Phil Steininger, president of the PPRWA and general manager of the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District, noted that the wells are three times deeper than the Denver Basin aquifers but that there is the possibility of contamination during drilling.

The current members of the authority are the Cherokee Metropolitan District, the City of Fountain, the Donala Water and Sanitation District, the Town of Monument, the Town of Palmer Lake, the Triview Metropolitan District, and the Woodmoor district.

At the March 19 meeting of the PPRWA, the group decided to form two committees: one to pursue a source of renewable water, and one to look at ways of coordinating local operations.

The renewable water committee, also known as the big picture committee, consists of representatives of Fountain, Monument, and the Cherokee and Woodmoor districts.

The local operations committee, also known as the northern committee, consists of representatives of Monument, Palmer Lake, and the Donala, Triview, and Woodmoor districts.

At the April 16 PPRWA meeting, each of the committees reported on their progress.

Renewable water committee report

Kip Petersen, general manager of the Cherokee district, reported that the committee reviewed a proposal from Alex Brown of UBS Municipal Securities Group to conduct a study to assess the financial feasibility of the project proposed to bring agricultural water from the Lower Arkansas River valley north to the Tri-Lakes area. The first phase of the study would cost about $24,000 and be completed in about 60 days. Subsequent refinement phases, if approved, would produce results about every 30 to 60 days.

The committee recommended approval of the proposal. As treasurer, Dana Duthie, general manager of the Donala district, said the PPRWA has sufficient funds to cover it.

The PPRWA unanimously approved $24,000 for the study.

Local operations committee report

Duthie reported that the committee reviewed the existing infrastructure and available alternatives to coordinate operations. He said, "We concluded we can’t do [much] as far as coordinating our well field operations." He added that connections within the districts are inadequate to support significant changes as to which wells are being pumped.

He noted as an example that not all of Donala’s wells are piped to both of its water treatment plants. Furthermore, the water from Donala’s various wells has to be mixed in certain ways to address pH and radiology issues. He concluded that there is very little most of the districts can do during the summer, which is when the issue is most critical, to reduce pumping to mitigate interference between the wells being operated by the various districts.

On a positive note, Duthie said the group could facilitate coordination between the districts regarding the drilling of future wells. He noted that none of the districts plan to drill any wells during the remainder of 2008.

The committee also addressed organizational structures to support exchange of effluent credits. Duthie said that Donala has effluent credits available now, and Woodmoor could make use of them. Woodmoor district engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that engineering consulting firm Bishop-Brogden Associates in Englewood proposed a $5,500 study to evaluate alternative organizational structures.

Duthie presented some rough estimates from consulting engineer Roger Sams of GMS, Inc. for the following connections between districts:

  • Donala district to the Woodmoor district: engineering $335,000 to $385,000, project cost $3 million to $3.5 million.
  • Woodmoor district to the Triview district: engineering $290,000 to $330,000, project cost $2.5 million to $3 million.
  • Monument to Palmer Lake: engineering $80,000 to $90,000, project cost $700,000 to $800,000.

He added that the backbone pipeline proposed in the recently completed PPRWA Water Infrastructure Planning Study (WIPS) was intended to serve in place of most of these sorts of piecemeal connections. He noted that these projects do not connect Donala to Triview, Monument to Woodmoor, or Monument to Triview. If the additional connections were added, he said, the total cost could approach or surpass the estimated $15 million to $21 million cost of the backbone pipeline.

Landreth added that the backbone pipeline would be needed to distribute imported water such as that proposed to be piped from the Lower Arkansas River valley. He said the PPRWA would be better off to find a way to fund the backbone pipeline. He noted that the Monument to Palmer Lake connection would be needed even if the backbone pipeline is built.

Duthie said the first thing the PPRWA needs to do is to figure out an organizational structure.

Regarding a unifying organizational structure, Steininger said, "I don’t see the benefits to Woodmoor."

Legislative update

Dick Brown, lobbyist for the authority, reported that Colorado HB08-1141, which would require developers to identify a sustainable water supply for their developments, is moving ahead but in an altered form. He said that although it is opposed by some homebuilders, "It should go through without much difficulty." (As of press time, the amended form of HB08-1141 had passed the House and Senate but had not yet been signed by the governor.)

Brown said that HB08-1259, which proposed restricting districts from providing service to customers outside their boundaries, has died. (As of press time, HB08-1259 was shown as having been tabled until May 10.)

SB08-119, which originally would have authorized the use of cisterns to collect rainwater from up to 3,000 square feet of roof on a single-family primary residence, has been amended to conduct a test to assess potential impacts to water rights holders. (As of press time, the amended form of SB08-119 had passed the House and Senate but had not yet been signed by the governor.)

Larry Patterson, City of Fountain utility director, reported that HP08-1160, which calls for full net metering of customer-generation of electricity, was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.

Manager’s report

Gary Barber, the PPRWA manager, reported on a visit he made to Stonewall Springs, a proposed storage site on the Lower Arkansas River. He said owner Mark Morley is excavating the site with the intent to provide 4,000 to 8,000 acre-feet of storage in about 18 months. An acre-foot is 326,851 gallons.

Barber reported that Colorado Springs Utilities has recharged Denver Basin aquifers with 600 acre-feet of water.

Barber noted, "Every reservoir in the state of Colorado is going to spill [excess water] in 2008, and we are going to mine 10,000 acre-feet [of water from the aquifers] in El Paso County." He stressed that the time is right to press for access to renewable sources of water.

Conservation plan update

Rocky Wiley of Rothberg, Tamburini, and Winsor (RTW) Engineering, reported that the PPRWA’s application seeking a $60,000 grant to develop a comprehensive coordinated conservation plan has been submitted. He is working with the Colorado Water Conservation Board to resolve issues.

 

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held May 21 at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Town Hall, 166 Second St. The meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. Most of the meetings are held at Monument Town Hall; however, the meeting June 18 will be held at the City of Fountain office, 116 S. Main, in Fountain, and the meeting Oct. 15 will be held at the Cherokee Metropolitan District office, 6250 Palmer Park Blvd., in Colorado Springs. The PPRWA Web site is www.pprwa.com

Colorado state bill text, history, and status can be found at www.statebillinfo.com

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Facing the Yuck Factor: Embracing Recycled Water

Editor’s note: The Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority is considering implementing an indirect potable reuse (IPR) system. The article below about IPR systems is an abridged version of an article that originally appeared in the September 17, 2007, issue of High Country News. The full original article is posted at www.hcn.org/servlets/hcn.Article?article_id=17227

***

By Peter Friederici
High Country Syndicate

Sometime this fall, Mike Nivison plans to take a healthy swig of water that exemplifies everything you’d expect from a small resort town set high in a Western mountain range. The water will be cool, clear, refreshing. But it won’t be pristine spring water pouring from some mossy crevice.

Nivison is Cloudcroft, New Mexico’s village administrator, and what he anticipates savoring will come from the village’s drinking-water treatment plant — and, not too long before that, from its sewage treatment facility.

Cloudcroft’s will be one of the first wastewater systems in the nation to allow — or require, depending on your perspective — residents to drink treated wastewater that hasn’t been naturally cleansed in a river or aquifer. It will be built entirely as a matter of necessity. At an elevation of more than 8,500 feet in the Sacramento Mountains, Cloudcroft is high and, thanks to recent years of drought, dry.

"A city like San Diego can go buy more water," says Bruce Thomson, a University of New Mexico civil engineer who has been helping Cloudcroft develop its new water system. "It’s expensive, but they can. But Cloudcroft is simply out of water. Because they’re at the top of the mountain, there’s no new place to drill wells. They’re at the top of the watershed. They don’t have any other alternatives."

Cloudcroft has only about 750 residents, but its population swells to a few thousand on summer weekends. All those people escaping the lowland heat — and drinking, showering, and flushing — can use more than a third of a million gallons of water on a single hot Saturday. But the village’s major wells produce only about 150,000 gallons a day. To make up the shortfall, village officials have resorted in recent years to hauling water, which is expensive, inconvenient and energy-intensive.

Nivison figured that Cloudcroft’s only sure source of what he calls "wet water" — that is, usable liquid, rather than theoretical legal rights or hard-to-reach water that might be buried somewhere deep underground — was right at his feet, in the stream of effluent pouring from the village’s wastewater treatment plant.

With several million dollars in state funding and the help of engineers from two universities and a private firm, the village has been building a plant to purify that water. After conventional treatments that settle solids and utilize microbes to degrade or remove pathogens, the plant will use multiple filtration methods, including reverse osmosis, to remove chemical contaminants. (Reverse osmosis uses pressure to force water through a membrane that allows water, but not most other molecules, to pass through. It’s expensive and energy-intensive, but it is better than almost any other technology at taking almost all contaminants out of water.) Then the water will be sent to covered tanks and mixed with groundwater pumped from the village wells.

After three or four weeks, the blend will be sent back through drinking-water treatment and distributed for use. The wastes squeezed out during the reverse osmosis process, meanwhile, will be concentrated in briny effluent, which the village will store for use in dust control on roads, fighting fires, and, possibly, for making artificial snow at the local ski area.

And then the toilets will flush, and the sinks and tubs will drain, and the cycle will repeat again. If Nivison and his collaborators are lucky, no one will think much about it.

"By any parameter you can measure — suspended particles, salts, bacteria, pharmaceuticals — the water from this process is going to be extraordinarily clean," Thomson says. "But you have to overcome the ‘yuck factor.’ It’s not measurable, it’s not quantifiable, but it’s every bit as important as the particles you can measure."

"All we’ve done is recycle the same water on this earth since the beginning of time," Nivison says. "This is just a more controlled environment for doing the same thing. I do believe this will be our salvation."

He’s right, of course: Using water is fundamentally a matter of recycling. Mathematically, you can show that the liquid pouring from your faucet today probably contains some of the same water molecules that George Washington drank in 1776. Remember the water cycle diagram you saw in grade school: Two hydrogen atoms bound to one of oxygen precipitate from clouds as rain or snow, seep into the soil, transpire from leaves, get lapped up by animals, course through streams and rivers, and finally settle, temporarily, in the ocean, only to evaporate once again to start the cycle anew. The idea of reuse is central to our understanding of water — perhaps even a bit compelling, when it comes to sharing molecules with George Washington.

It’s a good deal less so when you’re talking about wastewater of newer vintage, such as the stuff they’re going to be cleaning up and drinking in Cloudcroft. As the West grows in population, though, and as climate change seems to be decreasing the reliability of some water supplies, some of the region’s residents are reconsidering the notion that effluent is something to get rid of as efficiently as possible. Only a few are willing to go quite as far, yet, as Mike Nivison, but many are at least embracing the idea that wastewater is a valuable resource. What’s happening in Cloudcroft, then, is a portent of what is happening, and what likely will happen, in other arid places.

But the prospect of brewing your morning coffee with water that was recently washing greasy dishes or flushing a neighbor’s toilet has many people uneasy, and not just because of what psychologists and water engineers alike call the "yuck factor." The water to be recycled may carry a host of pollutants, some recognized only recently. Among the most worrisome are endocrine disruptors, which pose potentially large but as yet incompletely proven health threats that are making some scientists very nervous.

***

Turning treated effluent into drinking water is a widespread practice. It’s most commonly done when communities dump their effluent into streams and rivers, knowing that other users downstream will use the same water. But an increasing number of communities are reusing their own water. In Orange County, El Paso, Tucson, and many other Western communities, water agencies recycle by dumping treated effluent on the ground so that it can soak in and recharge aquifers. After that water’s been underground for a while, it is then pumped up for drinking water use.

Most people’s tools for judging water quality aren’t up to the task. Conventional wastewater treatment is very good at removing the kind of contaminants people can detect without laboratory equipment, such as odors, suspended particles, and the sorts of bacteria that can cause illness. But most people are relatively helpless when it comes to making more detailed assessments of their water supply’s safety. The lower Colorado River looks clean enough; it’s more likely to meet most people’s standards than cleaner water in a pipe outside a complex-looking treatment plant.

As a result of that perceptual shortfall, people are left with nothing but water’s history as a guideline, according to Brent Haddad of the University of California at Santa Cruz, an environmental studies professor who directs the university’s new Center for Integrated Water Research. When he began studying water policy, he says, "I kept going to meetings with water managers, and they kept saying, ‘How do we deal with these irrational people?’ - meaning their customers. I didn’t think they were irrational. I thought they were just using a different sort of logic than the water managers and engineers."

A visceral aversion to unclean water, Haddad says, is an understandable and useful tool that served the human species well through most of its evolution. But it may not be particularly helpful today, when it’s necessary to make a decision between two sources of water that are both clear and odorless, but from very different sources.

"When people are aware of the history of their water, it matters a lot to them," he says. "If there’s an unavoidable link to prior urban use, that’s troubling to people. It’s extremely hard to convince people then that the treatment will be good enough to override that history. But people are willing to take Colorado River water or groundwater that’s clearly been used by other cities because it’s easy to abstract away that use and begin the water’s history with its taking from the natural system."

Rivers and soils do, in fact, clean water. But the psychological cleansing they do may be equally important. As a result, even the Colorado River — however thoroughly dammed, diverted, and delivered through aqueducts it may be — appears more natural and cleaner.

The largely unwelcome prospect of drinking treated effluent, though, forces people to ask what’s in the water they’re already getting, whatever its source. And as people debate where their future water supplies are going to come from, an increasing number of experts and nonexperts alike are growing increasingly alarmed about the chemicals flowing from every community.

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Wastewater engineers are rightly proud of what their industry achieved in the 20th century, bringing safe drinking water to virtually every community in the United States. But most wastewater treatment plants were not designed to remove the sorts of complex organic chemicals that show up in Boulder Creek, which tumbles out of the Rocky Mountains and through Boulder, before joining the South Platte River.

Back in 2000, David Norris thought Boulder Creek an unlikely place to look for unhealthy fish. Even below the city’s wastewater treatment plant, the creek looked clean, and fish and other aquatic organisms lived throughout it. There was none of the stench, the brown murk, or the belly-up fish associated with the bad old days of piecemeal sewage treatment before the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972.

Norris, an endocrinologist at the University of Colorado and an avid fisherman, had read studies in the scientific literature documenting the environmental effects of a poorly understood class of pollutants known as endocrine disruptors. Unlike many toxins, they didn’t appear to be killing their victims outright. But in Lake Apopka, Fla., a pesticide spill had caused lingering reproductive failures and sexual abnormalities in alligators. In Britain, odd-looking fish that were not readily identifiable as males or females, but had sexual characteristics of both, were turning up in anglers’ creels - especially in waterways below sewage outlets.

Norris and his colleagues figured that Boulder Creek’s best indicators of environmental quality were likely to be white suckers, a native fish that’s widespread and not terribly finicky about water quality. "A good healthy freshwater stream has a good healthy sucker population," he says. "If you really disturb this species, you’ve really disturbed the ecosystem."

Norris had no trouble finding white suckers both upstream and downstream of Boulder’s treatment plant. Upstream, everything seemed normal. Downstream, it was not. "Much to our surprise," he says, "we were appalled to see the extent of feminization in the fish population." He found five female suckers for every male; further, 20 percent of the fish were "intersex" individuals showing characteristics of both sexes.

Alarmed, Norris looked for similar effects elsewhere, and found them. Fish below wastewater treatment plants in Denver and Colorado Springs showed some of the same symptoms. In the South Platte River, where Denver releases its waste, he couldn’t find a single male sucker below the effluent outlet. Something in the effluent, it appeared, wasn’t killing fish, but rather causing hormonal changes in them and producing female traits in male fish.

The evidence was circumstantial, though. Norris knew he had to more closely link cause and effect, which is hard to do in a natural setting, where fish in different reaches of the same stream might be feeding on different food, facing different temperatures, and otherwise dealing with widely variable conditions. So he and his colleagues have since built two "Fish Exposure Mobiles," which are basically mobile laboratories, built inside trailers, with fish-holding tanks. By pumping combinations of river water and wastewater effluent into the tanks on site, they’re able to replicate the pollution concentrations fish face at various distances below treatment plants.

When they experimentally exposed fathead minnows — widely used as a test fish — to water like that below the Boulder treatment plant, Norris and his colleagues were able to feminize male fish within 14 days. They have since tested fish in other Colorado waterways below wastewater treatment plants in the Rocky Mountains and on the Western Slope. Data from those tests aren’t available yet, but Norris will say that he is awfully worried in general about the presence of endocrine-disrupting chemicals in the environment, and in water specifically.

"It’s fairly obvious that living populations are being subjected to far more chemicals in the last 30 years than when biological systems evolved, and so we wonder what effect that has on the genetic machinery," he says. "If we want to increase the use of wastewater, unless we’re going to remove these compounds from the water, we’re going to increase their concentration in the human population, since we’re just going to be adding more of these compounds. We keep concentrating our population in cities, and as a result we’re concentrating our effluent."

Most of the organic compounds that can disrupt the endocrine system are neither regulated by EPA standards nor often monitored in waterways or the drinking-water system. Few thought they were a problem until recently. But in a national survey published by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2002, researchers found such substances in 80 percent of the waterways they sampled.

The endocrine system is essentially a complex signaling mechanism that tells genes and cells when to do what. It operates by means of chemical messengers, or hormones, that bind to certain receptors in cells. Unfortunately, many of those receptors aren’t particularly picky. Receptors designed to react to the natural hormone estrogen, for example, can also be set off by a wide range of other compounds, from complex molecules that naturally occur in vegetables to synthetic chemicals found in soaps, plastics, pesticides, cleaning products and many of the other manufactured goods of modern civilization. They get into sewage when people urinate, or shower, or flush leftover pharmaceuticals down the toilet.

As in Boulder Creek, waterborne endocrine disruptors have in many places been shown to have harmful effects on aquatic organisms, especially fish. For example, male carp with unusually high levels of female hormones have been found in Lake Mead, where estrogen — the kind naturally produced in human bodies as well as the synthetic variety in birth-control pills — ends up when Las Vegans flush their toilets. Recently, a team of Canadian biologists dosed an entire small lake with synthetic estrogen at levels equivalent to those often found in treated wastewater. They were able to wipe out almost the entire minnow population in only a few years — again, not by killing the fish, but by causing sexual changes in males and females that made it impossible for those fish to reproduce.

Hormones naturally work at very low levels. A human estrogen concentration as low as 1 part per trillion — so diluted that it’s near the lower limit of what monitoring equipment can detect — has been shown to affect fish. The effluent dumped into Boulder Creek typically contains from 1 to 10 parts per trillion of human estrogen.

"People ask why such tiny levels have such a devastating effect," says Norris. "But that’s the level at which hormones work. Parts per trillion is common stuff for an endocrinologist."

Wastewater treatment lowers concentrations of most trace organic compounds, often by an order of magnitude or more. But it can’t remove them all. As a result, effluent often contains a stew of complex chemicals. A recent U.S. Geological Survey study found that St. Vrain Creek, into which Boulder Creek drains, carries measurable loads of at least 36 different compounds, including artificial fragrances, fire retardants, antibacterial substances used in soaps, and substances used to manufacture plastics. The extent to which those chemicals work together to cause effects on the endocrine system, itself not well understood, is a big unknown.

"The endocrine system is much more than estrogens," says Catherine Propper, an endocrinologist at Northern Arizona University who has studied the effects of trace organics on amphibians. "We have this complicated endocrine system, and every time we find new aspects of it, we find they can be disrupted by some of these environmental contaminants."

***

It’s difficult to draw lines of cause and effect between exposure to endocrine disruptors and human disease or disorder because people are exposed to so many chemicals from so many sources over many years, and because some effects may take years or decades to manifest themselves. But an increasing number of researchers are finding strong correlations between the massive increase in synthetic environmental contaminants produced since World War II and such health problems as cancer, declining sperm counts in male humans of all ages, increases in birth defects and diabetes, and flawed fetal development.

Of course, humans aren’t exposed to the chemicals in effluent in the same way that Boulder Creek’s white suckers are; we aren’t swimming in the water 24/7. And by the time a creek, or the Colorado River, enters our faucets, the loads of trace organics poured into it from treatment plants upstream have been significantly reduced. Natural processes, such as degradation by ultraviolet light and the action of microbes, do remove some chemicals from stream water, while others chemically bind to sediment particles. But the intensity of water use in the West means that, in many river systems, water is taken in for further municipal use before natural cleansing mechanisms can do their full work.

"Our rivers and lakes do clean water, especially if they have long stretches between communities using it," says Theo Colborn, a longtime pollution researcher who runs the nonprofit Endocrine Disruption Exchange in Colorado and coauthored the 1996 book Our Stolen Future, one of the first popular publications to raise an alarm about such compounds. "But we’ve exceeded their carrying and assimilation capacity."

That’s especially true, Colborn says, because so many sources contribute to the loads of trace organic compounds carried by streams and rivers. While wastewater treatment plants are perhaps the largest single sources, leaching from septic systems, runoff from car washes and feedlots, leakage from sewage pipes, and overflows from water-intensive natural gas drilling all contribute doses.

When surface water is taken in for municipal use, it is treated with filtration and disinfection treatments that significantly reduce contaminant concentrations. But low concentrations of some compounds — often in the parts-per-trillion range — do remain to make their way into drinking water.

Some water experts argue that the amounts of endocrine disruptors people ingest in water are insignificant compared to those we get from other sources, such as plastic containers, foods, soaps, cosmetics, and many other products.

"You would have to drink incredible amounts of the water to amount to an effect that these chemicals naturally have," says Norris. "But adult humans are getting estrogenic compounds from an incredible number of sources. So any amount we get from water will add to that, since these chemicals have additive effects.

"If wastewater is my only source of estrogenic compounds, I’m not going to worry about it. But if I’m also getting them from my water bottles, from my personal-care products, etc., then maybe that’s just enough to push me over the edge into prostate cancer or breast cancer. There’s a lot of circumstantial evidence in humans that is supported by experimental work in mice and rats that suggests that this may be a much bigger problem than a few intersex fish below a wastewater treatment plant."

***

The water-processing system has to balance needs and costs. People may choose to lower the quantities of trace organic compounds they ingest with their water, but they’re going to have to pay to do so. And that means they’ll have to consider how the risk represented by these chemicals stacks up against others.

If consumers do decide they want to lower their exposure to trace organics, then water-reuse projects may be a good way to go. Such projects are expensive, but they have the virtue of providing dual benefits: concentrations of contaminants that will probably be as low as feasible, and a reliable flow.

Still, there are going to be cases where no amount of investment and public outreach will suffice to assuage public concerns, where the arguments about what’s healthy and appropriate touch on realms even more abstract than parts per trillion, and less quantifiable than the yuck factor.

Already, as the West’s drought continues, the message remains that external water supplies aren’t assured — and that recycling may be a reliable way of ensuring that at least some water remains available. After all, people do keep showering, and flushing, and drinking their coffee, no matter how little runoff the Rockies produce in a given year.

Peter Friederici teaches journalism at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. His latest book is Nature’s Restoration (Island Press, 2006).

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10 ways to conserve water

Here are this month’s 10 water conservation tips, geared to your yard, taken from www.wateruseitwisely.com, "100 Ways to Save Water."

  1. We’re more likely to notice leaky faucets indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, pipes, and hoses for leaks.
  2. If anything’s leaking, grab a wrench and fix that leaky faucet. It’s simple, inexpensive, and can save 140 gallons a week.
  3. Only water your lawn when needed. You can tell this by walking across your lawn. If you leave footprints, it’s time to water.
  4. Divide your watering cycle into shorter periods to reduce runoff and allow for better absorption every time you water.
  5. Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. Longer grass shades root systems and holds soil moisture better than a closely clipped lawn.
  6. Use the sprinkler for larger areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
  7. Direct downspouts and other runoff toward shrubs and trees, or collect and use for your garden.
  8. Install a rain shut-off device on your automatic sprinklers to eliminate unnecessary watering.
  9. Reduce the amount of grass in your yard by planting shrubs and groundcover with mulching.
  10. When watering grass on steep slopes, use a soaker hose to prevent wasteful runoff.

One more note about sprinklers. Spring is the time to check your irrigation controller. The proper settings can save thousands of gallons of water in your landscaping and save your plants from drowning. Don’t just set it and forget it. Your watering schedules will change as plants become established, as the seasons change, and when it rains. For help in programming your sprinklers, visit www.wateruseitwisely.com/outdoor/controller.shtml. There’s also a watering guide at the site that can help you determine how to water your lawn and plants.

For detailed lawn-care tips, visit www.eartheasy.com/grow_lawn_care.htm. The EarthEasy site also offers lots of information about drip-irrigation systems, soaker hoses, and rain barrel catchment systems that can be strategically placed to maximize watering. The site also offers advice on adding a watering meter to your hose and timers to your sprinklers, to set water use to required needs ( www.eartheasy.com/live_water_saving.htm ).

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, April 16: Merger with Academy "may be getting too hard to do"

Below: (L to R) Donala President Ed Houle congratulates Chief Wastewater Operator Mike Poeckes for being named the employee of the quarter. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

Following the executive session at the end of the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting April 16, Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported that the merger with the Academy Water and Sanitation District "may be getting too hard to do."

In a later communication, Duthie indicated that Donala is facing significant infrastructure investments over the next seven to nine years, and covering the cost of additional capacity to serve Academy customers without a financial contribution from those customers is an unfair burden on Donala’s customers.

Duthie said Donala has left open the possibility of a service agreement under which Academy’s customers would pay fees for water and sewer service provided by Donala.

Water Returns project participants selected

Duthie reported that out of 60 applicants, four of the six allotted participants in the pilot project for district-sponsored xeriscaping were selected. He noted that he hoped to obtain additional slots. Duthie said that one of the goals was to select participants from throughout the district so they can then be xeriscaping advocates in their neighborhoods.

OCN later learned that the district was granted a total of nine slots. Those selected to participate are Karen Bishop, Ronald Born, Terry Bramschreiber, Ronald Deutsch, Russ Gordon, Eric Lieven, Ken Valdez, Judy Webb, and Bob Wedel. The participants will attend four training sessions–the first was held April 26–and will then undertake projects on their properties.

Duthie noted that four landscape companies and Harding’s Nursery have expressed interest in participating in the project.

Other matters

  • Chief Wastewater Operator Mike Poeckes was named the employee of the quarter.
  • During the three months from January 1 through March 31, the district’s $5.7 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 4.49 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 3.64 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 6.8 months.
  • Two board positions are up for election May 6. The two positions are currently held by board president Ed Houle, who is term-limited, and Dale Schendzielos. The four candidates are William George, Warren Gerig, Gene Pfeffer, and Dale Schendzielos. See the statements from the candidates. The polling place will be the Donald Wescott Fire Station at 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Duthie noted that at its latest meeting, the El Paso County Water Authority failed to achieve the required quorum of nine of the 16 members.
  • Duthie reported on the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) committee meeting March 26 and general meeting April 16. For more information, see the PPRWA article.
  • The district is awaiting the results of the tests for pharmaceutical in the water samples.
  • Duthie reported that it will cost about $18,000 for the engineering firm Leonard Rice to prepare a study giving a more accurate prediction of the district’s anticipated shortfall in water supply and identify the location and type of additional wells that should be drilled. The study is expected to take six to 12 weeks. The board unanimously approved the expenditure.

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

**********

The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on May 21 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Dr. 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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Donala Water and Sanitation District Candidate Statements

Two board positions are up for election May 6. The two positions are currently held by board president Ed Houle, who is term-limited, and Dale Schendzielos.

The election will be held May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Fire Station #1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. For more information, call 488-3603.

Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name. Each of the candidates was asked to respond to the same two questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a Donala board member?
  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Dale E. Schendzielos

1. What in your background would help you as a Donala board member?

I have been a Donala Water and Sanitation district board member for the past 4 years. I believe I have missed only one board meeting in that time. I am currently the board treasurer. I am experienced with Donala’s operations, personnel, issues, and finances. Prior to being elected to this position, I was a senior manager in Information Technology for the Colorado Springs Utilities concentrating on data center and telecommunication operations. Collaboration among other managers, directors, and employees was essential. That utility experience helped me transition relatively easy onto the board. As Donala board members, we provide the best direction for our customers in the district in terms of rates, service, conservation, and future water and sewer needs. I received my bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (majors in accounting and computer science) from Regis University.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The first great issue that our district faces is finding a source(s) of renewable water. While our primary source of water is in the aquifers (between 1800 and 2600 feet deep) of the Denver basin, it does not get replenished / recharged with new water. And while Donala has enough water for the next 15 to 20 years (we constantly monitor water levels in the wells and obtain aquifer data from our water engineers and the state engineer), we must acquire new sources of water for our future customers. The effort to find new sources of water is a long process (years) and mainly concentrated in buying water rights elsewhere in the state. That cost itself is expensive. That is just the beginning. The cost of getting the water to Donala (via pipeline) and storing it (using large water tanks or better yet, finding a reservoir site) will be staggering. Add politics to the equation and the issue grows ten fold. Water conservation programs ought to be in force forever, be it a wet or dry year. By having a water conservation plan in place, we can get relatively low cost loans from the state to fund the cost of water projects.

The second great issue that Donala faces is trying to garner the support of other surrounding water districts in working together to manage the water that we do have. That means all districts must give up their egos and empire building attitudes for the sake of the customer. Controlled growth is essential and county commissioners must demand that developers bring water rights to the table before construction can start. The water districts don’t have that power. So it is the responsibility of each of the district board members to work together through their general manager. Managing our existing water is not a long process and should be solved quickly.

Gene C. Pfeffer

1. What in your background would help you as a Donala board member?

I have extensive experience within government and private industry managing organizations that have strong similarities with the district. For example, in my Air Force career, I commanded an organization where I managed a large workforce doing technically challenging, time-sensitive work. I was responsible for executing a budget of $300 million per year while providing effective oversight of the taxpayers’ money. Later in private industry I spent six years managing an electronics manufacturing operation. Direction and oversight of a technically complex operation is something I’ve done very successfully. My formal education as an electrical engineer, along with my graduate degrees in Systems Management and Atmospheric Sciences, provides a good grounding related to activities of the district. My personal interest in water issues and my interest in community service will serve me well as a board member. I believe water issues are and will remain key to our communities. Accordingly, I’ve attended Donala board meetings for over a year, first as a private citizen and later as a representative of my Home Owners Association. I am very familiar with the issues facing the board. I will be responsive to the residents and businesses the district serves.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The most important issue facing the district is assuring a highly reliable, multi-source water system into the future. Currently the district relies on wells tapping underground aquifers. This source has served us well and has insulated us from many of the problems that surrounding districts have faced in dealing with surface water shortfalls and drought years. According to most estimates these aquifers should be a good source for at least fifty years. However, there are no definitive, high confidence studies of their long-term viability. Such studies are underway. In any case, tapping these aquifers will become more expensive as their levels decline, requiring deeper wells and more advanced technology. There are pilot projects underway in Colorado looking at recharging of the aquifers using excess stream water during years with high snow melt and rain runoff. We need to follow these developments closely, but the district needs to intensify its ongoing efforts to acquire rights to surface water as a complement to its wells. Long term we need a water system that is not solely dependent on either underground or surface water. We need a mix of both.

The other key issue is the efficient and effective operation of the district on behalf of the residents and customers. Having closely followed the board’s activities over the last year, I believe the district has good people, good operations and good management. I aim to keep it that way. I want to see that the district continues to keep its customers and residents fully informed. I also want the district to continue to work cooperatively with adjacent districts and state authorities regarding the larger issues concerning water availability to the Front Range.

Warren C. Gerig Jr.

1. What in your background would help you as a Donala board member?

I live in Gleneagle year-round and previously lived in Denver during the 1970’s. I retired from United Airlines after 37 years of service with assignments throughout the United States and Asia, spending the last eight years as General Manager of Thailand and Indochina. I served in the U.S. Army Special Forces and am a Veteran of the Vietnam era. My wife Noria and I have been married 38 years.

Memberships/Community Service: I am a Life member of the following associations and organizations: the U.S. Army Special Forces Association, Combat Medic Association, American Legion Honor Guard and an Officer of Post 1187 Colorado. I was honored in 2004 with the rank of Knight Commander of the Papal Order of Saint Gregory the Great by the Vatican State and His Holiness Pope John Paul II for work in Asia education reform and a lifetime of volunteer effort. I am a present member and an Ordained Elder of the First Presbyterian Church. I am a member of Monument Hill Sertoma and presently involved in several committees. We are members and patrons of the "100 Club," Pioneer Museum, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, and World Affairs Council.

Board Experience: I am present Director and Chairman of the Sloane Gardens Apartment Complex London, England and former Director of the following organizations the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, a worldwide culinary association with 24,000 members, Director for six years of the Thai -U.S. Education Foundation Administering the Fulbright Scholarship Program in Thailand. I am President Emeritus and two-term Board Member of the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

I have been concerned about our water 1, Quantity and 2, Cost with its treatment and the conservation of this limited resource. There must be a balance between conservation and growth or our grandchildren will suffer the consequences. We must continue to provide reliable service with the lowest possible rates, while providing leadership and sound management philosophy in cooperation with the different water authorities in the State of Colorado. The water used by a good many cities, towns and unincorporated areas of the State comes from the Denver Basin of aquifers or sometimes called "Lake Erie" underground. This is a misnomer as all these wells are depleting this water that has been there for thousands of years. We are mining the water, if you will, and as in any mine, the material being mined can never be replaced. Lake Erie replaces itself while the Denver aquifers do not. Therefore, it is imperative we prepare for the future now before it is too late and there is not enough water for our district. Therefore, we must find another delivery system to augment the present aquifers where we now get all our water. This can be done; however, a balance must be preserved between quality, quantity, and cost to protect our most valuable asset our homes.

William L. George

1. What in your background would help you as a Donala board member?

My 38-year career in the Air Force (eight years as an enlisted person before being selected for a college degree-completion program and 30 years as a commissioned officer) allowed me to be assigned to many and varied locales around the world. In each, I immersed myself in the culture and issues of the area and, where possible legally, I would seek opportunities to be a part of improving processes where I could. I was an elected board member (equivalent to serving on a city council) in the village in Australia where I lived, learning valuable lessons about decisions we made that had to be approved at the federal level. Having sat in as an observer at Donala board meetings, I came to appreciate the variety of issues with which that board is confronted. Dealing with other water districts, the state legislative process, and the critical infrastructure that has to be maintained and improved to insure customers are provided with the safest and purest product are all board considerations. Donala is also, literally, my good across-the-street neighbor, their facility blending in remarkably with the other homes on Holbein Drive.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

I don’t believe it’s possible to identify any two "greatest issues" and say what the district should do with them. As I have sat in on meetings, one thing has been apparent to me. Many of the issues Donala deals with are inter-related and should not be treated as having one patently obvious solution. The fact that Donala management has the board is a good indicator that educated discussion is a vital and essential part of that business and that is exactly what I’ve seen as an observer. I believe that as an elected board member, a duty exists to support the strategic planning process in place and, as necessary, to offer well thought-out counsel in the business discussions under consideration. A person elected to the board cannot come in with a "new broom" philosophy, particularly when the current process is so effective in advancing the long-range plans of the district and quality service to its customers.

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Triview Metropolitan District Candidate Statements

Four board positions are up for election May 6. The four positions are currently held by board president Robert Eskridge, Robert Fisher, Joseph Martin, and Mark Veenendaal.

The election will be held May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Creekside Middle School, 1330 Creekside Dr. For more information, call 488-6868.

Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name. Each of the candidates was asked to respond to the same two questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a Triview board member?
  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Steve Cox

No response was received by press time.

Robert Eskridge

No response was received by press time.

Robert Fisher

1. What in your background would help you as a Triview board member?

The upcoming election for Triview Metropolitan District has never been more important. I believe the district must change its fundamental practices and behaviors that have become entrenched over its years of existence. I am seeking the Board of Directors position to be the catalyst for this type of change.

I have lived in Jackson Creek for seven years. During these seven years I have been very active in our community via attendance of Town of Monument meetings and Triview meetings and thru our homeowners association. I have been serving as President of the Homestead at Jackson Creek HOA for four years.

In my professional career, I am responsible for planning, implementation and operational support of computer systems installed around the globe supporting a Fortune 100 company. Over my 23 year career, the development of strategic and tactical planning has been common practice for our systems. I feel strongly that we must develop and communicate our long term and near term plans to our residents. We must have a clear understanding of our objectives, followed by creation and execution of plans that support those objectives. Where will the district be in one year, three years, five years? What are the district objectives for long term water supplies? Will the district continue to expand? How will these topics impact residents? The list of questions is long and we must begin answering them to remain a vibrant and desirable community.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The district must become accountable to its residents. There must be regular and open discussions regarding district operations, overall financial status and residents opinions. We will face tough decisions, and our allies maybe few and far between. I believe that with the right leadership and community participation, Triview Metropolitan District will turn things around.

Please vote on May 6 and please let your Triview Board of Directors and staff members know how you feel on any important matter.

Steve Hurd

1. What in your background would help you as a Triview board member?

I am running for a TMD board position because I am concerned district resident. At some point when I start to see some significant problems occurring in my own neighborhood like I have seen with the district, I think it is time to get involved and that is why I am running.

I do have some general background in service to my fellow citizens, including being a 4 year veteran of the US Army, with a subsequent reactivation and service in the first Persian Gulf War. After returning from the desert, I resumed my college education and received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

I moved to the Colorado Springs area in 1995, and into Jackson Creek in 2001. While working full time in my professional job, I went back to school at night and earned a Masters of Science in Computer Science.

In the past, I was also involved with several professional organizations related to my work and education, including serving as an officer in those organizations. I have also participated as a voting member on an advisory committee for the College of Engineering and Architecture at my undergraduate university.

I currently work in a professional job in the area, and I hope that since my work and educational experience focuses on problem solving skills that this will help me by making good decisions moving forward while working with the district board.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

I think our number 1 issue facing the district is our current level of debt. We currently cannot issue any more debt, and as we saw recently a simple cost overrun can cause rate or property tax increases.

Our 2nd biggest issue is our service plan. At this time, our district is required by our service plan to put in all infrastructures into any new development that comes along, and the district has to pay for that up front. The only way to realistically be able to do that is to issue debt to pay for that infrastructure. But as noted in our number 1 issue, that isn’t an option anymore. I do not believe the district should have let these 2 problems get so far out of hand that we are now in such a tight situation.

I believe we need to act very quickly now to try to work on both of these issues. I believe that we need to amend our service plan so that the district isn’t solely responsible for paying all the upfront infrastructure costs of a new development. We need to increase our revenue, by trying to renegotiate our sales tax agreement with the city concerning the Marketplace, which is the districts responsibility, but we only obtain a percentage of the local sales tax from the Marketplace. Doing these two things won’t solve our problems overnight, but I think it will help us get back from the financial brink that we seem to be sitting on.

Joseph A. Martin

1. What in your background would help you as a Triview board member?

Background-As a Retired Master Sergeant from the United States Air Force, I understand and believe in integrity, service before self and excellence in all I do. I was a member of the Planning Commission for the Town Of Monument from 2001-2003. During this tenure, I became very well associated with Plat’s, Site Plans, Architectural Designs, Drainage Plans, Landscape Design and Infrastructure. As a member of the Board of Directors for Triview Metropolitan District since 2004 I have gained knowledge in Renewable Water, Waste Water Treatment Plants, Water Storage, Bonds, Loans, Intergovernmental Agreements, and the necessity to work as a team with other governing entities. The ability to understand the planning side of the house from conception to build out as well as the management side of a district is invaluable and not a short term lesson learned.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The two greatest issues we face as a district are the eventual payoff of the debt and a renewable water source for our future children. When a Metropolitan District is formed it is for the sole purpose of creating debt to build the infrastructure, roads, water lines, sewer lines, and parks for new homes, shops, office buildings, and other entities. This all had to be accomplished prior to the first home being built. The debt that we currently face was debt incurred from original bonds from 1987. At that time, the district went bankrupt and the unpaid interest continued to mount. Those bonds from 1987 were accruing interest at double digit interest rates. We, the Triview Board of Directors, recently refinanced those bonds for 5.5%. The refinancing of these bonds has saved the district 1 million dollars in accrued interest per year. We must be aggressive and smart in drawing the right businesses and home developers to our community. Our tap and impact fees must be competitive with the surrounding area so we can draw those prospective builders to our area. As the housing market kicks back in and new homes/businesses are built in the district we will have the ability to pay down the debt and eventually fulfill my first goal and dissolve to become the Town of Monument.

As a member of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority we are currently working with neighboring water groups in an effort to purchase and store renewable water. The Triview Board is responsible for the monitoring and use of water from the Denver Basin for our district. For all building that is completed within the district we have to have a renewable amount to cover and replace the water we use from the aquifer. The possibility of networking and having interconnected systems with other water groups may solve this problem. We must be prudent in our current water consumption and continue to look for better uses for re-use water in the future. We are working hard to find this renewable source and ensure that our future generations will not have to worry about this current problem.

Steve Remington

1. What in your background would help you as a Triview board member?

I am running for the Board of Directors because I feel I can make a positive impact on issues facing the district. One of the major issues facing the district is the massive amount of crippling debt the district has acquired with excessively high interest rates. I am not so naïve as to believe there is an easy fix to this problem. Yet, with over 20 years of financial management experience, an M.B.A. degree in finance, and my current role as the Chief Financial Officer for a company in Colorado Springs, I have the experience and background to help find solutions to this problem. As the President of Club MeadowRidge, I led a turn-around effort to restructure the existing debt to make this non-profit organization healthy, fiscally sound, and ready to meet tomorrow’s challenges. The same can happen with Triview. If we do not take aggressive action, this debt will continue to have a major negative impact on all of us as homeowners. You can already see it in the tax increases that have been passed along to us.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

I would work hard to improve communication between the Board of Directors and the community which they serve. We all need a clean, healthy, cost-effective, and sustainable water supply. The honest status of our water supply needs to be publicly communicated accurately so we all understand the situation we face and can make intelligent decisions balancing demand and supply. While I served as the Chairman of the Fort Collins Zoning Board of Appeals, I worked hard to ensure our meetings were open to all. I felt it was important to not only make the difficult decisions, but to be sure people understood the reasoning behind our decisions. We all recently saw a massive tax increase passed along by the Triview Board of Directors. Yet, in this process was there adequate communication of the need? I don’t think so. If a tax increase of this magnitude is really necessary, then the Board of Directors should have the courage to explain the need to the residents of the district in a manner that is clear and makes sense. The residents of Triview are intelligent people and will support decisions that are rational and are a benefit to us all. We should not be afraid to communicate to the people that matter most – the residents.

The Triview Metropolitan District can be a better organization with solid leadership. I feel my background in management, community service, and my financial experience can make a positive difference on the Board. I would appreciate your vote; but more importantly your help, involvement, and ideas so that together we can solve these important matters.

Please vote May 6th, and thank you for your support. Together we can improve our district!

Mark Veenendaal

No response was received by press time.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, April 23: Bill Lowes appointed to two-year board term; two other seats to be decided in May 6 election

Below: April 23, DWFPD board president Brian Ritz swears in newly appointed board member Bill Lowes. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

On April 23, the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District board filled the vacant seat created when Director Dave Cross resigned. The resignation came after the deadline for including his seat in the May 6 election but more than 60 days before the regular board meeting on May 21, when the elected board could vote for a replacement. Under Colorado statutes, a replacement must be appointed within 60 days.

Three district constituents asked to be considered for the appointment: Bill Lowes, Scott Campbell, and Steve Kjonaas. Lowes is a retired 24-year Wescott volunteer firefighter and former board chairman. Campbell, an information services supervisor for the city of Colorado Springs with expertise in city fire service information systems, was already a candidate for one of the two contested four-year seats that will be decided on May 6. Kjonaas is a career Air Force fireman, who recently retired from Peterson Air Force Base.

After two tie votes (2-2), the board went into executive session for 25 minutes to discuss how to resolve the tie votes. The board then unanimously elected Lowes to replace Cross and thanked Campbell and Kjonaas for volunteering to serve.

Lowes was sworn in by Ritz and voted on issues for the remainder of the meeting. Lowes’ term expires in May 2010.

May 6 election details

The board election is scheduled for May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. For more information, call 488-8680.

The Donala Water and Sanitation District election will also be held in Station 1 at the same time for the convenience of voters. For more information, call 488-3603. (See the Donala article.)

Director Greg Gent, who was appointed to fill another vacant board seat on Jan. 16, was unopposed in running for the two-year seat. There are four candidates running for election to the two contested four-year seats. The other three candidates besides Campbell are:

  • Brian Ritz, the incumbent board president and a career police lieutenant in Colorado Springs.
  • Joe Potter, a retired Air Force fighter pilot and commander and an incumbent four-year Wescott director.
  • Dennis Feltz, a registered recovery room nurse at Memorial Hospital, an 18-year veteran of emergency medical services as a Wescott volunteer firefighter, and a former Wescott board member and board treasurer.

Open house announced

There will also be a fire safety open house at Station 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on May 17. For more information, call 488-8680.

Treasurer’s report

Incumbent Treasurer Kevin Gould, whose four-year term runs another two years, reported that the district had already received over $644,000 of the $1,649,000 tax revenue budgeted for 2008. Motor vehicle tax revenue and interest income are already higher than expected for the year. On April 1, the district paid off the remaining balance of the lease-purchase agreements that financed the district’s backup pumper engine, water tender engine, and the addition of a third engine bay, offices, conference room, and exercise facility. The payment, $313,189.08, was about $10,000 higher than expected due to unanticipated interest charges that were not included in the original budget for 2008. The board asked the staff to determine whether the additional interest was correctly charged.

There were 100 total runs in March. The total for the first three months is 345 runs, a 23 percent increase over 2007.

Chief’s report

Chief Jeff Edwards reported on a recent district house fire in the woods north of Flying Horse Ranch that was handled by mutual aid support from the neighboring fire districts of the North Group.

The house fire occurred in a high wildfire hazard area with no fire hydrants or cisterns. The owner did not immediately report the fire to 911, and the operation was entirely defensive to prevent a wildfire. The house had a long, narrow two-rut dirt driveway in dense trees that hampered engine access. There were no address signs to help crews pick the right driveway in the dark. One of the update dispatches included the wrong address. After the difficulty of the scene was recognized, tenders were brought in. Firefighters started a shuttle to transport water from fire hydrants in Flying Horse Ranch to fill portable water tanks that were set up. A system of relay pumpers siphoned the water from the portable tanks and pumped it up the driveway to the house. Equipment and personnel stayed on scene for nearly 24 hours to ensure that there was no rekindle of the fire.

Edwards also reported on the district’s day-long participation in the county-wide response to the wildfire at Fort Carson.

Edwards stated that he had priced three makes of four-door, four-wheel-drive pickup trucks as a replacement for the current chief’s vehicle. The best price was offered by Phil Long Ford. Painting and installation of light bars and other emergency equipment will be performed by One Stop Cop Shop. The radio from the current chief’s vehicle will be transferred to the new vehicle. The total cost will be less than the budgeted amount of $40,000. The board unanimously approved the purchase.

The board unanimously approved a request from employees to amend the district’s Policy & Procedure Manual to initiate a payroll deduction for union dues. Capt. Sean Pearson advised the board that all but one of the paid firefighters had joined the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District union. Wescott’s attorney, Tim Schutz, had advised the board that establishing the payroll deduction did not indicate a stance in support of or against union membership and would have no legal ramifications regarding possible future formal recognition of the union by the board as a bargaining entity for union members.

The board unanimously approved giving volunteer firefighters who work part-time shifts for paid staff on vacation the same hourly pay based on their certifications for Firefighter I or Firefighter II. However, these volunteers will not receive the same paid benefits as the full-time employees while on the payroll.

The meeting adjourned at 9 p.m.

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The next board meeting will be at 7 p.m. on May 21 in Station 1. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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Donald Wescott FPD Candidate Statements

Two four-year board positions are up for election May 6. The two positions are currently held by board president Brian Ritz and Joe Potter.

The election will be held May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Fire Station #1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. For more information, call 488-8680.

Candidates are listed alphabetically by last name. Each of the candidates was asked to respond to the same two questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a DWFPD board member?
  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Scott Campbell

1. What in your background would help you as a DWFPD board member?

I am a homeowner in the district and am currently employed as an Information Systems Supervisor for the City of Colorado Springs, managing the Software Development unit for the Public Safety section of the IT Department. This includes oversight and management of Police, Fire, and Office of Emergency Management development projects. I have current FEMA/NIMS ICS training qualifications, and am considered a potential first-responder within the City. I have five years’ recent experience serving on the Board of Directors for the Gleneagle North Homeowner’s Association (GNHOA), as an officer for three of those years, most recently serving as President. I have also served on the Board of Directors, as Vice-President, for Engineered Systems Inc., an electrical engineering consulting corporation in Pueblo, for over 15 years. Finally, I am a Cum Laude graduate from Colorado State University, with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management, and have 18 years experience in daily management of business operations and administration for organizations in both private and public sectors.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

My current relationships with the Wescott Fire Protection District’s paid and volunteer staff, my knowledge working in the Public Safety section of the City’s IT department, being a 10-year home/land owner in the district, and the recent public meetings I have attended with the Board of Directors have lead me to the following interpretations of serious issues that exist today:

A) The potential loss of the southern half of the district due to the annexation by the City of Colorado Springs and the seemingly inevitable placement of a new firehouse by the Colorado Springs Fire Department within that geographic area. This complex issue threatens to remove half of the existing funding for the department without any known timeline or exact implications to the careers of the existing department fire fighters or even the continued existence of the district itself. Due to the sheer number of unknowns, there are no straightforward solutions. However, agreed upon contingency plans must be developed and documented to provide a minimal impact to the district and department in the future. These contingency plans - a playbook of possible actions (so to speak) - must be developed openly and jointly between the Board, the Chiefs, staff, volunteers, community members and neighboring districts, then combined with strategic outlook and community involvement so each concern and idea are addressed appropriately. Synergy is the key to success here.

B) There are obvious opportunities for improvement in the communication and trust between the Board of Directors, the Command Staff, and the Fire Fighters within the department itself. Properly addressing the first issue above has no chance to succeed if honest, open and safe communication is not rebuilt within the department. A sense of "Team and Brotherhood" must be re-established to promote the trust and respect that are at the foundation of synergistic camaraderie.

I believe my many years experience as a team builder, mentor, professional manager and community leader will be strong assets to successfully address these critical issues that face the district today.

Dennis Feltz

1. What in your background would help you as a DWFPD board member?

I have lived in the Gleneagle community for 12 years and have been a volunteer for the Wescott Fire Department for 18 years. I have been a Board member in the past and am looking forward to another opportunity to serve the community. I work for Memorial Hospital as a Registered Nurse and have been involved in the Emergency Medical Service both in and out of the hospital for 18 years.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The two greatest issues facing the Department are dealing with growth and the vision for the future. I believe the District should prepare a comprehensive plan to address both of these issues. I would like to be involved in the comprehensive planning process and to contribute my expertise to this effort.

Joe Potter

No response was received by press time.

Brian Ritz

1. What in your background would help you as a DWFPD board member?

I have a degree in law enforcement and am currently employed as the Lieutenant in charge of Tactical Operations for a large local municipal police department. I am well versed in the Incident Command System and the National Incident Management System. I have been a board member for 6 years and the Chairman of the Board for the last 4 years. The management skills I use with the PD are applied to managing the Donald Wescott Fire Protection District.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The two major issues facing the District at this time are the financial impact the district faces with the continued annexations by the City of Colorado Springs of property served by the DWFPD and the struggles of planning for an uncertain future.

A portion of the DWFPD, better than 50%, has been annexed by the City of Colorado Springs. Because of the City’s current status in the annexed area, the DWFPD still provides service to those areas in cooperation with the CSFD. At some point, the City will assume the full responsibility to cover these areas. This will have a serious impact on the remaining portions of the DWFPD. Members of the Board of Directors will need to continue to try to work with the City of Colorado Springs in order to resolve this issue to the best benefit of the community. This includes insuring competent professional fire and medical services to the remaining portion of the district and at reasonable cost.

Because of the uncertain future that annexed area creates within the District, long range planning for the District is extremely difficult. As such, I feel that it is of great importance that the district continues to maintain the positive relationships established with the adjoining fire protection districts along with the City of Colorado Springs, and even enhance these relationships. The board will need to remain open-minded when it comes to service options keeping in mind that they are there working for the citizens in and around the community they serve.

Throughout my tenure with the DWFPD, I have always stressed the need for accountability in one’s actions and being fiscally responsible to the citizens when managing the district.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, April 23: Election attracts a surprising number of candidates

By Susan Hindman

Although eight candidates are vying for two seats on the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District board, four of the candidates are relatively unknown, creating uncertainty as to why there is an unusually high interest in those two seats. The four did not appear at the April 23 meeting and have not been seen at any recent (if any) public meetings. The election is Tuesday, May 6. One seat is a two-year term, the other a four-year term.

Two of the candidates are current board members, Marlin "Si" Sibell and Rod Wilson.

Candidate Bob Hansen is a former board member.

Candidate Chip Fleming was a longtime volunteer firefighter for the district, and he attended this meeting.

The remaining candidates are Rafael Dominguez, Mike Smaldino, Barbara Kelly, and Roger Lance.

After the meeting, some board members privately expressed their surprise over the candidates who were unknown to them — especially considering there have been few controversial issues since residents voted to merge the Tri-Lakes and Woodmoor-Monument fire districts last year.

Director Harv Simms was a ninth candidate but decided not to run. He had volunteered to fill the position left vacant when director Hansen moved out of the Woodmoor district. However, Simms’ name will appear on the ballot, because his decision to withdraw from the election was made after the ballots had been printed. He requested that anyone who would have voted for him cast their vote for Sibell.

Hansen is able to run for a position on the board because his home is located in the newly merged Tri-Lakes Monument district.

Absentee ballots are available at Station 1 and must be turned in by election day. Voting will be held at Station 1, 18650 Highway 105. Candidates will appear on the ballot by the term for which they are running:

  • Four-year term: Lance, Wilson, Hansen, and Fleming
  • Two-year term: Dominguez, Smaldino, Sibell, Kelly (and Simms)

Shiny new vehicles rolled out

The new water tender and brush truck, whose upgrades were overseen by fleet maintenance supervisor Ken Cox and Battalion Chief Mike Dooley, were available for inspection by board members. The tender, which had been purchased used and was then retrofitted, cost the department $46,000, significantly under the $60,000 budgeted. The brush truck cost $35,998; it was $2 under budget.

The bright-yellow tender will be kept at Station 3, on Woodmoor Drive. The brush truck will be at Station 1.

Treasurer John Hildebrandt declared the two vehicles to be "an extremely wise expense of money and very frugal," congratulating those involved in the acquisition and upgrades on the vehicles. "You guys did good."

Other matters

Financial report: Hildebrandt reported that overall expenses are 6.44 percent over budget, because administration costs have been high and because of recent purchases, including the two new vehicles. Specific ownership tax revenues received are falling short of projections, a reflection of the slowdown in vehicle sales. He said the trend shows that these tax revenues will be short about $75,000 after the first quarter. Ambulance revenues were down slightly.

Chief’s report: Chief Robert Denboske expressed his concern over the wildland fire season that has begun. "Here we are in the middle of April, and we’ve lost three firefighters and burned over 20,000 acres, and we’ve got a long ways to go," he said, referring to last month’s wildfires around the state and the three deaths associated with those.

Crossing delays: Director Charlie Pocock requested that a record be kept of delays involving emergency vehicles at the Second Street railroad crossing. Documentation will also be kept on delays at the Palmer Lake and Baptist Road crossings. That data would eventually be used in discussions with the railroad about how to handle delay issues.

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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 May 28. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Tri-Lakes Monument FPD Candidate Statements

One four-year board positions and one two-year board position are up for election May 6.

The election will be held May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District Fire Station #1, 18650 Highway 105. For more information, call 481-2312.

Candidates for the four-year term are listed first followed by those for the two-year term. Within each group, candidates are listed alphabetically by last name. Each of the candidates was asked to respond to the same two questions:

  1. What in your background would help you as a TLMFPD board member?
  2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Candidates for one four-year term

Chip Fleming

1. What in your background would help you as a TLMFPD board member?

Background: Dedication to the Tri-Lakes community since 1983: 8 years volunteer with Tri-Lakes Fire - over 3000 responses, first Volunteer Coordinator in 2001, 2 years and current volunteer with Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department, 6 years President and Board member of Friends of Monument Preserve - Maintaining the Forest Service Monument Work Center for public access, 10 years Scoutmaster and Cubmaster in Monument and Palmer Lake, 4 years officer of Black Forest Saddle club, 3 years Pikes Peak Firefighters Fire Rehab Responder - Supporting personnel at extended emergencies, Firefighter II, EMT-Basic, Haz-mat operations, Red-card Wildland fire, Retired executive from the high-tech industry, BS Physics.

You’ve probably seen me on-scene at one time or another - big, one armed guy. I may have helped with your emergency. Or if you’ve had boys in Scouting in the last 20 years. Or walking or riding at the Work Center. I’ve been involved as a volunteer in this community since moving here in ‘83. I understand and have responded to the needs and wants of the people who live here, and I am dedicated to maintaining and building the community that makes this such a great place to live. I have experienced what it takes to make emergency services effective in Tri-Lakes. I have worked side-by-side with most emergency personnel in the area and understand what they need to work effectively and safely while providing optimum, efficient service to the people of our community.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Community - With growth, Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District has drifted away from the community focus that made it such an important part of so many local lives. Please help me insure that Tri-Lakes Fire will always be, first and foremost, about the Tri-Lakes community, and the people and taxpayers who call it home. Growth in our community presents opportunities as well as challenges.

Emergency Medical Service - Nearly 80% of our fire departments calls are mainly medical. Most resident’s contact with department personnel involves medical care, and Tri-Lakes has earned a great reputation. I will work to ensure that all Tri-Lakes Monument personnel understand the importance of equipping and providing the very best and most caring of Emergency Medical services.

I welcome phone calls or emails from any Tri-Lakes/Monument Fire District resident regarding the department or my goals. Contact me at 481-3894 or chipfle@comcast.net

Bob Hansen

No response was received by press time.

Roger Lance

1. What in your background would help you as a TLMFPD board member?

I am a 14 year resident of The Timber subdivision and have watched this community grow and prosper. I understand the issues of the community and will make a significant contribution to the continued success of the TLMFPD. I retired from the Air Force in 1993 with 28 years of military experience as manager of multi-million dollar programs and leadership roles as a commander of numerous personnel. I understand the requirements of supporting a multifunctional organization and the support of personnel who run the operations. I have been a Project manager in the Aerospace Industry since 1993 and I also understand, from a business perspective that we need to have a vision of future requirements and a plan in place to meet those requirements within financial constraints.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

The two greatest issues facing the district are commercial and residential and continued support to our existing infrastructure and firefighters.

The TLMFPD board is your board and we need to be responsive and accountable to the community we represent and serve. I think the most fiscally responsible thing our fire district can accomplish is to support an initiative to work with adjacent fire districts and establish closest responder agreements. We could provide better service to the eastern and southern part of our community using existing equipment, manpower, and infrastructure already in strategic locations. We could reduce response time and improve available emergency services. Funds and resources could be allocated where there is a greater need. I believe there needs to be a long term coordinated plan that focuses on future requirements for the TLMFPD community. The plan needs to be flexible to meet objectives within budgetary and personnel constraints. As board members we have a responsibility to our community to ensure we allocate funds and resources efficiently and effectively.

As with all successful organizations the most important asset is the personnel and management of the organization. TLMFPD has an outstanding professional fire department and rescue services. To ensure we continue to meet the highest standards the community expects and compliance with national standard of excellence, we are responsible to provide resources to achieve these goals. It is imperative we retain the firefighters in our community and not be a springboard for larger fire departments. We lose a highly trained firefighter and financial investment when they leave for other departments. The TLMFPD Board needs to provide our fire fighters the resources for training, equipment, compensation, and infrastructure to ensure we can attract the best candidates and keep them as our community grows. As a resident I am very proud of our Fire and Rescue Department and the significant improvements within the last 2 years.

Rod Wilson

1. What in your background would help you as a TLMFPD board member?

I have lived in Monument for the past 26 years, been involved with the Fire dept for the past 19 years, 15 years as a volunteer with Tri-Lakes Fire Protection District achieving the rank of Captain, and the last 4 years as a member of both the Woodmoor Monument Fire Protection District board and also the Tri-Lakes Fire Rescue Authority board that with a vote of the people became the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District on 1 Jan 08. I am running for reelection in hopes to continue what we have started with the present board on hand and with the Officers and firefighters at all three stations.What we have accomplished in the past 4 years is simply amazing.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

I think the 2 issues facing us now are keeping up with the growth in the area and staffing.

In the past 6 years we have added two new pumpers, one new rescue truck, two new brush trucks, a new water tender, and three support vehicles. In 2003, station two was opened. We need to keep up with the growth in the area and not fall behind. The district has grown from 20 square miles to over 66 and that leads to the 2nd question of staffing

We have, in my opinion, the best trained and led fire dept in the area in the past four years. We lost three firefighters to other agency’s and of those three, two of them have come back to work for us. So we need to keep the people we have now and continue to bring on the quality people that we need. We can not get behind the curve in both people and equipment.

Candidates for one two-year term

Rafael Dominguez

1. What in your background would help you as a TLMFPD board member?

I am a retired U.S. Marine Corps Fire Chief (and Airfield designer/planner), who served as the Fire Chief for the HMX-1 U.S. Presidential Helicopter Squadron. I entered the Marine Corps as a young enlisted Marine and worked my way to an appointment to Warrant Officer. As a Marine Corps Fire Chief, I focused my efforts on ensuring my Marine Fire Fighters were well trained and equipped to perform their mission. This included my being assigned the Advanced Rescue Training Coordinator for the Marine Corps in which I coordinated with all Fire Fighting Organizations to facilitate receiving this training. My efforts also included developing Mutual Aid Agreements with local and regional fire fighting organizations and implementing a fire fighter exchange program with the Federal Civil Service Quantico (VA) Fire Department to develop a well trained crew of Marine fire fighters. My experience as a Fire Fighter and Chief are polished off with having extensive experience in collaborating with other fire fighting organizations for the development of Emergency Response Plans, Mutual Aid Agreements and Letters of Agreement which were designed to ensure overlapping response capabilities and resources were available to meet mass casualty incidents. Lastly, I served as a member of the Executive Steering Committee, where I developed the Charter, Mission and Vision Statements for the Marine Corps’s Airfield Design/Planning Community.

Since retirement from the Marine Corps, I currently work from home and continue to provide support to the Marine Corps Airfield Design/Planning and Marine Corps Fire Fighting Programs as a government contractor. I am also a Trustee for the Town of Monument, which gives me insight into the growing need of the community for a well trained and well equipped emergency response capability. This includes the need to develop Mutual Aid Agreements and Letters of Agreement with surrounding community fire departments. My background will add great value in being involved in this process.

Education: Bachelors in Management and Masters in Business Administration (June 2008)

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

Issue 1: Ensuring the Emergency Response Resources that support the TriLakes Region are adequate (well equipped, trained and staffed) to meet the needs of a growing community. This includes a close review of the organization’s practices and procedures, ensuring optimal allocation and use of resources and ensuring that the department is in compliance with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standards.

Issue 2: Development of Emergency Response Plans, which includes development of Mutual Aid Agreements with surrounding area emergency response agencies, and effective collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to seek potential grants for equipment and training resources that will improve the region’s emergency response capability.

I have the background, intuition and desire to get involved in the community and ensure that our tax dollars are being used effectively, while also ensuring the safety or our emergency response personnel and the community.

Barbara Kelly

1. What in your background would help you as a TLMFPD board member?

I have been a community member for 2 years. During this time I have identified some of the issues and concerns to various people in the community. I feel I can make a contribution to the growth and development of the TLMFPD.

I have been a Physical Therapist for 31 years. My positions have included Staff Therapist, Manager and Director of Acquisitions. I developed and managed budgets, using the funds provided responsibly with the current and future requirements of the community the primary focus. I have been in the position of hiring and training other professionals. I know that motivation and positive attitude are essential for excellence in job performance. I will listen, learn, and positively respond to all ideas brought to my attention.

TLMFPD is a business. A successful business requires development of ideas from all levels of the business. These ideas must be implemented with fiscal responsibility and always with the needs of the community served in mind. Excellence begins at the executive level and extends to all personnel in the business, no matter what their job description is. I hope to become part of this business and use my skills to the continued progress of TLMFPD.

2. What do you think are the two greatest issues facing the district and what would you propose the district should do to deal with them?

a) Retention of personnel. TLMFPD is a highly trained professional fire department. Our community expects and receives the best and finest service available from TLMFPD. We cannot afford to train fire fighters and then lose them to other departments. This will create a negative financial impact on TLMFPD. Keeping morale at a high level is essential to retention of our fire fighters. We must provide the necessary resources, compensation, and training at all levels to meet national and community standards. We have to demonstrate that there is a professional relationship, as well as a serious dialog between the community, the fire fighter, and the implementation of the goals. These are just a few ideas that will help attract the best candidates. They will see our community as an excellent choice for professional development.

b) I have learned that TLMFPD has two Insurance Service Office (ISO) ratings. An ISO rating is used by some insurance companies as a basis for fire insurance rates. ISO reviews equipment, personnel, training, water supplies, and other items of public fire protection that have a significant effect on minimizing fire damage.

Areas in our district with a fire hydrant system have a rating of 3/10, with 1/10 (best) and 10/10 (no protection). Areas without a fire hydrant system have a rating of 9/10. I feel we need to work on developing a plan to reduce the rating in the non hydrant areas. A reduction in the rating can equate to hundreds of dollars in insurance savings for our community and improved emergency services.

Si Sibell

No response was received by press time.

Harv Simms

Simms has withdrawn from the election.

Mike Smaldino

No response received by press time.

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Monument Firefighters Association honors its own

Photos by David Futey.

Below: (L-R) Fred Turner expresses his appreciation to Fire Paramedic Janaka Branden, Battalion Chief Greg Lovato, Lt. Eric Brown, and Firefighters Marcus Matthynssens, Jason Kelsey for their efforts in saving his life from a cardiac arrest. (not pictured David Heier)

Below: After presenting Meritorious Unit Awards, Battalion Chief Greg Lovato is pictured with (L-R) driver engineer Tony Tafoya, firefighter Mark Vanlandingham, and firefighter Rudi Gillette. These firefighters, along Lt. Chris Sobin (not pictured), rescued Stacy Quartararo and her two sons from a townhouse fire.

Below: ( L-R) Battalion Chief Mike Dooley and Beverly Dooley accept the award for L.W. Dooley, who was inducted into Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters as an honorary member.

Below: LaVern Kauffman (C) was inducted into Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters as an honorary member. Kauffman is flanked by his son and Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman (L) and wife, Esther Kauffman (R).

By David Futey

"Firemen never die, they just burn forever in the hearts of the people whose lives they saved." This quote, from Susan Diane Murphree, certainly rang true when the Monument Firefighters Association (MFA) gathered to honor past firefighters for their service to the Monument community and present firefighters for actions taken in recent emergencies. The event, emceed by MFA union representative Jody Thorpe, brought together not only those being honored but also those the firefighters assisted in two recent and unrelated emergencies.

The event began with the MFA inducting the first honorary members into Local 4319 of the International Association of Firefighters. Each of the two inductees had to be first nominated then selected for this honor. Nominated by his son and Fire Marshal Curtis Kauffman, LaVern Kauffman was chosen to receive the award for his 18 years of service and sacrifice to communities in El Paso County. The second recipient was L.W. Dooley, nominated by his son and Battalion Chief Mike Dooley. Dooley was inducted for his 40 years of service and in assisting with the creation of the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District ( www.tri-lakesfire.com ). His award was presented to wife, Beverly Dooley, as he was recovering from an illness and could not attend.

The event continued with the honoring of present firefighters for their response and actions in two life-threatening emergencies. Battalion Chief Greg Lovato, Lt. Eric Brown, fire paramedic Janaka Branden, and firefighters Marcus Matthynssens, Jason Kelsey, and David Heier were first honored and received the Meritorious Unit Award for aiding Fred Turner, who was suffering a cardiac arrest while at the Monument Wal-Mart. Though it was recognized that other entities played a key role in Turner’s recovery, these firefighters were first responders and helped to stabilize his condition. Turner was present and expressed his deepest appreciation for the efforts of the firefighters.

Lt. Chris Sobin, driver engineer Tony Tafoya, firefighter Rudi Gillette, and firefighter Mark Vanlandingham were next to receive the Meritorious Unit Award. These firefighters rescued Stacy Quartararo and her two sons, Seth and Tanner, from the upper floor of their burning townhome on the morning of March 8. Seth and Tanner were also presented with awards in recognition of their bravery.

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, April 17: Board continues implementing policy governance

Photo by John Heiser

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Below: Steve Waldmann introduces some of the winners of the chess tournament. 

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Below: Phyllis Robinette, a kindergarten teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary School, received a commendation for achieving certification as a National Board Certified Teacher. 

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Below: (Clockwise from the left) Superintendent Ray Blanch: Jon Hutchison, band director at Creekside Middle School; Kirsta Lopez, language arts teacher at Lewis-Palmer Middle School; and Jessica Quinn, first grade teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary School; Deb Chittenden, Director of Professional Learning; board members Mark Pfoff, Jeff Cantlebary, John Mann, Dee Dee Eaton, and Gail Wilson. Hutchinson, Lopez, and Quinn are completing their first year as teachers in the district.

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Below: Steve Endicott, Director of Technology Services, and Tracey Lehman, Director of Educational Technology, provided an update regarding the current status of the technology infrastructure and next steps regarding the evolution of technology within the district. 

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Below: Toward the end of the meeting, board discusses policy governance. (L to R): Mark Pfoff, Jeff Cantlebary, Gail Wilson, John Mann, and Dee Dee Eaton.

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By John Heiser

The Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board has adopted the policy governance model. As part of implementing policy governance, at the school board meeting April 17, the board members engaged in a conversation with teachers Jon Hutchison, band director at Creekside Middle School; Kirsta Lopez, language arts teacher at Lewis-Palmer Middle School; and Jessica Quinn, first grade teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary School. Hutchinson, Lopez, and Quinn are completing their first year as teachers in the district.

The teachers responded to such questions as, "What expectations did you have for your students this year?" and "What help or assistance do you need from the district in order to better perform your job?" The teachers generally expressed satisfaction with the educational environment at the district. Lopez said, "I don’t think I could have asked for a better situation for my first year of teaching." The teachers had concerns about the effect of potential budget cuts if voters do not pass a mill levy override in November.

Robinette recognized

Phyllis Robinette, a kindergarten teacher at Palmer Lake Elementary School, received a commendation for achieving certification as a National Board Certified Teacher. This is the most prestigious certification a teacher can receive and involves a rigorous, very selective process.

Chess winners acknowledged

Steve Waldmann, middle school chess coach, reported that 82 students participated in the district’s chess tournament this year. First through fourth place winners were acknowledged.

Palmer Ridge High School (PRHS) construction project update

Jeff Chamberlin of RLH Engineering reviewed this month’s progress on PRHS. Some highlights:

  • The project continues to be on schedule and within budget.
  • Of the $68 million in bond proceeds, interest, and other revenues, $47 million in invoices has been paid, $2.98 million in invoices has been processed during the latest month, and $14.2 million has been committed on current contracts leaving $3.8 million not yet committed.
  • Sports fields are being fine graded. Irrigation and fencing is being installed. Track and artificial turf will be installed in the next month.
  • Off-site roadwork is to start April 28 and be completed by June 28.
  • Doors and hardware are being installed.
  • Hardwood flooring in the gymnasiums is scheduled to start April 21.
  • Final cleaning and detailing of buildings A and B is to start in early May.
  • Landscaping of the central courtyard has started.
  • Furniture, fixtures, and equipment are to arrive from June 16 through July 4. Start-up equipment is to arrive July 15 through July 25.
  • Administrative staff will relocate July 28. Instructional staff will be on-site August 4.
  • The department leaders have been successful in staying within the $1.15 million budget for start-up expenses.
  • Site tours for incoming ninth and tenth graders are planned for May.

Other matters

  • Technology overview: Steve Endicott, Director of Technology Services, and Tracey Lehman, Director of Educational Technology, provided an update regarding the current status of the technology infrastructure and next steps regarding the evolution of technology within the district. They emphasized that the 21st century classroom must include interactive curriculum, mobile computing devices, multimedia delivery presentation tools, and digital media resources. Endicott noted that the area needing the greatest improvement is the district’s bandwidth to the Internet.
  • 2008-09 employee insurance plans and rates approved: Cheryl Wangeman, Chief Financial Officer, presented the 2008­-09 health, dental, vision, and life insurance plans and rates for district employees. The board approved continuing coverage through Colorado Employer Benefit Trust, a pool of school districts and other governmental entities in the state. There will be a 5.94 percent overall increase in insurance cost. Health insurance premiums are the largest factor, increasing 15.3 percent. Dental insurance premiums will increase 8 percent. Vision and life insurance premiums will be unchanged.
  • 2008-09 capital reserve budget approved: Wangeman presented the proposed 2008-09 capital reserve budget including proposed expenditures for technology and transportation. The board unanimously approved the proposed budget.
  • Audit Committee report: The Audit Committee reviews the district’s annual contract for financial audit services and provides reviews to ensure the district’s financial plans are carried out, financial policies and procedures are observed, assets are accounted for, and records and reports are reliable. The board unanimously approved including information regarding the membership and purpose of the committee in Policy Governance 3.7, which establishes the policy guiding board committees.
  • Property and liability insurance proposal to be selected: Wangeman reported that a request for proposal to seek property and liability insurance information has been distributed and three responses have been received. Wangeman said a company will be selected within the next two weeks.
  • Accreditation: Superintendent Ray Blanch gave a brief summary regarding accreditation. The state accredits each district and, in turn, each district accredits its schools. The District Accountability Advisory Committee reviewed each school’s improvement plan earlier this year and recommended continued accreditation for all district schools.
  • Nonrenewal of contracts for six licensed probationary employees: The board members unanimously approved a resolution acknowledging that six licensed probationary teachers will not be reemployed for the 2008­-09 school year.
  • Consent agenda: The board approved several routine matters concerning students, personnel, and finances, including administrative staff and certified personnel contract extensions/non­renewals, purchase of curricular materials for the middle school language arts program, and the implementation of student fees for athletics/activities, grades 6­-12, and for technology and consumables such as materials for art and industrial tech classes for grades K-­12.
  • Operating Limitations Policy 2.1: Treatment of Students, Parents/Guardians, and Community Members: Blanch presented this monitoring report under the recently adopted Policy Governance model. The policy states in part, "The Superintendent shall neither cause nor allow organizational circumstances for students, prospective students, their parents/guardians, and community members that are unsafe, untimely, undignified, or unnecessarily intrusive or restrictive." He addressed comments and questions from board members, who then accepted the report and found it reasonable.
  • Board member comments: Referring to the earlier conversation with the first year teachers, John Mann noted that the teachers said they feel valued and supported at every level by colleagues, building principals, and district administrators. Mark Pfoff suggested a separate meeting for community engagement may need to be considered due to the length of these discussions. Board president Dee Dee Eaton suggested that board meetings start at 5:30 p.m., with a public reception at 5:00 p.m. for those receiving commendations. The board members agreed to implement these new times for the May 15 monthly meeting. Gail Wilson noted that the YMCA grand opening occurred last week and stated that the district will want to continue partnering with the organization.
  • Board supports National Volunteer Week: The board recognized the value to the community of volunteers who support many educational programs within the district. The board unanimously approved a resolution in honor of National Volunteer Week, April 27­-May 3.

**********

The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the board will be held May 15 at 5:30 p.m. with a reception at 5:00 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. for those receiving commendations. The district’s Web site is at www.lewispalmer.org. The Monument Academy Web site is at www.monumentacademy.net

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El Paso County Parks Department Open House, April 30: Palmer Lake Park Master Plan update presented

By Jim Kendrick

The El Paso County Parks Department updates its master plan every five years. The process started for the Palmer Lake regional recreational area with a public Internet survey in August 2007. Since then, county Parks Director Tim Wolken, Planning Manager Neil Katz, and their staff have been working with the Town of Palmer Lake and several stakeholder committees to develop the Palmer Lake Master Plan, which was presented at Town Hall on April 30 for public review and comment. (See http://adm.elpasoco.com/Parks/Facilities.htm for detailed information on each of the county’s regional facilities.)

The presentation outlined citizen interest in a long-term water supply to maintain the level of Palmer Lake, as well as improvements in the trail system, landscaping, restrooms, and pavilions and new facilities to include a multi-use field, outdoor ice rink, cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing paths, and a fresh-water swimming area.

Planned improvements to existing facilities included improving and expanding:

  • The playground in the county park area on the east side of Palmer Lake
  • The garden area at the north end of Palmer Lake by County Line Road
  • The trail system surrounding the lake
  •  The county’s parking lot on the east side of the lake
  • The restroom on the east side of the lake

Proposed plans for new facilities included:

  • A deep aquifer well to maintain the level of the lake
  • A new beach on the east side of the lake
  • A new multi-use athletic field
  • A platform at the south end of the lake for watching trains
  • A pedestrian bridge over the railroad tracks to connect the town’s and county’s park facilities
  • A new restroom on the west side of the tracks by the pedestrian bridge

Also discussed was a coordinated county and town plan for improved parking and streetscape for use of county and town facilities along the business area on Highway 105 and the historic gazebo in Centennial Park to include an area for public art as well as a new xeriscape and flower garden.

Please contact Neil Katz, county park planning manager, at 520-6983 or by e-mail at neilkatz@elpasoco.com to add comments to the 136 survey inputs and public comments received at the open house and town subcommittee sessions.

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After 16 years, TABOR still brings out strong feelings on both sides

Below: State Rep. Douglas Bruce at the meeting on TABOR April 26. Photo by Gene Taylor.

By Susan Hindman

State Rep. Douglas Bruce and Wade Buchanan, president of the Bell Policy Center, a Colorado nonprofit public policy research and advocacy group, debated the merits of TABOR (the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights) at a program organized by students at Pikes Peak Community College on April 26. Around 60 students and members of the community attended.

TABOR, a state constitutional amendment crafted by Bruce and passed in 1992, requires voter approval for any tax increases and limits increases in state spending to inflation plus population growth — whether it’s a lean year or a boom year. Limiting the government, Bruce says, "is what freedom is all about." The Bell Policy Center calls TABOR the most restrictive tax limitation in the country.

Perhaps indicative of how the amendment is often misunderstood, Bruce pointed to errors in the flier advertising the event. It called TABOR "an amendment that regulates where tax dollars go" — to which Bruce said "that’s exactly what it does not do" — "and (regulates) how much is given to each institution of higher education," to which Bruce responded, "TABOR doesn’t mention any institution of higher education. It only mentions education in general, meaning K through 12." The flier also said it "directly effects (sic) all community colleges." Bruce said, "It doesn’t do that either. ... The effect would be indirect because it’s channeled through the budgetary process of where the money is spent, which is a legislative process which TABOR does not address."

What TABOR basically says is, "Who should decide how much government we can afford … we the people who earn the money, or the politicians who want to spend it?" Bruce said, adding that TABOR answered that question. "If it’s the people’s money, the people should decide, simply as a matter of consumer power."

He said the "two main pillars" of TABOR are voting on taxation and debt, and spending limits on state and local governments. He said that TABOR is considered the model for legislation in the area of tax-limitation efforts in other states and that he has been asked to speak around the country and even in foreign countries. "The desire for tax limitation is something that is universal and timeless," he said, calling efforts to repeal the amendment an attack "on your right to vote."

Buchanan said it’s more important to talk about what government really means and look closer at what Colorado spends its money on. He said that 40 cents of every tax dollar is spent on public schools, 20 cents goes to Medicaid, 10 cents goes to support higher education, 10 cents goes to support the corrections department, and 10 to 14 cents goes to various human services programs.

"When we talk here about tax dollars and how they’re being used … it’s very helpful for us to understand that we’re talking about our public schools, our colleges and universities, our health-care safety net, our prisons, and our social safety net," Buchanan said. "These are important public structures that underpin our prosperity as a country and our economic vitality."

After studying TABOR, the Bell center published a report in 2003 that concluded there were four "fundamental flaws" with it: 1) the growth limit imposed on revenues the state can keep and spend is too restrictive and forces the state to grow at a slower rate and to cut services; 2) the "ratchet effect" that results, in which government is continually downsized, and when there’s an economic downturn, you "can’t get back to where you were"; 3) it’s difficult to save for a "rainy day fund" because most of the money that other states would use for a rainy day fund is money that in Colorado had to be returned as rebates under TABOR; and 4) it "constitutionalized a limit within a limit," an issue he didn’t expand upon.

"This is not about some blob out there called government, some department of bureaucracy in Denver," Buchanan said. "This is about our schools and our colleges and our universities and our highways and transportation and our prisons." That’s the discussion he wants to have. "I would suggest that an arbitrary formula like that presented in TABOR is not helpful to that," he concluded.

Bruce disputed those points, insisting it’s not a rigid formula, that there are provisions for an emergency reserve and saving money, and that "the only inability to have a rainy day fund is a lack of political will of spineless politicians that we have in Denver who I see every day." He also noted that in the eight years after TABOR passed, until 2001, Colorado was number one or two "out of all 50 states in every major area of economic growth" such as jobs, low unemployment, low inflation, and new construction.

Several students of Dr. Elsa Dias, an instructor at PPCC who helped coordinate the event, spoke about TABOR prior to Bruce’s and Buchanan’s comments. A brief question-and-answer session followed.

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April Weather Wrap

By Bill Kappel

As is typical around the Tri-Lakes region, the transition from winter to spring is never smooth. This was the case during the first week of April as we were greeted by everything from sun to snow.

The month started off on the cold side, with light snow on the 1st and high temperatures only in the 30s. Temperatures warmed the next day under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies as highs hit the 50s. But more cold air moved in overnight and low clouds, fog, freezing drizzle, and flurries started us off on the 3rd. This cold air quickly retreated as we warmed into the 50s and 60s from the 4th through the 6th. More cool, unsettled weather returned for the 7th, with snow across the area during the afternoon.

Winter tried to hold on for most of the week of the 7th, with measurable snow occurring on the 7th and the 9th through the 12th. Most of us received 4-8 inches during this time, however, as is usual this time of the year, anytime the sun appeared the snow quickly disappeared.

The strongest storm occurred on the 10th as an area of low pressure deepened over eastern Colorado and western Kansas. This developed a very strong pressure gradient across the area, producing very strong northerly winds. Snow began to fall steadily that morning and continued through the early evening. This, combined with the strong winds, produced blizzard conditions at times. Just the day before, as the first effects of this system began to move into the region on the 9th, we saw a little bit of everything around the area. Snow, plain old rain, thunderstorms, and fog all occurred at some point on the 9th, just about what you would expect for the middle of April. During the week, high temperatures ranged from the low 30s to the high 50s, a little below normal for this time of the year.

Quiet, "spring-like" weather greeted us for most of the 3rd week of the month. The week started off on the warm side, with highs jumping into the 70s on the 14th and 15th along with sunny skies. Only some gusty winds took away from the warmth. These were the warmest temperatures we had since late October. Oh, but just when you thought it was safe to put the snow shovel away, a storm system moved through the region by early the next morning. A cold front pushed over the area around 2:30 a.m. on the 16th, and we said goodbye to the 70s and hello to snow. This storm brought 4-8 inches of snow to most of us from the morning of the 16th to the morning of the 17th, with temperatures holding in the 30s both afternoons.

Temperatures did quickly rebound behind the system under sunny skies, as highs reached back into the 60s for the rest of the week and through the weekend. Again, only gusty winds each afternoon put a damper on the otherwise quiet weather.

No major storms affected the area from the 21st through the 27th, with temperatures remaining at or above average for the week with the exception of the 26th. Highs started off at seasonal levels, with 50s on the 21st and 22nd, then much warmer temperatures moved in on the 23rd and 24th as highs jumped into the upper 60s and low 70s. A storm system did move through late on the 24th and dropped a quick trace to a half-inch of snow during the early morning hours of the 25th. However, if you slept in past 10 a.m., you probably didn’t even notice, as all the snow had melted by then.

A second surge of cool air moved in the next morning and was accompanied by a quick shot of snow right around noon, making for a cool, blustery day on the 26th. Sunshine quickly returned that afternoon, and the weekend ended with sunny skies and seasonal temperatures as highs rebounded into the upper 50s on the 27th. As is usual this time of the year, each afternoon saw gusty winds, and when combined with dry fuels that haven’t yet fully greened up, made for high fire danger at times. This will continue to be the case until the plants and grasses really start growing in earnest, so be extra careful out there.

A look ahead

May often brings a wide variety of weather conditions in the Tri-Lakes region, from warm, sunny days to severe thunderstorms, and even some snow. Last year was a snowy May, with over 20 inches accumulated for the month. The official monthly forecast for May 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center (www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/), is calling for equal chances of normal temperatures and a slight, better than average chance of below normal or normal precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

April 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 56.7°F (-0.3°)
Average Low 23.2°F (-4.9°)
Highest Temperature 75°F on the 15th
Lowest Temperature 9°F on the 12th
Monthly Precipitation 1.41" (-2.12")
Monthly Snowfall 17.3" (-14.0")
Season to Date Snow 121.3" (-8.2")
Season to Date Precip. 14.90" (-3.07")

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

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

Bill Kappel is a meteorologist and Tri-Lakes resident.

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Letters to Our Community

Enough is enough

As has become the norm when I read OCN, the latest edition has me enraged with disdain over the reckless actions of the Monument Board of Trustees (BOT) and the greedy, self-serving interests of some local residents. Of particular note is the controversy surrounding the planned Willow Springs Ranch development and the proposed solution of invoking eminent domain through Georgia Ward’s property to connect Mitchell Avenue with Baptist Road.

John Sidor’s letter ("Mitchell extension important for residents," April 5) constitutes nothing more than a list of absurdly weak, self-serving rationalizations to suit his own personal convenience at the expense of a private property owner and the inconvenience of those like myself who live on Hay Creek Road. The developer should be forced to build their own access out to Old Denver Highway instead of infringing on the taxpayers and the rights of private property owners. There is already an existing dirt road that runs from the water treatment facility and south of the Richmond development.

Even more infuriating are the comments made by Robert Delacroce with respect to his request to build a high-density, 1,500-home development on his ranch ("Controversial Willow Springs Ranch sketch plan approved," April 5). Just a few years ago, I personally heard him argue before the county against the higher initially proposed density of Forest Lakes. Now that it’s in the interest of his own personal financial gain, he is proposing an exponentially more dense development than he fought arduously against just a short time ago. Shame on you, Mr. Delacroce.

Why does the Monument BOT insist on accommodating every developer seeking to line their own pockets and allowing them to destroy the beauty and uniqueness of the land west of I-25 with the proverbial sea of rooftops? Allowing what effectively constitutes urban sprawl in your quaint little suburban town is essentially sacrificing the soul and character of Monument and is tantamount to criminal activity in my book. The quality of your business clientele, tax base, and way of life is inversely proportional to the density of housing you allow.

When are the good people of Monument going to rise up and say enough is enough? I am not adamantly opposed to development of any kind, I simply advocate that it is done in harmony and commensurate with the surrounding environment. I implore you to save yourselves from the BOT. Somebody needs a tea party!

Mike "Klute" Cloutier

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Don’t trust the Knollwood Village developer

I recently read in Our Community News about the Woodmoor Improvement Association’s (WIA) continuing interaction with the Knollwood Village developers and want to express my concern about this developer.

I attended the March 26, 2007, WIA meeting where the developer "requested" that they be permitted to have establishments open until 9 p.m. That "request" was followed by what sounded to me like a threat—that if we did not do what they wanted, they would build two office buildings on site. Frankly, I thought that would be a good idea since most activity would stop after a normal business day.

I read that they then came back at the April 24, 2007, WIA meeting to say they did not want any limit on the time establishments could stay open. Now what does that sound like to you? It sounded to me like they were considering putting some bars and fast-food places in the mall instead of the "cute little boutique restaurants" they originally claimed would be in the development. What fun—motorcycles and cars until 3 a.m.!

I don’t know why our community would trust this developer to fulfill any promise they make. At last year’s March 26 WIA meeting, they assured us that they would make sure they kept all of the mature screening trees on the hill to screen lights from the community. A casual observation of the present state of the hill along Route 105 will show that they cut down virtually every tree on that hill. This organization has proven not to be trustworthy in their dealings with our community.

Charles Lang

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Thank you

The Tri-Lakes Women’s Club held their 32nd annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale on April 19 and 20 at Lewis-Palmer High School. We were able to raise over $22,000 from this show, which will be returned to the local D-38 community in the form of grants to deserving public service, educational, and nonprofit organizations.

We would like to thank all the Tri-Lakes Community, D-38 school system personnel, our Show Manager and the antique dealers, our Women’s Club volunteers and the following individuals/community businesses and organizations for their support of this show: Jim and Donna Maguire, Kohl’s, Wal-Mart, Safeway, King Soopers, Rotelli’s, Nick-n-Willy’s, Serranos, Taylor Farms, Sertoma, the Serteens, Woodmoor Public Safety, the local TV stations (KKTV, KRDO, and Fox 21), Citadel Broadcasting and Peak 92.9 FM, the Gazette, The Tribune, Our Community News, Tidbits, and Woodmoor/Gleneagle Monthly.

We are very grateful for the continuing support of our local community that has enabled us to grant more than $500,000 back to the Tri-Lakes Community.

Sherry Sieg and Mary Mills
Tri-Lakes Women’s Club

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Perspective on Our Community: Kill the umpire — or is it the referee?

By David Futey

"I do not know what is going on with our society. This whole competitiveness thing seems to take over the parents and coaches, and it spills over to yelling at referees and worse. The kids seem OK, but it has just gotten out of hand and sets a bad example (for the kids). This is for the kids to just get out there and play."

I could not have said it better myself. This quote came from a person who supervises a youth basketball league in Colorado Springs, one in which I referee. However, the quote could have come from anyone managing or officiating a youth sport, competitive or not, who I have come across in recent years while officiating. Whether refereeing at YMCA sporting events or in various basketball leagues, or umpiring Tri-Lakes Little League or other organized baseball — in the Colorado Springs area or in my previous state — I have noticed that the officials are a focal point for uneducated interpretation of the rules, harsh criticism on game officiating and unwarranted verbal abuse.

It seems that nearly every time I step on a court or the field, something occurs that reminds me of the 1950 movie Kill the Umpire. In this movie, William Bendix plays an ex-baseball player who, after several job failings, eventually resorts to an occupation he initially views as the "lowest a man can get," that of an umpire. Eventually, he comes to respect and appreciate the umpire position for its integrity. However, the fans are less than respectful, especially once he is viewed as being dishonest after one particular call. Only toward the end of the movie is he momentarily redeemed, until he makes another controversial call.

So do movies mimic reality? The headlines certainly give an indication: "Youth Basketball Ref Assaulted by Parent" (Arkansas); "Coach Admits He Assaults Official" (Maryland); "Ridgeville Man Faces Charge of Hitting Ref at Pee Wee Game" (Ohio).

As a result of these and numerous other instances, 18 states, as of December 2006, have criminal laws on the books regarding the assaulting of officials (www.cga.ct.gov/2006/rpt/2006-R-0747.htm). This offers some insight into our society, when judicial protection is required for someone whose intent is to maintain fairness.

Like many I hear in the stands today, in the past I would sit at a sporting event and think, "Why don’t they call that?" "That doesn’t seem fair," and the famous, "I can do a better job than they are doing. Get me behind that plate!" However, I have learned that it is quite different once on the court or field. There are few instances in life where fairness, as managed by an official, is scrutinized so thoroughly, regulated by meticulously written rule books, or held to such a high standard.

This results from the rules guiding the game and the training officials receive at all levels — in particular high school sports and above, where certification or other confirmation is required to help ensure the quality of the officiating. My experience of the certification process is that it is neither a rubber-stamp process nor inexpensive. Extensive rule review and then successful completion of the certification test are required. These are followed by meticulous mechanic drills: positioning on the field or court, proper techniques for making calls, putting the rules in action, and so forth.

Once you make it through the certification process, you are then required to pay local and state dues to officiating associations, which combined equals $100 or more per sport. Then there are the equipment purchases for protection and appearance. For example, $400 to $500 is needed to adequately protect a home-plate umpire from a foul ball or errant pitch and provide them with the designated gray-pant, blue-shirt uniform. Couple these expenses with travel time to and from the game and other expenses, and break-even looks inviting from a personal and financial standpoint.

It is little wonder that given all the above, it is becoming more difficult to find officials for all the sporting activities in our community. Despite the expense, the official is really giving a gift to the community. For without the official, the coach and the players would not have a fairly contested and sanctioned game that is played by the rules.

All this is not to say that an official is exempt from making a mistake, a wrong call. We will at some point, since we are human — although sometimes that seems lost once the clock starts or the first pitch is thrown. However, if a mistake does occur, it is corrected upon discovery within that moment of the game to ensure, as much as possible, the official does not impact the outcome of the game. That should be left to the players.

So the next time you are watching or coaching a Lewis-Palmer sporting event, a Tri-Lakes Little League game, or a YMCA contest, and you feel like raising your voice about a call or you think your team is not being treated fairly by the official, save your voice, get some training and the appropriate uniform, and step between the lines to hear yourself. And remember who you are doing this for: the kids.

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Wise words for moms and grads

By the staff at Covered Treasures

Books are a wonderful way to honor the women who have been influential in your life, or to wrap up the perfect send-off for a special graduate. Consider this sampling of inspirational, informational, and humorous volumes, including some new titles and several timeless classics.

The Last Lecture
By Randy Pausch (Hyperion), $21.95

When Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon, was asked to give a "last lecture," he had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. But the lecture he gave— "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams"—wasn’t about dying. It was about overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, of seizing every moment (because "time is all you have … and you may find one day that you have less than you think"). It was a summation of everything he had come to believe. It was about living. This is a book to read and share and discuss.

Wise Women: A Celebration of Their Insights, Courage, and Beauty
By Joyce Tenneson (Bullfinch Press), $19.99

Photographer Tenneson traveled throughout America to photograph and interview women whose ages range from 65 to 100. What she found was a revelation, and her collection of 85 tritone photographs, with a short personal statement from each woman, is a celebration of the power and beauty of women in the third phase of their lives.

You’re a Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either)
By Jen Singer (Sourcebooks), $13.95

For every mom pressured to be perfect; for every mom who wants to enjoy—not endure—motherhood, while giving her kids what they truly need to succeed. This book offers giggles and a pat on the back for today’s moms, whether they’re deep in diapers or petrified by puberty.

T. Rex and the Mother’s Day Hug
By Lois G. Grambling, illustrated by Jack E. Davis (HarperCollins Publishers), $16.99

T. Rex wants to do something for his mama for Mother’s Day, not just give something. This year he has the perfect gift idea that he knows Mama Rex is going to love so much. At least, he thinks she will ...

I Was a Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids: Reinventing Modern Motherhood
By Trisha Ashworth & Amy Nobile (Chronicle Books), $18.95

For this attempt at reinventing modern motherhood, the authors spoke with mothers of every type—stay-at-home, working and part-time—and found a surprisingly similar trend in their answers. As one mother put it, "The word that describes me best is ‘challenged.’" The resulting book diagnoses the craziness and offers real solutions so that mothers can learn to love motherhood as much as they love their kids.

EatingWell Knowledge Cards
Pomegranate (Photos: Ken Burris), $9.95

For the busy mom on the go, or the graduate going off on her own, these small decks are packed with information for healthy choices. "What’s Good for You?" is a quiz on food and nutrition, and "Healthy in a Hurry" offers 48 delicious recipes.

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

From nursery school grads to medical school achievers, this is the perfect send-off for children starting off in the maze of life. In humorous verse and pictures, Dr. Seuss addresses the ups and downs of life while encouraging us to find the success that lies within us. Oh, the Places You’ll Go is a wonderfully wise and blessedly brief graduation speech wrapped up in a colorful cover.

Just Who Will You Be?
By Maria Shriver (Hyperion), $14.95

This book, inspired by a speech Shriver gave at her nephew’s high school graduation, is a humorous meditation on fame, achievement, and self-worth. Asking ourselves not just what we want to be but who we want to be is important at every stage in our lives, she says, not just when we’re starting out in the world. Shriver, who considers herself a 50-year-old work-in-progress, has written a charming and genuinely inspiring read for high school or college graduates.

Gift from the Sea: 50th Anniversary Edition
By Anne Morrow Lindbergh, $9.95 and $16

This timeless classic speaks to women of all ages and would be a thoughtful gift for any mom. Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment, as she recorded them during a brief vacation by the sea. Available in both hardcover and paperback, this beautiful special edition includes a new introduction by her youngest daughter, Reeve Lindbergh.

Enjoy the May sunshine and flowers—and don’t forget those moms and grads. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: Early May gardening tips

By Woody Woodworth

The recent spring snows and rains we’ve been getting have helped turn the past few weeks into perfect growing conditions for wildflower and grass seed.

Planting seed under about a quarter-inch of top soil will greatly improve the chances of germination. Covering seed not only keeps the seed moist during germination, but it also helps reduce the consumption by birds and rodents. Try to keep the newly planted seed moist throughout germination. Grass is turning greener and spring is looking favorable because of the good moisture.

Ornamental grasses should be cut back right now to promote good growth. At our elevation, night-time temperatures can still be near freezing, so as you see your perennials pop out of the ground, be sure to not totally uncover them. Add a light forest mulch or Soil Pep to ensure you keep the moisture and night-time heat in the ground.

Daytime air temperatures were higher the past couple of weeks, making the soil temperatures also a bit warmer. You may notice the lilacs, honeysuckle, and more shrubs budding and many trees right behind them. Be sure to start fertilizing lawns, hearty perennials, shrubs, and trees to promote healthy growth. When plants are vigorously growing, they are less apt to harbor insects and carry disease. Use a slow-release nitrogen for the lawn and time-release for the shrubs, trees, and perennials. Use phosphate or bone meal to promote flowers on iris and lilac.

Boring insects will be flying soon and they will be invading your spruce and evergreen trees. Be sure to use liquid Sevin for a preventive measure. Mix four tablespoons per gallon and spray to gently wet the tree branches and trunk. Start in early May and repeat every two or three weeks through June. Also, now is the time to spray summer dormant soil to help prevent black spot on aspen trees. You can spray until the buds are swelled, but it’s too late if the buds are turning into leaves. If you want to treat later, use a systemic fungicide made for ornamental trees.

Add more composted material to gardens by using a sheep or peat compost or cow manure. Be sure to use "weed free" bags of compost to ensure you aren’t picking weeds all spring and summer. Dig the compost in and around perennials, shrubs and trees. Add a couple of inches of new top soil and compost to annual planting beds and till in about 4 to 5 inches deep.

Clean out pots with water and a stiff brush. Buy some new potting soil and be sure to use a time-release fertilizer that will last all growing season. Our favorite is Sunshine’s Proven Winners brand. It works well, is easy to apply, and is inexpensive. Combine Proven Winners fertilizers with Proven Winners plants and you will have amazing container gardens.

Start your perennials, shrubs, and trees on a regular watering schedule. Observe your local water restrictions and try to water deep and less often. Your plants will develop more drought tolerance as their roots grow deeper into the soil. Set sprinkler zones to the correct timing to ensure you are not overwatering turf grasses and perennial gardens. If you are unclear on how much you should water, seek advice from your local garden center.

Plant onion sets, potatoes, asparagus root, and rhubarb root now. Pansies, aspens, and most trees and shrubs are available and ready to plant. It’s springtime in the Tri-Lakes region. Be sure to stretch a little before diving into work and using those different muscles. Have a safe and happy planting season.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Snowy egret

Click here or on the drawing to zoom in

Below: Drawing by Elizabeth Hacker of a Snowy Egret.

Click on the drawing to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

Spring is a perfect time for birders to see the diversity of birds that migrate along the Front Range flyway. This season Randy and I have spent many hours outdoors looking for birds, and it has been especially rewarding. We have spotted birds that we’ve never seen, including the burrowing owl, avocet, and phalarthrope (don’t ask me to pronounce that one!).

Recently I learned that Colorado is one of the leading states for the number of birds, so I’m surprised that more birders don’t come here to see them. When I began writing this column, I thought I’d be finished in four years after completing about 60 birds. New studies have shown that more than 400 birds fly through or live in Colorado.

On one especially blustery cold and windy day, we braved the elements and documented 17 migrating species. Our reward for enduring the malevolent weather was a snowy egret. From time immemorial, man has marveled at the beauty of this bird and its feathery attire. This stunning white bird is often referred to as the "little" egret because, at a little more than 2 feet in height, it is considerably smaller than its cousins, the great white egret and blue heron.

Egrets and herons are large birds with "S"-shaped necks and long legs that fall into the class of wading birds. The snowy egret will hunt for food by wading and stalking prey around the shorelines and mud flats of freshwater streams, ponds, lakes, wetlands, and flooded fields or in saltwater marshes of coastal areas. It feeds on aquatic invertebrates, insects, snakes, frogs, fish, small mammals, and birds. The indigestible parts are regurgitated as pellets.

The snowy egret has a commanding 3-foot wingspan that it sometimes spreads to shade the water so fish will swim to it. But being smaller has its advantages. The snowy is faster and more agile than the larger herons. It will stand perfectly still and upright or slowly wade through water with its long legs looking for fish, like its bigger cousins. But if it sees a fish out of its reach, it will instantaneously run to it and turn its long neck any which-way to spear the fish. Egrets and herons continually clean and sharpen their bills by rubbing them like a knife against a tree or stump.

Unique to the snowy egret is its vivid yellow feet that it uses to flush out crustaceans, snakes, frogs, insects, and spiders by hopping up and down on the mud. The best time to observe an egret is in the early morning and late afternoon when it is hunting for food. Unlike night herons, egrets and the great blue heron feed during the day and roost in trees at night.

Egrets are sensitive to the cold, and to preserve its body heat on this cold day, the snow egret’s long, curved neck and wings were tucked tightly into its body. It stood on one leg at the southern edge of a pond surrounded by a group of northern shoveler ducks. Ducks often gather together on cold days to keep each other warm, and it looked like the egret had been invited to join them. This egret did not display the characteristic wispy plumage, but it was hard not to admire its delicate white plumes when blown by the wind.

The snowy egret does not commonly breed in this region but often stops here during spring migration on its way north. During breeding season the adult is adorned with long, delicate plumes on its head, neck and back. Its feet and lores (bare skin between its beak and eyes) turn from yellow to a dark orange. In June, it mates and lays four to six eggs. The parents take turns sitting on the eggs and feeding the chicks.

The snowy egret nests in tall tree colonies. Because it is smaller, it must carefully guard its prey and chicks from hawks and larger egrets and herons. Once the chicks have matured, the parents teach them to forage, and in September the southward migration begins.

In the Victorian era, snowy egret feathers were tres chic and all the rage as adornment for single (as in looking for a mate) lady’s hats. In 1886, an ounce of plumes cost $32, almost twice the price of an ounce of gold. In today’s terms, that would be about $2,000. Such a tidy sum ultimately led to the slaughter of millions of egrets. Fortunately, conservationists worked to establish the 1918 Migratory Bird Act, which ended the slaughter and has served to protect birds from over-hunting, egg collecting, and fashion trends. The Audubon Society was formed during this period and took the great white egret as its symbol to promote conservation of herons, egrets, and their habitat.

In addition to being beautiful, birds help to manage the environment. Kailen Mooney, a University of Colorado doctoral ecology student, has found that forging birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, and yellow rumped warblers help to safeguard ponderosa forests by improving the vigor of trees. Birds consume large quantities of beetles, caterpillars, ants, and aphids; all harmful to trees. Removing insects increases the level of terpene in pine trees, a natural insecticide.

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

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Art Matters: Jump into Art Hop this month

Below (L to R): Cellist Genny Newton with plein air artist Kathryn McMahon at Second Street Art Market Wine and Music Series. In the background is McMahon’s newest painting "A Morning Walk." Photo by Janet Sellers.

By Janet Sellers

Art Hop starts up again! May 15 is the first Art Hop of 2008, and it’s from 5 to 8 p.m. About 18 local arts venues are on the Art Hop maps, which are available all over town. The Art Hop venues are in the section of Historic Monument from Beacon Lite Road down to Front Street, and north to south from Third to Second Streets. Wine, goodies and music abound, so it is a summer-long festival in its own right, all about art.

I invited my friend Jennifer to join me in a preview of some Art Hop venues last Saturday. I’ll try to tell about the different venues in each column over the summer, but this day we focused on our first visit to the Wisdom Tea House, owned by Tom and Diane Wisdom. It has just opened, and Jennifer and I enjoyed a little pot of one of their many dozens of kinds of tea amid some very colorful, modern paintings adorning the walls. Tom said they would be having a different art exhibit each month, too.

We also dropped by on the next block up to see Sharon DeWeese’s gallery and chocolate shop (well, she has a variety of artisan fine candies, but I only think in terms of the divine truffles), the Candy Box n’ Gallery. We got our truffles, but also had to taste the samples of fudge and sponge candy as we wandered through the gallery. I think we were supposed to sample, then view the art—I’ll do that next time. Her classes are offered at the gallery this summer.

In addition to the monthly Art Hop, the Second Street Art Market has also added an art and chamber music program every Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m., complete with goodies and wine. I admit I just had to sneak a taste of chocolate marble cheesecake as we toured the gallery. Kathryn McMahon was at the gallery to greet visitors, and we talked a bit about her plein air paintings on exhibit that day. While Kathryn’s brochure mentions her myriad awards and signature art societies, we mostly talked as artists do about light, gardens, and plein air painting. Both of us are dyed-in-the-wool plein air painters, taking every chance we get to be outdoors and drawing or painting it.

Coast to coast and everywhere in between, plein air painting for artists and collectors is now having its biggest comeback in history. We are making some history of our own here in our town. Please join us! Kathryn will be teaching outdoors in the garden at Second Street Art Market, and I’ll be out and about from now until winter every week someplace with our local Tri-Lakes PAPA—Plein Air Painters Association (I just made that up a few years ago, and now it’s really about whomever we can coax out into the sunshine to enjoy painting for a few hours). Grab your pencils and paints and join the outdoor plein air movement. It takes a bit of getting used to, being outdoors with the breeze and distractions. Compared to studio work, it takes a fair amount of flexibility to accomplish. So, begin with a light heart and as few colors as possible to keep it simple.

Plein air painters are most concerned with light and color, frequently in its impression, while recording the scene in a light-hearted, robust style. It is one that is simple and colorful, and later shares the fleeting experience with the viewer of dashing off a moment of truth with the brush. Commonly done in oil, plein air painting is also a watercolorist’s joy.

Watercolor, on the other hand, requires the ability to maintain a rapport with the color, the water, and the paper amid the outdoor distractions and lightning-fast brush strokes before the hot sun has a chance to dry the paint mid-stroke. So many variables! The artist has just time for the focus of the idea and must record it in that moment. The style of plein air reveals the excitement of that moment for many, many years to come. And, as an added bonus, most plein air works increase in value over those years as well.

While most of our local Art Hop venues exhibit paintings, drawings, and other art on the walls, many are increasingly offering sculpture of all sizes, for indoors as well as outdoors. The new trend for fine garden art and sculpture gardens is rejuvenating our tastes for the outdoors at home. More and more, cities, towns, and businesses as well as homeowners are benefiting from the beauty of art outdoors in all seasons.

One of my favorite outdoor visual treats is the popularity of bubbly summer water fountains, ponds, and waterfalls adorned with a simple stone sculpture. The sculpture not only adds interest and a focal point, but also is visually at play with the riot of greens and blooms of the landscape at many levels. Often, we can enjoy the very same place transformed into twinkle-light fountains in late fall and winter. Lights beneath a dusting of snow have a soft glow in the serene, white landscape. Summer views of our gardens and sculptures are a given, but winter views of snow-dusted sculptures as artworks outdoors offer up a delight for the soul when the garden is fast asleep underneath the ice and snow.

I am so looking forward to meeting up with everyone again at the Art Hop venues on May 15. It is always on the third Thursday of the month, 5-8 pm, and we can enjoy it every month until it ends in September. You can’t miss me. I’m the one with the secret camera taking candid shots of the happy event as we all stroll the Art Hop. I’ll have a big red dog with me, and I have red hair, too. The dog has to stay outside with a friend while I go into the galleries, but you can’t miss us. We’ll see you there, and be sure to say hello—you just might get in the pictures!

Janet Lee Sellers is an American painter, sculptor and writer working in the mediums of canvas, concrete/mixed media and paper. Her work supports natural habitat for rural and urban wild (and human) life.

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April and May events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: "Duck Gal Julie" (children’s specialist Julie Simmons).

Below: Ducks and geese at the Monument Library.

Below: Tamara Brody with Signing Sam. 

By Harriet Halbig

April’s library events were met with a great deal of interest—in spite of sometimes threatening weather.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, several hundred people read or recited a poem and received a prize. Several children wrote their own verses.

Our annual Duck Day at the Monument branch was attended by over 50 people. After sharing some stories with "Duck Gal Julie" (children’s specialist Julie Simmons) and learning about the varieties of birds that inhabit the pond behind the library, the group went outside for an in-person experience of feeding. The birds were very enthusiastic and appreciative. Despite the chilly wind, the group remained outside for some time before returning indoors for lemonade, cookies, and a duck drawing lesson.

The Palmer Lake branch hosted a fun and fascinating program on April 19. Tamara Brody of Show of Hands (Signing for Wee Ones) brought her life-size puppets and smaller toys to demonstrate signing. Beginning with Itsy Bitsy Spider and progressing through the alphabet and days of the week, she kept her audience engaged throughout. Finally, she read and signed the popular children’s book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle.

Tamara explained that over the past several years researchers have realized that pre-verbal children who know as few as five signs (such as "more" and "I want to drink") are much less frustrated and often learn to speak sooner. This is because the activity of signing with one’s hands is a gross motor skill developed much earlier than the fine motor skill of speech. A woman in attendance at the program said that her daughter was taught some of the signs at daycare.

Some schools are now teaching American Sign Language and giving credit for it as a second language.

The month of May will offer some exciting new programs and services.

On May 4, Jim Sawatzki of Palmer Lake will host the local debut of Summer Sojourn, his video about the Chautauqua movement of the late 19th century. The film has been seen on PBS. During summer in the late 19th century at over 400 locations (including Glen Park in Palmer Lake), people would come to hear national speakers, musicians, and preachers at these events. Some would stay for days or weeks.

The original Chautauqua was at a town of that name in New York state. The word Chautauqua is an American Indian term for "coming together."

The film will be shown at 2 p.m. on May 4, and Jim will be on hand to answer questions afterward.

On Aug. 3, there will be a one-day modern day Chautauqua in Palmer Lake. Further information will be available at a later date.

The first meeting of the knitting group at the Monument branch will be May 8 from 4- 5:30 p.m. in the community room. Knitters of all skill levels are welcome.

Beginning May 14, a Master Gardener Help Desk will be available in the community room at Monument. Bring all your problems for some free advice. The times are 2:30-8:30 p.m. This will be a weekly event.

Tarantulas and Creepy Crawlies will be presented May 10 at Monument. Hosted by Rowen Monks, who will bring part of his collection of creepy-crawlies, this program is related to the children’s summer reading program, Catch the Reading Bug. The program begins at 1:30 p.m.

Also on May 10, at 10:30 a.m., the Palmer Lake branch will host a Paws to Read Program. Children are encouraged to come and read to Newfoundland Jax.

On May 17, Palmer Lake will feature Stories, Sunflowers and Seed. Also at 10:30, this program will demonstrate how to start plants from seed and how to transplant. Information about gardening in our unusual climate will also be offered. Those who attend will take home their transplant and their seeded plant.

In May, representatives from the library will visit elementary and middle schools in the area to promote the summer reading program. The theme of the younger children’s program is Catch the Reading Bug, while the older group’s theme is Summer Tour 2008. In both programs, prizes will be awarded for time spent reading. The programs will be presented May 27-July 31.

Displays at the Monument Branch in May feature a collection of wooden drop spindles owned by Toni Pollard in the display case and photographs by Alana Thrower.

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Pine Forest Antiques Show excites collector in all of us

Below: Slot machine from 1939 from Estes Park dealer Giane Gish. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: (L to R) Co-chairs of the antiques show, Susan Seig and Mary Mills admire some of the china on display at the antiques show. Photo by David Futey.

By Dave Futey

The inner antiques collector was awakened in nearly 2,000 attendees of the 32nd Annual Pine Forest Antiques Show and Sale on April 19 and 20 at Lewis-Palmer High School.

Considered one of the best shows in the region, this event is a fundraiser for the Tri-Lakes Woman’s Club (TLWC) and was co-chaired this year by TLWC members Sherry Seig and Mary Mills. The selection of antiques and other items from the 59 vendors, representing six states, included estate jewelry, primitive and antique furniture, toys, vintage sports gear such as wooden snowshoes and skis, sports memorabilia, quilts, linens, lamps, coins, and a wide array of china.

One interesting example of china was a lithophane moriage tea set, which has the face of a geisha in the base of the teacup. Other curiosities included a 6-foot-tall slot machine in the figure of a frontiersman and vintage wooden skis assembled as a coat rack.

The show offered other diversions for attendees besides perusing the selection of antiques and other collectibles. These included five antiques appraisers who evaluated items brought in by attendees in the same fashion as the PBS Show, Antiques Roadshow. Then there was John Treinen of JNO Cut Glass, one of only 20 active glass cutters in the country. Cut glass is a glass decorating technique that is done by hand while using a rotating wheel. The technique is almost exclusively passed down through family members. Treinen, who learned how to cut glass from his father, also performed crystal grinding and glass repair for attendees with such needs.

The TLWC also put on a bake sale and geranium flower sale for those not wishing to fill their china cabinets but their senses.

With funds raised through this event and the Wine and Roses event held in October, the TLWC supports community organizations through grants. Since the grant program started some 30 years ago, over $500,000 has been awarded to various Tri-Lakes public service and nonprofit organizations and District 38 schools. Organizations that have benefited from the grants include the Monument Police Department, Tri-Lakes Cares, and Lewis-Palmer schools, among others.

For more information regarding the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club and the grant program, go to www.tlwc.net

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Snapshots of Our Community

YMCA opens, April 20

Below: The Broadmoor Academy of Music performs in the lobby of the new YMCA before opening ceremonies.Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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MA construction, April 27

Below: Photo taken April 27 of the construction of the new Monument Academy building on Highway 105. Photo by Chris Pollard.

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Acoustic duo enthralls audience

Below: Joe Scott and Hannah Alkire at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts April 20. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

By Raymond McCoy

In the warm, intimate environment of the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, Acoustic Eidolon provided a wonderful evening of diverse music with sensitive and often humorous interaction to a full-house audience on April 20.

The duo that originally began as a musical partnership evolved into romance and, three years later, marriage. Their passion for life, with deep insight into the places visited and experiences shared, contributed to the new folk style of sounds they enjoy and produce so well. Joe Scott, bringing a funk with heavy metal, and Hannah Alkire’s classical background blended into a rhythmic sound somewhere between Spanish and Irish folk with a slice of contemporary. Hannah did her best impression of Jimi Hendrix, while Joe often used his guitar to thump out a drum beat.

"In Your Cathedral," written by Joe for Hannah when her cello became smashed while traveling, was expressed through deep, understanding lyrics: "Someone splintered your voice, it broke my heart to know you had no choice." Hannah, a cancer survivor, wrote "Shape of a Woman" about the relationship shared with her mom, who was unable to overcome her cancer. Soft, gentle lyrics—"The hole that I had, that I was trying to fill, was the shape of a woman, the shape of you"—comes from a rich place in the heart that only a mother and daughter could understand.

Theirs is a rare experience like no other when two people are doing what they love, doing it together with the one they love, and we were all honored they shared this night that so many clearly enjoyed and appreciated.

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Baptist Rd. work crawls along

Photo provided by El Paso County.

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Time to start thinking about the Fishing Derby, June 7

Below" What comes to mind on a warm, April Saturday afternoon, why grabbing your pole and heading to Palmer Lake for a bit of fishing. Photo by David Futey.

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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.

Arts and Crafts show, May 3-4

Creative Crafters are holding their annual Spring Showcase of Fine Art and Crafts May 3, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and May 4, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Lewis-Palmer High School, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument. Over 75 booths will offer a wide variety of goods, all handmade in the U.S. For more information, call 488-3046.

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Slash and Mulch season begins May 3

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash (tree debris) and Mulch season begins May 3. Hours of operation for 2008 will be Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5 to 7:30 p.m. Free mulch will be available beginning May 31. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area.

The program is a wildfire mitigation and recycling effort sponsored by El Paso County in cooperation with the Colorado State Forest Service, the state Board of Land Commissioners, and many volunteers. The program’s purpose is to teach forest management practices and to encourage residents to clear adequate defensible space surrounding their structures by thinning trees and shrubs to reduce the spread of fire. Spreading mulch on the forest floor holds moisture, delays the spread of weeds, and provides nutrients to the forest.

For more information, call the El Paso County Environmental Services Department at 520-7878 or visit www.elpasoco.com

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Baptist Road lane change, May 5

On May 5, El Paso County Department of Transportation crews will reroute two-way traffic on Baptist Road to the newly opened east-bound lanes between Struthers Road and Gleneagle Drive. The current lanes are being closed and traffic rerouted to allow for completion of two west-bound lanes. Currently, Baptist Road is a two-lane road and serves as a major arterial for residents in Gleneagle, Jackson Creek, and the town of Monument. With continued growth to this area the demands have increased greatly. When complete, Baptist Road will be four lanes from Struthers Road to Desiree Drive. The widening project is expected to be completed by the end of August and is being funded through the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority.

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Spirits of Spring Wine and Beer Tasting and Silent Auction, May 9

Gleneagle Sertoma presents its annual fundraiser, Spirits of Spring, May 9, 6 to 8:30 p.m., at The Place, 13990 Gleneagle Dr. The tasting event features an exciting selection of spring wines, microbrews, and international beers. An abundant assortment of delectable delights will be served to go with the libations, which will be offered through the courtesy of Powers Liquor Mart. The cost is $35 per person, $60 per couple. Proceeds will go to Tri-Lakes Cares and other local benevolent groups. For more information or to donate items for the silent auction, call Sherry Edwards, 488-1044.

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Ron and Opal Benefit concert, May 10

The Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and School District 38 are hosting a family-friendly concert May 10, 2 p.m., at the Lewis-Palmer High School auditorium. This benefit concert for the Tri-Lakes Senior Programs features country gospel singers Ron and Opal (of the Ron and Opal Show from Branson, Mo.). Their harmonies and humor make for a truly enjoyable show. Leading them on stage will be Colorado Springs’ own Daytime Singers, part of the America the Beautiful Chorus. For ticket information, call Red Stephens, 487-8070, or Richard Allen, 488-0237.

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Art Hop Returns to Historic Downtown Monument, May 15

The Historic Monument Merchants Association presents the fourth annual Art Hop in historic downtown Monument. Held the third Thursday of each month from May through September, the event has become a mecca for art lovers. This year’s first Art Hop is May 15, 5 to 8 p.m. Each month various downtown merchants host events centered on the arts. Everything from music to photography to painting and pottery is on display for the public to enjoy free of charge. For event times and locations, visit www.monumentarthop.org

Art Hop participants May 15 include Second Street Art Market, Bella Art and Frame, The Design Works, Toys 4 Fun, 2-Watts Creative Center, Bella Casa, Margo’s on the Alley, The Candy Box N Gallery, Santa Fe Jewelry, Covered Treasures Bookstore, Holiday Fantasies, Interior Resources in Style, Wisdom Tea House, La Casa Fiesta, The Love Shop, BeXpressed, Prickly Pear, and The Winter/Helmich Gallery. For information on Art Hop or HMMA, visit www.monumentmerchants.com

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Summer Reading Programs for children and teens starts May 17

Win prizes for reading! Enjoy special programs including shows, films, storytimes, arts, and more. Register online or at your library beginning May 17. Summer Reading will be held May 27-July 31 at all Pikes Peak Library District locations.

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Emergency response training, May 29-31

St Peter Catholic Church, located at Jefferson and First Street in Monument, has been certified by the Red Cross by as a full-service emergency/hazard shelter. The Monument Police Department will be coordinating county CERT (civilian emergency response team) training for area residents at St. Peter on May 29-31 to support this shelter program. Area residents can register for the training on a first-come-first-serve basis at St Peter, 481-3511, or the Monument Police Department, 481-3253.

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Spring Fine Art Show coming in June

The Palmer Lake Art Group (PLAG) will present its annual Spring Fine Art Show June 3 through June 27 at the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts, 304 Highway 105, Palmer Lake. The opening reception will be held June 7, 5 to 8 p.m. The exhibit will be open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free. More than 40 PLAG member artists will exhibit a wide variety of art works in different media. Funds raised from the show will be used to award scholarships to senior students at Lewis-Palmer High School who plan to continue their studies in art. For more information, phone Suzanne Jenne, 303-681-0274, or Margarete Seagraves, 487-1329.

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Gleneagle Garage Sale, June 6-7

The annual Gleneagle neighborhood garage sale will be held June 6 and 7, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. For information, call Bill Bristol at 481-3366 or Bill Carroll at 488-4288.

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Fire Station Open House, June 7

The Donald Wescott Fire Department Rescue 1 Volunteers will hold a BBQ lunch June 7 at Wescott Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Dr., 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., in conjunction with the Gleneagle garage sale. The community is invited to stop by and visit and enjoy hot dogs, chips, and soda. Station and truck tours will be available and crews will answer your fire safety and emergency medical service questions. For more information, call 488-8680.

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Monument Farmers’ Market Opens, June 7

The farmers’ market returns Jun. 7, 8 a.m.-2 p.m., at a new location behind Starbucks, 481 Hwy 105. More than 80 vendors offer local crafts and produce. For more information, call Diana, 213-3323.

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Tri-Lakes Cruisers Benefit Car Show, June 8

Over 200 cars will line the streets of historic downtown Monument June 8, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This annual event benefits Tri-Lakes Cares, a local charity. For more information, visit www.tlcruisers.org

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LPHS Booster Club 2nd Annual Golf Tournament, June 14

This fundraiser for all Lewis-Palmer High School athletic programs will be held June 14, 8 a.m., at King’s Deer Golf Course. The tournament is open to all. Shotgun start: foursomes at each tee box; everyone tees off at 8 am and finishes by 12:30 pm. $120 per Golfer: Includes green fees, cart, unlimited range balls, catered lunch of New Orleans BBQ, additional round of golf at King’s Deer, door prizes, and more. To register, mail registration and check for $120 per golfer to LPHS Booster Club, 1300 Higby Rd., Monument, CO 80132. For more information, contact Donna, 963-2474 or dwoodhockey@comcast.net

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Monument Academy Golf Tournament, June 23

This event will support MA’s new school and educational excellence. It will be held June 23 at Woodmoor Pines Country Club. Shot-gun start at 8 am. Four-person Team Scramble. Prizes awarded for first through fourth place teams. Individual contest holes. $125 per player. For more information,contact Walt Marty 719-488-9279 or www.monumentacademy.net

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Free tutoring in reading at Monument Library

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

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Volunteer! English tutoring classes in Monument in May

Share your love of reading – become a tutor at your library. Tutor an adult once a week for two hours. Help someone improve his/her reading, writing, comprehension and/or English language skills. Tutoring classes are held Thursdays, May 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29; 5:30 to 9 p.m., at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs. Call 531-6333, x2223 for more information.

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Gardener Help Desk at Monument Library begins May 14

Volunteer master gardeners from Colorado State University will be available to help Tri-Lakes gardeners Wednesdays, 2:30 to 8:30 p.m., May 14 through Sept. 3. They welcome questions about water issues, pest management, and plants that thrive in our area. Stop by Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr., to discuss your landscape problems or to brag about your successes! For more information, call 488-2370.

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Volunteer at the Mining Museum

The Western Museum of Mining & Industry needs volunteers for front desk reception, special events, machinery maintenance, and groundskeeping. For more information, call 488-0880.

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Library District’s new Kids Web

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

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

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Wildlife Masters in El Paso County

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

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