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Vol. 8 No. 6 - June 7, 2008


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the PDF file. This is a 12.4 Mbyte file and will take about 72 minutes to download using a dial-up modem. To view and print the file, you will need to download and install the free Acrobat Reader Program.

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Special District Election Results

Donala Water and Sanitation District:
William George  and Dale Schendzielos were elected to 4-year terms.

Donald Wescott Fire Protection District:
Scott Campbell
and Dennis Feltz were elected to 4-year terms. Greg Gent was elected to a 2-year term.

Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District:
Roger Lance was elected to a 4-year term. Barbara Kelly was elected to a 2-year term.

Triview Metropolitan District:
Robert Fisher and Steve Remington were elected to 4-year terms. Steve Cox and Bob Eskridge were elected to 2-year terms.

In case you haven’t noticed...Monument Lake is full!

Below: As can be seen by the waterfall over the spillway at the southeast end of the renovated dam, Monument Lake has been completely refilled thanks to the efforts of Director Rich Landreth the staff of the Monument Public Works Department in arranging the necessary Monument Creek water exchanges.The water level had been lowered recently to inspect the spillway and determine if any repairs were needed. The renovated shoreline on the east side of the lake is now a pleasant place to relax with a lawn chair and a fishing pole or launch a canoe or paddle-boat (no outboard gas motors allowed). Photos by Jim Kendrick.

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Plan your 4th now

The Monument Fourth of July Parade traditionally is made up of over 100 entries and draws an estimated 20,000 spectators. The parade, sponsored by the Monument Hill Sertoma Club, is known as the "Biggest small-town parade in Colorado."

The theme for the 2008 parade is "We the People." For more information, visit www.monumenthillsertoma.org

Ride the bus and avoid the hassle. Parking is available at local schools, with free bus shuttles running 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. On the west side of I-25, buses will run between Palmer Lake Elementary School and Beacon Lite Road at Vitamin Cottage. East of I-25, buses will be available at Lewis-Palmer Middle School, Monument Park & Ride, Lewis-Palmer High School, and Creekside Middle School to and from Beacon Lite Road and Second Street. For more information, call Mary Martin, 481-1889.

In addition to the parade, there will be a variety of other events including a pancake breakfast, fun run, street fair, and "The Best Small Town Fireworks Show in America. See July 4th events article for details.

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Valero agrees to donate land for I-25 off-ramp

By Jim Kendrick

At a special meeting May 29, the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) approved an agreement with Valero Corp., which owns the Diamond Shamrock truck stop on the northwest corner of the state’s I-25 Baptist Road interchange. Valero had agreed to the BRRTA resolution approved in April for donation of right-of-way to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) that is needed for a new dual-lane southbound off-ramp and additional lanes on westbound Baptist Road.

Valero then asked for this more formal agreement that specifies the Dec. 31 deadline for Monument to complete construction of water and wastewater lines to the truck stop. A condition of approval was that CDOT process a special use permit in early June that will give Valero an easement in this agreement for the company to come back onto the land donated to CDOT to remove and replace all the contaminated soil in the truck stop’s leach field as well as the failed septic system. The deeds for the various pieces of land will not be tendered to CDOT until Valero receives approved special use permits for the mandatory septic system cleanup. Only then will CDOT allow BRRTA to advertise for construction bids for the interchange expansion.

The BRRTA board also approved an intergovernmental agreement splitting sales tax revenue with Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority (PPRTA) in the areas where the two entities’ boundaries now overlap. Originally, BRRTA was excluded from PPRTA. Since then, BRRTA has included some land within PPRTA. The estimated 2008 revenue to be split in half is $44,000.

All five members of the BRRTA board were present: County Commissioners Wayne Williams, Dennis Hisey, and Amy Lathen, and Monument Mayor Byron Glenn and Trustee Travis Easton. Easton has replaced former Monument Trustee and BRRTA board member Dave Mertz, who chose not to run for re-election in April.

Difficulty in obtaining right-of-way has delayed interchange

Negotiations with Valero for this right-of-way donation over the past 16 months have been conducted by CDOT right-of-way specialists, BRRTA board members, and the project’s consultant construction contract manager Bob Torres of Denver engineering firm Carter Burgess.

CDOT advised BRRTA, Monument, and El Paso County that it did not anticipate having sufficient state Senate Bill 1 road construction funds available to pay for the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion project sooner than 2019. CDOT then added the interchange to the Colorado Statewide Transportation Plan and the CDOT Region 2 Transportation Plan. All aspects of the expansion of the state’s interchange must be approved by CDOT even though the department is not paying for the bridge and ramp widening at this time.

The BRRTA board opted to finance and build the interchange expansion rather than wait until CDOT funds might become available, due to continuing safety problems that occur routinely at rush hour. In November 2006, BRRTA voters approved a temporary 20-year, 1-cent sales tax to pay for $21.5 million in privately held transportation revenue bonds. The voter-approved BRRTA ballot initiative limits the total expense for issuing and redeeming all the bonds to $50 million.

The state owns the existing interchange, including the existing two-lane bridge and Baptist Road lanes within the boundaries of the interchange. In accordance with state statutes, however, BRRTA will own the new lanes of Baptist Road and the two new four-lane bridge spans as well as all their new associated traffic lights, signage, and landscaping. BRRTA will be responsible for all future maintenance costs of these items throughout their normal service life.

Should state funds become available, CDOT will reimburse BRRTA only for what the construction contract would have cost at the time of the 2006 BRRTA sales tax initiative: $16.3 million. CDOT will not reimburse BRRTA for interest, inflation, or any other administrative costs related to BRRTA’s bond issue, nor any portion of BRRTA’s future maintenance costs for the new bridge, new lanes, traffic lights, and landscaping that BRRTA constructs during their useful lifespan.

BRRTA must also pay CDOT up to $200,000 for construction review and oversight services leading to state approval of each portion of the construction project to ensure that BRRTA’s work meets CDOT standards.

Right-of-way acquisition problems caused changes in plans

BRRTA had originally planned on obtaining donations of all the needed right-of-way from the adjacent landowners in return for the increase in the value of their land due to BRRTA’s improvements to the interchange. BRRTA had also planned on obtaining construction bids before conducting the bond sale to minimize the risk of having insufficient funding if original cost estimates proved inaccurate. Delays in getting the donations quickly caused a change in BRRTA’s plans, however.

BRRTA chose to sell the bonds in early May 2007 so that it could initiate the 1-cent sales tax on July 1 rather than have to wait another six months, per state statutes, for the next available opportunity to start collections on Jan. 1, 2008. This created some additional risk because BRRTA did not know the actual cost for the winning construction contract prior to the bond sale, as had originally been planned. It still doesn’t know the actual cost.

Due to high rates of construction cost inflation, contractors’ bids are often only valid for a few weeks. CDOT previously said that it would not allow BRRTA to advertise for bids until BRRTA had obtained and transferred deeds for all the necessary right-of-way to CDOT. Over a year later, there has still been no advertisement for a bid because BRRTA has not yet obtained all of the necessary right-of-way for the project. BRRTA is less able to pay for right-of-way now, and delays of six to nine months to carry out condemnation by eminent domain may result in bids that are higher than the net amount BRRTA received from the bond sale.

However, CDOT has recently waived this policy to allow BRRTA to begin all planned construction on the west side of the interchange once BRRTA obtains the necessary right-of-way from Valero for that portion of the project. CDOT owns enough right-of-way adjacent to the state’s existing two-lane bridge over I-25 to also allow BRRTA to start construction of the new westbound four-lane bridge when Valero’s right-of-way donation to CDOT is completed.

This CDOT waiver to advertise for construction contract bids without first obtaining all necessary right-of-way reflects how funding for the bridge may be compromised by continuing inflation if there are further delays in awarding the contract.

Road-building costs have been escalating dramatically. Some of these costs are rising by as much as 40 percent per year. If all the construction bids are too high to be paid for by the remaining proceeds from the sale of $21.5 million in bonds, the project will be abandoned and BRRTA will liquidate its privately held revenue bonds. The BRRTA sales tax will be terminated after all administrative costs, principal, and interest for bond redemption have been paid off in any case. However, bidding has become much more competitive now that the number of road projects has dwindled, and the BRRTA board and staff are still confident that $21.5 million is enough to complete the project.

Some right-of-way has been obtained

The Schuck Corp., owner of much of the vacant land on the south side of Baptist Road between I-25 and the Santa Fe Trail down to the north boundary of the Air Force Academy, quickly donated the right-of-way that BRRTA needed on the southwest corner of the interchange as well as the south side of Baptist Road between the interchange and Old Denver Highway. None of this donated land is protected Preble’s mouse habitat.

CDOT already owned the land on the southeast corner of the interchange between I-25 and the new four-lane extension of Struthers Road to connect to the existing Jackson Creek Parkway intersection. Nearly all of this land on both sides of Jackson Creek, except for the now-abandoned two-lane frontage road that will become the new northbound off-ramp, is mouse habitat. Road construction in this protected CDOT land is prohibited between April 1 and Nov. 1.

Hopes for expeditious donation of right-of-way by the landowners of commercial properties adjacent to the interchange on the north side of Baptist Road have been dashed month after month since the successful ballot initiative, however. The owners of these four Monument parcels are:

  • Phoenix Bell Associates, owner of all the vacant land, except for the Valero parcel, on the north side of Baptist Road between I-25 and the county’s Santa Fe Trail.
  • Valero Corp.
  • THF Realty, which purchased the former, now vacant, Foxworth-Galbraith hardware store property on the northeast corner of the interchange
  • ADK Monument Developers LLC, principal owner of the vacant 73-acre Timbers at Monument property on the northwest corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway, which surrounds the THF Realty hardware store parcel and extends north to Monument Marketplace.

ADK right-of-way details

After over a year of pre-application discussions with the Monument Planning Commission, the Board of Trustees, and town staff beginning in 2004, ADK obtained approval of a preliminary Planned Development site plan on Feb. 21, 2006, for 352,000 square feet of commercial space in four separate lots in early 2006 and agreed to donate right-of-way for several new westbound lanes of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the existing Foxworth-Galbraith fence. In return, the town approved an access for Timbers Drive, which will run north-south between Jackson Creek Parkway and the hardware store parcel, onto Baptist Road in the center of the ADK frontage. The hardware store parcel was not part of the approved Timbers preliminary plat and preliminary PD site plan.

This Timbers Drive access will be about 300 feet east of the existing fence between the THF and ADK properties. There will be a dedicated left-turn lane constructed in the median for turns into the Timbers development from eastbound Baptist Road, as well as dedicated westbound deceleration and acceleration lanes.

(See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v5n1.htm#monpc, www.ourcommunitynews.org/v5n1.htm#brrta, and www.ourcommunitynews.org/v5n1.htm#botdec20 for details of the approved ADK site plan and right-of-way donation condition.)

However, ADK has still not yet made the mandatory right-of-way donation that was a condition of approval for its site plan over two years ago despite several announcements that the donation was imminent. ADK and Phoenix Bell never recorded their approved site plan and subdivision improvement agreement with the county.

The southeast portion of the ADK parcel is unusable due to Jackson Creek drainage, a floodplain, and the associated Preble’s mouse habitat. About half of the ADK frontage on Baptist Road is mouse habitat on either side of the Jackson Creek drainage.

A significant engineering hurdle for road construction during this six-month window is the need to install much larger stormwater drainage culverts under Baptist Road designed to handle a 100-year flood in the Jackson Creek drainage area. The existing Jackson Creek culvert under Baptist Road is too small to handle a significant 100-year flood, and the existing roadway would be washed away. During the planned construction period, these mouse and drainage problems will further complicate the severe traffic backups that have routinely occurred on the east side of the interchange during rush-hour periods since Jackson Creek Parkway was extended north of Lyons Tail Road to Higby Road.

Another condition of Monument’s approval of ADK’s preliminary site plan was that it must provide a road easement connecting the northeast corner of the hardware store property to Timbers Drive, the main access road through the Timbers parcel. Without this access easement, the hardware store property would be landlocked due to the planned closure of Struthers Road between Baptist and Higby Roads.

Representatives of ADK have informed Glenn for months that ADK will donate right-of-way for widening Baptist Road, but BRRTA has still not approved any paperwork at a public meeting regarding a transfer of ownership to CDOT.

THF right-of-way details

THF initially told the Monument Planning Commission and Board of Trustees that it planned to purchase the hardware store property and the ADK parcel. THF asked Monument to approve an increase in the maximum allowable Timbers at Monument square footage from the previously approved 352,000 square feet to 600,000-700,000 square feet for the combined parcels. THF requested that the town waive any proportionate increases in any of the town’s various impact fees for the increase in allowed space as an inducement to THF in return for a significant increase in future sales tax revenues.

THF similarly asked BRRTA to approve a waiver of any increase in BRRTA road use fees for up to 348,000 additional square feet of THF commercial space on April 13, 2007, and again at the next BRRTA meeting on May 4. THF asserted that approval of the waiver would induce THF to begin Timbers construction a year sooner than originally planned and would generate an additional $11 million in BRRTA sales tax revenues. BRRTA’s bond consultant, Mike Lund of Piper-Jaffrey, said that there would be sufficient BRRTA sales tax revenue to pay off the $21.5 million even if no new businesses were built within BRRTA for the next 20 years, including no Timbers at Monument construction. The BRRTA board unanimously rejected the THF road use fee waiver request.

(See www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n5.htm#brrta and www.ourcommunitynews.org/v7n6.htm#brrta for details.)

THF recently purchased the hardware store property but has not purchased any of the Timbers at Monument land from ADK or Phoenix Bell. There have been no plans presented at a public meeting to show how the Timbers site plan would be modified by THF if it purchases the ADK parcel.

THF has still not budged on a donation of right-of-way for the lanes that will lead to the new westbound span or the new dual-lane northbound on-ramp that will be built to the east of the existing on-ramp after Struthers Road is demolished. BRRTA has taken no action to condemn the needed THF right-of-way, due in part to costs that would be involved in purchasing the land at fair market value and the delays that would be unavoidable if the case goes to district court. BRRTA needs land inside the existing southern hardware store fence line to widen Baptist Road from two to seven lanes.

All of this needed right-of-way must be deeded to the state before CDOT will allow the construction to begin on this portion of its interchange. An additional six- to nine-month delay for an eminent domain condemnation of the THF right-of-way might result in total project costs being too high to proceed.

State revenues are below expectations, and Glenn and Williams have stated that the planned expansion of I-25 to six lanes from the south gate of the Air Force Academy (Exit 150) to the top of Monument Hill (Exit 163) may be the last major highway project funded by the state for this region for some time.

None of the THF right-of-way is in mouse habitat. However, there are several underground utilities in separate easements in this area that will have to be relocated. This has complicated negotiations performed by Denver engineering firm Carter-Burgess, BRRTA’s contract manager for the interchange project.

Utility relocations, particularly the construction of new Mountain View Electric Association power lines between the King Soopers and Monument Ridge shopping centers, have significantly delayed the construction of the new eastbound lanes of Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive.

Phoenix Bell right-of-way details

In January 2008, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding that would allow Phoenix Bell to construct six road accesses across the county’s Santa Fe Trail to Old Denver Highway, one for each of the six lots in the Phoenix Bell parcel. In return, Phoenix Bell agreed to donate right-of-way to BRRTA for widening Baptist Road between the Valero Parcel and the Santa Fe Trailhead. Phoenix Bell also gave a road easement to Valero for a new access to the northwest side of its property to replace the current truck stop entrance on Baptist Road, just east of the interchange, which will be eliminated by curbing for the new westbound acceleration lane.

In return for the Valero right-of-way donation, the Town of Monument had previously agreed to construct a water and wastewater line to the truck stop property line from the intersection of Baptist Road and Old Denver Highway. Water service is to be provided by the town. Wastewater service is to be provided by Triview Metropolitan District, which has an existing sewer interceptor line at the Old Denver Highway intersection. The wastewater collection line must be completed and service made available by the end of 2008 due to the failure of the Diamond Shamrock septic system and a subsequent order from the county Health Department to Valero, requiring it to correct the problem or shut down operations.

All the contaminated earth surrounding the failed septic system must be excavated and disposed of as hazardous waste before the southbound off-ramps and westbound lanes can be constructed in this area.

Under an entirely separate contract with the Town of Monument, Carter-Burgess will design and construct the new water and wastewater lines for the truck stop.

The BRRTA board unanimously approved the Valero right-of-way donation agreement, based on the condition that the town, CDOT, and Valero separately agree that sanitary sewer service to the truck stop by Triview can be guaranteed by the end of December as required by the county Health Department.

Truck stop access to Baptist Road still not approved by CDOT

The new lanes and curbing for the westbound lanes of the expanded interchange will eliminate the current entrance to the Diamond Shamrock truck stop. An alternate access easement and roadway will be constructed by BRRTA within the adjacent vacant pasture land to the west that is owned by Phoenix Bell.

However, the south end of this main north-south access road for the Phoenix Bell parcel has not yet been approved by the CDOT because it lies directly within the right-of-way for the long-abandoned original Denver Highway. The disintegrating concrete in this abandoned roadway was never removed by Phoenix-Bell.

Now, the CDOT historian must determine whether this old roadway is sufficiently historic to be preserved and protected under federal statutes enforced by the Department of the Interior. The historian has not yet indicated when he will make his final decision on the matter. If he decides that the roadway must be saved, new negotiations between Phoenix-Bell and Valero must be concluded on a realigned access road.

New timetable proposed

Torres said that he hoped to publish the advertisements for the construction bids by mid-June, have a construction contract awarded sometime in July, and a have a notice to proceed with construction issued to the winning contractor sometime in August.

Torres also asked the board to consider using concrete, rather than asphalt as previously planned, for building the new Baptist Road lanes between the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection and the new bridge sections. Torres said the price of asphalt has risen to $100 per ton, which may now make a concrete roadway a more cost-effective option than in the past.

The board asked Torres to determine how the planned bidding process might have to be amended to allow for alternate bids for lanes paved with asphalt or concrete. All the board members concurred with Torres that they would solicit only fixed-price bids. Torres noted that the length of time highway construction bids remain valid has been steadily declining—to as little as two weeks in some cases. This may require board members to hold a special meeting, between the regularly scheduled meetings, to promptly determine the winning bid before the submitted bids’ fixed costs expire.

Baptist Road closure suggested

Torres also asked the board to consider temporarily closing Baptist Road between Jackson Creek Parkway and the interstate to help ensure that all necessary road construction can be completed between Nov. 1 and April 1, assuming the necessary right-of-way is obtained by then from THF and ADK.

Access to I-25 for motorists who typically use the Baptist Road interchange would be provided by a detour along the just completed Struthers Road connection of Baptist Road to the Northgate Road interchange (Exit 156).

Torres said there were three specific benefits to his proposed road closure:

  • Road construction within the mouse habitat would be expedited, making it more likely to be completed within the allowed six-month window during the winter snowstorm season.
  • The need for expensive traffic control personnel and frequent paving and re-routing of only two temporary through lanes within this construction area would be eliminated.
  • Money would be saved by completing the project more quickly with more efficient use of contractor personnel and equipment.

This detour option is also listed on page 3 of the just published PPRTA annual report. "This extension will provide a vital detour route … during the construction of the new I-25 interchange at Baptist Road." PPRTA provided all the funding for this four-lane Struthers Road extension. The right-of-way for the now-abandoned Old Struthers frontage road south of Baptist Road will be used for construction of the new northbound dual-lane off ramp. However, none of the proposed construction on the east side of the interchange to the Jackson Creek Parkway intersection will be authorized by CDOT until ADK Monument Developers, LLC, and THF Realty provide deeds for their right-of-way to the state.

Baptist Road motorists could also use Jackson Creek Parkway for access to the Highway 105 interchange (Exit 161) during the proposed detour period.

Williams emphasized that BRRTA would seek public input before any decision is made on the proposal to temporarily close Baptist Road west of Jackson Creek Parkway.

Sales tax split with PPRTA approved

Monument elected not to participate in the PPRTA temporary 10-year, 1-cent sales tax that was initiated in July 2004. Since then, BRRTA has included areas outside of the town boundary that were previously included in PPRTA. Monument has also annexed some portions of PPRTA since that election. However, a large portion of recent BRRTA inclusions still lies outside of Monument’s expanding boundary.

Monument did not create its own corresponding 1-cent tax because it would have had a similar conflict with BRRTA’s. Monument is not a party to this intergovernmental agreement to split sales tax revenues 50-50 for businesses that lie in the overlapped areas.

The sales tax limit in the area where the two authorities’ borders overlap can be no more than 1 cent. Actual revenues from the temporary 1-cent sales taxes paid in the overlapping authority areas are forwarded to the state Department of Revenue. The department is currently forwarding all of them to PPRTA.

The meeting adjourned at 8:35 a.m.

**********

The next regularly scheduled meeting will be held on June 13 at 2:30 p.m. in Monument’s Town Hall, 166 Second St. However, a special meeting may be called prior to that date to approve any documentation needed to expedite advertising for construction bids. Regularly scheduled meetings are normally held on the second Friday of even numbered months. Information: 884-8017.

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 5: Wakonda Meadows development annexed

Below: Colorado Springs Police Department Lt Skip Arms (right) and Monument Police Department Robert Stewart solicited financial support from the Monument Board of Trustees May 5 for the the Pikes Peak Region Peace Officers Memorial to be built in America The Beautiful Park to honor 24 officers killed in the line of duty since 1895. The Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s goal is $750,000 in tax-deductible donations to complete the project. See www.PeaceOfficerMemorial.com for additional information. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

At the May 5 meeting, the Monument Board of Trustees annexed the northern 85 acres of the Wakonda Meadows parcel between Beacon Lite Road and the Santa Fe Trail north of Eighth Street. The board also approved rezoning the newly annexed vacant land as Planned Development (PD) and a preliminary sketch PD plan proposed by land owner and developer Zonta Partnership Ltd. The southern 13-acre portion of the parcel, just north of the Century Park residential development, is already part of the town. All seven board members were present.

Wakonda Meadows annexation, rezoning approved

The board first unanimously approved a resolution stating that the petition from Zonta Partners LLC for the annexation of Wakonda Meadows conforms to state statutes and was eligible for consideration by the board. There were no citizens’ comments made during this eligibility hearing or the other three hearings that followed. The board also unanimously approved the annexation petition without comment.

During the rezoning hearing, Trustee Gail Drumm said the town should take ownership of the area to be dedicated as parks at the southern end of the project for expansion of the cemetery.

Owner Doug Barber said that Zonta would no longer be interested in the project if the town required construction of a cemetery at the main entrance to his proposed residential development of 85 large single-family homes and 48 multi-family units.

The board then unanimously approved the rezoning to Planned Development and the sketch PD plan. The board approved all the same conditions that the Planning Commission had approved.

For details of this residential project see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n4.htm#monpc listing information presented by the applicant at the March 12 Planning Commission hearing. The Planning Commission approved the annexation, zoning, and sketch plan with each of the conditions recommended by the staff.

Trustees’ comments

Trustees comments are the first agenda item of the meeting and these remarks were made before the four hearings on Wakonda Meadows reported above.

Trustee Travis Easton reminded everyone that the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce would hold its fishing derby on Palmer Lake on Saturday morning, June 7.

Trustee Tommie Plank noted that this summer’s Art Hops in downtown Monument had resumed. They are held on the third Thursday of the month, 6-8 p.m.

Trustee Tim Miller reported that he had received a letter from state Rep. Amy Stevens, a Monument resident, about an allegation from county resident Richard Nasby about an "illegal" meeting that Mayor Byron Glenn and some staff members held that may have violated the "sunshine law" regarding the possible routings of the southward extension of Mitchell Avenue. Stevens’ letter said she had referred Nasby’s accusation letter to the state Attorney General’s Office. The attorney general’s opinion was that a meeting of one trustee and one county commissioner with one county and one town staff member was not a violation. The law states that three or more trustees or commissioners must meet to discuss official business.

Glenn reported that traffic has been redirected from the northern Baptist Road lanes to the now paved southern lanes between Jackson Creek Parkway and Leather Chaps Drive. The construction of the new westbound lanes between these two intersections has begun.

Glenn also said that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority was still waiting for right-of-way donations that would save a substantial amount of taxpayer dollars in the construction of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange expansion.

Drumm reported that the Rocky Mountain Rail Authority had awarded a contract to study the viability of Front Range passenger rail service from New Mexico to Wyoming and from Denver to Utah. The results of the study should be available in one year. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department has laid off staff due to the steep decline in residential and commercial building and associated loss of fee revenue.

Drumm said that he had gathered some preliminary figures on town cemetery operations that show income is twice as much as spending. He suggested that the town require Zonta Partnership to convert the land planned as park space within the Wakonda Meadows project to a cemetery expansion. Drumm also said the Public Works Department should require ground-level grave markers in the future to make grass cutting and other maintenance more efficient.

Public comments

Chuck Roberts, director of the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and board member of the Tri-Lakes Health Advocacy Partnership, gave an update on contributions and spending allocations for local seniors programs. He asked the board to follow up on the promised donation to seniors programs from any leftover funds in the board’s discretionary fund from the end of 2007, as promised at a November board meeting. "We have not received that check yet and just wondered what happened." Treasurer Pamela Smith replied that she had directed that a check for $1,500 be sent to Roberts per the board’s direction, and it should be available the next morning.

Roberts also read an e-mail he had received from Tim Irish, the developer of the proposed Arbor Mountain senior living facility on the south side of Highway 105 east of the Knollwood Drive intersection. In the e-mail, Irish complained about some alleged actions of town staff that were delaying progress on the project. Roberts said there was a "lack of good communication between the two parties" and he was acting as an advocate to break up "roadblocks."

Irish wrote that he did not know he had been placed on the agenda of an April 7 board meeting for a facility update briefing. The construction plans for the project were not finished at that time.

Irish wrote that he has negotiated an agreement for a water exchange between the town and the Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District as suggested by Town Manager Cathy Green.

Arbor Mountain lies within the Woodmoor special district on the east side of I-25. Woodmoor has no more excess water to sell within the Villages at Woodmoor development.

The town only provides water to residents on the west side of I-25.

Woodmoor has offered to deliver the extra town water that is to be transferred to the senior facility. Extra water is needed to support the very high density for 57 senior living units on only 2.5 acres of land.

Green responded that Irish had requested that he be placed on the April 7 agenda, contrary to Irish’s e-mail remarks to Roberts, then failed to show up or notify the staff that his item should be continued. She stated that, contrary to Irish’s assertion, she had not suggested the water exchange, though Woodmoor has since offered to sell water to Arbor Mountain if the town provides the needed additional water to the special district. Green said the board would have to decide if it wanted to sell excess town water to Irish and how to exchange the water with Woodmoor, once Irish presents his facility development application for town approval.

Director of Development Services Tom Kassawara added that he had informed Irish seven months ago that there was no reason to schedule a board agenda item until Irish had secured the additional water rights and that Woodmoor had no excess water to sell to the senior facility’s needs. It was up to Irish to find and purchase excess water rights to meet the requirements for the facility that cannot be supplied with the rights that go with the land the town conditionally donated to the project.

Glenn said it was important that town seniors know that the town is not holding up the project. He suggested that the staff look into other uses for the land if the town has to take back the donation should Irish be unable to complete the senior housing project.

Lt. Skip Arms of the Colorado Springs Police Department gave a presentation on progress regarding creation of the Pikes Peak Region Peace Officers Memorial in America The Beautiful Park for 24 officers killed in the line of duty since 1895. He showed a seven-minute DVD on the purpose of the project and fund-raising. Monument Police Cpl. Rob Stewart is the town’s liaison to the project committee for various fund-raising activities over the past year, such as trying to set a world’s record this summer at the Sky Sox stadium for the most people ever handcuffed together. The board asked the staff to determine if the town could make a contribution to the project from the board’s discretionary fund and propose an amount. Arms said the project needs about $750,000 in tax-deductible donations.

Portions of water easements in Forest Lakes vacated

The board unanimously approved a contract with Forest Lakes Metropolitan District to vacate those portions of the town’s water utility easements within Forest Lakes that are not needed for construction of transmission lines that connect the Forest Lakes water tank to the town’s potable water supply system. Monument has indefinitely leased about one-third of the capacity of the tank, having paid for expansion of the tank prior to its final design and construction to exploit water rights the town owns within the metro district.

The town will also own the transmission lines that transport the town’s portion of the stored water to Monument’s water treatment plant. These lines will be constructed and paid for by the developer of the recent Willow Springs Ranch annexation.

Town Manager Cathy Green noted that the town’s water attorney and water engineer had reviewed and approved the agreement. Forest Lakes will now be able to develop the vacated parts of the town’s easements that were obtained in 1984.

Construction services contract dispute

On Jan. 22, the board approved a resolution to end the services contract with Lee Kilbourne of Centennial Services for management of design and construction contracts for the new Town Hall and Police Department building on the southwest corner of Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105. The new building is to be constructed on one of the three lots in Kilbourne’s downtown business development. The town purchased its lot next to Beacon Lite Road in October 2006.

Green said the staff had been negotiating a settlement agreement with Kilbourne since then, but the final documents had not been forwarded to Town Hall for signature at this meeting as had been agreed to and posted in the agenda. The town is arranging for shared services with Kilbourne. There is still an unresolved issue about the town not paying $1,800 in 2006 property taxes on the town’s lot. Smith objected to Kilbourne’s assertion, saying the town has no obligation to pay property taxes. "That just isn’t true. We don’t pay taxes on town property."

Kilbourne is claiming that he paid for a 6-inch water tap he had purchased for another of his properties because he only used a 4-inch tap. There is no signed documentation regarding this change. He is trying to negotiate a refund of roughly $500,000 for the difference in commercial tap fees. Green said the town preferred to offer a free 2-inch tap for his lot next to the new Town Hall lot. The building on the other lot will be about the same size is the new Town Hall.

Plank expressed concern that the language in the draft settlement could be interpreted to also provide free water service in addition to the fee tap. Town Attorney Gary Shupp said he would revise the language in the final document.

Glenn said he disagreed with Kilbourne not having to pay for a portion of the new traffic signal at Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105 and any further transfer of water rights from Kilbourne’s lot in the Synthes industrial park if Kilbourne sells his lot adjacent to the new Town Hall. Plank agreed. Kassawara said that the trips generated by Kilbourne’s building would lead to only a "pretty small" contribution, since a signal is not warranted at this time.

Green asked the board to conditionally approve the draft agreement provided to the trustees. There was a lengthy discussion on various aspects of the settlement agreement. Kilbourne will be allowed to transfer unused water rights from a lot he owns in Synthes industrial park to the Centennial subdivision.

Kilbourne has asked to be exempted from paying any share of costs for a new traffic signal at the intersection of Beacon Lite Road and Highway 105, based on traffic generated within his retained portion of the Centennial development, If Kilbourne is exempted, the town will have to pay the entire cost-share for the new signal that is allocated to Kilbourne’s development.

Green noted that construction costs are rising rapidly. The cost of steel for the new Town Hall building has increased $25,000, for example, since the initial draft construction contract was submitted. The building’s cost could increase even further, much more than the $1,800 cost of the settlement if negotiations are not concluded promptly. The $1,800 settlement would come from unused funds from the design contract. Shupp said it remains to be determined what taxes Kilbourne owed on the lot for the first nine months of 2006 and if the contested tax bill includes the last quarter of town ownership, which is non-taxable. Green said the construction contract cannot be locked in until the settlement agreement is signed and the amended plat for the town’s lot is then recorded with the county.

Shupp said he thought he had reached an agreement on all these issues with Kilbourne’s attorney, but no final documentation had been received for Shupp to present to the trustees.

After further discussion, the board gave the staff discretion on what concessions to give regarding taxes, signal costs, and water as a compromise to avoid further construction cost increases. The board approved the draft agreement with the conditions Shupp and Green had recommended by a 6-1 vote, with Miller opposed. The town staff will take over contract management for the design and construction projects with the architect and builder.

Other matters

The board unanimously approved an annual liquor license renewal for Eagle Wine and Spirits in the King Soopers shopping center at Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway.

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

  • $24,3000 All Purpose Paving Company for paving and crack sealing of town streets
  • $5,000 to John Cutler & Associates for partial payment of 2007 audit fees

Green presented a draft memorandum of understanding prepared by consultant attorney Jim Hunsaker of Grimshaw Harring that lists the topics to be considered in negotiations for the town to take over all administrative and operational aspects of Triview Metropolitan District except debt payments, which would remain the sole responsibility of the Triview Board of Directors.

Green reported that Union Pacific is preparing a list of required and recommended changes along with cost estimates for creating a quiet zone at the Second St. railroad crossing. The required paperwork should be completed in time to start a 90 day public comment period by the end of June.

The adjudication of Monument’s water in water court is progressing. Water attorney Bruce Lytle has had to adjust his estimated legal costs for completing the title upward from $5,000 to $9,000 due to inaccuracies in many of the old surveys.

The meeting adjourned at 8:05 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, May 19: Progress of senior living center discussed

By Jim Kendrick

On May 19, developer Tim Irish gave the Board of Trustees an update on his planning status for the Arbor Mountain senior living facility that had been originally scheduled for April 7. The town donated a 2.5-acre lot on Highway 105 east of the Knollwood Drive intersection in return for permanent rate reductions for six of the 57 apartments to subsidize low-income residents.

Police Chief Jake Shirk reported on a shooting incident in Monument that had required mobilization of the department’s tactical response team and the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District’s tactical command center. Fortunately, the incident was resolved before the El Paso County Special Weapons and Tactics Unit (SWAT) arrived.

Trustee Gail Drumm was absent.

Arbor Mountain update

Irish, representing Design Properties Inc., discussed progress on facility plans, water issues, and rental rates. Architectural, engineering, and site planning as well as drainage and traffic studies are essentially complete and will soon be ready for submission to the town staff for review and comment. Marketing will begin soon, but 26 of the 57 apartments are already reserved. The rent for the six low-income apartments will be $510 per month, and the other rents will start at $910 per month. There will be no difference in the amenities provided for any of the 796-square-foot units.

The project needs to find an additional 6.7 acre-feet of water to meet the total demand of 8.7 acre-feet. Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District will purchase the excess water from the town of Monument through a water exchange agreement, and then resell it to Arbor Mountain. He asked the board to expedite the negotiations with Woodmoor.

Town Manager Cathy Green said that the actual amount of excess town water requested by Woodmoor for the project was 13 acre-feet, to include a reserve should Irish’s estimates of water use turn out to be too low. She added that Woodmoor plans to sell the water to Arbor Mountain "at a much higher rate" than the town will charge the special district. The difference in rates will be used to fund purchase of an alternative water source within the next 20 years. The town will not be losing money on the water it sells to Woodmoor for use by Arbor Mountain.

Mayor Byron Glenn noted that this project has been in development for four years already and needs to be concluded for the benefit for area seniors.

Trustees’ comments

Glenn asked the trustees to be sure of the facts when they make comments at board meetings, since they are often quoted in newspapers. Glenn stated that Drumm’s statements on April 7 that one truck trip on Old Denver Highway is equivalent to 7,000 car trips was not correct. Glenn said his review of American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials reports showed that the correct figure was 1,125 car trips. Glenn added that Drumm’s quoted assertion that revenues brought in by the town cemetery are twice the costs of maintenance was incorrect as well. He asked the trustees to check with staff on specific issues and cite sources for what they state as facts.

Glenn stated that the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority (BRRTA) should soon receive a donation of right-of-way from Valero Corp., owner of the truck stop on the northwest corner of the I-25 Baptist Road interchange (Exit 158). An imminent donation of right-of-way was also expected from Monument Developers LLC, principal owner of the vacant 73-acre Timbers at Monument property, on the northwest corner of Baptist Road and Jackson Creek Parkway. BRRTA should be able to advertise for a bid by June 1 and begin construction in July.

(See article on BRRTA special meeting held on May 29 for updated information.)

Trustee Steve Samuels, a town representative to Pikes Peak Area Council of Governments meetings, said that the town was very lucky to be able to start the Baptist Road interchange expansion, since the start of nearly every other state highway construction project has been deferred due to lack of state funding for some time to come.

Public comments

County resident Richard Nasby read a lengthy letter that in general asserted that several members of the board had jobs in the development industry that in his opinion led to constant conflicts of interest that should require them to recuse themselves from discussion and votes on annexation, land use, road building, and similar matters. Nasby did not give the letter to the town clerk for the record, which is a standard procedure at any public meeting.

Town Attorney Gary Shupp said that state statutes have never been interpreted to apply in such a restrictive way as Nasby had proposed. Shupp added that Nasby had proposed an impossible standard that would be impossible to meet and was not necessary to ensure ethical decisions. Trustees do an "exemplary job" of routinely recusing themselves from issues if there is an appearance of a conflict of interest. Trustee Steve Samuels and Tommie Plank also strongly disagreed with Nasby’s assertions.

Town cemetery finances clarified: Treasurer Pamela Smith reported that the cemetery has never been set up as a separate fund and that it is difficult to derive accurate isolated figures from the generalized accounts for the Public Works Department. Her best estimate is that the cemetery costs about $35,000 per year to maintain. Future revenues would total about $124,250 before all the plots are sold, an average of $9,000 per year. Opening/closing fees for plots average about $2,000 per year. The direct employee costs for doubling the size of the cemetery as Drumm had proposed would be an additional $14,000 per year, which would increase the net loss. The total annual cost for the expanded cemetery would be about $64,000 per year. She recommended not expanding the cemetery.

Tastings license ordinance approved for town liquor stores

After a second very lengthy discussion, the board unanimously approved an ordinance that will allow town liquor stores to give away up to four 1-ounce wine samples per customer at tasting events. A standard glass of wine is 5 ounces.

Sampling events are very common in Colorado. Shirk stated that there have been no problems with wine tastings elsewhere, and he had no concerns about the new proposed ordinance. Several trustees had been very concerned about people going from liquor store to liquor store on the same day to get free wine.

Eloy Arellano, owner of the Cork and Bottle on Highway 105 and Third Street, had asked for the ordinance to be created. No other liquor store owners have expressed an interest. The governing state statute is far less restrictive than the new town restrictions Arellano agreed to:

  • A maximum of 36 tasting events per year instead of 104
  • Three tastings per week instead of four
  • A four-hour event time limit instead of five hours

Trustee Rafael Dominguez questioned the restrictions that were agreed to last September before he was elected. Arellano said he thought he would conduct only a few tasting events per year, just before major holidays. The board agreed that the 36-event cap could be increased later if there were a request.

This new ordinance does not apply to downtown business owners who give out numerous complimentary glasses of wine during Art Hop events without a town liquor license.

The ordinance was unanimously approved.

The board also approved renewals of liquor licenses for the Conoco fuel station on Highway 105 and the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Monument Marketplace.

Other matters

Treasurer Pamela Smith discussed the March sales tax results which were $12,068 more through April than in the first four months of 2007.

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

  • $83,882 to Triview Metropolitan District for March sales tax revenue
  • $5,815 to Triview Metropolitan District for April motor vehicle tax revenue
  • $14,132 to Monument Marketplace for a cash bond refund

Some of the items Public Works Director Rich Landreth reported were:

  • Pothole repairs are being performed in the downtown area and on Old Denver Highway.
  • The relocation of electrical power lines from above ground poles to underground trenches on Third Street is proceeding on schedule.
  • One summer employees has been hired and interviews for the second position are continuing.
  • The three planned repairs on Old Denver Highway will begin at the end of May.

The meeting adjourned at 7:42 p.m.

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Monument Board of Trustees, June 2: No problems found in audit

Below: Don Johnson (L) and Ted Bauman (R) received approval for the annual Monument Hill SERTOMA 4th of July Parade, "The Best Small Town Parade in America," from the Monument Board of Trustees June 2. The parade will be held on the usual route through the downtown area from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Photo by Jim Kendrick

By Jim Kendrick

The town’s new auditor, John Cutler of Cutler and Associates, gave a very brief report June 2 on his first audit for Monument. The audit was "unqualified," which means no accounting problems were found. Cutler also noted that he found no management problems regarding policies, procedures, or controls. The board unanimously approved a resolution accepting the audit. Trustee Rafael Dominguez was absent.

The board unanimously approved a resolution accepting the five-year update of the town’s stormwater plan, which will be submitted to the state by June 10 for renewal of the town’s five-year stormwater permit. The board praised Public Works Director Rich Landreth for updating the plan himself, a project usually contracted out to consultants who specialize in this expertise.

The board unanimously approved the annual permit for the Fourth of July parade, "the best small town parade in America," as requested by Ted Bauman and Don Johnson of Monument Hill Sertoma. There are no changes in the planned event, which runs from 9:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The board also unanimously approved a request from Frank Cheesman for the third annual St. Peter Church Parish Festival that will take place Aug. 22-24. The board also approved a temporary liquor license for the three-day festival. First Street between Jefferson and Washington Streets will be closed from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 22, 7 a.m. to noon Aug. 23, and 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug. 24.

The board approved a new beer and wine liquor license for the Second Street Art Market at 366 Second St, for owners Douglas and Heather Buchmann.

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

  • $72,000 to Centennial Services, Inc. for reimbursement for a 2" water tap
  • $29,625 to Monument Marketplace for refund of a surety bond

Town Manager Cathy Green announced a ground-breaking ceremony for the new band shell to be constructed at Limbach Park. The ceremony was held on June 4. (See photo.) The town plans to have the band shell finished in time for the first of the summer concerts held at Limbach Park on Wednesday evenings.

Landreth told the board the three promised patches on the worst parts of Old Denver Highway would be completed within the next few weeks.

The meeting adjourned at 7:15 p.m.

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The next meeting is at 6:30 p.m. on June 16 in Town Hall, 166 Second St. The July 7 meeting has been tentatively cancelled due to lack of agenda items and the July 4 holiday. Meetings are normally held the first and third Monday of the month. Information: 884-8017.

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Palmer Lake Town Council, May 8: New council makes appointments

By Dave Futey

On May 8, the Palmer Lake Town Council announced changes in trustee assignments. They are: Nikki McDonald, Parks and Recreation\Buildings; Dan Reynolds, Police Department; and Richard Allen, Community and Economic Development.

Trustees who remain in their previous assignments are: Gary Coleman, Fire Department; Bryan Jack, Roads; and Max Stafford, Water.

McDonald was also named mayor pro-tem.

Chief of police hired

By unanimous decision, Gene Ferrin was hired to fill the vacant position of Palmer Lake chief of police. Ferrin’s first official day was May 16.

Town selects water attorney

By unanimous decision, Harvey W. Curtis and Associates has been hired as the town water attorney. This concludes a search that began on March 21.

Three new business licenses approved

By unanimous decision, the following three businesses received licenses to operate within the town:

  • Castle Rock Jeans & Apparel—Anna Beard, 780 Highway 105, Suite A
  • The Junktion—Bonnie Krueger\James Schubauer, 11 Primrose, Unit C
  • Four Great Winds Kite Co.—Brian Osterholt, 108 Grant Ave.

Fire Department to celebrate 70th anniversary

The Palmer Lake Volunteer Fire Department is planning an anniversary weekend for sometime in August. Details will be forthcoming.

Community Wildfire Protection Plan

The Fire Department is coordinating with several agencies and has contracted with a local forester to develop a Community Wildfire Protection Plan. Some of the agencies being consulted are the U.S. Forest Service, El Paso County, and the Colorado State Forest Service. According to an April 14 press release by the Fire Department, this wildfire plan "will analyze the community in terms of forest conditions and wildfire risk and also assess property fire risk."

Related to this plan, there will be two seminars in June to raise community awareness about wildfires and also advise homeowners on steps they can take to help minimize fire risk by creating a defensible space. The seminars are: "Extreme Gardening: Taming the Scrub Oak Monster," June 19 from 6 to 8 p.m. in Glen Park, and "Extreme Landscaping," June 25, 7 to 9 p.m. in the Town Hall. Both will be conducted by Keith Worley.

Trustee Coleman encouraged all residents to participate in fire mitigation practices.

Museum expansion approved

By unanimous approval, the council approved the proposed expansion of the Lucretia Vaile Museum. Bob Kirby provided information on the proposed 340-square-foot expansion and noted that estimates projected the cost at $20,000 to $25,000. The Pikes Peak Regional Building Department would need to review and approve the construction specifications.

Tentative approval of Master Plan update

The council tentatively approved the Palmer Lake Recreational Master Plan as presented by El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services Department. The Master Plan must also be reviewed by the Planning Commission. The Parks and Leisure Services Department updates Master Plans every five years, with proposed projects initiated and completed based on available funding.

The plan development process included an assessment of present facilities and conditions, a survey conducted to receive input from Palmer Lake residents, analysis of survey results, a public open house to obtain additional citizen input, plan modification to incorporate citizen and steering committee input, and then various reviews and approvals.

A common desire noted throughout the plan development process was the establishment of a permanent water source for the lake through a well. Due to drought and other conditions, the lake dried up during 2003, which caused significant eco-system and recreational issues. With a well in place, the lake could then irrigate recreational fields and gardens in the areas bordering it.

Other recommended improvements or new facilities include: improving the trail system around the lake and the playground area; establishing a swimming beach area; and establishing an athletic field with hillside seating. A map of the improvements will be posted in the online version of this June issue at ourcommunitynews.org/v8n6park.htm.

The meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

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The next regular council meeting is on June 12 at 7 p.m. The next Town Council workshop is scheduled for July 15 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. Information: 481-2953.

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Palmer Lake Planning Commission, May 21: County’s Palmer Lake master plan amendment adopted

By Jim Kendrick

The Palmer Lake Planning Commission unanimously approved the El Paso County parks department’s master plan update for its lake-side facilities on May 21. This vote formally incorporated the master plan update into the town’s comprehensive plan. The update is just a guideline for the time being, however, due to the lack of projected funding for the proposed upgrades and expansions.

There is a $10 million county revenue shortfall that the Board of County Commissioners started to address in a special meeting on May 29. At that meeting, the County Commissioners indicated that they preferred not to sell parks to raise revenue to balance the 2008 budget, but did not rule out park sales either.

For details of the county’s master plan update presentation at Town Hall on April 30, see www.ourcommunitynews.org/v8n5.htm#park and article below.

Minor subdivision approved

The Palmer Lake commissioners approved a request from landowners Robin Grunder and Gary Welty for a minor subdivision of a large lot at 0 Circle Road, in Elephant Acres north of Highway 105. Grunder and Welty requested creation of four separate residential lots within the parcel.

Two candidates volunteer for empty seat

Two candidates have expressed interest in filling the vacant commissioner position created by former Chairman John Cressman moving to the Town Council as the new mayor. Commissioner Ken Trombley has taken Cressman’s place as chairman. Gary Atkins, Vic Brown, David Cooper, Jen Martin, and Sharon Solheim continue to serve as commissioners as well.

Interviews of the two candidates—Bob Miner and Dennis Stern—were listed on the agenda. Miner attended this meeting, but Stern did not. The commissioners determined that they would reschedule an interview with Stern before the next scheduled workshop meeting on June 11 or the regular meeting on June 18 if possible. For information on whether a special interview meeting will be scheduled, contact 481-2953.

The commissioners also unanimously approved a change in the starting times for their meetings for the rest of 2008—from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. They will continue to meet at Palmer Lake Town Hall on the second Wednesday of the month for workshops and the third Wednesday of the month for regular meetings. Information: 481-2953.

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Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority, May 21: New state law requires developers to demonstrate adequate water supply

By John Heiser

At the May 21 meeting of the Pikes Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA), Dick Brown, lobbyist for the authority, reported that Colorado HB08-1141, which requires developers to identify a sustainable water supply for their developments, has been sent to the governor for his signature. (The governor signed the bill May 29.)

Brown described the bill as "a very substantive change in water policy planning and land use planning."

Brown added that he expects the legislature to consider future legislation to "more directly link surface and ground water uses. Much of the statutory scheme for ground water management will come under increased legislative scrutiny to determine how much of the scheme is based on substantive hydrogeology and how much of it is largely a legal fiction."

Other legislation

Brown noted that 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, was amended to conduct a test to assess potential impacts to water rights holders. He reported that the bill was unconstitutional as written and was being reworked. (As of press time, the amended form of SB08-119 had passed the house and senate and on May 21 was sent to the governor for signature.)

Brown said SB08-119 is particularly important because "it challenges the long-standing concept that every drop of water ultimately belongs to the next user downstream."

Brown added that there is a water impact to the demand for increased energy production. He said that over the next 20 years demand in Colorado for electricity is projected to increase by nearly 5,000 megawatts. "Much of this new generation will be from power plants that use water to keep the turbines spinning."

Brown concluded, "It is very likely that the next four years will see significant changes to Colorado water policy." He encouraged the authority to "be involved in crafting of those policy changes" and to forge strategic alliances with other water groups including the Water Resources Interim Committee, the Water Roundables, the Water Congress, the Colorado Water Institute, and the democratic legislators from southern Colorado who are expected to draft water policy over the next few years.

Background

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 Water and Sanitation 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 the Cherokee district, Fountain, Monument, and the Woodmoor district.

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

At the May 21 PPRWA meeting, each of the committees reported on their progress.

Big picture committee report

Kip Petersen, General Manager of the Cherokee district, reported that the committee has concluded that further effort should not be expended on acquiring additional non-renewable groundwater.

Regarding renewable water, Petersen said the group concluded, "There is no cheap solution, no magic bullet."

Larry Patterson, City of Fountain utility director, offered to serve as a "water bank" for the authority, to help with acquiring water rights and obtaining bridge funding. He noted that "water follows money" and that when an opportunity arises, the authority has to move quickly.

Ag water import project study update

Steve Price from Boyle Engineering presented an update on the engineering study for the project proposed to transport as much as 50,000 acre-feet of unused agricultural water per year north to the Tri-Lakes area. This unused "ag water" comes from fallowed fields on farms along the lower Arkansas River. An acre-foot (af) is 326,851 gallons.

The Boyle study is considering various alternatives including the amounts of water to be transported, pipeline routings, and treatment locations.

Alternative amounts of water:

  1. 6,735 acre-feet per year to address just the projected needs in the Tri-Lakes area.
  2. 15,235 acre-feet per year to address Tri-Lakes area needs as well as the needs of the Fountain and the Cherokee District.
  3. 50,000 acre-feet per year to provide additional capacity to serve other areas as a way to share the cost of construction and operation.

Pipeline routing alternatives:

  1. A western alignment 76 miles long.
  2. A middle alignment 83 miles long.
  3. An eastern alignment 111 miles long.

The middle and western alignments are the most cost effective. The western alignment uses Xcel easements, which would reduce the issue of acquiring easements; however, it has more stream crossings and, due to the proximity to high-voltage power lines, would require that the design address the effects of high-voltage power on corrosion of metal pipes.

Operational alternatives:

  1. All storage at Stonewall Springs near Pueblo. Treatment near Stonewall Springs.
  2. All storage in the Tri-Lakes area with water treatment near Stonewall Springs.
  3. Storage in the Tri-Lakes area and at Stonewall Springs. Treatment near Stonewall Springs.
  4. Storage in the Tri-Lakes area and at Stonewall Springs. Treatment near Fountain.

Tri-Lakes area storage is currently assumed to be on the Younger Ranch on Highway 83.

Water treatment is needed to address water quality concerns including salinity, selenium, iron, sulfate, pharmaceuticals, and radionuclides. The study is currently assuming that water treatment using reverse osmosis (RO) will be required.

Patterson noted that a Colorado project using RO to process 5,000 acre-feet of water per year is projected to need 400 acres to store the resulting salt and other materials removed from the water. Depending on the amount of water processed per year, the proposed ag water project would likely need three to 10 times as much storage space.

Price presented the following refined capital cost estimates excluding land acquisition, permitting, and the cost of water but including installation of pipe and construction of pump stations, water treatment plants, and storage facilities:

Revised Capital Costs (in $ millions)
Operational\af 6,735 15,235 50,000
Alternative 1 253 451 984
Alternative 2 385 785 1,644
Alternative 3 260 440 918
Alternative 4 276 456 1,011

Depending on which alternative is selected, the capital cost per 1,000 gallons varies from $72 to $162.

Price observed that these costs are similar to other current water projects along the Front Range.

Price presented the following draft estimate of operations and maintenance costs per 1,000 gallons that covers leasing water, advanced treatment, and conveyance:

O & M Costs ($ per 1,000 gallons)

Operational\af 6,735 15,235 50,000
Alternative 1        9.38        8.53          8.13
Alternative 2       11.44       10.78        10.21
Alternative 3       10.41        9.42          9.02
Alternative 4        9.59        8.58          8.13

These costs substantially exceed what the local districts are typically charging their customers for water. Patterson agreed saying, "We are selling water cheaper than the replacement cost."

Based on the analysis, Price recommended that alternatives 1 and 2 be eliminated from further study. He noted that the risk of interruption of the water supply is least with alternatives 3 and 4 and there is more potential for phasing the implementation.

Price said the next steps are to look at water quality trends, pursue options to reduce costs, and to more fully evaluate pipeline alignments and storage locations. He said that if it turns out that RO is not needed, that would significantly reduce the costs.

Northern collaboration committee report

Woodmoor district engineer Jessie Shaffer reported that although the committee did not meet this month, work is continuing on organizational structures to support exchange of effluent credits. He also distributed copies of a questionnaire soliciting from each authority member an assessment of its strengths, assets, financial condition, expectations, risks, fears, and the sorts of joint projects the various boards and councils would support or oppose. Due to the sensitivity of the answers, Shaffer said he will keep the responses confidential. He plans to collate the results and identify common ground and roadblocks. Out of that analysis, he said he hopes to identify potential joint projects.

Pharmaceuticals

The authority decided to contact local pharmacies to see if a take-back program can be started for pharmaceuticals and personal care products to reduce the amounts that reach the wastewater stream.

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The next regular meeting of the PPRWA will be held June 18 at 8:30 a.m. at the City of Fountain office, 116 S. Main in Fountain. 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, in addition to this June meeting in Fountain, the meeting October 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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Water Returns project participants off and running

By Susan Hindman

With two of five workshops under their belts, the nine households selected to participate in the Water Returns project are mulling design ideas, deciding plant colors and sizes, examining soil, and consulting with others as they head into new territory: xeriscaping. They represent various neighborhoods within the Donala Water and Sanitation District—one of the 10 county water districts participating in this pilot project—and are being guided in their landscaping journey by workshops presented by specialists in the field.

The program has sparked a lot of creativity, learning, and labor in the two households that OCN contacted. Ken Valdez has "around a couple thousand square feet" to work with at his home in The Park in Fox Run. Carol and Terry Bramschreiber have 1/3 acre in Gleneagle.

Xeriscaping isn’t just plunking some drought-tolerant plants down into the ground. It’s the equivalent of coming up with a floor plan for a yard—developing it in stages and thinking of it as different rooms, focusing on the flow, colors and shapes, and the water needs of the plants they’d like.

"You have to take it in small pieces," Valdez said. "Start closest to the house and extend out … keeping in mind how you want to use that space, and design that area to flow into the next area," much like rooms of a house would flow. "There are a million things you can do as far as colors and shapes. Certain colors and the way plants are placed can give a sense of energy, feeling, and mood."

Themes are a big part of the design plan. A "retirement theme," for example, would be all low-water plants so homeowners could travel without arranging for watering, Carol said. A sanctuary theme would have certain colors, smells, and textures.

The first workshop detailed where water comes from and is stored, how it gets distributed, all the places it is used and needed, and how valuable it is. The focus in xeriscaping is how to best use that water, something that is accomplished by a design plan. The second class featured specialists giving presentations on "waterwise landscaping."

"It’s knowing what kind of soil you actually have, being familiar with the direction and location of the landscaping … wind direction, sunlight, shading," said Valdez. "Put all that together and you have the basis to understand what you’ve got to work with and what you need to do."

Rocks are not encouraged in xeriscaping, but they were the favored landscaping material of the previous owners of the Bramschreibers’ home, which they moved into last July. The couple, who don’t care for the rocks, are trying to work with them. They’ve been hauling large sections of them to the front ditch area and have planted carpet junipers within them, in hopes of eventually creating a blanket of groundcover to hide the rocks. They also got rid of thick junipers that had blocked the front windows.

With so much to do, the Bramschreibers are focusing on one section of the yard this summer; the rest will be part of a long-term plan, as time allows. In this section, they’ll be getting rid of sod, laying a flagstone pathway, putting in plants that attract birds and butterflies, planting a couple of trees and shrubs, and exchanging the sprinklers for a drip system.

"I want to have a nature sanctuary where plants, animals, and people can thrive," said Carol.

First, though, as Terry said, "It’s a lot of undoing before doing."

Valdez is still refining his plan, making corrections and studying. He wants a resting area, a viewing area, and a "walled area" with trees since his house is close to Baptist Road. "There are certain plants that denote relaxation," he said, so he’ll be choosing plants "that represent the way that ‘room’ is going to be used." He hopes to have a fountain as well.

Xeriscaping is new to both Valdez and the Bramschreibers, but the potential has both households dreaming big.

"Everybody wants to do it right," said Valdez. "We’re learning stuff that landscape designers study for years, and we’re trying to do it in a couple of classes. But they put it in the perspective of something you can do. … I feel honored and fortunate to be part of it."

Participants are free to involve as few or as many professionals as they’d like. They will be reimbursed 25 percent of whatever costs they incur on materials and labor until September.

The families will be "ambassadors" of the program, answering questions neighbors might have about xeriscaping. OCN will follow them throughout the summer and report on their progress.

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10 more ways to conserve water

Here are this month’s 10 tips for conserving water, from www.wateruseitwisely.com

  1. Avoid planting turf in areas that are hard to water, such as steep inclines and isolated strips along sidewalks and driveways.
  2. When you shop for a new appliance, consider one offering cycle and load size adjustments. They are more water- and energy-efficient than older appliances.
  3. Run your washing machine and dishwasher only when they are full and you could save 1,000 gallons a month.
  4. Designate one glass for your drinking water each day. This will cut down on the number of times you run your dishwasher.
  5. When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  6. Wash your produce in the sink or in a pan that is partially filled with water instead of running water from the tap.
  7. Check your water meter and bill to track your water use.
  8. If your shower can fill a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, then replace it with a water-efficient showerhead.
  9. Time your shower to keep it under 5 minutes. You’ll save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  10. When you clean your fish tank, use the water you’ve drained on your plants. The water is rich in nitrogen and phosphorus, providing you with a free and effective fertilizer.

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Academy Water and Sanitation District, May 7: Merger is off; district looking at financing options

By Susan Hindman

After a year of negotiations, the merger between Academy and Donala Water and Sanitation Districts is off.

"Donala has withdrawn its invitation for Academy to merge with their system, so all activities pertaining to that merger have been suspended," said Academy board President Richard DuPont. He noted that, as reported in the May issue of OCN, Donala said it would not be able to handle the additional finances involved with a merger. "They made it quite clear that nothing would be considered until 2014," the year Academy’s bond debt will be paid off. DuPont and other board members acknowledged, however, that anything could change between now and then.

The ball is now back in Academy’s court to come up with ways of dealing with statewide wastewater regulations regarding ammonia treatment that will be effective when Academy’s permit expires in 2010. Academy currently cannot treat ammonia, so a new wastewater treatment facility needs to be planned out before its operating permit would be renewed. Operator Jerry Jacobson asked the state Health Department about a timeline concerning compliance with the new ammonia regulations. "They indicate that we’ll probably have to have construction finished by 2015," he said.

Treasurer Walter Reiss said that while the 2013 payment on the current bond would be $159,000 (similar to this year’s payment), the last payment in 2014 will be $52,500. This will help when trying to manage funding for a new system.

"We’re going to try not to overlap payment on the bond and payment on a new facility," Jacobson said. "It’s going to be kind of tight."

Meanwhile, Jacobson said, he is collecting data on the stream that Academy’s system is discharging to, which he says will be helpful to the Health Department. "It involves doing a weekly sample on the stream, both upstream and downstream of the point of discharge and measuring pH and temperature" at the same time and same day of the week. Other numbers that need to be collected are the amount of ammonia upstream and downstream of the point of discharge, which would be measured monthly, as well as effluent. Currently, the district doesn’t have the equipment to measure the ammonia.

Jacobson suggested buying equipment that would allow him to do the ammonia testing, instead of paying to have it done. The current lab-testing budget of $2,200 won’t cover continued testing. "We should be compiling this data now through 2009," Jacobson said, adding that having a year’s worth of data would enable the district to respond to questions the county might have when it came time to get a new permit. The board approved $1,000 be spent to purchase the equipment.

In response to a question about the schedule of upcoming changes to state regulations, Jacobson said the more immediate changes include nutrients criteria, temperature, ammonia criteria, spill reporting, and contaminants of emerging concern (such as pharmaceuticals). "So yes, there’s more stuff coming up," he said.

Reiss said he contacted the state’s Special District Association (SDA) to see if there were other districts with lagoon wastewater systems like Academy’s that would be facing the same problem. He also asked the SDA about grants and loans that might be available, instead of pursuing another general obligation bond. He received information about financial assistance programs from the state Department of Local Affairs.

"A lot of the financing is dependent upon the district size, the average income of those living in the district, water rates, and several different things," Reiss said. "But the Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund, which is a loan at 3½ percent interest, would be one to investigate." He added that an engineering study grant is also a possibility and that "we’re just beginning to scratch the surface" of options to pursue. Meanwhile, the district may seek preapproval for loans so that that would be in place when the time came to apply.

Reiss suggested, and the idea was approved, that Academy join the SDA, as it will be helpful to the district in the future. Membership dues for this first year are $219; next year, it will increase to $437.

Jacobson said the Colorado Waste Water Utility Council is holding a permit negotiations workshop on May 19. He is planning to attend.

Operations updates

Jacobson reported that well 3’s cleaning is complete, but he was told the well may need to be redrilled in a few years. Perforations in the casing were plugged up, but he was told it will likely happen again. If the well were redrilled, it would get new casing that would have well screens made of wrapped stainless steel wire, which have more open areas than perforated casing and would be less likely to become plugged.

Regarding the potable water system, Jacobson said that he is trying to optimize the removal of iron manganese in the water. He said manganese is a little harder to get down to the recommended levels, which at higher levels can give water a brownish color. He also said he thinks it’s time to flush the entire hydrant system.

All meters will be replaced: The other big project about to begin is switching the meter reading system to the Neptune radio reading system, which would allow Jacobson to read meters by driving instead of walking. Over the next three years, he will replace all the meters. He said he will call homeowners to arrange a time for him to do that work.

"We have meters in the district that are the originals," Jacobson said, which could be up to 40 years old. "I’ve come across meters that I can’t buy parts for."

Total price for the new system is $61,514. In response to a question by Director James Weilbrenner, Jacobson said the new system would not be compatible with Donala’s. However, the Neptune system was preferable because it’s compatible with Academy’s billing software and because it has better transmitter frequencies, which is important considering interference from all the trees and the longer driveways in Academy’s district.

New board member

Secretary Gordon Rodden submitted his resignation, for health reasons. Susan Girschick has joined the board and was elected secretary.

Tap fee increase

Weilbrenner proposed changing the bylaws to bring tap fees (or "plant investment fees") up to date. Currently, the fees are $4,000 for water and $5,000 for sewer. After lengthy discussion, the board approved increases to $6,000 for water and $6,000 for sewer, with a two-year permit limit. Previous tap fees paid by property owners who never built a home on the land will be applied as credit toward the new fees, if proof of prior payment can be validated.

Other previously approved fees—for water and sewer service and water rates—were added to the bylaws.

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

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Donala Water and Sanitation District, May 21: Two board members sworn-in; wastewater plant costs expected to exceed $16 million

By John Heiser

At the Donala Water and Sanitation District Board of Directors meeting May 21, two board members elected May 6 were sworn in. Dana Duthie, Donala’s general manager, reported that the total costs for expanding the wastewater treatment plant are expected to exceed $16 million. The plant is jointly owned with the Triview and Forest Lakes metropolitan districts. The new cost projection represents about a 60 percent overrun compared to the original estimate.

George and Schendzielos sworn-in

On May 6, Bill George and Dale Schendzielos were elected to four-year terms. George takes the place of former board member Ed Houle, who served 8 years, 4 years as president, and was term-limited. Schendzielos is an incumbent.

Board member Dennis Daugherty swore in George and Schendzielos.

Officers elected

The following were unanimously elected as the officers of the board: Daugherty as board president, Tim Murphy as board vice president, and Schendzielos as secretary-treasurer. Dick Durham, the fifth board member, was also present for the May 21 meeting.

Wastewater treatment plant expansion costs increase

Duthie reported:

  • The preliminary treatment building is on-line and the system is 100 percent on the new pump station.
  • The heating and air conditioning subcontractor selected by Weaver, the general contractor, was found not to be licensed and did not obtain the proper permits so the work cannot be inspected by the regional building department. This is holding up work on the administration building. The general contractor is arranging for a licensed subcontractor to complete the work.
  • As reported in the January issue of OCN, cracks appeared when some of the new walls at the wastewater treatment plant were leak tested. The problem was traced to errors made by a structural engineering subcontractor. Some of the cracking is bad enough that a 6-inch thick patch will be required. The structural engineer will pay to fix the problem.
  • The water line to the plant from the Forest Lakes district has not yet been chlorinated.
  • Roger Sams of engineering firm GMS is working on a new discharge permit. There are potential water quality problems with Monument Creek, which receives the effluent from the plant. Colorado Springs claims that it is "an effluent-dominated creek," which carries additional regulatory requirements.
  • Due to the cost of propane, the district is working with Aquila to get natural gas piped to the plant. Aquila says that they do not have sufficient gas pressure at Struthers Ranch and so would need to pipe the gas south from Mitchell Avenue, which is a more expensive route.
  • The total cost for the plant expansion is now expected to exceed $16 million, which is an overrun of about $6 million compared to the original estimate. Duthie said the overrun was partially due to escalating costs for concrete and steel. He noted that one part of the project that could be deferred for a few years would be $1.12 million to add a second biosolids press and the associated building.

Golf course development raises concerns

Duthie noted that some Gleneagle residents raised complaints over the district’s offer to provide service to the proposed townhome development on the Gleneagle golf course. Because the original developer deeded the water rights under the golf course to the district, Duthie said Donala is obligated to provide service to the golf course as long as the amount of water required remains within the amount allocated. He noted that the amount of water being requested for the townhome development is about the same as the amount of water currently being used by that portion of the golf course.

Some have suggested that this is just the first step toward development of the entire golf course. Duthie said that residential development of the entire golf course is out of the question because the district cannot commit to serve that many dwelling units.

Resident Warren Gerig asked if replacing 9-holes of the golf course with residential development would be possible. Duthie said he would have to see the specific proposal. He added that he thought a proposal like that would not be approved.

The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners is responsible for approving or disapproving any developments on the golf course.

District reports test results for pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs)

As reported in the April 5 issue of OCN ("Donala to test for pharmaceuticals in the water"), the district conducted tests looking for 88 PPCPs in its well water and the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant. According to Duthie, the district’s well water was found to be free of the 88 constituents; however, the effluent sample contained significant amounts of painkillers, antibiotics, anti-depressants, steroids, and other PPCPs.

Other matters

  • Duthie reported that three of the nine participants in the district-sponsored xeriscaping pilot project have started work. (See article.)
  • The irrigation rationing program started May 26 and runs through September 1. Odd numbered addresses may irrigate only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Even numbered addresses may irrigate only on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Additional information including the schedule for commercial and multi-unit buildings is posted at www.donalawater.org/Rationing.html
  • During the three months from February 1 through April 30, the district’s $5.7 million in investments managed by Davidson Fixed Income Management showed a yield of 4.35 percent, achieving a goal of beating the Colotrust Plus fund, which yielded 3.08 percent during the same period. The weighted average maturity of the district’s investments is 6 months.
  • Duthie reported on the Pike Peak Regional Water Authority (PPRWA) committee meetings and the general meeting May 21. For more information, see the PPRWA article.
  • El Paso County owns three lots next to Roller Coaster Road adjacent to Fox Run Regional Park. They range from about 5.6 acres to about 6.7 acres. One of them has a rental house on it. Two of them have wells in the Dawson aquifer. By intergovernmental agreement, the district owns most of the groundwater under the park. Due to its budget crisis, the county is considering selling the lots but cannot do that without rights to the water for those parcels. One county option would be to have the lots included in and receive water service from the Donala district. In that case, the lots could be replatted into about eight 2.5-acre lots. The county is reviewing the options.
  • The board unanimously approved providing service to a proposed replatting of a Chaparral Hills lot owned by Pat and Ken Brier into two lots. Duthie noted that the lot is within the circle of influence of Donala’s wells.
  • Duthie noted that residents in Sun Hills who wish to be included in Donala face a difficult obstacle because the homeowners’ association reportedly owns the rights to the water under their land. For inclusion, Donala requires that the water rights be deeded to the district.

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

Following the executive session, the board unanimously approved a pay raise for operator Mike Lavin.

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The Donala board will hold its next regular meeting on Wed., June 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Donala office, 15850 Holbein Drive. Meetings are normally held at 1:30 p.m. on the third Wednesday of each month. The district’s Web site is at www.donalawater.org

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Limbach Park band shell groundbreaking

Pictured (L to R): John Nelson, Nelson Associates, volunteer architect for the project; Fred Robinson, Robinson Construction; Woody Woodworth, High Country Home and Garden; Kelly McGuire, volunteer; Tommie Plank, Monument trustee; and Bryon Glenn, Monument. Photo by Mike Wicklund.

At the ceremony June 4, appreciation was expressed to

  • Woody Woodworth for the original concept of the concerts in the park
  • Si Sibel for providing the temporary band shell in the form of his big trailer.
  • Kelly McGuire for making the trailer accessible and safe for every concert.
  • HMMA Members for diligently collecting money at every concert to defray the cost.
  • Those performers who have chosen to perform for free, donating their money to the cause.
  • Lucy McGuire for being a constant pebble in the shoe of all concerned until now.
  • The loyal fans who have attended concerts in all manner of weather and fed the kitty with money and hope.
  • Those who are making all the dreams of all the above into reality: Fred L. Robinson, president of Robinson Construction, John P. Nelson of Nelson associates, the firms of MCM Engineering and Parker Excavation. All of whom have donated their professional expertise and time to help complete this project.

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Triview Metropolitan District Board, May 27: Board to consider fee waiver for corrections building

By Jim Kendrick

On May 27, four of the five directors of the Triview Metropolitan District were sworn in for new terms in the first regular board meeting after the district’s contested election on May 6.

Rick Blevins of Vision Development asked the Triview board to consider waiving about $180,000 it would ordinarily receive in new construction impact fees for a new building Vision would build on its vacant parcel just north of Monument Marketplace. The waiver would be an incentive to reduce the initial annual lease for Colorado Department of Corrections to rent 85,000 square feet in the building.

The district’s auditor, Tom Sistare of Hoelting and Co. Inc., presented a summary of his unqualified audit for district operations in 2007, the highest audit rating possible.

New directors sworn in

Pete Susemihl, the district’s attorney, swore in recently appointed incumbent Directors Bob Eskridge and Steve Fisher, who were formally elected on May 6 as well as newly elected Directors Steve Cox and Steve Remington. Incumbent Director Julie Glenn is half-way through her first four-year term and was not up for election this year.

By acclamation, the board elected Eskridge to continue as board president, with Fisher taking over as vice president and Remington becoming secretary-treasurer.

The board unanimously passed a resolution praising the dedication and hard work of former long-term director Joe Martin and recently appointed director Mark Veenendaal and thanked them for their service to the district.

Vision asks for reduced taxes or fees for office building

Blevins said his company will propose construction of a three- or four-story office building specifically designed to provide administrative office space for upper management of the state Department of Corrections. The department needs 85,000 square feet for 310 employees initially. The space requirement will grow to 100,000 square feet in 10 years and 150,000 square feet in 20 years. The required lot size is 6-9 acres.

Vision will make three separate proposals for construction of this office building on three lots in Monument. The lot within Triview is 20 acres on the north side of the Monument Marketplace between Jackson Creek Parkway and I-25. The other two vacant Vision lots are north of the Triview boundary at Higby Road, on either side of the new YMCA building across Jackson Creek Parkway from Lewis-Palmer High School. The vacant lot north of the YMCA is 11 acres, while the southern lot is 8 acres.

Blevins asked the board to allow him to say in his preliminary bid for the Triview lot that up to $180,000 in waived impact fees and/or rebated taxes would be considered as an incentive to reduce the lease Vision would charge each year of a 10-20 year lease.

There was a half-hour discussion of how much revenue could be expected from a tax-exempt entity using a 2-inch water tap and 1-inch irrigation tap in a rented office. Susemihl was asked to research how much of an incentive could be offered without violating the numerous bond debt agreements Triview has entered into since 1987.

Blevins estimated that the agency’s employees would initially generate about $60,000 per year in Triview sales tax revenue. Eskridge suggested increasing the maximum incentive to $200,000 over five years. Acting District Manager Ron Simpson replied that a total of $180,000 in district impact fees would be generated and that he believed all property tax revenue was committed first to bond debt payments.

The consensus of the board was that Blevins could tentatively offer up to $180,000 in incentives for the first round of bidding unless research by Simpson and Susemihl revealed constraints that would lower that maximum.

The board had recently imposed increased impact fees to provide more income to address a growing district backlog of deferred street and utility infrastructure maintenance. The fees were later determined to be so high that they stopped nearly all new commercial development. The board then reduced these impact fees to try to stimulate commercial building to increase sales tax and utility service revenue.

Blevins’ request in effect is for a complete impact fee waiver for the Department of Corrections bid. Glenn asked how the district could waive all the fees for Vision Development for this project and not be expected to waive them for every other developer of a commercial project in the future.

Blevins noted that he would ask for similar fee waivers and/or tax rebates from the town for its two lots. Blevins has to submit his initial proposal by June 18. If Vision is selected for the final round of bids, Triview and the Board of Trustees would have to give very specific economic inducements to compete with developers in Pueblo, Colorado Springs, and Castle Rock.

2007 audit presented

Sistare gave a concise summary of his audit report. The district’s accountant, Jim Thieme, also attended the session. Sistare noted that drinking-water sales revenue is increasing and may eventually equal or exceed the total cost of production. There were no board comments or questions on the content of the audit and no management recommendations from Sistare on any need to improve district procedures, controls, or policies.

The board thanked Sistare and Thieme, as well as Simpson and District Administrator Dale Hill for wrapping up the audit early to expedite approval of a Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority subsidized low-interest loan of $2 million.

Triview applied for this second authority loan in 2007 to pay its half of the cost overruns for the expansion of the Upper Monument Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. The board added 10 mills to the district’s 2008 property tax to pay for this latest loan.

The authority had already lent Triview and Donala Water and Sanitation District $5 million each for their shares of the cost of the original facility expansion design-build contract. Donala has already received approval for its second loan of $2 million. The authority had recently asked for a copy of the 2007 audit that would show Triview could repay both loans in its current financial condition before it would authorize the second Triview loan. All of the Triview funds from the $5 million loan have already been spent on the ongoing expansion project.

Expansion of the wastewater facility’s capacity is mandatory if construction is to continue in Triview. Total growth projections within Triview will require it to pay the entire cost for another facility expansion after the current construction is completed. Co-owners Donala and Forest Lakes Metropolitan District will have all the capacity they will ever need at the completion of the current project.

Simpson reviewed the details of bids offered by four contractors for work to construct water lines for wells A4 and A8. Additional information was required from each for tying in irrigation. Pate Construction was awarded the contract as the lowest bidder on the condition that it remained the lowest bidder after the costs for the additional work from each of the bidders were added to their original bids.

Simpson reported that the final cost of having Monument Ridge developer Craig Anderson install a water line under the new portion of Struthers Road to provide an emergency connection with Donala was about $229,000, which is $60,000 higher than originally estimated by Anderson’s firm, NAI Highland Commercial Group LLC. Simpson noted that Triview has no money to repay Anderson for the installation. The board asked Simpson to get specific information on the reasons and justifications for the cost overrun.

After noting that the district had no funds for reimbursement, the board agreed to offer Anderson a promissory note for the cost of installation rather than allow Anderson to apply the $229,000 toward fees for the Chase Bank to be built on the southeast corner of Baptist and Struthers Roads.

The board went into executive session at 6:38 p.m.

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

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Wescott FPD opens door to raise safety awareness

Below: (L-R) Gabrielle Young and Evan Futey enjoy a seat in the Flight for Life helicopter from Penrose Hospital at the Donald Wescott Fire Department’s Summer Safety Fair and Open House May 17. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

On May 17, the first annual Summer Safety Fair and Open House at the Donald Wescott Fire Station provided visitors with an overview of potential hazards they may face and explored preventive measures they can take during the upcoming summer months. It is during the summer when many of us take greater advantage of the outdoors through hiking, biking, or driving to our vacation destination and thus presenting us hazards we may not encounter at other times of the year.

Firefighter and Emergency Medical Technician Valerie Marshall stated that the intent of the event was to raise community awareness for potential hazards associated with the summer months and to emphasize safety in our community. A variety of safety-oriented organizations took part in the event, including the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Department; the Rocky Mountain Cancer Center, which provided information on skin cancer; the El Paso County Wildland Fire Suppression Team, which discussed camping regulations in regard to campfires and the hazards that could occur and preventive measures to take where wild land and urban environments interface such as in the Sun Hills area; and Gleneagle Golf Course and Swimming lifeguards, who offered information on water safety.

Also participating were Disaster Restoration Inc., which provides on-site rehabilitation services for firefighters and victims of incidents until the Red Cross arrives; Penrose Hospital’s Flight for Life and Memorial Hospital’s Memorial Star emergency flight helicopters; American Medical Response ambulance service; and Wescott Fire Department.

Visitors could pick up a variety of safety information from the represented organizations, climb into fire engines and tenders, or take a seat in one of the helicopters. Wescott Chief Jeff Edwards said the timing of this event was very complementary to the open house held in the fall at the fire station because when combined, the events help to emphasize safety year-round. The Wescott Fire Department has held a fall open house in past years and will do so again in October.

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Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board, May 21: New directors sworn in

Below: Outgoing Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board Chairman Brian Ritz (left) swears in Directors Scott Campbell, Dennis Feltz, and Greg Gent on May 21. These three directors were elected to office by the district’s voters on May 6. Photo by Jim Kendrick.

By Jim Kendrick

Scott Campbell and Dennis Feltz, who were elected to four-year terms, and Greg Gent, who was elected to a two-year term, were sworn in on May 21 by outgoing Donald Wescott Fire Protection District Board Chairman Brian Ritz. Wescott Chief Jeff Edwards presented plaques to Ritz and outgoing Director Joe Potter and thanked them for their service as board members. Each of the current board members thanked them as well. Ritz and Potter expressed their thanks for all the support they had received while serving on the board.

The board members then unanimously elected incumbent Director Kevin Gould as chairman, Gent as secretary, and Feltz as treasurer. The board unanimously approved a resolution increasing the pay of all board members from $75 to $100 per meeting in accordance with a recent revision in state statutes.

Gould suggested that the new board members meet in a workshop or retreat to discuss their goals for the next two years. Incumbent Director Bill Lowes suggested that the directors talk to members of each of the three shifts to reacquaint themselves with the paid and volunteer staff, as well as the facilities and equipment, to better understand how to sustain the district’s camaraderie.

The board unanimously approved rescheduling the semi-annual volunteer pension board meeting to 6:30 p.m. on June 18 at Station 1 on Gleneagle Drive.

Based on the comments from the staff regarding the poor performance of Osborne, Parsons and Rosacher to date in performing the 2007 audit and the superior responsiveness of Hoelting and Co. to requests for assistance that backed up "glowing reviews" from Triview Metropolitan District and Donala Water and Sanitation District, the board unanimously approved switching to Hoelting to complete the Wescott audit.

Chief Edwards reported on recent structure fire and wildfire responses, upgrade training completed and scheduled by staff members, and progress on purchasing and equipping a new chief’s vehicle for approximately $34,000. The budgeted amount for the new vehicle was $40,000.

Edwards noted that the district would conduct physical agility testing for new hires on June 7 at the Air Force Academy fire training center. Those who pass will then take written tests, followed by interviews, to qualify for district openings over the next year. He also reported that there have been no worker compensation claims for over three years, which significantly reduces the cost of insurance.

Edwards recommended that the district donate its third pumper truck to one of the four Crowley County departments. Edwards said the Colorado State Fire Chiefs’ Association would provide some financial support for repairing the pumper prior to this donation. Wescott recently donated another excess pumper truck to a fire department in Louisiana after it lost its equipment to Hurricane Katrina.

Assistant Chief Vinny Burns reported that the district was applying for a federal grant of $675,000 with a district match of $75,000 to pay for a $750,000 ladder truck that is needed to serve the many new tall buildings in the district’s coverage area.

Volunteer firefighter Elyze Wermel reported her progress in obtaining a grant from Wal-Mart for automatic external defibrillators for several District 20 schools.

The meeting adjourned at 8:40 p.m.

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The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on June 18 at Station 1, 15415 Gleneagle Drive. Meetings are normally held on the third Wednesday of the month. Information: 488-8680.

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Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District, May 28: New board members challenged on their comments, motives

By Susan Hindman

Barbara Kelly and Roger Lance may have won the May election to the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire District board, but they haven’t quite won everyone’s hearts yet. Kelly, who has never attended a board meeting, and Lance, who said he has been to one, were questioned about their motives by a district resident and taken to task by board Treasurer John Hildebrandt for their published statements before the election.

Resident Gloria Ingram asked the two why they wanted to be on the board. Kelly, a two-year resident of the Tri-Lakes district, said, "I have firefighter friends. It’s a chance for me to grow with this community…. Our Fire Department is excellent.… It’s an opportunity to share and give my expertise."

Lance, a 15-year resident, said, "I’ve watched this Fire Department grow from somewhat of a chaotic era to a department that’s really on the right track. I’ve been around to every station, every shift, and tried to meet everybody…. As a member of the board, our number-one responsibility is to serve taxpayers…. Our second obligation is to serve the people who make that happen (the firefighters)."

Ingram responded, "There have been rumors going around, and citizens have worked very hard to get these districts combined. I just want to make sure there isn’t any hanky-panky, that’s all."

Hildebrandt took Kelly and Lance to task for the candidacy statements the two made in recent newspapers.

"I am upset with both of you and the stance that you have taken," he said, adding that what they wrote was incorrect. "Being a training ground for firefighters that are going other places? One person. Not having working relationships with neighboring departments? Not so. We take it to heart. We have put in countless hours and heartfelt feelings for this department. And to have stuff come out…." He said he believed their lack of attendance at previous meetings "is a problem."

"Another point I want to make, especially when it goes to hanky-panky, I want to bring it up now. You do have a relative as a member of an adjacent department," Hildebrandt said, directing his comment to Lance, whose son is a firefighter with the Wescott Fire Protection District. "Those are things that are important for our constituents to understand and to know about. I don’t necessarily have a problem with that. But we have gone through some very difficult times with negotiations that have brought this department to where it is currently…. We feel good about where we are now and what we have done."

Budget ups and downs

In his treasurer’s report, Hildebrandt said that although expenses were over the estimate by $15,742, income is over the estimate by $21,985. Much of the expense increase was driven by one-time costs, such as insurance and the audit, but it "will normalize as the year goes as it did last year. It’s a function of how we pay bills." Overtime expenses were also up—these "carried on a little longer than I anticipated," according to Chief Rob Denboske. Hildebrandt said that overall, "We’re tracking pretty close."

Director Charlie Pocock suggested that with ownership tax and impact fee collections down, the budget may need to be redone in June, saying he didn’t see those fees "correcting themselves." "We’re scheduled to take on additional people in the third quarter, and it may be that we want to rethink that," he added. Hildebrandt responded by noting there is $231,000 in the contingency fund.

Goodbyes and hellos

This was the final meeting for four longtime board members—Rod Wilson, John Hartling, Keith Duncan, and Si Sibell—and one, Harv Simms, who stepped in to fill a board vacancy in January. The outgoing members were given certificates of appreciation for their service. President Tim Miller thanked the five, saying "The community is better served for your efforts."

Before he left, Sibell quipped that when he was "with the old Monument volunteer fire department, we never lost a basement."

The new board—now with seven members instead of 10 because of the combination of the former Woodmoor-Monument and Tri-Lakes fire protection districts—consists of President Tim Miller, Vice President Rick Barnes, Treasurer Hildebrandt, and directors Bill Ingram, Pocock, Lance, and Kelly. The board voted to retain the officers and elected Ingram as secretary.

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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 June 25. For more information, call Chief Denboske at 481-2312 or visit www.tri-lakesfire.com

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Lewis-Palmer District 38 School Board Meeting, May 15: Board encouraged to support theater arts

Below: Lewis-Palmer High School student Ryan Fabry spoke in support of the theater arts program and asked the board for continued funding and staffing. Photo by John Heiser.

Below: Board president Dee Dee Eaton (R) commended Molly Bush, Dominique Cruz, and Clio Wilkerson for their prize­-winning artwork. Photo by John Heiser.

By John Heiser

During citizen comments at the Lewis-Palmer District 38 School board meeting May 15, Lewis-Palmer High School student Ryan Fabry spoke in support of the theater arts program and asked the board for continued funding and staffing. Paula Heinz and Cylinda Engelman, parents of students involved in the performing arts, also spoke on behalf of the theater arts program. More than 50 supporters of the theater arts program attended the meeting.

In other citizen comments, Chuck Roberts thanked the board for its support for the Tri-Lakes Senior Alliance and Tim Nolan, 2008-­09 President of the Lewis­-Palmer Education Association (LPEA), thanked the school board members and administration for their efforts on behalf of the district. Nolan noted that the LPEA is in total support of the board pursuing the mill levy override.

Community engagement with senior citizens

As part of the district’s implementation of the policy governance model, seniors Avis Cook, Red Stephens, and Roberts were invited to engage in a discussion with board members. Cook, Stephens, and Roberts answered such questions as: "What should the schools undertake to do a better job that the community would value?" "What do seniors think about today’s high school students?" and "What is the financial mindset of senior citizens in this area?" Everyone involved expressed the importance of promoting intergenerational activities and relationships.

Other matters

  • Commendations – Dave Bott and Ricky Vestal, from the Maintenance and Grounds Department, were recognized for their dedication and hard work to complete the playground project at Grace Best Elementary School. Virginia Monroe, sponsor for the middle school forensics teams, introduced award­-winning team members Alex Benton, Zachary Dove, Britney Slade, Sophia Capp, and Michelle Chan. Students Molly Bush, Dominique Cruz, and Clio Wilkerson were commended for their prize­-winning artwork.
  • Community Engagement Committee created – Board members approved the membership of the recently formed Community Engagement Committee. One purpose of this committee will be to assist the school board and district administration in achieving more effective communication with various segments of the local community.
  • Salary and wage schedules for 2008-­09 – Cheryl Wangeman, Chief Operations Officer, presented the salary and wage schedules for the 2008­-09 school year. Revised schedules for middle school coaches and activity sponsors were also recommended. The board approved the schedules, as well as associated policies that reflect the statement that any employee whose performance is deemed unsatisfactory will not be eligible for salary advancement.
  • Final budget adjustments for 2007­-08 – The board approved adjustments to the 2007­-08 district budget, including adjustments to the building fund, capital reserve fund, and insurance fund.
  • Early Childhood Education (ECE) Task Force report – Dr. Shirley Trees, Executive Director of Elementary Education, introduced members of the ECE Task Force to report on activities for 2007-­08. Task Force members presented information from a recent preschool survey. The goal is to reframe the preschool education experience to meet the needs of all students. The district is also seeking to enhance the program delivery model and program options.
  • Special Education Advisory Committee report – Julie O’Brien, Director of Special Education, reported briefly on the accomplishments of the committee, which included adopting by­laws, establishing communication with families, developing a survey which will be used to assist in professional development needs for staff, and providing feedback and recommendations regarding center-­based program entrance/exit criteria.
  • Gifted education report – Dr. Susan Adams, Director of Special Programs, provided a summary of the gifted education program for the 2007­-08 school year. The report included information submitted by the GT facilitator at each school. A three­-year plan is guiding the direction of the program and sets specific benchmarks in the areas of program delivery, student achievement, and professional development.
  • Preliminary budget information for 2008­-09 – Wangeman presented the 2008­-09 district budget for preliminary approval by the board. A public hearing on the budget will be held on June 19 at 5:30 pm during the next regular monthly meeting of the board. Major focus areas for the district include increasing teacher compensation, ensuring that ending fund balances meet board requirements, enacting increased fees, and, improving food choices for students. All new funds received from the state will be directed towards compensation.
  • Superintendent’s update – Superintendent Ray Blanch thanked the district administrative team, Wangeman, and the Finance Office for their hard work in preparing the 2008­-09 budget. He also reported that personnel policies have been recently revised so that employees who are rated unsatisfactory or are placed on a remediation plan will not receive an increase in compensation until the areas of concern are resolved. Very few district employees are in this group.
  • Board member comments – Mark Pfoff stated that some of his special areas of interest and concern include student safety and security. After meeting with Hal Garland, the Director of Auxiliary Services, Pfoff reported he is very pleased with the district’s efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for all students. Jeff Cantlebary congratulated the board members for their team efforts to move the district forward. John Mann echoed Cantlebary’s comments, stating the board has worked very hard yet kept a sense of humor while successfully addressing some large issues. Board president Dee Dee Eaton noted there has been an increase in the fees in lieu of land that the district will receive from the Town of Monument, from $291 to $1,350 per house. She also congratulated Ted Belteau, Executive Director of Secondary Education, on his upcoming retirement, thanking him on behalf of the school board and district administration for all he has done for the district
  • Consent agenda items – The board approved several routine matters concerning students, personnel, and finances, including an increase in student meal prices for the 2008­-09 school year, the revised student fee schedule, and, contracts/tuition rates with International Salon and Spa Academy and Pikes Peak Community College.

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The Lewis-Palmer School District 38 Board of Education normally meets on the third Thursday of each month at the District’s Learning Center, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. The next regular monthly meeting of the board will be held June 19 at 5:30 p.m. with a reception at 5:00 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. for those receiving commendations.

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

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

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D-38 District Accountability Advisory Committee, May 13: Committee reviews budget and school programs

By Harriet Halbig

The District 38 Accountability Advisory Committee held its final meeting of the 2007-08 school year on May 13 at the District Learning Center.

Co-chairs Mary Perez and Betty Hutchinson welcomed the group, and a motion was sought and moved to approve the minutes of the previous meeting.

DeeDee Eaton, Board of Education president, then presented a legislative update. She said that Gov. Bill Ritter had not yet signed key legislation affecting education.

Regarding School Improvement Plans, it was reported that the group is still trying to determine how much funding to request on the mill levy override planned for the November ballot. One attendee suggested that it is critical that teacher compensation be addressed while making this decision. A polling company has been retained to learn of voter opinion of the override. Results are due soon.

Construction of Palmer Ridge High School continues to be on time and on budget.

Budget review

An annual budget review by Cheryl Wangeman followed. The District Accountability Advisory Committee provides input to the board regarding expenditures. During this past year, increases in faculty compensation were funded by state funds.

In the coming year, school lunches will improve in quality and will be increased in price by about 25 cents.

Wangeman explained that school funding is based on the number of students in attendance on Oct. 1 of each school year. Half-day kindergarten students count as 58 percent of a full-time student. Home-schooled students who attend only limited classes each count as one-half full-time student. She said that she anticipates having 70 fewer students in the coming year, and an increase of 50 at Monument Academy.

She explained that 86 percent of the district’s budget is for compensation of district employees. Some special-needs teachers are supported by grants.

Wangeman said there is concern about the cost of fuel and the need to spend reserves to cover it.

She said $8 million remains from the 2006 bond issue. Most will be spent on Palmer Ridge High School. The remaining $1 million or so will be used for improvements at Lewis-Palmer High School. She said the Board of Directors had recently toured Lewis- Palmer to determine what improvements are needed.

When asked why the district prefers cash in lieu of land donations from developers, Wangeman responded that the district cannot ask for land until a subdivision is large enough to require a new school. She praised the Town of Monument for raising the amount per new house paid by builders to the district from $200 to $1,350.

School programs

Following are reports on three programs from schools in the district.

Grace Best Elementary School held a Family Literacy Night on March 13. With 520 students, Grace Best is the largest elementary school in the district.

Its goal was to focus on literacy and for every third-, fourth-, and fifth-grader to be at least at the 85 percentile level in testing. It hopes to increase its baseline by 20 percent by 2010 and increase community involvement by 40 percent.

The Family Literacy Night offered free dinner and free child care, with "make-and-take" activities for students and parents. The objective was to instill a love of reading at the preschool, primary, and intermediate levels. Each level had different activities to support this goal. Parents are encouraged to read with students and discuss what they read.

After expecting only a few attendees, the event ultimately hosted over 200 people. Joy Quaite, the presenter of the program, praised Rotelli’s for being willing to accommodate the large crowd and thanked faculty, staff, and teens for their willingness to help on short notice.

Lewis-Palmer Middle School set a goal of 1 percent improvement per year on CSAP scores for three years. It is successful with English Language Learners (formerly English as a Second Language) and chose this group for monitoring. About 25 students per year fall into this category, about 3 percent of the school’s population. Most are Spanish-speaking, but several other languages are also represented. Students may be referred by previous schools or may realize that they cannot function in a classroom environment with their present level of proficiency.

One full-time language teacher and one half-time paraprofessional administer the program. They use the Rosetta Stone program to build vocabulary. In some cases, students spend four hours of their school day in this program. Others are seen on a pull-out basis for shorter periods.

Starting in the fall, the school will use the Colorado English Language Assessment system to decide on the effectiveness of its work. The school hopes to increase the number of English Language Learners who are proficient or advanced on the CSAP.

Finally, Shawn Cash, co-president of the Parent-Teacher Organization from Palmer Lake Elementary School, gave a presentation on the school’s Project Green Panthers.

This program, emphasizing recycling and the environment, has several goals. These are to teach children to recycle resources, conserve water and energy, and to teach their families the lessons they have learned. The specific goals are to reduce the amount of waste leaving the school by 20 percent and to reduce the use of water and energy by 10 percent.

Students take home a box to bring recyclables to school. There is a box in each classroom for recyclables. Two team leaders from each classroom teach recycling lessons to their classmates. Leaders also empty the boxes in the rooms into the large receptacles outside the school.

The program requires no school funding. The outdoor containers and services are donated by Tri-Lakes Disposal. Teachers are not required to teach the lessons, as they are provided by an outside source, but the teacher must provide the time for the lessons.

A further advantage of the program is that the school becomes more involved with the community by providing recycling service for the neighborhood.

So far, the school has recycled 12,000 pounds of paper in three months. The proceeds, which support school activities, have exceeded $500. The service to the community will continue during the summer.

Kathy Wilcox of Lewis-Palmer Elementary School gave a brief talk about the Mill Levy Override Committee that recently formed. She said they have met with the group that opposed the previous mill levy, and that they are now in accord on the need for the new initiative. She said this should make promotion of the new initiative run more smoothly.

In conclusion, Co-Chair Mary Perez said she will be leaving the area and will therefore not be able to serve next year. Co-Chair Betty Hutchinson said she is willing to serve another year for continuity. The group agreed to hold an election for new leadership over the summer.

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The District Accountability Advisory Committee will meet next in September.

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District 38 offers Big Red Saturdays for summer

Below: Debbie Evans of Springs Sweet Honey was one of the participants in the first Big Red Saturday. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

Below: The Tri-Lakes Taekwondo Team at Big Red Sat.,May 31: Erin Tirpak, Emma Eberly, Mikayla Guill, Bret Mischlich (instructor), Quinn Tirpak, Duncan Salmon and Katie Salmon. The team qualified for the National Championship in Wisconsin in early July and are raising funds for the trip. They will be back at Big Red June 21. Photo by Harriet Halbig.

By Harriet Halbig

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is offering a new community event this summer.

Called Big Red Saturday, it will be held each Saturday through Sept. 20 on the north side of the administration building at 146 Jefferson St. in Monument. Times will be from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. each week.

Spokesperson Robin Adair said the district could not decide whether to call the event a fair or festival, so they settled on Big Red until there is a clearer idea of who will participate.

The event, held on the area where the Monument farmer’s market has been in past years, debuted on May 31. Present on this first Saturday were representatives from the library district, a booster club for Palmer Ridge High School, a Palmer Lake Tae Kwon Do team raising funds for a trip to the national championships, handcraft and jewelry vendors, and manufacturers of honey, dog treats, and household items.

Adair said that future offerings will include a chainsaw artist, performers, and, later in the summer, produce, and fruit from the Western Slope.

She said that any student group wishing to raise funds or perform may participate at no charge. For-profit vendors may participate for selected weekends or the entire season at a nominal cost.

Those wishing to participate in Big Red Saturday may contact the district at www.lewispalmer.org

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El Paso County Parks Department Open House, April 30: County considers Palmer Lake improvements

Click here or on the plan to zoom in or download the plan for Palmer Lake Regional Park

Click on the plan to zoom in or download the plan for Palmer Lake Regional Park

By David Futey

As reported in the May issue of Our Community News, the El Paso County Parks and Leisure Services Department held an Open House on April 30. The Open House, conducted at the Palmer Lake Town Hall, provided citizens with the opportunity to review the information and feedback collected thus far by the department regarding new facilities and improvements to existing facilities in areas around Palmer Lake and specifically adjacent to the lake.

Representatives of the parks department included Neil Katz, manager, Planning and Services Division; Brian Kay, park planner; and Bill Campbell, north district supervisor. Katz provided an opening summary about how the data presented at the Open House had been collected and the key findings. Three stations, providing various data summaries and a map of the area with proposed changes, were set up with Katz, Campbell, and Kay available for further discussion at each station. A combination of county and Palmer Lake properties would be used in this project depending on the particular addition or improvement.

Katz identified establishing a long-term water source for the lake as the number one concern for those residents (135) who participated in the online survey. Two other commonly requested items from the survey and community forums were establishing a train viewing area and building a railroad pedestrian crossing. Katz noted the proposed ideas, if enacted, could greatly lend to the economic and social vitality of the Palmer Lake community. Based on feedback received at the event, a revised plan was presented to the Park Board on May 13.

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Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition Community Meeting, May 21: Coalition presents update on proposed drilling

By Chris Pollard

About 180 people gathered May 21 at the Pinecrest Events Center in Palmer Lake to hear an update on the gas well drilling proposal for the adjacent Pike National Forest. One new concern for representatives of the Front Range Environmental Resource Coalition (FRERC) was that some people in the community had been harassing Forest Service employees about the drilling proposals.

They pointed out that the harassment would likely only harm any discussions with the Forest Service, the agency in charge of writing the Environmental Assessment. They suggested residents should direct their efforts to persuading county and other officials to write new regulations to control drilling, gas production, and their associated effects.

Previous meetings had suggested an almost immediate issuance of the assessment documents, but FRERC representatives said it will be two to four months before that happens, with the 30-day period for public comments following that. They reminded the audience that the content of those comments should be substantive and not just complaints. The Forest Service had said it will give 15 days’ advance notice for the comment period.

In updated research on Dyad Petroleum, the company applying for the permit, they noted that Dyad has never drilled on Forest service land before and has concentrated on offshore drilling. The company has only eight employees.

Exactly what rules and regulations apply to the drilling operation will depend on pending changes to oil and gas drilling regulations at the local, state and federal level.

Conversations have been held with representatives from the Air Force Academy, who also have concerns over their own water supply but say they have had no feedback on actions Dyad has taken. FRERC will ask El Paso County to write oil and gas development rules and is trying to plan a presentation to the County Commissioners.

The more immediate goal of FRERC is to raise more funds to allow a proper professional evaluation of the assessment and to talk and work with other organizations that have been successful in controlling or stopping gas drilling in other parts of the country.

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For information on the coalition and its efforts go to www.frerc.org

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Woodmoor Improvement Association Board of Directors, May 27: Progress on golf course ponds reported

By Chris Pollard

Gene Hoffman of the Woodmoor Golf and Country Club addressed the Woodmoor Improvement Association board May 27 to explain what was happening with the ponds on the golf course in north Woodmoor. The Woodmoor Water and Sanitation District had not included the golf course in its augmentation plans.

State water officials had declared that the ponds were part of the tributary system, and the country club could no longer use water out of the ponds, including the fourth and largest lowest pond, which was used as a reservoir to irrigate the golf course. Last September the club was told to drain the ponds, and since then it has been trying to work with the water district to file an augmentation plan.

Additionally, in the process of inspecting the ponds, an unused pipe was found under one of the dams that had the potential to compromise the dam’s stability. This led to all four ponds ending up dry, and residents subsequently complained about blowing dust and the effect on home values.

The augmentation problems have since been resolved. A dam construction company has been hired to fill the pipe with concrete, and Hoffman said he expected to be able to start refilling the ponds within the week.

Hoffman also noted that the club was working on resolving the pine beetle infestation in the golf course’s trees.

Executive Director Camilla Mottl noted that a number of residents were concerned that the WIA was carrying excessive operating reserves. The WIA has $300,000 in cash in the operating reserves but a large portion of this is in receivables and assets, so that the real amount in assets is just over $100,000.

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May Weather Wrap

Below: May 12 and the sign at Peoples Bank in Gleneagle reads 81 degrees. Photo by David Futey

By Bill Kappel

Temperatures were a little cooler than normal for the month and precipitation was right about normal. We hit 80° for the first time this year on the 21st, with the coldest morning touching the teens on the 2nd and 3rd.

The first week of May started off with winter but ended with spring. Snow fell on the 1st with 2-5 inches accumulating around the region. This made for a beautiful sight, with the wet snow clinging to the trees much more proficiently than the drier snow that falls from November through March. High temperatures held in the low 40s on the 1st and 2nd, and overnight lows were in the teens and 20s, well below average for this time of the year. The first weekend of the month turned out OK overall, as drier and more seasonal conditions moved in from the 3rd through the 5th. In fact, high temperatures warmed each day, going from the 50s on the 3rd to the 60s on the 4th, and into the 70s on the 5th. Overnight lows were still chilly, as clear skies and dry air allowed temperatures to touch the teens and 20s each morning.

The week of the 5th started out on the warm and dry side, with highs in the 70s on the 5th and 6th before some changes rolled in. Higher levels of moisture moved into the area late on the 6th and stuck around through the beginning of the weekend. Each day from the 7th through the 10th received measurable precipitation. Regular old thunderstorms developed on the 8th with several rounds of showers and storms moving through the area during the afternoon. Some of the thunderstorms contained pea-size hail at times. Cooler air began to work into the region as this pattern of unsettled weather continued to develop.

As the cold air associated with the system moved over the area during the early morning hours of the 10th, a band of heavy snow deposited around an inch of snow above 7,000 feet. Most of it melted by 10 a.m. on the 11th, so if you slept in you probably missed it. But scattered snow continued through the morning of the 11th before cool sunshine returned for the remainder of the day.

The week of the 12th started on the mild side with highs in the 70s on Monday afternoon, as gusty southwest winds blew in warm air ahead of a storm system moving through the Great Basin. Things changed quickly late in the afternoon as the storm moved through, with light rain developing during the evening. Temperatures were over 30° colder the next day, with light snow and flurries off and on during the morning. There was a brief break before the next system rolled in, with seasonal conditions during the day on the 14th, but by evening the effects of the next storm were being felt. Light rain developed that evening, and by early the next morning a band of heavy snow developed. This dropped a quick 2-4 inches of snow that fell from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m.

The 15th continued to be active, with several rounds of snow, graupel, ice pellets, and rain. Once this storm began to move out of the region the next morning, high pressure began to move into the region. This led to clearing skies and warmer temperatures. Highs through the weekend jumped back into the 70s to near 80 by Sunday under mostly sunny to partly cloudy skies.

Our first true taste of summer-like weather started off the week of the 18th as high temperatures soared into the upper 70s and low 80s from the 18th through the 21st. Each day started off quiet and sunny, then partly cloudy skies developed during the afternoons. Winds were well-behaved through the period as well, making for very pleasant conditions. Cooler air began to move into the region late on the 21st and temperatures held in the 60s for highs from the 22nd through the first half of Memorial Day weekend. A few thunderstorms developed as well, but we were fortunate to miss out on the worst of the weather, as severe storms, including several tornadoes, damaged much of the region from Denver through southern Wyoming.

The month ended on the warm and dry side with highs in the 70s from the 28th through the 31st. A few rounds of afternoon and evening thunderstorms did produce a little rain and lots of lightning on the 31st, hopefully a sign of wetter weather for June.

A look ahead

By June we can usually say goodbye to our chance of snow but hello to frequent afternoon and evening thunderstorms. Two of the previous three Junes have seen at least a trace of snow in Tri-Lakes region, but most of the time we can expect warm, sunny days with afternoon and evening thunderstorms. June 2004 was much cooler and wetter than normal, and we had several days of hail. June 2004 also produced a tornado on Father’s Day, which touched down just north of Hodgen Road and moved through the northeastern section of High Forest Ranch. June 2005 was right on average, June 2006 started off dry and ended wet, while last year was a dry June. The official monthly forecast for June 2008, produced by the Climate Prediction Center ( www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/30day/ ), is calling for a normal month both for temperatures and precipitation. For a complete look at monthly climate summaries for the Tri-Lakes region, please visit www.thekappels.com/ClimateSummary.htm

May 2008 Weather Statistics

Average High 65.1° (-3.3°)
Average Low 32.6° (-4.9°)
Highest Temperature 80°F on the 21st
Lowest Temperature 16°F on the 3rd
Monthly Precipitation 1.52" (-0.12")
Monthly Snowfall 7.9" (+2.1")
Season to Date Snow 129.2" (-7.8")
Season to Date Precip. 16.42" (-2.56")

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

Clarifying fire district issues

In regards to statements made by candidates for the recent board election for the Tri-Lakes Monument Fire Protection District (TLMFPD), I’d like to clarify for area residents two items mentioned several times by the various candidates as being problems, when in fact they are not.

First, it was stated that the TLMFPD is lacking in our ability or willingness to operate with nearby fire districts. In actuality, we maintain mutual aid agreements with agencies and fire departments throughout the region, to include our membership in the North Group, which includes Black Forest, Donald Wescott, Falcon, Larkspur, Palmer Lake, and Woodmen Valley fire districts. In practice, the TLMFPD works with nearby districts on a routine and recurring basis, both in monthly planning meetings and in having them respond to incidents within our boundaries, and in our responding to incidents within their boundaries when we can be of assistance.

Second, it was stated that the TLMFPD should not serve as a training ground for other districts in the area, losing personnel after we have trained them. In a search of personnel records back to 2002, this issue describes only one firefighter. This firefighter stated that he was joining the Denver Fire Department because of his desire to fight more fires than he had been able to fight in his time with us—a condition I think all of us are thankful for. And, this firefighter continues to work for us as a part-timer. There were only two other resignations from the TLMFPD since 2002, and both of these personnel were moving out of state to Florida.

The board of the TLMFPD takes its responsibilities to the residents, businesses, and taxpayers of the Tri-Lakes area very seriously. We have worked diligently to ensure we have modern stations and equipment, and since our most important assets are our personnel, we provide an attractive pay and benefits package. The board will continue to do its best in the future to ensure the TLMFPD serves the area well.

Our regular board meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at Station 1, 18650 W. Highway 105, in Monument. I invite area residents to attend.

Tim Miller
TLMFPD Board president

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Thank you

I look forward every month to reading OCN and read it more thoroughly than any other paper I get. It’s so refreshing to read a paper that actually reports the news without inserting all kinds of editorial comments in every story attempting to slant it this way or that. Your paper simply reports the facts. You report on items that directly affect me and do so objectively and thoroughly. It’s the only paper I come close to reading cover to cover. I love it when you report on a meeting that addresses some controversial issue and you report what was actually said by whom and don’t insert your own slant on things. You don’t speculate. You don’t exaggerate. You don’t predict. You report and it’s absolutely wonderful. Thank you for your wonderful, informative paper.

Theresa Bighash

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Gleneagle Golf Club’s proposal is out of bounds

On May 1, Gleneagle Golf Club (GGC) submitted a zoning change request and sketch plan amendment to the El Paso County Development Services Department. Concurrently, GGC sent approximately 180 First Legal Notice letters to homeowners neighboring the golf course.

The first submittal requests a rezone for a 10-acre parcel, including the driving range and adjacent open space, from the current RR-5 to Planned Unit Development (PUD). The second submittal requests approval of amendments (termed "minor" by the requestor) to sketch plans in the Master Plan from a driving range and open space to a 47-townhome development, uncomfortably close to existing communities and golf course fairways. The stated objective of this land use project is to finance a $1.5 million irrigation system for the golf course.

Following internal coordination of these submittals among various county and state agencies, the Development Services Department will submit an approve/disapprove recommendation to the county Planning Commission. Then, in the August 2008 timeframe, the Planning Commission will hold a public meeting. At this meeting, all interested parties may voice their support or opposition to the zoning change request and sketch plan amendment. The Planning Commission will then submit an approve/disapprove recommendation to the Board of County Commissioners. The County Commissioners will then hold a public meeting in the September 2008 timeframe to rule on the zoning change request and the sketch plan amendment.

Every resident of the Gleneagle Community has a vested interest in the outcome of these submittals. If the requestor can obtain a zoning change and a sketch plan amendment on this small parcel, it may subsequently request similar changes for the remainder of the golf course property, ultimately selling it all off for development. This would leave Gleneagle "a planned golf course community," with no golf course at all. The character of the entire community would be permanently altered, to the detriment of all who live here. Property values and assessed valuations would likely plummet.

A number of us have deep concerns for the integrity of the Master Plan for this area. Many Gleneagle residents bought in this beautiful community based on the current Master Plan (Tri-Lakes Comprehensive Plan and Gleneagle/Academy Sub-Area Plan). If the Master Plan can be so dramatically altered by the approval of a "minor" sketch plan amendment, what protection can any homeowner in the Gleneagle or Tri-Lakes area expect the Master Plan to provide? If the Master Plan fails us in this instance, it could fail anyone, anywhere in the county, at any time.

A citizens’ group, dubbed the Gleneagle Residents’ Environmental Advocacy Team (GREAT), is being formed to focus attention on this issue and prepare residents to participate in the county planning process. You will be hearing more about this group in the upcoming months. In the meantime, I urge you to learn more about the GGC submittals and participate in the county planning process.

To learn more about the GGC submittals:

  • Get the basic facts by talking to any of your friends who received the First Legal Notice.
  • Get additional details through the following homeowners associations: Eagle Villas, Gleneagle Civic Association, NEPCO, Sun Mesa, and Paradise Villas. These organizations have soft copies of all documentation on a data CD.
  • See the complete hard copy package by visiting the Development Services Department, 2880 International Circle, Colorado Springs, 80910; phone 520-6300.
  • Familiarize yourselves with the Development Services process by visiting http://adm.elpasoco.com/Development_Services.

To participate in the county planning process: Contact your homeowners association to register your opposition to these requests. If you are given an opportunity to sign a petition opposing these submittals, please sign it. Watch for notices of GREAT meetings beginning in July 2008 to inform and prepare Gleneagle residents to participate in the El Paso County process. Plan to attend these meetings and learn how we can work together to oppose the GGC zoning change and sketch plan amendment requests. For additional information on how you can help, please call me at 488-4426 or Tom Morse at 487-1985.

In summary, we are concerned the proposed land use is poorly conceived and would likely not accomplish the applicant’s stated objectives. These submittals run counter to the spirit and intent of the Master Plan and are not in the best interests of this community. We respectfully recommend the County Commissioners disapprove GGC’s zoning change and sketch amendment requests.

Doug Jenkins

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Between The Covers at the Covered Treasures Bookstore: Don’t forget Dad!

By the staff at Covered Treasures

June 15 is the day for dads to skip the yard work and "honey do’s," kick back, and enjoy being pampered. How about a special book to match one of his interests?

You Can Observe a Lot by Watching; What I’ve Learned about Teamwork from the Yankees and Life
By Yogi Berra and Dave Kaplan (John Wiley & Sons), $24.95

The Yankee great and best-selling author uses stories from his legendary career to show how to be a better team player. One of the most beloved and revered figures in all of baseball, Yogi Berra, with his humorously off-beat aphorisms such as "It ain’t over ‘til it’s over" and "It’s deja vu all over again" have endeared him to generations of baseball fans and non-fans alike.

Golf My Own Damn Way
By John Daly (Harper Collins), $15.95

In this light-hearted look at the game of golf, two-time major winner John Daly gives some down-to-earth pointers. He explains how to "grip it so you can rip it," and offers a one-hour lesson that’s 100 percent guaranteed to make you a better golfer. He also tells you why you should keep your head out of the game, let your belly lead your hands, listen to your right foot, check your ball position and buy a hybrid club. You’ve probably never seen a golf instructional book like this one, and you may never need another one.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game
By Jim Burke (Little, Brown & Co.), $16.99
Lyrics by Jack Norworth

In this tribute to one of baseball’s biggest heroes and one of baseball’s greatest hit songs, Jim Burke authentically captures a tremendously exciting era of America’s favorite pastime. Featuring the beloved tune’s complete lyrics, the book is filled with fan-pleasing trivia and nostalgic paintings. Burke chronicles the historic contest between the New York Giants and the reigning World Series Champion Chicago Cubs with Christy "Big Six" Mathewson, the greatest pitcher in Giants’ history, taking the mound. This entertaining orchestration brings to life the sights, sounds and smells of the ballpark a century ago.

Fathers Are Special & Grandfathers Are Special
Gramercy Books, $5.99

These two attractive gift books feature fitting quotes from luminaries in all walks of life. In the Fathers book, Lucy Mead has compiled a collection of quotes and sayings filled with humor, love, insight, and inspiration that pay tribute to these special men and celebrate the unique role they play in life. Grandfathers Are Special celebrates the unique bond between grandfathers and grandchildren. Filled with touching and tender quotes, this book is a perfect gift for a very special grandfather.

Death in a Green Jacket
By James Y. Bartlett (Yeoman House), $14.99

For the golfer who enjoys mysteries, this "ripping good yarn" promises to be more exciting than the back nine on Sunday. The fourth book in the Hacker Mystery series begins with a body buried in a bunker on the Augusta National Golf Course weeks before the start of the Masters. When intrepid golf writer Pete Hacker begins to investigate, he runs up against a wall of silence and is off on a major new adventure.

Don’t Forget the Duct Tape
By Kristin Hostetter (The Mountaineers Books), $7.95

This slim paperback offers tips and tricks for using the famous gray tape to repair and maintain outdoor and travel gear. Whether you need to remedy a leak in your tent, nurse a cranky stove back to life, unclog a water filter, or revive gunked-up Velcro, you’ll find the solution in this book by the gear editor of "Backpacker" magazine.

Hard Drive: Bill Gates and the making of the Microsoft Empire
By James Wallace & Jim Erickson (Harper Collins), $17.95

In this fascinating tale, investigative reporters Wallace and Erickson follow Gates from his days as a 13-year-old computer hacker to his present-day status as the founder of Microsoft and a hugely successful billionaire CEO. The authors have spoken to childhood friends, employees, and business rivals to compile a uniquely revealing glimpse of the person who has emerged as the undisputed king of a notoriously brutal industry.

Give Dad a break and present him with a good book to start out his summer. Until next month, happy reading!

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High Country Highlights: Mulch 101

By Woody Woodworth

There are many advantages of using organic mulch to blanket soil around trees, shrubs, and perennial plants. Mulch moderates soil temperature and provides a more favorable environment for roots. It reduces evaporation of moisture, helping to conserve water. It reduces splashing from rain or irrigation water, reduces the spread of disease, and blocks the germination of many weed seeds. Beyond all that, mulch dresses up your garden, giving it a more finished look.

This article explores the kinds of bark mulches you can buy and their advantages and disadvantages. Several bark and wood mulches are available: bark nuggets, mini-nuggets, hardwood mulch, and shredded mulch. Some come in bags, some in bulk. A chief advantage of these mulches compared with other organic mulches is that they remain attractive and functional for a couple of years. That’s why gardeners mulching around trees, shrubs, and other long-lived plants are wise to choose a long-lasting bark mulch.

There is a difference between wood and bark mulch. According to the National Bark & Soil Producers Association, any mulch with "bark" in the name must be at least 85 percent bark of that named tree. A "mulch" material, on the other hand, need be only 70 percent of the named material, and it may be bark or wood. In both cases, the remaining 15 or 30 percent can be just about anything, but it is usually wood. The primary difference is how long the mulch will last before breaking down. Wood breaks down quicker and is more susceptible to insect damage and discoloring than bark.

Decomposing wood requires nitrogen. If you add a quantity of, say, fresh sawdust to your garden soil, chances are your plants will suffer from a lack of nitrogen. In this case, the soil isn’t necessarily deficient, but the breakdown of the sawdust "induces" nitrogen deficiency in your plants. Wood and bark mulches can also induce nitrogen deficiency, but it isn’t likely because they decompose at such a slow rate. It’s also unlikely because they are on top of the soil, not incorporated at root depth. But if this concerns you, or if your plants show the signs of nitrogen deficiency, add a 2-1-1 ratio fertilizer, such as 20-10-10, before mulching (2 to 5 pounds per 500 square feet).

Two good rules of thumb are to mulch with 3 to 4 inches of bark mulch each season and to avoid mulch layer buildup (and potential nutrient deficiency problems) by removing old layers of un-decomposed mulch before adding new layers. Coarse-textured mulches, such as shredded bark, can be applied thicker than fine-textured mulches, such as cocoa hulls*. However, there are variations and exceptions related to the type of plants you’re mulching and your landscape situation.

Whatever the type of plant, it’s rarely advised to mulch more deeply than 6 inches. Mulch layers thicker than that might reduce air circulation in the soil, which will retard plant growth. Also, don’t pile mulch around the main stem of a plant where it enters the soil. The added moisture and insect haven that results could damage the plant you’re trying to help. Spread the mulch so that it covers the "dripline" of your plant.

Woody Woodworth owns High Country Home and Garden.

* Warning - Cocoa hull mulch has caused the death of animals that have eaten it. There is more information at www.snopes.com/critters/crusader/cocoamulch.asp. Since it has been known to kill pets, it can likely also kill wildlife.

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Palmer Lake Historical Society, May 15: Colorado: A Liquid History of Pikes Peak Regional Pubs

Below: Tom Noel at the Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting May 15. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

By Ray McCoy

Tom Noel is a curious person. He is also a University of Denver Professor, a fine presenter, and a well-established historian. He recently gave an in-depth and very humorous slide presentation, "Colorado: A Liquid History of the Pikes Peak Regional Pubs," at the Palmer Lake Historical Society meeting held at the Palmer Lake Town Hall on May 15.

By the time Denver was 1 year old in the year 1858, it could toast to at least 30 taverns and zero churches. Perhaps the oldest of the taverns may be 4 Mile House along Cherry Creek, which has been restored.

17 Mile House along Parker Road has the dubious heritage of having many old cottonwood trees surrounding it. Story has it that each time someone was murdered at the tavern, the new grave dug just outside the tavern had a cottonwood tree planted on top of it. The logic was to try to provide a legitimate excuse by disguising the disturbed soil of the grave, which may have sounded like a great idea if you’ve been indulging in more than your share of drinks.

Uncle Dick Wooten, as he was affectionately called, moved to Denver from Taos, New Mexico in 1858 and was able to "enlist" local folks into constructing his tavern by offering a festive Christmas Party only to leave in 1862 because Denver was getting too "civilized."

Many of the taverns turned out to be the place to gather not just for refreshing drinks, but to catch up on "9 week old news," and get a bite to eat. Often, they were the first places where you could enjoy music or sometimes a musical play. One establishment went so far as having a regular tight rope walking event from one building across the street to another, without any safety precautions of course. In order to settle many of the various arguments that would arise, a Bible was chained to the bar for quick reference.

The tavern business was a way for many to create and establish themselves with a business in these wild adventurous times. The Germans, including Adolph Coors, had a strong heritage that employed many family members and had privileges of drinking throughout the working day. A Swiss gentleman grew his tavern from a coal & wood business into a saloon with a bakery. Not to be outdone, the Italians, heavily involved with the mining and railroad industries, created much good will by offering wines and pastas.

While this may not have been "those good old days," they didn’t appear to be lacking for any form of entertainment and thanks to Tom Noel and his diligent research, this wonderful evening was filled with laughter and historical insight.

**********

Sunday, June 15, the Palmer Lake Historical Society will honor all dads and their families at our annual Ice Cream Social, starting at 2 p.m. Complimentary pie and ice cream will be available at the historic Palmer Lake Town Hall and outside in the Gazebo on the Village Green. The Jessumbuds bluegrass band will provide entertainment. Information: 559-0837, www.ci.palmer-lake.co.us/plhs/index.shtml, or plhist@aol.com

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Museum holds seminar on prospecting

Below: Carolyn Pauly (L in hat) receives instruction on panning techniques from Eric Vesterby (R) of Gold Prospecting of Colorado. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

There seems to be a little bit of prospector in all of us, whether it is to strike the mother lode, a sense of discovery, or a fascination in our earth’s history and how it has produced so many wondrous minerals. Trouble is, you need to know where to look and what you are looking at, and how to read the rocks to find the mineralized treasures.

The 65 attendees of the Western Museum of Mining and Industry’s Colorado Prospecting & Mineral Collecting Seminar on May 17 got a full day of hands-on activities and instruction to get them started down the mineral collection trail. The seminar, with 19 teachers involved throughout the day, started with five hands-on stations that covered staking claims, metal detection techniques, mapping, placer (panning) mining, and, for when you find your precious stones, mineral collection and display.

The morning activities were followed by classroom sessions that included topics such as geology of Pikes Peak, Colorado gold, and information on the Godsend claim, located in the Crystal Creek area in Teller County. The Crystal Creek area and Godsend claim are known for amazonite (smoky quartz). The day concluded with a keynote talk by Peter Modreski, a U.S. Geological Survey minerals geologist, on mineral collecting in the Colorado Rockies. By the end of the seminar, the attendees had certainly struck the mother lode with yet another very educational program at the museum.

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Bird Watch on the Palmer Divide: Great horned owls nest at Home Depot

Below: Photo by Brian Kerr. The chicks are about 10 weeks old. 

Click here or on the photo to zoom in

Click on the photo to zoom in

By Elizabeth Hacker

It is so exciting to see the family of great horned owls at the Monument Home Depot! If readers haven’t seen them, please take advantage of this unique opportunity. The nest is located on the top of a pallet of decorative gravel in the southwest corner of the garden center. While this might seem intrepid behavior for a bird, the great horned owl is a bold opportunist, and what an ideal spot!

The garden center is a perfect nesting spot if the birds can ignore all us humans mulling around the potted geraniums. The trade-off is that the owls are protected from predators and there is an easy and ample food supply. In addition to the unsuspecting red-winged blackbirds (one of the owl’s favorite foods) located in the field south of the store, other critters such as mice and swallows that tend to be pests in the garden center are easy targets for owls. The owls help to control the pest population for Home Depot, making this a win-win proposition.

The fenced-in garden center offers protection from predators such as the red-tailed hawk, which in the wild chases the parents from the nest so it can prey on the defenseless chicks. During the day, crows and songbirds typically will bombard an owl in an effort to chase it off. The fence protects the owl from this annoyance, and at night the owls rule.

While it is true that owls are nocturnal and hunt primarily at night, I have observed great horned owls active during the day. Once I unknowingly walked too close to a nest and startled one. I didn’t hear it as it came at my back and knocked off my hat with its sizable talons. Did I mention great horned owls are bold? Sometimes they are even aggressive, so I’ve been told I was lucky that the owl was just handing me a "gentle" warning.

The adult great horned owl can reach 2 feet in height with a wing span of 3 to 5 feet. At this size it shouldn’t be difficult to miss, but like all owls, this bird is a master at disguise and blends in. Once in a great while, I notice something out of the ordinary, like a branch that is too fat to be a branch or a set of big eyes or horn-like feathers lurking above a squirrel’s nest. What is nice about the family nesting at Home Depot is that it’s quite easy to see and hear the adults and chicks.

Sometimes I sit in the parking lot with my binoculars before the store opens and after it closes because it’s easier to hear and observe the owl’s activity when it’s quiet. Often I see an owl perched on the fence and as I watch it, it turns its great head to watch me and I wonder if it recognizes me from the day before.

The great horned owl has large eyes and sees reasonably well, but it doesn’t need its eyes to locate prey. Rather, the bird’s distinctive disk-like arrangement of feathers around its eyes intensifies sounds that are directed to the owl’s large ear openings. While we humans can usually determine if a sound is coming from the right or left, the asymmetrical location of ear openings on a great horn’s head enables it to triangulate the exact location and distance of the slightest sound. This is why in complete darkness an owl can target a bird perched in a tree, a mouse moving through grass, or a snake slithering on the ground.

The calls of the great horned owl range from deep booming hoots to shrill shrieks. The "hoo-hoo hoooooo" typically associated with owls is a territorial call. Both sexes hoot, but the male has a lower-pitch. It also growls and screams when attacking intruders. The chicks make other sounds like a disturbed cat’s "MEEE-OWww." Owls also bark and snap their beaks. Most calling occurs from dusk to about midnight and again at dawn.

As a gardener, I enjoy looking at plants and garden supplies, but admittedly I’ve been spending a lot more time than usual at Home Depot just to watch the chicks. I am amazed at how fast they’ve grown, and by mid-June they should be as big as their parents. They show up in the oddest locations, and when they call out to their parents they seem to say, "I don’t know how I got here, but get me out of here."

Parents slowly wean the juveniles during the summer months while the juveniles learn to hunt. Families remain loosely associated until autumn, when the juveniles leave to establish new territories. Adults tend to remain near their nest site year-round while juveniles disperse as far as 150 miles.

Owls are monogamous and are thought to maintain the same partner for many years, but given their solitary nature when not breeding or nesting, it is possible that they could select different mates each year. An owl needs a territory of at least 1 square mile for hunting and in developed areas, probably much more. Great horned owls generally don’t migrate but will move around a region. They can live to be 25 in captivity, but in the wild 8 years is considered to be the average life span of an owl.

Because my space is limited, I must end here but I could go on for pages. Noted ornithologist and bird illustrator David Allen Sibley suggests that one reason bird watching is gaining popularity may be because it offers a break from the loud sounds and the fast pace of our mechanized world. If only for an hour, observing birds is relaxing, and I like to imagine what it’s like to be a bird. When I leave Home Depot after watching the owls, I know I’ll be back because I really must have just one more glimpse.

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: Buying and selling art

By Janet Sellers

We find our treasures in the oddest places, often close to home or on a vacation trip where we glance at something that catches our eye. We’re caught, we’re hooked, we’ve just got to investigate. We must be satisfied, and so we check it out, right then and there. The collector in us is on the hunt.

Curiosity gives us the confidence to act on a hunch that pans out to be a superb choice. That hunch can begin as an ordinary moment in time, within a familiar place such as here at home, and a sparkling new idea hits. It is such a revitalizing and rejuvenating experience. We all get this feeling—every spring when the wooden branches burst forth in new blossoms and leaves all over the trees! It’s everywhere from nowhere, because it is within us. In some places, it is called many things; in art circles, it’s "shibui," a Japanese word that has become a worldwide reference for art.

Shibui is a beauty that comes upon us slowly and subtly, often gently, but unerring in its power. Like a single flower in a simple container, or a small painting that calls for a closer look, its power is found beyond its size and color, because it manifests in our imagination and rapport with it.

I learned the word "shibui" in terms of moments of memory—mostly regarding flower arranging and tea ceremony—while working at an art museum in Japan for a couple of years. At a fine art installation of flowers known as an ikebana show, a friend received top honors for hers. She had arranged her flowers and branches in a stainless steel salad bowl; all others were set in museum pieces.

My friend’s bowl was at least an interesting shape, but utilitarian, plain, and all too common. I asked her why she used that one. Her answer: "In a beauty pageant, people will forget all the beautiful women, but they will always remember the one ugly one." So true. I learned that shibui means "beauty in the ugly."

Making that connection is a big part of an art sale. Strong association is created, and a powerful acceptance is the next step to purchase. By the time we have bonded to the experience, the transfer of funds is a mere process. We’re hooked, and we love it that way.

We may find that the item we purchase, which embodies shibui, is not the one that attracted us into a gallery in the first place.

What makes us shell out for art is an emotional, subconscious connection that repeats/moves through our mind and hits the pleasure points. That is why an artist can connect with whole societies and populations—the society has a similar connection point inside. The response is to make a closer connection with the pleasure point.

It seems that there are certain visual factors that have become popular for selling paintings. While they sell well, they probably don’t have the quality of shibui. They attract by another means, that of commercial familiarity and a kind of visual safety. They sell well, and that is why we see them in galleries, hotels, and so on. While bland, they tend to offer a small focus to include a wide audience. Middle tones as background for a small, light subject and a large, dark subject, for example, sell well. Checkerboard or chaotic patterns also tend to sell well. Venues that carry these tend to sell art work and allow their inventory to work for them.

While the best-selling paintings may not be the best fine artworks, they do tend to continue to be seen in many venues due to their salability. A case in point is art for sale in vacation areas, where the "tourist" souvenir paintings of all manner of prices sell well. Ocean, fish, and seabird scenes at the beach town galleries, mountain scenes and animals in the Rocky Mountains, abstract, chaotic paintings in large cities. Their overall middle tone of sky or water and points of interest in a small light and a small dark point of interest somehow catch the buyer’s eye.

In the world of fine art, the ways to choose and buy are as varied as the person who is buying. There are trends and there are patterns of buying, to be sure. Merchants (galleries included) study these and hone their skills to optimize sales. If they don’t, the sales die. If the sales die, so does the opportunity to enjoy the art, for the exhibition place may not last. Such loss of habitat can ghost a community in no time.

Preservation of the art habitat creates a community wealthy in culture and imagination, and is just plain fun to live. An imaginative social community begets wealth and satisfaction without fail. I didn’t make this up; it is documented over and over in professional journals with statistics for urban and suburban planning, renewal, and human quality of life. It also keeps real estate values strong.

Color and composition call out to the viewers and invite them in for a closer look. Interest in the work invites scrutiny and contemplation; having additional choices seems to heighten the purchasing impulse, at least in the United States, where we seem to need lots of choices and "freedom to choose" manifests among the many available.

These ideas sound like cattle buying, horse-trading or a luxury estate for sale. The stakes can be high, and the buyer and the seller take great care in their activity. In the end, it is a careful purchase with a deep gut response to the value of the artwork for the buyer. Unlike cars or real estate, art is a single chance buy, and losing out on owning an artwork is not an option the buyer wishes to take.

As we make plans to travel the world this summer, vacations at the ready, let’s go off the beaten path here in our own land of art in Tri-Lakes and offer ourselves a sparkling moment close at hand. Our Art Hops are user-friendly, with lots of locals and visiting guests enjoying the art evenings and strolling about town. The first Art Hop in May brought out the art lovers in droves, the galleries reported. Our June Art Hop and venues about town promise even more beautiful art for an evening and fun. Join us!

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

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Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts—10 years and counting

Below: TLCA board of directors and staff. First row (L-R): Andrew Lee, Nancy Shorter, Gail Wilson (president), Paul Murphy. Second row (L-R): Suzy O’Banion (office manager), Kay LaBella, Dennis Phillips, Lisa Phillips, Marina Nelson. Not pictured: Sandra Kinchen and Debbie Haltermann. Photo by Mark Kirkland Photography.

By David Futey

In July 1998, a group of artists took a look at the Kaiser-Frazer building in Palmer Lake—then uninhabited and in need of renovation—and envisioned what could be. That vision was for a multi-purpose facility used for activities to benefit the Tri-Lakes community, local artists, and the arts.

With that vision, a very generous start-up gift, and community support that has followed since its inception, the Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) has reached a 10-year milestone in achieving its mission of creating "community partnerships for demonstrating, teaching, exhibiting, and promoting the arts and humanities" along with being an "advocate for artistic growth" in the Tri-Lakes community. As with any organization finding its way, it has taken a considerable amount of effort and persistence, mostly from many volunteers, to make that original vision become a reality. But first the TLCA needed a home.

Critical support toward the startup and long-term health of the TLCA came from Palmer Lake residents Kim and Roger Ward. The Wards provided the center with its home through a $300,000 gift that enabled the purchase and renovation of the 11,000-square-foot Kaiser-Frazer building. Thus the building has been rent-free for the center’s use, which has helped it to weather lean economic times and the fickle nature of interest in art. The gift stipulated that the facility be maintained as an art center and that it remain financially stable. The TLCA is also required to maintain the facility through its own funding.

With the Wards’ financial support and inspiration for the art facility concept from Jina Pierce, a local artist from Palmer Lake and a former District 38 student, the TLCA began its journey. However, as with most of life’s journeys, perspiration followed the inspiration. Pierce, along with Christine Scott, who became the TLCA’s first board president, Rikki and Nikki Stiltner, Irmgard Knoth, Ray Kilmer, Tim Eckert, and Bunny Miele, began the cleanup from the most recent tenant, Fred Walker’s automotive restoration business. Walker spent nearly two decades in the building, refurbishing and parts distributing for Kaiser-Frazer automobiles (see end of article for additional background on the building).

Because of this and other past businesses of this type and the related use of oil, gasoline, and chemicals, the group had to first receive approval from the Environmental Protection Agency before proceeding with any renovation. The EPA conducted a survey and found no contaminants on the property. Besides the renovations, there was also a need to seek grants and other financial contributions in order to fund the renovation and customization of the building.

The TLCA received 501(c)3 nonprofit status in 1999, which enabled the organization to pursue grants. Initial grants were received from the Frontier Village Foundation and the Colorado Council for the Arts. Many local businesses have also stepped in to support the TLCA through the years. They include The Wine Seller, the initial supporter of the concert series, Bella Panini, the Tri-Lakes Women’s Club, The Woodmoor Group, and Monument Motors. The renovations funded by foundations, through the grants, and other support ultimately led to facility areas such as the main and Lucy Owens galleries, studio rental spaces, a pottery and kiln area, gift shop, and stage.

A restructuring of the board and the center’s operations occurred after a changeover in board members who left the organization to pursue other endeavors. Instead of a director position overseeing all operations, each of the center’s board members assumed responsibility for an operation area such as facilities, publicity, programming, and grant writing. With the changeover in board members and an influx of business expertise from new members, a business strategy began to evolve that blended the artistic focus with sounder financial practices, enabling the TLCA to sustain itself in leaner times. The board changeovers have also led to the TLCA becoming intertwined in the community. TLCA past President Dennis Phillips noted that it seems like "everybody in Palmer Lake has been on the board" over the years.

Board member activities are coordinated through one of three present contract positions, the only paid positions associated with the center’s operation. Those positions provide office management and board activity coordination, membership tracking and volunteer information, and bookkeeping. The board is presently composed of 10 volunteer members, and another 30 volunteers provide operational assistance, from staffing the gift shop to assisting with setup and take-down of events. There have been no shortages of activities and events over the years.

Besides art classes, workshops, and numerous art exhibits from TLCA members, the Palmer Lake Art Group, selected artists, Air Academy and District 38 grade and high school students, and others, the TLCA has hosted an array of other events. For the past three years, a variety of local and national musical talent has graced the TLCA stage. The sounds of bluegrass, folk, country, jazz, blues, and Celtic can be heard on any given musical performance night.

What seems a common theme from the performer perspective when playing at the TLCA is the recognition of the unique atmosphere provided by the venue and the receptiveness of TLCA audiences. This has led to performers now contacting the TLCA because they desire to play at this one-time car repair facility. Some of the artists who have performed at the TLCA are Chuck Pyle, Dakota Blonde, Wendy Woo, Monument Hill Brass Quintet, Channel Cats, Spring Creek, the Dotsero Jazz Group, and The Infamous Stringdusters.

Along with the music, the walls of the TLCA have also witnessed the Brain Bowl, with the "Phrenological Head" as the prize awarded to the winning team, little girl glamour shows, Karaoke, lectures, and film screenings.

Where does the TLCA go from here?

The first order of business is to continue building upon its membership that presently stands at 325. The second and perhaps more daunting task is to improve the "curb appeal," energy efficiency, and other aspects of the building. It’s hoped that the building improvements will further promote the identity of the TLCA and help it to create a stronger identity within the community. With its rich history, community focus, and unique artistic offerings, the TLCA should be a cherished and comfortable ride, just like a Kaiser-Frazer automobile, for years to come within the Palmer Lakes community.

Among many other upcoming events, the TLCA board invites you to the TLCA’s 10-Year Birthday Celebration on Saturday, July 12. For details regarding this and other upcoming TLCA events, concerts, and art workshops, please review the TLCA Web site at http://www.trilakesarts.org/index.html

About the Kaiser-Frazer building

Prior to the TLCA, the site and the Kaiser-Frazer building played many roles in the life of the Palmer Lake community, starting with the Thomas A. Hanks Livery Stable in 1898. Hanks is known to have hosted "tally ho" parties in his surrey with room enough for 12, taking the guests for rides in the countryside. The building was divided into north and south business areas for most of its existence until Walker’s Kaiser-Frazer business grew to consume the entire facility in the 1980s. Between the early 1900s and the 1980s, the building played host to: the Denver and Rio Grande Railway for a railroad car repair site; an alpaca fur retail business; an angora rabbit wool processing plant; the Colorado Worm Growers; a bell-maker who sand-casted the bells; a Mercedes-Benz mechanic; and a Trailways bus stop for Palmer Lake.

Special thanks to Marina Nelson and Dennis Phillips of TLCA, Roger Davis of Palmer Lake Historical Society, and previous OCN reporters for information they provided regarding the history of TLCA and the Kaiser-Frazer building.

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May and June events at the library

Photos by Harriet Halbig

Below: Jax the Paws to Read dog with Christine Melton, Jax’s owner, and Isabella.

Below: Jim Sawatzki and his DVD Summer Sojourn

Below: Some new kids on the block. 

By Harriet Halbig

May is a transitional month at the library, with the end of school events and the startup of the summer reading program.

On May 4, Jim Sawatzki of Palmer Lake Productions presented his video, "A Summer Sojourn," about the Chautauqua movement of the late 19th century. The Monument Library event was well attended and followed by a long question-and-answer session.

In August, a modern-day Chautauqua event will take place in Palmer Lake, with music, speakers, and other entertainment for the entire family. Further information will be available next month.

On Saturday, May 10, Rowen Monks of Limon brought her collection of live tarantulas, scorpions and other critters to the Monument Library. Monks, a middle-school math teacher, gave a fascinating presentation to a packed room. She explained how tarantulas shed their skin once a year and showed a framed set of shed skins from one of the specimens she had with her.

She explained that tarantulas can live for decades, that some live in trees and some underground, and showed a number of specimens with vivid coloration. In addition, she showed one that is native to Colorado, a dark brown variety that came from Pueblo.

Her speech was so popular that she has been asked to return for the Summer Reading Party in late July.

The Palmer Lake Library hosted Jax, a charming Newfoundland, who is the latest Paws to Read dog in the Tri-Lakes area. Children were invited to read to Jax to improve their self-confidence. Jax later came to the Monument Library during a visit by children from Lewis-Palmer Elementary school.

During the last half of May, staff from the Monument Library visited almost all of the local elementary and middle schools to introduce the summer reading programs. The theme for the younger age group is Catch the Reading Bug, and for the older group (fifth grade and higher) is Summer Tour 2008.

Registration for both programs opened on May 27, and the programs will end July 31. A number of middle-school students work as volunteers to register children and award prizes throughout the program.

With school out for the summer, a number of new activities will come to the library.

In addition to the regular toddler-time activities on Thursdays (10 and 10:30 a.m.), the Monument Library will offer programs for children ages 5 to 8 on Thursdays at 2, and programs for children 7 and older on Mondays.

On Monday, June 9, at 10:30 there will be a competition in which such items as marbles will be used in races. On June16, children will explore "tiny things," followed by a miniature craft session. A presentation about things that live underground will be held June 23.

On Tuesdays in June, the library will offer a succession of programs with guest speakers at 10:30 a.m. On the 3rd, it will feature a play about a museum janitor who teams up with an enchanted statue to play Greek myths. On the 10th, there will be a storyteller with stories about insects. The 17th will feature a puppet show and songs about bugs. On the 24th, there will be a one-person show for children involving self-discovery and dreaming.

All other regularly occurring library activities will continue during the summer with the exception of Senior Synergy, a discussion group that normally meets on Wednesdays from 10 to noon. Their meetings have been suspended for June and July.

The teen patrons of the Monument library are invited to a Dance Marathon at the library on June 27 beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Exhibits at the library for June include origami in the display case and "Divine Impressions," photography by Kim Jones.

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Audience hitches ride with Spring Creek

Below: (L-R) Spring Creek’s Alex Johnstone, Jessica Smith, Taylor Sims, and Chris Elliott brought a lively blend of bluegrass to the TLCA May 3. Photo by David Futey.

By David Futey

If you were in attendance for Spring Creek’s Tri-Lakes Center for the Arts (TLCA) performance May 3 and happened to have closed your eyes during it, you could have easily transported yourself to a couple places: seated in a rocking chair on the front porch somewhere in the Appalachians, at a hoedown, or to a Saturday night performance at the Grand Ole Opry. Wherever you ended up, it would have been a location where the best in traditional and highly spirited bluegrass was being played as it was on this night.

Combining songs and influences of Flatt & Scruggs, Bill Munroe and His Bluegrass Boys, and others with their own contemporary material, it is little wonder that Spring Creek is receiving the accolades that it does as it travels from venue to venue. Spring Creek is composed of Taylor Sims, guitar and vocals; Jessica Smith, upright bass and vocals; Chris "C-Bob" Elliott, banjo, and vocals; and Alex Johnstone, mandolin, fiddle, and vocals. Sims, Smith, and Elliott met while in the music program at South Plains College in Levelland, Texas, a town of 12,000 in an agricultural and oil producing area west of Lubbock.

As it seems with nearly every band trying to find its sound, a twist of fate led Spring Creek to Johnstone. Johnstone was working a summer job in the Gunnison/Crested Butte area when he was picked up hitchhiking by Sims. From that point some four years ago, this Lyons-based group has had audiences throughout the West hitching a musical ride with it.

In February, they played at a variety of venues, such as Freight and Salvage (Berkeley) and Noe Valley Ministry (San Francisco) as part of the San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival. They have also played the Wintergrass Festival in Tacoma, Wash., along with concerts in Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and Montana. However, to date their most renowned accomplishment is being the first band to have been selected as the best band at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and Rocky Mountain (RockyGrass) Festival in the same year (2007). Elliott also was selected as 2007 banjo champion in Colorado at the RockyGrass Festival. These accomplishments provided Spring Creek the opportunity to be the opening performance at both festivals in 2008.

Playing three to five times a week has not only made them closer friends but also has tightened their performance and stage presence. All members lend to their vocals for leads and background, with duets by Sims and Smith blending beautifully. Johnstone plays the mandolin at times as if playing lead guitar, and Elliott’s ability on the banjo has already been noted. Their abilities and efforts have not gone unnoticed as they have signed a record deal with Rebel Records, which has been producing bluegrass recordings since 1959 and claims Ralph Stanley among its many artists. Not bad company to keep for this obviously up-and-coming quartet.

Brothers Nathan and Jens Davis opened the show with a three-song set. They are friends with members of Spring Creek and are from the Woodmoor area. Their playing together this night was a rekindling of past musical connections between them. Nathan just happened to be visiting the area from his new home in Martha’s Vineyard at the time of this concert.

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For more information on Spring Creek and its upcoming concert dates, go to www.springcreekbluegrassband.com/. Information regarding the TLCA and upcoming events is available at www.trilakesarts.org or by calling (719) 481-0475.

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Snapshots of Our Community

Craft show, May 3

Below: The Creative Crafters Spring Showcase May 3 had over 75 booths of handmade items that filled the lobby and gym of Lewis-Palmer High School. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Ron & Opal concert, May 10

Below: Ron and Opal have a great time performing at Lewis-Palmer High School May 10. The concert was a benefit for the Tri-Lakes seniors programs. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Gleneagle Sertoma enjoys Spirits of Spring

Below: Bob Figgie and Mary Kay Salaman get a good laugh from the "Coot" figure entitled "Stop Global Whinnning." One of numerous items available for the silent auction at the Spirits of Spring Wine & Beer Tasting. The annual event typically generates $6000-$7000 thousand for the Gleneagle Sertoma. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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District and Regional Leadership Roles Go to Gleneagle Sertomans

Below: (L to R) Duane Gritzmaker and Patricia White of Gleneagle Sertoma have been elected to leadership roles during the Mountain West Regional Convention held in Tucson, Arizona. Duane will be serving on the 15-member Board of Directors for Sertoma as the Mountain West Region Director. The region, with over 2000 members, stretches north and south from Colorado, to Canada and Mexico, and west to Hawaii. Pat White was elected as South Colorado District Governor for eight clubs. There are over 400 members in the greater Colorado Springs area stretching from Monument to Pueblo alone.

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Fun in the sun, June 1

Below: Elephant Rock Bike Ride, June 1: The east end parking lot of Fox Run Regional Park was for the fourth year the site of an aid station to support 4,000 to 5,000 riders Sunday, June 1 as they completed either the 65-mile or 100-mile leg of the course. The course originated in Castle Rock and then headed south on Highway 83 before turning north onto Roller Coaster Road and ending in Palmer Lake. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

Below: First Annual Monument Firefighters Association 5K Run June 1: Race official Mo Ayala completes the entire 5K wearing a breathing apparatus. He was raising funds for the local Dale House Project, which assists 16-21 year-olds get established for living independently. Photo by Ray McCoy, Life Long Photography, www.lifelongphotography.com

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Power of Trees

Below: On June 4, utility company Aquila in partnership with the Town of Monument and High Country Home & Garden, planted five maple trees at the Monument Cemetery as part of Aquila’s 2008 Power of Trees program. The program started in Iowa five years ago and has expanded company-wide. Pictured are (front row) Aquila staff, (2nd from left) Nick Harris and Lucas Ebaugh of the Monument Parks Department. In the back row are Aquila staff; (2nd from left) Brad Wallace, Operations Supervisor for Aquila’s Monument office; Aquila staff; (5th from left) Claudia Whitney, Deputy Clerk-Town of Monument; and High Country Home & Garden owner Woody Woodworth. 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.

Slash and Mulch season under way

The El Paso County Black Forest Slash (tree debris) and Mulch season has begun. Hours of operation are: Saturdays, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday evenings, 5 to 7:30 p.m. The slash and mulch site is located at the southeast corner of Shoup and Herring Roads in the Black Forest area. Dump off your tree debris and pick up free mulch.

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

Summer Reading Programs for children and teens

Win prizes for reading! Enjoy special programs including shows, films, storytimes, arts, and more. Register online or at your library. Summer Reading has begun and continues through July 31 at all Pikes Peak Library District locations. See the Community Calendar for details of programs at the Monument and Palmer Lake branches.

Spring Fine Art Show opening reception, June 7

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

District 38 Offers Big Red Saturdays for the summer

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 is offering a new community event this summer called Big Red Saturday. It will be held each Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., through Sept. 20, on the north side of the administration building at 146 Jefferson St. in Monument.

The event opened May 31 with representatives from the library district, a booster club for Palmer Ridge High School, a Palmer Lake Tae Kwon Do team raising funds for a trip to the national championships, handcraft and jewelry vendors, and manufacturers of honey, dog treats, and household items.

Spokesperson Robin Adair said that future offerings include a chainsaw artist, performers, and produce and fruit from the western slope later in the summer. She said that any student group wishing to raise funds or perform may participate at no charge. For-profit vendors may participate for selected weekends or the entire season at a nominal cost. Those wishing to participate in Big Red Saturday may contact the district at lewispalmer.org.

Saturday Monument Farmers’ Market opens Jun. 7

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

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.

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 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.

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. More than 40 trophies will be awarded. Besides cool cars there will be oldies music, games for the kids, and door prizes. This annual event benefits Tri-Lakes Cares, a local charity. For more information, visit www.tlcruisers.org

Model Engineering & Historic Power Show, June 12-15

Don’t miss this awesome event at the Western Museum of Mining & Industry (WMMI), June 12-15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. See hundreds of operating handcrafted scale model turbines, airplane engines, trains, and more. Attractions also include antique stationary engines and historic tractors, lathe and milling demonstrations, the museum’s multi-ton steam engines and mining equipment including its 1920 Osgood Steam shovel and aspects of its 1890s Yellow Jacket II Gold Ore Processing Stamp Mill, museum tours, Keep-What-You-Find Gold Panning, hayrides, and more. Picnic grounds and a food vendor are onsite. Admission: $8 adults, $7 military/AAA, $6 seniors & students, $4 children 3-12, free to children under 3 & museum members. WMMI is located at 225 North Gate Blvd., just off of I-25 at the Gleneagle exit, #156A, across from the north entrance to the U.S. Air Force Academy. Reservations and info: phone 488-0880 or visit www.wmmi.org

LPHS Booster Club Second 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 a.m. and finishes by 12:30 pm. $120 per golfer includes green fees, cart, unlimited range balls, catered lunch of New Orleans barbecue, 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

Fathers’ Day Ice Cream Social, June 15

The Palmer Lake Historical Society will honor Dads and their families at their annual ice cream social on Sunday, June 15. Complimentary pie and ice cream will be offered at the historic Palmer Lake Town Hall, 28 Valley Crescent, and outside in the Gazebo on the Village Green. Festivities begin at 2 p.m. The Jessumbuds bluegrass band will entertain. For more information, call Richard Cooper, 572-5104.

Junior League Informational Party, June 16

The Junior League is an organization of women committed to developing the potential of women and improving communities through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. The Junior League of Colorado Springs has been around for 85 years. It founded and fostered landmark organizations and events such as Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, CASA, Safe Kids, Ronald McDonald House, Children’s Literacy Center, and CARE Fair, a health fair for uninsured children. Two informational parties are planned at Flying Horse: June 16, 6:30 p.m., at 2320 Ledgewood Dr.; and Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m., 13255 Honey Run Way. For more information and to RSVP, call Lauren, 266-5203, or Tricia, 229-1001, or visit www.jlcoloradosprings.org

Free tutoring in reading at Monument Library

Children’s Literacy Center offers free one-on-one tutoring to help children improve their reading skills. If your child is reading below grade level, call Sue Kana, 337-3430, to find out how to get your child enrolled in the Peak Reader program. The summer session is from June 17 to Aug. 5, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., or 6 to 7 p.m., at Monument Branch Library, 1706 Lake Woodmoor Dr.

Art Hop in Historic Downtown Monument, June 19

The second Art Hop of the year is June 19 in historic downtown Monument. Held the third Thursday of each month from May through September, the event has become a mecca for art lovers. Each month, various downtown merchants host events centered on the arts. Music, photography, painting, and pottery are on display for the public to enjoy free of charge. For event times and locations, visit www.monumentarthop.org

Community safety class for all ages, June 21

The community is invited to a class about fire safety, stranger danger awareness, and self-defense for the whole family. The Tri-Lakes Fire Department, Monument Police Department, and the U.S. Taekwondo Center are teaming up for this seminar June 21, 2 to 4 p.m. at the U.S. Taekwondo Center, 16328 Jackson Creek Parkway (east of Wal-Mart). Proceeds will benefit the Monument Police Department. Tickets are $5 and must be purchased in advance; call the U.S. Taekwondo Center, 488-4321.

Volunteer tutors needed!

Share your love of reading. Tutor an adult once a week for two hours. Work one-to-one with an adult to improve their English language skills. No teaching experience required. Free training is provided. Call 531-6333, x2223 with questions or for application information. Training is Wednesdays, July 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, 5:30 to 9 p.m. at Penrose Library in Colorado Springs.

NEW! Palmer Lake Farmers’ Market, July 6

Bring the family for a fun, relaxing time in Palmer Lake featuring rides and activities for the kids plus local crafts and produce. Open next to the lake every Sun., 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Info: Diana, 213-3323.

Host an exchange student

AFS, the leading international high school student exchange program, needs families in our community to host high school students for an academic year or six months. Students arrive in August. All kinds of families can host – two-parent households with young children or teenagers, single-parent families, families with adopted children, foster parents, as well as couples and single people who do not have children or who have grown children. One of the most important characteristics of a host family is being eager and excited to share your life and activities while providing the same kind of care, support, and comfort as you would to your own child.

AFS students come from more than 40 countries and represent many different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Local AFS volunteers enroll students in high school and support students and their families to help both gain the most from their experience. In addition to host families, AFS needs people who are interested in becoming volunteer liaisons to work locally with families and their hosted students. Anyone interested in learning more about hosting or volunteering with AFS may visit www.afs.org/usa/hostfamily or call 1-800-AFS-INFO.

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July 4 Community Events

Pancake Breakfast, 7-9 a.m., in front of St. Peter Church, 55 N. Jefferson, Monument. Sponsored by St Peter Knights of Columbus. Breakfast features pancakes, eggs, sausage, and juice. Cost: $6 adults, $4 kids. Proceeds go to charity. Coffee is free. Info: Jim Taylor at 488-1317.

Fun Run, 7:30 a.m. Starts at the Palmer Lake Trailhead and finishes at Limbach Park on Front Street in Monument. Cost: $20 ($12 for ages 15 and under). Register online or download a mail-in registration form at July4FunRun.com. Race day registration, $25, begins 6 a.m. at Palmer Lake Elementary School. Proceeds benefit the school. Participants may return to the start point by shuttle bus (yellow school buses). Follow the signs from I-25 exit 161 and Highway 105. Information: Sue, 481-9128 or visit July4FunRun.com.

Big Red 4th of July Market, 8 a.m.to 2 p.m. D-38 Administration Building, 146 Jefferson St., Monument. Arts & crafts, food, entertainment, and Independence Day fun! Info: 488-4700.

Food and entertainment at the Abundant Life Church, 9 a.m., corner of 2nd and Jefferson Street, Monument. there will be hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, popcorn, face painting, and a concert featuring Danny Agajainian who spent many years ministering with Billy and Franklin Graham traveling all over the world with his unique style of music. Danny brings humor and quality Christian entertainment to downtown Monument. Danny’s concert will begin shortly after the parade.

Children’s Parade, 9:30 a.m. Youngsters participating assemble in the south parking lot of St. Peter Church, First Street and Jefferson, by 8:30 a.m. No entry form is required; just show up with decorated tricycles, bicycles, wagons, animals, etc., but please, no motorized vehicles or horses.

Main Parade, 10 a.m. to noon, starts at First and Jefferson Streets and ends at Second Street and Beacon Lite Road. Parade entry forms are available at the Monument Town Hall, the Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce, or download a registration packet on the Sertoma Web site at www.monumenthillsertoma.org

Street Fair in Historic Downtown Monument after the parade. Food, art, crafts, vendors, live music, fun; sponsored by Tri-Lakes Chamber of Commerce. Info: 481-3282.

After-Parade Open House. Monument Community Presbyterian Church will host its fourth annual Fourth of July Celebration & Open House at 238 Third St. following the Monument parade. All are invited to extend the festivities while waiting for traffic to die down. More than 2,000 people attended this event last year. The church parking lot will feature live music, shady seating, a cool car show, kids’ bounce houses, food, and other activities. Indoors, visitors can refresh with free ice cream, air conditioning, restrooms, and a tour and DVD of the 128-year-old Historic Sheldon Jackson Chapel. For more information, call 481-3902.

"What a Blast!" at Palmer Lake, 3 p. m. to dusk. Live music, old-fashioned games, inflatable park and carnival rides at a nominal fee, at the lakeside near the baseball field opposite the Rock House on Highway 105. Info: www.palmerlakefireworks.com

"The Best Small Town Fireworks Show in America" The fireworks begin at about 9 p.m. The show will be choreographed and broadcast on Peak 92.9 FM. Parking will be allowed on Highway 105 along the north side only through the town of Palmer Lake. Parking will be allowed on County Line Road from Indi Drive to Spruce Mountain Road, but only on the south side (no parking on the Greenland Open Space side). The parking lots at the Santa Fe Trailhead on the east side of the lake will be designated "Special Needs" (handicapped, elderly, etc.) parking. Additional general parking lots will be appropriately marked. Info: www.palmerlakefireworks.com

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